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By November 15, 2006 9 Comments Read More →

Never is a long, long time after loving a psychopath

When I first got my life back after the Psychopath was arrested, I didn’t know who I was, where I was or even how I’d got to that place in which I was living with such deep, dank desperation and sadness. During that 4 year 9 month relationship I had done things and behaved in ways I did not think were possible for me.

But, there I was after his arrest, standing amidst the devastation of my life, forced to acknowledge the truth; I had become that crazed woman who had accepted his lies as her truth. I was that woman who, locked in his unholy arms, lost her moral compass and fell into the abyss of his web of deceit.

Freed from his embrace, I looked around me and realized, I was lost. I had seventy-two cents in my pocket, a few clothes and my trustworthy Golden Retriever who had walked beside me every step of that torturous journey. I had to find my way back to living without fear, to living with joy in my heart, and it had to begin with me.

I remember the morning after his arrest when I began writing in my journal for the first time in years. Since I was a child, I have always kept a journal. On the pages of my journal I could write without censorship. I could face myself and find where I stood in my life, regardless of the weather blowing outside.

While with him, I did not write. Writing is about truth for me and I couldn’t write while I was enmeshed in his lies. I knew, deep beneath my fear and terror, deep beneath the horror and revulsion of what had become of me, that he was the lie and I was no longer true to myself. On paper I would have had to face the truth and I didn’t know what to do with it, so, I did nothing. And, I did not write.

Writing it out to face the truth

That first breathless morning of freedom, I wrote and wrote. The words poured out as I tried to exorcise the ghost of his existence and my revulsion of who I had become. I wrote of my horror at what I’d done. My disbelief that I could have believed him, have been so gullible, so stupid, so naïve. And I wrote about ‘never’. “I’ll never forgive myself.” “I’ll never forget what he did.” “I’ll never be able to get over this.” The nevers went on and on to the point I thought they’d never end.

But they had to. If I held myself to ‘never’ I would never be able to heal. And I wanted to heal. I wanted to reclaim myself. To rebuild my life and to reconnect with my daughters so that we could live together once again.

In facing never on the page, I asked myself, “Is this true? Will I never be able to forgive myself for what I did to my daughters’ lives? Will I never forget what happened?”

“Do I really believe this?” I asked. “Is this what I want in my life?”

My answer was an emphatic “No.”

Getting more of what I want

What I wanted was to live without fear. I wanted to live with love in my heart, and joy and gladness and gratitude that I was alive. And most of all, I wanted to reconnect with my daughters and help them heal. During the final three months of that journey with the psychopath they had waited for a call from the police telling them that I had been found – dead or alive they did not know. The psychopath had fled the province and taken me with him and promised to let me go once he was out of the country. I was too scared, too inured to my pain to call to let anyone know I was alive, and he told me I couldn’t. So I didn’t.

When he was arrested, my daughters were thankful that I was alive, and justifiably angry. At 15 and 17, they did not deserve that terror. Their anger was real, but I was not strong enough nor well enough to help them move through it. All I could do was ask for their forgiveness.

I cannot give what I do not have

Forgiveness is a powerful tool for healing. To receive forgiveness, I had to be able to give it, without qualification or reservation. That meant, I had to be able to forgive the psychopath. And, more importantly, I had to forgive myself.

When I forgave the psychopath, I didn’t say, you are not accountable, (he was and is accountable for his actions). I didn’t forgive him to make him feel better (though in the past I would have done and did do many things to try to make him feel better). I forgave him so that I would not have to hold onto anger, blame, shame or guilt. I forgave him so that I would not have to think about him.

Forgiving him was relatively easy. He was in jail and we have not had contact since his arrest May 21, 2003. To forgive him I simply said the words and accepted them as truth. “I forgive you.” When the little voice inside me rose up and said, “But…” I reminded it that I had forgiven him and could not harbour resentments, questions or doubts if I was truly forgiving.

Forgiving myself was more difficult. I wanted to hold myself pinioned to the sword of self-blame. I wanted to chastise myself. Berate myself. Condemn myself for having been a fool, for having hurt my daughters so much. But, to do so would have invalidated the miracle of getting my life back. And, to not forgive myself would have meant I did not believe myself worthy of my daughters’ forgiveness. By telling myself I would never forgive myself, yet asking them to forgive me, I was withholding from myself the very thing I wanted to receive.

I forgive myself so that I can be free

And so, I forgave myself, without resentment, questions or doubts. I didn’t qualify my forgiveness. I didn’t define it or limit it to specific events. I simply forgave myself.

In that act of forgiveness I was given the most awesome gift of all. The opportunity to start anew. To begin fresh with building my life with more of what I want in it and less of what I don’t.

I cannot give what I do not have. I cannot receive what I am not willing to give.

It has been over three and a half years since I was set free. They have been tumultuous, exciting and adventure filled years. Every day I have grown stronger and every moment has been a journey away from the darkness of the past into the light of living my life without fear. I embraced a forgiving heart so that I could be free of the past, and in my forgiveness, I received the greatest gift of all, love.


Posted in: M.L. Gallagher

9 Comments on "Never is a long, long time after loving a psychopath"

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  1. Fighter says:

    I think we all need to remember with a sociopath it is NOT YOUR FAULT. Read up on NeuroLinguistic Programming and Seduction Techniques as well as mind control to learn how these soul sucking creatures do it.

    I completely empathize with feeling stupid & used but tell yourself over & over IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. Do you know hypnosis is easier with INTELLIGENT people? Did you ever wonder why these people don’t target the truly stupid?

    Great post



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  2. Donna says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. Many people write to Lovefraud and ask how to heal. You have answered their question.



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  3. Thanks Fighter. I agree — it’s important to remember the psycopath’s behaviour is not of our creation — and I love the thought they don’t target the truly stupid! I once interviewed a pimp who told me, he targets any young girl he meets. He only latches on, and works and nurtures and grooms those who indicate through a word or action that they have flawed self-esteem. His senses are so finely tuned to ‘the cracks’ in someone else’s boundaries, he doesn’t waste time on hard to crack cases.

    I no longer believe what he did was my fault. I do believe, however, that I am accountable for what I do today that heals what happened to me then. By taking responsiblity today, I believe I will continue to build a life filled with more of what works for me, and less of what doesn’t! It’s the beauty of being free!

    Thanks!



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  4. Leentje says:

    I read your book. The passage on forgiveness struck me; just the same as it did in this post. I was looking for answers on how to forgive, I don’t know if I can.
    The timelines of my decent into hell are parallel to yours: started my relationship with P in the spring of 1999 and the “marriage” was suddenly ended in the spring of 2003 when he lost his job because of his fooling around with one of his direct reports, he had to leave the country and come back to Canada because they revoked his working visa, and he abandoned me and his three sons who were left behind in the States to fend for ourselves. I eventually made my way back to Canada and settled in Toronto with his three sons while P still resides in Winnipeg. He has been in and out my life since all hell broke loose in 2003 (not romantically, but definitely emotionally), till I finally asked him to leave and never come back in the beginning of this year. Unfortunately he still gets to me through manipulating his sons (the 2 youngest reside with me and the oldest is in university and floats between his dad’s – because of FOG – and my place).
    It is not anger, blame, shame or guilt that I feel; it is something different: it is disgust, I do not want to hear about him, I don’t want to know how he is doing, I don’t want to talk to him or about him, I just want him to go away and be out of my life. But somehow I know that I cannot forgive him; not as much for what he has done to me, but because of how he is manipulating his sons and how he absolutely has no concern about their well-being. Needless to say all three have issues, and all three are on meds to help them cope with the demons of their horrific past and ugly present. I so desperately want to escape from the hatred, confusion, and ugliness around me.



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  5. Eurydice59 says:

    I truly identify with the inability to write about my experience with a man whom I believe to be a sociopath. I have had absolutely no contact with this individual for ten months. He lived from pillar to post; he never actually had a home and, on occasion, lived in homeless shelters. He could talk a good con game unlike no one I’ve ever met and he was even able to fool those in authority. I provided him with a cell phone/service with the understanding that he would eventually get his own phone once he became gainfully employed. What a mistake! Once I had the service disconnected, he was able to get the service turned on again and actually got the mobile phone company to switch billing addresses so that I would not be aware that he had continued using the service. I discovered this when I called the cell phone company to inquire why I had not receiving a final billing. Even after demanding that the service be cancelled *again* for about the third or fourth time, he actually got some woman to pretend that she was me and had the service continued! This scenario ended when I sat down and wrote a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the cell phone company explaining what had happened.

    After dating this man for about three months, he disclosed to me that he had been in state prison for 15 years for kidnapping, robbery and the unsubstantiated murder of his sister’s boyfriend. I felt as if I had been run over by a train. Later on, after I broke off the relationship I checked out the Department of Corrections website in New Jersey and found his record. It had been there all the time.

    It wasn’t until after I broke it off that I made the major discovery about him. When he revealed to me about his prison record, he also told me that the prison psychiatrist diagnosed him as a sociopath. I thought nothing of it at the time, but months later I found myself in the library and decided to look into it. The descriptions of sociopaths I read about in the library books described him exactly! My hands were shaking. My hair was standing on end with fear. I was so upset that I had allowed myself to get involved with such a dangerous individual.

    I discovered that he had left New Jersey and took off for New Orleans through the cell phone company. (In the short time that I was involved with him, he had flopped on the couches of at least three “friends” of his). At one point, he had actually ordered a new cell phone and gave the company an address in New Orleans. Since that time, I have not heard from him since he stopped calling because I refused to take his calls and had my cell phone number changed so that he could not reach me.

    My guess is that he is probably back in prison or is dead. I try not to be eaten up by bitterness and “what I should have done,” but I understand that the most important thing that I can do now is to forgive myself and to look forward. I went to my gynecologist and was tested for HIV/AIDS. Thankfully, I tested negative. There wasn’t anything for me to suspect that he had the virus, but I could put nothing past an extraordinary con artist.

    A book that helped me enormously is Martha Stout’s “The Sociopath Next Door.” Stout emphasizes the importance of removing these people out of your life as much as possible. They can do some serious damage while they are in it.

    But here is the most important thing that I noticed througout this nightmare. My gut feelings signaled to me time and again that something was not right. A couple of times I felt it so strongly that it could not be denied. Once I felt it when he was driving my car; the way he was driving made me nauseous. (He didn’t even have a legitimate driver’s license. His has long been suspended. What was I thinking?!) One other time, we spent the night in a cheap motel room. I noticed that “gut feeling” was very strong at times when I was completely alone with him. Never again will I deny or ignore that feeling.



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  6. Hi Fighter — wow. I checked out the website. Amazing — and scary. The sad part is for some people, these tools can be powerfully constructive. But, in the hands of a manipulator — watch out.

    Challenge is, determining whose hands their in! Thanks for the link. I’ve bookmarked it.

    M.L.



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  7. Hi Leentje, it is hard when they continue to harm and manipulate those we love. I was lucky. The psychopath wasn’t my daughters father. It’s hard for kids to understand that they are not to blame, they didn’t create the monster, and the monster is only capable of using them, not loving them — that hurts. They are very, very fortunate to have you as their mother. Check out Liane Leedom’s book, Just Like His Father — she’s got concrete examples and things you can do to minimize the impact of a sociopathic parent.



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  8. Ahhh, Euridyce, the gut feeling! I remember it well. I too ignored it, pushed it aside, turned my back on it. Stout’s book is excellent. “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin deBecker is fabulous in reference to listening to our intuition.

    Good for you for taking care of you, for honouring your journey and doing what’s right for you. Like you, I had to go for an HIV test — I believed him when he said, I’ve only ever been with my wife! scary!

    I’m glad you’re free and staying that way. Life is so much more beautiful when we’re free of these cretins.



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