After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 7-Letting Go

Letting go is the point at which our recovery turns around from darkness to light. In previous articles, we have discussed all the stages of magical thinking, how we progressively become more and more willing to accept reality.

In a trauma or extended trauma, like a relationship with a sociopath, there is a lot of difficult reality to accept. Here is a recap of our healing stages or strategies:

• Denial — the most “unreal” stage, where we say it is not important, where we are at war with our own feelings
• Bargaining — we admit it hurts, but we still think it is in our power to change it
• Anger — we blame the external cause, we recover our feelings of personal power over our lives, but we continue to maintain the idea that there is something we or anyone else can do about it.

This article is about letting go, the stage where we face our losses and come to terms with our powerlessness to change them.

The light in the darkness

If the last paragraph sounded like a line from an Alcoholics Anonymous book, there is a reason. This transition from anger to acceptance is the key to the AA approach. Facing up to reality that is both the hardest thing we ever do, but also the only possible path to real healing and recovery of ourselves and our lives.

Anger — whether old embedded anger or a fresh reaction —is an expression of the “me” side of the brain. It spurs us to take action for ourselves. Embedded anger is the underlying cause of addictions — because we are “taking care of ourselves” against the forces that threaten our survival at some level. That level may be, and often is, our right to be whole human beings entitled to all our feelings and potential.

Embedded anger is usually about situations in which we feel we cannot act. If we act, we lose something even bigger. A good example of this is childhood abuse, where we “agree” to act, think or feel in certain ways in order to survive. Adult situations may include work or personal relationships where we have something at risk — like our jobs, our children’s welfare, our lifestyle.

Compromising our integrity, a word that means “wholeness,” never comes cheap. Each compromise warps us and evolves into greater complexity over time. These compromises have the full range of negative emotions attached to them — fear, anger and grief. Every one of them sets up a pattern of feelings, a “state,” that recurs in circumstances that remind us of the original situation or just exist perpetually.

These states are linked to our addictive behaviors. What we do to make ourselves feel better. We find our “drug of choice,” whether it is a chemical solution or something more socially acceptable like work or shopping to anesthetize or distract us. Beyond that, we imagine bigger solutions. The love affair that will heal us. The financial score that will relieve our stresses. The answers we might find through some self-development or spiritual pursuit. The “perfect” anything that will magically change our world.

However, unless the solution resolves that loss, eliminating it as a source of recurring states, nothing is really a permanent fix. The states keep returning. We keep searching and buying into “apparent fixes” with hungers that in retrospective seem overly risky or out of control.

The solution here, the solution to all of this complex structure of pain and faulty solutions, is in the cause. The loss. It is through the loss that we emerge on the other side of it as renewed and somehow more than we were before. The loss, in a way that we never anticipate while we are avoiding the pain, turns out to be a gift.

Resisting loss

Sociopaths offer us perfect solutions. In their cleverness at reflecting back our most powerful dreams, they “make real” our best ideas about what will fix us. For the magical moments of their efforts to recruit us, they give us a taste of what we imagine perfection to be. And so, we are relieved of the anxiety, loneliness, resentments and fears that come from our earlier compromises with our personal monsters.

It all feels so natural, so right, because none of us want to feel like we’ve lost anything. In fact, the sociopathic seduction actually reverses our progress in handling earlier traumas. Most of us are at least up to bargaining as a life strategy, and some of us have access to anger in certain circumstances. At minimum, we feel it in relationship to other people’s traumas, especially the ones that remind us of our own.

But in these relationships, we return to denying any of it was important. We lose every reason to remember, to hold onto the lessons we learned. We are free, beautiful, trusting, fully connected, with nothing standing between us and this dream. (And whatever hints or warnings that this is not what it seems get pushed away, because this is our own best idea and it seems worth anything.)

When they start depriving us of this perfect fix, we are in agony. We think it is about them, but it tends to be more than that. All the old states, every reason we wanted that fix is back and it is louder. We start going through all the stages again on all kinds of levels of our lives — denial, bargaining anger — everything that was ever related to these losses. And worse, we are in battle with the addiction, which has experienced relief and wants more.

All of this is about not wanting to feel our losses. Not wanting to lose. Wanting to be whole. We are back in the grief cycle with a vengeance. And all of it is about “no.” No this is not happening to me. No I don’t deserve this. No these are not the rules I agreed to. This is bad. I hate it. It is not part of who I am or my world. I refuse.

Graduating from anger

Anger is that roar. That animal cry that really combines the resistance and grief below it. At some point, we recognize the grief below the anger. It comes when we see that no matter how ready we are to act, no matter how well and appropriately we have responded to the alert messages of our survival system, the deed is done. It is over. There is nothing we can do about it.

In anger, we link the pain to the external cause. The sociopath did this to me. In grief, we link the pain to our own loss. It does not matter what caused it. We can blame forever, make ourselves the victims in ways that relieve us from fault, but we ultimately cannot get away from the fact that a change has occurred. And the change is in us.

Even talking about loss is hard. Ironically, we talk about it more easily when we are in denial or bargaining. I don’t want to feel like I’ve lost my ability to trust. I don’t want to feel like the world isn’t safe. I don’t want to loss the idea that I can manage my own life. I don’t want to feel like no one will ever love me again, or that I will never love anyone else. I don’t want to admit that that the money I lost represents months or years of my life. I don’t want to know that my children or my friends or family have faced losses because of my behavior.

In anger we reject all of it. We use our recovered sense of personal power to try to penetrate these losses, to turn them around. In this, we gain important insight about what happened. But that eventually puts us in touch with the great roaring grief. Our real feelings. The renewed sense of personal power is important. We need to recover our sense that we can do something about our lives. It makes us ready to learn.

The great pivot of healing

Everything that leads up to grief is getting us ready for it. To be real about our losses and how we feel about them. To face the fact that something has changed. To allow ourselves to be human again, not the childish superheroes of our attempts to magically make the changes go away.

Finally this is us being vulnerable with ourselves. Being honest. Giving up our internal defenses and our attempts to medicate our pain. This is a war that we have lost. And also won, because in grief, we are real.

For all the work we put into avoiding our grief, it is a great irony to discover that it is about being kind to ourselves. What keep us from grief are the internalized voices of harsh parents or other authorities that denied us the right to our own feelings, dreams, ideas. We accommodated their demands up to this point, but now we are taking our power back. We are in our own reality. We are finally ready to respond to our losses and to support ourselves through it. We become our own “good parents.”

How do we feel and act in grief? Everyone has their own processes, but here are some of mine:

• Tears over how the reality is different from what I wanted it to be
• Loving feelings toward what I lost or what I really wanted
• Tenderness or understanding toward myself for feeling this way
• Allowing myself to feel the loss until I am truly finished with grieving it

I am comforting myself in a way that a “perfect” parent would have treated me when I was hurt and in pain. I am reinforcing the integrity of my psyche by not denying how I really feel, and giving myself the entitlement to go through whatever I have to go through to finish the loss and move on.

How we let go

Grief is about letting go. We don’t learn that until we surrender to the reality and to our grief. At the beginning, we are afraid of the feelings, afraid of how they will feel. This surrender is always an act of courage, though it becomes easier after we have done this a few times. We do it because is the only course left to us, but many of us avoid it, staying in anger or earlier stages, because we are so afraid of these feelings.

But allowing ourselves to feel them serves many purposes. The most important purpose grief serves is to separate us from the cause of our grief. The loss.

The more we grieve, the more we realize that what we are grieving is not us. What grieves is us. The feelings are us. But the loss is not. It is something we wanted or loved. Something that we may have imagined was part of us, and the loss made us feel like less than we were. But as we grieve, it becomes more and more clear that a difference exists.

The length of time we grieve is exactly equivalent to how long it takes us to realize this. Our grief may be multi-layered in that sense. One of my greatest anguishes after my relationship with the sociopath was the knowledge that he did not love me, combined with all the reasons he gave for not loving me. Most of them were about my age and how I looked.

Grief at his not loving me was mixed up with grief about the years I lost. I met him in blooming middle age when my hormones were wild, I was vibrantly attractive, and I was at the peak of my career. My grief over him not loving me evolved to grief over the losses of age. My appearance was changing. Without being able to provide a child, my relationship with a man was never going to include the protective elements that I valued so much. My likelihood of having the type of relationship that had made me happiest —trophy wife of an older man — was vanishing. That part of my life was over.

This is personal to me, my reality. Whether it is the truth about me in anyone else’s view is not the point. It was a massive piece of how I navigated the world. It incorporated a great internal complex of “rules,” of expectations about how the world would treat me, and of accommodations I’d made to early compromises of my life. Letting it go was terrifying to me, because I had nothing to replace it.

But in grieving his not loving me, and then all the linked losses associated with it, I found them firming up in my mind. From murky anxieties and resistances and resentments, the real nature of my fear and losses coalesced. I could “look at them” and see them as something I wanted and treasured perhaps, but there was another me that was looking at them. A more central me that was measuring if I was going to die of it or if I had other resources, and that eventually decided that was then and this is now. So now what?

It didn’t happen overnight. But it got a lot healthier and a lot more direct, as a process, once I let myself cry over the loss of his love. Or the loss of belief in the honesty of his love. Or the loss of belief in him as someone I could trust or even understand. Every time I started somewhere, grieving something, letting myself feel the loss, I got to a letting go.

It didn’t matter who caused it, because it didn’t change what I was dealing with. This was between me and me, and my need to be whole, to be real with myself.

Getting stuck in grief

Sometimes we feel like we have more losses than we can deal with, and we become muddled in despair. This is obviously a time when an anti-depressant may help us manage an overload of sadness, so that we can process our way through it. But here are some other suggestions for dealing with grief that we feel is not progressing.

The single best technique I found to process grief is to follow my feelings. Often when we focus on an event that gives us strong feelings, we are not really clear about what aspect is triggering them. If we turn our attention to our feelings, essentially asking them what they are about, we can often get a clearer idea. Like I thought I was grieving him not loving me, when I really was grieving a loss of what made me lovable to men. Paying attention to my feelings helped surface those insights. (I should probably add here that in rebuilding, I found a lot of less transient things that make me lovable.)

Another technique is to listen to our own resistance to the loss. Grief that goes on and on is usually about a battle within ourselves. We refuse to let the loss go, because we have some internal rule about its necessity. Again in my own case, I was afraid of becoming hard or bitter. To be attractive or lovable, I had a rule to be cheerful, no matter what. I looked at that loss, and saw it was something I learned, not something I really believed. Letting go of that rule was one of the best things I ever did for myself.

A third technique that I used with particularly sticky losses was arguing with God. It took me a while to see that I was doing this. I kept getting stuck in anger and feeling like a victim, because I felt that I’d done my part. Even if I couldn’t trust the sociopath, my parents, or anyone else, surely there had to be some rules I could depend on. Surely God had not put me here to just be a straight man for other people’s pathologies. For me, conversations with God set me back on the right path, because God’s response was always, “What are you going to do with this? That is what interests me.”

What we learn

Grief teaches us something that literally changes our world. That is the difference between what is transient and what is not. What is us and what are simply changing circumstances.

Something inside of us endures no matter what we lose. This central self is whole and invulnerable, no matter what happens to us. A great deal of what we imagine to be our true identities are things that we learned, often through threat to our survival or rules about what it takes to be accepted or loved. We identify ourselves in triumphs or failures, appearances or things that reflect these learned rules of existence.

Grieving clarifies that we belong to ourselves. All those other learned rules may have some reason for being, some use to us. But in grief, we gain new perspectives, seeing them as more or less functional guidelines and not who we are. We are what is grieving, surviving, identifying our feelings and what triggers them. By coming home to our own reality, we become comfortable and confident in a world of many realities.

We become more authentic. We are more in our skin, seeing through our own eyes. We are also freer to build lives that reflect who we are, rather than what we are afraid of.

In the next article, we will discuss rebuilding. In the meantime, for those who are making this transition from anger into grief, I reassure you that you truly deserve kindness. You have been kind to so many other people. It is time to give it to you.

Namaste. The brave and tender spirit in me salutes the brave and tender spirit in you.


Comment on this article

282 Comments on "After the sociopath: How do we heal? Part 7-Letting Go"

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Dear Kathy… I was actually expressing to you how I didnt think ahead or beyond letting go…yes, infact I thought that was the goal line! But IMHO, after reading this article, it IS SO IMPORTANT for us not to stop our healing journey when we get beyond the grief and thru letting go (although it is a rejeuvanating place to get to)….but after letting go is where we find renewed strength and renewed spirit and where find that we ourselves are finally turning our own darkness into light as we enter the home stretch which is the final and/or continued path toward real healing and recovery of ourselves and our lives. The most profound 11 words in this post for me, after the words “letting go”. ♡

Kathleen Hawk said

“This was between me and me, and my need to be whole, to be real with myself. By coming home to our own reality we become comfortable and confident in a world of many realities.We become more authentic. We are more in our skin, seeing through our own eyes. We are also freer to build lives that reflect who we are”

I look forward to finally becoming whole, and independent and secure in my own being – through the kindness and love and power and strength of the most beautiful gift god me – myself and people in the world who love and share and grow and learn together.

ps. Kathleen, could it be that God put you here to be who you are – and that perhaps this time of your personal life might even be another one of your most beautiful times in your life (inside and out – like your book) … and that the most wonderful relationship that will make you and each one of us the happiest in our own lives – ultimately is the relationship we find and build with our whole selves – our real selves… allowing god, our family, friends, and significant other to continually add to it!

You have a gift . And I salute the brave and tender spirit in YOU.

Kathy – See, if only I could edit my last sentence as you did your first! Guess I need to become an official LF author…. oh my, my run-on sentences and typs and CAPS would surely drive them away!! Ill stick to blogging …

The most profound 11 words were the last 11 words. (your own words)

“path toward real healing and recovery of ourselves and our lives”

Thats the path Ive been taking baby steps toward and finally now know where Im headed after letting go. Thank you.

So profound to me, because I thought the path I had been taking baby steps toward was letting go, that in and of itself was going to be the grand finale. While it is a GRAND pivotal moment…its also the beginning of rebuilding… so its not just about letting go – its about continuing on in reality and everything that comes with it – as we are rebuilding reconnecting with our real selves….. THE PATH TOWARD REAL HEALING AND RECOVERY OF OURSELVES AND OUR LIVES CONTINUES AFTER WE LET GO.


Kathleen Hawk,
IMO this is the best article I have ever read on this site. I feel as if you were writing my life story. First, the reason I stayed with disordered men long past when it was time to leave (to avoid feeling my inner emptiness). Second, what happened after releasing the sociopath from my life–the unending grief I’ve been going through–grief about the loss of my youth (as you mentioned), abandonment by my parents, and ultimately abandonment by myself. Grief over what my life would have been, could have been. You so hit the nail on the head. I really feel that the sociopath was the trigger to all of this but not the cause. He triggered it not because he left me, but because I loved him and so hoped that he would love me. That hope opened up all kinds of feelings. I believe I would have gone through this, even if he had turned out to be the real thing. The fact that he wasn’t seemed to pile one more seemingly insurmountable hurt to the layers of hurt I already had inside. I didn’t think I could ever get through it. When I started releasing it, I was crying it out almost every night for a month. I am still going through waves of grief. Sometimes I don’t even know why.

I use the technique you use a lot to process it. I go into an emotional experience where I don’t really understand the emotion. A good example is a dream I may have recently had. Or I also notice that I get very emotional about animal abuse and neglect. I know there is something deeper for me to look at besides my love of animals.

Just last night I had a strange dream where the main character was a younger woman who had been madly in love with a man. But he had hurt her by pulling away. The woman had just shut down her feelings. Then a very wise older man told her not to give up, that she will get her love back. The reason was (which she did not know) that the man still loved her all along but was battling with his own demons. He was planning to come back to her, and their love was destined to be stronger than ever. Considering these are all parts of me, lots of information there to work with.

Anyway, I rambled. Nice article.

In the dream the woman felt whole and alive when she and the man were in love. But when he pulled away, she shut her heart down. (This is the story of my life, starting with my father). The man in the dream just seems like he doesn’t love the woman. But deep down he really does. He just pulled away out of fear. The woman doesn’t understand that and believes that he doesn’t love her. She sought help from a wise old man, who told her that she is about to get a surprise because the man really does love her after all. Fascinating dream. Any insights appreciated.

Kathy – Just keep doing what you are doing… dont doubt yourself, dont fear, and look at it this way…theres no way you will ever let it all go to your head… Oxy will flatten it so fast you wont know what hit you!!! You inspire so many who want to be and frankly needed to be, including me!

Star – One day I hope to be able to partake in conversations about dreams and thier meanings. I dont seem to have any. Or rather I may, but have no recollection. It is something I will finally get to the bottom of after Ive reached this goal line! Hope others have helpful insights for you!

Dear Kathy,

Excellent article, as always!!!

This articulates my own “ah ha” moment a while back when I realized that “healing is a journey, not a destination” and that so many times I have shouted “I”m healed” and in reality, I had finished the grief of ONE acute phase, but NOT “rebuilt”–I still had the same vulnerablity to the NEXT P tht came along.

Now, having realized that overcoming the grief is not the END of the “healing road” but the beginning of the REBUILDING phase, the BEST phase—I never want to go back to thinking “I am healed” or that I am “there.”

Your wonderful article (above) and all the ones before have articulated so clearly, the stages we all have or will go through in our effort to heal, to make ourselves WHOLE.

While I have “come a long way, Baby” in the last two years, in lowering my stress, accepting the losses of my “dreams” and finding new goals, new ways of looking at things in life, I do realize I still have some growth to work on.

I got an e mail today from a friend who is coming to see me on Wednesday, one of the most outstanding guys I know (not a romantic interest) who has offered me a consulting job for some of his farming projects—he is a professional “grant writer” (PhD) who works with grass roots “natural” and “green” farming proects and wants me to do some consulting work for him on some “grass fed beef projects” and I think I will! It will be a good challenge, and interesting, help people do some of the things that have been closest to my heart–preserving the land and producing sustainable food sources with low impact on the planet, as well as humane animal production.

Kathy, I have to agree with LTL. I feel that many of your posts (if not all) are channeled. And you are not the only one doing that here. I always enjoy coming here and getting uplifted by all the wisdom.

I have been told that everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers their dreams. If you are on medications, (I don’t know if you are or not), that may interfere with the process. If you really want to remember your dreams, you can always put out that intention before you go to sleep. Keep a notepad and pen by your bed in case you wake up right after a dream and want to write it down. I don’t think dreamwork is a necessary way to process emotions. But for those of us with a vivid dream life, it’s a good way. Sometimes I think my dream life if much more exciting than my real life. (Wait, what do I mean SOMETIMES?). That’s probably why I have one. lol

Thanks Star.

Multivitamin. Thats my medication list! I know that wont go on forever..but boy oh boy do I appreciate it if ever joining a new Dr.s office. Speeds up the application process .. LOL..

I REALLY WANT TO REMEMBER A DREAM. ANY DREAM. A SINGLE DREAM. But its not something Ive ever focused on or obsessed about the fact that I dont. Rarely am I in a position where I feel uncomfortable about it and for the longest times Im unaware of it. But various times, like for example at LF alot of people share their dreams and Im reminded I dont have that special gift yet…

I will try what you suggested! Maybe it will bring a little more awareness to my dreams. If you were to ask me tho, I would say if there are a rare percentage of people who dont dream I would be the first to stand up and say YES THATS ME. But Im hopeful once Ive reached my goal, my mind body and soul will be naturally rebuilt in such a way that dreams will just be a natural part of my life down the road. Fingers crossed 🙂

LTL, if you are really keen on remembering your dreams, taking up a meditation practice will help immensely. If you meditate before you go to bed, you may start having lucid dreams (where you know you’re dreaming). I remember once falling asleep while meditating. One moment I was sitting on my meditation cushion in bed, and the next moment walking through a crystal garden. But just having the intention to remember your dreams could work also.

Star — I cant wait… it seems to magical and fun and uplifting and amazing to be alive inside while you sleep at night. Not that Im not alive, but Ive never had sleep issues in regard to hitting the pillow and not being able to fall asleep. Except with xtox – i had my fair share of staying up and crying or tossing and turning over bad memories. And within last year my deep sleep pattern has been interrupted by necessary alarm clocks (internal and external) for my sons medical reasons… but i do get 2 or 3 hours at a time. But still no memory. I really am hopeful once Im further along in my healing process and my sons blood sugars are more regulated I will be joining the ranks of dreamers world wide! Ive taken yoga, and I do pilates, but not meditation other than what I learned in yoga class. I can honestly say Im looking forward to it though. Def something to look forward to! Thanks Star.

Funny, in spite of my lifelong depression, I’ve alway had a very rich dream life. When I was very young I had an amazing dream that I actually wrote a story about. Then when I got into my 20’s I started having precognitive dreams. I hope you don’t think it sounds too strange, but I occasionally dream of things that are going to happen in the future. It was pretty creepy when it first started happening, and it doesn’t happen too often.

I also dream a lot of travel to far away places. Though I have never seen or read about these places, when I check out the details in historical journals, it’s pretty accurate. So I think I may either be astral traveling or dreaming about past lives.

One recurring dream I have is that I have a soul mate but I lose him through his death, and I am in intense grief over it. This dream spans several continents (once took place in India among wild ginger gardens growing in river beds) and once in the old west where he was killed by a bow and arrow. I’m not sure what all this is about but I’ve dreamt my soul mate over and over and over again, including just last night.

I’ve dreamt so extremely interesting short stories with amusing endings, and some that Stephen King could make movies about. I used to write them all down.

Like I said, my dream life is so much richer than my waking life. I don’t know whether to smile or cry about that. 🙂

Wow Star — you really could make a movie or tv show from your dreams…

And the nurse at school had a precognitive dream about me and my daughter. Last week. I didnt know to call it that until just now. But she said she had a dream about my middle daughter getting on a plane and traveling to California (she said San Fran to be exact).. and that I was having all kinds of silly things happening leading up to her flight like losing the ticket, or traffic or luggage fell open…just funny stuff… and she almost missed her plane. So random, esp since its the elementary school nurse where only my son attends..

I laughed and said, well your eerily close , but its my older daughter who is traveling for 3 weeks in June doing community service in San Fran. We laughed about it and I said Ill make a mental note of that one.

When I got home that day, the package had been delivered filled with details, instructions, paperwork, luggage forms, everything…and there it was strewn across the hall floor torn and shredded in a million little pieces – nothing salvageable – compliments of our new puppy! A first.

Our first glitch in the process and hopefully the only one relating to her “dream”

And about your dream vs. real life all that matters is that in both you never lose your sense of wonder… so I say smile dont cry, you have it in both!!

I really wish I could blend the wonder and passion in my dreams with my real life. I am thinking about traveling to some of the places I’ve been dreaming about, like Africa.

That certainly was a precognitive dream the school nurse had. The last one I had was a year and a half ago. I was going to San Francisco to meet up with some of my reptile friends. One guy was someone I’d met before who was much younger than me, so I never had any romantic thoughts about him. But I dreamt a month before the trip that I was in his apartment in SF making out with him on a white leather sofa. I was very confused about the dream because I didn’t think he even thought of me like that.

Guess what? When I got to SF I went to his apartment to visit with him and his snakes. And there was the white leather sofa just like I dreamt it. And the rest happened just like the dream. He told me he’d been attracted to me since the last time he met me, etc…… It was pretty surreal.

Tying this in with my other post on visualization on the other thread, I think you can “daydream” about things you want to happen and that will help make those things come true, too! Daydreams are just as powerful as night dreams!

Wow Star – That really is so cool. I enjoy reading it and hearing stories like that. Even the nurses dream caught me off guard when I got home. It was surreal for me. But to be the one who has the dream and have it come true… can I be honest….

That would freak me out ! Maybe thats why I dont remember dreams, Id have to be heavily medicated during the day if I ever had a bad vision or anything too wild! LOL

But yes I do really agree with you about power of positive visualization about things you want to happen and draw them closer and closer to you making them come true!

Ok guys, speaking of dreaming, Ive gotta at least try or have fun sleeping while Im trying. Star stay positive. Stay strong. Stay yourself on your snake website. Henry – stay HENRY — think positive — find positive – there isnt one inch of positive in your ex – so need to replace him altogether after you bury him. Dig if you have to, I did. I buried a box. It helps. Whatever helps. Who cares. …hint hint !!!

kathleen: Wonderful article! I have to agree with Stargazer who said “I stayed with disordered men long past when it was time to leave (to avoid feeling my inner emptiness)” so I have my hands full on this road to healing since I have used men as a way of never having to look at myself, but your article gives me some great ideas on where to start! Thank you very much!!

Dear Kathy,

I think your above post shows that the further along the Road to Healing we get, the more we know that we NEED TO CONTINUE ON THAT ROAD AND NOT PRONOUNCE OURSELVES “HEALED” or feel that we don’t still have “work to do” to improve ourselves, to build or rebuild.

Looking back and seeing how I have repeated a pattern, just different “faces” to the Ps, and different “roles” to the Ps, none-the-less, I didn’t GET IT that I was the one ALLOWING all this drama, and actually facillitating it by my behavior and my thoughts. My cognisent disodence, as it were. If you don’t know where the problem lies, there is no way to “fix” it. I have been spending all my life’s energy for most of my life, trying to fix the unfixable, without seeing the SOLUTION which lay so close all along, so visible, yet unseen. The problem wasn’t THEM, it was ME. Sure, they were BAAAAAD, but I refused to recognize that there was NO FIX FOR THEM, that I was the “irresistable force coming up against the immovable object.” LOL

I remember when I was a teenager and in all my “wisdom” thought I knew the answer to everything—-LOL, oh, my gosh, did I think I knew all the black and white answers to every question in the world. (hanging head in embarassment at that know-it-all teenager I was then) Now, I realize, of course that I KNEW NOTHING AT ALL, but in my own arrogance I THOUGHT I did. I remember one particular night when I was about 19 and was having dinner with my later-to-be husband, several of our friends, etc. and I was expounding on the Viet Nam war and my later-to-be-husband had such a grin on his face, that looking back I recognized was a tolerance and amusement at my diatribe, and years and years later after we were married I asked him why he had been so tolerant of such an “obnoxious, know-it-all teenager” and he said, “Yes, you were an obnoxious, know-it-all teenager, but you were so CUTE AT IT.” LOL

Now that I have learned a FEW things, the answers to a few of the questions, and even more questions, I realize just how LITTLE I really do know, and I know that I must keep on learning, I must keep on questioning. MOVE ON, from the Ps, but never “move on” blindly without knowing where I am putting my feet, I must stay on the ROAD TO HEALING, the ROAD TO RE-BUILDING, or building the person I want to be, the wise crone that all older women should be….the juicy woman, the joyful woman, who like my late husband is tolerant of the youthful arrogance in the young, without being critical, who has wisdom to share, but knows when to keep her freaking MOUTH SHUT, who knows the differences between enabling and helping, and PRACTICES THEM, who knows when a cause is lost and quits “jousting at windmills.”

A woman who can face the truth and NOT be “pithed off,” but accept the truth with internal grace.

“One of my greatest anguishes after my relationship with the sociopath was the knowledge that he did not love me, combined with all the reasons he gave for not loving me. Most of them were about my age and how I looked.”

this certainly is particularly devastating. still having a hard time with it. couldn’t keep the young, beautiful boyfriend satisfied. don’t have ‘it’ anymore. getting old, and lumpy and gray.

but at least i have integrity. and i don’t lie. i’m not deceitful. nor a coward. not a taker. not a user. i’m not superficial. i have never been promiscuous.

i haven’t quite internalized it yet, but i think i win.

Hey Lost – My x was much younger – not better than me – but I relate to the feeling older cause I was….but think of it this way – their time is coming and they will never be at peace with gettin older – their youth and energy and evil ways is all they got going for them – when the sex drive wanes and they dont look good in that mirror they will prolly shoot themselve cause what else do they live for?

point taken. but my ex is only 38 … and he looks 28. he’s got a long way to go before that happens to him. he just had a new baby with his new gf!
BUT … it is true enough that their time is coming. karma is no joke.
good to see you here. i’ve been away for a few months. i’m at 8 months NC. he still tries to call once in a while (or have an old friend call me). i never answer. never respond.
like i said, i think i win. i’m doing pretty well.
towanda !!

Kathleen Hawk, and Oxydrover, Both of your posts and contributions are so beautifully well spoken, spot on, and sooo full of wisdom.

In reading the above posts, I felt tension in my body release and I feel as tho I can breathe again- full, deep breathes of peace filled with hope. May God continue to bless you all.

good to hear that you are doing well – so lets look at this way Lost – if you and I had never met these younger spathholes – don’t you think we would still be concerened about getting older and missing our youth? I am 54 – think I look good or OK for my age considering. But I never liked being 12 years older than him – I know people say age is just a number – but if I had had a wonderful relationship with the X I would still die sooner than him and he would then gone on to someone else also…I am trying to soothe you here and dont think I am doing a good job – hey we are alive and starting to feel alive again – yeah for that – and Lost we did win – no contact is when we took back our POWER – and that just really fucks with a sociopaths mind – so we win – and stop beating yourself up or I will get my skillit…..


My husband was 15 years older than me, and you know what, I figured I would be a widow for some 20-odd years, and if I don’t croke too soon, it looks like that is the case. Yea, and it “sucked canal water” but at the same time, if I never find another “love” I’m okay with that…If I had died first, I would have wanted my husband to find someone else, and knowing him, he would have had’em knocking down the door, just because he was so charming.

Around here if some woman with a nice husband is dx with cancer, they don’t wait til she’s dead before they start coming over with the casserole dishes to “comfort” him—yea, really! I am not joking! But frankly, if I had my pick of all the guys I know, could have any of them, I don’t know but one I would have and he is only 40 so a BIT too young for me…even if he was interested. (My oldest son is 39) I’m getting so “picky” now, because I am no longer “needy.” ALONE IS OKAY and better by far than a “relationship” that is not good. I just can’t imagine NOW being this picky, but back after my husband died, I sure was NEEDY and not at all picky….

Thank you Sabrina, for that kudo! ((((hugs to all my LF buddies))))

Yes a 30 year old stud fireman with eyes of steele would be nice – but that aint gonna happen – and if I look for a man my age then being single is lookin better all the time……

Oh Henry, Lost, -like you, my x was younger, extremely handsome, built awesome -SO UNFAIR. It was like in high school dating the captain of the football team.
He loved to “joke” saying to me “Come on Grandma” I’m 4 yrs older.
But in all his beauty- not enuf for the “pretty, pretty princess” to save his own rear end from convictions, losing his job, his home, and his church-complete with his very own adoring fan club.
All that beauty, and not a brain cell to save his own very soul- how sad. 🙂

Henry, if you are looking for the 30 year old “stud fireman with eyes of steel,” you and I may have to fight over him!!!!

I want mine to also be a pilot though, and to like outside activities, and he also has to be rich too—-LOL Yea, I think we will wait a long time to find “him.” LOL

I like you lilne “if I look for a man my age, then being single is looking better all the time.” ROTFLMAO

my x had me beat in being younger in age but that was all ..I was the best thing that ever happened to him – does he know that? nope – but he is a loser I am a winner..Towanda~~~!~!!

Ox you crack me up…

very sad, indeed. they all are.

henry: not beating myself up at all. i’m pretty happy and successfully pulling out of a deep depression. he was nothing but drama. i don’t miss him very often anymore. i’ve forgiven myself for getting sooooo played. i understand that he’s one sick mofo. i’m fine alone. don’t really feel as though i need a man, but if one happens by and can pass the sociopath-sniff-test, well, who’s to say?

my sanctuary is my knowledge that i did nothing wrong. period.
when it comes down to it, my ex-spathhole-from-hell was right about one thing. and it’s true for all of us.

we hold the trump card. we ultimately say when we’ve had enough and can no longer allow the truth to be a badly-hidden secret. when we play it, the world stops. and then slowly, it starts spinning again. and we recover ourselves.

it’s as though he knew that ultimately i would never take him back again. 25 years of intimacy stopped dead in its tracks. when we throw in our hand, we win.

ox: hellllo there. long time, eh?
glad to see your as feisty as ever!

lost that was a beautiful post – I am so proud for you and me – I suffered nothing compared to 25 year’s but look where we are now….we did not do anything wrong – only disrespected ourselve’s by letting them use us – single is way better than what they had to offer – at least we have hope again and joy….I was just thinking today how I think I really have made it – i still have lot’s of henry issues but I did win the battle with the predator, I escaped his clutch and he had to go look for fresh humanity , someone that has no clue they are being preyed upon

Good to see you and glad to hear how great you are doing. Towanda!

Also, people, I think you can be attractive and even sexy at ANY age. It’s about your energy and the way people feel when they are around you. I felt miserable about myself after the breakup. Now I’m starting to like myself again. I’m 48 and getting hit on by guys half my age. (One looks like Johnny Depp, and boy am I in trouble!). You will too, LIG. And I can’t wait for you to come back and post about it.

johnny depp, eh? (on my way to the gym)

good to see you too, star!

henry: i was thinking that just the other day. he had to go to someone who knows nothing about him, his history, his b.s.
poor thing. she has no clue … and now she has a baby with him.

oy. freedom is such a blessing.

Oxy said: “ALONE IS OKAY and better by far than a “relationship” that is not good.”

Yeppers. After two walks on the bad side, (with the 2nd one even worse than the first), I figure I need to take Sandra Brown’s advice and wait the full two years from date of last contact before even beginning to think about dating. Before I always felt like I HAD to have a man in my life. But now I’m finding that I actually like being alone and learning what I REALLY like and dislike etc. and I’m really learning alot about myself in this “down time”. I really want to go about dating and choosing different from before and I figure to do that I have to really focus on ME and my decision making skills and boundaries and what qualities would really be important to me in a man and which ones would be deal breakers etc. .

Star said: “I’m 48 and getting hit on by guys half my age. (One looks like Johnny Depp, and boy am I in trouble!).

Oh gosh darn it, Star, this is SO UNFAIR! I’m not ready to date yet, but I sure wouldn’t mind a few young good looking dudes giving me an ego boost by flirting with me. Ok, I’ll just say it: I’m JEALOUS. (you go, girl!) 🙂

Well, the young guys are fun for friends and flirting, but that’s about it. I had my heart broken by a few, so I learned my lesson. I’m not ready to date anyway, so flirting (mostly even online flirting) is about my speed right now. Believe me, there are lots of young guys who like older women, even in their late 40’s, though it seems hard to believe. The one who looks like Johnny Depp is in Holland and totally adorable. Thank God he’s so far away, or I’d be in deep deep trouble. He just turned 21. Waaaay too young! lol It’s fun though, and it keeps me young. ha ha ha. I am an incorrigible (sp) femme fatale.

thank you so much for the article.
I have realized that one reason (there are a couple) that it is so hard for me to let go– is that I do not have a life now! I had to give up everything including my job and my DIVINE, WHITE AKITA to get away from him, blah, blah. I have lost so much– that to let go– wow–
i am in a world where I have absolutely nothing but broken dreams, bills and anger at myself and PTSD. AT 39 years old.
You just wrote a post above– were we with the same guy? No joke– the things he said and did to you. The dropping lines about being together forever– i got them every single day. Even an hour before his discard b/c of something I said.
I very much look forward to your PTSD article for that is where I am at.
Thanks again. Thanks to everyone here at LF. You are wonderful.

Dear Meg,

BOINK!!!! YOU HAVE NOT LOST EVERYTHING, YOU STILL HAVE YOURSELF!!!! I knowit feels like you have lost everything, but whatever you lost, ALL you lost is nothing compared to YOU!!!! YOU are your most prescious thing, you are what is important. THINGS, jobs, even beloved pets, are not YOU, YOU are THE MOST IMPORTANT thing.

I know sweetie that it feels like you have no life, but BREATHE IN and BREATHE OUT—you are alive! As long as you have life in you, you have A LIFE. It may not be what you want right now, you may be hurting terribly right now, but you are GRIEVING right now, and the pain is NOT forever. I promise you, Meg, this will get better, you will start feeling like you are living again! ((((hugs))))) and always my prayers for you!!!

Hello, this is my first post. I’ve been reading, reading here, for a couple of weeks. All I can say is WOW and WHY? I’m not sure what stage I’m in right now. I do know that for the past 3.5 years I was made (chose) to beleive that it was all my fault. That I was the paranoid stupid bitch, and I BELEIVED it!
It turns out that everything I felt, thought and smelt was true.

I wish I could step out of my body and kick myself in the A$$.
All my friends and family repeatedly told me to get out of the relationship, and I didn’t listen. P kept telling me, “our relationship is none of their business”.

I was in “love”. I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming. I consider myself a smart person and I lost myself. I actually DID see this coming, I just didn’t beleive in myself. I didn’t listen to myself. Grrr.

My heart is broke. I’m broke. I know I need to move on. I was at a restaurant the other day, and a man came up to me and said, “you look like you need a hug, can I give you one?”. I realized what a sad sack I must look like.

I thank God for this website. It has already helped me tremendously. And Thank-you Kathy for this beautiful article.
BTW what does ‘namaste’ mean?

Kathy, you are the bomb!

Your writing has helped me so much.


Thank you, I have found all your articles so wise and helpful. They strike a chord with anyone who has been involved with a P.

LOSTinAZ: The God-spirit in me greets the God-spirit in you. Namaste. We recognize each other in our shared good-heartedness and in our pain.

How could you have known that this person was that strange, that “different,” that dysfunctional? You were doing what you thought you should to build a relationship.

First, forgive yourself, and while you’re at it, give yourself a hug. And feel free to ask for hugs from here, as well. This is a loving place with many people who are committed to healing themselves and each other.

The ‘Look”. When I read about the look, the glare, the stare, on this site it gave me chills up my spine. Creepy. And I fell for it! Any time I would say anything derogatory in our relationship, I would get the Look.

I ask myself, why didn’t I run sooner? Like the time he told me he was a Navy Seal, and I found out he couldn’t swim. And that he was on his way to the Pentagon on 9/11. I’m in a fog. I know from this site that none of what he told me was true. I’m having difficulty with that though. I guess I don’t want to believe it.

I know deep down in my heart that this is a Godsend. But now when I do talk to people, I dont know what to beleive! I can’t beleive these people can be so cold. Have any of them ever tried to get help? Can they be helped? I almost have pity on him.


Thank you for such a great article. What struck me the most was this line: “Grief that goes on and on is usually about a battle within ourselves.” I really am battling with myself. When I met the S, I was at a vulnerable point in my life, and looking back I realize I wanted to escape myself. I didn’t like myself and he came along and made everything appear perfect. I no longer had to deal with myself – it was all about him. I lost myself completely. And now, he’s gone and I’m on my own with his children. I’m having to face myself again for the first time in 14 years and it’s a difficult process.

And what makes the process all the more difficult is the fact that an S/P can just carry on without skipping a beat. He barely remembers life with me; he’s on to bigger and better things. I was completely disposable. I know this and I understand who he is, but I really can’t allow myself to think about it anymore.

I have to think about myself, which I don’t really like doing. I have to struggle with who I am and what is it that I should be doing. I’m even questioning some of my friendships that were formed when with him. I don’t even think these friends are people who I would choose to be friends with before he came along.

For 14 years I was made to believe I was this different person. And now, I’m back to reality. Trying to figure out who that person is I left behind so many years ago is a difficult process. I know why I let it happen. I understand it now. It’s still just such a struggle.

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