There is no straight line to healing after an encounter with a psychopath. No clearly defined path that says, step here, go there. For most of us, there are no tools in our lifeboats that will aid us in the process of letting go so that we can move on to live and laugh and love again.
Healing from such an encounter takes energy. It requires a personal commitment to doing what it takes to clear your mind, body and spirit of his or her lies. Healing takes time.
When I first got my life back after the psychopath was arrested I looked at the devastation around me and cried. How could a once vibrant, successful, loving woman have fallen so far from her path? How could she have lost her grace and dignity by loving such a man? I didn’t want to believe that woman was me. I didn’t want to believe my life had crumbled to such disarray. But to heal, I had to accept what was and let go of my disbelief that it couldn’t be true. It was true. I had loved a man who lied. I had fallen into his web and let go of all that I had held true.
Stepping Into Acceptance
That was my first step. Acceptance. Acceptance of my life that day, in that moment. It was in tatters. My home was gone. My life savings evaporated. My belongings disappeared. I had to accept where I was at without falling victim to wishing, ‘if only’. I had to accept that I had done things that hurt my daughters, my family, my friends, myself. I had to accept that in order to keep the appearance of that relationship alive, I too had lied, deceived and manipulated. In giving into him I had to accept that I had given up on me to the point that I no longer existed as a separate individual. I had conspired with him in my destruction. I had to accept I was a victim of abuse.
Acceptance was hard. Facing the truth of what I had done and what I had become hurt. But, to be free of the past I had to face myself and love myself for the wounded, abused woman that I was and acknowledge that I did not have to stay there. I had to accept that only I could create the change in my life that I desired, that it was up to me. If I wanted to move beyond his abuse, move away from that painful place I found myself in, I would need to find my courage and turn up for myself so that I could step into forgiveness.
The Gift of Forgiveness
And that was my second step. Forgiveness. For all that I had done and said and become that hurt me and everyone in my life. For, no matter how blind or stupid or gullible I had been, no matter how unintentional my actions, I had betrayed the sacred trust I entered into when I gave birth to my daughters. In my betrayal of that trust, I had broken my commitment to be a conscious and loving mother that they could count on to be there for them when they needed me.
Truth was, I hadn’t been there for them. In keeping myself locked in that man’s unholy embrace, I had hurt them. They too had suffered through what he had done, who I had become and what had become of me. For all of us to heal, I needed to forgive myself and to ask for their forgiveness and be willing to accept their right to be angry without picking up their anger for them. In forgiveness, I could lovingly let them move through their pain without forcing them to let it go before they were ready. And in giving them that grace, I gave myself the grace to feel my feelings, without having to deny them, denigrate them, or escape them through searching for myself in someone else’s arms.
My Commitment to Myself
Through forgiveness, I found myself taking my third step. Commitment. To myself, to my daughters, to those who love me. Through my commitment to do what was loving and necessary to get what I needed in my life, I made a commitment to turn up for me, without fear, without judgement, without hesitation. I made a commitment that I would honour my journey, no matter how painful, and keep myself safe on the path to healing by not falling back into remorse, self-denigration, self-abasement and guilt. By committing myself to love myself, warts and all, I gave myself the grace and space to move into my fourth loving step.
Gratitude. Yes, he had hurt me. Betrayed me. But I was alive. I had the chance to heal, the opportunity to begin again. By stepping into an attitude of gratitude I chose to create harmony, not discord, with all my words and actions. To bemoan what he had done, to focus on his misdeeds would have held me pinioned to the pain of his passing through my life. I deserved better. And so, I embraced gratitude and let regret and remorse go. I did not need to get even with him. I did not need revenge. What I needed was to find my peace of mind, to create a life of harmony without him in it. Every night I wrote out my list of gratitudes, I thanked my angels, God, the Divine. I gave thanks for my life, my daughters’ lives, the love that filled my heart and the opportunity to make amends.
Making amends was my fifth step. Making amends does not mean putting straight other people’s lives. It doesn’t mean righting the past. It means, staying true to who I am today. To keeping my commitments, my word, my promises. It means consciously choosing each step of my journey with dignity and grace, treating my world and everyone in it with integrity, being honest and open about my feelings, my life, my journey. Making amends means asking those I have hurt what they need and being committed to do what it takes to give it to them. Making amends means knowing who I am today and being the best me I can be so that I can live my sixth and final step without reservation.
Living with Grace
There is no easy way through the pain of having loved a psychopath. But, no matter the darkness of the path, the rocks and potholes strewn across the way, the fierce winds that blow or stormy seas we navigate, living with grace gives me the courage to face life’s ups and downs without losing my way. Like a sailboat aiming for shore, my journey is not a straight line. I continually correct my course without losing site of my objective. Standing in my ‘I’, staying focused on my journey, I am not pulled from my centre by the winds that blow around me. With grace, I turn up, pay attention, speak my truth and stay unattached to the outcome. With grace, I am free to be all that I am meant to be, confident that my best is good enough.