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By | February 29, 2012 67 Comments

What is forgiveness? Does it condone evil or defeat it? (Part II)

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

Special note from the author, Travis Vining:  Some of the content in this article may be unsettling to some.  I would ask that the reader please recognize that the following definition and interpretation of forgiveness is from years of personal experience, reading, learning, practicing and teaching.  It did not come easy, and in the beginning, I was just as unwilling as most to accept forgiveness as a possible solution to my problem. It is very “normal” to experience an emotional response to the idea that we play a part in our own suffering when the pain is still fresh.

If you prefer words like acceptance, letting go, etc., please use them.  They are all valid descriptions of forgiveness.

What is forgiveness?  Part II

In the past five years, I have faced my greatest fears.  I confronted my father and recorded him on death row, extracting a confession that resulted in two more murder convictions. I then helped cold case detectives solve another murder that he committed all those years ago.  I was able to do this, not in spite of forgiveness, but because of forgiveness!

I have also forgiven my father.  I learned from others that if I wanted to be free, I could no longer hold my father accountable (in my mind) for something that he could not give me. That something was love.

As for how he treated me, using me as his confidante and blackmailing me so I would not go to police, I came to realize that I played a role in allowing myself to be there.  I made decisions that allowed that to happen.  I had to answer the question that I feared the most…why was I there?

This is a question that cannot be asked when we are blaming others for everything bad that happens in our lives.  I had to try and stop thinking of myself as a victim, which was not easy, and take a look at why I stayed in a relationship with my dad when he was hurting me and others.  The question might make some uncomfortable, but it was one of the keys to my freedom.

“Old man take a look at my life I’m a lot like you were.”                                                                                             -Neil Young-

When my dad was killing people and telling me about it, I wanted to die.  I often had thoughts of suicide.  It seemed like a possible way out.  At other times, I wished he was dead so it would all stop.  What are these but murderous thoughts?  How different than him am I if I have thoughts of so called justifiable murder, but just don’t act on them? He would justify every murder, explaining how his victims deserved it for one reason or another.  I was doing the same thing, in my mind.  The hard truth is, I do know what it feels to want to murder someone.  I don’t like it”¦it makes me sick.

I came to the realization that all thoughts of “justifiable” murder, revenge, condemnation and hate made me more like him, not less.  Who was I to say that my murderous thoughts were OK, his were wrong.  Once I had the courage to look, it became very clear to me that they were the same.  The only difference was that he acted on them.  The one thing these thoughts had in common, was they made us both sick.

What concerned me even more, were the many teachings about the fruits of hate that suggests we either become what we hate, or continue to fall victim to it.  This was my experience before forgiveness entered the picture.  I was continuing to repeat behaviors that were placing me in harm’s way with other relationships long after my dad was sentenced to death row.  I was attracted to them and didn’t even know it.  Before I could stop repeating these behaviors, I had to forgive.

Back to the question, why was I there? I was faithless at the time, and did not know any better.  My dad was the only higher power that I had ever known and I wanted him to love me.  I had been raised by a sociopath.  I simply did not know any better.  With this realization, I was able to forgive myself, but it came with a “catch”.  If I am going to forgive myself for the results of being faithless, I came to understand that I could not do it, unless I forgave him for this same faithlessness.

My father lived without any belief in God.  He, in fact, is the most unforgiving person I have ever known and I did not want to be like him.  This IS what separates me from the sociopath.  I have a conscience, compassion, love, and the ability to forgive, but if I do not exercise these gifts I become more like him, not less.  Killing him is not the answer, forgiving him is.

My freedom rests in my brothers hands, and if I am unable to forgive him, then I am unable to forgive myself.  I do not have to like my brother, stay in a harmful relationship with him, avoid my responsibility to help protect others from him, but if I want my freedom, I do have to forgive him. 

Apparently, someone else had this all figured out long before my time here.  I just had to be willing to take a closer look at this with a willing heart and open mind.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

-The Lord’s Prayer-

Some may feel that there are some crimes that do not warrant forgiveness, but not me.  Coming to know God has allowed me to absolutely know that my father’s fate is in God’s hands, not mine.  My judgment of my father has absolutely nothing to do with what happens to him, but it has everything to do with what happens to me.  Understanding this concept helped open the door of willingness that set me free.

As for my dad, he is a very, very, sick man.  I would not want to live in the darkness that he lives in.  He is already in hell.  I pray for his freedom from hell, not condemn him to it.  He is already there.  When I pray for him I feel better.  I know that God created him so I will trust him to God.  And if he is God’s child, then I believe, God must love him.

This may be difficult for some to believe, but I love my father.  I do not like him, do not want him free from jail and would not be alone in a room with him, but I do love him.  I cannot separate the murder from the Miracles in my life, or my freedom from my experience with my dad.  Without one, I do not have the other.

God has already used my father to help me, my family, and many people that I have met over the years.  My dad brought me into this world and our experience together resulted in setting me free.  Without forgiveness, none of this happens.  No, I do not hate or resent him, I am grateful.

I wish he could experience the same freedom and peace that forgiveness offers, but he cannot.  He lives in a world he created that is without forgiveness, and without light.  I don’t think that you can have one without the other.

In the end, forgiveness did not lead me to “walk away or turn my back” on evil, but allowed me to right the wrongs of the past and fulfill my responsibility to help others find their own freedom.  I am now able to help victims of sociopaths, trauma, abuse, and bring awareness to the symptoms of unforgiveness.  I also speak to law enforcement groups; victim advocates groups, spiritual organizations, and other groups, including college classes that study the behavior of sociopaths.

I teach A Course in Forgiving and help others, like me, come to terms with childhood trauma, loss and disappointment.  Many, just like me, find forgiveness to be the pathway to a peaceful and happy life full of miracles. This is yet another gift of Grace that resulted from simply letting go of the past.

I have yet to see a person that has pursued forgiveness with God’s help disappointed, while on the other hand, those that do not forgive, continue to suffer.  This is another fact.  You can hear it in the tone of their voices, see it in their faces, their relationships, and feel it in their words.

The act of unforgiveness gives power to the perpetrator to continue to harm us long after the so called crime was committed.  Actually, this is only partially true, because to continue to harm ourselves with the past requires our consent, so we become co-conspirators with the perpetrator.

Once this takes hold, we begin to see the world through this filter, bringing our pain, past suffering, and unforgiveness into every relationship that we enter.  Not only are we harming ourselves now, but poisoning our current relationships.

When we do not forgive, we condemn ourselves to an emotional prison, not realizing that we have become the ones keeping ourselves hostage.  We hold the key to our freedom in our own hands and we do not even know it, because we are blinded by hate, resentment and anger.  Forgiveness is the key that will open our eyes and set us free.

In the end, it is self-forgiveness that we are seeking, because with it, comes peace.  When I stopped hurting myself with the past and someone else’s deeds, I was freed to clear away the wreckage of the past, forgive and be more useful to others.

When I was resentful, angry and wallowing in self pity believing that I was a victim, I did none of these things.  The difference”¦forgiveness.  So how could it be that forgiving and loving has resulted in the work that I do today?  It is simply this”¦Love is more powerful than evil. Love heals and conquers evil, while hate fuels evil.  Forgiveness invites this Love to defeat evil and help heal the world. 

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Romans 12:20-

Forgiveness should not be confused with passivity and trust.  To the contrary, it requires courage, willingness and action.  It is an extremely powerful response to darkness.  Forgiveness removes the fuel that is required for hate and anger to exist within me.

More importantly, I have no experience with forgiveness without God.  There may be examples of this in the world, but I have not seen them.  Without trust in something greater than ourselves, I am uncertain how that can be done.  I needed to ask Him to show me and teach me, because I do not have the power to do this, He does.

Unforgiveness, for me, is an expression of faithlessness.  It expresses an underlying belief that God cannot handle this, therefore “I” need to hold on to it myself because the rest of the universe will forget.  It is a complete lack of trust.  It is the insane belief that somehow, by holding on to this in my mind, it will change the past, change the person or situation or protect me from future harm.

Fear tells me that if I forgive I will forget and be vulnerable to similar suffering, which is simply not true.  The reality is, the act of holding on to resentments or unforgiveness is the very thing that keeps me a prisoner of the dark, while punishing me with the very feelings that “I think” I will avoid by holding on to the past.

The process of forgiveness opens the door to healing, and with it, a relationship beyond all understanding.  This is the miracle of it all, that we can have a relationship with Our Creator that includes intimate knowledge of His love for us and an understanding of His will for our lives.

In the end, forgiveness is not something that we give, but something that we accept for ourselves. Once this is done, the giving, or sharing of this gift is automatic.

As for the reader, if you still don’t yet believe in forgiveness, imagine this for just a minute. All those evil things that my father did in his life are now helping people who are suffering to find their way to a loving God that will help them with all of their problems and bring peace and joy into their lives. My dad . . . he wanted to harm people, and now his story is helping people find the very peace that he tried to destroy. He tried to take life and now his story gives it.  Forgiveness transformed what “I thought” was attacking me into my special purpose, turning darkness to light.

And if God can transform all of my transgressions into a blessing, then this must be true for all my brothers as well.  Now, that’s A Miracle!


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Travis – Extraordinary. What an insightful, extraordinary article.

Last night I was watching a special on TV about the Amish. The program included a description of the Amish school shooting on October 2, 2006, in which 10 young girls were shot, five of them killed. The shooter, Charles Carl Roberts IV, then killed himself.

And that night, a member of the Amish community went to Roberts family to tell them that they had forgiven the murderer.

Read Amish school shooting on Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amish_school_shooting

I was struck by what some of the Amish said in last night’s TV show they forgave Roberts, and left everything in God’s hands. And by doing that, they felt peace.

Maybe the same approach will help the families of TJ Lane’s victims. I hope they can find peace.

Ox Drover

I hope the community will not condemn the family (grandparents) of TJ Lane. Having been the parent of a murderer I can relate to how Lane’s grandparents may feel.

I can understand the community’s anger at the shooter, and even understand them blaming the grandparents for T. J.’s actions….forgiving in such an instance is very difficult. Letting go of the justifiable anger is also difficult.

Great article, Travis….and I totally agree that as long as we hang on to the anger and bitterness that it poisons us and blocks the peace and healing we need.

MiLo

Travis ~ Again, thank you for taking the time to give us all something to think about. Anger does indeed feed evil.

Donna ~ It is ironic that you speak of the Amish and how their approach on forgiveness may help the families of the victims. I don’t know if you are aware, our county has the forth largest Amish population in the world. The Amish community is reaching out to us “Yankees”.

slimone

Travis, and All-

Despite semantics I guess I have forgiven. I have found the peace you speak of, the release of myself and other’s, and the ability to ‘live anew’. My life is no longer occupied by selfish, charming, and falsely flattering bad people. I was willing to examine (and still do) my part in my experiences. I understand that blaming 100% of my suffering, even with the spaths, limits my ability to heal and grow and create something new in my life.

I am going to go out on a big limb here though and say I have found this place without a belief in God. Without the faith in God you have. I don’t want to go in to the whys and whatfors that are my belief system. I want to honor everyone here. Our beliefs are our own.

I only say this for others’ who are posting here who may also be faithless. That what Travis describes, in my opinion, is not inexricably tied to a belief in God. It can be found in other models of living and believing.

I am not inviting this community into a conversation about whether God exisits or not, and who is good and who is bad/ignorant, if they do or do not believe.

I simply want to acknowledge and provide encouragement to those here who may be ‘like me’ to be open to the wisdom of ‘letting go’, ‘forgiving’, ‘accepting’ and self-reflecting that leads to healing.

Slimone –

I absolutely agree – there are many paths to peace. Organized religion is one – general spiritual beliefs about the universe and how we are all connected is another – beliefs in moral principles is yet another.

I would encourage any Lovefraud reader to strive to let go of the pain and find peace, traveling whatever path feels most comfortable.

Stargazer

What a powerful, powerful article. I especially liked the part about how by holding onto resentment, it’s like saying we don’t trust God (or the universe or whatever you believe) to handle it. Or that you think your resentment will protect you from being harmed in the future. Very well said.

I once saw a talk show about 20 years ago where a mother had forgiven the murderer of her daughter. This guy had a temporary pass from prison to meet with the mother, and they met on national TV. The mother actually hugged (yes you read correctly) her daughter’s murderer and told him she forgave him. She was crying and completely sincere. I remember watching this and feeling incredulous. But I understand now that it released HER from a lifetime of suffering. I’m sure it had not one iota of impact on his life – he was probably a sociopath.

I also remember hearing of a woman who was raped repeatedly, beaten, stabbed multiple times and left in a gutter for dead. The whole ordeal took many hours. She later had a stroke and couldn’t move one whole side of her body. She also had other physical problems that were a permanent result of the attack. But when she was interviewed much later, she was smiling, laughing, and at peace. The interviewer asked her if she hated her attacker or was bitter. She replied that no she wasn’t. She replied that he had already taken x number of hours from her, and she refused to give him one more minute of it.

To me, these people model that extraordinary ability to forgive in order to have peace in their lives. I don’t know if/how I would ever be able to forgive under those circumstances. But I think that if they could do it, so could I forgive the people who have hurt me.

Sarah999

I haven’t read the posts . . but IMHO the reason forgiveness is so difficult . . is because it’s not natural. There is no reason (in most cases) to forgive. Learn from the event and continue your life (with the lesson in your mind). I think we all want to feel good all the time, so yes, foregiveness can make you feel good, but so can entirely erasing your memory of the event, would you want to do that?

Louise

Sarah999:

I get what you are saying and yes, I would LOVE to erase the memory of the event, but in doing so I realize I would also erase the lesson. But the pain is so great that the total erasure of the event sounds like heaven right now. I am hoping that EMDR will help erase the memory a bit.

Ox Drover

Slimone,

I too appreciate your post above…..each of us does have aa SPIRITUAL aspect, and whether or not we equate that to a higher being, the universe, a god, or a particular God is beside the point.

I realized that my belief system was NOT in sync with my emotions, and Over the course of the “summer of Chaos” as I called it, I started to read the Bible with different eyes. I also read Dr. Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” which he wrote after spending years in a Nazi death camp during WWII, where he lost everything. The book was about the observations he had of himself and others who were there about how trauma changed them, how he searched for meaning to it all. He didn’t find “religion” but he found Spirituality. He saw the spiritual aspect of the people there and how those who denied that aspect gave up and died, or struck out at others in their pain and lack of comfort.

Thank you for sharing. That’s one of the GREATEST things about LF is that there are so many of us here on different paths, but they all lead toward HEALING and PEACE.

Annie

Travis,
I really appreciated your former article: “Compassion for the Sociopath?”, and I thank you for having the courage to write it – especially knowing the blowback you might have (and did) receive. I agreed with much of what you wrote in that article.

I think, particularly in the face of evil, that it’s vital for us to remain in touch with our compassion for every living thing in order to remain fully human. I’ve said elsewhere that, in the way I interpret the definition (and I can appreciate that there are those who strongly disagree with me), compassion absolutely does not mean letting someone ‘get away’ with bad behaviour without consequence. Quite the opposite. I think that compassion REQUIRES us to respond to behaviour in others – whether good or bad – with its appropriate and commensurate consequences. Otherwise we are just training them how to be abusers, which seems to me to be the polar opposite of compassion. Compassion, in my mind, requires us to apply those appropriate consequences without giving in to feelings of hate, or responding with hateful behaviour.

I appreciated your courage and compassion in writing that article.

However, with respect, I have significant problems with the way you (and quite a few people in modern society) have chosen to define and speak about ‘forgiveness’. The meaning of the word ‘forgiveness’ is literally “to give away”. The notion of forgiveness as “pardon” is one of its more modern interpretations (at least in the english language). But even there, its meaning is still literally to discharge a debt without requiring the compensation duly owed.

To my mind ‘forgiveness’ is one of the most powerful concepts in the bible, and in ethical society. And I believe that its casual use in modern discourse has only served to cheapen and trivialize a fundamental truth. After having studied it a bit, I’m on board with the concept of forgiveness as something of great value, that should be granted through mercy ONLY AFTER true remorse and repentance and attempts at restitution by the aggressor. It should never be granted or given lightly or trivially.

And I feel I should never ask for, nor expect, forgiveness from someone I’ve wronged without first acknowledging and attempting to right that wrong.

I think we should try to use mercy and compassion wherever possible. But forgiveness in my opinion needs to be earned; it requires something (and not something small) from the person asking and receiving forgiveness.

I appreciate this article on forgiveness, and the following comments, by Kathy Krajco (not everyone’s cup of tea, mind you, but she wrote some powerful truths that I’ve found helpful):
http://narc-attack.blogspot.com/2008/03/healing-and-forgiveness.html

I particularly appreciated the comment from user “Writer in Washington”:
“You hit the nail on the head when you said that forgiveness is for the REPENTANT. That’s also biblical, there is actually a process which proves repentance by 1) accountability 2) restitution 3) reconciliation. Unfortunately, again this is not properly taught either in church or society. Letting “bygones-be-bygones” is one of the N’s favorite escape routes. If you don’t do so, then YOU are the bad guy. Sick twisted thinking that is not confined to just the religious realm.”

I don’t think that the opposite of ‘hatred’ is ‘forgiveness’. I don’t think those words operate in the same spectrum.

When it comes to how we should try to respond to someone who has done us or others a great wrong, I think perhaps a more appropriate word would be “equanimity”:

e·qua·nim·i·ty
”‚ ”‚[ee-kwuh-nim-i-tee, ek-wuh-]

noun:
mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness; equilibrium.

Ox Drover

Annie,

As for the definition of forgiveness as being ONLY to the ones who repent, I give Jesus’ example from the cross….asking forgiveness for the men who put him there and they had NOT REPENTED at all. He qualified it as “they know not what they do” and indeed they did not know they were crucifying the Son of Man, but they knew they had crucified an innocent man on trumped up charges, and the soldiers didn’t know or care if he was guilty or innocent, it was just their job. following orders.

While in the past the ancient meaning of the word “forgiveness” may have been some what more narrow, I think we have to look at what the dictionary says about it today.

Of course we are individually able to ascribe ANY meaning to ANY word, but the power of language is when we both ascribe the same meaning to the same word, so that we can use it to COMMUNICATE a concept.

skylar

Annie,
wow! in your mind, please imagine me standing up and giving you a standing ovation for articulating so well, this difficult concept. I especially appreciate that you wrote:

I think, particularly in the face of evil, that it’s vital for us to remain in touch with our compassion for every living thing in order to remain fully human.

There are a couple of things I would add because it helped me to tie up loose ends in my mind, for myself.

Forgiveness when attached to a confession is extremely powerful for both parties. This is, in part, how therapy works. The therapist accepts his client completely without judgement even after she confesses her deepest shame, fear and transgressions. Being accepted just the way you are, is very healing. When the transgressor confesses with true remorse, he is vulnerable. He might be shunned for his evil deed. But if he is forgiven, after confessing truthfully and accepting responsibility for the debt – without holding back or giving lame excuses or projecting blame on someone else – then he experiences acceptance and trust. A very strong relationship can result from that.
I think that’s why the Church came up with the sacrament of confession.

The spath is too filled with shame to ever unmask himself so he can never experience the grace of forgiveness. Even our compassion is met with ridicule. That’s why compassion benefits us and not the spath. It prevents us from becoming like the spath.

Forgiveness can be confusing when a Christian tries to meet Jesus’ standards by taking one or two statements and basing their entire belief on it. We need to look at the Gospel in its entirety. Jesus did say, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall have their fill.” And then He said, “if a man takes your coat, give him your shirt as well” but He didn’t say, wait til the man is remorseful. So these 2 statements SEEM contradictory.

It’s my belief that Jesus was telling us that spaths only want what YOU want. If they take your coat, show them that you don’t value it by giving them your shirt too. It’ll drive them crazy. They will think they misread your values and then they won’t want your clothes anymore.

Turning the other cheek is similar to “don’t show that it bothers you when they slap you.” I think he was encouraging us to rise above the things that spaths will do to us and not take it personally because you don’t want to feed their drama. You don’t want to become like them.

I think that Jesus wanted us to be just and forgiving towards our fellow man. Yet, he was well aware of spaths – he spoke about them constantly when he talked about hypocrites. After all what are hypocrites, if not people who wear masks?

noun
1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.

Jesus dealt with hypocrites much differently than He did with other sinners. He forgave sinners, He ate with them and he healed them. Yet, when He saw the money changers in the temple, He beat the crap out of them.
🙂

skylar

Oxy,
the crucifixion of Jesus was a scapegoating mechanism. It had to be done without knowing that He was innocent, or the crowd’s guilt would not have been assuaged and the memetic violence would have continued. Once a crowd has a scapegoat, they polarize all their violence toward the scapegoat and they actually BELIEVE in his guilt. I recently read that Herod and Pontius Pilate were enemies before the crucifixion but became friends afterward. A scapegoat brings peace to the community. It wasn’t until after He died that people began to see that He was innocent.

Ox Drover

Well, my “date” for the auction had a last minute change of plans not her fault, so I’m BACCCCCKKKKK! LOL

Sky, I agree that Jesus was not a namby pamby Savior a lot of people take him to be! LOL The running the money changers out of the Temple proves that point.

I also learned a lot from the story of Joseph which I have written about several times here…he forgave, but he did not TRUST until he had TESTED them. I always as a child wondered about how he was “mean” to his brothers, but it was testing them to see what kind of men they had become. TESTING UNDER FIRE! A REAL TEST!

I tried to give trust back when the person had proven over and over and over “ad nauseum” that they could not be trusted. That they had NOT repented, or even acknowledged that they were a thief or so on. That was why I wrote the MALIGNANT HOPE article. My hope that they would change became unrealistic, outrageous, just like planning your retirement on winning the lotto would be.

Great discussion guys. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

A great example is today one of D”s friends lied to him about something to do with Scouting and the rules in Scouting…but then he called D back 7 hours later and said “I lied and I am so sorry, I’ve spent the last 7 hours in hell because I panicked and lied to the person I know I never have to lie to.”

The guy had not done anything “bad” but he just lied to cover up something that was against the rules, but he MADE IT RIGHT, and confessed his lie and then withdrew from the area of scouting he was violating the rules of, but it was not a “immoral” or “bad thing” he was doing, it was just that he could not violate the rules and continue in the position he was in. My son has not lost any trust for this young man, in fact, he has gained more respect for someone he already respected.

So if you look at the remorse someone feels and the “reason” they failed to live up to the truthfulness it is not difficult to forgive AND restore trust.

silvermoon

I wanted to forgive because I was in love. It was unfathomable to me at the time I might have been so deliberately and completely betrayed.

It doesn’t matter about forgiving them. Who cares? Forgive a murderer who likely had it in for me too? Why?

Once you know the truth and get to a place of accepting it, somehow it doesn’t seem so relevant. But it was everything when I found myself suddenly alone. And in agony.

It will always come to the same thing in time: Get yourself safe, get your self straightened out after the what happened because you were betrayed. And its not an easy thing to swallow.

And its just ugly all over at the emotional level and maybe more. But after a while, it levels out. And you realize you were fooled. Deliberately.

Forgive it if you want, but forget it as soon as you can. That is what matters is to get to the place where there is no energy going into the betrayer or the events that connect you to them.

EMDR is good. And a couple of years later, like fine wine, its AWESOME. Especially when the facts are staggering.

No matter what you thought, no matter what you felt, you were betrayed. Fooled. Used.

Those are the facts and nothing can make them gentle or kind.

But if you want to forgive, forgive yourself and understand that you weren’t alone, it doesn’t make you stupid. Its just a nasty piece of business and you have to work through it, get out of it and get on with being you.

At the end of the day, this is all about you. They are gone and over time, it comes as what a blessing that is.

And we are all fortunate to have this community to embrace us when we find ourselves as completely lost as this experience leaves us.

Cheers Lovefraud!

Ox Drover

SILVERMOON!!!!! So GOOD TO SEE YOU!!!! How you been doing girlfriend? Your above advice is great and right on! It is all about US!

ErinBrock

Hi Silver…… 🙂

MoonDancer

Silvermoon ~!

Louise

silvermoon:

Thank you so much for that post. I printed it to refer to it time and time again.

silvermoon

Yep, Its time to start the seeds for the next garden And pumpkins are on my mind. What an incredible food source! Since the only things money can’t buy are true love and homegrown tomatoes, they are on the list too. And spinach (because we know what it did for popeye). And corn as a tribute to Hens’ sense of humor.

It has been a time for growing and learning and leaving behind what once was beyond the reach of the rearview mirroR.

I am glad to see the wonderful friends without whom I could not have weathered that storm. I remember that it was awful.

I remember all of the feelings that I read. I know we all have to walk the path. It is what it is. And we are all lucky to still be here!

There is a high price paid for what we have learned the hard way. And there was no way to have forstalled it for any of us.

So we become so incredibly valuable to one another for the understanding we share and the benefits of the knowledge and insights here.

My words are as small as a match lit in a stadium, but it means a great deal to be able to light in and make among others far wiser a great light of wisdom.

If you’ve been there, you know. Its a hell of a ride. And not one you’d have volunteered if you knew.

But like the old amish saying: We are too soon old and too late smart.

Gardening is a very fine art. Plant the seeds for feeding the wisdom and sanity that is come by the long, dark and cold places of having encountered a remorseless being.

The season is upon us for new start and nature is relentless in her rhythmn.

Best,

Ox Drover

Silvermoon,

Your words are so wise, and I know that wisdom was won the hard way, by EXPERIENCE.

It doesn’t take “much” light to overcome darkness….one match, one candle and the darker it is the brighter it shines in contrast!

Glad to have you back! Thanks for sharing the above post!

Denise Guiney

Forgiveness? I think easy for the Amish community. The man was dead anyway and the Amish are trained to think that way and it was not a lovefraud. It was not a romantic betrayal on a personal one to one level where deep emotions were falsified and deliberately used. It was not the same thing at all as some here have experienced. How would the Amish feel if this man was still out “killing” as many of these predators are still out making a killing. Easier to forgive too when someone has been apprehended by the law. If the law would not forgive me for such actions. If according to religion I myself would not be forgiven unless I repent of such actions and knowing full well the fraudster is unrepentant, where is the justification to forgive?

Where is the logic of this ” I forgave a murderer so I will be forgiven for stealing a mars bar (if that’s the worst thing I have done).

Fraudsters love forgiveness, its a game called Schelmiel. They play it over and over again thinking they can repent on their death bed and nothing every happened.

The only forgiveness worth thinking about is forgiving yourself for falling into the trap fraudsters set for you. You don’t need to forgive them to do that, but many people have religious programming that forces them to think that way.

princesspants

This article strikes a cord in me because I have been working on attaining forgiveness in my life recently. The problem I have understanding this information is that I don’t believe in God. I believe is some sort of higher power, that basically I am not in control of the universe, but I am not part of an organized religion. When I hear the word God a picture an old man sitting on top of fluffy clouds, and so me believing in God is a lot like believing in Santa. I am working really hard at forgiving my ex husband (the psychopath) and am getting very close, next up, my mother who was was emotionally abusive. In the past I find forgiveness comes with time and not seeing the person, almost two years in the case of my ex. I want to continue to see my mother, but have put more distance between us, therefore becoming less codependent. I wonder if you have any advise that doesn’t depend on the belief in God.

Ox Drover

Princesspants and Denise,

“forgiveness” to me for the transgressions of others does NOT include absolution for those things, or restoring trust (if there was trust before the abuse) or mean that you must have a relationship with them afterward…to me, it simply means getting the bitterness out of my heart so that bitterness does not eat at ME like a cancer.

As far as a belief in God, I don’t think a belief in God makes any difference in the concepts of forgiveness to me. It so happens that after I quit trying to twist my thinking about God to fit my egg donor’s teachings and looked for my own connection about God, then I found an entirely different concept of a higher power, I found a loving father, not a grouchy old man. I found a spiritual pathway, not a “religions” dictate.

carriesguns

sometimes, for me, the difference in believing in God and believing in some universal truth, is the simple fact that that “universal truth”
does not infer an awareness of me that is looking out for me.
in coming to understand that God is actually doing that, i have come so far in my forgivenness. which took place, as did my spath experience, long before public awareness, leaving me to keep myself and my children safe with no help whatsoever.
the only way i could have done that was by putting us in the hands of God, and only later did i realize, that at least one time when our lives were endangered, i checked the problem in advance and discovered the threat…and that gut feeling to do so came out of nowhere. nowhere? lol
we can always justify subconscious knowledge…pattern recognition…but in the end, when i looked at the overall patterns, the only ones that successfully protect and heal- are the ones in the bible, the teachings of jesus.
nowhere else are they all collected into one lil ol package…
i post as “carriesguns” because at that point in my life, endless discussions without relevant knowlege by others was entirely circuitous….endlessly circuitous…. & i had kids to raise.
to “fix”, somehow… simply letting it be known that i was “armed, possibly crazy” seemed to make spaths look elsewhere for victims. 🙂 nothing like a gun to answer a sociopathic play… later i started realizing that i could have avoided the entire situation, had i claimed out loud & in public to hold christian beliefs….firmly. that it would have, in my situation, acted very much like a shield. who knew?

Ox Drover

Carries guns,

LOL I enjoyed your post above. I had to laugh, may have told this story the before but think it fits now.
The other day my son D asked me where one of my pistols was, he wanted to clean it, and I said “where it ALWAYS is” and he sort of looked funny at me, like “where?” and I said “ON MY BED, UNDER MY BIBLE, WHERE I ALWAYS KEEP IT.” LOL

And that’s true, that pistol “lives” there on the unused side of my bed, underneath my Bible. He teases me that he is going to make me a double holster, one side for my gun the other for my Bible. LOL But I think that self protection is necessary sometimes, but so is my faith in God always. Psychopaths DO respect superior force, though sometimes some of them,, like my son Patrick don’t recognize ANY force as “superior”—I firmly believe he would attack my house with a pea shooter if he knew there were machine gun nests surrounding it, because he would believe he would succeed in killing me because he is soooooo smart and capable he would “win” under any conditions.

“Armed and mean as a snake” is a good one too. LOL

Jutza

Thank you for this post Travis, it is an insightful and personal take on forgiveness and what it means through your eyes. Everyone of us are unique in our thoughts and beliefs, and we all have our own way of forgiving the wrongs that have been done to us or the wrongs that we have done to others. As I continued to read, I began to feel I was in church, which does not bring fond memories to me, however, I continued on, and then decided to read some comments to finish. I was very pleased, which helped me to relax, to read Slimone’s comment, and I appreciate that they decided to go “out on a big limb”. It truly does not matter what a person believes, or does not believe. It is within each and every one of us to forgive, let go, and then move on with our lives. How a person chooses to embrace this concept is up to each individual and their personal comfort level. Interesting that this came in my email this morning. My mother and I were talking about forgiveness last night, due to the recent passing of one of my past step-fathers who used to abuse us mentally and physically. I always received the brunt of his assaults. These years for me was from the time I was 3 years old until I was 12, I am now in my fifties. You see all the while he was choking and beating with his fists, belts and whatever else within his reach; and saying things to me as an innocent child like “you should have never been born” and “why don’t you just die, you need to just die”, he was an upstanding Deacon in our church. He would pray and ask for forgiveness on Sundays, then come Monday he was good to go again. His blood son who recently took a bible study course and is certified to give sermon now, wrote to me last week about his father. In his letter, he stated that he heard his father was ill and that his father deserved the illness he had, and hoped he would die alone. I was the one who was severely mistreated by his father, yet while reading those words I thought…how could someone quote the bible in one sentence and berate another in the next. My brother does not yet know that his father has died. Although I had not seen my ex-step-father except for one time after the divorce, I had forgiven him years before. I shed tears when I learned of his passing, felt sadness, yet at peace because I held no grudge. I am a spiritual person, yet my biblical brother preaches that I need to read the bible and get right with the Lord. Perhaps once my brother learns of his father’s death, he will find it in his heart to forgive. If not, I plan to let him read your post Travis, and maybe the mention of bible quotes will help him to let go of his resentment of his father. This was not a pity party, I am a strong survivor. This was just an example of another human being expressing their belief with a sample of why. May we all find peace in forgiving, no matter how we attain that sense of well-being! 🙂

skylar

Denise,
thanks for those links. Very informative and spot on!

I agree with you that it’s all a game to them. Any emotion is a payoff for them. Any response is a form of enabling. They simply want your time and attention. Holding bitterness in your heart is just as enabling to them as forgiveness. Spaths don’t care as long as IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM.

The only way out is to stop playing the game. In fact, if they bring up what they have done, it’s best to pretend you don’t remember it. Or you didn’t notice.

Even better would be to take the lemons they gave us and make lemonaid.

raised by sociopath

I just can’t do it right now. I hate this woman who raised me however; in reading your article I now realize a connection this might be the reason why I have twice been involved in relationships with sick sociopath men who sexually abuse their own children.
I don’t want anything to do with such evil trash (poor excuse for mankind) anymore. I just want to stop hurting inside. I want to stop going through the three emotions of numbness to anger and now I can cry.
I want to own my own life and be happy without having to drink for the release. I know I’m a prisoner still to the woman who raised me even though I have chosen not to have anymore contact.

Ox Drover

Dear Raised by a sociopath,

I hear your pain and I think most if not all of us have been in that vortex, the “spin cycle” of hate, anger, rage, and sadness….but I can only say to you that booze will NOT fix the problem. Please, for your own sake, get some help with the alcohol problems. Self medication with booze for pain is a losing proposition.

Come here and post, there is support, caring and information here that will help you. READ the old archived articles and they will help you. Don’t give up. You are in the GRIEF PROCESS and it is painful, but it will lead you out of the canyons of defeat! I promise you. There is light at the end of the tunnel. God bless and strengthen you. ((hugs)))

skylar

Raised,
I also understand your pain. My parents are also abusers-perhaps spaths-and there are many of us here on LF, who can relate.
Please come here to vent, to talk, to share, whenever you feel down.
((hugs))

woundlicker

Dear Travis,
My first comment to one of your articles was unkind. I thought you had lost your mind writing about compassion or forgiveness for the sociopath. I’m sorry for that.

I stayed off Lovefraud for the last month because it is a difficult time of year for me. February to March is the 3 year anniversary of being free from the spath, his birthday, my birthday which he never remembered, Valentines Day which he ruined for me forever because of an unspeakably cruel thing he did to me our first valentine together, and last but never least, Lent.

I have an open mind about every individuals belief system but for me, Lent is an important time because it is by far the most trying, testing, and depressing time of year. Everything goes wrong. I have a very hard time this time of year, I truly do. I’ve been trying so hard to cope but I still fantasize daily of all kinds of afflictions hurting the ex spath. I even changed the name I gave him in my journals from “IT” to “the toilet”.

I’m glad I came onto LF tonight and read your articles on forgiveness. I can see a little clearer now what you’re saying. I’m torturing myself by my thoughts of ‘unforgiveness’ of the spath. I need to let go. I’m only hurting myself by holding onto this resentment and hate.

It’s not enough that I stay no contact or go through life not intentionally hurting anyone.

“I have sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do.” This speaks volumes to me, but still I keep sinning.

I tell myself that I cannot punish the ex spath, but I’m scared to death God won’t punish him either. I know he has a human heart, but not a humane one so how could he be forgiven?

This is something incredibly hard for me to deal with, but thank you, Travis, for putting things in black and white. Thank you for sharing your insight and experience. I feel like I am at least one step closer to coming to terms with the truth of it all. In time I know my true recovery, my real peace will come with my acceptance of the ultimate truth so that I can forgive.

Ox Drover

Dear Woundlicker,

Your post is incredibly poignant and moving. Thank you for posting this. It IS difficult to forgive, and it is an ON GOING process, not just a “one and done” type of thing I have found.

You are right though, that holding in the bitterness and hate that you feel is eating YOU, not him. It is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. (not sure who said that but it’s true)

God bless you and give you insight and strength as you progress on your journey.

And Hey, don’t stay away from LoveFraud…this is a very comforting and healing place. (((hugs)))

woundlicker

I’m so happy you responded, Oxy. You were my main inspiration for staying on lovefraud. I have missed reading these articles and comments. I see how healing they are. I think of you often and your priceless advice. 🙂

Ox Drover

Thank you woundlicker, for those kind words, you make me feel all warm and fuzzy. I know it is hard to forgive, or at least get the bitterness out of your heart for someone who has betrayed you so horribly.

The Bible says that “vengence is mine saith the Lord” so He has promised he will avenge wrongs so LET HIM DO HIS JOB. Believe me, I would rather be in YOUR hands with YOU mad at me than to be in the hands of a vengenceful and Just God.

The anger and hate comes between us and healing in my opinion, and anger is a natural feeling when we have been injured, and believe it or not there is evidence that there is actually a “feel good chemical” released in our brains when we plot revenge. But, at the same time, I think we are better off if we can follow Travis’ example.

Hang in there and KEEP ON READING. There is so much good stuff here. And, BTW get a copy of Donna’s new book 10 Red Flags of Love Fraud…it is great and will help you avoid the next psychopath that comes tip toeing into your life. (((hugs))) and God bless.

KatyDid

Dear Woundlicker

Just a wee dif perspective with a bit of endorsement:

I, too, can not forgive my x!husband. And I never liked people telling me I HAD to forgive him. It felt like they were piling on, and he’d already done enough piling on, so it was TOO much. I also didn’t like the holier than thou attitude of those saying something was wrong with ME for not forgiving. (Am NOT saying people here on LF are that way, just saying SOME “Christians” are.) SO i truly Get it when someone says I can’t forgive that kind of evil. All this forgiveness stuff while he skates off without a care for the consequences of his behavior on others.

But, I reasoned that I have a limited number of years on earth and there is SO much to live and enjoy, and I just don’t have time to waste in anger towards that degenerative A.H., and I actually have NO faith in societal justice, so I decided NOT to waste my time thinking of him at all.

My solution was to turn it over to GOD. I let GOD take care of it. And if a thought of the spath x! does pop into my mind, I say “GOD, I’m going to concentrate on your blessings. Please I give Him to you to do.”

Maybe it sound simple or Pollyanna. Ridiculous even. But I’m okay with being thought simple, Pollyanna, Ridiculous. That’s far better than to be known as soul thief, flesh eater, scammer, destructor of well being of children. Plus…I don’t NEVER want to lose the feeling I have had when perfect moments come into my life.Perfect moments, where I feel at one with GOD, earth, and me, are far more valuable to me than… justice. I just have better stuff to do with my time than deal with a farking spath. And let’s face it, GOD is just better at handing evil than I am. 🙂

BTW. I am NOT to be a foolish woman. GOD does not ask that of us. I did learn that lesson. So maybe I am not completely simple after all.

ErinBrock

I’m with Katy…….after 6 years of being separated/divorced……I too can’t understand the forgiveness concept.
I don’t let this keep me in the same place though…….Life has a way of evolving. We evolve.
I battle with the ideal of forgiveness, because my ex husband/spath keeps up his antics. Keeps playing the games. Won’t ‘go away’.
I know it’s forgive but never forget…….but do I have to keep forgiving the same shit over and over and over and over and over………..this just seems to be a way to leave me vulnerable.
How I deal with it is…….i KNOW what I KNOW! I rely on what I KNOW.
Protect us…..as I move along.
Each day/week/month holds new lessons. Lessons which, If I am open to learning, provide me the key to the next step in life.
We are okay!
The past few weeks spath dad has been contacting the eldest Jr. Jr had contact after several years on the first phone call…..for reasons I’ve explained here…..none of which were genuine want of contact, Jr ‘played’ spath dad……which only opened the door. Jr hasn’t returned any calls since.
Spath dad has tried to verbally convince jr he’s changed……but no appologies or examples….other than singing the me, me, me song and continuing to place blame on others around him.
Last night, I had a dream……I was in a tent and spath came in. He was trying to tell me he’s changed. Even in my dream….I relied on what I KNOW. He can claim whatever he whishes…..but I KNOW…..he will never change. I asked him……(in my dream)……you said you were perfect and happy with yourself….just out of curiousity, what was it that you changed about yourself. He said everything. I went into specifics…..and he went into the typical denial of those events. I KNOW what I KNOW.
I think this dream was reflecting to me to keep beliving in what I KNOW.
Even as he is trying to sway the Jr’s to the contrary. I KNOW.
The message today was……please just text me once in a while and let me know your okay…..let me know your alive. I understand that your mother has ‘gotten’ to you and you won’t talk to me again.
THIS IS A TELL……..I shoulder the blame for everything! CHANGED?????
Did he ever tell Jr i’m sorry for how our life turned out, not taking responsibility for anything specific, just general appology? NO.
Changed? HA! I KNOW.
What I KNOW allows me not to get sucked back into encouraging the kids to ‘try it out’ again.
What I KNOW allows me to not put my neck on the line again to go to bat for their father……
I KNOW…..they KNOW.
No words need to be spoken.

If your having a hard time with ‘forgiveness’…..Just stick with what you KNOW……and continue to put one foot in front of the other as you move forward to where you should be……each moment of each day. It does take time….but i’ll tell ya……Life DOES get better! Much better!

ErinBrock

I keep being shown the valuable reminder that EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON……
All of the things we worry about, the things that don’t turn out the way we’d wished…..the things that seem so doom and gloom at the time……Just ‘go with it’……and know it’s taking you in a different direction that you needed. Yes, pain is involved sometimes……..and it may seem hopeless……but ‘go with it’…….soon enough it will be revealed.
It all turns out the way it should.
It all happens for a reason.
The more you see it, the more you will trust in it.

XXOO to all my LF friends!

woundlicker

I completely agree, everything does happen for a reason and we have to let it reveal its purpose. I’m finding that going with it helps a lot in accepting the why’s. I know I’m wiser, stronger, and more patient now then before encountering the ex spath. I’m actually seeing how I handle stressful situations better then ever before.
I do count my blessings that I learned this very hard lesson about sociopaths because it has taught me so many other things, too.
I’m very thankful for lovefraud and the amazing people here. God bless you all.

Ox Drover

EB and Woundlicker,
Amen Sisters!!!!

G1S

Blowback?

Truthspeak

Travis, Woundlicker, OxD, Erin, et al…

IMHO, “Forgiveness” has an overall association with “tolerance” and/or “acceptance,” especially when it is mentioned in conjunction with religious beliefs. For many victims of socipaths/psychopaths, the “religion” is a problem because the victim, at some point, may have prayed for answers or help, and were unable to recognized the next episode with their spath as an opportunity to “get it,” and get the heck out: an answer. So, these poor folks are angry at “God,” “Jehovah,” “Great Creator,” or whatever name they called out in their despair. They (like me) wanted a lightning bolt to solve the whole wretched situation, and the “answer” was another episode of betrayal rather than the winning lottery numbers. It’s not the “forgiveness” that’s so difficult to do for me, it’s managing the anger that gets in the way of my healing.

For me, carrying around the intense hatred that I felt (and, still feel, sometimes) for the exspath requires a whole lot of energy that could be better spent on healing my soul and starting my life over with some joy and enthusiasm.

Woundlicker, everything DOES happen for a reason, even if we aren’t able to see the means to the ends, always. If Donna had not had the horrific experiences that she did, this site (this godsend of a site) would not exist, and I would be floundering around in misery along with many, many, many others. If I hadn’t found the nasty bag when I did, I would have been kicked to the curb on HIS terms and still be wondering what the hell happened, and why.

As OxD mentioned, “forgiveness” does not preclude absolution, and the two should not be confused with one another. For me, I choose to switch “moving on” with the word, “forgiveness.” It’s easier that way, and it takes the burden of carrying so much hatred around for someone who couldn’t care less about anything that they did to me (or, anyone else). “Moving on” is about ME….it’s about MY healing and MY redemption, not the exspath, at all.

Brightest blessings to everyone.

Emi

This is such a great discussion about ‘forgiveness’…what it is and what it isn’t. Thank you to Travis a beautifully honest perspective on your process. Oxdrover, thanks for your interpretations of the Bible. This is what keeps me coming back to Lovefraud…realness and honesty and a place to experience unconditional love. My own ideas on forgiveness have changed over the years. For me, it isn’t about getting to a place of ‘approval’ of the other person’s actions, or getting to a place where I can interact with them on a daily, yearly basis, whatever…it is more about disconnecting from all of the muck I take on when I’m enmeshed with an unconscionable abuser, a bully, whatever. More than likely, I will never meet with them again, or see them again, or be friendly with them again. Forgiveness means I disconnect from them and their actions toward me or others. It’s about my own mental health. What I put out comes back to me. Anger and resentment are two of the most destructive conditions of the human spirit. Can’t afford to marinate in either of them for long because they deaden my connection for a beautiful productive life.

Ana

Dear G1S,
I learned that word from listening to a Ron Paul video.

Ox Drover

Truthspeak, very good post above. What you call the concept is not important. How you manage it is. Getting rid of the anger, bitterness and the hate is a good idea. “Marinating” in those emotions for very long is very dangerous to spirit and mind.

woundlicker

Truthspeak,
I can say looking back that my prayers were being answered and I kept ignoring the signs. It’s almost creepy to talk about all the unexplainable, even supernatural things that happened to me when I was deep in the pit of despair with the ex spath.

My family history has a lot of clairvoyance and sixth sense, even prediction, so I was in tune to my spiritual side and chose to.ignore ever last single warning, every sign, all the help I prayed for that was given me time and time again.

I see now that I was not blind, I made a conscious decision to stay in the realationshit no matter what.

There is a scene in “The Man With Two Brains” where Steve Martin asks a painting of his deceased wife if he should pursue a new love interest. He asks her to send a sign if she is against it and the painting starts spinning, a loud voice cries out “Nooooooooooo!”, and everything in the room starts flying around ferociously. All the while he is being smacked by flying debris and CONTINUES to ask for a sign. The poltergeist keeps going full force and Steve M says this before walking out of the room, “Well ok, I’ll keep my eyes open for a sign from you that I should not ask her out. But since you seem to be okay with it, I’m going to ask her on a date.”. He completely ignored the obvious ghostly objections of his dead wife. This scene made me laugh and cry. It was hilarious, but it sure hurt to see how blind I chose to be.

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