When we realize that we’ve been involved with a sociopath, and that person has callously betrayed us, we inevitably ask, “Why? Why did this happen to me?”
To help find the answer, one of the books that Lovefraud recommends is The Betrayal Bond—Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships, by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D. The book explains the deep psychological wounds caused by trauma, and offers a way for us to identify and overcome abusive relationships that we may have experienced.
When I read the book, I was struck by what Carnes wrote on page 68:
My experience with survivors of trauma is that every journey of recovery depends on the survivor coming to a point where all that person has gone through means something.
I believe there is meaning in what we have experienced at the hands of sociopaths. Here it is: The object of the exercise is to force us to jettison mistaken beliefs about ourselves.
Promising to fill the void
When sociopaths come into our lives, they snag us by promising to fill some void. For most of us on Lovefraud, the void is our missing soul mate, but sociopaths can also promise career success, monetary rewards, spiritual enlightenment—any number of things. (Please note: This dynamic doesn’t quite apply when sociopaths are family members.)
Sociopaths are experts at identifying our vulnerabilities and exploiting them. So the question becomes, why do we have the vulnerabilities in the first place? Here’s where the mistaken beliefs come in.
We believe we cannot attract a fulfilling romance.
We believe people only want us when we do something for them.
We believe we cannot succeed through our own efforts.
We believe we aren’t good enough.
We believe we are unlovable.
We believe there’s something wrong with us.
We believe we cannot cope with life by ourselves.
We believe other people come before ourselves.
We believe someone will come and make all our troubles disappear.
These just a few of the erroneous beliefs that create voids within us. Where do they come from? Perhaps from abuse in our past, as outlined in The Betrayal Bond.Perhaps they come from simple misperceptions. In any event, the sociopath steps right in to fill them.
Feel free to add your own mistaken beliefs to the list.
So the sociopaths make promises—and break every one of them. At some point we wake up, come out of the fog, and realize that our lives have crumbled into piles of debris. That’s when we ask why? Why did this happen to me?
This is a critical juncture. We can certainly blame the sociopath—they are evil, and they deserve to be blamed. We can say it was fate, or luck, which is sometimes true—there are sociopaths who randomly assault or kill people. But in most of our cases, we believed the sociopath, went along with the charade, for a period of time. Why did we do this?
If we can find the answer to this question, we can discover the meaning in the betrayal by the sociopath.
As much as I hate to admit it, I did benefit from the destruction wrought by the sociopath I married. I am not the same person that I was before him—I am wiser, healthier and happier.
Why? Because I found and released all those mistaken beliefs.
Yes, it was painful. Yes, it was traumatic. But by looking for the meaning and undertaking the healing journey, my life is now much richer than it ever was.
Lovefraud first published this article on Oct. 21, 2009.