After the relationship with the sociopath, you can be left feeling:
You can look at your life, and your world, and even yourself, and not recognise yourself anymore. The sociopath is very deceptive and manipulative and has played mind games. Throughout the relationship with the sociopath it was likely based upon mind games to control you, and manipulate your emotions.
It can be hard to come to terms with the fact that your Mr or Mrs Perfect has turned out to be a pathological liar, and the master of illusion. Likely during the relationship you were controlled, the sociopath was the puppet master pulling your strings. You learned that it was easier to do what the sociopath wanted, than to have yet another drama or false accusation.
Despite this, despite that you probably gave more than you had ever given in your life (often not through choice, but by pure manipulation), the relationship still comes to an end. At final discard, there can be a period of silence. This silence can, at first feel uncomfortable.
Remember what peace there is in silence. Whilst this silence might cause you pain, it is necessary for healing and recovery. You might be tempted to call the sociopath, so that he/she can put the band aid back on, and stop you from hurting. You might mistake this strong emotion for love – it is not love, it is need. You are desperately searching for the ‘missing part of you’ that person in the mirror, that you feel that the sociopath has stolen.
YOU are still whole!
Facing yourself in the mirror
You might look in the mirror, and feel lost. Empty inside. Wondering what happened to you. Where did your life go? Who are you?
Who are you now? You have been controlled for a long time. You would have been in a relationship where you were not allowed to think for yourself. Where, without realising it. your whole being was manipulated and controlled. The relationship was about the sociopath. Daily there was constant drama. It felt intense. You didn’t really have time to think about yourself or your own life. The longer that the relationship has continued, the further away YOU and YOUR LIFE can feel. This is especially true, if you were isolated and experienced emotional abused with someone who was very narcissistic.
Throughout the relationship with the sociopath, being manipulated, and controlled, it is likely that you avoided yourself. What you need to do, is to centre yourself, and realise that the sociopath has not taken any part of you. You might have lost your home, your finances, your social network, perhaps your job also.
What I need you to remember, is that it is impossible to lose yourself. You are always whole and complete within you. There are exercises that you can do to reclaim yourself.
To go forwards – sometimes you need to go backwards!
To rediscover who you were before, the positive things about you, and your life, you need to reclaim yourself. Contrary to popular belief, you didn’t need the sociopath, he needed YOU. Even if the sociopath has caused mass destruction, and you do not know where to begin. Start small.
- Speak to family members – even if you haven’t spoken for a while
- Contact old friends
- Visit the gym, take up a class, go for a walk, or go out on your bike
- Realise that you are going through the stages of bereavement. Go easy on yourself. You are coming to terms with the harsh reality that you have dated someone who was not honest, and who didn’t really exist. If it seemed wonderful, this is a mirror image of YOU, if he was emotionally abusive, those are the words that he feels about himself, his self hatred!
- Write three lists –
- List 1. Write all the reasons that you miss the sociopath
- List 2. Write all the reasons that it is better that he is out of your life
- List 3. Write what you want to achieve, short term goals, medium term goals, long term goals –
Make sure that your goals are SMART (Specific, Measured, Achievable, Realistic)
It is important to write smart goals for yourself. By making sure that your goals are smart, you will feel that you are achieving, and will start to bring positivity into your life. Remember when you were with the sociopath, how you spent all of your time, picking up the pieces of constant drama in your life? You didn’t have time for you. If you did make plans, likely you were constantly let down, or simply led up the garden path, and felt like your life was going around in circles and going nowhere!
YOU ARE FREE!!!!
It might feel strange at first. And you will need to go through the stages of bereavement. You will be grieving for the person you thought you were in love with. Remember, this is just an illusion. The person that you thought you were in love with, is a mirror image reflection of YOU, your hopes, your dreams, your wants, your needs. All the best things about you, that you thought you deserved. Your morals, your goodness.
You should feel lucky, as now you can reclaim that part of you back for yourself.
You are now free.
If you look in the mirror, and your heart sinks, and you feel that a part of you is missing, you wonder how can you pick up the pieces and find you again? Remember –
- Start small
- Create SMART goals and targets
- Re-connect with people you were previously close to, who you trust
- Do one thing a day that makes you smile
- Stay with the PRESENT – you can’t change the past, and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet
- Love yourself, and treat yourself like your own best friend
- Write lists of things to do, to sort out the carnage – you CAN do this!
- Most importantly try to have fun
- Try to make at least ONE long term plan/Goal. Something that you can achieve. This could be anything, learn to drive, get a new car, learn a new skill, move house = then write down how you are going to achieve that goal
By doing the above, you start to re-create dreams for yourself again. You find yourself. You find you. You find your hopes and dreams, and create new ones.
Most importantly – not only do you find you, you also find HOPE. You reconnect, once again to the person in the mirror, your life, your dreams, the whole of you!!
Words © datingasociopath.com
23 thoughts on “How to reclaim the ‘person in the mirror’ after the sociopath relationship”
Another great post! I can’t help thinking that you should publish a workbook. I have begun using your posts as a guide for exploring and writing about my experience.
Thank you Drew, I am putting this into a book. Am just having problems with formatting at the moment 😦
Every time I get a notification in my email from you about another post, I can’t wait to read it. Even though I am over him emotionally, I still find so much comfort in what you write…the constant reminders of who they are, that I am the one who is normal, and that I have moved on in my life free from him to bigger and better things and that I will love again is just soooo reassuring…it’s like being reminded of good news over and over again. Reading Barbara’s story, she said that she still felt angry with him and wasn’t sure why. At times, I still find myself feeling angry towards joe and I’m not sure why completely…I think it is because of the time segment he caused me to lose in my life…wasted on him. Though I know it isn’t…I believe everything in our lives happens for a reason, though I don’t know yet what that reason is. Maybe it’s because I’m embarrassed at having another divorce on my record. Maybe I’m still kicking myself in the butt for being so stupid and gullible. I’m not sure. I am a Christian and so I know I have to forgive him and most of the time I think I have, but every so often…
Thanks Kimmi, that really means a lot to me!! 🙂
You will find that one day you will forgive him. When you forgive him, is when you truly forgive yourself. And that is when you are set free.
It is a recovery process. We do all go through the 5 stages of grief. The final one being acceptance. No time is ever wasted, it offers knowledge, wisdom and spiritual growth. One day when the pain is gone, and you have moved on, you look back and are thankful that is behind you, and that you are a much stronger person than you were before you met that person.
You have nothing to feel embarrassed about, as you can see, just from this site, there are so many victims – its not that you are stupid. It is that they are so expert at being manipulative and deceptive.
But you don’t have to carry that anymore – they will sadly, always be that way – whilst you are free!!! 🙂
From one Christian Woman to another please forgive yourself. The final entity to moving forward,
Again, thank you Nicola. Although my relationship was just a few months, the damage was starting – to my person, mistakes on the job that caused tremendous problems, and the possibility of losing tens of thousands of dollars in property equity. Right now, my recovery stage is rage, depression, and am questioning much in my life. Reading this blog keeps me on the right path. Still, no matter what, I feel relief and a sense of the future and all of the possibilities and am tackling many projects & revisiting old friends, and feeling fortunate. Two days ago, a co-worker was nearly beaten to death by her controlling husband, who was perceived as “nice” guy to most. I can’t be sure he’s a sociopath, but she had left him and the divorce was to be final this week. She was reclaiming her life, starting to have fun, and leaving behind the control, a huge home, money, and the humiliation of constant emotional abuse. We’re grateful that she will recover, and I’m thinking that there but for the grace of God go many of us.
Exactly. the one thing that you do have is peace of mind. And just FREEDOM to do what you want.
He drove me nuts. I stopped speaking to people. Became isolated. Was so miserable, I had NO life at all. thats not me. It is nice now, to be able to talk to who I want to. Male or female without accusations. I stopped being friendly to people, and just did as I was told…. there is more to life than that, for sure!
This is a meaningful post where you put on words what a person after a “relationship” with a sociopath feel…I’m trying to get the ” fog” out of the mirror and I hope that I will find a better me with scars that made me stronger…thank you
your story is far too common, but the rare thing is how beautifully you write about it and inspire other. Well done!
Thank you so much for your very kind comments!! 🙂 It means a lot. Happy Saturday to you!!
You say to reconnect to people in your life before the sociopath – I have almost always been alone.
My mother was a narcissist; I made friends with a sociopath (1) to get away from her and experienced my first devalue/ discard; it took over eight years and meeting another sociopath (2) to get me over him; it took the most recent sociopath/ narcissist (3) (who actually admitted his diagnosis to me) to get me over the second one. I have never known true friendship, and push away anyone who doesn’t give me that “relationship high”.
I’m in my second discard with #3, and currently living with my mother for the second time since I moved out in ’05 (#3 kicked me out of his place, after living with me rent-free for a year before paying his share of rent, promising me the same, then asking for money, then demanding, then replacing me with drug dealers). My little brother (age 15) is old enough to understand our mother’s true nature, and we confide in each other because our peers don’t understand. She favors him, and I’m the scapegoat – she even blames his behavior she doesn’t like on me.
I don’t know what to do, so I’m seeking counseling through school. I’m 25, working on my undergraduate degree (I graduated a year early to follow the first sociopath, and got a full ride, living on campus to get away from my mother at age 17). I have since met my biological father (who my mother cheated on her first, and only, husband with), who abandoned me in order to be with his then girlfriend (who said, “Tell her,” when he told me to move out, which put me back in my mother’s house for the first time – even though my father knew how abusive my mother was to me), now wife/ mother of his child, who graduated the same year as #1 (three years my senior).
My best friend (who was like my sister – her mother was close to me, as well) left me twice for other abusers – first, her boyfriend (later husband, who we determined lied to both of us about the other, in order to isolate her), and later, she left me in Kansas with no way home over a disagreement I had with her cousin, who was trying to intimidate me with physical assaults (“accidentally” stepping on me while walking as I sat on the floor, purposely stamping on my feet), threats (to kick me out of a car in the rain – I called her bluff and got out of my own accord, being soaking wet for 11 hours before I found her house, waiting quietly for 2 – 3 of those hours so her children could sleep, as it was a school night, and being told I could change clothes in the garage because I was no longer welcome in the house), and watching her verbally and emotionally abuse her son (criticizing his cooking in front of house guests, sincerely insulting him and his male school friend while they tried to do homework while berating them for letting her interrupting them get them off track). After borrowing +$200 from my grandmother for food and bus fare, I came home to sociopath #2 marrying another woman in a bar while under the impression him and I were still dating.
I feel like I’m on a treadmill. My confidence is subterranean, and my body language constantly apologetic. I’m afraid I’ll always be a mark for sociopaths, due to my upbringing (never knowing normal). I can’t afford to move out, and I’m $45,000 in student loan debt come graduation in May.
I go to school, go to work, volunteer, and come home. I have no where else to go that doesn’t involve spending money (excluded from invited to private homes), and I don’t trust people who don’t turn out to be users. I’m lonely and rely on escapism to ease the pain of my most recent break-up. As a survival mechanism, I have surrogate relationships using my imagination to make up for my lack of socialization. I feel socially stunted and, although I know I’m not autistic, I don’t know how to interact with other students on a non-romantic basis.
Any advice as to what I should work on with my counselor? I know I have self-esteem issues and a hopelessly romantic gullibility.
The first thing with a counseller is to find one who is right for you. Just as all humans are different so are all counsellors. So if the counsellor doesn’t feel right find another.
Hopefully that won’t happen and the counsellor you see will be perfect for you.
The answers are all within you. As are the questions. A good counsellor should allow you to talk to explore yourself. Tell your counsellor what you have told us here this should be a good starting point.
My ex wife is a sociopath. I always believed the reason for her behavior was because of her child hood, she always told me how her mother neglected her, how she never was loved. Even though her mother was always good to her. She would say, her mother was try to make up for the abuse and neglect from the past. I believed her. I forgave her every time even though she never apologized. I assumed the fact she came home after being gone for days that she felt bad. We are divorced. 2 children. I am happily remarried and only want to move forward with my life. I am at my wits end tho with my ex wife. She text me every day, at least 10-15 times a day. We have been divorced over 5 years and separated over 9. She was having an affair with the man she is married to now for the entire separation. It’s hard for me to admit this but that was our second marriage to EACH OTHER. The first time we married it was my first marriage and her second marriage, it too ended in divorce because of her affairs. Why I went back to her after the first divorce – I do not know. But we remarried. And she did the same thing. But 2 innocent children are now involved. So it has become a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation. I did not plan on ever remarrying. I knew my exwife would attempt to destroy the person I was with. But I met the most amazing woman. Her strength, courage and the way she has accepted me and my children for me made me fall in love with her. I didn’t want to bring her into my crazy world. I worry for her. I worry that my ex wife will take away from her what she did from me – the light in my eyes, my zest for life, her free spirit. We have been married 4 years now. And I see a decline in her spirit and it has broken my heart. It has made me for the first time stop just doing what my ex wife wants to keep the peace. And fight. I know the fight is useless. But I don’t fight ugly like my ex wife. I have cut off all contact basically with her. My children have become older they are teenagers. I have always made sure they have cell phones and contacted them. My ex wife hates that. When I am able to text my daughter to ask “are y’all with us this weekend?” It take more control away from my ex wife and the older the children get the less she has. My daughter is one foot out the door.
The less contact I have with my ex wife. The more text I am now getting. Now she is even communicating with my wife. Pretending to be nice. And wanting to get along. My wife is too smart. She sees through it. But my wife also is exhausted with constantly being Torn to shreds online and rumors spread about her by my ex wife, that if there is any peace offering, my wife will take it. But she knows it is fake. I am at the point in my life where I for the first feel that this woman has taken so much from me and I am angry. I want nothing to do with her. The less I respond the more she text. I have told her to in the most appropriately way, to please back off some, her texting me, is out of control and affecting me trying to work through out the day. She as expected went ballistic.
My wife feels like she will never leave us alone. I have hopes that as soon as my youngest turns 18, then I will change my number. And we will never have to respond or speak with her again. I was in a financial bind with taxes and debt when I met my wife. She helped me to get all my finances on track. And now I put aside monthly a large amount of money so one day we can retire. We don’t plan on staying in the United States. That’s how desperate we are to get away from the evil i use to be married to ( twice)
God bless you for writing this. The way you express the difficult process of realizing what has happened along with the excruciating emotions is 100% true that I thought you were in my mind for a moment. I am 2 weeks no contact moving out of the apartment I shared with my ex. I have been an emotional wreck. At first I was in shock, thought I was handling this well, then I entered confusion and I’m still kinda there, now I’m very sad. I get crying spells all throughout the day. I go into the city where we lived and it re traumatizes me, I pick up a book on verbal abusive recovery and I cry become I can even read it. I hate myself for crying because he doesn’t deserve it. It’s hard for me to except his good times the times I loved and still cry over were an illusion. You wrote those times are actually a reflection of me. My god it clicked. Reading that was my first feeling of clarity in a long time. Thank you. I was able to read a few of your articles without crying ( maybe a little). My question is- I’m trying to put the focus on myself.. But I don’t know how to write a list like u explained .. frankly I can’t even think of goals. 1 goal is to stop crying, stop obsessing over everything he has said, to forget him, to forgive myself to allowing this.. But I don’t know how to accomplish these goals when I’m so so sad.
Hi Ashley, it is normal to not want to do goals in the beginning. After all you are in bereavement. Not only bereavement but also recovering from betrayal. Which is the very worst feeling. How you are feeling ‘sad’ is normal. There is an empty space where he once was. This is bereavement, grief. It is normal to cry and just feel like your heart, soul and insides have been ripped out. BUT>>>> this feeling doesn’t last forever. Each tear that you cry is a tear towards healing. Let it out. Just let it out, and allow yourself to be sad. As long as that sadness does not continue, if it does see a doctor, as you could be slipping into depression and might need help. But remember that depression is part of bereavement. Unlike a normal relationship end it is like bereavement. After all you are grieving the illusion of the relationship. You are grieving the person that they faked they are. You are grieving all of the lies and the way that you were treated…. being sad, crying and letting it out. Is healthy, it would be more worrying if you weren’t. Try these posts
Also surround your self with people who are on your side regardless of anything, a great support system. Is awesome. Even if they don’t understand. They love you and eventually will.
This is great advice. Whoever wrote this truly understands what it feels like after you leave a sociopath. All of the suggestions have been keeping me afloat, such as contacting old friends, re-connecting with family, excercising, and treating myself to small things every day that I never thought of doing or never had time to do while I was under his grip. I’m still making it, if anyone has any other suggestions please post.
Thank you stronger. It took a lot to try to pull myself not only the relationships but also trauma. When abused when traumatised I couldn’t even see it as abuse. At the end I couldn’t even face myself in the mirror. This is where this post came from. I think of all the posts written here (I write them all) this one means so much I come back to read it myself sometimes, just as a reminder that once I was so broken I couldn’t face myself in the mirror.
I took a wrong turn yesterday and went by the house we used to live in (that our family was evicted from because he lied about paying rent for three months) and by a park I used to take my kids nearby and I have been a wreck since. Slept about 2 hours last night, anxiety attacks all day. Going down memory lane is one of the worst triggers for me. I go to new grocery stores, new parks, new church, everything.
i broke up with my sociopath girlfriend last month,but now i can’t explain what i feel.my day starts with anxity,low self esteem and ends with that.sometimes i feel confident after reading forum posts but at the next moment situation becomes same.m in total NC with her but 2 days ago she text me that if i dint delete her photos yet den i should(i have already deleted that bitch).she added if i ever try to do ne missuse of her pics she have enuf proofs with her to take legal actions(again that bitch with her fucking talks). But my mind fluctuates and i think that she loved me. please tell me what to do?
Ignore her and dont respond. She is looking for a response. Eventually she will give up and go away. I am sorry you are hurting it does get better. I promise.
I need help:( I’ve been with him almost 2 years. He lies, he cheats, verbally abuses me and blames me for EVERYTHING. He changed me. I used to be outgoing and care about people and life. I don’t care about anything but him. He isolated me. He is not remorseful or even concerned with what he did to my life. I hate him but I feel like I can’t breath without him. There has never been a sadness like the one I feel when I try to leave. How did I come to this. What do I do?
Hi e, welcome to the site. The thought that you cannot live without him, is just an illusion. Sociopaths are very clever at manipulation, control. The reason that you feel that you cannot breath without him is due to the control that he has over you, your mind and your life. Sociopaths take over everything they would even take over the air that you breath if you allowed them to. What you need to do is to establish no contact. You have to do this to find yourself again. To heal and recover. You never will, if you do not do this. This man makes you feel bad about you. Read the posts in healing and recovery section.