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Making meaning of your betrayal by a sociopath

Woman with arms raised at sunset on the beachWhen 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.

Critical juncture

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.



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6 Comments on "Making meaning of your betrayal by a sociopath"

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Sorry, but I think it is BS to even suggest that victims are somehow at fault because of some vulnerability. Although some sociopaths may take advantage of such vulnerabilities, for others, the lack of vulnerabilities is simply a challenge. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the thrill they get out of deceiving and destroying their victims.
My ex is the most convincing liar I have ever known. She has in fact convinced all of her relatives and friends that she was somehow justified to cheat on me with at least 3 other guys, as well as another woman.
These sick people should be locked up in colonies just as they once did with lepers.

Skid,

Donna points out a very important thing, that we ALL have vulnerabilities. If we didn’t we would be perfect. So, even if we are super strong, intelligent, capable, responsible, financially stable, in good health, etc….we still have areas of vulnerability. Everyone has beliefs that are not really true, or ideas about themselves that are not quite in alignment with who we really are. We may think the world, and other people’s psyches work in a certain way that is not exactly accurate.

I am not sure, unlike Donna, that we can heal all these, or that they even require healing per se. But they definitely need some awareness created around them, so that we know HOW a predator could use our natural tendencies, or vulnerabilities against us. Then WE can protect our own soft spots, that are no longer BLIND spots.

This doesn’t make us responsible for being targeted by a human predator. Not even. It does make us more vulnerable though. So the combination of fully knowing ourselves, and having a solid understanding of these predators is a good combination for minimizing our personal risk.

Some examples of my personal vulnerabilities, that I became aware of, are:

1. Everyone wants and needs love and human connection. FALSE.
2. I need to do lots of things FOR others in order for them to love me. FALSE.
3. People in authority, or who are more successful than myself, know what is right for me.

These are just a few things I unearthed. I don’t exactly believe these things any longer, but I still find myself having reactions to life that reflect these misunderstandings. But, now that I have identified them and the feelings that go along with them I can stop myself and tread carefully in whatever situation I am in. I don’t have such automated reactions.

This is just basic personal growth, whether we are in an abusive situation or not.

Slim

I still, somewhat, to this day, blame myself for meeting the psychopath in my life. I was lonely, a boyfriend had enlisted in the Army, the girls in the dorm where I went to school, were moving on with their lives (quite a few were proudly waving hands with engagement rings/pearls on their hand, symbolizing a future happiness that to me, looked far off and never to happen to ME..I began going to places on campus where my boyfriend and I hung out (and one of his friends was still at a place)..and that’s where I met the psychopath.it seemed so innocent to talk to him and he was instantly warm,friendly,caring and anxious to build a relationship. The Army boyfriend seemed so far away and no longer in my life. Vulnerable? lonely? very definitely. Had I not gone there, I might not (who knows?) met him at all. Chance? maybe. Bad luck? definitely. I had NO idea I was being ‘cased’, checked out and definitely useful for HIS purposes (marriage, farming, normal life, etc).

regretfully…I know, I have twinges too. I was also coming off a long term relationship, that was a good one. I felt I was of an age that I knew what I wanted and was not going to waste time finding it.

Problem was those pesky false ideas of mine left me wide open to manipulation, and I was in such a self-assured and gung-ho place that I failed to act on some early warnings.

I was also on dating sites, and because I didn’t know predators existed I assume one of my false beliefs was why everyone was there: because they wanted love and human connection. FALSE.

And just like your experience the predators were ready to move quickly (and so was I!). And they wanted me to do things for them (which fit in with my false belief that this was a ‘good’ way to be, and would ensure that I would be seen as lovable and kind).

I ended up dating 3!!! of these sorts over a 5 year period before I GOT IT, found Lovefraud, and started sorting things out. They were all on dating websites. Every…single….one. But, once I figured out what they were, and how I was responding to their tricks my world really changed (and I also understood my own mother).

I am now quite happily married. I met him in person. We were friends for over a year before we started dating, then dated for year, then married.

I acknowledge that I had a red target on my back. I was in graduate school, surrounded by successful or soon-to-be successful professionals (engineers) and just wasn’t happy with any employed guy with a house and a car that i dated… how BORING! I wanted to serve JESUS and be radical for my faith!

So I literally WAITED for my psychopath – passing up numerous other eligible bachelors… (not that many good-looking female engineers in grad school – so, yea, I was noticed)

*sigh* I have found my purpose in all of it. Even the day I drove away, I had already found my purpose and was on the way to healing. I am not mad at my psychopath. I am not angry or vindictive. I simply want him to GO AWAY and leave me and the children ALONE.

My purpose is that this was necessary for me to find healing. now – because of all of my reading – I have discovered that my very own FATHER is a sociopath! (ha! Now I know why I never could connect with him!) and my mother is a freakin’ CODEPENDENT! and I am a co-dependent too.

WIthout this journey – I would’ve never realized all of that. Never would’ve realized the source of my brokenness. I am actually excited – I have so many resources to help me heal and grow now. I have found my strength. And I am at peace with God.

I just pray for the upcoming legal proceedings!!! 🙂

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