Lovefraud recently received the following e-mail from a reader who we’ll call “Lillian.”
Yes. It happened to me. It took him six years but he left. He left me holding two mortgages in both our names. He left me once I ran out of cash. He left me when I got laid off. I am almost 50 years old and I have nothing. I haven’t heard from him in over a year. He encouraged me to buy a bigger, more expensive house than I would have on my own and came up with half the down. He moved in. Wouldn’t pay anything. Got us a joint account and credit card. I worked. He didn’t even buy groceries. He bought himself a boat after three years of hell as I got angrier and angrier because he just lay on the couch. Then he sailed to Mexico and didn’t come back. His rich widow of a prominent heart surgeon called me one day. He had told her he owned property up here and that he had ended a relationship—which he hadn’t. He got really angry then and cleaned out the joint account of my funds, of course, since there was never any joint about it. He lives in Mexico on his boat and has a house in Oakland. She feels like Cinderella right now and thinks I am the evil stepsister.
I had $400K in cash. No revolving debt. Two retirement accounts and supported my husband and kids. Well fast forward. I have no cash. No retirement accounts. $70K in revolving debt and no job. I am ruined. I am so traumatized and messed up that I can’t function. I just cry. I reach out and no one is there. I am extremely isolated. I want to die. He is living in Mexico and suing me for half the house. He isn’t done with me yet. And I am just two months away from living in a tent. No one cares. No one understands. Everyone thinks that somehow I either deserve this and or it’s my fault. I am done for. I don’t know that I can be helped even if I knew someone who could help me. That’s the story. Sad but true. I wish I were dead.
After a devastating encounter with a sociopath, the most important thing we have to do is stay alive.
We may have lost our money, our homes, our jobs, our health, our self-esteem, our hopes and our dreams, but we cannot lose our selves.
This is basic, but crucial. We cannot die.
Not everyone succeeds at this essential task. Not everyone is able to continue living in the face of monstrous personal betrayal. In these cases, the sociopath truly wins. Dr. Leedom calls it “murder by suicide.”
There is an old adage, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.” When dealing with the aftermath of a sociopath, this is the truth. A sociopath’s goal is always to win, and sometimes to destroy us in the process. When we stay alive, we deny the sociopath’s victory.
We can also start a process that, over time, will enable us to claim victory for ourselves.
It doesn’t seem that way in the blackness of despair as we survey the wreckage of our lives. But as many of us have learned, amid the wreckage we may discover that our broken ideas and beliefs actually needed to be broken and thrown away. We were operating under false conceptions of ourselves, conceptions that made us vulnerable to the predators.
We learn that if we stay alive, we can begin to rebuild our lives, and when we do, we will be living our own truth.
So how do we do it? We keep putting one foot in front of the other. We cry when we need to, then we pick ourselves up and push on. We keep going forward, even though we don’t believe we can.
The road to recovery takes time and patience. It takes recognizing that we may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD). It takes caring about ourselves and being kind to ourselves.
The first step is staying alive.
Please, Lillian, we know your situation is very, very bad. But don’t let him win.