How to reclaim the person in the mirror

After the relationship with the sociopath, you can be left feeling both

  • Confused
  • Lost
  • Anxious
  • Disorientated

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!


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!!

26 thoughts on “How to reclaim the person in the mirror”

  1. Thank you for this, I am going to try this..It’s all had such a snowball effect on my life..I have lost everything including myself. I can’t seem to see my way clear of the emotional abuse and effects. Being disabled emotionally has changed my world from before him..inside and out. I feel like I am stuck like a bug in a spider web. I did give myself totally to someone who really could careless…I do feel responsible too..for loving another more than myself and know that I didn’t love myself. Everything I have read here..I know and have experienced..I am mortified by it all…Thank you for being here to assist us in not fooling ourselves anymore and given us the “truth” to hopefully keep us “FREE” God Bless everyone and my heart goes out to everyone.

    1. Thank you Judy. The work on yourself that I write here, I had tried for many years with my homeless clients and had seen success. I hope that over time it can bring some relief for you! 🙂

  2. Oh my god. I just said this outloud. “I don’t remember who I was before I met him”. I’m looking around at the same house. .. and I don’t know anything of the last three years but of my relationship with him. I have two children and I believe they have suffered. I miss myself so much.. but I feel a teensy bit closer to me already knowing we are over. I want me back so badly!! I’m on day 1. I have a weird anxious feeling in my tummy and chest. I hope it is withdrawel. Pain I hear is weakness leaving your body. I have enough to deal with I am bipolar. Meeting him actually led to that diagnosis so tiny blessing. I don’t even know HOW to stop ruminating. I might as well have been addicted to crack cocaine!!!

    1. Feelingstupid, today is day 1 for me too. 😦 Today he moved out and already, I am starting to miss him. Even my family, despite knowing everything is grieving. That is how much of a old he had on me and us. I too though, feel like I lost myself in the process. My self esteem and confidence is low. I was with him for five years – suffering emotional abuse, lies (outrageous stuff) and maniplation. I constantly felt confused and that I could not trust most of what he said. It is going to be a journey but we can do it!

  3. I stumbled across your blog a few days ago. And can I just say thank you. Really from the bottom of my heart. I was in a three year relationship with a man who I now know is a socio path. The relationship ended 6 months ago. And I found myself stuck. Yearning for his return. Hoping for a future with him. Wondering how things had spun so badly out of my control. The break up was originally my decision and he took it really well at first. Obviously because he had already started a relationship with another woman a month prior to our break up. This man ruined my life. After just a few months of our relationship starting. I started to suffer from severe anxiety attacks. Those anxiety attacks then turned into an anxiety disorder. I very quickly became isolated from the outside world. And was only able to be at home. I then started going to therapy. My therapist upon our last session told me I should do some research on pathological liars and socio paths. And that is how I came across your blog. I have experienced almost every single thing that you have written about. And a lot has started to make sense. I would just like to thank you. I no longer have the yearning to fix my relationship with him. The hurt is still there. Intensely. But I am coping. Everyday it gets a little easier. And whenever I get that over wheeling sense to contact him. I come to this blog and read your posts. They are amazing. And it is so good to know that there are other people out there who understand what I am going through. As most of my friends think I’m just stupid for feeling the way I do an not just being able to get over the relationship.

    1. Hey Kayleigh, welcome to the site and thank you for your comments. I think it does help just to know that others understand. It also helps with reality check when we put back on the rose coloured glasses and remember the good times. I agree with you that sticking to no contact does help. Nobody can control you if there is no contact – which forces you to have control of yourself. It is difficult for other people to understand – unless they have been in a similar type of relationship. Keep going and take one day at a time – the further you distance yourself – the more that you will find yourself. Thank you for your kind comments!! 🙂

  4. I am still in. I need to get out. I am so confused by his amazing love and then manipulation that I can’t compete with. I really pray he is not cheating on me – that seems to be a common theme. I feel devastated b/c I love him yet I know he is not right for me. I wonder if it is me- I wonder if I love more…you all know the drill. I have had my guard up for so long and he tries so hard with me – even paying for me to go to couples counseling w/ him which I do – we focus on him and his victim stories of his past – how ex’s harmed him and his father was abusive. I feel he is going to win at a smear campaign at my church. All of this emotion and I haven’t even left yet.

  5. Feeling pretty down today. I am better off I know. I just had no idea how lost I would feel. I had my made my whole world about her and around her. All the while my friends were getting into good relationships and moving on. I thought I had more support than I have actually gotten from them. Going through something like this you re-evaluate everyone in your life. I took a low paying job while I was in school to support us both while she sat at my house doing nothing. I became more and more miserable in this shit job. After she had gone for almost two months now and no contact for weeks. I am just lost. My friends are too busy, my friend said we would do lunch today and blew me off. My future was invested into getting a place with this woman and a good job. My future is screwed now because I can not afford to move out alone. I was counting on a room mate to help. My friend and I talked about getting a place but she went and got a house with her boyfriend. They found out they got the house at my place and I was happy for them but sad for the state of my life that I could have had. All my friends have someone and I no longer do. I know its best considering, just sad that I have no one to count on. Re-evaluating things I find that most of my friends are crap. They only want to hang with me when they want something or feel like it. I don’t want friends like this. I have discovered the shit jobs and the shit friends I had taken I took because I obviously don’t feel good enough about myself. I haven’t since I was young and I want to work on it because I deserve far better considering that I am a good friend/person. I have been so miserable in the shit job I took that after wacko left I put my two weeks in because I took it for us and I am tired of being paid awful and being unhappy and my last day is Thursday. I have no plan really besides finishing my degree. My friend offered me a job that I find out the night before the second step in the hiring process, is also shit. He told me the woman in charge is crazy and no one likes her. I would also be doing the same kind of work I have been doing and I hate. Needless to say my back issues got me out of it without looking like a jerk to my friends that were trying to help. I feel hopeless and low, things seem bleak and dark now. I am 29 years old and my plans with this woman blew up in my face and I am stuck living at home with my parents. I don’t think I could possibly feel worse. I was counting on the job my friend recommended for me only to find out its shit and parking costs 30-40 bucks a month. They didn’t even want me to finish my paperwork they need someone THAT bad. They also avoided telling me the job description or who I would be working with(red flags to me). My friend told me they avoided that because the job is awful and they can’t keep it filled because the head gal is awful. I feel I did the right thing for me not trading one misery for another. Just feeling hopeless. I feel screwed out of the future I was supposed to have. Its hurts, I hurt. Two of my friends just got houses with their partners. I feel stuck and hateful towards my ex. Its made me look at life differently. I was naive and hopeful. I was good to my friends and I’ve always worked hard but have found that being a good person and working hard hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I got taken advantage of and I am unsure of how to change these things because by nature I am warm and giving. I may just have to distance them while I work on getting a job and going to school. I am finding that there is little help or hope from anyone. I must help MYSELF and be my own HOPE. Its hard when you find there’s no one really there for you at all. I don’t want anyone feeling bad for me either so I act as though things aren’t that bad. I don’t try to expose too much of my feelings considering what I have been through because my lack of trust and not wanting to be vulnerable or pitied.

  6. Hi Allison,
    It does kinda suck when you’re just trying to live your life and be a good person. You’d hope you would attract similar type people capable of reciprocation. Unfortunately, without some work, it is hard to attract quality people with something to offer.

    If I were to offer one suggestion, it would be to not view yourself as vulnerable when you are looking for help, feedback, input or support on something. For men, who can sometimes have a lot of pride (I’m not criticizing, I fall into the same boat), vulnerability is a short walk to victim or weakness.

    I suggest this mental mind shift because, as you point out, you really do need to know who your friends are, what their consistency is, and whether they are even capable of reciprocation. If not, it’s okay to spend casual time with them, but don’t expect a lot outside of that.

    Begin to look for people who are more like you and actively choose to build relationships with them. How do you do that? Just be honest. If you enjoyed your conversation with them, it is okay to say so. They will know you want to spend more time together and the two of you can define what that looks like. If you have a definitive role you’d like to explore with them (confidante, mentor, partner, buddy), you can work towards that

    You are also right about helping yourself. We must work hard to be our strongest support. It will be attractive to others when you do that as well. But remember, no man is an island, and you don’t have to be. You are thinking things through right now and seeing what’s really what. Just take it a step further and be proactive for yourself. Taking care of your own interests while respecting the interests of others is the right way to do things, and you have a right to expect people to treat you well, you know you are a good person. 🙂

  7. Thanks for the positive feed back. Just been feeling low. It can’t last forever though and I need to be active about making things better rather than wallowing. I told myself I would give myself some of today to piss and moan and possibly cry then I need to do something about it to make things better no matter how small. Decided a call to a friend and a nice dinner with my mom would help. I appreciate the support because I find it hard to talk with those I am close with. Much kindness:)

    1. I mean I find it hard to talk about my sadness with my friends and family. I just don’t think they want to hear it. Talking with my friend and my mom about new opportunities and options for myself made me feel a bit better.

  8. @Allison

    I know this sounds silly, but still to this day, I cry in the shower about whatever I am frustrated about, I have a running list of what I “think I should be accomplishing”. I have post it’s on my mirror (my dads “new helping” idea) “Find joy in something everyday”! Which some days is a struggle, because I can be very negative, and honestly some days there isn’t one! Lol!

    And statistically speaking, some of your friends who are getting married and engaged right now, will be divorced or by age 35. I remember going to my high school reunion, several couples were going through divorce, already divorce or needed divorce. I was already divorced so I was shocked, I thought I was the only one with the jacked up life. Kinda self centered of me!

    In the beginning, it is so hard to focus on positive energy, (personally) had to cocoon my self with a very small circle, and start over for a few years. Your 29 so! I am, oh crap I am going to be 40 this year! I forgot! Oh man! Anyway, I was 32 when this whole mess started, and with 4 kids! Your real friends and family, will help no matter what, take this time to regroup, find out what’s important, it really can be done! You are never alone. Look, here’s complete strangers supporting you, just because, you need kind words and a laugh! Oh and moving back in with your parents? When is this ever a bad thing? Would you rather not have them to fall back on! I am grateful everyday, I have my dad! Gives me the opportunity to be the daughter I should of been to him my whole life, (making up for those horrid teenage years, until I die)!!

    Have a great day, Alison, praying for you!


  9. You are awesome!. I was in such a funk the other day and pretty pissy about my life. Being all emo about it. I am still mad and often catch myself washing dishes or doing housework when I blurt out “I hate that bitch”. I have mostly found my anger to be motivating which is great I guess. It really helps a lot to have the support I do here from people that get what its like. You definitely brought a smile to my face and reminded me I am on the right track towards a better life. I love my parents and I am very lucky to have them. My mother and I are real close so its a definite pick me up to be here right now just find it depressing at the moment.

    I guess I have been kind of up and down lately after all this. I get stuck on what it means to be successful in our American society but I know better that everyone is different and has their own time. I learned a lot and I can take that away from my experience at least.

    I am refocusing my life back onto me now which feels pretty great. I sat down and made a list of plans/goals that I have for this year and I am happy about leaving my awful job despite that I don’t have another. I have always excelled in school and see that as my best bet at the moment to finish my degree and possibly get another one. I am joining a gym tomorrow with my friend so that is exciting as well. My list consists of a lot of self improvements I want to make. Feels good to have a plan and the right mind-set.

    I am rather luckier than some that have had a wacko in their life. I didn’t lose a bunch of money or marry them. more so I wasted my time on the wrong person. I think I am getting paid back from my teen years by my dad. I try to channel my negativity by turning it positive. Making jokes about living at home and drawing pictures of my ex wacko on fire and sending it to friends. I have also taken to writing songs about her getting diseases. Mostly, the clap. Is it juvenile?. Yes, yes it is. Does it help?. Yes, yes it does. LoL.

    NIBISH, Thank you so much, I can really relate.

    1. @allison

      Oh there is always a bright side, and if not make fun of your crap situation. Then it just doesn’t look quite so bad. I have had hell, happily ever after, and the junk in between. I just know nothing stays as it is forever, try to learn a lesson if it sucked so you never do it again! Life is fragile, you have one chance at it, so don’t ever totally piss anyone off really super bad, you might need them, unfortunately. Always happens when your at your worst moment too!

      Good night!


  10.’s been 2 years since I left my husband. Seems like I am only living the flip side of hell. He keeps in touch with me about every 3 months..still begging me to come home. He has been going to counseling and NA 7 days a week. yadda yadda yadda..I keep saying to myself as my ego tries to convince me he’s worth another chance. Right away like fight or flight my guardian angel steps in a reminds me of the awful times..flashbacks that won’t go away! They are good..I can’t fool myself anymore..but this is hell!! Everyday this goes on, whether I hear from him or not..It’s like I have an ache that won’t go away. Mr. Hyde and I bonded, I loved Mr Hyde. I would love to have those moments back or more of them. But there is a price to pay..funny either way..How do you live without the man you love? Knowing you can’t live with them…and feeling life is nothing without them. I am 59 years old and have let myself day to day..going through the motions. I have no interest in meeting another man or having another man in my life. I keep thinking that one day soon..all of this will stop! I have even thought well maybe I will just date him..I will be safe, have my own home and I will call the shots on what I won’t tolerate. I know I have to forgive him and feel keeping him at a distance as if he has done me wrong and I hate him doesn’t sit well with me. I feel like I have to stay bitter to stay away from him and angry to which I neither relish or want. Too, I feel like if I did date him, have him in my life that I would be saying what he’s done is ok to me. ughhh like it all it;s always a torment world. This is difficult for me to put out here..please forgive errors. I have tried to verbalize my feelings before as such and its difficult..i feel like i have lost my mind. Counseling has never worked. Well…can’t say no more right now..thanks for being here to vent..jude

  11. Wow…cometh forth an answer I found with merit…Hope this helps us all!! God Bless!
    Are you still obsessing about a crazy, abusive ex-girlfriend or ex-wife? Do you still compare the “chemistry” you had with her to every subsequent woman you’ve encountered and find them lacking? Especially women who appear to be kind, loving and stable?
    Do you torture yourself with “what if’” and “if only” thinking? Do you hold on to the few good times and minimize the abusive behaviors to which you were subjected? Are you still making excuses for her? Do you still believe she is the “love of your life?” Are your friends and family tired of listening to you talk about her or him?
    If so, you are stuck and you don’t need me to tell you it’s an awful place to be. You’re stuck, but odds are, you’re not stuck on her. I frequently work with men and women who are painfully stuck. They grind through the same ruminations over and over and over again and just can’t seem to let go of Crazy.
    The discomfort and pain they exhibit while enumerating their obsessions, wishful thinking, longing, shock and awe is palpable. Oftentimes, men and women who have a history of being attracted to abusive partners come from families in which one or both parents were similarly abusive.
    This is not always the case. Nice boys and girls from nice families are also targets for abusive, personality disordered partners. This article is primarily for men and women who were groomed during childhood to accept abuse from the people who “love” them, but can also be applied to nice girls and boys who were raised to always turn the other cheek, to always keep the peace and to only see the good in people.
    If you’re stuck on an abusive ex or still in a relationship with an abusive partner, but can’t break free because you “love” her, you need to wake up. The abusive ex or partner is not some irreplaceable, special snowflake. She or he is not the end all be all — I don’t care how good the sex is or how good the sex was. She is not your soul mate. She is not the one. She is not your destiny, unless you believe that you’re fated to spend your life in misery. In reality, you’re probably not hung up on her, but on old childhood wounds and the fantasies you have built around her that have nothing to do with who she is in reality. Most likely, she represents a chance at a new outcome to an old hurt.
    Crazy is probably nothing more than the embodiment of your unresolved childhood issues and your blind, childish insistence that things work out differently this time. If the descriptions of high-conflict, Borderline, Narcissistic, Histrionic and Sociopathic women on Shrink4Men resonate with you, your “love” is more than likely nothing more than an incredibly damaged, self-obsessed, emotionally stunted, psychologically immature, entitled, manipulative, selfish, empathy challenged, blame shifting, unaccountable, abusive child or teen in an adult body who is incapable of love.
    You have likely constructed a fantasy around this woman or man. It is time to stop the “what if’s” and “if only’s” deconstruct the fantasy. You need to distinguish what is an act from what is fact (thank you, Mell) when it comes to your Crazy ex or partner. Ignore her or his words and emotional performances and really look at her or his behaviors. That is usually where the truth of this person lies — as opposed to their words.
    But what if I just try harder to reason with her? No. Logic, facts and reason only anger a woman like this.
    But what if I just try to be more patient and understanding? No. Being more patient and understanding only makes you an easier and more submissive victim.
    I’m not perfect. There are things I could have done differently. No one’s perfect and becoming angry and hurt in response to being abused is a natural and healthy response. Smiling through the abuse and pretending like everything is okay is not okay. Staying, tolerating more abuse and calling it “love” is supremely unhealthy and only leads to more abuse.
    I did everything she wanted. How could she just throw everything away and treat me like she did? Please reread the paragraphs above, take a breath, get off the hamster wheel and stop spinning.
    In some ways, the folks who get stuck on Crazy remind me of little kids who want to make house pets out of wild and dangerous animals. But what if I’m really, really, super special sweet to Rhonda Rattlesnake and extra, extra patient and loving? Surely she’ll see what a good boy I am and love me back. If I feed her mice whole, take her out for a slither 3x a day, play with her and let her sleep in my bed, she’ll love me, too, and won’t ever sink her fangs in my jugular and pump venom into my carotid artery!

    1. Oh yes, they can be either male or female, but the style is still the same, the tactics just the same, the damage just the same. What has been said above by many women about male sociopaths and narcissists applies in equal measure to my experience of five years of descent from heaven to hell with a beautiful, fragile, sensitive woman that turned out to be a soul-eating monster. Just goes to show, I guess: this whole Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus stuff is bunk when you get down to brass tacks and damage. In the end, there are just people that are human, and some that, well, just aren’t. Not fully anyhow. 😦

  12. This is more than an internet blog – this is a public service.
    You have informed me far more than the psychologist I went to for few sessions, seeking clarity about what had happened to me after discard. Thank you, I have read through numerous articles here and they are incredibly helpful – feel I can start to focus on strengthening my boundaries and expectations of people’s behavior as authentic and respectful to me. The other readers comments are a treasure trove of clarity, that this was all a real and deliberate episode – manufactured by the sociopath, who wanted me to take responsibility for her mess of self created problems – using my time, my skills and my assets, until she was either bored or a better option came along.

  13. I wonder if anyone could give me some words of comfort 🙏. I was involved with the man whom I thought would be my future husband. The warning signs were there from the start. I endured just over a year of emotional abuse. He turned physical 2 weeks ago. At which point I ended it. It’s now day 10 of no contact (initiated by him). I don’t want him back and yet I feel so lost and alone. I hate myself for still loving him and missing him 😔. Will I ever stop thinking of him? 😥😥

    1. Hi Goldilocks, yes you will. It took one year of your life, to abuse you, and make you feel this way. It can take some time to undo the damage. Also as he has gone awol and not speaking to you, I would imagine that he will be back. Is trying to punish you so that he can walk back in – please don’t let him.

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