By | January 13, 2013 52 Comments

Back in control of the panic buttons

Editor’s note: The following essay was written by the Lovefraud reader “Adelade.”

Without going into a long, drawn-out recollection of my experiences with sociopaths, I wanted to talk about my “Panic Buttons.” The panic buttons are the same as “triggers,” but I tend to panic, so I see them as “panic buttons.”

There is a host of priceless discussion on this site about triggering. I’m one of those types that not only triggers, but I typically fall down a vortex of panic that starts out on the edge of the whirlwind, and I spiral downwards, and inwards, until I’m so disoriented that I don’t know how to get out.

The “reason” that I tend to panic is because of my past experiences with sociopaths and abuse. There was always “hope” that the abuse would stop. It would cease for periods of time and this gave me the false belief that “change” was in the offing. Well, true to form, the abuse would always (without fail) resume and intensify after the lulls.

So, there are certain circumstances that I’ve always reacted to with panic. Now, it wouldn’t begin as full-blown panic anxiety, but it would be a sort of uneasy tickle in my gut that would spiral out of control and, as is most typical, the abuser would capitalize on my discomfort and elevate it to the next level.

Abusive exes

An example of this would be with the first abusive ex-spath. One of our children’s birthdays would be coming up and I would begin to believe that, this year, the father of these children would finally attend to our children of his own accord. He would give the impression that this was to be by talking about birthday parties, gifts, fun, and so forth—my hope for a “normal” event for our children.

As the birthday drew closer, he would begin to complain about not being able to afford a party, or a specific gift, etc. This would dash my hopes for “normality” and begin the panic vortex in a slow spin. In response, I would try to “fix” the situation by any means, to no avail. Then, the vortex would pick up speed and start drawing me in. The demands would begin that I contact my parents to ask for money, or the child wouldn’t even have a birthday cake. If I refused to ask my parents for money, he would begin to “bargain” with me for sexual favors. If I performed an act that he had witnessed in pornographic imagery, he might “get the money together” to buy a birthday cake.

Back and forth, these tactics would go and I would begin to feel panic—I either had to find the money or perform a repulsive sex act. If I were too slow in reacting to the threats, the blame would be placed on my shoulders because I didn’t “care enough” about our children to “obey” my husband. Then, the beatings would begin, and the vortex of panic would be unstoppable. Invariably, I ended up calling my parents and begging for birthday money. After the money arrived, it would be a “honeymoon” of sorts where the children would be showered with gifts, clothing, food, and birthday cakes – but, never a party.

Fast forward to the second marriage. This panic vortex always began with finances, and the second ex-spath was well aware of these issues because I had told him of my experiences with the first ex-spath. Because the second ex-spath was not physically abusive, it never occurred to me that he was at the main switch to engage the panic vortex and that I was just as easily manipulated by these fears without beatings or sexual abuse. Because the second ex-spath frequently asserted (and, I quote), “I will NEVER abuse you like that,” I believed those words and trusted the second ex-spath’s word was his bond. Well, he was far more subtle, and finances were the primary Panic Button for him to push.

Not obligated to react

Of course, there are other Panic Buttons that can send me off into a full-blown state of anxiety, and there’s no need to list each of them here. But, what I have learned in my first stages of recovery is that I am not obligated to “RE-act” to “bad news” or any given situation.

The most recent example of this was the threat of losing the shell that I live in if I didn’t “participate” in a joint bankruptcy action filed by the second ex-spath. The bankruptcy attorney was retained by the ex-spath and was in a great rush for me to drive to another State, sign papers, and meet with the ex-spath in a joint “credit counseling” meeting that clearly violated the standing Restraining Order. The bankruptcy attorney claimed that he was unaware that I had relocated, or that there was a Restraining Order in place, but that I should “jump on this” because it was a “freebie” and would relieve me of all debts. This attorney also minimized the Restraining Order by saying (again, I quote) “The credit counseling would be allowed.”

I’m not going to say that I didn’t begin to slip into the Panic Vortex – I sure did. But, several people on and in Real Life counseled me to slow down and think, instead of reacting. And, I did this—for the first time in my life, I stopped that vortex and looked at the facts, as they were:

* The ex-spath was declaring bankruptcy for his unsecured debts

* I did not have any unsecured credit with the exception of the balance of an auto loan

* The bankruptcy attorney was not working for me, but had been retained by the ex-spath

* The ex-spath would never, under any circumstances, take any action that would benefit me

* Any time that I feel that I must make a very hurried decision, I make a mistake and I had the distinct feeling that I was being rushed into re-acting, rather than making an educated decision

Back in control

After a time, all of this simmered down and I was back in control of my actions, thoughts, and decisions. And, this one experience became a tremendous lesson to me that my reactions with regard to control go all the way back to my damaged “inner child” that had consistently experienced one disappointment after another, regardless of any assurance that things would “be better” the next time. The origins of the Panic Vortex finally became crystal clear, and the only person that has a finger on the Panic Button is now me. I am not required to panic for any reason, especially those scenarios that are instigated by the ex-spath, or his attorneys. I am no longer “panicked” about the divorce. I am finally beginning to feel a tiny measure of control, and this “feeling” is finally based upon “fact.”

Sure, there are many things over which I have no control, but those things can be addressed through slow, informed, and insightful consideration. I can take action without “RE-acting.” And, I cannot describe how empowering this fact is. This one fact has been a boost to my self-esteem and self-worth to a degree that I cannot describe— I have never, at any point during my lifetime, felt this sense of empowerment.

We each have this ability to manage triggers, anxiety, panic, and our own personal vortexes. It just takes time, practice, discussion, and consideration to take back or even formulate control and power over ourselves, if we’ve never experienced it before. For me, it’s been a lifetime devoid of this, and this has been an incredible epiphany. I can make things happen under my own power, and I can control my level of re-actions when I am able to recognize what the basis for my anxiety is. Are my “feelings” based upon “facts,” or am I reacting? If I stop and examine all of the facts of any given situation, I can determine this. Most often, if I leave the emotion out of the equation, the solution is relatively obvious. If I run on high emotion, then every rock, pebble, or twig presents an obstacle that appears to be insurmountable. This is a new exercise for me, and one that I have never practiced throughout my lifetime.

In spite of all of the ramifications of sociopath entanglements, every day is an eye-opener for me. Even those days when the sky seems to be falling, there is something new for me to learn and experience.

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Ox Drover

GREAT article, Adelade! Those panic buttons, or triggers, whatever name we want to give to them are there right on our chests and boy do the psychopaths know how to PUSH THOSE BUTTONS to get a response.

That is why NC works, they can not reach the buttons, and Gray rock is like wearing a chest plate of armor over those buttons so they can’t push them, or if they do, they can’t see that they have accomplished anything.

Good for you for not falling for his “jump on this bankruptcy band wagon NOW or it will leave the station” LOL What a crock of carp! Rotten carp at that.

You are right, we must leave the EMOTION out of the equation when we make a decision. MUST do so. Very good advice.



So interesting. Good for you! You put your mind to work for you, and found a way around the panic. Not an easy thing to do. I, too, found this to be the real challenge. To get my fight or flight response in the proper perspective, so I didn’t go off half-cocked and make another bad choice (to react, rather than respond). Learning to take our time and slow down, and respect our own process is vital. It is self-loving. So congrats to you for loving yourself.

I also find it interesting that you and Oxy wrote articles that show the two sides of the coin of ‘triggers’. And both are true, and super helpful. And both lead us to the same place: to slow down, let the process become a response to what is real and true for us, and to honor ourselves in our process no matter how painful and anxious we may feel.


Hey Adelade,
Ain’t it great when we DON’T respond how they expect us to? It’s so empowering. I remember when the guy in the sushi bar explained to me that the spath wanted drama and the dawning realization that this was in fact, all he wanted: my emotions.

Then I knew that I was finally in the driver’s seat of this relationshit. Because only I get to say which emotion, how much or if any, I’ll give out.

And yes, my spath also tried to take my house. Then he asked for the RV, then the coffee maker, then one of my cats. I told him to fuck off.


Skylar 😆



Yay skylar! 🙂


how do you know which smiley faces work? I seem to be limited to only a couple of buttons.

I love this article. I confess to a bit of paranoia. Not that stuff done to me wasn’t real, and that I had REASON to be paranoid. But the afteraffects has been that I was uncertain how to respond to non spath people who didn’t respect my requests, such as “Don’t TELL me what I am thinking, ASK me (b/c I tend to be an open book, a little too open, gullible even, willing to tell the truth even when I don’t know the other person’s agenda.). What I esp liked is you offered a solution, a way of reasoning. And like some other gems, I saved your advice b/c it’s SO relevant for so many situations. Thanks. Will work on learning how to make buttons. I know the keystrokes, it just doesn’t show up as a graphic….

Ox Drover

Skylar, as it turned out you needed the house and without it you would have been in much worse shape.

My ex husband got the house…by pretending that we were buying another one and picked it out, put a big down payment on it and so sold the one we lived in and when I got to the signing of the closing of the NEW house in the new town the RE lady told me “Honey didn’t you know he is divorcing you?” I had sent the moving van off a few days before with all my worldly goods except the cat, two suitcases and an old pick up truck. Had no money, just a credit card and in those days you could get a “cash advance” of $350 but nothing was computerized so I went to the banker’s row in Memphis and went from bank to bank getting that $350 each time until closing time for the banks so I had some cash at least and hired a PI to find –he was mentally ill, and his father was the puppet master pulling the strings and now I realize that, and feel sorry for both him and his sister as well as their mother. His dad was a full blown P and I didn’t let him rule me, and he hated me for that. So I had to go. He had broken my husband up with several women he was engaged to BEFORE we got married, but I didn’t find out that til after our marriage.

He paid his child support through the courts but never again saw his sons which was traumatic to them, because he had been a good father.

I realize now that my kids and I both probably had PTSD though our therapist didn’t call it that. But I managed, and went back to school and completed my degree and went to work. Those were not bad years either. I had friends and a good support network that I built from scratch. Had the normal ups and downs of single parenthood and poverty and going to college all at the same time.

In fact, about 18 months after the divorce I was working outside with a water hose and the kids came by and I squirted them and then the three of us were wrestling on the ground, trying to get the hose down each other’s shirt or pants and laughing and laughing, and all of a sudden I had an “ah ha” moment where I realized that WE were laughing and happy again, and it had sort of sneaked up on us, and it was good, and that I doubted my x or his father were happy, or ever would be.


What a lovely memory with your boys.

I had the female version. My husbands mother was the puppet master. No way was she letting any woman get her claws into her son. Nosireeee. She ran off all his girlfriends. (she did the same with her brothers, ran off their girlfriends and wives.)

We dated two years before his ma found out about me, not hiding on purpose, but I was an older single mom gone back to get my degree and I didn’t have time, and didn’t think the dating was serious until we were looking at graduation. He popped the question at Christmas and only married quickly b/c my best friend was a farmer and was only available that winter. (RED FLAG When yer boyfriend says his ma wants ya to ask his hand in marriage, and he didn’t realize how ridiculous that was until you laughed in his face b/c you thought he was joking… !!!) If my best friend could have committed to the following year (she didn’t know), I would have waited, and likely we wouldn’t have married.

And like all spaths, my husband’s family helped him hide the smear/discard/dump, I had been removed from bank accounts and our biz and didn’t know it b/c who asks the bank if they are still on an account? The checks I wrote cleared. But they would until the account holder stopped them. I was left destitute. Alone. No friends or family. No surprise I became wary and paranoid of who was going to attack me next.

I admire that you were able to get it together after your first X husband. I think it would be easier for me if I was younger, had my health and youthful energy and I had my baby to focus on and take care of. Not trying to make excuses, just saying it’s easy to say why bother now b/c when alone, there’s no one to care. All this trying in life, to end up like this. I won’t end up with what I worked for, but I will end up with something different and who’s to say different is worse? HAS to be better, there’s no spath!!

the house was always mine. I paid for it, it is in my name, his name is not even registered to the address. He lived in the house with as much right as a parasite has, for 18 years, hidden. He got his mail at mailboxes elsewhere, his drivers license still has the address of a guy he knows in Seattle. His cars were registered elsewhere.

The only people who knew that he lived there, were the minions he brought in to live next door.

My point is, he, like Adelade’s spath tried to use a fear tactic to GIVE him $$ in exchange for letting me have the house. MY HOUSE. He offered not to involve lawyers who would end up taking us both to the cleaners, he said.

For a while I was worried. I posted his threatening email here, on LF, and everyone told me to “lawyer up” fast. I tried talking to lawyers, one of them told me that he was convinced I had been involved with a spy!! Another said he wouldn’t take my case.

The spath, like most cockroaches, didn’t want light being shone on his dark deeds. So his threats were empty. Not to say he won’t come back and kill me, or that he won’t use law enforcement officers to do it, but he won’t use legal avenues. Everything he does HAS to be illegal. Even when he can do something legally, he won’t. He won’t get a pilots license, not because he can’t, he WON’T.

Doing something legally, for the spath, is submitting. He won’t submit. That’s what I can count on.

Ox Drover

Yea, you are fortunate that you did not end up losing the house anyway…by me selling OUR house before I knew about the divorce, I ended up without a house and he had all the money in an account in his name, all our stuff was in storage, HE (or his parents) had decided what was mine and what was “his”–I had to get a court order to get the dog back and it wasn’t even the same dog, it was the same breed and was in HORRIBLE almost starved shape, I convinced the kids it was their dog, but it wasn’t.

I got my “share” of a $40,000 gun collection, it was $400 and my share of his 401K it was about $500, and I got all my medical and dental bills which ate up all the cash I got, but he did get all the credit card bills. and I got $115 a week child support, which with me working cleaning houses or clerking at stores and taking out loans and grants, I made it through school, I traded baby sitting for mechanic’s work on my car, and other barter arrangements that helped with other single parents also struggling.

Your X I think felt because he had LIVED THERE that made the house HIS, TYPICAL FEELING OF ENTITLEMENT…just like Patrick thinks he is ENTITLED to everything I have worked for my entire life and everything my parents and grandparents have worked for just because I gave birth to him. Well if I can help it he won’t get a dime.

I’m glad you have your house and RV and he didn’t get them or hurt you any more than he has already. Your X is an EVIL man or as my attorney said when he called me back “your son is a BAAAAAD MAN” LOL Yep, Evil and Bad, both of them to the BONE. Be careful, Skylar.


sometimes we are just a wee bit paranoid b/c of what our spath encounters taught us. and sometimes we are right to be paranoid, suspicious, untrusting.

i am self validated, that my worry and assessment has turned out to be spot on and i was wise to withdraw and protect myself. b/c clearly, as time has shown, i was in danger. i was betrayed. my safety in doubt. something i would never have done to another. makes me sad but it’s time i accepted validation of the betrayal for what it is.


Thank you for your article, I have just been contemplating what happens to me when I am triggered. I never used to panic, no matter what abuse I go, I was stoic and calm and could often avert it. Perhaps it was because I became quote, “invincible” when I was 18 and my mother died.

With psychopath husband, he could not get to me with fighting, I could win, name calling was useless, sneaking was an merely an annoyance, rape was my wifely duty, superiority was a joke. But the combination finally lead me to find a way out to protect myself and my children. I had very little reaction to him until I was finished with him.

Buttons came later. I suppose I had PTSD from my childhood and my marriage but I always had to stay strong for my children. I was frequently called a bitch by men I dated and my reply was always ‘”Thank you.”

My second husband (neither of us planned to remarry) has pushed my buttons and triggered my panic and wrath. I was fine until we got married but told him we should not ruin a perfectly good relationship by getting married. When we did, I finally felt vulnerable and even small things would set me off. I still do not like marriage but we have a good workable loving life of strife and joy. I suppose that is as good as it gets. I guess I still subconsciously think than man is synonymous with psychopath.

But the worst buttons of all have been pushed by my daughter under the tutelage of her father. My utter helplessness to save her or protect my grandchildren sent me into a panic breakdown, suicide attempts and utter despair.

She paid no attention to me, ignored me, did not listen, took up with my sister and then she took away the grandchildren ages 8 and 6. Being shunned by my child sent me into full panic attacks where I was not in control of myself. Losing my grandchildren was worse than losing my mother at age 18 but brought up the suppressed feelings.

Being forced to deal with her because of my sister’s illness, I told her I was afraid of her to try to elicit some sympathy. She just looked at me with her cold stare and said, “I can see how you might be.” Then the next day she threw me into a panic that was almost like an out of body, being taken over by a force I could not control and I finally realized I must end it.

She was quietly, calmly and secretively vicious about her power over me so I became loud, furiously and openly vicious. It was like I was spurting out her venom and unable to retain control of myself. I cannot do that again, it only gives her more ammunition. So it is done, perhaps for the best. I cannot be around someone who bring that out of me.

I believe that empaths do take on the suppressed emotions of others. I know that I can feel suppressed emotions and they terrify me. Being ignored, shunned or ignored also terrifies me. It was my childhood. I only got attention if I threw a fit and any attention was better than none, than not existing. Even when crying all I got was “Shut up or I will give you something to cry about.”

My father had rage attacks of power and control and sometimes I would provoke them just to get them over with. I recently recognized I actually enjoyed the beatings better than being ignored and watching him beat my older siblings.

Now I am accused of being like my father. I guess the siblings cannot/could not tell the difference in power and control and despair articulated in a loud voice. Now my daughter who hardly knew my father is comparing me with him as a reason I cannot see her children.

She provokes me and uses it against me. Minion, or psychopath, it does not matter anymore. What can I learn from this? Right now I only feel hopeless but determined not to let evil win. The only revenge is to live a good life but we will have to start all over again in our dotage.


Exactly, “Something I would never have done to someone else.” That is how I know it when I see it.

But we never want to see it in our children. I think I would have rather have died first.


I have been trying so hard to find explanations for how I have been treated. People feel ENTITLED when in reality, they would NEVER tolerate for themselves what they DO or encourge others to do to others. I found that true when trying to understand why GOOD people in my community were so cruel to me. My X! swore he never discussed me, yet if those same people had never met me and we were just casually socializing at the county fair, they’d think me intelligent and curious and interested in them. But the minute they heard my name, they turned cold. And I had done NOTHING to them. SO something extra was obviously going on behind the scene.

It’s happening again in that certain area in my world. Makes me VERY sad. SO isolating. SO lonely. I’ve been doing SO much interspection, trying to look at what I’ve said or done, looked at how I explained myself. But I am condemned, judged. B/c I didn’t suck up. And sucking up is required. I gave opinion, shared thoughts/ideas. But that’s not good enough. HAS to be sucking up. Worship. Admiration. And I DID express admiration for somethings, but it’s not a blanket endorsement. What Do I say when I disagree, when I say WHOA! Behavior not acceptable?!! I tried to assert boundries. Tried to reason. Tried to tell her “Don’t TELL ME what I’m thinking! You’re NOT ME. You are NOT in my head, you don’t know. If I say something that doesn’t make sense, ASK ME and I am happy to explain. I can’t be expected to read your mind and know how you are doing to interpret my words. I can only know what I thought. SO…. ask Me what I meant, don’t TELL ME. Seems whenever someone TELLS me what I was thinking, they ALWAYS take the negative perspective….. They’re NOT assuming that I didnt’ realize how it sounded but they’re saying that I meant to be a B*. If you care about someone, why would a person assume that the intent was to be a B*?

Anyways, I know she’s not an spath. But that’s not enough. I need to understand how to reach her. So I’ve been getting every book I can, trying to learn here on LF, get other people’s experiences. There has GOT to be something. I find bits and pieces but NOT a clear path to communication. It is SO painful to me. Yes SELFISH of me b/c I HATE this isolating aloneness. But also b/c I care so much for her. She is the one who used to give me a reason for EVERY decision I made in my life. I didn’t expect that to continue. It wouldn’t have been emotionally healthy.

But to be totally cut off, is so very painful. As you know. Betsybugs. So… I am working through it. Have you done any extra research? Read any helpful books?

Ox Drover

Dear Betsybugs,
I can hear the agony and pain in your “voice” on the blog, and I do understand what it is to “lose a child” to psychopathy. To hope against hope that there is something you can do, or say, or a book you can buy that will “reach” them because NOT REACHING THEM is just not something that we can accept.

To have her have grandchildren that you love and that love you, and to be deprived of those children’s company because she knows that too do so hurts you is even beyond comprehension.

Iit sounds like from what you said about your upbringing that your father was a raging psychopath, and it is probable that your daughter inherited some of that genetic tendency. My son Patrick is so much like my P sperm donor that it is uncanny and they ave never met.

You talk about your relationship with your current husband “When we did, (get married) I finally felt vulnerable and even small things would set me off. I still do not like marriage but we have a good workable loving life of strife and joy. I suppose that is as good as it gets. I guess I still subconsciously think than man is synonymous with psychopath.”

Maybe you and he might find some counseling helpful to put to rest some of the triggers from your previous relationships with your father, your x husband, your daughter, etc. It sounds to me like you have had a life time of trauma. I know from experience that those life times of trauma add up, multiply even, the reactions we have to even minor trauma in the today and the now.

Betsy, you are not alone, there are many here who share your pain of the loss of a child or grandchildren to psychopaths. When I first came to LF it was mostly about love relationships, but now it is about RELATIONSHIPS… of all kinds. P parents, P sibs, P spouses, P children, P neighbors, P business partners, and the trauma is the same no matter what the relationship dynamics.

Keep on reading, keep on learning and letting go of what you cannot control. Work on your relationship with your husband which is something you CAN work on. Don’t let your pain from the relationship with your daughter and the rest of your family keep you in such turmoil that you lose the joy in what you DO HAVE. God bless.


That’s it isn’t it. That point when you know, there is NO hope. B/c we try SO HARD, to hold on to hope. That there is SOMETHING. Some way to get Through to them.

I peer into my bellybutton, trying to remember how did I handle this, what did I say, what was the expression on her face, did she accept or was she blank. What did blank mean?

I search and search. I find some small comforts. I read a book, Red Flags or Red Herrings. A comfort in that book is that when kids are small, they gravitate towards your values, your way of processing, they want your attention and approval. But… seems that in adolescence, the DNA takes hold, and maybe what you did when they were little has Some influence, but it’s not a strong influence. HOW they process, what they say to themselves, the lens of the glasses they view things… seems to be genetically based. Not that genetics is any comfort to me. It tells me I shoulda NEVER had her. My pedo father and Nar mom, my partner narcissism. Why did I ever think a beautiful child with my genes has a chance. Well, b/c I was not like my family, and I thought if she was not around them, she’d not likely be like them. And she’s not. But some traits….. what does it mean. Estrangement or just distance and near absent emotional connection, certainly bad communication and drama and heartache. How to know what’s too much? Sad Sad Sad.

I am sorry we can relate Betsybugs. You deserve better but the world, sadly is not fair.


Hi everyone,

I hope you all are having a great night! I just wanted to post this great song. It’s called “Takin In” by Mike & The Mechanics. For some reason I’ve been having a bad day and this song popped into my head. I always liked it and something today made me go onto Youtube and play it. I’ve been playing it all night.

The funny thing is I’m not playing it because of my ex…who is by all accounts a sociopath. I’m playing it because both of my beloved parents are deceased and for whatever reason I have been so emotional today because of their deaths. My father died 18 years ago, my mother 3 & 1/2 years ago. They both died way before their time and I just miss them so much today. I don’y why…my father’s birthday is coming up on Jan. 19. Maybe that’s why…I have no idea. I just know there is a reason why I’m crying.

This song came out in 1985. I was 10 years old. If you watch the original video for this song it shows a happy, young family on vacation. The manager for Mike & The Mechanics books the same house at the same time for the above mentioned family. The father in the family tells Mike & The Mechanics they are more than welcome to stay at the house with them. This video…the one I posted has the lyrics because I wanted everyone to know the meaning of the song. But the original video just made me cry because 1) it reminds me of my family vacations down the shore. My parents would rent a house down the shore and they would invite our family & friends. It was such a magical time. I have nothing but cherished memories from my childhood…especially our cherished vacays down the shore. Even now when I’m in the same shore town where my family vacationed I always feel my parents with me & my family! 2) I want my sweet daughter to experience the same thing I had growing up. Her father….my ex is bipolar and has a horrible drug addiction. I won’t let him anywhere near her. She is now 3 years old and has no idea who her father is. I know I’m doing the right thing by protecting her from her father & his dysfunctional life style. I guess I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that she won’t ever know her biological father….which kills me and I’m crying as I write this. I told him the only way I want him back in her life is if he is clean & just not clean but clean for a number of years and making a sincere effort in changing is life around. My reality is that this will probably never happen but i always have hope in the back of my head. Expect the worse but hope for the best!

I haven’t spoken to her father in about a year & half. He knows I want nothing to do with him. He knows my family doesn’t want him around me or my daughter. I still want to know his real motives for not calling me in a year & a half. I’m entirely grateful he hasn’t tried to contact me. I want to believe because he knows what kind of damage he has done to me and knows he doesn’t want to inflict anymore. Wishful thinking right?! I just know not having him in my life is such a blessing.

I am so grateful for my loving family & friends. They love me & my daughter so much. They want the best for me. I have worked through my emotions…at least i think I do and then out of the blue I start to cry for no reason. It’s funny too…because the men I have dated always say they feel sorry for my ex…because of his addiction and what he is missing out on. I always shrug it off because I know what he has done. Plus…feeling sorry for someone is usually a telltale sign that someone is sociopathic. A good friend of mine, who never met my ex, told me that my ex is probably not doing that good. Which I know is true…but to hear it from someone that doesn’t even know him…kind of made me rethink everything.

I know my daughter and I are in good place – or at least very close to it. I still have my moments of my ex shattering all of my dreams of having a family. But I also know I have come so far in my healing! And that good things are to come out of all of this!!

Blessings to everyone!! Know that in the midst of the turmoil that gets inflicted upon you…good things come out. You don’t think you will ever feel good again, but be strong, surround yourself with people that love you and want the best for you and good will come to you!

I almost forgot to post the song. Here it is… Happy Listening!!

Ox Drover

Dear Aerin,

Thank you for posting today and updating us old hands around Here about how you are doing. You ARE doing the right thing to keep your daughter away from her sperm donor if he is in to drugs and not a good influence on her life. For him to pop in and then pop out again and back in and back out and back in and back out which is what you know would happen is going to be much more traumatic than for him to not be there at all.

I’m sorry you are missing your folks, it is tough to be an “orphan” at any age, but you DO have good memories, and just as I treasure the wonderful memories I have with my step father, treasure those memories you have with your folks and make new and good memories wit your daughter. Thhey may not be exactly like the ones you had as a child but they will be SPECIAL to her. God bless ((((hhugs)))



My father’s birthday is also on January 19. He died almost five years ago…it will be five years in July, but he would have been 85 this weekend. HUGS to you.


Wow Aerin
While I am so sorry that you have such heartache, I can’t help but admire what a terrific mom your daughter has. Music has helped me through some really tough nights (and days). I think YOU are SPOT on, surround yourself with good people who love you, and love begets… love. Just the perfect blessing for your daughter. Now, must indulge in the your link…

Katy, off to dance thanks to Aerin. Oh, pretty beat, sad. Sad. I don’t believe anyone either. I am one of those born every moment…

Okay Aerin, Thanks. I am onto Youtube tonight. Swaying to blues and 80’s. Simply Red, take it away…


Thanks Oxy for your reinforcement. I’m so busy with work & life, but I still like to check in from time to time. My therapist, who I started seeing when my daughter was less than a year old told me I need to embrace & take pride in the fact that I’m being a good role model for my daughter. At the time I was still so enraptured in what happened to me. I knew what my therapist was telling me, but I wasn’t at the point where I could embrace being a single mom & take pride in it. I can now step back & take pride in what I am doing. It is so hard sruggling with a demanding career & trying to be a good mom. I sometimes feel like I don’t have time to be a mom with all of the pressures I have on me. But I know God never gives us more than what we can handle.

I still want my daughter to grow up in a happy family. I want her to grow up with a sibling and have happy, cherished memories. Everyone keeps on telling me she needs a baby brother or sister. I first need to get married – to a good, honest, successful, stable, guy 🙂 Thanks for letting me know the memories I am creating for her will be special to her. You’re so right! I feel I am finally ready to move on with my life. I’ve felt like my life was on pause while I was healing myself. But I’m ready to start making some awesome, new memories. I know my parents have been with me every step of the way. And I don’t even question that they are watching over my daughter. I know they want me to have everything they always wished for me. And I know they want an extarordinary, blessed life for my daughter. I’m very grateful for that! Much Love!!

Louise, I’m sorry you lost your father. I guess good dads were born on Jan. 19th!!

KatyDid, thanks for your encouraging words. They say crying is good for the soul because it processes emotions you didn’t even knew you had. I’m glad you liked the song. I always thought that was a special song. Plus, I’m one of those people where every song reminds them of something. I think every eighties’s song reminds me of when I was little! I never listened to the lyrics until tonight though. They are so indicative of eveything that you think & say when you go through the process of realizing you were with a sociopath.

I didn’t believe anyone for awhile…but I slowly came around ang gained trust & faith again. I hope the same for you!!

Ox Drover


You and your daughter ARE a family, and maybe you will find the perfect guy and have more kids, but don’t base your happiness on more kids or anything else, be happy where you and how you are!

What is important for your daughter is to feel loved….and I bet she does feel loved. Hold her and tell her you love her. Kiss her and hug her and clap for her when she sings or dances or rolls on the ground or goes potty by herself or puts her toys away. Those are the memories she will recall…and so will you when you are old and gray. God bless.


I’m in utter panic mode right now. I can’t stand this!

I’ve been seeing someone who seems to be a great honest guy.. yet i am constantly triggered.. my trust is shot.

if i dont hear from him.. i’m triggered, if there seems to be a change in pattern, im triggered, if he doesn’t call back, respond fast enough. I’m triggered..

it’s making me so crazy that i want to end things to have some peace of mind.

i continually recall all the lies and how well orchestrated they were and how i can’t for a second let my guard down.


Those lies were meant to make you feel crazy, unstable and dependent on HIM to provide assurances.

the cure for what ails you is NC. You will go through withdrawal but you will come out of it healthier than before.


im not with my ex Sociopath.. i’m in my first real relationship AFTER him.. (almost 4 years later) and the triggers that come up for me are taking me by surprise in this new relationship .. i didn’t think that my ex spath’s lies would have this great of an impact on me .. so much time has past, 2 years of counseling 2 times a week, so much work i have done on myself to be ok.. normal… to trust.. yet here i am.

i get triggered so easily.

I won’t let him win.. i will move past this.. heal and be a trusting person again.

i am absolutely determined.

it still SUCKS.



I am so sorry you are feeling this way, BUT…I would heed the triggers you are having…they could be red flags on this new guy. He may only SEEM like a great guy…remember, we have all been fooled. I hate to sound negative, but be calm about it and take note of what is REALLY happening. I hope this new guy is on the up and up, but be careful.


he was a close friend of mine about 12 years ago for a few years.. i know him.. ..he REALLY is a good guy.. . otherwise .. i would heed the flags.. and i agree it is better to be safe then sorry .. but i know that i’m being triggered. that’s what i find so frustrating.

it also feels very different then it did .. much calmer.. peaceful.. i can sleep..

i know it’s me and my past.



I am convinced we will always be triggered. Good luck…


it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

does he know about your past?

There are ways to test people. I call it giving them rope. You display a vulnerability and see how they react.


Skylar, 100% spot-on!!! The exspath was aware of my previous abusive marriage and USED that information to his best advantages.

Jerseygirl71, this is a good test of yourself, and Nice Guy. Test of “self,” to work on what you’ve learned as far as reasserting boundaries, and a test of him to observe his reactions, just as Skylar mentioned.

Brightest blessings


i kept it from him for a little while.. i wait until i feel a certain amount of trust is earned .. despite the added comfort I have because i knew him years ago as a friend (fairly close friend)….and we had spent a considerable amount of time together- i’m not very worried he’s a spath.

but i did tell him.. and his reaction was, i feel, sincere.

i know this is me and my own triggers which could very easily destroy even the best relationship.

If i didn’t know this guy and have already formed a friendship/trust with him in the past.. there is no way this would work.

i can’t meet a stranger and give them any kind of trust.. in my world.. guilty until proven innocent.. fair or not fair.. its how i have to be.

moral of the story .. i can’t stand these little anxiety attacks i get .. every time we get a little closer.. i get a little afraid.. and then i’m triggered.. and i shut down.. and i dont want to do that! i deserve to fall in love and be happy and have a good relationship.. i deserve it! he’s a good man! and i want these stupid anxieties to STOP and leave me alone!!

Ox Drover


May I suggest that since your TRUST ISSUES are causing YOU some great pain that YOU get some counseling and work them out.

4 days, 4 months, 4 years??? TIME to work through things is relative to how badly you were burned. The thing I find about TRUST is that I LOST MY TRUST IN MYSELF to keep MYSELF SAFE, to choose who was worthy of trust and who was not.

I had to learn to TRUST MYSELF again. Sometimes that takes professional help, and I AM a professional and I needed outside help. Just KNOWING intellectually about how to cope isn’t enough, it is putting it into practice and sometimes you need a coach.

Tallk to your man friend and tell him that you have TRUST issues and that if hhe cares about you, he will be CONSISTENT and do what he says he will do, WHEN he says he will, and that he will treat you with RESPECT while YOU sort out YOUR problems with trust. It may not survive the time needed, or it may, but being honest and up front wit him, setting boundaries for him and how he treats you, and then sticking to them. is important. Good luck. God bless (((hugs)))


Hey Oxy,

I just want to give you another big thank you. Your words really resonated with me, and I just want you to know how much it touched me. You said my daughter & I are a family. And that’s so true. We are a happy, little family!! Me & my beautiful baby! Tonight when I came home from work I scooped her up & danced with her – to the song i posted here last night. I can’t get that song out of my head!! 😉 But anyways, trust me that I always kiss her , and hug her, and squeeze her and tell her I love her. You really helped to put everything in perspective for me. For that I thank you!!

This community is so very helpful in helping people with their troubles. And you, Oxy, are the backbone of this wonderful safe haven. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Your family & friends can love you so much & want the best for you, but people here get it. They know exactly what you are going through, what you are feeling, and what you need to make yourself feel better. It really is a great forum & I hope it gets the recognition it truly deserves.

Oxy, I know you’ve been going through a lot of turmoil with your son & his parole hearing. I hope you find peace through all of this, and I pray that everything works out for you. When something bad or unexpected happens to me I always ask God why it’s happening. And you know what?! I always get an answer. It’s God’s way of opening our eyes to know he is there for us. Sorry, I didn’t mean to get all preachy on you. Just some kind words!! Best of luck!! XOXO

Ox Drover

Dear Aerin, you didn’t “get all preachy” on me sugar, I firmly believe that God is there for me, and sometimes I find myself back sliding in that trusting His will…and it never hurts me to be reminded.

I think we have to work like it all depends on us, and pray like it all depends on Him, and sometimes I get the idea that I can do it all myself, rather than depend on Him for his part. Thank you for reminding me that I need to allow him to do His part.

You and your baby ARE a family, and are all the family you need, so just love that baby and if in the future there are more babies, fine, but if not, fine too.

Give her a big squeeze for her Auntie Oxy!


Hi all and thank you for your words of experience and wisdom. I am still reeling two years after being dumped by my spath. He seemed so perfect, the sex, the love-bombing, the passion, his brains and looks and charisma. I was smitten and happier than I’d ever been in my life, then suicidally devastated when he dumped me a few months after I had left my husband for him. I’ve been obsessing about him for two years, haunted by sadness, anger, regret, self-blame, humiliation, shame, even though I now know he was deceiving me all along. Ridiculous and pathetic; I’m an adult, a professional, a mother of teenagers and well respected, despite not respecting myself. Like you Jerseygirl (and a lot of us I think) I am afraid to trust anyone else now. I’m afraid of my new boyfriend turning out to be abusive (but maybe he’s just a normal guy who gets cranky?), and I see that another recent boyfriend was very dysfunctional and harmful to me though probably not quite a spath. My family of origin has plenty of them. My ex husband’s father was one, and I deeply fear one of my two sons is afflicted as well, though he is only 15. Realizing this about my son is truly shocking, and I hope it’s not true. But despite my shock and fear, this blog, LF, has been truly illuminating. Your many insightful comments and discussions give me hope that there is understanding out there, I’m not alone. I have felt all this time that even my dearest friends have not quite grasped the agonies I’ve been experiencing. They all wonder why I can’t seem to get over the guy. He told me himself that he thinks he is the devil. I thought he was just being dramatic and had no idea he meant it, until I realized the cruelty he had in store for me. It took me a long time to stop loving him even though I knew what he had done. I still long for him though I know it would be insane to take him back. It is still hard to grasp that I could have so deeply loved a man who was in fact merely a predator seeking what he could steal from me. Well that’s enough for now. Thanks for being here.

You are not alone because they ARE everywhere.

This sickness, this desire to see others suffer, is pretty common. Hopefully your experience will immunize you from further experiences. Stick around, learn the red flags and learn what made you vulnerable. As the article in the link I posted above shows, it can happen to anyone who has a heart, even a Notre Dame football player.

Ox Drover

Dear neveragainIhope,

They lure you away, then use and dispose of you like trash….

One of the FIRST things we must do in dealing with anyone is to realize that anyone who is DIS-honest, or wants YOU to be dis-honest iis NOT A GOOD PERSON. They are TOXIC. You learned thhe hard way.

I’m sorry about your son…the DNA does have an effeect and even if his father himself was not one, he was raised by one (the grandfather) and the DNA is also passed on. BOTH of my son’s grandfathers’ were Psychopaths, and though his father was not a P, he suffered mental illness and dysfunction from being raised by one. They usually start showing problems at about age 15 when the hormones hit. If your son is a psychopath, the only thing you can do is to Go NO contact with him. I wouldn’t give up completely until he is at least 18 unless he is violent, but there will be a time when you see that you cannot reach him,, and he does not care…that is the time, the PAINFUL TIME, when we must let go.

The process of healing begins in learning about THEM but it then must be about US, learning about how to heal ourselves, make ourselves WHOLE and set boundaries. Boundaries for others, but also boundaries for OURSELVES.
God bless you and keep on working on yourself, keeping yourself safe.



I was going to post the thing about Teo. Another lesson in NO online dating. But I realize now I need to not be so harsh. So let’s just say instead of NO online dating, people should be very careful. So sad for him. Gosh.


Thanks for your comments, Skylar and Oxy! Being whole is the best defense I agree, not the romantic fantasy of a man making us whole. Louise, I did meet my spath online and I agree meeting a person online is more dangerous than meeting someone through friends, community, etc.

I can’t say enough how relieved I am to have found this discussion group. The loneliness of this pain was one of the hardest things about it until I started reading your posts here. Thanks!!!

Ox Drover

neveragain I hope, you are NOT alone that is for sure. I wish you were. But finding LF and realizing I was NOT ALONE was a big turning point for me. Stick around, read the old archived articles, read EVERY ONE of them…and I think there are about 1,000 by now, read just the articles and leave the comments for later, but you will find a wealth of information there and some of them you may not resonate with now but they will later and you will have many “ah ah” moments. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Take back your power….God bless.

Tea Light

Neveragain, I’m very sorry to read of the pain this abuser caused in your life, I wish you much strength in your efforts to understand accept and recovery. Peace and love to you.


NeveragainIhope, it takes time to process what we’ve experienced. Time and a lot of hard work, and it’s not very pleasant. But, the results are recovering as boundary-tight and VERY capable human beings. In due time.

So, like OxD encouraged: keep reading, keep posting, and remember that you cannot be replaced and are a vital part of this vast Universe.

Brightest blessings



Excellent article. I like how you reframed the concept of triggers into panic buttons and brought in the concept of the vortex of panic.

I grew up with a S father and a malignant N mother how rained verbal and physical abuse down on me. I never once could relax, because I always knew that whatever breather I had was going to vanish sooner rather than later. That early conditioning made me easy pickings for the subsequent abusers in my life, which culminated with the last S, which just about did me in. Basically, my life became moving from one panic attack to the next, with a growing sense of panic in between those attacks.

What I could so relate to in your article was the concept of making decisions on the fly. My parents never allowed me the luxury of sitting down and thinking something through. Instead I was bombarded with messages of “do something. Do anything.” So, I would make a decision on the fly, ignoring the screaming in my brain telling me this was not in my best intersts, and go off half-cocked. And once again, a disastrous decision would be made which would negatively affect me. Today my youngest sibling and I sit there and discuss how we suffer from “paralysis through analysis” – we over-analyze every decision we make – even on the most simple things.

I have come to realize that the “do something. Do anything” message that was drilled into me was yet another form of control exerted by my parents. Rather than looking out for my best interests, I think they enjoyed the power they got from witnessing my failures, so then they could say those 4 little words “I told you so.”

Looking back on my so-called up-bringing, on some days I wonder how I ever lived like that. On other days I wonder how I ever lived through that. My old therapist used to tell me I was far stronger than I gave myself credit for for having survived that. Maybe. All I know is that I find it so exhausting at this point my life to have such a shaky sense of self and so little faith in my own decision-making ability. But, like you are discovering and I have learned, there is nothing wrong in sitting, taking a deep breath, telling someone you’re not in a position to make a decision at this moment, and then deciding whether or not something is or is not in your best interests and deciding accordingly.

Ox Drover

Hear! Hear!!! Yea, Matt! Very very good points….and keeping us in the “spin cycle” of confusion is a way to control…and to keep us from making logical decisions.


VERY important post. I keep uncovering insights b/c of all the ME TOOs, where others write and I realize wow, that fits ME TOO.

The ME TOO with you is about paralysis through analysis. I do that, and have been accused of over analysing everything. But I NEVER tied it to my childhood abuse. You are SO RIGHT. I lived in fear of being wrong. My mother would set me up in catch 22 scenarios and then I’d be beaten for my failure. (I test OFF the SCALE for logic/reasoning.. yet I am STILL afraid of being wrong.)

I ran into the SAME lack of logic when I was married to my spath. Didn’t matter what I did, it was going to be the wrong choice. (ex: if i worked, he was free to cheat b/c i was not home to take care of him, if i stayed home, then i was lazy and living off the sweat of his brow.)

i’ve been frozen SO many times, unable to pull the trigger in my business decisions, full of anxiety and thought it was b/c i was lazy.

thanks so much for your post. what a gift you gave me today.
Katy, STILL finding pieces of the puzzle.


Matt & KatyDid, here’s an interesting link on “crazy making behavior” that pretty much sums up why abusers and spaths engage in that “HURRY, HURRY” behavior:

What always mystifies me is how these people achieve the whole-self damages that they do with such ease. I often wonder if they are issues a “Sociopath’s Guide To Carnage” handbook, or something.

Brightest blessings


EXCELLENT link. Thank you. Reading seems to make me feel so validated, esp how efforts to not make them mad is CRAZYMaking b/c logic is Absent. The absence of reality, by definition, is CRAZY. Maybe it’s b/c it’s printed that makes it more real to me. When it’s spoken, it’s possible for spaths to retract, another point so clearly explained in your link.

I read the whole article and included another hot button for me.
It’s Where I work SO HARD to find middle ground, a Solution, and that very effort is used to proclaim me as manipulative. Trying to get along, trying to explain, trying to be understood are ALL dismissed as manipulative. WHich causes me to retreat and go interspective, trying to see it from another’s viewpoint about what I did/failed to do that caused them to feel manipulated.

The result? I feel overwhelmed and a failure. Can’t get heard. They’ve proclaimed a false/untrue conclusion and NOTHING I can say matters one whit. I am a Failure Failure Failure. Which again, freezes my decisionmaking, b/c if I fail to chose correctly, there is NO redemption for me. I am condemned. The pain is enormous.

Again, thank you Speaks Truth. Great link. Short paragraphs, effective validating writing.

Best, Katy

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