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Why is it so difficult to detach from a sociopath?

by Quinn Pierce

The other day, in one of my counseling sessions, I was recounting a story about some family members who still interact with my ex-husband, despite my requests that they respect me enough to not have any contact with him.

I was no longer angry or annoyed by their behavior, I had since realized it is much easier if I lower my expectations for some people in my life and distance myself from others.  But, I was curious about their inability to stop contact with my ex-husband even after knowing everything he has done to my family.

The Inexplicable Bond

It led me to wonder: Why is it so difficult to detach from a sociopath?

It seems as though it makes no difference if some people know the truth about what damage a sociopath has caused, they are still eager to maintain some kind of connection.  At first, this was very hurtful for me, but over time, I’ve come to accept that I can’t be responsible for other people’s decisions, and I cannot take their actions as a personal attack.

For one thing, a sociopath, such as my ex-husband, can form strong bonds with those just outside their inner circle by presenting themselves as a respectable, caring, even adoring and genuine person.  This was what people around us believed for many years.  When we divorced, it was just too inconceivable for some of my family and friends to accept that the person they knew was actually a monster.

It would mean questioning their own ability to see past someone else’s polished exterior.  Not many people are willing to admit they had such a huge lapse in judgment. I actually understand this to an extent, because I know how foolish I felt after learning the truth about the man I had married- and stayed married to for over fifteen years.

Denial: The Easier Choice

Also, it’s easy for sociopaths to ”˜shine their light’ on people they don’t see all that often, and that is an addicting quality of a sociopath.  If my ex-husband wants to put someone on a pedestal, he will figure out just what that person’s greatest emotional need is and then exploit it in a manipulative way that makes him look like a hero.

For those of us in an intimate relationship with such a person, that trait is what we hold out for as we wade through the sea of negativity that surrounds the remainder of the relationship.  It’s like a drug, but only enough to keep you addicted.

My family members may actually prefer to believe he is the person they want him to be, because it is much more comfortable than giving up that praise and having to deal with my much less enjoyable reality.

Responding To Other People’s Pain

The final reason I came up with (and I’m sure there are many more) is that those of us who are not sociopaths have emotions such as compassion and empathy and we are capable of feeling bad for people who appear to be hurting.

My ex-husband still cries regularly when he wants sympathy for not seeing his sons as much as he thinks he should.  Others don’t realize it has nothing to do with a father’s love for his children and everything to do with the type of father he wants to portray himself to be to the outside world.

I can honestly say that I am guilty of this, as well.  Just after my separation, I agreed to allow my ex-husband to visit my boys every day after work.  I pushed aside my anger, fear, and resentment, because I still believed there was an intrinsic love that all fathers must have for their children that was instinctual, if nothing else.

Reality Check

I later learned that he was more interested in checking on me every day, making sure I wasn’t involved with another man, and making sure I wasn’t poisoning my children against him than he was in spending time with his children.

The visits soon tapered off, leaving my children wondering why their dad didn’t come by to see them anymore.  I’m sure I made up yet another excuse to soften the blow from his apathy.

Redefining Relationships

Detaching from a sociopath is definitely a complicated, messy, and unnatural process.  In a sense, we have to accept that there is a population of humans who lack humanity.  It is a frightening realization and an even more frightening reality.

Who wants to walk around knowing there are people walking by them right at that moment who have no empathy, shallow emotions, and use manipulation and abuse as a means of controlling those they proclaim to love?

So, I can understand, to an extent, why some people in my life refuse to accept these facts for what they are.  As I said, I cannot be responsible for their decisions.  I can, however, be responsible for mine.  As difficult as it is, I choose to keep a more superficial and distanced relationship with those I was once close with, simply because I cannot allow myself to be around unsupportive and unhealthy people.

No More Excuses

I spent half of my life making excuses for someone who was going out of his way to be hurtful and deceptive.  In order to be healthy, I have to honor myself, and that means not making excuses for anyone else, even if it means grieving the loss of a once close relationship with a friend or relative.

I would rather lose a friend or two than the parts of me that I worked so hard to recover.

 


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83 Comments on "Why is it so difficult to detach from a sociopath?"

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Still and Star-

I didn’t make my exit without help. At first I resisted because I felt that I wasn’t going to allow the CADs in my life to control my behavior in any way. But I’d ruminate, and couldn’t stop, particularly, when the heartbreak came from my son who has a character disorder similar to his father. As much as the loss of a lover can undermine you, there are no words that can express the heartache of losing a child, (even when they’re an adult.)

So if you can’t get the thoughts out of your brain, a mild anti-depressant can be just what you need to help you over that hurdle. It will give you power to manage your thoughts instead of your thoughts managing you.

Be sure not to self medicate. There are all kinds. A psychiatrist can prescribe the right medication for you, and so can a medical doctor. Having a therapist to help you focus your thoughts is a good idea as well. Try to locate one who has experience with sociopathic relationships.

Wishing you all the best-
Joyce

LF hearts,

Why? Why? Why?!!!

IMO, it’s those things called “Feelings”.

This is why it has been so hard for me to stay away or not let him back in after many break-ups.

Albeit, detachment is difficult due to sociopathic manipulation of us, and not because of some great love that is about to be lost.

(please read about how his personality can make your feelings for him like the equivalent of having an addiction)

There were times during the 3 1/2 years with “M”, that I wanted to be able to just turn my feelings ‘off’ at whim.

It hurt being with him. He was so sneaky and evasive, coupled with all the lies and OW+.

I wasn’t able to turn my feelings off no matter how much I wanted to. I cried and begged on too many occasions for him to do ‘something, ANYTHING’ with me to make things better….. ha! futile, just plain futile each time. sick.

The last fight was ‘it’ for me. I’m done wishing and lying to myself.

He is disorderd and it hurt’s my feelings. He knows it does. He does nothing about it, but, I CAN.

I haven’t seen him in 12 days now. I am 12 days of no physical contact, I should say.

Apparently he might have thought that I may still have some supply for him, because 6 days ago he called me from the hospital to tell me he had had a heart attack the day before.

I asked if he was able to get a hold of his mother and told him to take care, then I hung up the phone and haven’t heard from him or seen him since.

Surprisingly, I had no urge to run to his side when he called this time.

So, now…..if I want to feel better…. ironically……. in the end….. I actually DO get to turn my feelings regarding ‘M’ all the way “OFF!!”

Ya hear that “M”? my feelings for you are now in the “OFF!!” position.

Goodbye “M”.

But, Hello Jenni! Where have I been? It’s good to see ME again.

***
Time, Peace,
Jenni Marie

ps: NO CONTACT really is the only way for YOU to get back to being YOU, the YOU before the pain and heartache of being with a spath caused you to have. NO CONTACT- One Day at A Time and sometimes 5 minutes at a time. Do it for YOU.

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