The traditional 5 stages of grief are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
You will undoubtedly feel all of those at some point while recovering from the psychopathic relationship. But losing a psychopath is not like losing a friend/family member; it’s not like losing a regular, loving partner. Here are the modified stages of grief from a psychopathic relationship:
All-consuming devastation. Absolute shock and disbelief. Feelings of total emptiness, thoughts of suicide and extreme difficulty performing trivial tasks. Your hormones are going cold-turkey from a chemical addiction. You will feel ugly and drained — your body will physically deteriorate (before/after pictures of D&D victims are horrifying). Your sex drive will oscillate between desire for him and the misery of thinking about what you no longer have. Psychologically, you are extremely raw and vulnerable from the D&D, but at this point you aren’t even aware what a D&D is — you are just a victim of it, and therefore feel it instead of understand it (like you do now). You genuinely believe you deserve this. That you are worthless. You are nobody without him. You are jealous, crazy, needy, clingy, everything is your fault.
Typically begins when the psychopath starts waving his “happy” life in your face. You see him running off with OW, or telling the world how flawless his life is (commonly done through social media). You aren’t even angry about the OW, because you likely have no idea how long the infidelity was going on. You just feel the need to prove that you are fine and dandy like the psychopath, because then maybe he’ll want you back. You change jobs, friends, lash out at everyone and everything except the psychopath. You go out drinking, partying, having mindless sex, in huge efforts to convince yourself and him that you are fine. You will become very impulsive, blowing money and harboring delusional thoughts of returning to your idealizer. You may try to replicate the exact dynamic you had with the psychopath with another man, only to get very frustrated that your sex life isn’t as good or that he doesn’t love-bomb you with attention.
Education & Self-doubt
Somehow, you come across psychopathy (or narcissism, sociopathy, etc). Whether it be through an internet search or a therapist, you know deep down that something within you is deeply broken. Even though you want to prove you’re happy, you also want to figure out what the hell just happened. When you read all of the red flags of psychopathy, you will experience extreme self-doubt. You will continue to blame yourself and wonder if you’re just labeling him a psychopath because you can’t handle the “truth” (his truth) of how you ruined the relationship. You oscillate back and forth between your idealizer and devaluer. How could someone who claimed to be so amazed by you also hate your guts? How could he go from obsession to contempt in the blink of an eye? It isn’t possible. There’s no way you dated a psychopath. He loved you. Right?
Understanding the Psychopath
This stage doesn’t exist in any way with the normal stages, but it’s one of the most important in your recovery process. Education can only take you so far. You need to feel what they feel. Most victims live by compassion and love, so it is nearly impossible to empathize with a psychopath. In fact, this is why they’re able to get away with so much. Because normal human beings automatically project their conscience onto everyone else. But sooner or later, you will be so consumed by psychopathy that you finally understand how their minds work. You can actually put all of his behavior into the perspective of a psychopath and suddenly everything clicks. It all makes sense, when it never did before. From the mirroring to the love-bombing to the delayed criticism to the eventual D&D. You feel disgusted. You realize you were never loved; just another target a never-ending cycle. You realize you’ve never behaved like this in any other relationship. You can look back at all of the things that made you feel paranoid, and see that they were all calculated and intentional. You come to the horrifying realization that the person you trusted was actively working against you.