Recovering from a sociopath: acceptance and focusing on now

Lovefraud has heard from a woman who we’ll call “Sally.” Sally is dealing with a sociopathic man who threatened to kill her, sabotage her daughter’s career and injure other family members. She says law enforcement either doesn’t believe her or doesn’t care.

Sally has been in touch with another of the sociopath’s victims, and they’ve helped each other through the nightmare. Still, people in regular support groups don’t believe them, and friends and family members have backed away. A lawyer and a therapist have backed away.

Sally recently sent Lovefraud the following e-mail:

You just can’t imagine this, because I can’t either. The person that was me is gone ”¦ and no one has taken her place.

I know who I was with all my faults and history ”¦ I was comfortable there. I guess this is a journey ”¦ but to where I don’t know. There is no light.

For 62 years I was me and now I am gone. What will I be? Will I be able to live with who I end up being?

I’m sitting in my living room and I am crying and I don’t know why. For the loss of hope? For fear? Fear of the future … for breast cancer ”¦ for the loss of my two best friends? For being stupid? For losing my children? And I am responsible for these losses.

I am dull, I am inert. I fill my head with senseless TV – I don’t know what I’m watching.

I want to dance and sing and laugh. I want to ride bareback thru the fields and listen to the silence.

But I will do none of those things. They’re only dreams. I am too tired. They are too far away from my new reality. Reality is my home, my prison, the awake hours. My routine – sleep as long as I can – take pills to help me not to have panic attacks – sometimes I eat. Day is night, and night is day ”¦ there’s no difference anymore.

I am smothered in sadness – and I am so angry, at myself.

I used to accomplish so much in a day and now it can all wait for another day.

I remember the hopelessness. I remember feeling that I had nothing to hold on to, that everything I knew was gone. I had no plans for the future, no idea of what was to become of me.

And I remember coming to terms with it.

How can you possibly come to terms with the devastation wrought by a sociopath? My healing involved two related and intertwined adjustments in my thinking.


The first adjustment was that I had to accept what happened.

Everything I was told by my sociopathic ex-husband was a lie. I had been deceived, swindled and betrayed. He had convinced me to spend all of my money, and go into debt, to support his grandiose plans. I’d neglected my own business to participate in his schemes. I’d won a judgment against my ex in court, but it was useless. I’d spent money I didn’t have on collection agencies and lawyers, and came up empty. I would not get any satisfaction from my ex.

I was broke and had no prospects for stable income. I did not know how I would survive, and I couldn’t argue with my circumstances any longer. The day finally came when I had to accept that, for the time being, this was my life.

Present moment

The second adjustment in my thinking was to focus on the present moment.

We all spend a lot of time reliving the past and projecting into the future. We ruminate over everything that happened with the sociopath. We worry about what will happen to our jobs, our kids, our homes.

Although this is legitimate, the only place where we truly live is right now, in the present moment. We can only take action now. So much like recovering from an addiction, we have to take our lives one day at a time.

It’s not easy. We want to know that we’ll be okay. We want to know how everything will work out. But I learned that if we give up our expectations of what ought to be, life can bring us wonderful solutions that we didn’t even think of.

This is one of the big themes in my book, Love Fraud—How My Marriage to a Sociopath Fulfilled My Spiritual Plan, which will be published in the spring.

Suggestions for Sally

So what should Sally do? From her letter, it sounds like she is suffering from depression. This is no surprise. We all know that the devastation wrought by sociopaths, and the callous response of the legal and financial systems, can leave us depressed.

Maybe Sally is strong enough to cope with the depression on her own. But if she feels like she needs assistance, that’s one step that she can take right now, today—seeking treatment for depression.

It would be a step towards her healing. For Sally to continue to move forward, I lovingly suggest the approach that I outline here—accepting what has happened, and focusing on one day at a time.

It’s not easy. Accepting what has happened leads us to grief over what we have lost. The grief needs to be processed, and it’s not fun. Actually, that may be where Sally is right now. There’s no way to avoid the pain; we have no choice but to move through it. But it does come to an end.

The process is much more manageable if we only deal with this day, or perhaps this hour. For Sally to try to sort out the rest of her life right now would be impossible, and probably counterproductive.

Sally has dreams. She wants to sing and dance and ride bareback through the fields, listening to the silence. Sally should hold on to her dreams, even though, at this point, she does not know how they will be realized.

Right now she’s moving through the rough patch. But each day moves her one day closer to the possible fulfillment of her dreams. All she has to do is hold on, and gradually, her ability to accomplish will return.

Who will she be? An even better version of who she was.

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What is going on with this site this AM? I have already lost the same post to you twice. Well, three’s the charm or so they say.

The crying, the fainting, the faux heart attacks — they are all classic pity plays.

My S’s classic pity play was to tell me that he knew he was going to end up like his mother. She had her first stroke in her early 50s. Ten years later she had a second massive stroke and has been comatose and brain dead in a nursing home for the last 5 years. When he used to tell me this I would jump up to do whatever I could to make him feel better. By the end all I could think was I wanted him to have a really bad stroke — I didn’t want him brain dead. I just wanted him mute and in a wheelchair. And I wanted to be the one to jam a needle into him 10 times a day.

My S could cry a river. The last time he had a meltdown in a bar — the tears flowed as he told me that his father, the previous night at his brother’s wedding, had told him that he was going to disconnect his mother from life support before the week was out. As I watched the performance I remember thinking how no parent, no matter how awful, would do that at a wedding. I was also struck by the fact that underneath all the tears there was very little emotion going on below the surface.

The fact is, the pity play is pure manipulation.

You also encountered the classic projection. When he attacked for your past with your ex-husband, and your wanting to be with somebody else, he was the one who was cheating. But, somehow that double standard never enters the equation. Here’s one thing you can lay money on and always win — when a S accuses you of something, they are projecting onto you and accusing you of the exact thing they are doing.

One thing I see with you is that you have a history of being with controlling, abusive, people. You bounce from one to the other. I can understand that completely. My parents were physically and emotionally abusive. While I look very successful in my life, I went from one destructive relationship to the next because I was conditioned to take that behavior. You have to get to the bottom of this or you will be doomed to repeat this horrific cycle. You really have to read “The Betrayal Bond”. Also, although you haven’t discussed your parents, if they were abusive, read “If You Had Controlling Parents.”

When I was trying to sort things out, I think it was Kathy Hawke told me to turn off what S said. Instead, watch his actions against a blue screen. The actions speak louder than words. That exercise really helped me to understand just how monstrous his actions were. And, for that matter, the actions of other cluster-Bs in my life.

The holidays do make things worse. Since you have kids, this is one of those cases of “function in disaster and finish in style.” You may be dying inside, but you’ve got to try to put on a good face for your kids’ sakes.

Have you reached out to a domestic violence hotline, abused women’s organization, your minister, anything like that? I think that you should.

Man, if I could cry on cue like a sociopath, I would be out in Hollywood, reaching for Oscar gold.

I would be trying to cash in on that bullshit.
Let’s face it, not everyone can put on the bullshit quite like THAT.

Matt: I have been seeing my counselor we were seeing for the marriage. In fact, I have an appt. with her later today.

As for the kids, I try so hard to put on a good face for them. I am having a hard time. When I think all is ok, one of them will say “what’s wrong momma?” and I just say nothing, why? Not knowing where the next meal is coming from on top of all the other stuff makes it very hard to function normal.

He too has used pity over and over. He claims to not be able to hear well but that is proven a lie when he can hear my cell phone on buzz from across the room and inform me that I just got a call or message but can’t hear me speak sitting next to him. One thing he likes to say is that his memory is failing him. He has trouble remembering things. One of the nights he sat for an hour throwing out all that was wrong with me, that he thought sleeping with me would be different…..romantic is how he thought it would be (obviously it wasn’t) that I acted like a child and all the while he’s saying these things I am touching him, loving him, saying things like “you’re right, I’ll change that” or “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you felt that way”, telling me as I’m trying to rub his shoulder during his fury to “stop what you are doing, I don’t like it” yet he had no recollection of any of those things the next day or the next week.
He does have a stint in his heart from the age of 29. That I do know to be true, but he feeds off of that. He knows EVERY medical term there is to know, EVERY medication there is on the market and what they are taken for as well as their medical terminology, yet has never stepped foot in a college or anything beyond high school. He snorts nasal spray several times a day almost everyday. Takes Benadryl to sleep, his mom’s Toradol for minor aches and pains and drank over 1/2 a bottle of cough syrup because he was anxious and couldn’t sleep. Red flags began going up here that he has some sort of dependency going on but would never admit to. He has said on several occasions that he is much older than he really is. Aches, pains, memory loss, hearing loss, etc. I too pampered this until I began to catch on. Now, his words are “you don’t care if I hurt or not, you must enjoy seeing me in pain.” When you said you felt sorry for yours until the end when you were wanting to see him have a stroke. I know exactly where you are coming from. I have sadly wished the same thing on mine or something similar.

How can I still love something like this? How can I still wish it would work? Why can’t I let go and forget that he doesn’t call me or txt me? Why am I so confused? I am looking forward to my appointment with the counselor this afternoon to get some of this out through more than just a keyboard.

Thank you guys for being here. It helps so much to know you are not alone.

Your questions:
How can I still love something like this? How can I still wish it would work? Why can’t I let go and forget that he doesn’t call me or txt me? Why am I so confused?

The answer isn’t an easy answer but there is an answer.
You are not in love with “something like this”.

You are ADDICTED to the ILLUSION he presented himself to be.
The answer is both as simple as it is complicated. It is not an easy thing to overcome an addiction. The intelligent side of your brain NOW (in hindsite) knows that he isn’t good for you or for your children. However the addiction side of this is that you crave him anyways.

There is no logical thinking behind the fact that a junkie (whom has LOST everything) is craving his next fix. And will do just about anything to get that fix. THAT is what an addiction does to a person.

It wipes away all logical thinking. Your life can be in shambles yet you CRAVE the very thing that keeps your life in shambles. That is addiction.

Addiction isn’t just a substance you put “into” your body. Addiction has to do with your brain.

If you treat this like an addiction you will be able to at least understand (to the best of your ability) why you crave the very thing you shouldn’t crave.

N/C is important. N/C is no texting, (no reading his text sent either) No emails, no phone calls, No updating his whereabouts through other people, my space, face book etc. No Contact not only means no communication but not communicating with others about his whereabouts, etc.

A person in recovery goes no contact with alcohol, drugs etc. And they can NOT entertain the idea of having just one little beer, or go “sit at the bar” because that is a slippery slope for them.

The challenges ahead of you are difficult. There is no easier, softer way to get through them.
It DOES help to come here and unload much of the “past” but it also helps to come here and read the articles and educate yourself.
N/C is the only way that this will work to get this toxic person out of your life. And your girls do not need to see their mother being devalued by such a man. If for no other reason do this for them….

This is painful. Everyone here as been touched by this same thing. We can hold your hand and give encouragement but the “hard” work is still left for you to do.
I think it helps greatly to find people here do “get it”. Because for many of us we never got that validation before coming here.
Having children can also be difficult in the sense that you have to function and take care of them during all of this. BUT it can ALSO be turned around that they are your reason for putting one foot in front of the other. They are your PURPOSE for getting through this. They are your responsibility and if they see you with a man that continues to bring you down they will be affected by this. Don’t give this guy that power over you. He isn’t worth it.

I do know my children are my responsibility and the importance of being strong. I get so angry at myself and I begin to hate me and to feel selfish for wanting him. I’ve never had an addiction to anything before so I’m having a hard time with the fact that you are right, he’s my addiction. I see him get antsy, jittery, anxious and pacing the floors when he is “needing” something and once he either runs to mommy for a pain pill or gets his “fix” some other way, he calms down and appears ok. That’s how I do feel. I see that now. I get down and sad and wanting him so bad when I haven’t heard from him in awhile thinking I’m going to lose it right now, then when I get a txt from him, I settle down a bit. It doesn’t all go away but I can sigh a sigh of relief knowing maybe he WAS thinking about me. Maybe he’s NOT off finding someone to replace me already. Yes……I have to admit I am addicted. Not to the treatment I suppose just to the companion I had.

It may not appear as tho I am, but I really am trying here. I am only a weak vessel and my sails are ripped and torn and I need a little patching I guess.

Reading back to the top of this page, I too know how Sally feels and I too want what she wants. I fear what she fears.


Block the texts — they are a hit of your drug of choice — him. You may THINK he was thinking about you. But, what he’s accomplishing with his texts is that YOU are thinking about him. And so the addiction continues. NC means NC, plain and simple.

Dear What to do,

You have received great advise here already, but let me add. When your kids ask you what is wrong, do NOT TELL THEM ‘NOTHING”…THAT IS SHOWING THEM TO NOT ADMIT THEIR FEELINGS…be HONEST with them, tell lthem “I am sad” or “I am angry” but I will handle my emotions. That way you are modeling for them how to EXPRESS emotions in a safe way.

Many of us have been taught by dysfunctional parents t6o DENY our emotions and I think this is a lot of what made usBAIT for these predators. FEEL your emotions, and let your kids feel the emotions, you will teach them by EXAMPE.

READ the articles here, ALL the articles and when you ahve finished go back and read them again.

We start out learning about them, beating ourselves us for being so “stooopid” and letting them abuse us over and over while we still “love” the illusion, but we are “trauma bonded” to them, like Wit says, an ADDICTION.

Tell your kids, “I have felings of love for John, but John does not love me, the way he SHOWS me he does not love me is by how he treats me poorly. You would not let anyone treat you poorly and I am determined NOT to let John treat me or you guys poorly ever again, but sometimes I am still sad that he doesn’t really love me.”

That right there will do more for your kids and reassure them, and you. Hang in there (((hugs))) and my prayers for your healing and PEACE.

Thanks OxDrover for the encouragement. Actually, before I ever read this my 13 year-old asked me if I was ok. I first told her yeah, but she knew different and told me so. I told her I would be ok. I was just sad and worried. Worried because I don’t know how we are going to make it with no money to pay bills or buy Christmas and sad, well you know why. She (a 13 yr old) said stop telling yourself you want him, you don’t but all I could say was but I do. That made her mad so she stomped off. I sadly admit that I have pretty much always been one to hide my emotions or at least try.

I visited my counselor today and filled her in on things. I also mentioned to her about you guys saying he was an addiction and she definitely agreed. Now breaking free from that addiction is my journey. One I’m not ready to make but know I have to somehow.

I did find out today from a friend of mine that has a friend that knows my still at the moment husband from a while back that he used to use coke on a regular basis. Told her to tell me to beware of nasal spray. That is something he uses on a daily basis several times each day. I’ve always wondered why and now I wonder even more! This person said he knows who my husbands suppliers were and that he more than likely is still involved. This made my stomach churn. Like the knife that was already shoved in my heart was just taken and twisted a few turns. Of course, I don’t know this to be true as I don’t know her source of information but she did tell me this guy is very legitimate and knows many people. Not sure if I should do anything with this information or not. I somehow think if I found out for definite that he is in fact still involved with such a drug, the breakaway may not be quite so hard. Not sure though.

Thank you for your prayers. PEACE is what I long for. Something I don’t think I’ve ever truly had in my 40 years of living. Not real true peace.

Dear Whattodo,

I suggest that you go put your arms around your daughter and be honest with her…tell her just what you have told me, and reassure her that you are going to break free from this addiction to this man.

It doesn’t matter if he is using drugs, or not using drugs, HE IS TOXIC TO YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN. I know you love your children, and they deserve that. Do it for them if not for yourself. YOU CAN DO IT. It takes WORK and determination.

Go to an Al-anon group, or find some other support group besides your counselor, preferably a group that understands addiction, because that is exactly what you have got. I have been there, I was addicted to a man after my husband died and I was so lonely, but I broke free. So can you.

My biggest addiction is the FICTION that I had to stay “bonded” to my blood family no matter what they did to me or anyone else—or die and go to HELL. Now, I nkow that is not ttrue. MY God, as I understand Him NOW does not expect me to play door mat to abusers or to take vengence on them either, but to take care of andf LOVE MYSELF.

If you haven[‘t read my article about The Golden Rule–The Silver Rule, please do so. It explains it all, we must demand that others treat us as well as we treat them, we are not told to love ourselves as we love our neighbor, but to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves and demand to be treated with respect….we can’t do anything.

Start loving yourslef, be open and honest (age appropriate honesty) with your kids. You are still their mother and they are not “your support” they deserve you to support them, but you can lift yourself up FOR them. Let them know that right now you are sad but you will be there to protect them. That you are going to be the “new and improved” YOU and the new and improved Mom that can share her feelings safely with her kids and they can share their feelings honestly with you.

You would be suprised how wonderful it is to do so. I[‘m just learning with my 40 year old son, and he with me. But it is wonderful and our relationship is so much better than ever before (he was married to a P as well and she had distanced him from me and my late husband and his brother D.)

Keep coming here and reading and reading and READING! You can’t fix him, but you can fix yourself, GROW into the powerful strong woman you want to be. FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT. DO what you know is right even if you dont’ want to. ((((Hugs)))) You are in my prayers.


I was at a profssional assoc. meeting last night; went to network as my contract is over soon. i got through about 2/3rds of the night okay, then the desperation of my situation and the isolation and shame i am feeling started to undermine my confidence.

I came out of there thinking that thing i keep thinking: if they only knew how utterly fucked up my life is……
I keep feeling that the ug of my life situation means i am ug.

I go out and network and i think people can smell the shit on me.

I have exactly 2 skirts i can wear, and one business jacket. my boots are polished, but there are holes in the heals.

there is such a dicotomy between what i need to present and how i really feel. ‘please hire me, AND i am almost homeless’ OY!

anyway, this AM i was following up on new contacts made in the last week, and I got an email from one of the folks I met. he said something nice about me – something i stopped believing in in myself in this last while.

and i realized that there is SO LITTLE nice coming my way right now. there are fights on almost all fronts. and i can’t take it. the compliment – recognizing that there has been so little ‘nice’ and kind, not only SO much struggle, made me cry. no wonder i feel like shit.

and it is info about what i want and poses another question for me in my ongoing evaluation of the rightness of my outing the spath/ testifying against her.

big sigh, or rather, stop holding breath and EXHAAAALE. 🙂

one step

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