By | October 14, 2013 11 Comments

Recovery from the sociopath: Remember to live

For many of us, when we finally disengage from the sociopath, our lives are in shambles. We aren’t just trying to recover from a broken heart due to the sociopath’s unconscionable betrayal. We may also need to recover from financial devastation, ruined relationships with family and friends, lost jobs, lost businesses, lost homes, stress-related illness and the aftershocks of psychological manipulation.

No wonder we feel like zombies. Where do we start? How do we rebuild our lives?

In the beginning, our focus is rightfully on crisis management. We make sure we have shelter, food, financial support. We must find solutions for the basic issues of survival.

Eventually, the crisis abates. We may not be living as we want to live, but we’re not starving. If we’re attempting to co-parent with the sociopath, it may still be infuriating, but at least we’re catching on to the game.

At this point, it is important to remember to live.

Doing what we enjoy

Even though our lives are still a mess, and we still have many problems to solve, we need to save a little bit of time, energy and resources to do things that we enjoy.

The tendency is to think that we have to put our lives on hold until all of our problems are solved. We believe that we can’t spare a few minutes to go for a walk. We can’t spend any money for a cup of coffee at what used to be our favorite café. We can’t talk to our old friends until we have good news to report.

This type of thinking will actually hinder our progress. Continuing to focus on what is damaged, lost or missing in our lives will keep us in a rut, and make it difficult to move forward.

We need to allow ourselves pleasures, even if they are small: sitting outside on a sunny day, watching a favorite movie, calling an old friend on the phone. The idea is to experience moments of joy however we can. The more joy we can allow into our lives, the faster our frame of mind will improve. And with a better frame of mind, we can find long-term solutions to all the issues we face.

Something that happened to us

Here’s the key concept: The experience of being betrayed by a sociopath is not who we are. The experience is something that happened to us.

I’ve written many articles in which I stress the importance of making a decision to recover from the sociopath, to find the places where we feel vulnerable and heal them.

There are two parts to the recovery: Processing the emotional pain, and allowing joy into our lives. They go hand-in-hand. As you release the betrayal and disappointment, you’ll feel a void. Fill the void with moments of joy.

Don’t deny yourself opportunities for joy and pleasure. They are important for your recovery.


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Joy is so important, it comes up from inside and happens when we feel peace at that moment in time. It can’t happen when we’re obsessing over what damage has occurred but in moments of quiet gratitude.

I find that it takes years to process everything but that doesn’t mean it needs to be a negative. It can be like peeling an onion and being amazed at what we find inside. We are so much more than the person who was with a sociopath. We were duped.

I was at my therapy session today and found out I have impostor syndrome. It’s one of those things that makes total sense with the cards I have been dealt. It’s fairly common and I feel good about identifying why I feel like a fraud when I accomplish something.

So the waves of destruction become less powerful as time marches on. From fearing for my life to PTSD to freedom and more PTSD to finding out that I am so much more than all of those things. None of them define me.

So yes, feel joy in a wonderful fall day. You deserve to have great joy but during your healing path, little moments of joy will do.



True!!!The moments of joy, the shared laugh or giggle with a friend or sibling, the morning walk, the few minutes of peace with a cup of coffee, the comic strips, chat with parents… all these bring in a lot of sunshine during the period of despair, and actually hasten the healing far far more than just thinking things thru repeatedly or counting your losses does…these almost make that period memorable or special…thanks Donna..


I just got back from visiting one of my children who a couple of times brought up my falling for the deception and what those years of sexual abuse by him did to her. I’m very depressed. It’s been six years and it’s still following me. Even if I manage to get past it, she doesn’t and it brings it all back. It’s hard to feel any joy in life when burdened by this guilt.

It helps to “voice” it even if the “talk” is to a virtual world of fellow victims. I really don’t want to be a victim anymore. It’s been years and years since I’ve felt joy in life because of all the struggles being a single mom, financial difficulties, worry about work, and then the devastation of that horrible relationship which devastated me financially as well as emotionally and psychologically. I do appreciate this site tremendously and am so glad I found it. It so helps to not feel so alone in my experiences, but I’m think that each day will be a struggle esp when I am reminded of what happened to my children. I’ll follow Donna’s advice and go for a walk in the fall colors today. I’m sure it will help.


Annajanna I can relate to your feelings of guilt as my ex abused my children emotionally as well (not physically) I accept the responsibility of the years I continued to allow that man in our lives and ruin our future. I feel my children are justified in their anger toward me, and try to get them to vent as much as possible. I was not the only victim, and my children have every right to feel angry, hurt and vengeful even if those feelings are directed toward me. They were kids and had no choice in the matter but to roll along with the bad choices I made for us. When I try to get past the burdens of my poor decisions, I try to get past them TOGETHER with my children as their recovery is as important, if not more so, as my own.


As I sit here on the eve of my 44th Birthday I realized that I have broken up with my Spath twice in the same year. This last time I kicked him out and it was over at that point. Because I refuse to allow myself to shed another tear over that man I have tried to replace the since of “loss” with something joyful. As you all know, I joined a local fitness club at the beginning of this month and actually have enjoyed going every day. The few days I have been unable to go, I have felt guilty, like I am cheating myself out of something. I have never felt that way before. I have always spent so much of my time and energy trying to make the man in my life happy that I never knew that working out would feel so great.

I find joy in laughing with my kids without being criticized. I find joy in being alone at times and that is a whole new feeling. I find I laugh more and don’t look over my shoulder as much. I find joy in having people that completely understand what happened to me.

But most of all, I find joy in knowing that he will NEVER really know what joy is. He will NEVER really know what love is. He will NEVER have compassion and true friendship. I find joy in knowing that when all is said and done, I am better off without him!! For the first time in my life, I get to discover me and not feel guilty about doing so.

It has been 22 days today since my last contact with him and he has no desire to contact me and I have no desire to contact him. It is like we never existed to one another. He knows that he will only find an enemy in me and he knows it is best to stay far away. But you know, while he is off pretending to enjoy his life with his new victim and I am actually enjoying mine. I sometimes miss the times that I believed most that he loved me but then I remember it was all just a lie and I bring myself back to reality and do something nice for myself. My children are happier and it warms my heart to see them laugh and I get happier as each day passes. I will never trust another man with my heart (or trust myself for that matter) but I can laugh again so that trade off is worth it.


Congratulations Katareaux for 22 days no contact. I feel the same. Sometimes I catch myself thinking back to when I “thought” he was being a caring person. My son had no contact with him for over 8 months now. Yesterday he received a Birthday Card in which his father stated “I miss you so much,I wish we could have a relationship.” Of course it was all about his wishes. My son and I know that he is not capable of having any relationship. I always thought as a narcissist he loves himself. The truth is he does not know nor will he ever know what love is. I find happiness in knowing that he can live in his world of lust, greed and pride. He lost his most valuable “possession” his only child. And he must live with this every day. Money and sex cannot replace the love of his son.

So true. I’ve been walking around for too long waiting for the perfect moment to start living again. Always feeling bad if I tried to enjoy things, because I didn’t deserve it or that I should spend time on handling all my issues instead. Your article really resonated with me. Thanks again for writing this. I’m still learning.


I totally agree with you Katareaux. I will always have trust issues, that I know. For me it was a long time, about 20 years and I know for a fact that he was a liar and a cheater for at least the past 5 years. I am doing so much better also. You are right about the “butterfly feeling”. It did disappear over the last few months. Unfortunately I have divorce proceedings ahead of me. But I will treat it as a business deal as my attorney advised me to. I am confident that I eventually meet someone who is not a liar or a deceiver. I am learning to be strong on my own and I have my beautiful son, my 2 little dogs and a cat to love. That is enough at the moment. I also know that my soon to be ex is not doing that well. It’s a tremendous loss for him that his only child is not talking to him. He had everything planned so perfectly, he never imagined that he would also lose the respect of his son along with throwing me away. I do believe there are consequences for everything in life. He must live with this loss and I am sure being ignored is a terrible feeling for him. Ignoring him comes much easier now. Because everything that comes out of his mouth is worthless. Congratulations on you doing so well with the gym membership and no contact. I am 48 now and I am ready to start a new chapter in my life. By the way I have not cried in about 5 months, my blood pressure is great, people tell me I look so much better . So there it shows that he was never any good for me. Stay strong and I know there is someone it in this world who would appreciate us and treat us right.

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