All survivors of psychopathic evil know how extremely difficult it is to cut ties with a psychopath. And then once no contact is established, survivors find themselves trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered hearts and lives. Many survivors write that what they want more than anything is to find closure. Some hope that they can somehow obtain that closure from the psychopaths. Others are convinced that closure is absolutely impossible. All survivors wonder, at some point during their recovery journeys, if they will ever find a way out of the darkness.
The good news is, YES, closure is possible. And no, it will not come from the psychopaths! It must come from within. The following are points on a possible path toward closure. This road map does not have a timeline, and many of the points overlap:
Try to let go of the illusion
The first step in healing from psychopathic abuse is to stop all contact with the psychopath. And the only way to do that is to let go of the image you had of the person you loved. Unfortunately and sadly, that person never existed. He or she was only an illusion, a mask the psychopath created in order to mirror and manipulate you. As crushingly hard as it is and as much as it hurts, the only way to find freedom is to stop believing in that illusion.
I clearly remember the beginning of the encounter I had with the psychopath; I thought he was the perfect partner for me! He seemed to understand me so well, and we had all the right things in common. It almost felt too good to be true! Then when I discovered that I had been so deeply betrayed by him, in ways I never imagined were possible, I realized it always was too good to be true. All of it was a lie…except for me and my feelings for him. I was real, and my feelings were real. And in the midst of the intense pain, I held on to the light—the light of truth—that was just barely left in my soul. Letting go of the “dream man” he pretended to be brought me closer to my own heart.
So do your best to let go of the illusion. When you let go, you’ll start to find the real you.
Search for answers—but stay safe!
When I realized that I had been involved with a pathological liar, I had a very strong urge to go on what I call “my truth-finding mission.” Everyone around me—absolutely everyone—discouraged me from investigating the psychopath. But I felt deeply compelled to uncover as many lies as I could, so I disregarded their advice. It turned out that I made the right decision, because I conducted my mission without making contact with the psychopath or anyone connected to him. I also did not reveal my new knowledge to the psychopath or his fan club, although I desperately wanted to. Finally, when I exhausted every anonymous avenue available to me, I stopped. I was far from healed, and I uncovered only a portion of the truth, but I felt that I had reclaimed a part of myself. The entire process was an important step in rebuilding my self-respect.
It is completely okay to search for as many answers as you can, to uncover as much of the truth as possible, as long as you follow the no contact rule.
An encounter with a psychopath is not like a normal relationship, which means the aftermath is going to be very different from a typical breakup. Survivors are left with so many WHY questions, and those questions need to be answered in order for healing to occur. Survivors also tend to blame themselves for what happened, often because others do not understand what they have been through and usually make insensitive statements like, “Why did you stay?” or “Why didn’t you see the signs?” or “It takes two to tango.”
But psychopaths are abnormal! At the time of the encounter, you did not know that people like this exist. You were innocent. Be ready for others to discourage you from “focusing on them”—they might imply that it delays your recovery—but researching psychopathy actually helps you make much progress in your own healing. By learning to recognize the common tactics and games of psychopathic predators, you will realize that the abuse was never your fault. By learning how the psychopathic mind works, you will realize you were set up from the very beginning. And when it all begins to click for you, that’s when you start to reclaim your power!
Allow yourself to feel and think
All normal human beings attempt to avoid pain. Yet, paradoxically, it is by facing the pain and moving through it that we find beauty, because on the other side of our deepest suffering, we have the opportunity to experience the greatest joy. As you heal, you will find yourself moving back and forth through the stages of grief that are unique to the aftermath of an encounter with a psychopath. Allow yourself to feel all emotions as they come over you, which will most likely happen in waves. Also, allow the thoughts of the psychopath in when they overwhelm your mind, even though you may feel as if you are going crazy because you can think of nothing else. Continuously pushing the obsessive thoughts away can actually be more harmful than helpful. You most likely are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, and it is important to find resources that can help you work through the trauma of what has happened. This might include therapy and/or other healing techniques. Amazingly, if you step into the pain instead of run from it, you begin to see who you are at a deeper level. You develop self-respect and self-love and new confidence. You learn to trust your intuition. And when you are able to trust yourself, then you will start to find others who are worthy of your trust.
Accept what you can and cannot control
When I learned the truth about the psychopath, I was extremely disturbed to realize that such evil exists in the world. The encounter was over, and I was deeply upset to see the psychopath move on to his new target, seemingly happy, not caring about the devastation he left behind him (me…broken me). My first reaction to this was complete heartbreak, shame, and outrage. I wanted to expose the psychopath for the monster he is. I wanted to convince the other woman to leave him. I wanted him to apologize to me and actually mean it. I wanted justice, and I wanted revenge!
However, I knew that I could not stop him from lying to and manipulating and hurting others. I knew I could not convince his new target of the truth. And I knew I could not make him feel remorse for what he did to me. What I could do was focus on my own healing and my own life. When I made the choice to do that, one day at a time, I gradually felt happier and more peaceful. I still wage a daily struggle to relinquish the desire to control what I cannot control, but, thankfully, it is not nearly as difficult as it used to be.
You will never receive traditional “closure” from the psychopath. But the light you can discover within your own soul is somuch better!
Trust in your own unique truth
Perhaps the most significant epiphany during my recovery came when I finally was able to believe in myself and trust in my own truth. Psychopaths are eerily similar in so many ways, and yet many of the details of my encounter seemed so different from other survivors’ stories. As I struggled to make sense out of what had happened to me, I heard so many opinions from so many people about how to heal, about who I was, about who I should be, about what to believe. I questioned myself, as I always had, and as long as my intense self-doubt remained, my pain lingered. Ironically, it was only after reading survivor story after survivor story, so similar to mine and yet so different, that the fog began to lift. Only after reading so many other stories, and only after seeing my own worth, was I able to see the truth in my experience. I still have doubts, about so many things, but now I put them in perspective and listen first to the voice within my heart.
You have a similar voice in your own heart. Listen to it.
And please hold on to this truth: you can find closure without contact, and you can find peace on the other side of the nightmare. Read and learn about psychopathy, move through the pain, take back your power, and most of all, strive daily to believe in and love yourself, your most authentic self. You are your own best guide.
For more recovery support, read The Survivor’s Quest, available through Amazon: