Many Lovefraud readers experience the phenomenon of “losing yourself” in the sociopathic relationship. Before meeting the sociopath, you may have been, for the most part, happy, confident, successful and financially stable. You had a network of people who cared about you. Yes, there was some kind of vulnerability—perhaps you were a bit lonely—and the sociopath used the vulnerability to infiltrate your life. But, for the most part, you were okay.
Then, either suddenly or slowly, your life disintegrated, and the problems you face are so immense, and so interconnected, and so overwhelming, that you don’t know where to begin unraveling them. You don’t have the energy to start. Rather than the happy and confident person you once were, you are anxious, depressed and fearful. You don’t know how you are going to survive.
And you don’t know how it all happened. Trying to figure it out, you describe the individual’s behavior to friends or a therapist, and someone mentions the word “sociopath.” Or you do a Google search—perhaps on “pathological lying”—and end up on Lovefraud.
You are in shock. The description fits, and you realize that the individual never cared about you, that you were targeted, and that you allowed yourself to be scammed, either financially or emotionally. You’ve lost money, or your home, or your job, or your support network—or all of it.
As you realize the depths of the betrayal, the blame game starts. And whom do you blame? Yourself.
You are furious with yourself for not seeing it sooner. You didn’t listen to people who warned you, or to your own inner voice that was telling you something was amiss. Instead, you believed the silver-tongued liar, the crying and pleading actor, whose real intention was to drain from you everything he or she could.
Besides everything physical and financial that you lost, you are most upset because you no longer have your sense of self. You feel like you lost your soul.
The sociopath is responsible
First of all, recognize that you are not responsible for the abuse you experienced.
The sociopath may have blamed you for his or her actions, saying, “You made me do it.” Understand that statements like these were all part of the manipulation. The terrible words were spoken specifically to throw you off-balance and break you down, so that the sociopath could maintain control.
He or she is responsible for the hurtful words—and for all abusive actions.
Commit to recovery
Next, know that you can recover. The key to recovery is recognizing that the fraud and betrayal is NOT WHO YOU ARE. The devastation by the sociopath is something that happened to you. The betrayal was an incident, an experience. Do not allow it to define the rest of your life.
Make a decision, a commitment to yourself, that you are going to heal.
This means you need to allow yourself to experience the deep wells of pain, disappointment and grief that the experience caused. You have to get it out of your system, and the only way to do that is to allow yourself to process the pain, which means feeling it.
Finally, you need to let the experience go. How do you do this? You accept that it happened, and that there is nothing you can do to change the past. This does not mean you excuse what the sociopath did. But you do recognize that the betrayal was an INCIDENT IN YOUR LIFE, and NOT LET IT DEFINE THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
It is true that you will never be the same after the experience with the sociopath, and you may have, in fact, lost yourself. But by facing the pain, processing it and letting it go, you can find a new “you,” one with a richer, deeper understanding of the human condition, and more capacity for love and compassion than you ever had before.
You can recover. You can grow. You can acquire wisdom. And you can move on and find happiness—perhaps sharing the wisdom you acquired to help prevent others from going through what you experienced.
Lovefraud originally published this article on July 9, 2012.