By | June 28, 2009 134 Comments

After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 12 – Reclaiming Self-Love

Love is huge topic that spans every other issue that we have discussed so far, and ones we have not touched yet. But for our purposes — to talk about our next steps in healing from traumatic relationships — we have to narrow it down.

This article will discuss the most basic and important element of love — how we love ourselves. We will look at how we our relationships with ourselves are changing. And how that is affecting what other people mean to us

What we think of ourselves

Years ago, when I was involved with a New Age bookstore, I ran into lots of programs that taught positive affirmations. That is, repeating phrases about how lovable we are, how successful we are, how loved we are by the universe, as a form of self-hypnosis. The idea was that we would eventually believe it. And believing it would change our lives.

Unfortunately, many of us only succeeded in making ourselves feel guilty about not believing it. So, as the next best thing, we tried to pretend that we really believed it. And we basically became like those silly pseudo-Buddhists of the earlier hippie days whose languid pronouncements of “it’s all cool, man” was a paper-thin veneer on their angry or fearful rejection of everything that made them the tiniest bit uncomfortable.

For me, the concept of “loving yourself” had a psychobabble flavor. Another fad for people who were looking for short-cuts to higher consciousness. Or maybe this concept was too large, too grand for me.

And why? Because there was too much not to love about myself. Occasionally, somewhere between a second and third glass of wine, I was comfortable with myself. But in the sober light of day, evaluating both the interior of my mind and the evidence of my life, I could write long lists of where I fell short. I didn’t even know what loving myself would feel like But as a start, it would help if I weren’t so anxious all the time. If the anxiety didn’t make me so disorganized. If I could actually plan something and follow without getting distracted with worrying about whether I was going to get distracted and follow through. Sigh.

So you can imagine how I reacted when the occasional character showed up who 1) told me how wonderful I was, 2) told me how he knew how to sort out my messes, 3) talked about his vision of a better life (that he already knew how to do), and 4) raved about his luck at finding someone (me) who fit so perfectly into his perfect plans for this perfect life. I’d think that maybe I was wrong about being such a mess. Maybe the people I’d met before hadn’t been perceptive enough to see this wonderfulness in me. Maybe I wasn’t perceptive enough either, and he was so much smarter. Maybe God had finally decided to send me the long-deferred trophy for trying hard.

And then, because I wasn’t impressed with myself or my life, I would start throwing things away. He didn’t like the way I dressed? No problem. He didn’t like the way I worked? No problem. He thought I should worry more about him than myself? No problem. And then finally, when I realized that nothing I could ever do would be enough, and that the whole relationship was new evidence of my failure to choose well, I would leave behind whatever I had with him, and re-enter the increasingly familiar grind of starting over.

Depressing, isn’t it? A particularly dark view of my history of serial monogamy, and one that explains my periodic descents into depression as I struggled to forgive myself for yet another disaster. But there is a nugget of illuminating truth here that I didn’t grasp until my last relationship with the sociopath.

Here it is. I didn’t believe that my life was my “real” life. Or that I was who I “really” was. Who I was and the way I lived were just interim conditions, until I got to the real thing. The life where I accomplished what I was really capable of. The “me” that was always emotionally balanced, lucid, focused, able to handle all of life’s details. All this imaginary stuff was the waiting reality. And in the meantime, I was living in a kind of purgatory. (For those of you who weren’t brought up Catholic, that is a temporary hell where we burn off minor sins before finally being allowed into heaven.).

in healing, I realized that the sociopath and I had this thing in common. He was never living the life he deserved. All this relentless focus of his was about his drive to put the puzzle pieces together — fame, wealth, universal admiration, all the “merit badges” of his travel and his expensive hobbies to present a smooth and plausible front — so he could airdrop into the “real” life that was waiting for him. The humiliations he had to endure now — including stooping to deal with my unsatisfactory self — were just necessary evils to be discarded and forgotten, except for an amusing story or two of his life on the street, once the lost prince found his way back to the palace.

I used to find his pretensions and ambitions childish. Until I realized that we were alike in this. I wasn’t trying to work my way back to the throne room. But otherwise we were the same. I looked down at who I was and what I did. I was prepared to give up almost anything to become who I was supposed to be. With the sociopath, that turned out to include my business, my family, my friends, my homes, my money, my mental health.

In fact the reason I got involved with him at all, as well as my other significant relationships, is that I saw them as chances to transform my life. To make it something else entirely. The good news is that I’ve lived an interesting life. The bad news is that, though all of this, I never was able to finish anything, hold onto anything. I had lots of funny-tragic stories. That was my life equity. Otherwise, I was the poster child for unfulfilled potential.

Which — surprise! — accurately reflected what I thought of myself.

Getting real

Taped on the wall next to my bathroom mirror is a page from the 2005 Zen daily calendar. The quote on it from Chogyam Trungpa reads, “No one can turn you completely upside down and inside out. You must accept yourself as you are, instead of you as would like to be, which means giving up self-deception and wishful thinking.”

The paper is yellowed and wavy from shower fog, marked with stains from flying drops of coffee, makeup and toothpaste. I took it down today to copy it for this article and then put it back where it was. It might look a little trashy to a visitor, but to me it’s a jewel placed in the perfect setting, right next to where I look at myself in the mirror every day of my life.

That little quote commemorates my belated recognition. This is me. This is my life.

I don’t have to value it all highly. I can look at any part of it and decide that it’s not useful anymore, or that I love it dearly. But everything that I own, everything I have accomplished (and that’s a lot, even though it wasn’t exactly what I hoped), all my experience, the relationships and memories, the responsibilities, the plans, all the things I think about, is me and my life. What is real right now is what is real.

It wasn’t just about what was objectively real, but it was also about how I saw it. The mental lenses which caused me to see things in a particular way. Like the lens that is fearful about throwing things away, in case all the stores are closed or I run out of money or I need that thing to trade with terrorists for my life. Or the lens that remembers when I was wrong about people, and never gets quite enough information to feel safe. These are me too. If I think I’m stupid or disorganized or have bad judgment, these thoughts are me too. All of these things are who I am.

There are a lot of pivotal moments in our healing, but for me, this idea shifted the ground under my feet. I had spent my entire life rejecting the very reality I lived with, as well as living with the self-questioning insecurity of feeling like an unfinished, inadequate person. This insight told me that I was finished, as far as I went. I didn’t need to be perfect to be real. What I was and what I had done had meaning. I was here, alive, having lived through so much, having struggled so hard to find my way. And the big trophy didn’t need to be coming from anywhere outside myself. I was the trophy. This life, imperfect as it was, was the trophy.

There wasn’t a speck of unrealistic thinking in this. It wasn’t grandiose. It didn’t change the fact that I was still in the middle of healing. My life was messy, and I was still trying to figure out how to be the person I wanted to be. But the big change was that it did not diminish me. I wasn’t beating myself up. I could stop being vulnerable to other people beating me up, because I secretly agreed with them. It opened a new view of my life. Instead of an arid moonscape of failure-craters, it was a rich green story of learning and survival. Some of my worst chapters — the big tragedies and huge failures — began to look different when I thought about how they brought me to here and now. It began to look okay.

Who do we love?

I can see by the word count of this article that we will need at least one more before we talk about loving other people. Something about what taking care of our well-loved selves really means. We need to get clear about that before we even think about another intimate relationship. But maybe we can conclude this one by talking a little bit about what we love in ourselves. And how that relates to unresolved trauma.

One of the most difficult and painful experiences that I can imagine is what happened to Jewish people in Europe during World War II. Survivors of the Holocaust lost family members and endured inhuman treatment in concentration camps. The challenges these people faced individually and as a community to heal, extract some positive meaning from these experiences and to move forward toward confident and creative lives are beyond anything I can imagine.

Just knowing about this — as well as the challenges of other people who face long-term cruelty and desperate living conditions — has sometimes helped me keep my personal challenges in perspective. As well as helping me understand things I might not otherwise understand about international politics, as well as the emotional states and concerns of people I meet. Sometimes there is not enough time in a lifetime, or even several generations, to work through complete healing.

And this is something we may have to accept in ourselves. As long as we are still living with the consequences of trauma that has not been fully transformed into learning that that increases our emotional freedom, compassion and conscious power to act, our values are going to be shaped by the progress we have made, as far as it has gone. And those values are going to have an impact on how we see ourselves and others. That is especially true if we still perceive ourselves as victims.

We may see other people around us who seem happier, more peaceful, able to do things that are beyond us right now, and we may be tempted to be envious or bitter about our lot or afraid that we are less than them. But this is not the truth. The truth is that we’re midstream in a great learning process. And wherever we are speaks of personal triumph to survive and learn more how to navigate this world.

Meanwhile, we are entitled to appreciation and gratitude for the great work of our bodies, minds, emotional systems and spiritual depths that brought us to where we are today. We can feel pride — not grandiosity, but the dignity of self-respect — in what we have accomplished. By the evidence of our lives, we are not nothing. Far from it. Each of us can look in the mirror and see someone of substance and value.

In learning to accept ourselves, we sometimes have to make peace with things about ourselves that are not perfect. And in doing this, we walk a fine line. We don’t want to deny where we fall short of what we’d like to be, things we’re still working on. But we can also see in our shortcomings the recognition of our true potential. Here are some suggestions for doing that.

If we are grieving, it is because of our blessed capacity to embrace life and take risks. If we are confused, it is because we value meaning and order. If we are angry, it is because we have a backbone of will and belief. If we are lonely, it is because we feel our deep connection with the world, but are still seeking where and how. If we feel despair, it is because we have a deep capacity for faith and hope. If we are depressed, we are in the midst of a great transition of belief. We may not see though it all yet. But the more it pains us, the more we know we are in the active process of learning.

All of this honorable. All of this is reason to respect ourselves.

Where self-love leads us

And if we can’t find any other reason to love ourselves, or if we are unsure that we can love ourselves and still be good people, the ultimate reason is that it is better for the world if we do. If we are patient and understanding with ourselves, if we believe in our potential, if we allow ourselves the dignity of self-respect even though we’re not perfect, it alters the most important lens by which we see the world. If we respect ourselves, we acknowledge that living through our growing-up and the dramas of life’s challenges is the universal story of life. It enables us to see that everything and everyone else is living through their own stories, and, for that reason, may deserve respect as well.

For trauma survivors, this is a touchy concept. If we have endured trauma at the hands of people whose life dramas create hurt and loss for other people, respect might sound like a ridiculous idea. Especially when our survival depends on clearly separating our interests from the interests of people who would harm us. However, if I were in the jungle with hungry lions around, I believe I would have better chance of survival if I respected what they are, than writing them off as evil.

Respect is a form of seeing, an even higher level of observation than the trusting of patterns that we discussed in the last article. It is a way of seeing that often provides us with more information than emotional reactions or judgments. Respect is not admiration or involvement. It is recognition that another being exists in his or her own world, facing private challenges, working with personal resources or lack of them. It helps us face reality more squarely, while maintaining the distance that respect implies. That is, observing from behind our own boundaries and seeing other people as separate from us. Respect helps us see larger patterns of life, making us more aware how we might be affected, whether or not we are actively involved.

Some people have a natural understanding of respect. But for others — especially if we grew up in Drama Triangle environments of victims and rescuers — it is something we have to learn. My Buddhist friend, when I begged him to help me warn off my ex’s latest girlfriend, told me an old saying “Nothing is more dangerous than interfering with other people’s dreams.” He was telling me to respect other people’s paths, to detach myself from what is none of my business and can not change.

Respect acknowledges our differences, while bringing us closer to actually understanding. It helps us recognize the emotional foundations of other people’s behavior or the type of energy they spread, without having to judge it any further than whether it is good for us. So that we can make easier and better choices about where we invest our energy. Respecting the different realities of other lives can even refine our feelings, enabling us to react more accurately. Like appreciating a flower growing in a landfill. Or being touched by the fleeting generosity of someone we know is virtually incapable of sharing. To experience love, awe, gratitude in smaller increments, and also disgust, frustration and grief in ways that we feel sharply but keep in perspective.

All of this makes us more solid with ourselves. Able to choose what is best for us, what matches who we are. This is how self-acceptance, self-love and self-respect are connected to personal power. Not accumulating power over other people, but being more aware and focused on how our actions affect our lives and the world around us.

In this work, we are moving farther from the struggles of early healing, deeper into the realm of accepting reality as “what is,” a relatively neutral position, that only works if we feel fully empowered to act on our own behalf. In the next article, to prepare a little more for love, we will talk more about power and emotional freedom.

Namaste. The deeply respectful spirit in me salutes with awe the flowering spirit in you.


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“In learning to accept ourselves, we sometimes have to make peace with things about ourselves that are not perfect.”

Growing up in a dysfunctional environment did something as I grew up into adolescents and then adulthood. The effect is it gave me an image of dysfunctional self. This ideal (ego) was something I really never acknowledge and lived in a kind of wrap self reflection. If I did something wrong and couldn’t explain why I did it, well blame it on the dysfunctional self. If I set my sights on something I wanted to do and couldn’t do it, well blame it on the dysfunctional self. If I didn’t understand love and/or couldn’t relate to other people no problem, blame it on the dysfunctional self. Dysfunctional self was I thought a friend but it turn out to be a prison constructed by my own hand

But after having children I started to understand that there was love in me. I love my children and knew I could after all love someone. I bonded with my ex s/p and there saw my ability to love yet again.

Something changed in me. I knew my dysfunctional self wasn’t who I wanted to be. I knew dysfunctional self wasn’t helping explain anything but instead was only allowing me to lie to myself and deny any possible change in my self. Dysfunctional self would also not be the person I wanted my lover and children to know and love themselves. I saw dysfunctional self as a unlovable person which explain why to me my parent didn’t love me. Dysfunctional self become the true lie I told myself over and over again. So I want dysfunctional self to die.

So whenever I heard dysfunctional self tell me something, I reply by saying

No, I can do better
No, I sorry my parent couldn’t love me but I can love others
No, I know I am not perfect but will try to do the best I could
No, I know they hurt me, but I can forgive and we can try harder together
No, you lie dysfunctional self and I don’t want you to be a part of me and my life anymore
No, dysfunctional self I know I fu*k-up, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love other and myself. I will do better and if I fail again I will just keep trying and still know I have love for others and for me.

Because I knew I could love my children because I had love. I also knew I could love myself and dysfunctional self wasn’t a part of my love for self and others. I created dysfunctional self so the only person who could kill dysfunctional self was me. In fact dysfunctional self was slowly killing me over time. Dysfunctional self is a hard thing to kill but I find it’s voice getting smaller and smaller over time.

When I finally understood how to accept myself completely taking all the bad and all the good in me and still be able to love myself, I knew dysfunctional self was the negative self of nature. Dysfunctional self wasn’t helping me deal with anything, it only allow me to blame others and not learn anything to help me deal with the truth and it was stealing my ability to love others and to love me.

When I knew I had this ability to love others I knew I also had the ability to love my self. I have this saying I tell myself whenever negative dysfunctional self appears.

I am who I am and can love myself just because I am.

Thanks Kate.

“I was the trophy. This life, imperfect as it was, was the trophy.”

I cut and pasted this because I love it so and it so true to heart!


You are welcome Kathy,

I too thought dysfunctional self was my friend but I now see it as my way not to deal with my inner feeling. I learned that sometimes the only way out of a burning building is through the fire.

Kathy, there are times I really don’t know what would have happen to me if I never had children. They are and will always be my saving grace and a blessing from God!

Big bear ((HUGS)) from Chicago back to you and thanks again for taking time and effort on your learning healing and acceptance articles!! God bless you!!!


“…but for me, this idea shifted the ground under my feet. I had spent my entire life rejecting the very reality I lived with, as well as living with the self-questioning insecurity of feeling like an unfinished, inadequate person.”

I was always trying to become good enough to deserve love. In my family of origin, my brother is the “perfect child” and I’m the one who nobody excepted much of. Surprise, none of my accomplishments were ever “good enough.” This has caused a lot of deep pain in my life, long before I encountered the n/p, and certainly made me a better target for abuse from my former husband.

That saying about the scales falling from one’s eyes — I’ve just experienced it, and had a very healing cry. My brother still treats me this way, and until recently, I still allowed it. Since I’ve been healing, things between us became more difficult because I’ve been setting healthy boundaries, but I suspect that as I keep working for my own well being, we will reach resolution. I can see my own value now, without waiting for his approval — of course, I’d like to have it, but I’m surprisingly fine without it, too.

My family are emotionally distant: do as they say, and I am (briefly) loved and accepted; disagree, and I am treated with coldness or entirely ignored. I don’t treat myself like that any longer — and what a shock it was to discover that I was being emotionally distant from myself by waiting for others to fulfill my emotional needs and not looking after them myself. The task and privilege of providing myself with acceptance and love, of becoming my own best friend, was always mine. I still frequently feel an almost overwhelming sense of loneliness, but I now choose my own company over abusive treatment. So the deals I had to make in childhood to receive any affection by emotionally slicing off parts of myself so I fit in with their design — those deals are off the table!

This series of articles, with the accompanying threads, absolutely resonate and are providing a big boost in my healing and survival. I’m grateful and thankful for what you’ve written. Thanks, Kathy, for helping me find my balance, and discover my way.

Lots of Love,



Thanks again! It occurs to me that, though childhood is finished, part of what many of us are doing here at LF is learning how to parent the wounded parts of ourselves in a healthy, even bountiful way.

Those pieces of us that never quite come together fit when considered with harsh judgment? They come into focus as Life Experience when viewed with love and compassion. They have value. We have value, right now and as is!

I agree with you that taking care of one’s self has a rippling effect, and I suspect that I’ll see it eventually with my brother and the Fam. It has mostly all been about them, and I no longer accept that, because it simply doesn’t work as well as a family where everyone is valued and heard. Maybe that will happen and maybe it won’t — but it’s a good aspiration, and a worthy goal.

The taking care of one’s self opens some great doors and closes some that need closing — I’m still crawling out of my skin sometimes at how much I’m alone, but I am willing to enjoy getting to know me, and that’s something! I also am FAR less clingy that I used to try to cover up being. That’s part of the result of taking care of myself, too, I suspect.

The stories people tell in this place: they truly inspire me. I’ve never heard stories like this, so true and starkly honest, and healing. I’m honored to be here.

Namaste: in the spirit of companionship and healing, my spirit salutes yours,


lyj Joy

Kathy, Thanks again for writing such deeply thought provoking healing stuff for us. I am ready to make the whole experience more about me and less about him. Because I chose to love it and live it so it makes me go HUM…
Betty and James thanks for sharing your insights as well. Can’t believe this thread isn’t busy yet. It will be soon enough I bet. LOL!

Kathy, first of all, another incredible article….this series has got “book” written all over it? You are an incredibly healing, wise woman who also happens to be a gifted writer.

Thank you for your comments to Martha Trowbridge…and to me. I’ve always told you how much your validation means to me. Sorry I didn’t get back sooner; I responded to your posted feedback on my blog, not realizing, in my own narcissism, that maybe you wouldn’t be returning to it?



Once again, you are so present in your own life and ours as well. What a beautifully expressed article! I am awaiting the arrival of your book! You are there! You have arrived! One of my favorite mantras is “Bloom where you are planted”. You are certainly living proof or the “flowering spirit” of that quote.

I loved so many things that you said that it is difficult to touch on them all. Respect is key. I loved the way that you explain that respect is awareness and “not admiration and involvement.” I have recently come to the understanding of my situation ,with this long awaited divorce from my S, that I am not the judge of what he does or who he does nor do I need to be.

I respect what it is that I am dealing with. I respect my feelings. I respect the time that it is taking me to heal. I respect what I have learned from this experience. I know that I will love again and I respect that I am quite capable of loving myself in the process.
Thank YOU! Kathleen for your gracious awareness and wisdom!


Kathy – Wow – you touched so many aspects of my life with your article. I have been trying to live my life to please other’s, gain approval from others that don’t care about me but what I can do for them. With the exception of a few people in my life , most of those folks I was trying to please were taking my life. Recently I had this long talk with myself. It’s like ok Henry here you are, what are you going to do now that you have all this knowledge and information that i am not bad. Am I going to change now? Walk differently? Be that person I always wanted to be? In the past I wanted to be anybody but me. So do i make big changes? nope I am who I am, and now that I know I am good (not perfect) I must embrace myself and allow myself to be me. Without needing approval from those that saw me as good and wanted to bring me down by stepping on my spirit. At 54 I have lived my life for others, mostly my wicked mother, my abusive father and in the shadows of my older narcissist brother, and one toxic relationship after another. I can be me, the good in me that these lions want cant be taken away, it’s mine.


hi guys, i have been on or posting in quite some time. Miss your advice Oxy soi hope you get to read this blog. My dad is in the hospital and very ill with cancer, fathers day past and i actually wrote a nice passage in a card telling him how much i loved him , then i get handed this paper after being asked to meet with his executor, long story short he wants his wife (my stepmother whom is also receiving his ins) the house to live in and my brother the shop valued at over 150 thousand and he already built a lean too of sorts on it for him. My point is im left nothing as usual and i can’t beleive i didnt listen and see that they will never care about me. The reality is the farm was left to me from my grandmother (paternal) whom i looked after and loved dearly and whom never got a visit from my father or brother while in nursing home. It’s to be split with my brother and he doesn’t even deserve that. He over the years took my mothers last money(inheritance of only 20 thousand ) and she ddied penniless of alcoholism. my brother also blew 25 thousand of my grandmothers inheritance from her aunt and 100j’s of thousand s of my dad’s and who knows how much bbt i don’t think half a million is an exageration. I know the money is gone and that’s not what im resentful of it’s the audacity that they both show thinking im going to give my brother the shop and house. It’s not even my fathers to deligate. I’ve been trying so hard to be the good daughter, going to the hospital, i’ve bent over backwards my whole life for these two losers and i know the farm wouldn’t eveen exits now if it hadn’t been left for me to manage as my brother already pissed one farm away. Sad to say but i talk to my ex sister in law over this and i trust my step mother as well so that should tell you what i have to deal with. Then the trauma program over the s who is much like my father, never giving me any positive response and always trying to get their approval. I sit here now just numb and im usually so sensitive and would be distraught to say the least with what my dad’s wishes are but i’ve been so hurt for so long i just think i became much like the people whove hurt me and that scares me. maybe it’s just my defences are kicking in as crying and being hurt didn’t get me anywhere. I think Oxy it was you who told me what my family really was and i just couldn’t admit it or didn’t want to admit it but it was shoved right in my face by my dad’s friend who was just doing his part and thank God he knows what my brother is all about and has advised me to get a good attorney as he’s beating around the bush about something in the will of my Grandmothers. I’ve done all the things i should have done being a decent person , taking my son to the hospital a month ago when home from Banff and he got rebuffed just as he said “mom it was my worst nightmare” but he’s a good kid and he went anyway and got what he expected. I heard a saying in AA “if you want to know what an alcoholic is really like, ask his immediate family” as my dad has tons of friends and lots of adopted sons and daughers while his own blood are strangers but i can’t do a dam thing about any of this. I’ve decided as hard as it’s going to be and this numbness that has come over me(it’s a strange feeling) that im not talking to any of them as it’s just inviting more misery and distrust and i’m done being screwed over by my own family. I have my own sons interest to protect so i’ve got a tough road ahead of me and im still not recovered from the s . Im not wanting to whine on but just about every man in my life has betrayed me over and over but not my sons so i have to be very grateful for that. They are my rocks even though my one is leaving for the military and the other is a long ways away, i know they would never betray me. Thanks to all reading this as i feel so much better getting it out and i appreciate all the wisdom and advise i get on here even though i don’t always take it immediately. love kindheart


I am exiting a 14 year train wreck. Kathy, this article was timely for me. My wife hasn’t seen our 10 and 12 year old kids since Feb. Even then she didn’t stay with them but left them under the supervision of her boyfriends 15 year old nephew.

I was thinking this morning as a poet and a writer myself that perhaps I need to buy a big diesel truck, wear cowboy boots, get my ears pierced multiple times and secure tatoos all over the place while carrying a loaded weapon would bring up to par for as this is her current living environment.

Once the money was finally gone which over the years amounted to over a million dollars, she took out more credit cards in my name and jacked them all the way and then ran off with this guy.

Self esteem is an odd thing to me. Loving myself even odder. I could have been retired by now and am left with nothing but my memories and my thoughts. I still am going through woulda, coulda, shoulda, with no resolution.

So far the children will not talk to her and I have been pushing that with three things everyday. 1. This is the only Mother you will ever have. 2. I have never stopped you from seeing her. 3. I still care about her so don’t neglect her to make me feel better.

This tactic hasn’t softened their hearts either. I am at a loss how to reconnect them with her. I have them in counseling and hopefully our divorce will be final in July.

I have no animosity towards her or the boyfriend who was convicted of battery charges against me at my son’s little league game in front of both my children. All she did was help him exit the park after the incident to make sure he was not arrested on the spot. Now he has a protective order for a year so that he cannot see the children so no overnights would be permitted any way.

I’ve started adapting to the concept that girls love bad asses even though i could never be one. She has habitually lied to the kids and me throughout our lives and that still continues. Do i really still LOVE her, or is this just the void left from her leaving. She has always come home in the past. But this time she sends me e-mails how happy and complete she is in this new hillbilly gun toting envirnment.

I’ve got to accept who i am and move on, but the days seem long and weary for me. i still have fond memories even though it was at times a nightmare.

Sincerely, Robin

An awesome series of articles…you are really an expert healer with uncanny sensitivity and insights. i promise to personally buy a bunch of your books when it’s published…and publishers are too narrow-motivated to publish it, then publish it yourself. You’ve got a great voice and the feedback speaks for itself.

Ox Drover

Dear Robin,

Welcome to Love Fraud, you sound like you have arrived at the RIGHT PLACe because all of us here have been through the wringer too….At least you have your kids!

Sounds like your X is a typical uncaring P wanting “excitement” in her life, well, I assure you, she will get it one way or another, but in the end, it won’t be pleasant for her either, even though she thinks that is what she wants.

It isn’t easy, but we can heal and move on to a BETTER LIFE than we had with them. Counting the blessings we have and oen of those blessing is that SHE IS GONE!!!!! Again, welcome!

Dear Robin,
You have arrived at the right place – a place of loving acceptance that is safe and filled with the most loving people who will companion you on your journey to wholeness. I have survived many years being married to a Psychopath, and almost as many more being “trauma bonded”, which I thought was love. I now realize it was addiction. Just today I applied for his Social Security, as I am finally of age, and of course it triggered some buttons as they asked me for lots of information regarding him. I was able to push past the uncomfortable feelings and regroup.
Thanks for being emotionally honest. It will help facilitate your recovery in a healthy way!!!


Dear Kathy, your article induced really the “this is IT”- Moment for me last sunday evening when I read it!

Thank you so much! Now I am finally able to get rid of all the self help books I got from people or which I bought for myself to become a TOTALLY DIFFERENT BETTER ME.

I have books on how to speak better, work more efficiently, work out better, eat healthier, to simplify my life (my absolute favourite), how to buy better, shop smarter, not to be put down by others, self defense with words and how to become a better person in general, starting with Plato to the French Existentialists and beyond. Not to mention how to dress for success, how to improve table manners and how to write better letters, paint better, improve the cooking, the household in general and how to do successful gardening as an idle person.

I do not need them any more to become a different better me, because I AM already, I am the trophy for myself, already. I need the books of course for the techniques and the skills they provide, but they are not meant any more to change me the person into some saint but to improve the abilities of an already wonderful whole human being.

I always wanted to be the person other people wanted me to be, for THEM, not for ME.
First of all and most importantly I had to be a BOY (being the first born, for my chauvinist narcissistic Italian mother, impossible. She later said I had missunderstood her). Then I had to be beautiful (I was ugly, and father told my sister and me repeatedly so; that he was ashamed going out with his two ugly ducklings; last weekend was the first time in my life he took me out to a official reception and not in a dark hole of a cheap restaurant; I was NOT impressed any more!); then be smart and efficient (for my bosses who mostly saw in me a “human resource”), and last but not least I was very eager to satisfy my X in every aspect, how he wanted me to be, until I realized that it all was a so outrageous that I was able to see the pattern in it all, and with the help of all of you LF-peeps I could sort it out.

Kathy, you put your inner thoughts and inner comments and inner dialogues in such wonderful words, so that step by step I could relate. I felt that am not alone, that I am making progress (I was last week on the “to get over my father”-page). That I can be really proud of myself, and that I am lovable (to be loved by me, but that is in the end the most important)

For letting us/me know your wonderful wisdom I would like to express my deepest gratitude. Thank you!


I’m going to go back and read the awesome comments from the LF members but while reading your essay I got so excited I could not wait to respond.

Your words on the REAL you and how you empathize, feel sincere compassion for others who have suffered tremendous horrific tragedies (concentration camps) or are still suffering is what struck a cord with me.

First, the real you. I get it, I do (I hope). I spent my entire life rejecting what was innately wonderful about myself, dismissing my intrinsic self to please others. I hated confrontation. I was terrified of the disapproval of others towards me. I was so shy, so self conscious, so hyper sensitive to any and all suspected criticsm that I basically lived my life in a shell. Like a turtle; when the mean words slashed at my heart and psyche, I would immediately retreat within the confines of my protective shell.

This yearly fearful state of being manifested into to a full blown generalized anxiety, panic attack disorder. Add a splash of clinical depression to the mixture and the combination made me a broken mess, a shattered child/girl/woman who spent many times curled up in the fetal position in the closet begging God to either help me with the struggle or to end me. Just finish it because I was so tired of pain. I’m no masochist. I never liked being miserable or despairing but I had no idea, no clue where to go to alleviate the pain.

Fast forward to 4 years ago. There I was, living in a tiny town trying to collect the scattered pieces of myself after my exodus from the harsh, cruel big city. I was spent. Very little energy left. What I did have I used on loving and caring for my darling felines. They got it all and it wasn’t much, I confess.

My obstinancy, my fierce independent nature, my always wanting to do things my way, the hard way without any interceding from others had led me to this point. The point of nowhere and getting there fast.

I looked up into the heavens and quietly spoke to God. I said…”I can’t do this anymore. I’m a wreck and I’m not good news for myself or for anyone else. Please help. I have a little spark of life still flittering around in me somewhere but I don’t know how to coax it into something bigger. I am defeated. I can’t do this alone anymore, I don’t want to, and I need you.”

As soon as I spoke these words out loud and to God, the relief was palpable. The weight of the world was shrugged off my shoulders and I was finally able to take a deep, cleansing breath. For the first time ever.

Little by little over the years with my newly awakened and released spiritual faith I have delightedly discovered the “Real” me. By focusing all my attention on striving to stay reality oriented, truth oriented I have been freed. Literally in every sense of the word. I am no longer a slave to my dysfunction, my brokenness. No longer a prisoner to my psyche. No longer my own worse enemy.

I LOVE me very much. I love that I am a good, kind, caring and decent woman. I love that I’m silly and goofy quite often and I don’t give a flying fig what others think. I live my life according to me and primarily how The Lord wants me live: always seeking to live righteously, without hurting a soul on Earth, but defending the REAL me from those who would exploit and use the dickens out of me. And being fiercely protective of the innocents because by allowing evil to commit it’s dirty deeds I am contributing to that evil. I speak up now like I never did before although I so realize there is more that I should be doing. I’ll get there, with the help of God.

(I’m currently reading “The Shack”. Wow, amazing inspiring book. Even if you’re not a Christian this book would be a beneficial read because it’s about love. And if you can love then it will resonate, create a connection in you. I actually thanked God for creating me last night.)

I wrote the above not in an effort to elicit sympathy or concern for me. That stuff is done and finished. I worked it out. I am joyful that the woman I once was, that scared woman is history. But I cherish, nurture and love her as she is still a small part of who i am. And also to remind me of where I was and where I am going.

And by healing myself with the mercy, love and power of God and I can turn my love and care towards those who are in that place I once was.

If I can heal and in the process become that real woman I formally dismissed and rejected, become strong, determined, peaceful, calm and joyful then ANYONE can do it.

You only have to choose to want beauty, love and light in your life and I will happen. Just don’t give up. Ever.

Peace, Love and Joy for all……


Oh, one more thing..

No of us owes another human being a damn thing especially our blood, sweat and tears. Speaking of adults not babies, children. As I’m not a mommy to humans I don’t have the right to speak on the topic of parenting. I’m clueless in that department.

When we come to terms, educate ourselves regarding pathological personality disorders, spend the necessary and enlightening time healing ourselves from loving predators, for how ever long that takes, we begin to see that rainbow on the horizon in technicolor. Bright, vivid, clear as a bell and that is what I consider reality.

Yes, reality is harsh and cruel and mean but it also illuminating, revealing, and as brilliant as a shiny diamond in crystal clarity. There is beauty in reality as well as ugliness.

Thing is, the beauty supercedes the ugly and fills the soul with goodness and rightness. We can most certainly choose what we wish to have in our lives. What we wish to observe, analyze, study and appreciate. What we wish to nurture, protect and love.

We can escape the ties that once bound us. We are unique, complex individuals and we can choose to be free if we let the pain go. Eventually. This is a process. As Donna and Kathleen wrote, digging deep and to the core of that pain, disappointment, resentment and fury. However far back we need to go to root out that pain then let it be done.

I’m writing this because I had to do that myself. Dig deep and far to locate, analyze, feel what I needed to feel while reliving, contemplating that pain. It is necessary if you wish to free yourself for a promising, gorgeous future. A future devoid of loving not only predators but people who are not concerned with what you want. What you need. Only a reciprocal relationship where both parties are giving and caring is this even possible. Hence, why I am single and why I will be single as long as I need to be.

I really love you folks and I geniunely believe you are awesome. I read your words and say to myself..”Wow, he/she is so smart! So kind! So phenomenal! Why can’t he/she see what I see?”

Well, because we’re modest and humble. These uncommon virtues are what seperate us from PDIs and other selfish, immature taker types. Yeah, it seems I’m somewhat prideful in my modesty and humility….haha. I’m not. Really I’m not. I struggle with doing the right and justified thing every day. I’m not exceptional in being the person I am. There are tons and tons of great people in the world and LF is only one avenue where they mingle.

lyj Joy

Kindheart, So glad to see you back. So sorry for the circumstances. Be strong. Get good legal counsel, fight for what is yours. Forget the rest. Missed ya.
Welcome Robin, There is good people and good stuff waiting for you every step of the way here.
Libelle, Love your bookshelf and get the revelation that all you need to be you already are. We just need to wipe the chit off our shoes and polish ourselves up a bit and we are all precious gems.
JaneSmith, That was some deep darned good writing. The shack what a book. Made me cry. Helped my healing as I had gotten angry with God for all the mess and that book helped me through it.
Kathy, You are most welcome for the early read and my humming comment. I’m hungry for the food for thought you dish up. It satisfies me, and I snack on it for days. Each time I read it I come away a little fuller. I can’t wait for the book. You should have a release party, and we should all attend:)! Instant best seller I’m thinking, and I want to come see you on Oprah’s book club episode! “Lovefraud: the Chronicles” You should even include some of our comments that would be cool.


You know I love Buddha, right? Very much love, respect and admire the person, teacher he was.

This is how I see it, my perspective. If I person is aware, accepting and appreciative of their essential spiritual nature, allowing it to flourish and grow in the direction it wishes to go, then I believe they’re a person I would want to get to know.

To share with and seek to understand their perspective, from a place of respect and honor.

But some people vehemently deny their spiritual aspect and in doing so I believe they are lacking the fullness, the truth of what it means to be human. Maybe I’m wrong but I’ve seen and heard of the consequences when denying, denouncing, such a fundamental part of who we are. It is detrimental to a person’s psyche, their very soul whether they realize this or not. Or even care.

LYJ JOY… Yes, hon, I read your explanation regarding the new and improved username…haha. Cute. I’ll call you anything you wish but no mean words, Shirley or late for dinner. 😉

Thank you, sweety. Yeah, “The Shack” is an amazing book. I’m skipping a night as I cried tears of sadness first then tears of real joy while reading it and my heart needs a little rest. Just for a day a two. I’ll be fresh as a daisy when I pick it up again, ready to be touched, moved and inspired! yay!



thank you kathleen for the insightful , blog, i too like the people here have been a person who invested this emotion called love on uncaring, unsharing people. until a few years ago, i self loathed, not self loved, now i am no longer willing to tolerate blatant dis respect! warm wishes to you for releasing your pain and encouraging others such as myself!

lyj Joy

Utahan 15, Welcome. This is a great place to learn, heal, vent, question, and finally support others as we heal ourselves. The archives are filled with so much good stuff. Just read, educate, and express yourself when you feel like it.
Jane, That book is so powerful and at times a bit overwhelming definitely not a speed read or for light entertainment. Like Kathy’s stuff it needs to be savored slowly as we digest the deep concepts:)! Yep, kids and computers, I have no idea what my son did but was going crazy trying to post. lyj just seemed right, and it fits my healing self now. Hey, if you’re cooking, you can call me late to dinner. Better late than never! No mean words but a skillet boink when needed. And Shirley… That’s not my name:)! Having a silly fun filled morning teasing my friends on facebook. Life is good at the moment. No complaints.



I saw your post regarding your father’s actions with respect to your farm.

Quite frankly, your father has done the most manipulative thing one human being can do to another — using his death bed to strong you into doing his bidding.

I hope you didn’t sign the paper. If you did, you are going to have to sue on the grounds of undue influence, in that your father used his situation to sway you into signing away your property interest.

Putting aside the legal situation, the fact that your father would have the audacity to do this to you, in my book, absolves you of having to do anything further for him or your so-called family.

I have been dealing with a sick parent myself, recently. Today my mother went right back into manipulation mode, strong-arming me regarding my conman brother. I cut off the coversation. When I hung up all I thought is “well, I gave her my best while she was sick, and it is now in MY best interests to not get manipulated.”

Bottom line? You owe your father nothing and your brother and step-mother even less. You have given your father your best and he has chosen to use your loyalty for him against you. Putting his another way, you have said your good-bye to him whether you realize it or not.

lyj Joy

Kathy and Matt, Bravo to you both for stating the complex so clearly:)! Kindheart hang in there and be strong, my friend. Sending you healing hugs and strength.


You ramble? Perish the thought! Seriously. Like I said, if you need a lot of words to express how you truly think and feel, then…more power to you, woman!

Me and I’m sure all the other LF tribe members read what you write with excitement, happiness, enthusiasm, and a desire to assimilate and truly process your words. (I’m the turtle remember? plodding and methodical…that’s me.)

Let’s face it, kiddo…you’re an awesome teacher, an experienced writer and spiritual healer. You got the gift and you are using it in the most altruistic way possible: helping others find their way through the muck of past/present pain, suffering and misery.

I for one, never tire or get bored reading your writing. Almost seems blasphemous, or self defeating to profess such a negative approach to an experience that can help me move forward in all areas of my life. As the venerable Spock would say…”that is not logical”…


I wrote…”You only have to choose to want beauty, love and light in your life and I will happen. Just don’t give up. Ever”

YaY me! Way to screw up that closing sentence, aye? boo..

Of course I meant to write…”it will happen”. I really don’t think that by you lovely folks choosing that beauty, love and light in your life that “I” will magically happen.

I think I’ve already happened but maybe I was jumping the gun too early. Mabye I’m only the prototype and those people are still working out the quirks and kinks on the REAL DEAL me.

Hm, food for thought….



Kindheart: It is hurtful when we find our family is/has/was abusive to us and will hurt us financially, take advantage of us, and do these things deliberately. My mom left me a toxic note to read after she died….she wanted to continue to hurt me in new ways even after she died! (Still I have some good memories, but overall….) I think Matt gave you great advise. It is so hard to be strong in that situation, but it is important that bad motives don’t triumph over good in as many situations as possible, and it is also what you deserve. If you can hire an attorney to do your battles for you, it will be worth what you gain in peace of mind and NC as much as possible. I’m gradually getting my biological family out of my life without fanfareand creating a new family of supportive friends.

Regarding the triggers, I get to feeling really strong, and then once in awhile I slip, but at least I SEE myself slipping and just writing about it helps erase the faulty thinking. Still, I look forward to the day when I am suddenly surprised to realize I haven’t thought of the P/S/N for a few days! AT least I usually think of him as brain damaged now, in a very sad way.

Regarding a spiritual self, yes I think it is there, but I think it can’t depend on thinking, if that makes any sense. I can’t buy that a retarded child has less spirit or is less spiritual than I am, or my dog has less spirituality than I do. I don’t think being spiritual is an intellectual task. What is it? For me it is those moments when you know you and another living being have really connected, really communicated, are really sharing the same positive emotion, vibe or whatever and for a moment all separation disappears. It is also those moments when you feel something come out of you that feels like it is coming form outside you and it is good and you are as surprised as everyone else!


As I said, I love reading your superlative essays and also the proceeding commentary to the LF tribe members. But me bum gets numb!…haha.

How’s that for Brit speak? I love when they call your garden variety creepos names such as tosser, prat and twit. Cracks me up!

Oh, and when they’re 3 sheets to the wind those lovely British folks say they are “pissed”. When we say we’re pissed, means we’re about to do the hoedown on some knuckle-head’s…well, head.

Ok, I’ll chill with the colorful expletives otherwise Donna’s gonna do a righteous throw down on MY head!



Kathleen, thanks for all your kind comments. Well, yeah, sometimes the clarity is there….and sometimes I fall.

I feel exactly the same about nature. And also knowledge that comes from somewhere. Maybe it is my subconscious putting a lot of pieces together for me, without me being consciously aware. I think it is something available to everyone.

I’m working on getting to your honest communication. At times, it is there. Other times, not so much! LOL! My favorite cartoon is three birds on a telephone wire. The first bird is sitting on the wire looking bored. The third bird is hanging precariously from the wire, holding on with his wings as arms, one leg wrapped around the wire, and the other leg has slipped off and is dangling, and he is looking down in great fear and shaking. The middle bird, sitting calmly on the wire, says to him “You’re over thinking this, Phil”

At times that is me!


PS Kathleen, you have given me succinct advice. Sometimes when I slip back a bit, I remember you said, “who ever he is, he didn’t deserve your attention.” And that has centered me if there is a trigger that gets to me. Some days I feel “completelyhealed” or at least incredibly strong. But sometimes you have to go back down a mountain a bit to find a good path to the top.


I read your post above 3 times and I’m still a little confrused!…haha.

Cerebral humor….ZROOM! Flies over my head faster than the speed of light. Rune’s humor is the same way. I’m like a puppy, cocking my head left and right, looking at it from different angles yet sadly unable to figure out the meaning.

Like this statement…”Yes, the spirituality of the deer and jumping out of my clothes.” Huh? Are you channeling some ancient Indian shaman or something? I wouldn’t doubt it not with the all meditation you do….haha.

Speaking of meditation, I have tried for years to obtain discipline with that healing practice. The hardest part for me is the clearing of the mind of extraneous thoughts. Even when I determinedly work to keep my mind clear of these nagging thoughts they inevitably creep in.

Also, the very few times I’ve been able to control my thoughts, concentrate only on my deep breathing, I will begin to yawn. I get sleepy during meditation. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong. No, I AM doing it wrong.

Someday I hope to develop some serious discipline with meditation because I would most definitely dig where the journey takes me.

can’t help commenting again…what an amazingly profound meditation…wow.


Wow, sweety! Thanks for sharing that with me. I think you have helped me see meditation in a new light. I will begin to practice what you say.



this post couldn’t come at a more perfect time, because this is the stage I am at right now. Kind of mixed with “letting go”… I did have obsessive thoughts, like my body/mind/soul NEEDS to reinforce the fact that the Sociopath/Narcissist was indeed an S/N/P and not a normal human being. I won’t let myself forget that. I won’t let myself forget that I was wronged, and that it wasn’t my fault, and I did nothing to deserve it. I was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now, rather than manifesting as an obsessive cycle of thinking it seems that I’m beginning to realize this was my past. There’s nothing I can do to change that. But I’m me.. and I have this whole life ahead of me.. and I have so much potential in this life, and having prayed a ton this week.. God is whispering to me that I’m alright now, I’m okay, I just need to let go. I am so thankful, even though I have struggled so much even in this healing journey, there’s finally a ray of light and hope, and like Jane said, yes this is reality. And though it’s not perfect, it’s life, and life is a gift, and we should embrace it, because we are made in God’s image and he loves us as we are. We are whole… we just need ourselves to believe & know it, because it’s whats real. We are already whole.

Thank you for this post Kathy, bless you.


Just a wee comment about an earlier comment.
Kathy, I loved this:
‘ I get awed by all the life around me. I want to do something I don’t know how to do. Jump out of my clothes, my skin and just roll around in it, get inside of it. It’s something like love but different. I want to just disappear in it, let it eat me up. ‘

I was raised in an atheist family, and do not affiliate myself with any organised faith, but since I was a child felt this strong spiritual connection to nature and beauty ( I hope that doesnt sound too poncy…. or too hippie dippy!) just as you describe it here. (when I was little and even now, I say that when I experience that feeling in a place it is full of fairies!lol!) How wonderful. A walk in the woods or by the sea, that beautiful overwhelming feeling of being filled up or connected to the beauty of it all! Wanting to take root and become it.x Good medicine.

I am in a bit of a low right now and focussing way too much on negatives so thanks for reminding me of that wonderful healing ‘magic’ that is always just there whatever you want to call it:)x


Just a wee comment about an earlier comment.
Kathy, I loved this:
‘ I get awed by all the life around me. I want to do something I don’t know how to do. Jump out of my clothes, my skin and just roll around in it, get inside of it. It’s something like love but different. I want to just disappear in it, let it eat me up. ‘

I was raised in an atheist family, and do not affiliate myself with any organised faith, but since I was a child felt this strong spiritual connection to nature and beauty ( I hope that doesnt sound too poncy…. or too hippie dippy!) just as you describe it here. (when I was little and even now, I say that when I experience that feeling in a place it is full of fairies!lol!) How wonderful. A walk in the woods or by the sea, that beautiful overwhelming feeling of being filled up or connected to the beauty of it all! Wanting to take root and become it.x Good medicine.

I am in a bit of a low right now and focussing way too much on negatives so thanks for reminding me of that wonderful healing ‘magic’ that is always just there whatever you want to call it:)x


oops, it did that post twice thing again.sorry guys.

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