You still need to be open with your partner about the things he or she does that are hurtful, offensive, or selfish.  You don’t have to be a martyr about it.  A strong, healthy relationship needs open communication, and letting your partner know how he or she is hurting the relationship is necessary for things to improve.  The important thing is to forgive your lover before you initiate that talk.  Then you can talk openly and pleasantly, without anger….

Forgiveness does not solve every problem.  But it does reduce the intensity of emotional distress so that our problems can be talked about and solved if possible.  Blaming our partners for not being the person we want them to be creates anger in both us and them.  This anger causes stress.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Love, p. 105-107

The Message of Macbeth

“Shakespeare did not write for your ease of reading,” she said.

No kidding, I thought.

“He wrote to express something about what it means to be a human being in words more beautiful than had ever yet been written.”

“So in Macbeth, when he wasn’t trying to find names that sound alike, what did he want to express in words more beautiful than had ever yet been written?”

Mrs. Baker looked at me for a long moment.  Then she went and sat back down at her desk.  “That we are made for more than power,” she said softly.  “That we are made for more than our desires.   That pride combined with stubbornness can be disaster.  And that compared with love, malice is a small and petty thing.”

— Gary D. Schmidt, The Wednesday Wars

Letting Go

Of course my frustration was justified!  But that’s beside the point.  What kept me locked into the Gaslight Tango was my inability to accept that my husband was going to see things his own way, regardless of what I did.  If he wanted to think I was unreasonable, he would, no matter how hard I argued or how upset I got.  As soon as I understood that he — and he alone — had power over his own thoughts, no matter how right I might be, and that he wasn’t going to change, no matter what I said or did, I took a significant step toward freedom.

— Dr. Robin Stern, The Gaslight Effect, p. 192


Sometimes, you have to ask yourself what you really think, and go with that deep perception.  If you find out you’re wrong, admit it and correct your error.  If you find out you were right, congratulate yourself and move on.  Either way, your starting point needs to be your sense of what’s true, not your gaslighter’s.  If you’ve idealized your gaslighter and want to think well of him, you may be tempted to substitute his version of events for yours.  But don’t.  That’s how you start dancing the Gaslight Tango.

— Dr. Robin Stern, The Gaslight Effect, p. 174

Mythic Truth of Fiction

Why else do we read fiction, anyway?  Not to be impressed by someone’s dazzling language — or at least I hope that’s not our reason.  I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not “true” because we’re hungry for another kind of truth:  The mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all:  our own self-story.  Fiction, because it is not about somebody who actually lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about oneself.

— Orson Scott Card, Introduction, Ender’s Game, 1991 Tor edition

How to Feel Crazy

“We feel crazy because we are lying to ourselves.  We feel crazy because we are believing other people’s lies.  Nothing will help us feel crazy faster than being lied to.  Believing lies disrupts the core of our being.  The deep, instinctive part of us knows the truth, but we are pushing that part away and telling it, ‘You’re wrong.  Shut up.'”

— Melody Beattie, Codependent No More, p. 123