A Reason to Be Grateful for Our Hardest Experiences

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melody Beattie

I've never had a problem with forgiveness.

In high school my mother and I would argue endlessly. Her lectures and my rebellion both had no end. While it was true that my mother had her faults, my independence caused me to be less than willing to follow her direction.

At one point we were arguing, as we usually did, which meant hours of crying and lecturing. As I pointed out to her yet another of her faults she said something that I have never forgotten:

“At least I didn't tell you that you were worthless.”

She was right. That’s what her mother had drilled into her head again and again, making sure she understood that she had little value to the world. A lesson that I suspect she still believes or at least struggles with.

At some point in her life, perhaps while she was pregnant with me, or maybe before, she determined that this was one legacy she would not pass on. She would never tell me that I had no value, and indeed she never did.

While it may seem like nothing, to struggle against your upbringing, to stop a cycle of emotional abuse, is a phenomenal act of strength.

I didn't know what I hadn't received.

Up until that point I hadn't even thought about the fact that this horrible thing hadn't happened to me. I only thought about the things I didn't like—the treatment that was dysfunctional.

I didn't know what she had fought to prevent, and the mistreatment that easily could have come my way if she hadn't managed to fight so well against her own upbringing.

But what I did know is that it must have been incredibly hard for my mother to break that cycle.

While it doesn't excuse other behavior, I could forgive her easily because of the gift she gave me, the gift that said I was worth something to her and to the world.

It was a gift that set me up for a much more successful life than I would have had otherwise, and it gave me one less issue to deal with later.

From that point forward, in every circumstance, I could tell that those who had wronged me in some perceived way were simply doing the best they could do with what they had.  

Sometimes I was getting just what they had gotten, what they had been taught, but often I was getting something watered-down, something a little less harsh than they themselves had received as they struggled to fight against their upbringing.

You may know the pain others are bringing you but it's often hard to see the pain they have held back and kept to themselves.

It exists and it's important to honor the work they are doing to prevent you from experiencing it. We all fight against our demons, and often we do this without anyone else knowing.

And then I met him.

He was a sociopath—someone who didn't care about me, didn't care about anyone. Everyone in his life was just someone or more appropriately some thing to use, to control, and to manipulate to make him feel powerful.

There's been plenty written about sociopaths, how they find people to love them, how people can get pulled in, so I'll skip how I got there and just say I am glad that I'm out.

But out wasn't so easy.  

For the longest time I couldn't get past this relationship. I dealt with my hurt, my anger, the disbelief that I could allow this to happen, and yet there was something that wouldn’t let me let go.

What was it that made me think of this relationship when I woke up in the middle of the night? Why couldn’t I get past it?

Months went on and nothing. I kept searching. I kept thinking, “There's something I'm missing, something I haven't allowed myself to feel, something I haven't dealt with.”

And then reading some book or another, I stumbled on it: forgiveness. I hadn't forgiven him.

Forgiveness brings us freedom.

But how could I? With my mother, she was doing the best she knew how. Most everyone in my life was doing what they knew to do, not intentionally bringing harm to anyone, just sometimes catching people in the crossfire.

But this was different; he wasn't doing the best he knew how—he knew better. He knew that what he was doing was harmful, manipulative, and destructive, and rather than struggling against his instincts and sometimes coming up short, he dove into the abusive behavior.

I kept thinking about forgiveness, talking with others, searching for an answer. How can I forgive someone who knows he hurt me and is happy about it? My friend suggested pity, that I feel sorry for him because he will never truly be peacefully happy. And while that's true, pity isn't exactly forgiveness, now is it?

The answers had to be out there somewhere. There had to be a way to forgive.

During our relationship, I'd joined a group to deal with my codependence, something left over from my less than perfect childhood—something that had negatively impacted every relationship I’ve ever had.

This group had brought more positive change to my life than any other thing ever had—more than any counseling or self-help books.

This support group largely got me through this relationship alive. One day, as I sat in my meeting, listening to others struggling with their lives and issues, working hard to overcome their own dysfunctional family histories, it hit me:

Gratitude was the answer.

I was grateful. Not half-hearted grateful, as in “Well I guess it worked out OK,” nor thankful because I had lived.

No, I was screaming from the rooftops grateful, Julie Andrews running through the field singing grateful. Grateful for this person who had come into my life and forced me, pushed me into a group where all of my childhood issues, all my past relationship problems, so much of my own dysfunctional behavior now made sense.

I was grateful because thanks to him, I knew where these patterns started and, more importantly, I knew how to stop them.

I had the promise of a much better future and it wouldn't have happened without him. Sure, I would have learned these lessons eventually through other relationships, slowly plodding away at each problem, picking at it, and learning from it, but this was all of my past issues, all at once.

Insight. BAM! A huge rush of learning and awareness, all in one relatively short year.

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

That one experience spiked my awareness, blew open my mind, and freed me from so many past issues, allowing me to have a future unthinkable prior to this experience. How could I possibly hold a grudge against that?

How could I possibly not forgive, if not him, the universe for bringing this experience into my life?

While I would never allow him back in to my life, and I still feel certain he is a sociopath, I'm glad, happy, giddy even that our paths crossed. I didn't simply survive him; I became a better person because of him.

You can't rise up from the flames without first being burned to the ground.

It’s so important to ask ourselves “This horrible thing that happened…what have I learned from it? What lesson did it teach me?” And, “How has it made my life better?”

If nothing comes up, keep looking, because far too often the hardest experiences teach you the most powerful and transformational lessons.

Photo by Joe Fakih Gomez Photography

About Jessica Dally

Jessica Dally is a network admin at Community Voice Mail, Social Media Marketing Manager at Wildlife Media, and the founder of Seattle Free School, a nonprofit run without money. She enjoys skiing, riding motorcycles, and traveling. You can find her on her website or on twitter at @jessicadally.

See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!
  • Anon

    Jessica, I am glad you shared this post – I recently had to cut ties with a Narcissist who had an affair with my married friend and the years of pain endured being close to this man…it’s amazing I’m strong enough to close the door. I am now onto, how do I forgive for my own peace and what valuable lessons can be derrived from what seems like tragedy and wasted time…

  • Jadlanguagearts1

    This article and your experiences mimic my own. It is synchronicity that I read this article. I too am grateful that u survived and have learned from my abusive relationships. I am now single and looking for a good relationship and this is a struggle. But I am so grateful that I will never go back to abuse again. Thank you for making me feel grateful today. Somedays it is truly a struggle.

  • Jadlanguagearts1

    Sorry about the phone

  • Viraj

    Thank you for sharing this story. Forgiveness is what makes life possible and you shared how reframing the experience unlocked the lesson. So powerful!

  • CityMouse

    Wonderful and inspiring article.  Thank you! 

  • Ashley

    Exactly what I needed to read today as I have dealt with a very similar experience and am still in the process of letting go. However, the experience prompted me to seek therapy and really evaluate who I am and what I want out of this life. Although I’m still healing, I need to remind myself to be so ever grateful that I met this person in the first place. Without that experience, I wouldn’t have pushed myself to be where I am today–regaining control of my life and knowing who I am truly am.

    Thank you again for sharing!

  • Peetmaan

    written. Had a similar experience and one day realised that our strongest metal
    (mettle!) goes through a smelting process.

    mother’s comment and your realization because of it reminded me of CSN’s
    “Teach Your Children”:

    “And you,
    of tender years,
    Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by”

  • Kyria Abrahams

    Thank you for writing this. This is where I’m at right now. I don’t know how to forgive someone who preyed on me — purposely — when I was at the lowest point of my life. How to forgive a sociopath? How to forgive someone who is happy they hurt you, who chose you BECAUSE you would be easier to hurt? I can’t get there yet. I feel that forgiving them will let them off the hook. I feel that it is unfair to forgive him. Instead, I would rather forget them. I think he deserves to be completely forgotten and wiped entirely from my memory. He deserves to no longer exist. Unfortunately, the only way to forget him might be to forgive him. I’m still resisting that. Time will tell. 

  •  Kyria, I too feel that in some cases, if I forgive I am letting them off the hook. That is an interesting question that maybe we can find an answer to! Even though I am sure in the long run that not letting them off the hook really hurts us more than the wrong doer… this is a hard concept!

  • Ambitions09

    I have to say that this one definitely hit home for me today! Thank you for these daily reminders to keep going and that at the end of the day we are our own happiness!

  • Ambitions09

    I have gone through the same thing and can finally see the light at the end of it and I promise you will get there. There’s an excellent book called how to forgive when you can’t forget and the sociopath next door.

  • Wow, I am so glad I dropped what I was doing and took ten minutes to read this post! I feel like it was written to me specifically!

    I too had a boyfriend that was so destructive and I lived with him. He knew what he was doing was wrong and lived a horrible life, sometimes I think he still does! Although I don’t think he initially intends to hurt people, as soon as it starts, he doesn’t stop! I finally was able to leave, the situation got abusive. He was also an alcoholic. Out of all the boyfriends I had, for some reason this one stuck with me and the pain was hard to bear. It took me a long time to finally see that my life was headed in a much better direction. It took me an even longer time to forgive this guy! I don’t think I was able to do it until after I was happily married, but I did.

    Even though I struggled with this guy in particular, I still struggle with my family (parents) to this day. In hind sight, I guess my mom was doing the best she knew how but there are times when she said things, that in my mind, were unforgivable (especially to a young child). I don’t think it was their intention (well at least not all the time) but my parents constantly belittled me and made me feel that no matter what I did, I would always be wrong. I felt like I never did right by them and somehow always missed my mark. I always felt like a failure in their eyes. In my teens I was told that my behavior was so bad (I WAS very stubborn) that if they couldn’t find a doctor or psychologist that would prescribe me antidepressants or “crazy meds”, that they didn’t want me living in their home. After going through a few doctors, all of which said there was nothing wrong with me and one even said my mom was the one with mental issues, I was finally kicked out at 18. There was once in my mid teens, I was even told that the family was better without me in it. They claim to not remember this but it is something I will never forget. I took a vow in my mid twenties that if I was able to do one thing in my life, it would be to never treat my child the way my parents treated me. I actually told them this in a heated argument one day and they forced me to apologize because if I weren’t so bad, they wouldn’t have to treat me like that.

    Some kids finally get along with their family once they have successfully left the home but not much changed with me and mine; the arguing and anger raged on. We would take breaks from each other but eventually wanted to say hi again. I was still told how big of a screw up I was (interesting… since I have never drank, never experimented with drugs or even tried a cigarette in my entire life; not to mention my biggest run in with the law was a measly traffic ticket).

    My parents finally came around and pretended they had loved and supported me all my life, when I married my husband. My husband is an amazing man, sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky!? A top graduate of the Naval Academy, a LCDR that flies F-18’s for the Navy, went back and got a Masters degree in war college (while helping raise our few month old daughter) and has been able to provide for our every need and desire in life. My mom took a turn for the worst after we got married and when the econmy tanked. She tried to commit suicide 3 times and even a month ago got so outrageously drunk she fell down a flight of stairs and almost bled to death. She is recovering but took 19 staples to the head. She was ultimately the one with all the mental issues that she refused to address  but I still can’t let it go.

    I have said multiple times over the years, that I forgive her. That I have moved on and am beyond blessed with what I have today. I know what forgiveness means but deep inside… I guess I haven’t done it. I am always nice to her and my family and encourage her recovery and little steps… but I am ravished inside. I will keep looking for my answers and how to truly forgive and let go but I have not gotten there yet.

  • Cbutterfly6

    I was in love with a guy who asked me to Marry him about a year ago.  I fell hard for him meeting my EVERY need and desire.  He seemed to figure out pretty quickly, what made me happy and how I ticked.  I was surprised when he asked me to marry him about 8 months after we met.  I said absolutly yes, because he seemed like the man of my dreams and was in every essence.  I loved him with all my heart like no other.  Two weeks before Christmas, he took the ring away and said he just couldn’t do it, couldn’t get married to me.  The only thing preluding this sudden break up, was his constant upheavel about how he couldn’t get over my boyfriends of the past.  Prior to KNOWING him, past.  I moved in with this man and feel in love with him and he manipulated me and used me and dumped me.  He took back the engagement ring and forced ME to leave the apartment we had cohabitated in.  I am still putting together the pieces of my broken heart.  I had no idea he was planning an exit out  because I thought he was happy, as I was, and he neglected to let me in on his feelings.  I thought i would spend the rest of my life with this person.  The last thing he said was “go find someone else.  I thought I could be that person for you but I can’t.  You made a mark on me”.  Cut me like glass.  I stumbled across this article and to date haven’t had this kind of parallel article/book help me with my struggling pain.  It has been three months, therapy and anti depressants but still I feel like a lifeless person.  I am going to re read this article and work to forgive him.  He acted much like a sociopath-and i fell for it and all the emotional abuse that went along with it.  This article brings clarity and serenity.  Thank you.

  • There have been times when I certainly wished that I could have forgotten him (and still do!  But today more so than ever before I’m glad I can’t and didn’t.  Why?  Because if I had forgotten him I wouldn’t have written this post and the story wouldn’t have helped others.  If my story can help someone or better yet help someone get out before it gets really ugly that makes remembering worth it.  Most importantly though if I forget him I forget what I’ve learned from this experience and that would mean I’d be likely to repeat that mistake.  Suffering once is more than plenty.

    One thing that I’ve learned in this is that forgiveness isn’t about him.  He doesn’t know it and couldn’t care less if I’ve forgiven him or not.  My ex doesn’t care about being on the hook or off of it because he doesn’t take any responsibility for his actions (or even see them as wrong… after all, according to him, I let him do it).  Forgiving him is about me.  About me not letting him live in my head rent free by maintaining my anger.  About me recognizing that this was a lesson I needed to learn and that (for me at least) the best lessons aren’t ever easy.  About me walking away stronger than ever before.

    I can only talk from my experience but I will say for me it took time to get to this point and it’s not over, just better.  It does get better but if I may suggest, give yourself time and be kind to yourself… and be proud that you’ve made it through safe.

  • If I may suggest… give yourself time and be kind to yourself.  It took me a LONG time to get here and it doesn’t mean I’m over it, not completely, not every hour of every day… but it’s better and keeps getting better.  When I was with him I had the promise of a horrible future full of mental abuse so while it hurts horribly to have cared about someone who didn’t care about me it feels really good that I’m not still in that place and still suffering with someone who was lying to me.  Just my two cents 🙂

  • I spent a lot of time in therapy but didn’t truly find the answers until I started to deal with my codependence.  I don’t know if that would help you but it’s helped me more then anything else (it was a truly mind blowing experience).  There are groups in most areas to help with it.  Best, Jessica

  • In my opinion, if you learn from it you didn’t waste time.  By figuring out what my issues were with him I can be a better me and more apt to not totally mess up a relationship with someone I can spend my life with.  If I hadn’t learned those lessons I’d still be heading down the same stale path I’d been down time and time again.  Could it have been shorter?  Sure, but it could have been a longer period of time too.  In the end I have to trust that it was the amount of time I needed to learn what I needed to learn, no more, no less.
    Best to you!

  • It’s definitely still a struggle for me too.  I need to remind myself of my gratitude sometimes and sometimes it still hurts but it hurts a heck of a lot less than the abuse did and I’ll take this pain over that pain any day!

  • jackerose

    I’ve been working on forgiving people. I started with my “ex’es”. I decided it was time to forgive them – and me – so I could move on with my life. I didn’t know how it would work; but here is what has happened.  It is like there is a tiny person inside my head holding up really big flash cards. Occasionally those flash cards of those two pop up and it was ‘testing’ my gut reaction. Over time my gut reaction has been less of instant resentment, fear, and loathing,  which I would then consciously say to myself ‘I forgive them – and me’. Last time it was just lightness that they were forgiven. Then new flashcards popped up. I had a moment of looking at the persons’ face thinking HAH, my life is better without you in it…then I remembered to say ‘I forgive you’ and I felt a weight lift off. I didn’t know this was something you could get better at! I didn’t know forgiving was something I could do by intention and practice, I always thought I had to be a much better person to be able to forgive people. What a cool discovery that it can be done this way – by intention and practice. I wish for all of us in this forgiveness circle to be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.

  • GeezerWithACamera

    I think you vacant a brr person because of what you decided, not because of him. Just my opinion.

    I had a horrendous financial situation begin two years ago that I thought was the worst thing to ever happen to me. Now I understand it as one of my biggest ongoing blessings.

  • GeezerWithACamera

    “Are a better person” instead of the gibberish my phone typed above.

    Damn “smartphone!” LOL

  • Shelly

    Hi Jessica,

    I read this post yesterday and it’s sort of funny because my intial reaction was..’Wow, what a great post and such great advice…can’t wait to apply it to my life.’
    And then today I was hit with the real deal and realised it’s so much harder than you initally realise to deal with these hurts.
    I have lived with an emotionally abusive father for my entire life and when I was smacked with it again today, I thought of your post. 
    Relationships are hard…but what about family relationships? I feel so stuck in this cycle and the abuse is killing me. But how can you separate yourself from someone you have loved your entire life…even if they do treat you like an animal? It would mean seperation from my entire family. I just can’t see a way past this but i’m scared if I don’t find a way out he will  break me for good. I know you can’t fix my problems or anything but I am really struggling here.
    I might read this through again and maybe print it out. Thanks for writing something so powerful.

  • Xtcnsk8

    Thank you for posting this. :]

  • 12 step programs for codependence really helped me.  Sometimes you do have to let it go… sometimes you can learn REALLY good boundaries.  Families seem to be always hard but sometimes it’s for the same reason as relationships… because we keep hoping that they’ll become the person we want them to be.  It’s easier (in my experience) to become the person I want to be.  Best to you!

  • Thank you for writing this…thank you.

  • Singersrsweet

    Thank you so much for writing this, I have gone through a similar situation and it has taken me many years to heal. I work on forgiveness everyday because the experience truly was a blessing as it forced me to truly look in the mirror and confront my own past and present and deal with demons I had long tried to bury. I now have the life I had always wanted, past relationships have healed and healthy positive ones have been formed, but perhaps the relationship I now have with myself has been the greatest gift to transpire from the experience.

  • Anon

    Jessica, I wanted to mention ~ your responses here lead me to look into co-dependency and I attended my first 12 step meeting for that..and my eyes just opened so WIDE…it is no accident that your output and sharing here is giving people like us insight into new paths, thank you again

  • Sarah

    This post literally came to me at the exact right time! I went through a similar relationship and Im trying to get out of it! I know deep inside that it will be “over” once I have forgiven myself (of letting do what he did) and forgiven him. I also know I have to see inside of me what issues he brought back to the surface (some I know, some others need more introspection) and I already know that without this relationship, I wouldn’t have imagined how  much self-love I was lacking! Next step: Love Myself More!
    Thanks a lot for sharing… really!

  • JohnDoe

    Great post. As it has been said pain is an excellent motivator. I have lived an emotionally shallow and repressed life. I was raised in a home where my parents criticized my thougbts and interests and made fun of me. I began to isolate and became depressed. I had no idea who I was or had any dreams because of fear of humiliation. Then alcohol entered my life and I felt relief from the pain inside. But that too made matters worse because I became an alcoholic and somehow got married. It was an unhealthy codependent relationship in which my beautiful wife lost herself trying to protect me and I caused her great emotional pain. I was blind to this until she put her foot down and said that she has had enough. For so long I knew I needed to change and desperately wanted to but lacked the ability. For the past 13 months I have been sober and have grown both emotionally and spiritually. I am getting to the bottom of my problems and am becoming a kinder and compassionate person who now knows humility and empathy. My wife is regaining herself and I fear it will be without me. This hurts very deeply but I acknowledge my role in the situation and respect her wishes. She recently said that it’s almost like we’re becoming friends again and that I am a more pleasant person to be around, however her heart is sealed shut and I think she has moved on. She has acknowledged my transformation but it’s to late to save the marriage. Even though I will not be able to win her back, I will continue my growth and learn from my past. I owe this to myself and I am extremely grateful for this as it has led to a path for a greater existance. It hurts to feel but it is a necessary part of life to grow. She appreciates my efforts and even asked if I was doing this just for her. This experience is the catalyst that I needed to finally find myself. Although I am just beginning and have great remorse for how I was, I am very thankful. I would rather continue my journey and possibly have an ex-wife as a friend than to stop and go back to old behaviors and be out of her life forever. Thank you for this site, it has been an integral part of my journey. I must love and forgive myself if I can ever expect it from others.

  • Teresa

    I really loved this article and your comment gives me hope.I am recently recovering from an addiction and i have a lot of work to do until i will be able to feel what ou say, but if it touched me that already is a blessing.
    Thank you.Teresa.

  • Teresamaria

    My,how i wish i could hug you…you see i too hurt on similar situation,please be careful with your anti-depressants…

  • Teresa

    I am also a recovering alcoholic sober for 9 months…i really know what you mean.Thank you for your story.Teresa

  • JohnDoe

    Hang in there, they say it gets better. Just gotta have faith.

  • Bengr81

    Forgiveness isn’t for the other person, it’s for you. Your anger isn’t toward him, but for the things you allowed to have happen to you. If this sounds harsh I apologize, but I have went through a very similar situation. We have to take accountability for our feelings. A very hard pill to swallow at times. It’s rather overwhelming to start the journey, but after some practice you will begin to notice that all of those burdens become blessings. You will begin to notice how you seem to have more time on your hands. You will have started the journey to free yourself.

  • Krissylou67

    I agree with BENGR81 whole heartedly. I let myself get involved with people that were so wrong for me…and I have been beating myself up for it. I’ve been so disappointed in myself for allowing myself to be treated like crap. It’s when I finally began forgiving myself for treating myself like crap that I began to heal. 

  • Stabyhoun

     Kyria, don’t ever try to forget something or someone like that! The person or experience may seem to be erased from your memory. But I am learning now, in my own miserable life, that you push old pain, trauma or anger, in your own sub-conscious, a dark place, your trash can. But sooner or later, it resurfaces, because you’re not done with it. You will see it mirrored in new persons and circumstances until you have processed the trauma/emotion and are done with it. Only then will this person or bad experience never be able to shake you up again. You have to go through it, not around it. Dear God, make me listen to my own advice, just for once in my life.

  • Nora Castaneda70

    This has made me look at things in a whole new light…thank you!

  • I had an abusive sociopathic 2nd husband who I’m now divorced from.  The spath tore my life stem from stern.  The trauma bonding nearly killed me and if it wasn’t for my kids I don’t know that I would have survived this.  I’ve been in therapy for over a year and have made huge leaps in my healing. 

    This article is amazing but I still don’t know how to let him go completely…to finally accept all that happened to me/the kids and forgive.  I just keep hanging on to this thread of “my dream”…home, husband, kids, yard, pets, lifestyle, etc.  Its all tied to him even though logically I know I could have these things with someone else.  Was there something specific that seemed to be the final push that got you to this stage?

  • D.J.

    I have been reading about sociopaths for the better part of this year after being targeted by one during the summer of 2011. He is still on my mind every single day because we had a bond back in our teens and I can not get over his seeking me out and renewing that bond in order to betray me after all these years. That said, this is by far the most healing piece that I have read on the subject of sociopaths. I can totally relate. In fact, way before I was fully aware that I had been involved in a pathological relationship, I was somehow aware that getting involved with this person would force me to open my Pandora’s box and perhaps see the way my past was making itself manifest in my present. I’d buried my past alive. He forced me to dig it up and put it properly to rest. There was so much pain and it has taken such a long, long time to work through it all but I have and I am a better person today. However, I haven’t forgiven him yet. I’ve tried but he has refused to acknowledge the full extent of what he did to me. Instead of being grateful to him, I am grateful for my own strength of character. I’d like to forgive him but I need something more from him in order to do it. He betrayed me, played me, preyed upon me, raped my psyche all for his own sadistic pleasure not because he wanted to see me grow. Worst of all he took away something sacred: my memories. They say you can’t change the past but he changed mine and it was excruciating to have to acknowledge so many years later that all the good things I believed about him and what we had (a very special friendship) were never true in the first place.

  • D.J.

    Okay, it’s been two months since I made this post and one full year since the relationship mentioned above completely crashed and burned because I finally realized that I was being manipulated the whole time and that this person had no real feelings for me. Everything he said was … inauthentic. But I still have not found better advice or a better article about how to move past this relationship than what is written here on tiny buddha. So, I have finally forgiven him. He may never know it because he cut contact with me a long time ago because in his mind I am the only one with problem. I did have problems … many problems from my childhood. He knew about them all, pretended to be my friend, then abused me worst of all. But I .am a better person today so okay, I forgive him. I really do.

  • b.b.

    Thank you for this.

  • Anna

    I admire all of you for being able to bear your souls, seemingly without reservation –

  • Bene

    I was crushed when my lover of three years left to be with another woman. I cried and sobbed every day, until it got so bad that I reached out to the Internet for help. I threw away so much money – all for nothing – until I hit on the real thing. And that is you, Dr. Lametu. You were different from all the rest – you are the diamond in the rough. Thank you from the depths of my soul! I am extremely happy now. I hope God blesses you as much as He has blessed me. Meet him for real help via

  • MV

    I abolutely LOVED this article and have shared it on Facebook. I feel you you have helped me – FINALLY – in understanding my hurt and burden and now release of involvement with my ex and his wife and the last 5 years of hurt. Thank you so much for this. I have read so much and sought counselling and finally I get it. And I’m thankful for the journey because it’s let me to a much better place today. Grateful – YES!!


    I think there may be some validity to the “monobeing” principle. I was a victim of a psychopath 30 years ago. They are one of Satan’s angels. They will go to hell when they die but the key to the gates of hell are on the inside, and they will not want to leave. It’s where they came from. They are home for eternity.

  • divinelove

    Thank you for sharing. Wonderful perspective on changing how to interpret painful experiences. They create the cracks that lets the light in 🙂

  • ash

    what if you have forgiven and still love this person, and they can easily manipulate you, and no matter what i always treat them with kindness and respect. ive tried moving on, other relationships, leaving the state, and somehow get sucked back in with the i love yous, this person never abused me in the normal sense, but has more or less let me down time and time again. like whenever i get too close he runs away, stops talking to me.and i try to move on and get sucked back in months later. the only solution i can come up with is just to stay single, until one day he lets go of his grip on my heart, because even after i felt free had a child, he still came back to haunt me anyway.i have no anger towards him, just an emptiness that wont go away and he plays that up by saying he wants to marry me ect…….. this has been going on for about 5 years now. and i cant ignore him, and i cant change and i have tried and i dont know why.

  • Momvtwo

    Thank you for this “a-ha” moment. I dealt with a sociopath this past year and up until the end of the year he was saying he still loves me, while dating another woman. I just found out he has asked her to marry him after three months of dating. She is thrilled, and he’s all “meh” about it. All he talks about is his sexual prowess with her, not love or anything like that. And he’s also a very active drug addict. Through my experience with him I have discovered that I am drawn to addicts and that there is a lot of unfinished business that I need to work through in order to seek a healthy relationship. I am grateful for the experience. It has brought me to a higher spiritual path than I had envisioned for myself.

  • Olive

    Great post, sister! I completely agree with you and am just getting to this point. Am so sick of going over the same shit in my head over and over… Finally am realizing all the good that has come of this traumatic experience. I’m a non-confrontational person but this relationship — and leaving this relationship — have forced me to confront my self in ways I never even imagined. Thank you for posting this. It helped me put things in perspective and feel better about myself and this entirely exhausting experience!

  • Cara

    I would just like to say that Dr. Lee really does do miracles, my soulmate came to quicker than I thought he would. I would recommend her to any-one who needs help, and I will use Dr. Lee again for further work in the future. You can as well go to him if you need help. Contact him on his email address:

  • Lori Cammerino

    People might be a little bent made me laugh, that is a good thing I will look upon one day.
    But if your mad at yourself for letting it happen, sometimes we are busy with other things that can be several, to deal with adolescents as such, but others do happen to help out the poor me’s and aren’t they funny and must be right, sometimes your anger can make you laugh, it’s called the wrath of not con : ).

  • angelarun2001

    absolutely agree with you Jessica.
    we must forgive them for our benefit. they do not care if we hate them or love them, they are enjoying their lives…..and so should we!
    forgiving definitely makes us free of the negative feelings and burdens of the past and lets us be mentally and emotionally happy

  • angelarun2001

    krissy…..please don’t blame yourself for getting involved with a sociopath!!!
    it wasn’t your fault. sociopath are cunning people. they are not normal. they are very smart at conning people. they will do everything and anything to make you believe their lies. so how can you blame yourself?
    I’m sure you weren’t aware what a sociopath is back then when you were in relationship with one….please don’t blame yourself

  • angelarun2001

    I’m so glad you’ve forgiven him D.J.
    forgiveness is the only way. because when they hurt you so much, you have no idea what to do and how to make the pain go away and accept the reality that it was all lies.
    so forgiveness helps make the pain go away, gradually in time

  • angelarun2001

    I too get the “flash cards” after forgiving my sociopath. and yes I too remind myself of saying “I forgive him” everytime a bad thought about him comes in my mind!

  • John

    Kyria, my position on this topic differs from a lot of the replies so far. In my opinion, for grievances of significant magnitude, forgiveness is earned, not given. In my book, unless someone has genuinely admitted wrong-doing, sincerely apologized, and vowed never to wrong you in that way again, the preconditions for forgiveness have not been met. But heck, even if these three criteria are satisfied, there are some things that simply aren’t forgivable. Do you think the Jewish people have forgiven Adolf Hitler? Do you think children who are brutally raped by their Catholic priest forgive their rapist? Do you think post-Civil War slaves, having been dehumanized and debased for generations, forgave their former slave masters? Maybe some, but on the whole? Hell no.

    But all that raises the question: How do you release all-consuming anger and resentment and pain from your mind while somehow not forgiving? In short: time and determination. To me, you just process the experience, think about what you learned from it, and move forward with the knowledge that time does (at least mostly) heal wounds. Don’t let people trick you into thinking that it’s some divine virtue to pardon an individual who preyed on you; to do so would be to give the predator the symbolic last laugh. Instead, stand up for yourself and say “No more!”. Be strong and move forward with your life in a determined way. They might have caused you pain, but they can’t stop you from living a hell of an awesome life. If you do those things, eventually the intensity of the resentment and anger and pain will numb and cease to be a problem.

    Now before people jump down my throat about this whole thing, I understand that people use the word “forgiveness” in different ways. Some people mean it as synonym for “pardon”; some people define it as the process of moving on with your life and not focusing on the wrong-doing forever. Having said that, I feel like most people’s usage of the word contains at least some hint of the “pardon” meaning, and I think that’s why you (Kyria) are feeling conflicted about forgiving; pardoning would entail letting someone off the hook—someone who has done nothing but take advantage of your good nature—and that just doesn’t sit well with you.

    You posted this comment two years ago now, but I hope you’ve made progress, and I hope this post makes at least one person think more deeply about what forgiveness really means to them.

    Keep on keepin’ on!

  • Jessica Dally

    Just saw your comment. So glad it was helpful to you. It certainly was a life changer for me.

  • Jessica Dally

    Glad to hear it helped. Just came across this article again as a friend had a similar experience and I wanted to share it with her so I’m just finding some of these comments. The interesting thing now is that I can truly say that I’m past this relationship now in that when I think about it there really are no emotions at all. The only reason I share that is that I NEVER thought that would happen. It certainly didn’t feel like it would ever happen. But it has and for me this forgiveness was certainly the key. Best to you!

  • Jessica Dally

    A late reply here. My mother too suffers from mental illness. In part that’s been helpful for me in forgiving her because I know that it’s all she can do to keep herself together and live her life (as in feed herself, do her laundry, etc). Indeed as she’s gotten older in the past few years she’s barely able to do that due to her illness.

    But that said my forgiveness of her doesn’t mean that I spend lots of time with her. Her behavior is still very destructive and difficult to be around. So instead I limit my time and recognize that she says negative things and does negative things because she is ill. If she were carrying an infectious disease I’d do the same. We tend to think that mental illness is confined to a singular person but when it expresses itself in attacks and other dysfunctional behaviors it is just like a disease that can spread and cause illness in those around that ill person.

    IMO it’s OK to protect yourself and do what’s best for you. For me putting an appropriate amount of distance in my relationship with my mother has allowed me to continue to forgive her and value the great parts of who she is because I limit my exposure to the rest of it. It also creates a healthier relationship for us because I have the ability to be a kinder person when I’m with her rather than needing to be defensive or on guard as I would if I were around her all the time.

    In the end my program was so helpful to get me to this point. I hope you’re able to find something that works as well for you. Perhaps if nothing else she has shown you what not to do and from the sounds of it inspired you to be a better person.

  • SheriSebG

    Hi Jessica!
    I just had to thank you for posting this (although I know I’m years late to the party). It is very timely for me.
    I was left pregnant, alone, and completely ripped apart by a sociopath. This man lied to me for more than a year and continued to lie even when he was busted. The truth all came out at once, but by that point, I was four months pregnant with our daughter (I’m due to give birth in 11 days).
    I asked him why he did this to me, but the only response I could get was that if he hadn’t lied, I wouldn’t have been with him. This sounds like a red flag for a sociopath. He had to lie to manipulate me and get what he wanted. Of course I wouldn’t have been with him! I had every right not to be, but I was misled. I have since banned him from my life, but I have struggled with how to forgive him.
    I don’t think I can, to be honest. I think it’s tricky when dealing with a sociopath. They don’t feel guilt for the things they’ve done. They don’t even think they’ve done anything wrong. How can you forgive someone who can’t accept that they’ve wronged you?
    I will try to use gratitude as a replacement for forgiveness. Maybe I should be grateful that I have this beautiful child to raise and watch grow up. Without him, I wouldn’t have her. I suppose there’s always a silver lining. And I’m grateful I never have to listen to another one of his lies again. The very thought of him sets my teeth on edge. I hope someday that I can let go of my anger, but I do feel a lot of rage, not for myself but for my little girl.

  • J

    Thank you for this.

  • J

    I am at this place too. I hope to find forgiveness. I hope you have found forgiveness 🙂

  • Stephanie

    Wow! Thank you so much for this! I had no idea how I could forgive a sociopath. But my Christian faith tells me I need to. I never thought of it in this perspective of how God brought them into my life for a I see it. And I can forgive because they were a part of my life that taught me many valuable lessons.

  • Happy Colors

    This is very much like post on my Happy Colors blog – Feb 2 Greatist barrier of All and Feb. 26 post – Sources of Life’s Barriers. Glad to see I’m not the only one.

  • IBikeNYC

    Thank you for writing this.

    I am at the end of a twenty-year relationship with a man who I believed was “just” a Borderline until a few months ago when I started reading about narcissism in the context of my narcissistic “mother.”

    I was driven to the point where I believed my only option was taking my own life.

    I couldn’t bring myself to give him the satisfaction, though.

    I’ve thought of myself at various times during this journey as that rose in Spanish Harlem, growing “right up through the concrete,” and also as Uma Thurman’s The Bride, punching my way out of HORROR.

    I, too, have come to realize that I have been handed a perfectly-tailored, once-in-a-lifetime GIFT: The chance to grow into EVERYTHING I was born to be.

    I pity him, a LOT. What does it feel and sound like inside that diseased and tortured mind?

    It’s not forgiveness, you’re right.

    However, finally feeling actual compassion and empathy is what makes me giddy! It is warming and restorative to my soul to be curious and loving and open after a lifetime of reflexive shutting down, and in that place of openness, forgiveness makes all things possible for me.

    (BTW, I am still laughing out loud at your “Julie Andrews running through the field singing grateful” analogy!)

  • Lynne

    John 1-3 esp. 3:16 is real love. May God bless.