Reply To: I can never forgive some people
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Madelaine wrote in one of her great comments on this thread: “IMO sociopaths think in terms of power.” I will address that concept shortly. I think I have figured out a way to forgive. A way that makes a lot of sense to me. It also has a lot to do with a sociopath’s need for, and seizing and getting power. On another forum I participate in, we were somehow discussing forgiveness there, too. One person wrote that forgiveness is seeing the other person or a situation “in a different way.” This was kind of an epiphany for me. I would expand this a bit: to see the other person, and/or the situation they are in or have been in, with great compassion. And with deep understanding.
Let me give one example of a person whose life and actions I can see in a different way, and with compassion. I can see that he has a great need for power. Why? Because for so many years, he had NO POWER. I married this man, and we were together for 11 years. We had some good times — some wonderful times — but I’ve mentioned here before that he was/is a gaslighter, and a liar. I would say he’s not a compulsive liar — that’s different. He colors the truth.
How he had no power: Let me start with how he was raised, and the kind of family he has. (His parents died years ago.) His father was an alcoholic, and smoked cigarettes, in the house. His father put down his children, sneering ridicule at them. His mother was a fanatical type of Christian, belonging to a sect some call a cult. People active in this religion do not drink alcohol, and do not use tobacco.
His mother’s religion/cult believes that reality is God’s love.Singularly, God’s love and nothing else. That there is no evil in the world, insofar as God’s love can and does melt it or soften it, healing the person of their hatred or other evil feelings or deeds.
She also believed that one must put God first in one’s life. She discouraged her children’s natural creativity, saying it was against the First Commandment by putting a passion for earthly things before God.
So, her children grew up in a make believe world. When they were hurt or hurting, it was an illusion. God would never allow his children t be hurt. The material things around us are unreal, they are an illusion, and truly IDEAS in the eternal mind of God.
So you can see several things here, in the life of a c hild, which carried over into his teen years, young adult, and adult values and behavior. One, he lived in a divided home — a violent tempered alcoholic smoker on the one hand, and a gentle but condemnatory mother on the other.
There were five children in the family. I met most of them, as adults. The one I knew best was his older sister. She was a consummate con artist, bilking people and companies out of tens of thousands of dollars while she travelled all over the world to exotic places, and repeatedly redecorated her large house, and bought new cars.
One brother had a drug problem. The man I married had had drug problems as a youth, and still smoked marijuana illegally, lying to me that he was using it. The man I married also believed that one time his brother had tried to poison him with spiked marijuana, which put him into a mental hospital.
Doesn’t all this illustrate to you how powerless he was — does it not explain how he came to be an adult grasping at power over someone he loved — me? Was I perhaps a substitute for the parents who abused him, since as any child would, he loved his parents and they betrayed him on a very deep emotional level.
It’s so tragic. Tragic for both of us. Tragic for anyone who is involved as a victim of a sociopath. I no longer hate him. But in a way, I never did anyway. I cried so, so hard, and for so long after we split up. He ruined me financially and damaged me in so many other ways. I grieved for two and a half years.
Can a person at the same time hate, and have deep compassion for a sociopath or other abusive person? This is NOT the type of weak forgiveness we hear about so often. It does not say that we must have the person in our life. We can do No Contact. It might take a long time, or not, to come to this type of forgiveness.
And now that I think about it, it’s exactly the kind of compassionate, deep forgiveness with deep understanding that I was able to have for my own father, over ten years ago.