Recover from the sociopath by acknowledging the pain

Editor’s note: Last year, Lovefraud published a letter from a reader whom we called “Bessy.” It was entitled, “The only hope I have is that Karma exists.” This is a follow-up letter from Bessy.

My ex has not contacted me in 9 months and I know I should feel lucky, but I feel even more inadequate and unlovable than he made me feel back then. Why do I hear of boomerangs and “they always come back” stories and my phone is silent. Was “I” that bad???

I was vulnerable

I think I was attracted and vulnerable in the first place because I was at a crossroads, facing losing my mother, alcoholic brother, sending my only two kids off to college and divorcing after 24 years.

My whole life was me being “straight and narrow, dependable, a rock.”  Then HE came along, seemingly “sympathetic” but now I know he was just fishing for information, and became everything “fun” in my life that I hadn’t had in YEARS.

I didn’t drink; guess where he took me. Clubs. I began to drink, a lot.   I normally was in bed by 9 pm due to working 50 hour weeks; guess what he did–kept me out until all hours, sitting on rooftops under the stars, sneaking under “closed” park fences to sit by the rushing river.

It WAS intoxicating–at first.  Then it dawned on me that IF he cared, he would not keep me out until 3 a.m. knowing I had to get up at 5.  His schedule was “flexible.”  Mine wasn’t.  Because more often than not, I was under the influence of alcohol, and that’s when he “disclosed” secrets, either thinking I wouldn’t remember or I wouldn’t care.

I can “out” him

I want to believe he is scared of me: I can “out” him on many levels (particularly his criminal background as a child sex offender—his own stepdaughter who he says “provoked” him by wearing skimpy clothes and brushing up against him after her showers in only a towel. She was 11). My sane self says I am lucky I am not bothered; my ego self says I am disposable, not worthy of even a sociopath’s attention, etc. etc. PLEASE tell me I am normal.

I got kicked off a site I got a lot of help from in my early No Contact days, but I was a mess—literally lying in a fetal position on the floor for weeks crying. I asked, I guess, a prohibited question: What is the difference between his Silent Treatment and my going No Contact? I meant no harm to other members, I truly wanted to know (I know now). But I was immediately booted and am sad about that, I was getting terrific advice.

Still under my skin

But then part of me thinks sociopaths are scared of nothing, so why is he silent? And why do I need the satisfaction of waiting every day for his call or text, only to stick to NC and have the “upper hand.” Nothing about this is easy; and my “relationship” was only a year. After 9 months, I am STILL a mess, although better, but like I’ve read, a break-up with a sociopath is NOT the same as any other. He is STILL under my skin, every day, 24/7, and I can’t talk to anybody because they don’t “get it.” Even my therapist brushed me off.

Quit my job

I’ve had to quit the job (he was a co-worker) and have not found employment and feel rejected in that way as well. I’ve gained 40 lbs back from the almost 80 I lost. I’m just SAD. I bounce from sad to mad, but always just end up feeling invisible ”¦ after a whirlwind of noise and activity to nothing; the silence is deafening. I keep busy, got a puppy, volunteer. Not the same.

But then again, I DO NOT want all that craziness back. No way. I’m just feeling ”¦ erased. How can a person profess love one day and erase you the next? He’s going on with his life, and I’m STILL stuck.

Sociopath/Narcissist/Psychopath—I still want to know “what” he is; although it makes no difference I guess. From all my readings over the months, I think he is the worst kind—a combination of them all for which I should be grateful he is silent.

Promise ring

I recently saw a movie called “Fatal Honeymoon” about Gabe Watson and was astonished that my ex did some of the exact things Watson did. I got the “promise ring” I had more than hinted at, and oh yeah, he got it for me—but showed me the bag and put it on the top closet shelf (not in plain sight like Watson, but still) and said he’d give it to me “after you do X ”¦ or need to show me you can behave this way ”¦” or just when we were watching TV, just get up and go to the closet and wave the bag and smile and put it back. That was awful!! He was not patient by any means like Watson who waited over six months; but it was still close to two weeks probably before he gave it to me.

Erased me

Pathological lying, the put-downs, the porn and secret life. The cell phone obsession, showering and sleeping with it “in case work calls.”

The lies I even discover now, rehashing things in my mind that didn’t make sense then but I was to busy being gaslighted and all his word salad crap.

Why would I even want to see him again? I don’t. But yes, I am HURT that he erased me so easily. I expected to hear SOMETHING, even something mean or accidental or ”¦ I don’t know. But I feel like a nothing.

Donna Andersen responds

Dear Bessy,

I am so sorry that you are still struggling, even though the sociopath has been out of your life for more than nine months.

Your story highlights an important truth: When a sociopath comes into our lives, recovery has nothing to do with him or her, and everything to do with us.

In your case, the answer is in the words you have written. Here’s where you said you were when he came into your life:

I was at a crossroads, facing losing my mother, alcoholic brother, sending my only two kids off to college and divorcing after 24 years.

And here’s how you describe how you are feeling now:

My sane self says I am lucky I am not bothered; my ego self says I am disposable, not worthy of even a sociopath’s attention.

Can you see the common denominator here? It’s loss of relationships and emptiness. That is what needs to be healed.

You don’t really want the sociopath back in your life. You want relationships back in your life. Of course, you’ve also written that you’re volunteering and have acquired a puppy, but still feel empty. Why? Because what you really need is a deep emotional healing, not just a busy schedule.

Acknowledge the pain

Here’s what I suggest you do: Acknowledge your emotional pain. Acknowledge that you are suffering.

You mentioned that previously you were lying on the floor in a fetal position, crying. That’s okay, and you may need to allow yourself to do more of it.

I think every human being is walking around with deep wells of internal pain. We’ve all suffered disappointment and loss in life, but rarely do we allow ourselves to truly experience the pain of those losses. We buck up and keep going, as you did, dependable as a rock.

So for years, lifetimes even, the internal pain keeps building. Eventually, we become walking sociopath magnets. The predator comes along, senses our pain, and promises to make it go away. This is what we desperately want, and we believe that the sociopath will make it happen.

This, of course, turns out to be the cruelest lie of all. The sociopath not only fails to ease our previous pain, he or she magnifies it with even more deception and bitter loss.

And this is actually the gift of the experience. Because what the sociopath does to us is so awful, so devastating, we can no longer just buck up and keep going. If we are to regain our lives, we must finally face the pain he or she caused as well as the pain we’ve been carrying around all of our lives.

Offer yourself compassion

So how do you recover? Acknowledging your suffering is the first step. Allow yourself to sit with your pain. Recognize that you do feel pain, without trying to explain it away. What you need to do is grieve.

Offer yourself compassion, a gesture of tenderness. Put your hand on your heart and say, “Given what I’ve been through, of course I feel grief.”

Grief is a process, and it will take time to excavate it all. Some of your internal pain and disappointment will rise to the surface, you’ll acknowledge it, let it go and then more will come to your awareness. Give yourself time and permission to go through the process.

At the same time, do whatever you can to create moments of joy in your life. This can be anything, from playing with your new puppy to pausing to watch a sunset.

By doing these things acknowledging the pain, offering yourself compassion, and allowing joy into your life, eventually you’ll shift your internal energy. You’ll drain off the pain and replace it with joy. And that’s when you’ll see a real healing in your life.


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39 Comments on "Recover from the sociopath by acknowledging the pain"

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I am now 3 years out and I can relate to you not feeling right again after a mere 9 months. Some “put themselves back together” faster than others. Kudos to the people who take their pain and do something with it… some of us, just can’t.

A few things that have helped me is to stop trying to be 1) what I used to be (supermom and “hot mama” commonly referred to as MILF)… who cares if you forget to pack lunch one day or can’t volunteer for everything… and bye bye long straight hair that had to be perfect for my ex… he hated my natural curls and anything above shoulder length… what hair do I like?… even if its not bombshell, if I like it I feel better about me. I now have chin length layers and my curls are me 🙂 So in my book, simply deciding on what I wanted to look like for me, was a big step!

As for the no contact vs his silent treatment… I get you there as well. When the court could not extend the protective order, I found myself waiting for the day he was going to show up, or email etc… just to get his last word… its been a year and he hasn’t, and I do wonder now is it him playing that final card to hurt… he knew silent treatments hurt me insanely as I wanted connection. But guess what? I am extending the silent treatment to him by not contacting him either. I dont want him to know I still hurt, or dont trust… that will make him feel “good.” So who won and who lost? Who was right and who was wrong? The plain truth is he has a lifelong conviction of assault and battery, he cannot remove from his record because they ruled the injuries too severe for 1st time offenders rights to apply to him… and I have lifelong injuries…

Try to tackle little things first, make no assumptions about who you are based on anything from who you have been all these years (or the months with the spath)… cry alot, and try alot and hopefully you will begin to see who you really are 🙂

I know what you mean about feeling not good enough for the sociopath, even though you don’t want him. I think what you really mean is that you wanted him to really want you and for that to not be made up. In prior abuse, I was jealous of someone else my abuser “wanted” more, even though that meant more abuse. Crazy, I know, but I was also mad that I was not enough for him. It makes a weird kind of sense and I do not think it is abnormal. We all want to be wanted and sociopaths make their abuse very seductive. I mean that in the broad sense of the word.

When I read the letter from Bessy sadly, it was another heart-breaking story of the emotional devastation orchestrated by a sadistic spath! Feeling erased, deleted and dismissed by someone we genuinely loved results in emotional, mental and spiritual trauma. It is also a grieving process like no other because in many cases the spath is still living, and sometimes we may see the spath at family functions or family funerals, if the spath is a family member.

The spath creates a level of pain which even has physical reactions such as panic attacks, nightmares, depression, anxiety to name a few.

As a newer member of the LoveFraud healing community and educational forum, writing and sharing my journey is healing. I also see a common theme: a sociopath is a sociopath! It is clear… Once the sociopath is discovered and we clearly see the sociopathic traits, all share the same basic traits. They may come in different human forms such as lover, husband, father, mother, brother, sister. Also, after reading the book, “The Sociopath Next Door,” by Martha Stout, it further opened my eyes that the spath comes in many forms and people you normally would never suspect are spaths.

As I read about many spath partners in this forum such as lover or spouse, I see my own biological father! Even though a parent- child relationship is different than a husband- wife relationship, the feelings of abandonment, loss and confusion are common reactions that the victims of spaths share. We are actually in a state of shock, once the truth comes to light.

I tried to make sense of sadistic and irrational behaviors of my spath father, behaviors that no normal feeling compassionate human would ever do! And for me, here lied the irony of my own inner conflict. I tried to rationalize the irrational thinking and sadistic behaviors exhibited by my own father. Four big lessons that I learned:

1.) I cannot love his evil away
2.) I cannot make sense of his sadistic behaviors
3.) I was not at fault
4.) I am free

Once I learned about the sociopath through further education, and reading similar stories about spaths, I finally got it! I finally got my father! For years our own family knew of his twisted behaviors and kept secrets. They enabled him! So it took me decades to figure things out by myself. I knew I needed facts and court documents to prove what is truth…

However, even though my family continue to enable him, I choose to expose him! Spaths are “always” narcissists! They do not like for the truth to surface about their evil deeds because it taints the delusional world they have created. Therefore, I warn others about him and I no longer suffer in silence. I share my stories, my encounters with him. My spath father or any spath no matter who they are, does not have the right to hurt others nor does a spath have the right to control anyone’s voice! I am free…

Dear Truth7, So nice that you’ve joined our community and are capably able to express what we all have in common…the devastating aftermath of sociopaths; their relation to us doesn’t matter as they all have the same effect, whether child, husband or parent. And they all cause their loving to endlessly forgive, excuse or forget their intimidations. This was my biggest problem; I spent decades trying to figure out how to “fix” them instead of facing the reality that they were the ones who were sick and that nothing I could have said or done would ever have any effect whatsoever. Thank you for clarifying this to all those victims who are still forever faithful and go on questioning themselves.

Hi Nisa, I’m so sorry the man you have bonded to is so abusive toward you. It does sound as though he is disordered, and at very least he is extremely abusive toward you. A man who really cared for you would not behave like this. You deserve someone who is gentle and patient, especially with what you’ve been through in your past – a true friend. The nature of this type of pair bond between a man and woman is that your bonding hormones (oxytocin) get released, so that you feel like he is your husband, soul mate, and the man you are meant to spend your life with. You’d as soon cut off your right arm as cut this man out of your life. These feelings are completely normal. However, if you can just stay away from him long enough, the bond will start to break. I don’t know how accurate it is, but I’ve read it takes around 60 days for oxytocin to leave your system. If you contact him during that time, however, you will set the clock back, so you have to make a clean break. You deserve a truly caring man, and of course, you cannot even consider that right now because you are so bonded to him. So before you can meet a man who can be your best friend, you have to be a best friend to yourself by protecting yourself from harmful people. You were not able to do it when you were a child, but as an adult, you have the power to do it. I wish you the very best. I’ve been there – more times than I care to admit. Now I protect myself vehemently so that no one may ever come into my close circle unless they treat me with respect. I’m not afraid to be alone and without a man if no one measures up. You will get there, too. The first step is to gather the strength to walk away from this destructive relationship, no matter how attached you feel. I assure you that in time, those feelings will change.

On another note, I have found it best to stay away from separated or even newly divorced men. In my opinion, they are not ready for a serious relationship until they are completely out of the old one and have had the time to recover. Beware men who cannot be alone long enough to do their recovery work after a failed marriage. And I’m talking about a normal healthy married man. A sociopath will flat out lie to you. BTW, I am not judging you; the sociopath I dated claimed to be separated, too (he was lying). I also dated another healthy man who was separated. Though he did go through with the divorce, I was the rebound relationship. He was not ready to commit his life again so soon. At this point, I just categorically refuse to date anyone who is separated or newly divorced, no matter how exciting and wonderful they seem. Separated men are still technically married. Just something to think about.

I wish the very best for you. I think if you can walk away from this abusive man, your life will look completely different in 6 months’ or a years’ time. Please give yourself that gift – the gift of a peaceful life full of hope and possibility.



Nisa, I am just checking up on you today. Please let us know how you are doing.

Just knowing that there is someone out there who cares, means everything. Thank you!

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