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Forgiveness and the psychopath

Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.

By Ox Drover

For my whole life I felt that I could never measure up because I was expected to “pretend it never happened” in order to meet my mother’s definition of the word “forgive.” I was expected to trust the person who had hurt me in the past, and who I knew would hurt me again in the future. I was told by religious leaders, whom I trusted, that if I did not “pretend it didn’t happen” and “truly forgive,” I was bound for an eternal residence in hellfire and brimstone.

Many of us who are Christians know the various Bible passages that say, in essence, we must “forgive those who trespass against us” if we expect God to forgive us of our own wrongdoing. Jesus, as our ultimate example, from the cross said, “Father forgive them”¦”

How can we mortal human beings possibly expect to be able to truly forgive those people who have so deliberately ripped our lives apart?

After the “Summer of Chaos,” as I have come to call my last run in with the psychopaths, I was so devastated, so angry, so bitter, so filled with wrath that I could only focus on the many details of the many crimes and arrows that had been slung at me so very unfairly by so many members of my family. I was filled from top to bottom with bitterness and anger.

I am fortunate that I have several well-educated ministers in my acquaintance that I could call upon for advice, as well as reading the Bible for myself. After talking to these men at great length, I finally came to the question, does “forgiveness” really mean “pretending it didn’t happen, and restoring trust to these people?”

Does “love your enemies” really mean that I have to have a “gushy” feeling for these people who have harmed me so easily and with so much glee?

After much reading of the scriptures and talking with the various ministers (of several denominations) I came to a new definition of the word “forgiveness” that I think is more rational and makes more sense than my mother’s definition of “let’s just pretend none of this ever happened.” (She actually said this aloud.)

The new definitions of love and forgiveness are these.

Forgiveness does not mean “pretend it never happened.” Forgiveness means to get the bitterness and wrath out of your heart toward those that have wronged you. For example, when Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, I am sure that he was very justifiably angry with these brothers for doing this to him. They demoted him from the status of “favored son” to the status of an animal that was bought and sold.

The Bible tells us, though, that Joseph got the bitterness out of his heart toward his brothers during the many years he was in Egypt. But when his brothers miraculously appeared before him, not, of course, recognizing that their brother was now second only to the Pharaoh, Joseph did not immediately identify himself to his brothers, “Hey, guys, it’s me, the brother you sold off as a slave!”

But Joseph did test his brothers to see what kind of men they had become in those same years. Were they the same uncaring, jealous men that they had been when they had cast him into the pit, and grieved their aged father with a tale about him being torn apart by some wild animal, taking his blood-stained cloak back to his father as proof of his death, not caring that they were bringing grief upon their father’s head with the tale of his death? Or had they learned anything? Had they changed?

Joseph had forgiven his brothers, but he still didn’t trust them until after they had passed his tests to see what kind of men they were.

Putting all this together then gave me a new definition of “forgiveness,” and it was simply the removing of the smoldering anger, the thirst for revenge, the gnawing hate for them. I was not required by God or good sense to trust these same people, or to “pretend they had not done what they did.” Forgiveness was an act, not a feeling.

Looking at “love your enemies” in the same way, I saw that “love” meant to do good to those that persecute you rather than take advantage to hurt them if you can. The story of the future King David fleeing from the jealous and murderous King Saul illustrates that David “loved” King Saul even though Saul was seeking to find and kill David. Twice David had a chance to kill Saul when Saul didn’t even know he was there, and both times, David did not kill Saul, but let him move on his way. Loving our enemies simply means that we must not try to seek revenge against them, even if we can, we must do what is right, even if we have a chance to do what is wrong, no matter how they have wronged us.

I came away from that summer of spiritual questioning with a new awareness of the concepts of the Bible’s teachings, which even if a person is not a believer in the Bible’s divine inspiration, still are psychologically sound.

Harboring, nurturing, and feeding anger, wrath, thoughts of revenge, may chemically light up the pleasure centers of our evolutionary brain, but in the long term, these strong and negative emotions prevent our healing. Short-term, anger is a very natural and normal part of the process we go through when we are injured. Long-term, like any other intense reactive emotion, anger/bitterness becomes a stressor in and of itself, keeping us from thinking rationally and reasonably, and focused only on the injury.

Sure, we were injured and we will never forget that injury (injuries) or the person who did them to us, but we will learn from that experience with the psychopath, learn how to prevent another “P-experience” and live a better life because of our knowledge. But trust them, ever again? Not on your life! Getting the bitterness out of our hearts, focusing on ourselves and our own healing, instead of on the hateful bitter vengeful feelings toward them, turns us in a positive direction, so that we can come to peace with the past,

What do I get out of “forgiving” those that have hurt me so much when they get off “scot-free?”

Well, first of all, I don’t get upset every time I think about them, or look at something that reminds me of them.

Secondly, I am not mad all the time. I can focus on other things besides the hurts that have been inflicted on me. In order to keep my anger up, I would have to focus a great deal of energy on thinking about the past injuries, pulling the scabs off the wounds so that they would continue to bleed. So I save a lot of energy in fueling this old anger that I can now focus on other more positive things.

Thirdly, my spirituality and my spiritual health are not impeded by this mass of anger and negative feelings. My stress level can now drop because these old injuries start to heal and the pain is lessened because of the healing. I am now more in tune with myself and my own needs, since I am no longer focusing all my energy on the injuries.

Fourthly, now that I am no longer angry all the time, I am not so prone to see insult and injury where none is intended. I have more patience with those I love and that love me. I have more patience with myself, and don’t turn this negative energy toward myself at times. I can set reasonable boundaries instead of letting things seethe and then blowing up about some minor problem that in the light of a non-angry mind isn’t worth worrying about. It lets me put things in a reasonable perspective.

Forgiving our enemies isn’t about them, it is all about US. Forgiving them allows us to heal from the wounds they inflicted. Hating and not forgiving them just allows them to go on re-injuring us forever.


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162 Comments on "Forgiveness and the psychopath"

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@ Oxy

This is something I’m wrestling with now. Truthfully, I am not yet at the stage where I can forgive. I would like to get there but I know I have a long hard road to travel before I can honestly say “I’ve forgiven you”.

I have two battles…my ex-P and my brother.

Ironically I find it easier to cope with the aftermath of my ex-relationship. Where my ex-P is concerned I think that the best I can do is get to a place where I can put him in perspective and forgive myself for being conned by him (you know what I mean). Hopefully I will never ever see or speak to him again and that knowledge helps. I can see myself getting to a place where I put him in the past, where he belongs.

The situation with my brother is more complicated. He is 12 years older than me and he was a father figure for most of my life. I pledged my loyalty and support to him for so many years. Not only am I distressed and hurt by how he treated me but I’m equally affected by the hurt and suffering he’s causing to so many others, most of whom are people I care about very much. Unfortunately his wife is as emotionally shallow and cruel as he is and they encourage and enable each other.

I made a decision to cut him out of my life but unfortunately that is not entirely possible. I can’t help but hear about him (and his wife) and I have no doubt I will soon get to hear the gossip about me that I’m sure they’re already spreading. As much as I would like to forgive them and move on it doesn’t seem possible right now. I am too angry and hurt. Sometimes I hate them intensely and that distresses me because I don’t want to be the kind of person who hates.

I know it will take time and I really hope I will get there because I don’t want to be eaten up by resentment and hatred.

Dear Odette,

Your brother, my son. I think when the P is a family member it makes it very difficult because other members of the family may take “sides” or the family literally becomes a “house divided.”

You talk about “having to hear about” him from others, and that makes me think you hear about him from other family members. Is that right?

There always seems to be “colateral damage” when we go NC with the family-member-P. Other family members sometimes try to “patch up” the breech in the family, well intentioned, or enabling, (whichever) still it is painful.

NC, meaning also NOT HEARING ABOUT OR DISCUSSING THE P with others, is very healing in that it allows our anger to decrease, our wrath to decrease–that’s why it is I think SO very important to NOT allow others to discuss this situation with you. To set boundaries with these people that you will NOT talk about your brother and you do NOT want information about him.

It may mean that you have to distance yourself from these situations and people at least for a while. I just at least for now stay AWAY from people who well-meaning try to get me to “forgive and forget” and “patch up” my NC relationship with my own mother.

I look at anger/Wrath sort of like a camp fire. It will die out on its own if you don’t continually feed it fuel. But everytime you pile a big load of fuel on,, it burns up brightly again. Keeping the “fuel” out of the fire by staying away from things that you KNOW in your heart will fuel it, helps me to keep my own anger quenched.

Forgiving yourself for being involved, for not acting sooner, etc. is also a big part of forgiveness, because even if we forgive them, and don’t forgive ourselves, we still haven’t accomplished much. Personally, I don’t think that we CAN forgive them if we don’t ALSO forgive ourselves for being “human.” As a life-long “over acheiver,” I was never much inclined to forgive myself for failure of any kind, for less than an A+ in anything I did. It was actually much easier for me to forgive someone else than to forgive myself. I was the “queen” of anger at myself. It is a continual struggle to me not to be angry at myself for being “human” —for having flaws, for making mistakes, for making bad judgments, etc.–but I am aware of it (first step) and sedoondly, “working on it.” I imagine for me it will be a life long struggle to “forgive myself” for not being perfect, but like they say about sobriety in AA–one day at a time.

Odette, just the fact that you “don’t want to be eaten up by resentment and hatred” as you said, makes me feel confident that you will NOT be. It is, I think those people who deliberately fuel the fires of anger, revenge, bitterness, and wrath that never let it go. I think just realizing that you don’t want to be this way “forever” is the proof that you won’t be. It may come slowly but I think it will come. Good luck.

oxy that was a good post. I am a spiritual guy, not religous. And I believe in Karma and what goes around comes around. And do on to other’s as you would want them to do you. I am not consumed with hate, hate takes alot of effort on my part. I go through anger stages, but they are less intense. I will never forget. But I am to a point where I can say and feel “whew glad that’s over!”

Right on!

My own personal understanding of the definition of “to forgive” is basically ….

To have acceptance of what someone did, and be cool with it.

And by that I do NOT mean the following:

condone the act
put myself in the position to accept more of the same in future
put myself in the position to accept more of similar from the same person
be generally cool & lackadaisical about people doing the same in general
have a warm enthusiastic positive feeling about what happened
have a warm affection for the person who did it

None of that. That’s not what forgiveness is about to me.

And that’s why I don’t like the whole “forgive & forget” put together. Forgive & forget are NOT chocolate & peanut butter!!
In fact, I would say that if you’ve forgotten, you haven’t really forgiven! Because you’re either in denial, or there was nothing to forgive in the first place!

What I do mean is that I accept that it occurred (or was done to me) without any rose-coloured glasses, rationalizations or explanations or “denial”, & without blaming myself or god or whatnot.
I accept it AS IS.
And that I FEEL okay about it now.
Not that I feel it WAS OKAY. Not that I feel fantastic about it But that I just feel OKAY about it NOW. IE: I’m not holding a grudge, seeking revenge, having it eat away at me, etc.

Bottom line is – FORGIVENESS is for the FORGIVER, NOT the forgiven.
Any major religion I’ve ever learned about seems to agree with me on this too.
Because where the perpetrator is involved – you’re NOT god, so you’re not in any position to grant absolution or whatnot, that type of forgiveness. That’s between them and god.

Sociopaths (and other garden variety a-holes), of course, believe forgiveness is for the forgiven – ie: THEM… and that it means they’re free to do it over again without you retaliating, reminding them, or setting any kind of limits on the behaviour. And they’ll try to convince you of this, for their own purposes, of course!

And I think forgiving takes time, and a lot of personal care. Meditation or prayer or just focusing on something positive. Forgiving is not something you can just decide to do one day like turning on a light switch. And so it’s certainly not something one person can demand from another!

OxDrover:
Your comment about secondary or tertiary NC is a very good point.
It’s one thing if I talk about Person X to someone who doesn’t know Person X from adam or has nothing to do with Person X at all… but talking about Person X with someone else who deals with Person X, especially regularly is pretty much like contact.
NC means “no news” either. And no contact using someone else as a bridge.
The toxic poison has a way of traveling on those bridges whether the person meant to be a poison delivery system or not.

Dear WP. Well written. We had a discussion on forgiveness recently, but you pitched it just right.

When I was with the N, he regularly used intermediate acquaintances to convey information and do his dirty work. In fact those people made the situation worse, because they fed into it and added their own ‘assumptions’, which sent me spinning. I must say that I encouraged the situation, because I spoke to his ex and other people got drawn in. Never again.

Dear WP,

I agree whole heartedly with your post (above) and your comment about the “bridges” and the toxin traveling over them to us. Yep, it sure does!

You and I are in total agreement about the concepts of “forgiveness” though we phrased it a bit differently.

The problem for ME was that I had been FORCE FED the “let’s pretend it didn’t happen” and that was of course for the benefit of the OFFENDER. LOL It actually took having my mother say ALOUD “let’s just pretend none of this happened.” Like WHAT HAPPENED TO ME, HOW BADLY I WAS HURT, DIDN’T MATTER AT ALL.

And, TO HER IT DIDN’T MATTER, but to ME it MATTERED A GREAT DEAL. I could no longer trust her, and I knew it, but she wanted me to PRETEND that I wasn’t hurt and just let it slide. It was then I flashed on the fact that her definition of “forgiveness” meant the PRETENSE that my pain never mattered.

Well, if your pain doesn’t matter to me—do I love you? Of course not, because YOUR pain is MY pain if I love you. I cannot possibly love you if I have NO EMPATHY FOR YOUR PAIN.

Of course, realizing that you don’t love me is painful for me, but at the same time, I cannot change that.

If I continue to dwell on and be sngry forever, though, it adversely impacts my own healing.

You are right, every religion or philosophy in the world preaches the same concept, not just Christianity. I have read it in the writings of many religions, not just in the Bible, but I just used the Bible examples to make my point as I am more familiar with them. I think the concepts are UNIVERSALLY applicable to continued bitterness in our own souls for our losses, regardless of what philosophy, psychology, spirituality, or religion you espouse or even no religion.

Forgiveness is NOT about THEM, but about our own healing from the wounds inflicted upon us, and a sense of anger at injustice is one of those “inhuries” but never condoning what they did or allowing them or anyone else to repeat those injuries either.

In the book “Emotional Intelligence” the author stresses that people who are angry about anything, tend to be more prone to being irritated and made more angry at anything that happens to them during that time, so anger breeds more anger. By decreasing our anger, we decrease our potenitial to keep being “hair triggered” by other things. We can be much more at peace with the entire world and everyone in it.

Because I have mutual financial interests I must deal with my mother once in a while, but I do it from as much “arms length” as possible, either by e mail, SHORT (only seconds) phone conversations or if a face to face is necessary I do it via one of my sons, to keep down re-injury to an absolute minimum.

Dear Oxy, your mother was encouraging you to sweep the situation under the carpet – but alot of that kind of parenting was in the days when children were seen and not heard. We have since learnt, that we need to be HEARD and that if we are not heard, then, the sore has a way of making itself heard. People process their feelings and anger in different ways and the anger needs time to burn itself and be heard.

When I first realised who he was, the rage I felt made me think up things I could do to get him back, and I still think about it from time to time. But I want him to receive every speck of the karma due to him, I will let the cosmos take the appropriate action.

Dear Oxy, A good headline article from you. Forgiveness is a balancing act and needs working at to gain the right perspective, not only from the point of view of what was done to us, but also respecting and feeling our own feelings, however and whenever they manifest.

one more thot on forgiveness. We can’t forgive the scorpion for stinging us, we just stay out of there way so they won’t do it again. And forgiving MYSELF for giving the scorpion a ride is something I am still working on…

Dear Henry,

I thinkk really, that untiil I got to the point that I could forgive THEM, I had difficulty forgiving MYSELF. That may not make any sense, but some how for me it works.

I CAN forgive the scorpion for stinng me, because THAT’S WHAT SORPIONS DO. I knew that, and still I kept myself in proximity to allow them to sting me. So until I forgave them for doing what scorpions do–sting–I couldn’t forgive myself.

Believe me, I BEAT MYSELF UP REALLY BAD for being so”stupid”–but if you substitute the word HUMAN FOR STUPID, it is much easier to forgive yourself for being HUMAN than it is to forgive yourself for being STUPID. If THAT makes any sense either! LOL

Thank you, Bev, I totally agree that we need to let karma, God, the Universe, or whatever you visualize the “force” as being, bring them down, because WHATEVER IT IS, IT WORKS. “As you sow, so shall ye reap”—if we sow seeds of EVIL we will reap an EVIL crop eventually, in one way or another.

That’s why I don’t want to “sow” anger and hostility and the desire for revenge, because I think it makes my own “crop” bad. I would rather sow seeds of goodness and kindness and self protection than vengence. The Universe will take care of the rest. Peace

Good to ‘see’ you back Henry. The thing is Henry, the wolf is very good at making itself look like a sheep. We were all ‘had’ and you are not alone in that respect. We have learnt the signs now – there wont be a next time with these kinds of people. I have been out with a fair few ‘cheeky monkeys’ but the last one, takes the biscuit and was much cleverer than I realised. But we know now Henry.

Yes, Oxy, in a sense, I cannot take a decision on behalf of the cosmos, the divine, as to what action to take – that is not appropriate for me to do so. In acting, I would be getting involved, taking some of the karma from that person – but believe me Oxy, I had to ‘hold’ myself back on a number of occasions. It really was an exercise in turning the other cheek, especially when the abuser has done a runner and doesnt want to face the music.

Dear Bev,

I am not and never have been a “shrinking violet”–I have stood up for myself most of the time against people who would abuse me—except for family members. Even then, I tried to do so, but got embroiled in trying to please my mother’s enabling posture–couldn’t do both, stand up and please her, so I usually knuckled under eventually and went along with her or played the game of “let’s pretend none of this happened.”

This time, however, when it FINALLY clicked on me what I was doing in relationship to their stance, I realized that I HAD RESPONDED INAPPROPRIATELY when I knuckled under. I couldn’t go on trying to “please my mom” and do what was “right” and it was a “big deal” emotionally and spiritually to me to FINALLY get the “right definition” of what “forgiveness” is and is NOT (for me anyway.)

I saw that me trying vainly to plug my mother’s definition (square peg) into how it felt (round hole) it wasn’t going to work out, so that was when I started the search in earnest and over about six weeks I corresponded with and talked with both other victims, ministers, friends, and read scriptures until finally the “light seemed to turn on” and I came to a place I could be comfortable, both spiritually and emotionally.

I also realized that the attempts to plug the square peg into the round hole had troubled me all my life, not just lately. It was like that “revelation” of what was right and what was wrong with the way I had been thinking (and accepting other’s definitions instead of coming up with my OWN that I was comfortable with) helped me to see that I can have a valid idea even if NO ONE IN THE WORLD AGREES WITH ME.

I am FREE to DECIDE FOR MYSELF what works for me. If it also works for you, great, if not, find your own definition. We are not limited to ONE RIGHT AND ONE WRONG idea. There are MILLIONS OF RIGHT IDEAS.

Just because I love someone doesn’t mean their ideas are right for me. Or that my ideas are right for them. Each of us is free to chart our own path as long as it doesn’t harm another. When your (the universal you) path harms me, then I have a right to not associate with you. You do not have the right to demand that I allow you to harm me.

Your rights to swing your arms ends at the tip of my nose!

Yes, I learnt that lesson Oxy from a therapist, who told me that by acting out my anger with my mother, i will still buying into ‘her game’. That was a big realisation for me, because my anger was fuelling the energy to keep the whole thing going. Without my part of the drama triangle – there was nothing to punch!!!

Dear Oxy

Other family members do talk to me about him. Those who support me are also angry at him and are dealing with their own hurt caused by him. Talking about it is an outlet for them too. The one person I know for sure is on his side is my youngest brother (5 years my senior). They are very much alike – aggressive, occasionally physically abusive, huge egos, sexist, shirking personal responsibility for their actions and a belief that the rules don’t apply to them. I made a decision to cut that brother out of my life too as I realised he didn’t really care about me and had never been there when I needed him.

My eldest brother’s daughter (from his first marriage) is in her 20s and she and I are very close. Her mother (whom I love like a sister) and I are the only two people who really understand the havoc my brother has wreaked. So my niece and I talk about him as a form of therapy I suppose. The difference between us is that she maintains contact with him solely so that she can see her half-sister and her half-brother due to be born next week. She hates being with him and his wife. I couldn’t tell her she can’t talk to me about him. She needs me and I want to be there for her.

Also, my mother lives with him and there is no way I can tell my mother she can’t discuss him. Believe me, the fallout from that is just not worth the effort. Fortunately I can distract her by changing the subject when we talk.

So there are these ties that are difficult to cut. For now I’ve consciously limited my contact with my entire family. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of relationships I want to forge with them in the future. I think most of them will back me but ultimately I stand alone in my legal battle against my eldest brother. I am the only one in the family who’s ever stood up to him to this extent and I think that most will want to avoid open conflict. They’ll tell me quietly I’m right but only my sister will speak out publically on my behalf.

Dear Odette,

While there is colateral contact it does keep the flame fueled. I know that this kind of thing “splits” families and is very difficult.

I have handled that in the past by just saying “Look, Mom (or sis or uncle), you know I have a problem with John, and I would really rather visit with you and not discuss the problems I have with him.” I don’t know if that would work for you but maybe it would. As little contact as possible might also be a way to go around it without a distiinct break.

As we say here in the Southern US “bless your heart!” (hug) I know it does hurt when there are such divisions in the family.

Found this great little forgiveness ritual online… loveandforgive.

Oxy, great post. I have been thinking about forgiveness for a few days, thinking there is absolutely no way I can forgive him for all that he’s done and continues to do. I thought I could forgive, but not forget, but I’m just not ready to say in my own head, “I forgive him”. Maybe that will come with time. But, I know I still carry around the anger in me as it pops out every now and then when I’m by myself in the car or elsewhere, I just start swearing about him. I know it’s not healthy to carry around anger, but I guess with time it will continue to subside.

He did get away “scot-free” as you say, but I agree with Beverly – karma will get to him one day, and I have to let it go. I have to believe that. I’m not waiting for it, although maybe on some subconscious level I am. It just doesn’t seem fair, and it’s not fair, but the saying goes… “life is not fair, but it’s still good”.

Dear Almost_free,

thanks for that link, that’s great!

I struggled with forgiveness for a long time. In the aftermath of finding out he was HIV positive, I felt I needed and wanted to forgive him, in order for me to truly move on. But how could I forgive someone that deliberately kept that from me, exposed me, and then flat out lied about it, and never even admitted the truth! That was SO frustrating. How can I forgive someone that doesn’t think they did anything wrong?

Well, this time last year, I was FULL of anger, hate, vengefulness, bitterness, and all I could think about was how I could get back at him for what he did to me. Forgiveness? I don’t truly know if I ever got to that. My last run in with him a month or so ago, we looked at each other dead in the eye. Neither of us spoke. (I promised myself I would never speak or acknowledge him again.) And it was still quite disturbing that he could look me in the eye after what he did without ANY emotion at all. Forgiveness to me as far as he is concerned is not putting forth anymore energy into trying to get back at him. All I ever did anyway was tell EVERYONE I could possibly tell about what he lied to me about, and how he lied about the truth when even confronted. I’ve found lately though, that I don’t even like talking about him AT ALL. He’s so not worth my energy and thoughts and all it does is bring me down when ever I talk about it. Never in my life I have I encountered such a screwed up person. I pray he doesnt destroy someone else’s life as he almost did mine. He’s still in this town. Still hunting for people to fool. How do I know? I posted an add online. He responded to it. “Just looking for someone to spend some time with. A great guy with a charming smile and a killer rock hard bod…..lots of guys on here well in to their teens acting like children, I’m not looking to add to that number…..”

If I didnt know who he was (he sent his picture) I’d be like, wow, this guy seems so cool…..

I was thanful I knew him or I would have been in danger.

The thing is, I think he knew it was me he was responding to. I posted a pic as well, but did not show my face….just a shirtless shot. (I’m a guy)…..you’d think he would have recoginzed my body. Something tells me he knew it was me and was hoping I’d respond….I dont know.

I thought about respondind and saying, “no thanks, I know all about you.”
But I didnt.

I deleted his email.

dodged a bullet—- It’s nice to have another “family” man here at love fraud. I have been reading your post and I so relate to you. Aren’t you glad you found this website?

Dear Dodged,

The term “forgiveness” can have multiple meanings to different people, but basicly it is no longer being “bitter” and “vengeful”–coming to peace with them, but NOT condoning what they did, just accepting it without bitterness and hatred.

Viktor Frankl’s book about “Man’s Search for Meaning” talks about how some people who have been abused, go out and abuse others to “get back at life” for what they have suffered, and others, when they have been abused go out better people, more conscious of other’s rights and feelings.

The man who put your life at risk, knowingly, is obviously angry at the world, wanting to “pass on” his own disease, not caring about what he has done or might do to others. I’m so glad that you did “dodge the bullet” and that you are progressing in your healing. God bless.

oxy, wonderful post! I was shouting “preach it” as I read along LOL.

I am having trouble in this area though and could use some feedback.

First, the S told me that, “the hardest part would be forgiving myself”. He told me he isn’t capable of forgiveness and love and has never forgiven anyone. When he told me that I would struggle to forgive myself I didn’t fully understand what he was saying and just nodded. Just like when he told me that he hopes I find the peace I was looking for. I had no idea what he was talking about. Sadly, he knew all too well what he meant.

This has really kept me stuck. I have not felt that I needed to forgive myself. I feel I was conned by a form of abuse that was very much like brainwashing and very foreign to me. He was very covert about it until the end. He had lost his wife the year before and came off as the grieving widower. He claimed he had been mistreated his whole life, even by his late wife. I did what I know how to do. Support and love. Had he not used tactics to confuse me so much and had we not lived long distance I would hope I would have seen more to figure things out.

My cousin said to me the other week that the one thing she wishes I would do is forgive myself. I don’t really understand why she said this. I have never felt a need to do so. I know this may sound crazy but I don’t know if I’m resistant to the idea because the S told me I’d have a hard time with it so I’m resistant to the whole idea or what. I’m sort of lost with this. Some days I think I’m just refusing to acknowledge it because of him. Some days I don’t think I need to forgive myself for what I didn’t see.

Nevermind, I think I just figured it out. I’m going off to have a good cry now. That guilt and blame still creeps up now and again. Those ugly lies told to me by my father and the S. Gotta put that baggage down again. I think I might have picked it back up somewhere along the way.

Honestly though, how awesome is it that the first step in my recovery came from God telling me to put that baggage down last year? Lay down that guilt, shame and blame at his feet because it wasn’t mine to carry. I had no idea. It’s no wonder the S freaked out in response to that information. He knew I was getting it and getting well.

I guess I didn’t realize I was susceptible to picking it all back up periodically. I wonder how many times I’m going to have to go through this until I’m rid of it.

Dear Takingmeback,

You and I may be coming from different backgrounds so our difficulties may not be the same, or they may only partly be the same.

First off I HAVE to forgive myself for NOT PRACTICING WHAT I PREACH—and that is to break off the relationship with my son. Hell, I KNEW BETTER, and I still did not do what was right! That I have to forgive myself for. I never did blame myself for him being like he is, so I don’t have to forgive myself for being a “bad parent” and making him a “bad child.”

So we only have to “forgive” ourselves I think for KNOWINGLY doing what we know was wrong. If that makes any sense.

TO ME (and this is just my own humble opinion) if I do something unknowingly or by accident, and it hurts someone else I am responsible for it, but not “to blame.” I can be sad it happened, try to make up for it, but don’t really have to “forgive” myself because I did not do it “on purpose” to hurt someone, or do something that I “knew” was bad.

But let’s say I am driving drunk, which I KNOW IS A BAD THING, and do it anyway, and I hurt someone, then I AM TO BLAME, as well as “responsible.” In this case, I would have to forgive myself.

The thing that made me feel “to blame” for some of my own suffering was that I KNEW, and I SAW the red flags with my son, and even with my X-BF and I didn’t take the appropriate action–I seduced myself because I ignored things that I should have done. In not setting boundaries, I gave in to my “feelings of guilt” and my ‘people pleasing” stuff when I should have stood up. Since I tend to be a perfectionist for MYSELF (BUT NOT FOR OTHERS) I am responsible for ALLOWING my self to be CONTINUALLY abused.

But, like a drunk who has gone to AA and started to work the program, I am giving up my “addictions”—to please everyone else, to “fix” everyone else’s problems, to allow myself to be abused for others enjoyment and profit, and I AM TAKING CARE OF MY OWN NEEDS. Parts of those needs are to forgive myself for doing things I KNEW I shouldn’t have done—but as for the ones that I didn’t know about, that I didn’t realize I was being gaslighted—for example my mother. I don’t have to forgive myself for how I treated her. The ONLY thing I did in that regard was that I lost it with her once and I called her a “senile old bat”—and slammed out of her house. I immediately felt bad for doing that, and returned and apologized sincerely. She said my apology wasn’t “sincere” and to this day has not accepted it, but that’s neither here nor there whether she accepts it or not, I was wrong to do that, and I DID sincerely apologize. And, I have FORGIVEN myself for losing my temper.

With my Bio-father’s and my relationship, I don’t have anything to forgive myself for because I was YOUNG and had no idea that there even were such evil creatures on this earth. Noting to forgive myself for on that one.

With the X-BF-P, yea, I should have sent him down the pike four months after I started dating him, when my suspicious nature intuited (is that a word?) that he was a player. And I didn’t do what I knew I should have, but I forgave myself for that, because I didn’t put up with it too long (4 more months) but I also was very vulnerable to being played since my husband had died.

My main problem has been getting the bitterness out of my own heart for what they have knowingly done to me. I wrestled with it partly because of my mother’s pounding into my head HER DEFINITION of “forgiveness” being the enabler’s “let’s pretend none of this happened.” Which is the ULTIMATE DISCOUNT of your feelings! The total invalidation of everything you are. You aren’t even important enough that your feelings even count for anything.

I am still struggling with that ultimate discount, truly realizing that my feelings DON’T matter to my mother. Just as I struggled with those same feelings with my Bio-father so many years ago. I struggle knowing that I have tried to “please her” vainly for my entire life. What kind of a “mother” would prefer a murdering Psychopath of a grandson over her daughter that loved her? Well, MY mother. I know WHY she did it, why she does it, and it still hurts that she is the way she is. But I work daily to keep that from making me bitter and hateful. I have validated myself, and realized that she will NEVER VALIDATE MY WORTH as a human being or a daughter. I no longer seek HER validation. And the fact that I no longer seek her validation of my worth is a big weight and burden lifted off my back–one that I have stumbled under the heavy weight of for my entire life I think. I’m making progress in my resolutions where she is concerned, coming to terms with it, but not to the extent that I have with the others yet, because I am only in the last year or so realizing that I was BLIND to her toxic enabling–somewhat knowingly blind (in denial) or as Aloha said in a thread that I just loved “informed denial.” I think that phrase describes it to a “Tee.” Informed denial. Perfect! LOL

If you don’t feel a need to “forgive yourself” then maybe it is because you don’t have a need to forgive yourself. I beat myself up pretty badly over things I really shouldn’t have, and felt “guilt” for things that were not my responsibility. Those are also the things I had to forgive myself for. And, to forgive myself for “not being perfect.”

Or, maybe you’re just coming across to your cousin like you are “beating yourself up.” Or maybe she/he sees something you don’t, but if you are not bitter at yourself or at the Ps then I would say you don’t need to forgive yourself, only YOU know what you need to do about it.

It’s kind of like “is the cup half full or half empty?” My husband’s response was “you have the wrong sized cup” (he was an engineer! They’re warped! Try to fix things that aren’t broken! LOL)

I kind of feel right now that I have pretty well worked my way through my feelings, and my bitterness about the P-bio father, my P-son, the Trojan Horse P, the X-DIL-P (the last two were easy as I didn’t like them anyway) and the X-BF-P, and so now I am just dealing with the “last shoe to fall” my mother. With NC it is getting better slowly, and I can at least think about some of the things she did without crying or cursing or screaming in rage. I don’t hate her any more, and in some ways I actually pity her, because the consequences of her betrayal have left her alone, lonely and bitter at the sunset of her life. Pretty pitiful, really. Doesn’t mean I have any desire to “rescue” her from her situation, or think that she will change and “see the light” or suddenly start valuing me, and while I wish it wasn’t the case, I am becoming more accepting of that truth, so I think I am getting there slowly.

I have accepted the blame and responsibility for the life long problem I have had with setting boundaries for those people close to me, and started setting boundaries without guilt, and have forgiven myself for not setting them sooner.

None of us will ever reach perfection, but if we take the opportunity to seek out the positive in this “life lesson” I think in the end we will be much happier and certainly better and healthier people emotionally and spiritually. We can do like Viktor Frankl and “find meaning” in our lives from this, or we can let it make us perpetual “victims” and bitter in our souls.

Dear Takingmeback,

We posted “over” each other—yes, I too fall backwards from time to time and pick up “baggage” I had put down previously. I think that is a “universal” thing with humans, but when we recognize that we have done it, and put it back down, it gets picked up less and less often.

A good cry helps, too.! ((((hugs)))))

Dear Oxy

As always, thank you for the advice and the support. I’m starting to think of you as my online momma…lol.

Yes it is very difficult to limit what I hear in the family. So far limiting my contact with everyone has helped but that is a short-term measure I think. I love my family and I like spending time with them occasionally. Mostly we don’t talk about both the brothers but sometimes the topic does come up. I realise that I will have to put certain boundaries in place though.

I suppose that, as with most things in life, is another learning curve.

dodged a bullet – I am stepping out on limb here and do not want to offend you. But if your posting an ad with the intentions of meeting someone and your using a shirtless faceless picture. Then your advertizing for more than a relationship with honesty and respect. And so many men on these website’s will lie about their hiv status for instant gratification, Because they assume the will never see you again. And one thing I want to point out about HIV, it is the people that do not know they have it that spread it. So each time you have sex even protected sex you have put yourself at risk. I always assume everyone has it and take necessary precautins to protect myself. People lie when they know they have it. And people have it when they dont know they do..

I, too, have struggled with forgiveness. One friend kept telling me that I would NEVER move past the things that my ex S did until I forgave him and that I MUST do this! The friend stated this in such an intentional manner and expressed almost an urgency for me to do this. I finally started seeing a Christian counselor seeking help in working through my devastastion. I asked him about my concern in forgiving my ex for all that he had done. He told me that the Lord does instruct us to forgive but that he didn’t say “when” we had to forgive. He told me that first we had to “heal” and then forgiveness would eventaully come. He also said that the greater the transgression, the longer the healing. And, that being victimized by a sociopath was one of the greatest transgressions one could experience. His words provided me with a sense of feeling that I was not a bad person in that I couldn’t bring myself to forgive my ex at the time. My counselor also told me that the term “forgive and forget” is backwards. He said sometimes that we have to give ourselves enough time to start to forget before we can forgive. Basically, he was saying that time heals and he was very correct. It’s been a year and a half now. I’m no longer consumed with bitterness, anger and hatred. I basically have no “feeling” whatsoever as far the man is concerned. How can his “feelings” matter to me when he has none? I count my blessings that I’m no longer with him and under his spell and am thankful for the wisdom and knowledge I’ve gained from the experience. I compare my experience with a nightmare. Have any of you ever awaken from a terrible nightmare in the middle of the night and felt terrified only to awake the next morning and find that the fear was gone? The nightmare that was inflicted upon us by the sociopath doesn’t pass quite that quickly but the pain does ease as time goes along. We must focus on ourselves and NOT on them. As long as we keep our focus on ourselves, they will NEVER hurt us again.

Here is another take.

Don’t worry about forgiveness, or the dogma that says we must. Just don’t take it PERSONALLY.

How can one NOT take personally a grievous injury done to oneself? By realizing that it was never about YOU. It was always about THEM. A huge oversimplification of a beautiful point from the book ” The Four Agreements” which I highly recommend.

If we don’t take it personally then the anger subsides naturally, the obsessive thinking and the bitterness. It was never about you, it was about them. The victims are interchangeable.

The Four Agreements are

Be impeccable with your word (even your word to yourself)

Don’t take it personally ( it is never about you)

Don’t make assumptions ( a real biggy)

Always do your best.

Another good take on forgiveness is explored in the book ” Toxic Parents” – which delves into the difficulty of “forgiving” those we trusted and depended on and loved as children, our parents. It basically concludes that we must learn to “accept” whatever injury was done to us as a fact of our lives, but the requirment to “forgive” gets us stuck in a place where we turn our anger inwards at our inability to truly do so (forgive) and leaves us in a place of denial.

I am not a religous person, so on thin ice in this part but should we not also remember that the phrase from scripture is “forgive them, for they know not what they do”

In the case of the P’s they know all to well what they do. Where does that leave our “obligation” to forgive?

Henry, dont worry I’m not offended, but let me say something. Yes, I know people lie about it….but this experience with this guy was not of a ‘hook up’.

He worked VERY hard to gain my trust. And once I never would have thought in a million years he could allow me to make that kind of mistake- he did.

I’m not an idiot. I’m not careless.

I was just decieved by a sociopath.

Dear Eyeswideshut,

Good points all, and I agree totally. Though I used Biblical references, my point is that holding on to the bitterness about what was done to us, DAMAGES US, not them.

Your reference to Christ’s asking forgiveness for those crucifying him who DID NOT know what they did (my guess is He was referring to the Roman soldiers and the crowds, as the Pharisees, I think, were Ps who DID know what they were doing) is not the difficult part for me. My difficulty with forgiveness (getting the bitterness out of my heart and mind) was with those WHO KNEW DARN WELL WHAT THEY WERE DOING. My forgiveness was not about “helping THEM” but for HELPING MYSELF. To get the focus off of them and on to myself. I didn’t see any benefit to me (long term) in being bitter about them. In fact, a lot of negative things about my own bitterness were easily apparent.

Forgiveness, as TAMI points out is NOT INSTANT. We must do some healing first, and get over the first rush of anger (normal emotional response to injury) that we feel, and the intensity of it, which, because of the magnitude of our injuries may be very big!

Adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone in our bodies, short term, can be a life saver. So can anger be a life saver. However, long term, either of these potentially life saving things can be TOXIC.

When my injury was fresh and when I first started reading boards like this one, people (like Oxy and aloha) who were “veterans” would reassure us newbies with claims that “someday something will click and you just won’t care about him anymore.”

That’s where I am now. I know I haven’t yet reached a place of forgiveness, because I can immediately call up anger and disgust by thinking about what he was doing at times when I thought we had a nice, normal family.

But I no longer have that boiling anger that came along with the piercing hurt at first. I have to see him from time to time (in court) and I have no reaction whatsoever to him. It’s like he doesn’t even exist.

I guess my system has just blanked him out, as some sort of self-protective measure. Veterans, is this a recognizable stage? Did you go through a period where you didn’t care one way or another what he did or what happened to him (or her as the case may be)?

Dear Tood,

I was once told that the “opposite of love is NOT hate, it is INDIFFERENCE.” I think that is generally true. The person we HATE has a “rented room” in our minds and our hearts, and we give them a lot of attention as long as that anger and bitterness is there, but if we heal properly, we come to the “indifference” stage.

My experience (and others who have blogged here have validated it) is that I will “Feel as if” I am indifferent, and then something will TRIGGER another anger outburst, which tells me that I have more “work” to do on processing that anger for old injuries. (There is even a thread in the last couple of months about that you might want to look up if you haven’t read it.)

Forgiviing does NOT mean “forgetting” to me and that old thing about “you just need to forgive and forget” I think is a toxic twist on REAL forgiveness which ACKNOWLEDGES that you will NEVER FORGET, but you WILL get rid of the bitterness about it.

I will NEVER FORGET my husband’s death, but I can come (and believe I have) to a point where I can ACCEPT it without anger, bitterness or overwhelming sadness. I can even picture in my mind the crash scene without overwhelming horror. Therapy helped with this as well and my PTSD symptoms are diminished if not gone.

The boiling anger (the wrath) that we felt at first is a very normal response to a horrible, and deliberate, betrayal. We wouldn’t be “normal” if we didn’t feel this way. Even Jesus was ANGRY! The problem comes if we HANG ON TO and FEED this anger, this bitterness. Some people do hang on to that bitterness for the rest of their lives. I personally think that kind of bitterness ruins your life and sure doesn’t hurt the psychopath.

Every religion and every philosophy that I have read about advises to “forgive” (i.e. get this bitterness out of your heart) but none that I have ever read advise us to “forgive and forget”–forgetting is impossible. Forgiving is possible.

Forgiving an “unknowing” insult or injury is EASY compared to forgiving the DELIBERTE inury or insult. My son C crushed my heart when he “sided” with his psychopathic wife and my mother and his psychopathic brother, but he did it in IGNORANCE, NOT MALICE. I had ZERO, NONE, ZIP, NADA trouble in forgiving him immediately and completely and restoring my trust to him. But with his P-brother who devised the death of the members of my family (maybe eventually all of us) so he could “inherit” our estates, “forgiving” him (getting the bitterness out of my heart) was another matter entirely! I nursed that bitterness, anger, wrath, and desire for revenge for quite some time. It would have eaten me alive if I had let it. I think and pray I have forgiven him (gotten the bitterness out) but I will NEVER FORGET, NEVER TRUST him again. Never give him an opportunity to hurt me again. But by forgiving, my life, my thoughts, my heart is not focused on him 24/7 any more. I can focus on much more positive things, on enjoying life, on those that DO LOVE me. Without being able to get that bitterness out of my heart, I was still “renting him space” in my life. He doesn’t deserve space in my mind, heart, spirit or life.

I no longer wonder how he is doing, if he is injured, sick, in solitary confinement, being beaten by other inmates, or guards, I don’t picture his face in my mind and feel pity or concern for him. I don’t even want to know what he is doing or thinking. He is just a “stranger” to me. I do know he would hurt me if he could, but I no longer live in terror of him. I’ll just handle the situations if it happens.

I think there have been times for most if not all of us when we felt the pain would never end! I felt that way when I was in labor with my sons, but it did end, and when the pain ended, joy could return. If we nurture the pain of our betrayals it will stay, but if we push through the pain and hate, push them out of our heads, joy will return, and the memory of the pain will subside until we can no longer even conjure it up again. To me, “that’s the trick.”

I’m so glad you are doing better! Thanks for keeping us updated on how you are doing! (((hugs))))

Dodged-a-bullet- I think I did offend you, sorry. I don’t know all the specific’s about your story. But I have a question “would you of considered dating him if he had been up front and honest about is status from the beginning?”

Oxy–

I try to remember the words of the late Kathy K. from her site. She was adamant that forgiveness cannot be given until it is sought…and that we (the victims) are sometimes too eager to forgive.

I hesitate to post too much that will identify me, at least until the ex’s case is settled, but I have much in common with you. I believe I am the child of a psychopath and a narcissist, and the mother of one as well. (Obviously that’s why a relationship with an S/P felt so “normal.”) My child has done me many a grievous wrong, but so far has never once admitted fault or sought forgiveness. I still find myself too willing to reach out to this child. Too willing to continue loving and trying to help, too hesitant to force him to be responsible for his own actions.

I fight this tendency to forgive too easily. Another reason I am grateful for my current “non-feeling, non-caring” state toward the perpetrator.

I worry sometimes that I’ll never have normal emotions again, that I’ll never be able to love again. Those of you who have gone on to healthier relationships give me hope.

Dear Tood,

My personal definition of “forgiveness” does NOT INCLUDE REESTABLISHING TRUST OR A RELATIONSHIP WITH THAT PERSON. My definition of “forgiveness” is simply getting the bitterness out of my heart, FOR ME.

My P-son’s most recent attack was to try to have me killed (though he is in prison, he sent a “Trojan HOrse Psychopathic friend” to do his dirty work for hjm.)

I have not reached out to my P-son just because I have gotten the bitterness out of my heart, gotten to where I no longer care about him or his welfare. I am totally NO contact, and his brothers and I have decided that in the event that the state of Texas calls us because he is dead, we will not even claim the body. We WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM. My other sons won’t even speak his name they call him “My X-brother”

I too hung on to the MALIGNANT HOPE that some way my P-son would “see the light”—by the time he was 17, I should have walked away forever. I didn’t. IN retrospect, I can see my life would have been better if I had, but I can’t change that now. But now I CAN WALK AWAY. NOT look back, and not feel the least remorse or guilt for doing so now. He is what he is, I can’t change that.

My mother, though most likely not an N or a P, is nevertheless so TOXIC with her enabling behavior that I have also had to go NO contact with her as well. I am still struggling with “forgiving” her, because some of my wounds are still raw, but the no contact is helping. All my “other Ps” I have forgiven (gotten the bitterness out of my heart). I think that as long as I “hate” them or remain livid or wrathful, the energy I use to maintain that feeling would harm me, and I would be better served by getting that bitterness of soul out of myself.

As far as “forgiving” someone who ASKS for my forgiveness, I agree on that as well, I WILL forgive them, BUT—that does’t mean I ever have to trust them again unless they PROVE THAT THEY ARE TRUSTWORTHY. (see the story of Joseph in the Bible) Forgiveness, to me, does NOT automatically restore ANY trust. They are TWO SEPARATE issues.

I am sorry that you have been surrounded your entire life by the Ps. I personally know what that means, but you WILL have “normal” emotions again, it just takes some time.

I had been raised to “pretend all is well” even when it wasn’t and it was difficult for me to SET BOUNDARIES for people close to me with out a huge amount of GUILT. Now, I am learning to set boundaries and ENFORCE them….and not feel bad about it. At first though, I was very unsure if my boundaries were “reasonable” and that I wasn’t “being too harsh” or “over reacting” —I would check with my sons to validate that my boundaries were “reasonable.” Now, I don’t need to do that, I can VALIDATE my own boundaries and feel secure in doing that. Just like a kid on a bike with training wheels, I have finally gotten secure enough to take the wheels off. LOL

ONe of the boundaries I have set for myself lately is that when a person LIES to me—I can “forgive” that lie, but I will NOT TRUST THEM AGAIN, unless there is sincere apology on their part, acknowledgement of their lie, etc. etc.

It will be difficult for me to reestablish full trust to another liar, but I don’t see that as a “down side” really, as I have never been “right” in allowing a person who lied to me once a “second chance.”

Indifference (non-feeling, non-caring) is the true opposite, I think of love. When you hate someone you are still emotionally involved with them, they use your energy, but when you are indifferent, they truly don’t matter. You are FREE of them.

For years I actively hated my P-bio-father for what he did to me, and to others. It was only when I finally stopped the hating that I could heal and come to pretty much the indifference stage. Now that he is dead, my feelings fo rhim are just “nothing.” Not hate. Not love. Just that he isn’t a factor in my life any more, and what happened 40+ yrs ago is no longer a factor in my life now either. He just IS NOT. He does’t exist. If that makes any sense.

it is what it is they do what they do I think I will forgive him and eventually myself. I entered this dance with (M) knowing he was “off” and yes he did abuse me blatantly. But we planted Lillie’s, strawberry’s, went driving down country road’s and would stop and dig up iris’s or pick a bouquet of Lillac’s. He loved my little dog’s and they loved him. We went camping and fishing and had soo many good moment’s, yes he is a sociopath. How can you not forgive someone you held so dearly? I feared my love for him. I knew it would hurt so bad when he did leave. I think one reason sociopath’s want to remain friend’s after they have found a new vixtim is because they “didn’t” love us. But we were and are a part of their life. Can I be his friend? NO… can I cherish the good memory’s? yes….can I let go of him and move on? yes eventually…..Is he evil? Yes……Do I miss “him?” no…….do I miss what he pretended to be? yes so very bad….it is what it is…..

Henry- Yes.

dodged a bullet – peace….

Henry that post was eloquent, so right on, and so true!

That’s why I still love and miss my “little boy”–but I don’t miss the strange and evil man he became. I have beautiful memories of the little boy, catching trout in a mountain pool with his hands. So patient for a child, willing to wait an hour for the trout to come within his reach. So artistic, so bright, so full of promise.

Oxy, thanks for the response and the hugs :). Mindfulness. that’s the key. I need to be aware of those old scripts that play out and put the baggage back down when those emotions get stirred up again. Thanks again for this post. It’s been very helpful to recognize where I keep getting stuck.

I know I’m in a stage of re-training my mind to focus on myself more and more. I first had to go through the anger and aim it towards the person deserving of that anger. I had done plenty of aiming it towards myself while with him. I also understand that this is a process that you can’t rush. Every time I tried to forgive the S too soon I ended up more anxious than before. That was hard for me. But after praying about months ago the message I got was to give it time.

I believe that we need to allow ourselves to go through the anger and to experience it fully so we can release it and let it go. Then we start moving on to further healing. I know that when we hang onto the anger too long we end up training our thoughts to get stuck in a holding pattern and we internalize that pain. This can lead to all sorts of mental health and physiological problems.

It’s important to understand that we are not only led by our emotions but by our thoughts as well. If we don’t take control over them we continue to trigger the emotion and vice versus. Very CBT of course LOL. And CBT is very biblically based.

Henry you mentioned something that hit home. The “friends” thing. I remember being floored when the S said he wanted to be friends. How do you go from loving and wanting to marry someone to friends? I saw it as an insult. He obviousy didn’t care and wasn’t invested in working on anything in the relationship. That realization was a zinger. He, in turn, was insulted that I didn’t want to snatch up the offer right away. I told him that becoming friends after a break-up is not the norm unless the break-up is mutual. He said he always maintained friendships with his exs. His friends were the most important people in his life. I suppose he had told all of them that he loved them and wanted to marry them at one time too. Should I mention that he doesn’t have any long-term friends? You’d think a man that has stayed in one place his whole life would have a myriad of friends. Nope.

Besides, I think that’s in chapter one of their guide book…after telling us we’re their soul mate they’re to paint a picture of a perfect life together. Sometimes I just have to laugh because they really do follow such a pattern of behavior. Do you think they have clubs and organizations we don’t know about? Do they come out with revised versions of the guide book every couple of years to keep things current? (I know there are people here that are still hurting very deeply from the abuse. I hope my joking doesn’t insult anyone. I’m still in the throws of it too but somedays the sarcasm comes flying out!).

But seriously, as we’ve experienced ourselves their attachment to others is certainly not emotional. It’s possession. I think of all the toys I accumulated growing up. I know this is cliche, but when I picked a new favorite one to play with I didn’t want my mom to give away the old ones. I might want to play with them again later. I would get so upset when I’d find that she gave any of them away. Who cares if I hadn’t played with them in a year or more? They were mine.

I think that’s how the Ss look at people in general, not just us. They want people to stick around so they can play with us some more in the future. If they were able to empathize and experience a normal range of emotions they wouldn’t even dare expect us to stay. But we are not seen as entities outside of themselves in the first place. Just like our possessions. We define ourselves by the things we own, the clothes we wear, etc. We are no different to them. Unless of course we betray them and we don’t cooperate. Then we are dismissed and free to go. I ,for one, was an unruly toy that by the grace of God would not cooperate. I got punished for it but it led to my freedom in the end.

I also think they possibly go for the “friends” thing because it validates who they see themselves to be and negates the abusive things they do. If we stay then how bad can they really be? At least that’s another take on it. If only they understood trauma bonds. Maybe they do and use that to their advantage. Who knows. Honestly, I don’t wish to give them any more credit on the intelligence scale. I don’t know that we can truly ever understand what goes on in the mind of an S. If we’re gathering information from their self-report we can bet that it’s riddled with lies. They want to come across as so grandiose no matter how they present (pity ploy or not). I dare not offer up any grand reasons for doing what they do outside the basics of what we do know by their selfish and child-like behavior. When I look at the S as a child, it makes more sense to me. If you’ve ever encountered a conduct disordered child it is easy to see the correlation. In the end, this helps me take a step back and see how impersonal my experience was no matter how personal it felt. I was a shiny toy, I served my time in the toy box, now I am free to venture around Never Never Land or wherever my dreams take me.

Never again thats what I said to myself – I never want to feel your kinda pain again, boy – just when I think it’s over – just when I think it’s thru – I find myself right back in love with you – Why does it hurt so bad – Why do I feel so sad – thought I was over you – but I keep crying when I don’t love you – so why does it hurt me so – I gotta get you out of my head – It hurts so bad {whitney houston}

Henry (the 8th!). Good love isnt supposed to hurt like that. x

Henry, Isn’t that song from the “Waiting Exhale” sountrack? Looking back weren’t all of those women dealing with sociopaths?

Dear Takingmeback,

Very good points, and for cognative Behavior therapy, it is difficult sometimes to get the client (or our selves even) to admit that they CAN control their emotions. It seems impossible if your emotions have controlled you all your life.

Your thing about the toys made me flash on a memory. I had a huge number of dolls when I was 10 or 11, and each night I would line them up in the bed with their heads on the pillow until I could hardly get into the bed or find a place for myself. If I picked a “favorite” doll or “played favorites” with them, I FELT GUILTY for their hurt feelings. DUH!???

Even though I have used CBT with patients, I must WORK HARD to put it into practice for myself. I have never gotten to the point that it is “automatic” or that I can run on “autopilot” I have to keep reminding myself daily, sometimes hourly. I’m not sure I will ever get to “autopilot” on it, or setting boundaries either, but as long as I keep working at it, I know I can keep my life “between the ditches” so to speak.

When we learn to drive at first it is very nerve wracking and we have to concentrate on every turn, every acceleration and each thing we do, after a while we get to the point that we can “drive” and do it well without even thinking about each move, it is almost like we are on “autopilot” and we can concentrate on our driving but also on other things as well. I hope I can get to that point with the CBT and taking charge of my own emotions with my rational mind, but I may never, and I have come to accept that because of my “late start” I am having to work harder at it, but I am DETERMINED to continue on and to PRACTICE SO THAT I CAN PERFECT IT.

In the meantime, if I can “keep it between the ditches” in life, I will be much better off than I have ever been before.

The thing I do notice is that while I may not have the “high” days of euphoria that I sometimes had with the Ps I don’t have any of the “low” days that are the absolute PITS OF PAIN. So that is at least helping me to keep in the “middle of the road” and I would much rather do that than to even experience those heady euphoric highs of “love” and “desire” that I experienced with the X-BF and I am no longer “craving” a fix any more either on that “romance” part.

Training our brains to “think” in new pathways, and to quiet our emotions of anger, rage, etc. (notice I said “quiet them” NOT “ignore” or “suppress” them.)

Acknowledging the angers, the wishes for revenge or for the heavens to fall on their heads, etc. I think is also sooooo important. I know I was “trained as a child” that Anger itself was a “sin”—so when I felt angry I also felt guilty for feeling that way. I felt guilty when I set a boundary because it “might hurt someone’s feelings” because hurting someone else’s feelings was also a “sin” and when you “sinned” you should feel guilty and shameful. If someone else “sinned” against you though, you must not become angry, you must just pretend it didn’t happen.

Gosh I learned to be such an ACTRESS–externally, but in playing these ROLES I neglected myself. I should have gone on the stage instead of into medicine, because I could have won 100 Acadamey Awards for my performances of “pretending I’m not hurt” or “never letting them see my bleeding wounds.” LOL I “missed my calling!”

yes ” Waiting to Exhale” I am sp pathetic……

sp = so

Takingmeback, I think your insight is perfect.

They are their first priority, always, so all you have to do is ask, what’s in it for them. They want to seem the blameless hero, how better than appearing to take the “high road” by offering friendship, easy when you haven’t invested real feelings. And of course, what is more important to them than supply, and even negative attention is better than no attention in a pinch.

I’ve had occasion for contact because of legal matters, but have found that reality, when no contact isn’t possible, in my case has worked very well. He knows I now belive nothing he tells me. Friendship?, no thank you, why would I waste my time with someone who proved they are not believable or trustworthy.

Next when he attempts “temperature checking” conversation, I begin with if you want to chat, the only place to start is with your behavior. Dangerous territory for one who sees himself as flawless, especially since he knows I enlisted a PI and I have the facts.

Game stopped because of his grandiosity and his insecurity, and nothing is more important to him than keeping up his game.

Benz

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