By | February 21, 2012 10 Comments

There’s Always A Gift – Even When The Situation Seems Hopeless


It’s been a funny old week for me. I am within spitting distance of completing a final piece of the jigsaw that releases me from my past — infuriatingly it’s still so close and yet so far. Over the past couple of years I’ve learned that some things just can’t be rushed. I’ve also learned that patience is indeed a virtue and that, contrary to the many messages I have been told throughout my life, I’ve realised that now I do possess it… in bucket loads! True, I still might kick and sulk a little when I’m required to demonstrate that particular skill — but there is no question. I can do it, and when necessary, it’s something that I’ve found can be exceptionally useful. Funny, don’t you think, since there are many times I can remember when I couldn’t possibly have imagined the value of patience!

And this is what brings me on to the theme I’d like to explore today. That is the one of finding hidden gifts when they’re not expected. The subject of expecting one thing and receiving something else. The topic of judging a book by its’ cover — and often picking up the wrong novel as a result!

What am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about what happens when we re-examine our own judgment and open up to the idea of possibilities that perhaps didn’t exist before. I’m talking about those exquisite moments when we think everything’s going wrong, but then all of a sudden it turns out that it was all for the best. The times when, despite careful planning or judgments, things just don’t go our way and we fear that we are doomed. Those same times when contrary to what we thought was good for us, there was an even better solution just sitting there waiting in the wings.

Fascinating Friends

I’ve been discussing this subject with friends this week. Friends who, by the way, I would never have had the opportunity to meet or make a connection with while I was married. Friends who are quirky and colourful. Friends who could possibly be described as a bit odd-ball. Friends who are genuine, open, honest and — most importantly — are comfortable in their own skin, and comfortable with me as well.

This week one of those precious friends took time out to drive me for three hours so that I could visit an old friend I hadn’t seen for many years. Sometimes it just happens that way. You have a close bond with someone and then somehow, for no apparent reason, you drift out of each other’s lives. Sometimes you never see that person again. Other times you may be lucky enough to pick up with them again further down the road. And if you’re really lucky, you find that bond is still there as if you only saw each other yesterday. Well, that’s what happened with this particular friend of mine last week. This was a friend I used to work with years ago. Early on, she and I became firm friends and loved sharing each other’s company both in and outside of work. It must be said that neither of us have had what could be called a straightforward life. We both understand what it means to overcome a number of life’s challenges and how it feels to be seen as someone ”˜different’… as a result there was rarely a subject of conversation that was taboo. We could be equally happy exploring life philosophies as creasing up in fits of giggles over something utterly ridiculous — much to the amusement of those around us!

This friend of mine, I’ll call her Jane, has recently been diagnosed with a particularly nasty strain of cancer. I knew I just had to go and see her, even though nearly a decade had passed since we last saw each other. Arriving at her house — at the end of a particularly amusing and erratic car journey — it was wonderful to see her again after so many years. Smiling and giggling like teenagers, the friendly banter started almost immediately and the years melted away.

She’s feisty, strong, direct, and also incredibly brave. She always has been. But to see her last week, in the grip of a terrible disease that is slowly claiming her life, in my eyes she became the most beautiful I’ve ever seen her before. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting. I suppose that, since the death of my own mother from cancer, I was bracing myself for the worst. I suppose I was expecting to find someone who was either carrying on as if nothing was happening, or who was so sick that we wouldn’t be able to talk. I don’t know. But I do know that what I found was something that has touched me deeply and made me even more grateful that my life has been filled with so many wonderful people.

Facing The Truth

“I’m dying you know, Melanie” she said, fixing me straight in the eyes without a hint of distress “this cancer, it’s killing me. I’m going to die. But it’s ok. I’ve made peace, and I’m ok with it” Jane is one of the only people who call me by my full name, and as she addressed me I felt an incredible wave of love and compassion flowing between us. There was no hiding to be done. No judgments to be made. No good, no bad — just the truth. And, harsh though the truth may be, at the same time it was liberating. There was no pretense. Nothing to explain. And no room for embarrassment. Nothing but love, understanding and acceptance. Beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

It’s very similar to the feeling I have when I hear other people sharing their experiences with sociopaths or any other kind of abusive relationship. When they finally say “yes, it happened to me as well” or “I am broken inside, but I know I’ll get better” or “I have to break free, I just haven’t yet found the right way to do it”. Just like my friend Jane, these are all statements of the truth — and many of them are statements that most people wouldn’t imagine could apply to the people saying or writing the words. People who are expected to be strong. People who are judged to be clever and successful. People who, as many thoughtless critics are quick to say “should have known better” when the truth comes out. People like you and me, who look perfectly normal on the outside, but who share a common bond of suffering that I believe ultimately allows us to become more understanding, complete and whole as human beings. It’s a bond that allows us to say “yes, I’ve been there seen it and got the T-shirt — and you know what? I made it. So come on, let me help you to make it as well”

And I don’t know about you, but for me I regard that as an astonishingly valuable gift. If I can reach out and give something to another human being… If I can give even a glimmer of hope to someone who is suffering… If I can make contact with just one other person and help them in some way”¦ well, then all the rubbish times have been worth it. OK, at the time it all may have hurt like hell, and there is absolutely no way I could have said that what was happening to me was a gift. No way at all”¦ In fact I’d probably have punched anyone who might have dared to put that idea forward! But now, now that I look back at where I was and who I was, and compare it with my life today… well, I can honestly hold my hand to my heart and be grateful for the gifts that have been given to me. This is what I mean by judging a book by its cover. My experiences with my ex, and also my difficult childhood have all brought me a barrow-load of pain and suffering. But at the same time, they’ve made me who I am, and brought me in contact with a wealth of wonderful people — friends and colleagues as well as audiences who seem to identify with what I have to say.

Could I have done that if I hadn’t been given the opportunity to grow and develop through difficult times? Well, I don’t know. It would be great to think that I could have become the ”˜me’ of today without all that rubbish”¦ but I have a sneaky suspicion that I was born one of those stubborn students who need to have lessons spelled out loud and clear”¦ so perhaps not eh?

And as for Jane, well, last week she gave me the greatest gift of all. She showed me that it’s ok. That it is indeed possible to face death squarely and bravely, with peace and courage. And I am deeply grateful that she’s my friend and that she’s back in my life — however long that might be. As I said to her when I left, “I’ll be back you know, because I know where you live!” And as she said to me in return “I’ll always be with you, wherever you are”

I’ve discovered that really, at the end of it all, love and friendship are the only things that matter. These are the things that hold true. Everything else is just a passing phase.

Thank you and with love and blessings to all my friends here on Lovefraud.

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Thank you Mel for this touching post.

It is true – often there is a gift in these terrible experiences. I know that was the case with me – although, as you said, in the thick of it, all I saw was the disaster.

For me, the gift was releasing ideas that I had about myself that were simply not true. Ideas like I was not worthy. Or I was not lovable. These were the ideas that created vulnerabilities in me – vulnerabilities that the sociopath exploited.

The fact that I fell for his con brought those hidden vulnerabilities to the surface. So I had to examine them. Were they true? Were they real? The answer was no. So I let them go.

Now, I have much more love and peace than I ever had before the encounter with the sociopath. There was a gift. I couldn’t see it then, but I can see it now.



Thanks for this post. I am also grateful for my time with the Bad Man even though it feels a little strange to say that. Of course, I am not going to call him up and say “thank you.” HAHA! I have boundaries now and that would be me crossing them!

I am still learning, shill healing, still evolving… and still hoping to help others when the opprotunities arise.

And you know, while we all here have had unique experiences, I am finding that it is not as unique as it seems because people keep popping up in my life that need help with recovery from a pathologically exploitive partner.

They are nowhere and everywhere.



very good post. I feel like, after all the dysfunctional people in my life growing up, the spath was just what I needed to hit bottom.

Sure, it appeared that I had my act together before I met the spath, but that’s only because our society is so dysfunctional and I just blended right into that culture of dysfunction.

In reality, the way we live in this society is not how we were meant to live. Psychopaths simply epitomize that dysfunction that we are all surrounded by every day. They epitomize the narcissistic, fear-based, paranoid, power hungry, greedy attitude that has become our landscape. Lucky for us, when we encountered the spath, we could see the damage he caused in stark relief. Then all the trauma we had experienced before is also laid bare.

In other words, the spath is just a bigger pile of shit than all the smaller piles we had been stepping in for years. The spath pile smells so bad that it can’t be ignored. At that point, we just have to wash our shoes off completely and start fresh.


“That it is indeed possible to face death squarely and bravely, with peace and courage”

A very sweet post. Really beautiful how being face-to-face with our, or someone else’s, impending and imminent death can clear a path for us, and give us clarity.

Isn’t it true that what we experience with Bad People IS a death of sorts. Death of some of our wrong-headed ideas about ourselves, others’, the world. Death of some part of us that, ultimately, leads to the birth of a whole new part of us that makes us more than we were before.

And Sky, I really appreciate your insight: Psychopaths simply epitomize that dysfunction that we are all surrounded by every day. They epitomize the narcissistic, fear-based, paranoid, power hungry, greedy attitude that has become our landscape.

I think it was you who mentioned Lloyd Demause, and Psychohistory. I have been reading him and it is DEEP. This quote from you is something I have taken away from my reading his first book (along with lots of other insights, that I am still processing). We are in an evolutionary place where SP’s are the representation of our lowest (in my opinion) psychoclass of humans. They are the vestiges of the previous era. Perhaps all human groups, at certain points of their shared experience, feel they are in a ‘transitional’ place in history. But I really do feel this way, and that the SP’s could be ‘weeded’ out as humanity evolves.

Course, we probably have a REALLY long way to go before the lowest common denomenator isn’t murdering and pillaging, raping, conning, and destroying.

But one can hope.



cool that you’re reading DeMause. thanks for reminding me of him, I’ll have to re-read some of his work. He really opened my eyes too.

There’s a few different yet similar theories about the origins of human violence. I just finished an E-book called “left in the dark.”
Here’s the website that explains some of the theory. It doesn’t talk much about spaths but it does focus ALOT on testosterone and other hormones. The book is a free download.

the sisterhood

Mel, I just loved this post. As I do all of your posts. You express such a pure and sincere observance of the human condition.

I’m on the teeter totter of healing. Many days I can fully experience the gifts that are abound in my life and really appreciate them because of my troubled past. Then there are the days I am feeling vulnerable, hurt, and an overwhelming sense that my life isn’t amounting to much. I start to revert and believe the lies that were shoved into my head and heart. Those moments are becoming fewer and fewer and I am so grateful to be on the upswing. I do know that I am progressing and that is so satisfying.

I have noticed that Patience is something I am getting better at with every passing day. Maybe it comes with age and experience or maybe it is because I have found a connection with others here on LF and in my personal life that really get what I am struggling with and what I went through with the spaths in my life. I don’t have to torture myself anymore trying to explain to the people in my life why I am still devastated by something that happened so many years ago.

I always had an instant reaction to anything that was said or done in my presence which made me feel judged or devalued in any way. It wasn’t always the case that people were judging me or devaluing me, but I nevertheless felt they were and I felt I always had to prove to them they were wrong about their assumptions. In many cases it may have been that I was just oversensitive and misunderstood the intention of what was being said. It was a rush to judgment on my part. Now I (mostly) wait and see how conversations, relationships, and events evolve and pan out. I zoom out and look at the larger picture before I make an assumption. I don’t have the the impulse to react right away and I’m feeling less and less need to prove my worth or intelligence to others. I am beginning to understand the importance of patience in my own mental health.

…Or maybe my depression and anxiety meds are just working better. LOL

Whatever the case, I am feeling somewhat good in my life right now and that’s O.K. I’ll take it. I know that the day will come where I will feel Really Good about my life and I’m looking forward to it.

Much Love to you…and Thank You!

Ox Drover

Mel, what a wonderful, compassionate article…it brought tears to my eyes. It is a fact of life that we all die. Some soon, others later, and in the end, we all die alone, it’s like giving birth it is something people can hold our hands when we die or give birth, but we must do it alone, must do it ourselves. Must face it ourselves. Look it square in the eye.

Your friend sounds like a wonderful woman Mel and I am glad that you have had the privilege of knowing such a strong, brave woman and calling her friend.

When my beloved step father got the diagnosis of cancer, he also faced it like your friend, and I was privileged to be with him and to care for his physical needs during that last 18 months when he bravely faced and LIVED the last months of his life, but the greatest privilege was being there for him as we grieved together and then faced the enemy head on.

We had always been close, but those last 18 months were the closest we had ever been, the talks the best, the laughs the funniest, and I will always treasure those times we sat together at five in the morning, drinking coffee and talking….just the two of us. He taught me a lot all through my life, I just didn’t learn it til the last part of his life.

Thanks for this wonderful article.


Thanks Sylar, that site has LOTS to read and ponder.


Thank you for writing this so I can share in your memories of your friend’s beautiful passing. At the end, you say the perfect, the one true thing. It is one of my little sayings that I live by. “The ONLY thing that matters… is LOVE.”



Wow Mel, what a wonderful description of your amazing friend. Your friend sounds so beautiful a character, and quirky and delightful, too. Magnificent. Your story is so lovely to hear that she is accepting of you, and you of her. A wonderful friend to have, and to appreciate so kindly and beautifully.

Skylar — what you wrote here is so perfect. “the way we live in this society is not how we were meant to live. Psychopaths simply epitomize that dysfunction that we are all surrounded by every day. They epitomize the narcissistic, fear-based, paranoid, power hungry, greedy attitude that has become our landscape. Lucky for us, when we encountered the spath, we could see the damage he caused in stark relief. Then all the trauma we had experienced before is also laid bare.

In other words, the spath is just a bigger pile of shit than all the smaller piles we had been stepping in for years. The spath pile smells so bad that it can’t be ignored. At that point, we just have to wash our shoes off completely and start fresh.”

Thank you, to you both. 🙂

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