When ending relationships with abusers, particularly when those abusers are suspected Psychopaths/Sociopaths/Narcissists, it’s recommended that you go No Contact as soon as humanly possible (and if No Contact isn’t possible due to shared custody of children or other reasons, then at least minimize as much as you can). The main reason for this is because there is no such thing as ‘a casual relationship’ with these kinds of people. So long as they are communicating with you, you are at risk of being pulled back into the spiderweb and manipulated further by their lies, their attempts at love bombing, their threats, and their intimidations.
It’s incredibly difficult. Truly, the hardest thing for me to do after I emerged from ‘the fog’ of my relationship with Randall was cease all contact with him and his affiliates, though not for the reasons you might think. I didn’t want to be with him at that point any more; I didn’t particularly even want to talk to him. I wasn’t missing him or craving his presence in my life, the way you might experience with a normal breakup (at least not at first, that came later). There wasn’t any crushing loneliness or aching need to hear the voice of the one I loved one more time (again, that came later). I was too afraid and stressed by the end to feel much of anything. I was numb.
But I did wish I could defend my honor. My reputation. My good name. Because he’d thoroughly set about ruining the way others perceived me, and was succeeding spectacularly with all those who were his friends and family; even with some people who had been in our mutual circle of acquaintances. I wanted to respond to all those who would message me (no doubt after he wound them up and encouraged them), calling me a sick, psychotic, pathological liar (their words were far more hurtful, that’s the polite version). Telling me I ‘deserved to rot in the ground’ for having ‘ruined’ Randall’s life. Insisting “all he did was love you”.
Sure; all he did was love me…and apparently in his universe, loving someone meant cheating on them during the first Round of the relationship, then maintaining contact with that woman on an almost daily basis during the second Round (including meeting up and sleeping with her at least one time, though at this point I’m sure there were other times too), pushing for an open relationship, getting his way, and then lying anyway about who he was sleeping with and disrespecting all boundaries that were set, giving his partner 3-4 STDs she didn’t deserve, lying constantly about many other things, spending money like there was no tomorrow, yelling and insulting his partner constantly about how incompetent and inept she was while she tried to make him happy and keep secret some of his more illegal activities (which led to isolation from her family and friends since she didn’t want them finding out the truth about certain things), probably carrying on affairs with 17-18 year old girls as the evidence now suggests…………yeah. All he did was love me.
I badly wanted to respond and give everyone a piece of my mind given all that; after having been silent for so long about everything I’d been feeling and everything I knew and had been keeping secret for his sake. And I badly wanted to respond to him when he’d send emails that sounded downright cordial, chiding me for ‘fabricating’ my stories about him threatening to do physical harm to myself or those I love. So typical of him; acting perfectly sane and rational and in turn making me look positively batshit crazy by comparison.
He’d done that many times before, so I was familiar with the little magic trick. Wind me up like a toy and then watch me spin while making sure the rest of the world witnessed my “unstable” or “needy” or “clingy” or “crazy” or “unreasonable” behavior. He’d drive me crazy constantly by flirting with, lying about, and otherwise triangulating blatantly with almost every woman he came into contact with; leaving me feeling horrifically hurt and insecure…but when I’d call him out on what I suspected were lies (and in the end I was correct about it almost every time it turned out), he’d just humiliate me in front of others and ensure that I was the one who looked ‘off’.
Oh yes, I knew that magic trick well. But I was finding my voice, and by God I wanted to use it fighting back at last to defend myself…and to my everlasting frustration, everyone was advising me not to. Advising me to just let it go. And it felt so unfair at the time; almost felt like his final act of abuse. (It should be noted that this isn’t unique to psychopaths…all abusers do this when the relationship ends; I’ve learned that speaking with others who’ve come out of abusive relationships. My own mother was accused by her abusive ex-husband of all kinds of things, including being unfaithful.)
It felt unjust; that after the stress of living with him for so long, walking on eggshells, enduring his moods and his temper…feeling all the insecurities and the fears he’d planted and fostered in my mind, my heart, and my soul…at the end he was able to muster an army of naysayers to come after me, while I was supposed to sit back and say nothing. Just let it happen. It’s human nature to want to defend ourselves, even without the history I had with him. Even without the memories of his cruel words or his blustery temper or other aggressive tactics, I’d want to defend myself if someone was speaking so badly of me. Moreover, on some levels you’d almost think defending yourself would be the RIGHT thing to do; you’d think it would be cathartic to finally strike back at the one who had been doing the abusing for so long.
BUT……to let it go was ultimately the best advice I could have received. And if you find yourself in a similar place now all I can tell you is turn on your “Frozen” soundtrack and try to let it go like I did. Why?
Well for one thing, anything I might have said would have fallen on deaf ears. These were not people who were open to the truth. He certainly wasn’t…he isn’t capable of being open to the truth. And all those defending him fell into one of two categories: either twisted themselves, or still under his spell. The first category of people would be like him – incapable of recognizing what he’d done as wrong – so it would be a waste of time, and the second category of people were in the position I’d been in at one point; thoroughly under a spell, not ready to hear the truth, and therefore equally a waste of time. Which meant all it would have done was prolong a connection that I needed to just sever. All it would have done was further prove his point that I was mentally unstable while he was a saint.
So instead I journaled. I started writing blogs. I talked to family and friends. Vented my frustrations through other outlets that didn’t require contact, and slowly felt the balm of love and support soothe my raw nerves and bandage my wounds. These people, whose opinions I respected, were there for ME. These people knew all – including all of my flaws and all of my sins – and were there for me. Not for him…for me.
He called me a coward for blocking his number. Called me a coward for blocking the numbers of his friends. A coward for blocking everyone on Facebook and any other social media platform that I could think of. And that tactic almost worked; almost got a rise out of me. Because I’m not a coward, and I wanted him to know that. But the truth of the matter is there was nothing cowardly about it. I was setting a boundary and for the first time in my interactions with him, I was refusing to let him ignore or destroy the boundary the way he had destroyed every other boundary I’d set in place before. And that infuriated him.
He was incorrect; it wasn’t cowardly to stop my harassment. It wasn’t cowardly to reclaim my right to feel safe in my own life. I was allowed to block a number if someone was calling me a c**t and a b**ch and every other name you can think of, and threatening to kill me and kill my family; promising to find everyone I loved and make them pay for MY mistakes. I was allowed to eject the person saying those things from my life with all the force of a rocket blasting off into space.
And once I was able to see it in that light, I found peace. I was able to let it go. Having the proverbial ‘last word’ no longer mattered. All that mattered was caring for myself, and giving myself the peace and quiet I so badly needed…and deserved.
Meghann Andreassen is a businesswoman, author, and personal success coach who contributes to this and other blogs on a regular basis. To learn more or to work with her personally, contact her through her website for a free consultation.
**Names and other personal identifying information of some individuals referenced throughout this blog have been changed to protect their identities