Editor’s note: Joyce M. Short is the author of a just released book, “Carnal Abuse by Deceit.” The book chronicles her life with a predator, the subsequent aftermath and her road to recovery. It also provides advice for victims and their supporters, and discusses the issues surrounding criminalization of rape-by-fraud.
By Joyce M. Short
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had our “ah-hah” moment and could simply turn off the faucet on our feelings? Unfortunately, the chemistry in our brains won’t let us do so. And, instead, we rehash all the upsetting moments thinking about what we “coulda,” “woulda, “ “shoulda,” done. I know I wasted years thinking about how I could change his opinions and get him to see the light. And when the relationship stopped, those ruminations still lingered, even more painfully because they were entirely impossible to reconcile since our split.
What enabled me to stop was the realization that there really was no way to “get through to him” whether we were together or apart, so why waste the mental energy he took up in my brain? The only mental energy he’d invested in our relationship was to hold onto the vessel that had naively accepted his lies and excuses. I refused to be that vessel any longer. The man I’d loved simply didn’t exist and no amount of reasoning would change that.
Our brain chemistry makes us cleave to our love interest. Nature put it there to enable us to form a family and nurture our developing children. Psychopaths play with that chemistry to reel us in, and then give us just enough of a fix to mask reality. Because the stirring of brain chemistry takes place with the sound, the smell, the touch, and even the recollection of our lover, it does not disappear just because we know the truth.
We have to work to make it stop. When we reconnect, even in the tiniest way, the chemical stirrings of our brain begin again. And that’s why having NO CONTACT is so important. We need to regain our own chemical balance, free from the tugging and yearning that brain chemistry causes.
Understanding and acceptance
Like all losses, people with failed relationships need to grieve. We need to learn to accept that we engaged in an exchange that was different than what we thought it was. We thought it was love, but our partner was not capable of love. We were used, not because there is something wrong with us, but because there is something wrong with them. They found us because they sensed we have empathy and caring. The next time someone enters our space with affection and kindness, that ignites the spark of our chemistry, we will know to look well beyond their facade because it could simply mask the soul of a predator. We didn’t know that before, but we know that now.
Override Mother Nature
I recognize, from my own experience, the tragic depths of despair that can overwhelm people when they try to break free. None of the hopelessness or depression they feel is abnormal. But it is imperative that they know it will pass, and that they will feel joy in their life once again. What keeps that from happening is the nasty toxic glue in the brain that results from betrayal and causes us to cleave to our lover. We need to override the powerful force of Mother Nature to make ourselves separate and independent again.