By | October 21, 2009 282 Comments

After the sociopath is gone: Good-bye lie. Welcome truth.

I wrote the following nine months after the p formerly in my life was arrested. I was asked on another thread, was there a moment you ‘knew’? Knew that you would be okay. Knew it was okay to let him go.

Yes and no. In those first heady days of freedom, every moment was filled with knowing I was okay. And every moment was filled with the fear I would never get through the pain to find the light of love within me. I had to make a choice. Had to decide — what do I want more of. Lies and deciet. Truth and harmony.

I wanted to share this piece with you because it speaks to the power of one word to release us from fearing life without them so that we can surrender and fall in love with life within us.

As night settled into its soggy wet blanket, the pooch and I went for a walk. The rain beat a sibilant hiss upon the shiny black road, the streetlights glowed iridescently, casting golden orbs of light, punctuating holes into the dark shadows of the night. I was wrapped in the misty blanket of a rainy evening, my skin moistened by the water-laden air, my breath a frosty vapor leading me silently forward. The pooch pranced happily by my side, her tail a constant metronome displaying the tempo of her happiness as we journeyed forth into the dark.

It was a mystical, magical evening. A night for quiet thoughts that drifted through my mind as effortlessly as the raindrops falling one-by-one from the pearl clad branches all around me.

I thought of love found and love lost and moving on. Of new relationships and old. New found love and love that never fulfills its promise of growing old beside me. Of promises made and promises broken. Journeys taken and voyages lost because the voyageur could not see by the light of the moon and lost his way among the stars. And I thought of my brother to whom I had never said good-bye and the P to whom good-bye was just another word for the door is always open until I say so.

For such a little word, good-bye carries a mighty wallop.

Good-bye can mean, see you in a while, or see you in a year. It can carry us into the night on the hope of tomorrow or it can sweep all hope away as we look back and see there will never be a next time, another day, or a new tomorrow.

For those who have journeyed into the valley of the S or P or N, good-bye is a word fraught with the fear that once spoken it can never be returned. It lays frozen upon our tongues, our minds numb in the fear it might slide out on a breath of air and change our lives forever. Terrified we might slip, we pack our hopes and dreams into that one little word and stuff our pride and dignity into the cracks of our pain seeping in beneath the door held fast against our fear that he will leave before tomorrow ever dawns. And all the while, we search for the perfect last words that will either make it all right or make him hear us, just this once, before he slithers off into the dark from whence he came.

And as we flounder in the depths of empty words and promises, we pray that there will never be a time to say good-bye but rather, welcome back, I’ve missed you. Spiraling into the darkness of the painfully long good-bye they began when they said, hello, we silently hold onto the word that will set us free and stumble through the words of begging them to please not say it.

But in the land of lies, the door we thought we held so firmly closed is always open, no matter how hard we push against it. Eventually, when we have worn ourselves out upon the welcome mat of our desire to be all they will ever need, we must face the reality that we will never have the chance to say our fond farewells. They have already left. Gone in search of new tomorrows. Of some other happily ever after which we never saw coming.

In their passing, we are left holding the shreds of our battered hearts in the basket of our dreams, frozen in time. Alone, forlorn, we whisper, good-bye, into the empty space that lays before us, hoping they will hear the soft promise of our hopes they will find out there, that which they could never find in us. We peer into the darkness of the lengthening shadows, our tears puddling around our feet, forming a river into which we fall, in fear of drowning as we cry out for one last chance to say good-bye.

Good-bye. It’s such a little word but it keeps us stuck on the dream of wanting them back so that we can have the last word that will close forever the door to our hearts they so easily open.

In the end, the best good-bye is the quiet hello we whisper within our hearts as we pick at the scab of our wounds that never seem to heal as long as they keep walking through the door to our dreams. Good-bye lies. Hello truth. Welcome back to me.

In our good-byes that are never spoken we will never find the key that will unlock the secret door to their understanding. It resides somewhere in the dark, beyond the edges of the light. But, beneath the scabby, jagged-edge scar of our disbelief, new skin is forming with our welcome home. If we leave it alone long enough to heal from the inside out, we will understand that he could never hear our good-bye. He could never cherish our hearts because he was always and forever, a figment of our imaginations. He was never true.

In our awakening to the light of a new tomorrow without him we discover, it was only the darkness of being without him we feared. And without him, we have nothing to fear.

In seeing the gift of his departure in the light of a new day dawning, we lift our heads and see, the sun is shining. As it beckons, we step into the light of finally knowing, the only way to say good- bye to what never was, is to accept it never will be.

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Beautiful. Thank you.


What a piece of writing. Incredible. And so very true. They made us feel them saying goodbye would mean instant death, when in fact, the opposite was true – their saying goodbye is the beginning of life for us even if we don’t feel it and can’t quite believe it at the time 🙂


“In our awakening to the light of a new tomorrow without him we discover, it was only the darkness of being without him we feared. And without him, we have nothing to fear.” I struggled with this every time he left but the time before he left last, I discovered that without him there was nothing to fear. When he came back that time I prayed for the Lord to make him quit me since I clearly couldn’t put him out and keep him out. I knew God did not want me to be tied up constantly with things not of Him. My prayers were answered, he stayed about three weeks that time and left me! At first I thought how dare him act like he had to quit me after everything he has done, then I realized it was how it had to be. I hadn’t been able to end it and stick to it for fear which I could not understand I had never been this way with anyone before. I have since researched because someone told me he was a psychopath. I was so surprised it even explained the way he used words out of context! I also ran into ambient abuse and as I read I knew that was what had happened to me. My mom had often said I wasn’t myself anymore. I didn’t used to be afraid of doing and the things I had done he had taken over and he didn’t do them as well as I had. Sorry, my point was this article really does say it. “In seeing the gift of his departure in the light of a new day dawnng, we lift our heads and see, the sun is shining.”!!


OMG, Louise, you just about killed me with that one. You brought all my PTSD back. are you sure you aren’t a P?
Seriously, you are gifted in the art of zooming in on exactly what we are feeling. Goodbye feels like cutting off an arm.
Before I read this I had finished telling an acquaintance that I was not emotional over my xP and that I hadn’t even been in love with him for years. And right after that I was reading a very nice email from a guy that makes me feel so great when I think about his kisses. But now. I feel like crap again.
I can’t bear to say goodbye to the sadistic, evil, lying, sack of shit that doesn’t deserve the air he breathes. He revels in the thought of other’s pain. He wants death and destruction to rule the earth. There is no doubt in my mind about this. But goodbye means: no hope. Not for me and not for the human race. If they can’t be fixed and they are spreading there’s no hope.

Now I have to rethink how far I’ve come in my healing. Not as far as I had thought.

super chic

Beautifully written, lyrical.


Now I have to go back to praying the rosary and several other prayers to St. Michael again. 🙁


Wonderful words-painful and true. Truth is what I need to hear because I am now finding out what this is all about and the man I was with and in love with for four yrs wasn’t real. He left three weeks ago and I feel crazy, lost, lonely and very, very sad. I am so glad I found this site-looks like I will be hanging out here alot.


Louise – I thought the one word would be ‘No’ but ‘Goodbye’
encompasses the hardest part to face. Coming here before bed and reading your beautiful passage was like an answer to some prayer
I didn’t even know how to say. Thank you so much, especially tonight.


I like your screen name.
Thank God you man left you. so many of us have to run for our lives. Please, if he comes back BE BORING. that is the one thing they can’t stand. Boring. No emotions, like a plain gray rock. Act like you just have no emotions about anything.

Please come as often as you need to. Post about your life and we will validate your feelings because, as you know, we have all experienced it. No other people can understand it. Only those who have experienced it and ALSO KNOW what they experienced, can understand.

I was trying to find a used tripod to buy on craigslist and found one. The woman who sold it to me, was just like us. She had been with a man for 5 years. Now she is happily married but, she said she was in therapy for soooo many years. And her mom was the most sinister abuser of all. We/You will discover our real selves through this hell. (hugs)


From the first coversation after we met on internet, he insisted: Never say Goodbye. Say CIAO, Nighty, whatever – but never say goodbye.
Are they such frightened of being left with GOODBYE?
I think they KNOW it will come a time they will hear it, and we will MEAN IT.


Louise, u wrote it beautiful and so touching. I did not cry reading it, there was just a sadly smile and kind of grieving . Reading what u wrote made me feel like little girl listening some sad tale for the first time. Girl who did not get used that not all tales end with”happilly after ever”.
Thank u!


Thank you skylar and no worries about the “boring” part as I am sures thats one of the main reasons he left. I have a feeling his relationship tolerance is about four years and its time to move on. And you are right about others not understanding this unless they have been through it. It’s still so bizzare and painful I dont even have the words to try to explain it if I could. Thank you again for the welcome:)


If you Love someone , set them Free!

If they do not return , Hunt them down and Kill them!


:)xxx Thanks Louise:) Beautiful!x The right kind of Goodbye is beautiful! x and its not about no hope, but the beginning of real hope:)x

Ox Drover

Thank you, Louise, so beautifully put—in my imagination, I could see you walking along that road with your dog, so wonderfully described.

In so many ways, so many of us have been along that same road, I think it is the path that goes toward Healing, and until we set our feet there, over the rough stones, into the darkness, and unlike the biblical story of Lot’s wife, we look forward, not backward in longing, do we progress, rather than turn to a “pillar of salt” and become stationary. We must learn to say that word–goodbye—and I will add “good riddance” as well.

Blue, your last post (quote) “The right kind of Goodbye is beautiful! x and its not about no hope, but the beginning of real hope:)x” is so right on, we are saying “goodbye” to pain, to lies, and HELLO TRUTH!

Thank you, again, Louise for sharing your wonderful articles with the rest of us. (((hugs))))


Oxy thanks for that metaphor about pillars of salt. I really like that and I will remember it.


Dear Louise, that was absolutely beautiful and touching! They have a way (their actions) of making us all feel exactly the same inside, don’t they? The fears, the pain, the anxiety, the longing…..

In the beginning the SP told me “never say good-bye, that good-bye was so final, like the end.” So we never said good bye on a phone conversation, text, email, or in person…..only “see ya”. In the end, there was never a good-bye, only the feelings you so eloquently describe above….when he suddenly and hatefully discarded me to the curb like a piece of used up trash.

He also told me that once done wrong by someone, he would hate them forever. No second chances! I have learned that his idea of “being done wrong” was “being found out”….. a person becoming smart to his game. That is what happened to me. I became smart to his game and thus the bad guy….I will forever be “hated” by him. I guess God does work in mysterious ways?


gallagher – What a beautiful post on such a painful thing as saying goodbye. Knowing that ‘good bye’ is the last thing you want to say but the only option we have in saving our lives. I will never forget that confusion and feeling of loss and complete failure, wasn’t sure if I was saying goodbye to the love of my life or not, I just new the nitemare had to end.


I was not prepared for that feeling of loss, I couldnt understand why it lingered so long, I guess I lost the lie. You would think a lie would be easy to accept and get over.


beautiful piece, I can relate 100%


No one understand how hard it is to say good-bye unless they have been involved with an S I told my friend I feel like he will be apart of me for the rest of my life and she just couldn’t understand what I was saying Its like he burned his soul into my heart. God when I read this an the section an the part that states”we pray that there will never be a time to say good-bye but rather, welcome back, I’ve missed you.”Thats how I feel even after all the drama I feel this in my heart. Sad lonely broken hearted all wrap up in one!


maybe they feel this way to us because it feels like part of our perpetual childhood is being taken away? he’s like a muse or a genie. But one misstep and the genie becomes angry.


luv716 – I do relate with how you feel, however this will pass in time. I am at 18 months no contact and each day I feel less and less under that fog. I think the reason a sociopath leaves this feeling of loss in us is more about us than them. They truly are a different kind of human. I was conned and exploited with lies’, it never was real, I was just a convient option for him at the time. Being a nice person is not as safe as I thought it was. I lost that belief that all people are good deep down..they are not. I wont let him remain in my heart forever – I promise myself that.


Loss – been pondering on that this afternoon. What did we lose? Alot, now that I think of it. It changed the way we look at life. It changed our idea of love and romance. It changed the way we look at friendships. We cant look at life the same ever again. So the loss we feel is realizing how much of our past was stolen and wasted and looking into the future with a whole different set of rules. And this is good in a painful way.


I have a thought, and I might be way off here but it is something to think about.

Analogies are sometimes a great tool for healing. They sometimes can help us to “see” things that we couldn’t possibly see without the comparison.

I have heard you compare your X/S several times to a “baby” (so to speak) in a diaper. Great analogy. To picture an S in your head behaving like a small child.

I have also read that you have said your relationship was more of a mother/son relationship than a relationship of adult lovers….

In reading this article today about saying goddbye I had a thought…..

In my life time I have had much difficulties with saying goodbyes. Even when I should have said goodbye, I stayed way to long in the relationships before I was able to walk away. When people that I loved died, I could never let them go. There was sometimes that feeling of “unfinished business”.
I struggled.

BUT never, ever have I struggled with a goodbye as I will struggle with my son. And the reason is of course because he is my son…But also that picture of him forever engrained in my head of him as my child. My sweet little boy. How do you ever let that go? I am trying to process this. Getting rid of the picture of him in my head as the sweet little boy.

Maybe your thought process of your X/P has to change as far as the diaper analogy. Maybe you can’t think of it anymore as you mothering him in your relationship.
Maybe you can never let him go completely if you don’t let this picture “in your head go”. Any more than I would be able to.

something to think about….


Hi Henry,

What you say makes a lot of sense to me. We did lose some significant stuff. How we look at love and life. Those beliefs are deeply held and dear to most people. And when they get shattered it is like there is nothing to hold on to. And we feel lost.

This may sound like I am being really hard on myself, but for me much of what I believed about ‘love’ and ‘life’ has turned out to be hooey.

I don’t know about you but I looked at love and life from a place of childhood fantasy, of longing, of hoping for rescue and relief. The perfect love saving me from my fractured and wounded self, etc…

No Mr. Knight in Shining Armor? WTF?! Love doesn’t conquer all? POOP! All people aren’t ‘good’ deep down inside. For reals? The answer is inside me, not him? Great! Looking good isn’t going to land me happiness? Geez!

I have been the central tragiromantic character in my own love story for as long as I can remember. And finding just the right man to fulfill me, and give me some ‘importance’ in life has been my ace-in-the-hole.

Golf game over.

*Now* these beliefs are not true for me. I don’t know exactly what is ‘true’ for me. I sorta feel like I don’t want to believe in anything. Not in a cynical sort of way. But in the way of: I want to respond to what IS, not to what I ‘believe’ in. I want to act out of my own knowing and beingness. Weird words, I know. I just don’t know how else to put it. What I don’t want is to act out of some old worn out script that requires everyone around me get their ‘lines’ correct, so I can start to be happy and fulfilled.

To be spontaneously aware and responsive to each moment. Not coming from a pattern of held belief. That is what I would like to experience. I don’t think it will make my life all rainbows and lollypops. But it will be a life lived with awareness, and I hope will support the possibility of less suffering, and more meaning.

I ‘think’ my romantic and life beliefs/fantasies are what made the unreality of the badman so appealing. They were mirrored back to me and I swooned at my own reflection. It was like my own weird ego-trip was wrapped up tight in his spider web, and he sucked the juice out of it.

However, what he got….what I ‘lost’ wasn’t real. Not for me. It was something I could have lost a lot sooner, and been the better for it.

I don’t ever want to live in that place of self-deception again. I want to be awake, to ME, to life, to what is.


well said, henry.
good in a painful way.


you are right. It’s much harder to let go of a baby than a lover. Because the narcissist is and always will be an emotional child, that is how I see him. But now I’ve got a different picture: a mythological creature. It’s funny that others are posting about the mythological creature now too.

I’m not sure how much easier it’s going to be to let go of a mythological creature than a baby. I think it’s getting better now, though. Talking to him gives me such a disgusting feeling and I’m getting to the point where that is all I remember when I hang up the phone.

I know that most people here at LF don’t encourage the “replacement” theory, as the answer, but I think that after becoming informed about this disorder, the next most helpful step is to make new friends and that includes physical intimacy. Even if it just means kissing. Since I’ve moved on the nightmares have stopped. Before that, they never stopped, every night was filled with his face and presence. Now, I have all kinds of other dreams. Just getting affection from someone else is very healing.

super chic

henry, your thoughts about loss are very insightful… “realizing how much of our past was stolen and wasted…” Yes, I think I am grieving over how I wasted my life because I was looking through rose colored glasses.


slimone – We are on the same page…you get exactly what I am saying….down to a T.


shabby we didnt know a different way then. I believe surviving our past and learning the truth will set us on a whole new realm. We know alot more than most people will ever know – we have been vaccinated~!


Thank you,

I think the lack of “good-bye” was a killer. Just more to prove I meant nothing to him. It is nice to know I am not the only one who feels this way.


I have to comment on this goodbye talk.
After I separated from the LIE (2 yrs ago … I was devastated and a mess which left the door open for him to walk back in after a yr of leaving me on my own), I met a man online in the UK who I believe was a P also. I must have been alert to it by then because I remember thinking ‘something isn’t right here’.

He flipped out one day when I typed Goodbye. I asked what was wrong with it. He said ‘It is too final – it means that is it forever and you will never come back. So say see ya later instead. Or ciao. Or catch you later but never say goodbye until you mean it.’

I had never heard of this association before so it confused the heck out of me. I did end up saying a very definite goodbye a few weeks later when he tried pressuring me for cam sex (Ha! As if! I am a lights out gal at the best of times – there is no way I want a digital record of that non spectator sport floating around the web for posterity!!) It struck me as really strange though – the whole association of goodbye meaning forever.

I was reading a book entitled ‘Live the life you love and stop just getting by’ and read the following quote (at least I THINK it came from this book! Yes it did 🙂
“When considering whether or not you will regret or not regret something, don’t bother considering whether other people will approve or not. You only need to worry about one opinion – YIFY> Yourself in Five Years. If you say yes – what will yourself in five years say? Will you be happy about the decision or kicking your own backside?”

It really struck me – that question. I think if I were asked it back then I would perhaps have cut my losses a little earlier. A LOT earlier had I known how long it would take to get out. But maybe I would have made excuses for his behaviour. Maybe I would have betted on potential rather than the truth I could see in front of me. Maybe I would have still had my rose coloured glasses on. This is an innoculation I could have done without. I have a sensitive constitution at the best of times and this just knocked the hell out of me after a lifetime of others kicking my soul around. I was well primed for his arrival and devouring of me.

super chic

polly, I have also read similar concepts to the YIFY, it’s a great idea, I’m glad you brought it up – because I had forgotten about it. I was always trying to just get through each day, not really looking at myself and what I was doing… or what my goals were.


This is a beautifully written, gut-wrenchingly true article.
Not long ago I discovered Lovefraud, and I am astounded every single day when I read the articles on here. I have been living in this 30 year hell (which is ending in divorce, finally) with a Narcissistic S husband. I have always felt so utterly ALONE, like NO ONE could possibly understand what I am going through, there is no one to talk to, no one who will understand, this is so abnormal, what is wrong with me, what is happening, etc etc etc. Then I found Lovefraud, and this article, as well as SO many others, explain EXACTLY what I am feeling and have gone through, all these people who are blogging have gone through the same horrible feelings, everyone is sharing and learning, and I am so thankful for this site and for all these outstanding articles and people who have survived and are reaching out to each other. It is astonishing to me how many people have been through all these things, I thought I was alone, and I am not. Thank you for this article, it just hits home and says what I have never been able to put into words.

First, thank you, Louise, for a beautiful and inspiring post.

Like some of us, for me, goodbye was not clearly about lies and truth. It was about how will I survive without him? He was a leach, and a misery to deal with. But part of me “believed” this was a great love relationship. Even while part of me knew that I was being used and abused. (And of course, he was no help in sorting it out. He made an art form of confusing answers to direct questions.)

Yesterday, looking for a lost file, I stumbled on the history of our relationship I wrote in book form. There was a section in it about the early period, when I talked about feeling like I was different when I was with him. Usually my thinking was dominated by concern for other people’s feelings. But with him, I became incisive and logical, able to see into the future and build clear plans. I also became more adventurous, less bogged down in responsibilities. I felt as though the lights came on in a formerly dark part of my brain.

And I think that this was part of my addiction to him — that he made me feel like I had characteristics that I was formerly weak in. It was exhilarating. I felt like we were two super-people. Of course, there was the other side of the relationship. When I acted or felt in my more typical fashion — the girly girl who loved her Prince Charming — he rejected me and my feelings with contempt. Or if I tried to use the same mentality that he did to arrange our relationship to suit me, instead of just rolling over when he rearranged my life to suit himself, he punished me. So it was all very confusing and painful.

But for a person who always positioned herself as the acquiescent dependent in relationships (even though I was usually paying the bills and managing all the practical details for my husbands and partners), this illumination of the dark side of my brain, however occasional and fleeting, was something that was intoxicating and seemingly something I could only do when he gave me a certain type of attention. Without that attention, I was not only the way I had been before — bogged down in emotional and other types of commitments, desperate for acknowledgment and acceptance — but I was also disoriented about this “new” me and whether it was bad, good or even “allowed.”

In other words, I was unmoored. And he became my anchor, who only showed up to ground me when he happened to be in the mood, or when I could give him something fabulous enough to earn a little bit of positive attention.

I’ve always been attracted to larger-than-life characters. I’ve also played around with the idea that, if I appreciated their characteristics, I must also have those characteristics buried somewhere inside me. Otherwise, how could I recognize them? So somewhere in me, I was funny, tough-minded, concerned about my own interests before anyone else’s, able to make big plans and carry them out, etc. I thought that, but I never seemed to find my partners’ characteristics contagious.

What I did catch from the ex sociopath was his dark emotional spectrum. The resentment, the anger, the depression, the self-hatred, the inability to climb out of that hole (unless I was willing to use harder drugs than overwork, chocolate and shopping). His techniques for avoiding that hole were out of the question. I wasn’t going to recruit new sex partners weekly. Or find someone to beat up to make myself feel like less of a failure. Or going around telling self-aggrandizing stories to prey on the credulity of fools who would believe them. Or amuse myself by seeing what I could rip off, or who I could cheat, or whether I could really mess with someone’s head.

It was out of the question, because what he left me with was the knowledge that I wasn’t a super-person. In fact, I was less than I thought I was before I met him. My self-esteem had just drained away, like someone had opened a spiget in my head. I was hopeless, useless. It was like I was paying for that brief illumination on the dark side of my brain with a brown-out across the whole thing.

Saying goodbye to him meant saying good-bye to that stubborn hope that had endured for five miserable years that that the magic could happen again. That we would connect as two larger-than-life people and walk the earth together as masters of the universe. And he encouraged that hopeful grandiosity with shared fantasies of how we would live someday.

I should be embarrassed to admit all this. And I would have been a couple of years ago. But now — except for some regrets about dreadful things I did in the thrall of these dreams — it just looks sort of cute. Because miserable as most of it was, and rotten a surrogate parent as he was, I regard it now as the toddler stage of growing up, at least on that dark side of my character. I call it dark, but it really was just unilluminated, unused. I wasn’t tough-minded. I wasn’t self-interested in any conscious way. I certainly wasn’t very funny, except for the ability to laugh at myself because I was such a klutz. No irony. No cynicism. No ability to judge the quality of what was going on around me, except whether it gave me the acceptance and emotional safety I needed.

So for me, saying goodbye to this man has been a long process of developing that side of me, so I don’t need him or anyone like him ever again. Until fairly recently (and it’s been more than five years since he’s gone), I would have attacks of missing him desperately. And then I realized that those attacks always happened when I was stressed and in over my head with responsibilities. I missed having someone stronger and smarter than me to cut through the self-created chaos in my life. Figuring that out helped a lot.

Now when he comes to mind, I see if there’s some bit of wisdom I’m looking for (because he did say some very smart things), or if it’s just a visitation from the last person I loved. Because I haven’t exercised that capacity in a romantic sense since him. And I think sometimes that mental muscle just flexes to let me know it’s still there and that I still have the capacity for intimacy. But not with him, not anymore. I find myself saying to the air, “I don’t need you anymore.”

And increasingly, that’s true. Earlier this month, it was my birthday, 11 years since I met him, 5 1/2 years since I got him out of my life. When I met him I was a super-nice, very usable woman drowning in responsibilities to take care of everyone in my world. When I threw him out, I was drained and suicidal, no longer even able to take care of myself. Now, well now, I’m changed beyond recognition.

Yesterday, one of my clients said, “We want you to do this thing.” And I responded, “I don’t work that way. It will cost you four time more to do what you’re suggesting, but you’ll get something a lot better.” They said, “No we want you to do it the way we’re asking.” I said, “Sorry, I don’t work like that.” Today, they told me “Do it your way.”

Never would have happened before. Just the thought of it would have made me a quivering mass of “Oh, no, what will they think of me? They won’t like me anymore.” Did I thank the ex-S? Nah. It was in me all the time. I just had to go through all that misery with him, and the fascinating work of getting over him, to turn the lights on myself. Not to make me a super-person, just to make me whole, something I never was before.

For me, that’s when I say goodbye. That’s when I think I don’t need him anymore.


I love how you admit to your inner-P. I think you are a super-person, just not a P because you feel empathy.

I’m the same way, but I think part of it is adrenalin addiction.
Today and yesterday I had chocolate. It makes me feel euphoric. But it doesn’t change reality, once I come down I still have to face my life.

Please continue to inspire us with your inspirations. I want to grow up.



You write of him needing to leave you… I used to wish for that everyday… wish I’d wake up and he’d be gone — because I couldn’t do it or at least do it for long… I’d break-up or throw him out only to bring him back… but 2 weeks ago he left…(I have nothing left for him to take) and I haven’t spoken to him…. But I’m still fighting my need of him…


OMG… some of the things you write about like the things you did… the things I did to “please” him make me sick…

Then you said this: “When I met him I was a super-nice, very usable woman drowning in responsibilities to take care of everyone in my world. When I threw him out, I was drained and suicidal, no longer even able to take care of myself.”

That is me… but it hasn’t been 5 years it’s been 2 weeks and I feel totally worthless and I have lost everything in my life. How did you pull through? How did you rebuild? I just want to disappear and fade away…


You wrote “I feel totally worthless and I have lost everything in my life. How did you pull through? How did you rebuild? I just want to disappear and fade away””

If you’re only two weeks into this, the first big challenge is to understand what happened (that you were targeted by a predator) and then to acknowledge your feelings and your right to feel that way.

That doesn’t happen overnight. The earliest part of recovery is the worst, and that’s where you are right now. So if you feel like total crap — in pain, hating yourself, unable to figure out the meaning of any of it, depressed, immobilized, unable to stop thinking about it — that’s normal for this stage. This person has been messing with your life, and more importantly, your head.

So maybe, it might help to understand that you’re in process. And where you are right now is part of a big learning that will leave you stronger, more aware, more able, mentally healthier, more joyous and creative than you’ve ever been in your life. It’s a path and you’re at the beginning of it. But you’re taking steps. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to heal and take back your life.

If you want my perspective on healing, click on my name on the column on the left hand side of this page, and you’ll see the articles I’ve written about the path. Reading the first few might be helpful to you now, just to get some perspective on what you’re going through.

But there are lots of great articles here. Wander around the archive. Read whatever looks interesting, and don’t bother with all the comments below right now.

And just talk with us. Tell your story. Talk about how you feel, and what’s going on in your life now. Don’t worry about what you sound like, or whether you should be different than you are. We all go through the same stuff. There are people here who are at every stage of healing. You’ll get support and, if you want it, advice. This is a fantastic community, and we’re all about one thing. Getting through this recovery process and taking our lives back.

Congratulations on his being gone. Whether you threw him out or he walked away. It’s a really good thing. And now you’re going to start getting better.

A big hug —


Oh sorry, I meant that to be for lostnsad.

And honey, that’s a very blue name you gave yourself. What are you going to call yourself when you’re getting better? I’ve always kind of wished I’d called myself something like fallingup. If you wanted it, I’d give that name to you.

And another hug —




I understand. Before I started researching I thought I was the only one that must be going through such craziness, how do you want someone out of your life so much and yet think you can’t live without them? It’s their crazy making. When he first left I was actually terrified and so very hurt. I had nothing left for him to take either. For years while with him I didn’t think I’d be able to get through it. It does get easier. Six months ago I didn’t know I’d be able to say that. I still have ups and downs but it gets better and better every day. Hang in there No contact really does help the healing process. We have a child together so I do have to have some contact which he tries to use to bait me with his crazy making. But the rest of the time is no contact, and it’s great. I struggled with it real bad at first, but I finally had to bite my tongue and get busy with something to keep from loosing the ounce of pride I had left. He acted like he was too good for me. Of course in his mind I guess he was, I was worthless to him finally. It hurts and is so… I know but it gets better, it really does. Happiness is easier when you don’t have someone like this in your life or at least your daily life. Have you researched ambient abuse? If I remember right it helped explain why and how the victim can feel and act. The more I understood the easier it was to let him and the pain go.

I’m afraid I don’t qualify to give too much advice being as I’m generally a big screw up, but I do understand and YOU are NOT worthless they are just really good at making us feel that way. Open yourself to the possibility that you may be lost so very much in your life but just maybe the best is yet to come!


Kathleen … what an incredible response – I am stunned at the level of self awareness you demonstrate and your unstinting sharing of your shames and celebrations. So many things you described resonated with me – feeling stronger around him even though that support was only present in tiny doses in the beginning and even though I was taking care of most things myself. I have caught his dark emotional contagion as well and it is so not me. I felt like just crawling into a hole today when I realised my mother would rather have me stay with this man because it suits her agenda to have me live nearby and she thinks why should my life be better than her’s? I have nobody at all. I messed everything up despite all my good intentions and the love I put into everything I did. I feel gutted.

Lostnsad – you will be ok now you have found this place. These people know what they are talking about and understand the craziness you have been through.

I so understand just wanting to fade away and disappear. I am so ashamed that I got it so wrong. I just want to run and hide for a long long time. You may think you are not far down the track but you are further than me. I am stuck with him still in the house – he won’t leave. We have been separated for 2 yrs and he is dragging out the legalities of splitting what little property is left. We also have six pets together that he refuses to discuss and sort out. I have lost over ten yrs to this man and he has broken my heart worse than anyone else in my life. I understand all the psych concepts for what happened in this relationship but it won’t make my eyes stop crying or my heart stop hurting. Read lots and learn all you can – it does help to make some sense of it all. I was much more upset when I couldn’t make sense of it and didn’t know about personality disorders.

Heavenbound – you are NOT a screw up. Don’t call yourself that. You’re a good person to offer such support to someone new and to open your heart in empathy with someone else in pain.


Shabbychic – I so relate to that … just getting through each day. I didn’t realise years and a whole decade were being lost int he day by day. The pain is much worse now realising just how much time has been lost – I wish someone had said something to me about self in five years though. Even if I hadn’t listened, it sure would have been nice to know someone cared and saw what I was living through.


I know u guys probably think I am on ’e’ the way I am carrying on lately (I have major personal joy issues at the moment, I hope you can forgive my fluffyness:)xx but I just wanted to say something about how PHENOMINAL all of you LF writers and posters are.

From those who are just coming here in the foetal position, as I was when I got here, to those straightening up and beginning to stand tall, you are the most amazing collection of human beings I can imagine, even if you don’t realise it, there is something in you that CANNOT be broken, something that made you hold on to you, even if it felt like it was by a hairs breath, you have endured disgusting and sustained attacks on yourselves, your souls and hearts, the like of which (thankfully) the majority of the population have no clue about, yet you still had and have that solid unfathomable strength within you” to not give up”to survive. Every last one of you. I am so proud of LF and the people here. I can’t thank Donna enough for creating this wonderful gathering space☺xxxxxxx

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman (man;)
Phenomenal woman (man;),
That’s me.


Kathleen Hawk

Yeah, maybe the name wasn’t wise… lol

I do have a confession to make — while I have not spoken to him in about 2 weeks — I do have access to his phone records, his social networking sites, his gym membership, and lots of other things — so I can still SEE what he is up too. And while it hurts it also is helping me — I can see him calling certain women (others that he has used and is still using) and while it hurts me to know he is contacting them it also means — I’m NOT crazy — he hasn’t changed he is still doing his “thing”.

Because that was one thing he liked throwing in my face at the end was that HE had a job and was making money and didn’t need to live off or with no “bitch” anymore.

YET….I lost my job because of him (well because of me and my stupidity of being more obsessed with him than my own life)

And that’s the part that hurts the most now…I think that if I still had my job and hasn’t lost the respect of my boss that I had known for 15+ years that I wouldn’t be so bad off. But he took away something that I had worked so hard for… Maybe it wasn’t good that I so attached what I do to who I am (as just about every American does) but I feel like I have been blacklisted in the business area of where I live…. Everyone knows everyone and I feel like my old boss will bad mouth me and I’ll never find a good job again.

Sometimes I even wonder if he really was a P and if maybe I just want to think that… but then I read some of the posts on here and see the types of conversations and think OMG….

For instance…my ex wanted to “be with me but also be single….” which meant that he wanted to be able to fuck other women…. And not just have sex with them but play with their heads, get money out of them and so on…. We used to lay in bed and he’d be texting some other women and I could see what he’d write and it was so manipulative and mean — just like what he did to me — I’d be like what’s the purpose? And the answer was — it’s just what he likes to do…

That is a sick way — made me feel better… because I knew that it wasn’t just me….

I had thrown him out many many times and even tried to warn the new women he was getting in with… but not this time… because then he’ll just be contacting me and yelling at me and threatening me….

Did anyone here become abusive back? I did and I’d like to know if that’s normal… I’d call him names (I even used the N word — he is black and i’m white — i had NEVER even uttered that word until him), I’d spit at him, push him, and throw shit at him. It was like this anger that I had never felt before in all my life would just erupt and explode and I couldn’t control it. I wanted to hurt him… I KNOW that’s why in the oh say 6 months I stayed with him was mostly because I was doing everything in my power to make his life miserable….

He’d go out and I’d text or call him nonstop. Ask him a million and one questions — I’d literally do everything in my power to annoy the crap out of him.

The other thing that I find interesting is that before he left — I felt mentally cloudy… All I wanted to do was sleep all day and all night… I didn’t want to be awake at all. Now I’m so alert. I have even a hard time falling asleep at night because my mind won’t stop. I keep thinking of all the things I have done in the last 2 years and it’s making me crazy… Dealing with HIM being gone isn’t nearly screwing with my head as the realization that I allowed all of this to happen and everything I did…. It makes me sick and crazy and feel so incredibly stupid!!!

This is an amazing thread. Blueskies, I love your poem. Visual, powerful and blessedly concise.

I’m going to post one of mine here. (Like most of my writing, not blessedly concise.) I wrote it in mid-recovery from the sociopath, after the year with the therapist working on underlying incest issues. But it’s really about the struggle to find a new way of relating, while we’re taking ourselves back. (And maybe about being careful about how much of ourselves we share, before we don’t know someone very well.)

The Second Date

His mild brown eyes,
soft downy cushion eyes
that invite me to just rest
and not worry about a thing,
attach themselves to my face
as he asks, Do you hate men?
If I were you I would hate men.

I wonder what he sees in me.
If his long gaze into my eyes
imagines depths in me
where one iron link
blackened with sweat, tears,
a little blood still oozing.
pins it all together,
my old history in the hellish home
with all that came after, until now,
this autumn afternoon
in a Starbucks with soft jazz in the air,
full of students, retirees, tourists
in a pretty upstate town.

I pause, mentally cursing the lesbians
who taught me to tell the truth.
Call it rape, they said. It was rape.
I curse my therapist who said
the worst thing was that
there was no one there to help me
with my feelings, my stupid feelings,
so that forty years later
I’m just learning that it wasn’t about me,
unearthing a 13-year old
who went underground
because there was no one to tell,
no one to tell her
it wasn’t her fault.
I curse my father for giving me
a life story that creates such questions
in other people’s eyes.

The questions I hid from all my life.
If you didn’t want it,
why didn’t you run away?
Why didn’t you fix it?
Kill him?
Kill yourself?
Burn the house down?
If you lived through that,
how would you treat
anyone crazy enough to love you?

When I left my son’s father for a woman,
he shrugged and said,
it’s because of what her father did to her.
and when I left the woman
because I wanted another man,
she said the same thing.
When I fell in love with alcoholics
and people who used me for money,
even they said it’s because
of what my father did to me.
When I worked too hard and smoked too much,
when I bought too many clothes,
and gave away anything anyone wanted,
it was because of my father, they said.

Now, with the steaming cups of coffee
on the table between us
in this cheerful café, I look at this man,
wearing his carefully chosen weekend clothes,
his wire-rimmed glasses on a face
that speaks of concern for me,
I wonder what he is imagining now.
Am I a ticking bomb in his eyes?
A woman who will just crack one day,
pick up a kitchen knife
or a hammer and go after a man,
any man at all who’s unlucky enough
to be in the same room with me
when I finally decide
it’s time for tit for tat.

I realize that, after therapy,
after learning it wasn’t my fault,
after taking back my life,
there is a whole new generation
of questions to be afraid of,
a whole new set of reasons
to hide the truth,
to try to pass as someone else,
that there would still be
fatuous twits like this,
imagining they are being kind,
ready to name me
as some kind of monster.
a different kind of monster perhaps
than the mindless slut I once feared
being labeled, but now I have switched
From the moral cripple to the murderous bitch.

And I want to ask him,
is that what you would do?
Hate women because of something
your mother did to you?
Spend your life looking
for the perfect payback,
seeking the perfect Mommy avatar
to be your walking talking voodoo doll,
the more-or-less volunteer Christ to hang
on the cross of your pain,
someone like I used to be
when I made deals
with broken boys like you,
giving you anything, my soul,
my money, anything you could do to my body,
if you’d just protect me.

Cheryl Crowe is singing:
Every day is a winding road
behind the quiet talk at the other tables
in the Starbucks where this man waits
for an answer, his gentle eyes on my face.
I wonder how long he has been waiting.
I think I’m not ready for this.
He’s not ready for me.
There is no way to be ready for anything
in this world full of old stories
and lifetimes full of mistakes,
and nothing to do but keep trying
to do it better, praying
that even if we limp a little,
it doesn’t mean we can’t walk.
But first you have to be willing
to pick up your feet and move.

No, I say, I hate what happened to me.
I hate that my life was twisted by it
for so long, that I still
sometimes feel afraid.
I hate that it taught me things about people
I wish I’d never known.
More than anything, I hate
that it stole my father from me.
I loved him.
And I hate the confusion it caused
in my life for so many years.
I still have to work so hard
to understand things
other people take for granted.
Like when someone is simply being nice
or if they mean to hurt me.

And most of all, I’m sorry
about moments like this,
when someone I thought I liked
makes a mistake in talking to me
that may or may not be meaningful,
but I can’t get past it.
What kind of person would punish
innocent people for the crimes of another?
And from what shadowy doorway does
This man hear
my pain in terms of his fear?
Did I invite this
by telling you my story?
I don’t know.
But I know I don’t want
To see this in your eyes.
And I’m sorry but
It’s time for me to go.

This should be the end of the story,
But I really want to tell you
That this man surprised me.
That he smiled and said, courage
Is always a lonely thing
But it’s the only thing
That gives you something of your own.
Let’s get out of here
And walk down to the river
And see if there’s a canoe to rent.
But that’s not what he said
When he took my hand and stroked it.
You should talk it about it,
It might help you,
Is what he told me.
I took my hand back,
And walked down to the river alone.

Copyright 2007 Kathleen Hawk


Sorry, if I’d realized you were posting I wouldn’t have inserted that poem. I just got excited by all the poetry showing up here. Sort of like our own “open mike” night.

Yes, self-hatred is pretty universal in the beginning. The way I beat myself up was calling myself too stupid to live. I was thinking that for years, even before I got him out of my life.

And as far as being abusive goes, this may not seem right to you, but don’t worry about it. There is a difference between being abusive because you need to make someone smaller to make yourself feel bigger (his problem), and flying off the handle because you’ve been pushed to your human limits. Yes, you may have said things you regret, things you wouldn’t say under any other circumstances. But when we get into full-blown fight-or-flight mode, political correctness or our higher social conscious can slip away, a luxury that we can’t afford.

As far as your job goes, welcome to the club. I am among the many people here who virtually destroyed our careers, because we were so emotionally twisted up and distracted by pain. The fact that most of us are such over-performers and over-tolerant of pain adds up to eventual disaster when we can’t keep all the balls in the air. Our grief and anger starts to bleed out in situations that have nothing to do with it. In my case, I simply imploded professionally. Couldn’t keep up the calm and helpful front that was necessary. Started reading everything as exploitation and abuse at the same time that I was terrified of losing the one important personal resource I had left.

Here’s the good news. All this chaos and destruction are giving you a chance to reevaluate your life, to rethink your patterns and redesign it. It’s a kind of very explosive mid-like crisis. If you start, as I did, with “what the hell is wrong with me?” you create a mental environment in which you can gradually untangle what happened, what you really wanted from this guy and your job, and begin to live in a way that is better at producing it for you.

All that is very logical and theoretical, and doesn’t do much for your raging feelings right now. Especially, if you like me, have a desire to bang your head against the wall and say “How could I have been so stupid?” But I truly the believe that the mind is ultimately rational. And that you were in that relationship for a reason. You were there to learn or experience something that you needed to know.

If I could give you any advice now it would be to pay attention to your feelings, listen to them as though they were friends trying to tell you something important. I think that’s the truth. And even though you’re hearing self-hatred at the top level, underneath that is the wisdom and guidance of the deep self that wants you to survive and thrive. Just sit with it, think about it, see how to you feel and listen to those feelings. The truth, your truth, is in there.



Kathleen, your poem has so much vulnerability and courage. The idea that we are being defined by those who hurt us is one that I’ll have to really put some thought into it. It might be a good thing or a not. I feel that I’ve been vaccinated against a great evil, but at what cost? Can I still be me? How have I been transformed? How do I integrate all the meanings that I’ve found through this experience and make it one cohesive, FUNCTIONING whole?

Lost and Found (your new name),
yes, we all went through the struggle of being abusive back, thinking that we were standing our ground, being firm and strong. That’s not what we were doing and it’s not what you were doing. We were all being manipulated into REACTING with rage and violence. It’s what they want. Once you’ve done that they know that they have you. They own you. They can pull your strings because they can provoke your emotions. Next stop: despair.



I loved your poem; thanks for posting it.

What you said “over-performers and over-tolerant of pain” — that is SOOOO true. I have an unbelievably HIGH tolerance for pain…

As for my job… I have about another 5 months to reevaluate things and figure something out as that’s when my unemp ends…

I’ve thought about moving and have had some ideas on different things to do or undertake… but then I talk myself out of them or I find that I can’t concentrate long enough to formulate solid plans. But then, I have NEVER been a planner — more a fly by the seat of my pants kinda person… and things always worked out for me…

Then I met him…. I can only hope that in the near future… I can look back at all of this and be in a better place…

I just have NO clue how to get there… I have several ideas for writing a book — but I’ve never really written before… I’m an avid reader but not a writer…

Maybe this all happened because I just allowed life to happen and went were it took me and maybe I’m supposed to finally step up to the wheel and control my own destiny…

That’s scary… Can I run and hide now?

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