Determination in the Life of the Survivor

I’ve seen the look many times—hundreds of times over the past 25+ years, working with (mostly) women who are surviving a Pathological Love Relationship. There is a ‘look.’ Initially it’s a timid look—before she grasps that she really CAN survive and thrive. The look then begins to change, morphing into real belief and real power.

Ironically, I scaw the look this past week in an unlikely, but stunning face. I saw her gentleness—as did the pathological that was in her life. Your Super Traits of empathy, tolerance, caring and compassion are what make you the wonderful woman you are. These are also target traits for pathological individuals. You can just see the gentleness in the face.


Then I saw her powerlessness.


It’s that look—like you don’t know if you will ever get out, ever survive, ever find your power again. It feels as if you are being held against your will—when you remember once that you were so different—so self-assured, confident, and capable.

Many people have seen the face of unbelievable stress and worry—when you no longer trust your own judgment, ping-pong back and forth between loving and loathing him. When you can’t concentrate, focus, sleep, or even want to get up each day.


But, the greatest thing about doing this work is when women really ‘get it’ about pathology. When they understand that what’s wrong with him has nothing to do with her, and what she did or didn’t do. When she gets that ‘wild-eyed look’ that says her reality has shifted, and she realizes that what has happened to her is simply that she’s been knee-deep in pathology, and she is powerful enough to walk away.


I love that part—the paradigm shift—when a woman turns the corner in understanding, and her whole future opens up like a flower blooming!

Over the years, I have watched hundreds of women storm off into their futures having recaptured their lives, their dignity, their self-belief, and their ability to function well. It’s a beautiful and strong presence when you get to witness that happen.


Why all of the horse photos? This is Rachel Alexandra—I love her expressive face. She is a reminder to me of all the women I have worked with. She was the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness. It awed me to see her many faces of gentleness, powerlessness, worry, thriving, and power. It reminded me that even though so much is often against you in your race to recovery from pathology, that you too—like Rachel Alexandra—can defy the odds even when they have been stacked against you that way for years! There really is something to be said for the power of belief, destiny, and desire. I believe in you!

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)