By | May 4, 2008 15 Comments

Post Traumatic Growth: After the sociopath is gone.

It has been almost five years since the sociopath was arrested and I was given the miracle of getting my life back free from his abuse. It is amazing to me to know that once upon a time, I was abused. I was downtrodden. I was completely broken. The walking, breathing dead. At the time of his arrest, I had given myself up for dead. I dreamt about dying, yearned for my life to end. And then, the police walked in and arrested him and in that moment, everything changed. Life began again.

It was not life as I knew it. Life as it was. It was new life, with a whole new perspective and outlook. A whole new appreciation for what it means to live within my human condition, what it means to be free.

My transformative journey began the day he was arrested and I faced the total devastation of my life. Through the stress and despair, trauma and uncertainty I held onto one goal, one belief — I had to reclaim my life so that I could reconnect with my daughters. I had to find me amidst the turmoil so that I could show them that my journey through the hell of that relationship did not kill the woman who gave them birth and whom they had believed loved them with all her heart — I needed to find a path back to myself so that I could grow strong enough to help them through their pain and fear. I had to find a way to reach into their hearts and minds so that they would understand that I fell into hell, not because I didn’t love them, but because I didn’t love myself. And more than anything, I had to teach myself that forgiveness led to loving myself so that we all could grow stronger.

And so I journeyed.

My growth in the beginning was incremental. One day it was simply that I had the courage to pick up the phone and call my daughters. Another was, I had the courage to speak my truth to the police about what I knew of the sociopaths illegal activities. Another day it was having the courage to apply for a job, to open my own bank account, to not accept the unacceptable when someone treated me disrespectfully.

With each step, each moment of feeling successful, I created a ‘body of evidence’ that showed I was growing through the trauma into well-being. I was overcoming the PTSD by focussing on my Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). There are many aspects of my PTG that astound and thrill me. For example, things I have learned and ways I’ve grown include:

I believe in the power of love — my relationship with my daughters and friends is a testament to the incredible power of love to heal. Today, I am in a committed relationship with a man who treats me the way I need and want to be treated, with tender loving care, respect and dignity. We share our fears, and our dreams. We talk about what hurts us, without fearing we will hurt the other by sharing our pain and we look for ways to grow together.

I believe in me — I never had such certitude in myself before. I never treated myself with such tender loving care, respecting and honouring who I am in all my words and deeds — I never knew me before.

I am resilient. I have bounced back from rock bottom and learnt the depth of my strength and courage. I have persevered through the emotional pain and trauma to become All Of Me — Beauty and the Beast — Perfectly Human.

I am capable of making healthy choices.Every day I make choices that honour me, support my journey and pay tribute to my hope, strength and experience — and belief that I am loveable. I am worthy.

I have the courage to live in reality. I am more in touch with my reality than I ever have been before. I recognize my strengths and use them to help me when my weaknesses threaten to grasp control and pull me from my path.

I am a Victor in my own life. I am neither a victim nor a volunteer. Whether I was a victim or a volunteer to his abuse and lies makes no difference to my freedom today. In judging myself to be either, I denigrated the pain and sorrow I endured on that journey. And yet, in being willing to face reality, I have the courage to lovingly face the truth in the statement — I was a victim and a volunteer to his abuse. Because, at times, I was a victim. At times, I volunteered to make myself a victim. It is simply a fact of what happened to me. It is not a judgement. It is not something I can change. It is the past. All I can do is stay focussed on being neither victim nor volunteer today. All I can do is stand in my light and be true to me, love all of me, warts and all, and rejoice in the wonder, the beauty, the joy of my life today.

I have grown far beyond the trauma of those days and nights when counting pills and ideating suicide seemed my only escape from the pain of my existence. I have grown into the woman I have always dreamt I could be. Free. Passionate. Willing to leap into the void of living life on the other side of her comfort zone freed from the lies that would have her believe, the past was all she deserved. This is the life I deserve. My one and only wild and passionate life where I am the dreamer and the dream maker. Where I live fearlessly in love with making my dreams come true.

How about you? Can you identify ways in which your PTG has moved you beyond the PTSD so that today you are claiming your beautiful life?

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Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and wisdom.

Strange that when we start to really love ourselves, accept ourselves for whom we are. The healing can begin. Acknowledging that we were both a victim as well as a “volunteer” for this abuse. I know that what abuse that was allow to happen to my children and I, I allow it! I must be accountable too. I must share the blame as well as the abuser. I know that I must allow others to judge me for not ending this abuse long ago. This is the hardest thing to do. I know now that I should have put a stop to her madness long ago, but I didn’t. I will live with this shame for the rest of my life. I burden my share of responsible for this abuse, simply because I should have found a way to stop it. I must take my share of the blame for what happen to us all! Will my abuser do the same? Or will I stand along, I do believe that I will in fact stand along..

newworld view

james it is only because you arre open to examining what happenned that you are able to love yourself and heal…you cant blame yourself as you blame the abuser….you did NOT intend to hurt her or the children..there is a big difference….you were in a fog and shook yourself out of it and are still doing so…like the rest of put a stop to it as soon as you could…rather than blame yourself, learn to see the signs to prevent it again…yu are the hero for yourself and the kids…YOU stopped it…and no you wont stand alone…you will stand side by side with the rest of US that share your pain….we stand with you and we’re here t

Ox Drover

DEar James,

We all have been to one extent or another both victim and volunteer I think, and some of the hardest things for me to get over was to blame and beat myself for my part in volunteering for the abuse because I was in the FOG.

But I did eventually have the courage and the fortitude to GET OUT OF THE FOG, and so did you. For that I am proud of myself and each of us should be proud that we have OPENED OUR EYES to reality.

As newworld says though, we did NOT INTEND to hurt any one, even ourselves, and the psychopaths ENJOY inflicting pain. BIG difference in the motivations. We GAVE too much, they TOOK too much.

Yes, James, we do stand with you, with each other. Remember too, a “burden shared is halved, and a joy shared is doubled.” We share your burden, you are not alone! (((hugs))))) and prayers for your healing.


ML Gallagher,

Beatiful post. I understand what you said about being in touch with reality now.

I was in a fantasy before and the fantasy led to HELL.

My PTG has taken me from silly love sick girl, to much wiser, rooted-in-reality women.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom and your PTG with us!

Aloha……. Elise

A comedic interlude.

You may return to psycho discussion : )


I am up against something an I am doing my best at keeping my head together. How I do that is I ask for help. And I need a little support and feedback. Been divorced from a soc for 5 years and I maintain a pleasant front for my children however, I keep him as far away from me as I can. Every single time I give an inch a yard is taken and I have to protect myself. I play by the rules the courts established even when he does not. Now it’s time for my son’s communion. It is in 2 weeks. I haven’t heard a word about it from him until last night and he wants to know what I am planning for a celebration so he and is family can come. There has been nothing but them trashing me to my children for the past 5 yrs and my family and I cannot see how this could be a healthy situation. I wish for my son that it was different. But it is not. I haven’t returned the phone call yet I don’t know what to say and I have to admit my anxiety is on the rise. Please some feed back. I am afraid of the ramifications when I say we have plans. (decision made) I just don’t know what to say.

Ox Drover

Wow, iradessa, I hear your anxiety about it all. What a special moment for your son and you, and to have the P poke his head in for no other reason that to spoil it for you and your son.

I don’t imagine there is any way you could keep him and his family from coming to the church, but I don’t think I would allow him to come to my party afterwards. Maybe you could suggest that you are having a small gathering at your home, and that he can also plan a gathering or celebration after that so that your son can have TWO celebrations–separate from each other.

Just tell him that you think that all things considered it would be less disruptive to your son to do it that way so that there would not be any unpleasant scenes. So maybe he can pick your son up say 2-3 hours after the church service and have his OWN celebration, as you “know HE would want to do something special for your son.” (yea, like especially spoil the child’s special day! LOL) Or another day if that is more realistic.

I don’t imagine he comes to your house on Christmas morning to watch your son open gifts, so why should he come to YOUR celebration of this event? He can have his OWN gift opening on Christmas and his OWN celebration of the first communion. There is NO reason I can figure that he would have a right to be at any of your family gatherings or events.

I’m sure that he will try to turn this against you, don’t they always, but stand firm, don’t let him spoil everything for you and your son on this special day! (((hugs)))) and prayers and congratulations to your son!


Thank you for getting back to me. I go through this stuff in my head and I scare the hell out of myself…

You know he did come in unannounced on a Christmas morning with the girl he was sleeping with while I was pregnant. Yes we separated after I found out…and I was so caught off guard..I let them in. Me in my winnie the poo pj’s and this girl just sitting there smiling at me. I felt terrible about myself for days after that. I believe in practicing right relations with people and I get confused with him in the mix of that principle.

We have done separate bday parties for both kids for years. He does not believe in God or religion (b/c he is God let us not forget) and I won’t host a “tension convention” just because I am afraid. I am afraid. It helps to talk about it. Thank you. My son is going to look adorable in his suit. He is a well adapted boy. His attitude about the divorce is..”nothing I can do about it” I keep the adult stuff to the adults I noticed that when he doesn’t see me upset about stuff he doesn’t get too worked up about it.

Stay with me OK?

Ox Drover


I love that “tension convention”—well he sure did one when he walked in unannounced on christmas morning with his GF. That is BALLSY for sure! How can you “play fair” with someone like that.

You are right to keep the adult stuff to the adults, and soo hang in there! You can’t “practice” right relations with people like that. So I just suggest that you set some BOUNDARIES with him, that you are having a YOUR FAMILY celebration and that if he would likek to celebrate you can let your son go to his celebration but that he is NOT coming to yours. If he shows up, slam the door in his face. You can’t keep him from coming to the church I don’t think, but you might warn the priest prior that he might come and cause a scene, so that there can be an adult usher on guard in case he gets ugly, to escort him out. Or have “Uncle Quido” on stand by. LOL

Good luck my dear and let us know what happens. (((hugs)))


LOL I am ok to have him at the church. I set it up with the director that he sits with his family in the adjacent pew. My loved ones will be there. And I am determined to sort through this prior so I don’t give away my joy.

I needed to hear that I can have right relations with him. I can not apply sanity to an insane mind. I am going to focus ion the menu and that always soothes me I like to cook. Anything my son asks about the day I will comapssionatly, apppropriatly answer.

He’s got the uncle guido (addict) I walked around for a year looking up in fear a potted plant was going to fall on my head.

Ox Drover

I’m glad to know that no potted plant fell on your head! LOL

I think my X-BF-P (who burned the house of a previous GF who ditched him) might have done something on that plane with me but he is scared to death of one of my sons. We were horsing around one time and he accidently (I think) hit me in the nose and my son was standing by and just almost instantly was on the VERGE of putting the man on the ground, but then realized it was just an accident in fun. I was looking at the ground holding my nose and didn’t see my son C’s reaction, but son D did and told me about it later. He said that P-XBF saw the reaction of son C and his eyes got big like he was afraid. I know he is a coward and gets even in a sneaky way, and he knows I know that he burned the other GFs house (and she knows) so I let him know that if anything happened to anything of mine I would “know where to look” for the culprit. My son isn’t normally violent, but the P doesn’t know it. I have no doubt that if anyone hit me in anger that my son would become reactively violent and plow into them immediately, but he isn’t vengeful. Neither would he stand by and watch someone pound on his mother. Since he is built like a fire plug and muscled like a weight lifter, he is stout as an ox. With P being a coward and a sneak, I don’t fear him. Though he did show up in my area (400 miles from where he lives) a couple of weeks ago at an auction I frequently go to and he and I had gone to together. Suprised me, but I treated him like a potted plant and didn’t acknowledge his presence. Even though he spoke to me. After that, he actually took seats in front ofo me and my friends, though there were others in other areas, but he did act rather uncomfortable. I did sit there and think of things I would have liked to have said to him (none of them “glad to see you” LOL) but I kept my cool and my mouth shut EXTERNALLY at least. I know if I had said anything nasty it would just have made his day, so I said nothing. I think more than anything was the suprise of seeing him in my area, like I suppose you must have felt on Christmas morning when your jerk walked up to your door with his GF. LOL

Good luck and have a happy day! Oxy


he just called..I held my ground and now I am just unwinding with a vanilla chai. He started in with he got “a grat deal” from someone and he wants to take them to the Bahamas for another week in Nov. I am taking the kids away and I said I am sorry. Mind you, we made the rule not to tell the kids about those things until we have cleared it. He does this over and over so I look like the mean Mommy.. it isn’t effective. My son told me this am that was going to come up.

Then he went into the communion and I kept it short and polite. (queasy on the inside). I made plans. And when he went into his sermon I let him and said I don’t know what else to say. I made plans.

I used to think when I felt sick to my stomach I must be doing something wrong. I don’t think so — I just need reassurance that I am doing the right thing. Contact brings back symptoms … I handle them better … but that self doubt makes me crazy!!!!

Ox Drover


You did GREAT! “I kept it short and polite” “I held my ground.”

That’s the spirit! Good for you!!!!

SET BOUNDARIES and stick to’em!!!!! I am so proud of you, see how “simple that was” LOL And you did nothing wrong! You averted a “tension convention” (Oh, I love that term!) and even if he thinks he is making you look like the “mean mommie” too bad. YOu are the mommie, and GOOD mommies make good decisions for their children and stick to them. If Bad Daddy tries to undermine them, you still stick by your good decisions.

Your son obviously is a sweet and smart little guy! I think he seems to be figuring out daddy’s tricks. Good for him too!

Glad things worked out, thanks for reporting back…”the RESTTTT of the story. Paul Harvey, Good Day.”

Ox Drover

I had an “ah ha” moment yesterday.

In our “growth” after the trauma, we must let go of our focus on the P and focus on ourselves.

We have also often spoken among ourselves here about how our friends and family “don’t understand” the depth and intensity of the trauma that we have suffered.

Over the weekend, a lovely friend of mine came to visit. I hadn’t shared an intimate weekend with her in quite some time so we both had a great deal of catching up to do. She had lost her husband to complications of surgery about the time my Ps were arrested—it had been a long and stressful battle for her with her husband’s illness, she also had breast cancer at the same time and underwent chemo, hair loss, etc. and all that entails.

There has been so much trauma and stress in BOTH our lives during the last year. In comparing my “trauma” to hers, and quite frankly I think they are at least “equal” in intensity, I think she is moving on a bit faster and better than I am (focusing outside herself more) than I am and possibly because her trauma is LIFE–NOT just SPECIFICALLY DIRECTED AT HER. Cancer is bad, but it is no respecter of persons, it doens’t attack you because it hates YOU, losing a husband to accident or disease is stressful and you grieve but you don’t think that they “died just to spite you” so you don’t take the grief, stress and loss as a PERSONAL AFFRONT that is DELIBERATELY focused in malice toward you.

I think at least in MY CASE I have been held back in healing some by the thoughts and feelings that go along with being a “volunteer victim.” I wouldn’t like to have cancer, but I wouldn’t feel it “Picked me out of everyone else because it hated me.” MY “I’ve been picked on” feeling I think is COUNTER PRODUCTIVE to “getting over it and getting on.”

Yes, I WAS “picked on”—and I “allowed it”—but now it is time for me to quit “feeling” picked on. Singled out. S#it happens–and so does getting “picked on”–

My friend is a well grounded, very strong and wise lady. She is moving on with her life in a positive direction. I’m glad that she came this weekend and I could get some insight from her. I am also glad that she is a great role model for me in “moving on”—she is working on her masters degree and planning to sit for the CPA exam in a year. I have no doubt that she will make it, in spite of all her losses, grief and stress. I think her LACK of feeling “picked on” is a strength she has that I haven’t had, but will work on acheiving in the near future. Doing away with the “picked on” feeling. (Actually I didn’t even realize it was there until this weekend, but now I can SEE clearly that it was.)

Life, one “Ah Ha” moment to the next…like “one step at a time.” (((hugs))) to you all.

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