1. Understand that they have no conscience.
They do not comprehend empathy. For most people, it is difficult to imagine not having a conscience nor empathy, we literally can’t get our heads around it. You never will, but to intellectually appreciate that that is the difference between you and them, and that that is what allows them to act the way they do to you, is the only starting point on the road to recovery.
2. Read books.
Highlight paragraphs that strike a chord. Underline. Be comforted by the theory and the empirical evidence. These people exist.
3. Believe that honesty will prevail.
Even when you think the lies are impacting. Honesty WILL prevail. Believe it. No matter how unbelievable that is.
4. Find someone who totally has your back.
This may be your mom or sister or best friend, but much much better to be a new friend — someone that hasn’t been conned by the conman. Someone who has no quasi-loyalty to them. Someone not in their harem. Someone who is not still reeling from the same shock as you. Someone you met recently — a work colleague or someone online — someone that is further along in a similar journey to yours. This person has to be there 24/7. This person has to make you not respond to emails and texts. This person has to help rebuild you.
5. Stay serene.
Rise above it. Serenity is your objective from now on. Pretend to be serene if all else fails.
6. Be prepared for attempts to drive a wedge between you and your inner circle.
They will discredit you to your friends and use their maximum charm offensive to get them on their side. Your friends will realize what they’re doing but possibly not straight away. Stay calm and serene until they do get it. This might include your kids. They will know. I promise.
7. Tell yourself every day, that people get through worse.
So you have been totally shafted? All your dreams shattered? Betrayed in the most unimaginably way? Well, you need to remind yourself that some people nurse their kids through cancer and still their kids die. Honestly, there is always someone worse off than you. Tell yourself that whenever you go down the slippery slope…
8. Speaking of which, just don’t go there.
Just don’t let your mind go to when you were happy with the person. To before the betrayal. To before the lies. To the happy family. To before you knew about such hurt. If your mind goes there, drag it back, as hard as that is, get back to the future.
9. Know that everything will be all right in the end.
If it’s not all right…it’s not the end. You’ve read that somewhere. Well, it’s true.
10. Take comfort from your supporters.
Let them help you. Let them give you advice, money, a home, a car. You will repay them, they help you because they love you and believe you.
11. Prepare to be shocked.
Every day there may be another accusation. Another lie. Ignore ignore ignore! Ring your someone whenever there is a communication. Do not respond until you have spoken to your someone.
12. Allow yourself to have moments of grief.
Curl up in the fetal position. Stay there. But not for more than four hours. Turn your phone off and use the time to talk yourself strong again. Do not let them break you. You are stronger than they are manipulative. I promise.
13. DO NOT LET THEM BREAK YOU.
Let this be your mantra. You are stronger/better/bigger/more loved/cleverer/kinder than they will ever be.
14. Have faith in yourself and your niceness.
Don’t let them make you believe you are not that nice person.
15. Strive for no contact.
All the books say no contact. You can’t do that if kids are involved but if they send you random emails that are not to do with arrangements for the kids but to do with your ‘situation,’ do not respond. As tempting as it is to defend yourself, do not respond. Take satisfaction from how much you will be winding them up by not responding.
16. Above all else…
As my 82 year old mummy says to me: ‘don’t let the bastard take your smile away.’