Lessons after the sociopath: Real love is easy

In posts to this blog, and in e-mails that I receive, many Lovefraud readers wonder, after the devastation of a sociopath, if they can love again.

Yes, you can.

I am living proof. In February 2000, I was divorced from James Montgomery, who took a quarter of a million dollars from me, cheated throughout our brief two-and-a-half year relationship, had a child with another woman while married to me, and then married that woman 10 days after I left him, committing bigamy. I was devastated.

After I left Montgomery, I had one nice relationship with a man, although it didn’t turn out to be permanent. He was normal, not disordered, and supportive of me. I was sad when the relationship ended, but it was a step along my path towards healing.

Then, in April 2001, I met Terry Kelly. We married in 2005. We are totally happy and in love. Here is something that I’ve learned from my new marriage: Real love is easy.

Signs of real love

In real love, there are no mind games. There is no manipulation. There are no guilt-producing accusations like, “Don’t you trust me?” or “Who are you sleeping with?” There is no pleading to be forgiven, no promises to never do it again, because there are no violations of trust that require forgiveness.

I do not wonder if my husband really loves me, because I know he does. I can feel it.

Here’s what you get in a true, loving relationship: Enjoyment of each other’s company. Honest caring for each other. Consideration of each other’s feelings. Real partnership—not a one-sided deal, with you as the giver and the other as the taker.

Sure, there problems that need to be solved. Guess what? Issues are resolved and life goes on. There is no drama.

I will say this—after the disaster of a marriage to a sociopath, I am highly appreciative of my new husband. He, too, was previously married, and although his ex wasn’t malicious, the relationship had become empty. So we both appreciate each other. In fact, we find joy in each other.

Making the transition

So how does this happen? How do you make the transition from wounded victim to a whole person ready for love?

As I’ve written before, I believe your emotional pain needs to be processed. When my heart was broken, it allowed all the trauma from my bad marriage, and all the pent-up pain from other disappointments in my life, to be released. Slowly, over time, it came flowing out, through tears, yelling, screaming and punching pillows.

You don’t want to inflict this display on other people—my releases were witnessed only by my therapist and my dog. And they really upset the dog.

The emotional release takes time, because we all have many layers of pain. But as the negative energy dissipates, there is room in your being for something else. That something else is love.

So if you’re in recovery after a run-in with a sociopath, give yourself time and permission to heal. Trust that you’ve learned the red flags of personality disorders, and by listening to your instincts, you won’t be deceived again. Believe that love is possible, and someday, it will find you.

Donna Andersen and Terry Kelly on their wedding day.

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78 Comments on "Lessons after the sociopath: Real love is easy"

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Is it just me, or is anyone else seeing the correlation between the movies out there and what our EXs did to us. My EX used several themes from movies on me … one being Body Heat “that’s Matty’s speciality, she does what is necessary, whatever is necessary” and “she keeps on coming”. Meaning, she lies well, she’ll do and say what ever is necessary to get her own way … setting Hurt’s character up before she even met him (which is what I think my EX did to me) … having him take the fall at the end. Then there is the movie “Black Widow” with Debra Winger … chasing the psycho to Hawaii after Debra’s character, a federal agent figures out that the widow is killing her husbands for their money … studying their likes/dislikes and everything about them … showing up where they know they’ll be … and whammo, like magic meeting them for the first time (by cough) accident … then, then, then becoming the “BEST” partner these men could possibly imagine. Then taking them for everything they’ve got and unfortunately for these men she dotted all her “i”s and crossed all her “t”s. Then there’s the movie about a psycho John something … how he too scammed and conned his victims … had to kill someone (taken from real life court transcrips) so their friend could escape prosecution … take on the ID of the deceased … sail off into the sunset living on some exotic island…. and oh yes, this John character was acey/d-cy … bedding women and men to get what he wanted, ID theft … stealing victims credit cards … having a victim sign a mortgage for him (my EX did this to me) and living high off the hog … having the house foreclosed when he was moving on. Oh, and my favorite … my EX could not watch this movie … said it was too difficult for him … reminded him of his ex-wife … would physically walk out of the room if it was playing on TV … “Hope Floats” with Sandra Bullock being betrayed on live TV show with her husband and best friend announcing to the world that they are sleeping with each other and the husband is going to dump Sandra’s character … scenes about the daughter wanting to go with her dad … but of course, no room for this sweet precious child in his, his, his life … you get the theme of the selfishness here … Well, we are all the SANDRA character being deceived … get it? That was him telling me that I was sitting in Sandra’s seat on the talk show … and I wouldn’t know it for 8 years to come ….

As I noticed these different twists and turns in the movie, I would flip to the description are of the movie to see what year it came out (of course, all the years prior to meeting my EX which was the fall of 1998) … so he knew he was going to take me before he ever met me …. Me or anyone else … he had his moves perfected … As Donna says … “WE are their business”. The business of taking from us everything they can. Period. Moving on to the next victim to perfect their moves … leaving them as roadkill … then moving to the next and the next and the next victim. I suspect in 3 more years, his current wife will be blogging on and chatting with us. My EX has a 7-8 year mark with the victims in his life.

Peace every one.

What I’m trying to get at … yes Wini, get to the point … is how superficial they truly are … not original thoughts … stealing from the movies, TV shows, books etc. That’s how devoid they truly are. Not a creative idea among them … just repeating the tried and true from those that went before them.

Dear uksurvivor,
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t be biding my time if I had the money to do what I want to do. I can’t work anymore than I do and I don’t have the bargaining tools to command a better salary, so I’m stuck between a rock and hard place. Money is such a curse. Look what it’s done to those who manipulate ones like us. We end up holding the bag and they go skipping off into the sunset to do it again.

I’m so bummed out when I think of the nature of the human beast. This life could be so rewarding and purposeful, if both parties could just communicate. But when one has a hidden agenda and sets out to deceive, the truth will eventually come out, and trust is gone and so is the hope.

I was looking through pictures of when I thought life was good for me. My children were babies and I thought we had it all. It didn’t take too long for the shine to rub off and what was left wasn’t worth talking about as far as my marriage went. I was wondering, looking at the pictures, what my husband was really thinking as he held his new born daughter. Was he thinking what a mess he made of his life and how he was stuck now with all these responsibilities? Our life just kept getting worse and there was no better as far as we were concerned. I was too intimidated by him to even try and get through, but he would have turned it all back on me anyway. It was a no win situation.

And here I am still biding my time because I don’t have the money to do what I’d like to do. I share your plight. Can’t go forward or go back. I’m in limbo. At the mercy of my job and legalities. So frustrating. I guess there’s a lot like me. I’m not alone. But at lest I’m still standing!

Hi Apt/mgr

Yes, I did misunderstand you slightly. I thought you were counselling caution. I too feel frustrated by the restrictions placed on me by lack of money. I have been put in this position by others, others who have gone off on their merry way, free of the responsibilities that they helped to bring into this world.

I would love to sell everything I have, buy a nice big backpack and go off around the world, working as I go. You cant do that with a six year old in tow though can you?!

Hi uksurvivor,
I wouldn’t presume upon something like this to give advice. I would just say what worked for me, but then again, did it work or have I just resigned myself that this is as good as it gets?

I was just talking with one of my tenants, who is a single mother of six. Yes, six. 3 different fathers. She tried to make it work with the father of her last one, but she said he was jealous of her relationship with her oldest daughter. The father of the middle four molested their oldest boy plus her daughter to another man. She finally got divorced from him and was trying to decide if she wanted to move away from this area and the men who’ve done a number on her. I think it’s an epidemic.

And the most of us women are limited due to the financial strain of coming out of a bad relationship or as in your case a small child and the burden of money. Doesn’t anyone have a grip?

I know the ones who did the number on me just went skipping off to do their thing. Live the bachelor life. Where did I fit in? I didn’t. I was just a convenience for that time in their life. I was someone to use until what they wanted came along. No wonder so many women are independent. I’ve heard so many say the downfall of family is because the women are working outside the home. The women have no choice. The majority of the men don’t provide and don’t want to share. The women have no choice if they want to provide for their children. Who wouldn’t want to stay at home? I was fortunate that I did raise my children, but I also raised several others too. I baby sat in my home and that was before there were day care centers. I got paid $25 a week and the most of that went to buy food to feed the children I cared for. I was a full time mom plus a super busy housewife, but I never got one ounce of credit from my husband. He seemed to really resent me being at home.

I feel for the young mothers trying to be a good mother and having to deal with a dead beat dad. We were designed to be family. That means dad, mom, children, home, work etc. How is that point driven home to some man who doesn’t want what he has? So that was why I was biding my time waiting for my time, and I’m still biding my time, waiting for the house to sell, so I can finally move on. Vicious cycle. If it’s not in the heart of the man to provide and take that commitment seriously, there’s nothing a woman can do. She can scream,holler, withhold sex, food, etc., and he’ll still do what he wants to do. At least that was my case. It would have made more sense to shoot myself in the foot. Then I’d at least have a reason for my pain.

I have been both a married mother, stay at home, and also a working single mom and if I had had daughters I would have cautioned them even if they “married well” to have the skills to support themselves if the day came that they had to.

Depending on someone else, even someone you love, to take care of your financial needs is letting someone else have control over your well being financially.

After my divorce from my X-husband, his father, a psychopath if ever there was one, was advising him and managing him so that I was left with NOTHING except my children, I even had to get a court order to get my children’s dog back from my In-laws, and even then, they gave me one of the same breed and coloring (not the same dog) that was in horrible shape with malnutrition, but the children were small enough they didn’t know the difference. My ability to make a living was limited to low paying jobs unless I left the state, so I, with one kid on each hip, went back to college for another 4 years and got my advanced practice nursing license and went to work.

In the meantime, I supported my children and me by cleaning houses, working nights, and growing most of our own food. I worked like a slave those years in school, but managed to put together a good support network of other single parents that functioned as a family, trading child care etc with each other.

I’ve always been a good “networker” and it sure came in handy during those poverty years, and those people for the most part are still in my life as friends, though some of them have moved far away, we still keep in contact. Others are still closer by, and recently one of the men that was in our little “family” of “non-traditional students” came back into my life by accident and though I hadn’t seen him in 23 years, we are now back to being close friends and helping each other like we did in those years of our poverty. There’s no romantic interest there, but we still care very much for each other as friends and have been able to draw on those years of friendship so long ago so that we are quite close.

Being self sufficient as much as possible is probably one of the best tactics for anyone, BEFORE they get dumped or something happens that they have to provide 100% of the support for themselves and their children.

I signed up for food stamps (I didn’t qualify for any welfare) but the woman at the welfare place told me that she thought I was stupid for going to school to get my nursing license, because it would take me 4 years and I would be earning barely above minimum wage during those 4 years and going to school I couldn’t earn that much, but I was looking at the LONG haul, not the short fix. I am so glad I didn’t listen to that woman’s advice and all those years have been stuck in a minimum wage job til I turned 65, then I could have gotten a job at Wal Mart as a “greeter” and maybe made enough money to eat on, maybe not.

The reason I am saying all this is that though sometimes you may feel “trapped” with a child or children and a lower paying job, there ARE ways to upgrade your earning skills, and I don’t guarentee that they will be easy, but it CAN be done. I had literally NOTHING on which to start, not even a place to live unless I moved in with my mother and I didn’t want to do that. My kids and I lived in the back of our truck with a camper shell on it for the first 3 months, so actually we were “homeless” in the traditional sense of the word, but I explored every avenue of getting grants, loans, etc. to go to school, and ended up paying 100% of it myself except for the few grants I got. I still had to come up with living money, rent, utilties, car expense, gasoline, insurance, etc. but I managed. There was a time I was down to my last $1.67 but I managed, and I knew many others that also did just as I did. So no matter how financially down you find yourself, there is a way you can dig yourself out of a low paying job by going to school. There are even more opportunities for this now than there were when I went those many long years ago.

Especially in nursing now, with the shortage of nurses increasing as those of us older are retiring, there are lots of grants and scholarship programs if you are interested in nursing, and various entry levels that you can get a license in as little as a year and a half, get to work, and then upgrade your license from an LPN to an RN in another year or year and a half while you work. There are on line degree programs for RN if you have your LPN license, etc. Licenses are very portable too from state to state and jobs are ALWAYS available with flexible hours and working schedules. I know several nurses that have 2 full time jobs, working a full job 3 days a week for 12 hour shifts at one hospital and another full time job doing the same thing at another hospital. I know that’s a lot of hours, but it does allow them to support themselves and their children without a husband and dig themselves out of debt when left in the lurch by a man.

Or, of course you can work three 12 hour sifts and have a full time job with 4 days a week off. Not too bad. If you don’t like one area of work, you can find another specialty work and still use the same license. Some hospitals will pay your full tuition for school if you work for them for 2 years after you get your license, there are other scholarship programs too that help single mothers and pay for child care and some living expenses.

But whatever you do, look for opportunities in education to upgrade your ability to support yourself and if you are raising daughters, stress to them the importance of being independently able to support themselves in a professional capacity. It is the ultimate “safety net.”

I did exactly that with my daughters. I knew what I was going through and there had never been anyone in my life to seek for direction, other than God. I’ve had people ask me how I did it. I concede all points to God. He gave me the wisdom to point my daughters in the right direction. They are both schooled and have the degrees to command a salary. I knew my life was screwed up and didn’t want a man to do that to my children. I told them both when they were in their teens to decide what they wanted to be in life and I’d do everything I could to help them attain it. They did, and I did, with God’s help. I look back and shake my head in wonderment at the awesomeness of God and that He cared when no one else did.

For me, I have to bide my time until the house is sold. I can’t afford rent and my half of the mortgage payment. Once that is taken care of, then it will be smooth sailing for me. I can have a nest egg and make my move.

I implore any woman I meet to get an education and they need to know that while they are still in school. They need to know not to depend on a man to provide. And if he does, he considers it ownership and she most always will lose herself in him and grow to resent him. I’ve seen women, whose husband died and he was there sole support. They couldn’t even drive and had to depend on someone else all the time. I didn’t want that for me or my daughters. So if I did nothing else right, I did that.

I’ve worked myself up to my position now. I have great benefits. I’ll never get rich doing what I do, but it keeps me. I’m a thrift store shopper. I’ve said my clothes are government issued. Salvation Army!! It doesn’t take much for me to survive. I’m a very simplistic person, who’s looking for an even simpler way to live. I’m just at the mercy of legalities. But someday….As long as my children are okay, then I am too.

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