Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Lovefraud: Reaching Out And Healing
When I first discovered the extent of my soul mate’s betrayals, I honestly thought that I would die from the pain. It was excruciating. Not just emotional, but physical as well – I’m quite sure that I actually felt and heard the sinews snapping as my heart ripped in two. The days were horrific and the nights were torturous – nightmares haunted my sleep, and when I awoke I found myself still caught in the murderous grip of a ghastly and terrifying dream. But there was no escape. For this was no dream. It was my reality. And, like it or not, I had to deal with it.
Why Had This Happened To Me?
No matter where I went, no matter what I did, no matter who I talked with, I could not get away from the daily torture that had suddenly become my reality. I admit that there were times when the pain was so bad that I actually considered the alternative to living. I have never been so desperate – and I have never felt so alone. And the worst part of it was that nobody seemed to understand what had happened – least of all me. I had given everything to my husband, and I loved him with all of my heart, all of my soul, and with every nerve cell and fiber of my being. Where had I gone so wrong? Why did the man I loved treat me so badly? How could I have been so blind?
The questions ran round and round my head – taunting me, poking at my wounds and eating away at my confidence. Yes, I judged myself over and over again, much more harshly than even the meanest jury – and it hurt. It hurt like hell. People would tell me with the best of intentions that things go wrong in even the best marriages. They assured me that I would eventually pull through. They promised that I would heal and they even dared to venture that one day I would find love again. But I couldn’t hear them – I wouldn’t hear them. I convinced myself that mine was no ordinary marriage. I told myself that I had been lucky enough to find true love – and stupid enough to ruin it. That my husband was one in a million. That I’d never ever feel so safe and so loved ever again. Oh yes, my mind did a really good job on me in the beginning!
For me, the turning point came some ten weeks after he vanished from my life the evening I discovered his betrayals, when an old friend emailed me with the suggestion that my estranged husband was in fact a sociopath. I was in bed at the time, another restless night, bloodshot puffy eyes and the heavy heart that had become my constant companion. The email had arrived on my iPhone – I had never heard the word sociopath before and I started to get curious. I quickly found Dr Hare’s checklist and my eyes widened as I ticked off just about every point. A few minutes later I found the Lovefraud website, and was both horrified and relieved to find out that I was not alone. As I read the countless stories from people, just like me, who had also been lured and conned by a heartless sociopath, I started to believe that perhaps I could wake up from my living nightmare. Knowing that it was not me who had been stupid, realizing that I had been a deliberate target, and understanding that I had found a place where people shared my experiences and empathized with my pain, I took my first faltering steps on the slow road to recovery.
It’s Personal Now
I’m not saying that it was easy – far from it in fact. But from that moment I decided to keep focused on the fact that I had not been dealing with a ‘normal’ person. I distanced myself from the last connecting emotions that were binding me to him, and concentrated instead on my own feelings. I knew in that moment that in order to heal myself, I would need to confront my own emotional patterns – many of which were still subconscious. I would need to venture in to the parts of me that I had locked up and hidden away. To open up old scars I thought had healed long ago – and to take a long honest look at who I was and how I had become such an attractive target.
From that moment on I became a friend to myself. The self-berating stopped – as did the vulture-like questions that had circled me for so many weeks. No more did I question why this had happened or what I had done to deserve such a cruel betrayal. Instead I focused on how I could move myself through the pain and re-claim my life. In a very short time I even dared to start considering what sort of life I’d like to create for myself – going in to great detail about how I would feel once I’d achieved it. I didn’t think about how it might happen or what I might need to do – nope, I just focused on how I would like to feel. I even managed a laugh when I realized just how divorced my chosen feelings were from the ones I was currently experiencing!
That was when I realized that, against all my best intentions, I alone had been keeping myself a prisoner in my misery. Yes, you read it right – the gatekeeper, the warden was not him at all… it was ME. Because I’d kept on torturing myself long after he had gone.
So I had a choice. To support myself through what I knew was going to be a difficult journey, or to keep asking myself hurtful questions that only served to keep me stuck in my suffering. I chose the first option.
Dealing With The Practicalities
At that time I was absolutely penniless. I had closed our business, I had no work and to top it all I was strapped up in a full leg-brace because I’d had an accident and torn the cruciate ligament in my left knee. I couldn’t drive, I could hardly walk, and I had no idea how on earth I was going to survive – let alone support my son. But I focused on the things I knew that I could do – and one of the first things was to re-claim my home. I threw out anything and everything that reminded me of him, and I put up all the photographs and ornaments that I’d hidden away because he hadn’t liked them. I hobbled around the village and collected fruit from the trees, teaching myself how to make jams and chutneys that I knew I could give to friends for Christmas presents. I kept firmly focused on the idea that I was taking control of my life – of who I was and of how I chose to live – and my internal mantra became “everything I need is already within me” so that, even though the bills were coming thick and fast, I refused to be overwhelmed. I kept on top of my finances by selling everything I didn’t need on Ebay – it’s really quite amazing what some people will buy! It’s true that one person’s rubbish is gold to another – thank goodness!
All the time that I was doing the practical stuff, I also went deeply in to my emotional healing. I read and re-read all my self-development books (Louise L Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” being a particularly old and trusted favorite), I scoured the internet for positive stories, and I learned all I could about sociopathy. I devoured stories that inspired me – personal, honest accounts from people who had overcome difficulties, as well as stories from people who had been through a similar set of experiences as my own. I chose my friends, and only spent time with people who energized me, refusing to deal with the mood-hoovers who threatened to sap my positivity and bring me down. I ate healthily and I made sure to get out and about as often as I could – I became quite the expert at shuffling along on my crutches!
It was by no means straight forward, and I fell at many hurdles along the way. But I remained focused and determined – and always gave myself credit for even the tiniest of steps. And slowly, slowly I started to heal. I was open, honest and gentle with myself at every step of the way. When, some days, I didn’t feel like getting out of bed, I would stay there. No guilt, no beat-up, just the acknowledgement that my body was telling me to rest. When I felt overcome with emotion, I would let it happen. Never again was I going to stay quiet or bottle up painful feelings that just needed to come out. So, yes, there were times when I encouraged myself to shout, sob and wail until I was exhausted. Times when I let myself sink in to the pain and hurt – knowing that each time I did so another part of me would heal.
And it worked.
Slowly slowly I began to re-connect with myself. Little by little I started to re-claim my life and bit-by-bit I once again dared to start dreaming. I began to like the reflection I saw in the mirror, and I made sure every day to be thankful for all the good things that were around me – even if on the bad days the only thing I could find to be grateful for was the fact I was still breathing! I stuck loads of messages of support around my home – some from friends, as well as messages to myself. Everywhere I looked there were reminders that I AM ok, that I AM loved and that I AM surrounded by friends who care. In the process I lost some friends, made some new ones, and deepened connections with many old friends who happened to re-appear in my life. I blessed the daily miracles that were helping to transform my life and I re-awakened my belief in magic.
Where I Am Now
Today, two and a half years on from that soul-defining evening when I discovered the truth, I am chuffed to bits to tell you that my life now is better than I could ever have imagined. My business is once again up and running (better and more profitable than ever it was when I ran it with my ex!), I have lost 25lbs in weight (the fat is just melting away), I am authoring here on this site, I have just landed a book deal with an international publisher, and my social life is richer than it’s ever been before. I am happy, content, safe and hugely excited for the future.
So I’m here to tell you that you CAN make it through. If I can do it, then you can too. I’m here as living proof that the human soul is stronger than we think – and that we CAN heal, no matter how devastating or overwhelming the damage might seem at the time. As I said, I experienced many moments when I thought it would be better to die – and, in a way, I suppose I have ‘died’. Because when I look back now at the person I was when I was trapped in such a toxic relationship, I simply cannot recognize myself. And now, as I review the journey I’ve taken since then, I am filled with pride and love for myself for achieving so much. Yes, maybe the old me died – but it’s been worth it, because now I am living in paradise, and I know the best is yet to come!
I hope this has been helpful – I would be happy to answer any questions so please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
With much love and blessings to all.