Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.
Last week, I posted correspondence from Arlene, who, after 23 years of marriage, was discarded by her husband and has lost her connections to her children. Arlene said she was so devastated that she just wanted her life to end.
Several Lovefraud readers posted comments of understanding and encouragement for Arlene. Another reader sent an e-mail, describing the steps she took to recover after she had been similarly dumped by her husband. I thought her suggestions were so helpful that I asked permission to post the e-mail, which she graciously granted.
Advice from a reader
Here it is:
Arlene…. I was where you are when I was 40. My husband who I loved and adored and truly admired, left me without warning after 12 years of marriage for another woman. All I had ever heard from anyone was what a wonderful wife I was, what a great mother I was (not only to our children, but to his two daughters). I was devastated, depressed, anxious, scared, fearful of anything and everything, and could barely function. I will not recite all the cruel things he did and said (but he did tell me “you will just have to get over it,” which is still unbelievable to me), but I will share with you how I got well.
FIRST, I went to counseling and made sure the therapist knew about the pathology involved with being a spouse of one of these evil creatures. Even when it seemed to do little good, I kept going and going and eventually, it did help. I sought the help of my doctor, took antidepressants for six months and stayed on Xanax for about a year for the anxiety. The medications were a bridge to emotional healing and stability.
Next, I volunteered wherever and whenever I was needed. I know that may sound impossible to do (and believe me I did NOT want to do it), but the more I volunteered, the more I forgot about my own issues and I slowly developed a grateful heart for what I DID still have. I worked at church, in my neighborhood, as a pro bono attorney, at my children’s schools and a domestic abuse hotline. I still now do all that volunteer work and would not stop for anything.
I counseled with my priest. I was taught how to forgive (and yes, it is a VERY long process and I am still working on it) and finally understood that in forgiving HIM, I was healing ME. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I asked God to bring me peace and to let me know how much he loved me and he did.
Let me also say…. I did some stupid things early on…I drank too much alcohol (I was self medicating and was depressed and did not KNOW I was depressed as I never had been before). I dated too early as I was so lonely, I DENIED that I was hurt and I did not let myself “feel.” When I did finally “feel,” I wanted to die too. I asked God at night to just not let me wake in the morning. He had other things in store for me. Beautiful things.
I promise you, there is going to be a wonderful life for you after the devastation this man caused. You are NOT the problem, he WAS. WAS is the key word here. Take a class, get a job doing ANYTHING if you don’t work already…. do yoga (that helped me too!) and stay active. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you LOVE YOU, you are perfect the way you are (and you are, I assure you) and that you ARE LOVED and that you are worthy of love.
I survived and you will too. My very best, stay sweet, stay loving and start with little steps towards the best life you are going to ever have experienced!
What works for you?
We all have our own paths towards healing. Mine involved a good therapist and allowing myself to feel the pain. By feeling it, I was eventually free of it. I was also in contact with at least one of the other women that my ex-husband scammed, and eventually more of them. It was helpful to know that I was not alone.
Have you recovered from a run-in with a sociopath? Or are you on the road to recovery? Please post a comment describing what helps your healing.
Those of us who have been there are the “wounded healers.” Our experience can aid those who are just beginning the recovery process.