By | March 15, 2012 62 Comments

Background noise and background pain

By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)

Sometimes my parrot will come up with a sound or a word and we will wonder “where in the heck did he come up with that!?”

We noticed a few years ago that he would make a “Whooooosh” sound when anyone opened the door either to go in or out. He did it consistently, so we knew he had associated the door opening with the sound, but we couldn’t figure out who would make that sound often enough that he had picked it up. Then one day my husband came in the house and it was very hot outside and when he came in he made that “Whoooosh” sound as he hit the air conditioned inside!

My son and I went, “Whoopee! We know where he got it now!”

It takes endless repetitions of a word or sound for a parrot to pick it up, and my husband must have done this hundreds of times before the bird picked it up. The bird is way more sensitive to the sounds in his environment than we are. We tend to “tune out” the “background” sounds that are not important to us so we can concentrate more on those sounds that actually “mean something.” Not that our ears can’t “hear” that sound, it is just that our brains tune it out and assign no importance to it.

I think sometimes people (myself included) do the same thing with situations and associations. We tune out as unimportant things that happen every day—things that we decide are not important to our world and we don’t want to concentrate on them. I have osteoarthritis just from being over 65 and having used and abused my bones and joints in the past, so I have a sort of “background” pain in most or all of my joints. I try to “tune this out” and usually succeed, because if I concentrated on this background pain, I would not be able to think about anything else.

Emotional pain

It seems to me that I have done the same thing with emotional background pain as well in my associations with dysfunctional or disordered people. The other person would make some “snarky” or disrespectful comment to me, and it would hurt just a bit, but I would push it to the background noise of my life and not concentrate on it. Just as my son and I didn’t “hear” my husband’s noises when he came into the house from outside because it wasn’t important, didn’t mean they weren’t “there.”

Pushing our emotions, our pains, into the background helps us to keep ourselves from being overwhelmed by the vast number of little pains and injuries. It numbs us to those in our everyday life so we can keep on functioning and without succumbing to the overwhelming pain. Sometimes we get a huge emotional injury and we “feel it” intensely, but even then we can put the residual pain into the background of our everyday existence.

Noticing and responding to every little slight in life isn’t the point of this, because if we did, we wouldn’t be able to function. Taking to heart and internalizing every snide remark made by every salesclerk isn’t necessary, but to “notice” and “hear” the slings and arrows of a particular relationship is another matter entirely. If we are continuing to have to “tune out” painful things from a person or a relationship, the pain will build up until there is a cacophonous level of emotional pain in the background of that relationship.

It takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep that level of background pain under control—energy that could better be put to use in establishing boundaries.

It took my parrot’s continual “Whooshing” to draw attention to one of the sounds in the background of my environment. It took tremendous pain to draw attention to the pain that had accumulated as a background noise in my relationship with my son and other family members. I had “eyes and did not see, and I had ears and did not hear,” as Jesus said about the Pharisees. It was unpleasant for me to realize that our relationships were not healthy, because in realizing that they were not healthy, I would be required to do one of two things, neither of which I wanted to do. I could continue to endure this continuing assault on myself, or I would be required to act.


Confronting someone you love with the fact that they have been causing you tremendous emotional pain is a scary prospect. How will they respond? Will they stop doing what they have been doing and try to salve your wounds? Will they stop treating you badly? What if you confront them and they become angry? What if they leave you? What if they punish you? All those are questions that produce great anxiety. Confrontation is risky behavior.

Confronting dysfunctional people is especially risky. It is especially painful because they do not receive your confrontation well, but instead project the problem back on your shoulders. They will tell you that you are the problem. The pain becomes greater.

Becoming aware of the background noise in our lives of abuse and dysfunctional relationships is only the first step in a painful process. Taking action is the next step. If the person in the relationship is not dysfunctional or disordered, they will work with you. If they are unwilling to do so, you can’t make them do so, and so the next decision is to continue the relationship as is, or to terminate it.

Awareness if the first and most painful step, but it leads to a life free of the pain of a dysfunctional relationship continually assaulting our psyches.

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donna dixon

Joyce ~ What an interesting post ~ Background Noise. Last week I had started jotting down little bits of oddities that my ex had said during our marriage which I had pushed into the background of my mind. Bits of memories that I had forgotten about but now seem to be moving to the forefront of my mind ~ especially early morning when I am getting ready for work.

I quickly had filled two full pages of “background noise” all just a line or two of each memory ~ and the list is growing. It actually surprised me because I have struggled to figure out what ONE thing had gone wrong with him and after seeing the length of my list I realized there wasn’t any one, two or three things…..there was a WHOLE ENTIRE person who was disordered from the start but I had on such blinders that I pushed each oddity into background noise.

I can’t figure out for the life of me why I couldn’t recognize it? Was I that desperate to find a mate and start a family? I don’t think so. I was well into my 20s when I married and had dated several men (most of them disordered as well, I am sure!) Perhaps he seemed the most stable of the disordered and the most loving? (Now I realize he mirrored my qualities).

As I was driving to work this morning it finally hit me how much better off both financially and mentally I am without this man.
I have my own career, my own money, money I am just starting to set aside as a nest egg; but none the less; MY MONEY for ME!!!

I even chuckled to myself thinking about all the trappings of my married life which seemed so grand at the time but had all been blown away by a gambling addiction and the grandiosity of living large. Of course there were plenty of travel and dining perks; but the reality is none that left me in as good as position as I am today.

In a way I think I am glad my background noise stayed where it did. My children are grown and out on their own and I know there would have been a custody fight and a nasty divorce if I had confronted the ex during their adolescence. Somewhere in the background I always knew he could be vicious.

I finally feel like a much stronger version of the young girl I used to be. Still loving and caring but much more aware of her surroundings and the noise that looms in the background which is really the rattle of a snake and not to be ignored.

Ox Drover

Donna, Thank you…yes, the awareness of the background noise of our relationshits (I love Henry for coming up with that word! LOL) just becomes something we don’t even hear any more but it can build up that is for sure.

I actually at one time thought I had a wonderful relationship with my egg donor. I really did…but then, like you when I started to become aware of the “back ground noise” because of the BIG injury, I realized there was a LONG LIST of little slings and pricks that I had never addressed…little slights, little nasties, but I pushed them into the back ground because confronting them would have been too painful.

I’m sorry you had to wait until your kids were grown to get out but I understand that entirely. Sometimes you have to pick your fights and the timing of your fights.

Being FREE of the background noise is sort of nice….makes the music more clear!

donna dixon

Joyce/Oxy ~ I’m a firm believer that “everything happens for a reason” ~ even though some of it is extremely painful. In my case I think I figured it out later instead of sooner because I don’t think I would have been able to handle the reality/pain any sooner.

Even my relationship with my children. I always thought they had a tighter bond to their father but after the masked dropped and he has pulled a few shenanigans on them; it seems our bond is tighter.

How sad that it had to be your son and egg donor for you; but if it is any consolation maybe yours happened so that you could be a strong guidance to the rest of us?

I just love LF. Without it I sure as heck wouldn’t have started to mend as quickly as I have and each time I read a post I feel like someone has plucked it from my own life experience!

And I do love the words used here ~ I was definitely in a RELATIONSHITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!

Ox Drover

Donna dixon, I wish I could take credit for that word, but Hens/Henry came up with it and I think it is marvelous! LOL Yea the Love Fraud vocabulary is cute!

Well I’ve encountered a nest of psychopaths and most of them were in my family! Both sides and in the middle, but at the same time, I have survived and that is more than some people have done. Laci Petersen and lots of other women have died because they didn’t know what a psychopath was. I didn’t know either but I can usually spot them now if I’m around them much.

Yea, I over estimated my son D’s connections to some “close long time family friends” who had almost become family. In fact, the man of the couple was listed as a survivor on my husband’s funeral program as a “son of the heart.” My husband never knew what they both were (the couple) and it was only a while after his death that I was able to put them out of my life completely. I hesitated for several years because I thought my son D was more attached to them than he was. Now, if anything, he wants less to do with them than I do and I am totally NC. LOL He won’t even go where he thinks they might one or the other show up.

The collateral damage that the psychopaths can do can be terrible. People we love love the psychopath and when we confront the psychopath it can impact the other collateral relationships because those people don’t “see” the truth. I had actually caught the woman of this couple from stealing from me, nothing big but NO DOUBT ABOUT IT AT ALL, THEFT…that was before my husband died and he cared so much about this couple that telling him she was a thief was like trying to convince him his mother was a whore. LOL We never did resolve that because he died before we could do so.

I’m glad that your children are starting to see what their father is, and that will in the end be self confirming as he continues to try to pull shiat on them…and he will, I have little doubt about that. LOL

donna dixon

Thanks, Oxy!! I’m just GRATEFUL every day of my life that me and my kids didn’t end up like Laci Peterson!! Scares the crap out of me when I think of the flip side!!!! Being SLIMED but STILL ALIVE isn’t so bad!!!!


The background noise.. Wow I like that. I just got jr down and am so happy I read this article.
I realized after my grandmothers funeral this past week that I have been living my entire life with background noise as loud as a concert. IDE think that was funny if it weren’t so damn true. My family is small but so screwed up. It was amazing for me to see the masks, manipulations, greed and dysfunction of my whole little family. It was horrible and very, very, sad.
I saw and just “went numb to the noise”..
Since I’ve been back it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong has..I’ve gotten sick, dryer broke, lost $1400.. Just all types of bad crap keeps happening. To top it off I managed to attract a person into my life that’s going to be very hard to get rid of…RED FLAGS everywhere and inconsistencies, I dont know how I’ll be able to get rid of him while being polite…
I’m so tired and my lungs are on fire. I have 8 cigarettes left and then I’m done!! I’m just feeling so sad right now.. Really depressed but I can’t even cry. I’m exhausted.. I don’t know when all this crap is going to end but it honestly needs to soon. No matter how hard I try I’m not making any headway. It’s more like 1 step forward 10 steps back. Man something really needs to give..

Ox Drover

Dear Coping,

You said “I dont know how I’ll be able to get rid of him while being polite””

I say SO WHO SAID YOU HAVE TO BE POLITE….say to him “Joe, this isn’t working for me” if he asks what or why say “It just isn’t working” then RINSE AND REPEAT until he leaves….you are NOT REQUIRED TO BE “POLITE” TO SOMEONE WHO IS BEING PUSHY or who is in your life and you don’t want them there.

GET RID OF HIM! If you see any red flag. RUN DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM HIM…..”this just isn’t working” rinse and repeat.

I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother’s death, and the other things going on in your life right now..when it rains it pours.
I quit smoking too and so I know how you feel about it. Each time I “tried” to quit I knew I would cheat, and so I did…but this last time a couple of years ago I decided I WOULD QUIT…as Yoda says “there is no try, there is just DO. So I DID and I am, and I can’t even remember how long it has been over 2 years I know and I’m proud to say NO ONE….because I know if I ever do one that’s it. So I’ll be your “quitting buddy” and any time you need encouragement let me know!

That back ground noise can be kind of loud and we don’t even realize it because the volume gets turned up slowly. We just get used to it and tune it out. Becoming aware of that is a good thing and I know that you and the little one will do just fine. You are learning fast and growing, just as the little one is. (((hugs))) Hang in there.


I wish I could walk from my malignant narcissit – he is my brother and the trustee of the estate my father left me – don’t know what dad was thinking.

I finally took him to court and as he is “defending the estate” I get to pay his lawyers bills as well – it is costing me ~ $40K just to have a bank trustee appointed so that I may curb his abuses.

He is really enjoying running up the legal bill!!

This is my future this maniac is frittering away – you would not believe the damage he has already caused

He earns a living selling “rent to own” properties to immigrants, etc who he then fleeces.

He is particularly repugnant in that he encourages them to spend their money to fix the homes up (he knows they will never buy them) and then evicts them for some small infraction like a late payment

I saw a few of these properties and it is really tragic to learn what a slumlord he is and how poverty stricken his victims are already – at least the real estate board is after him now

where do these people come from


Great post, Oxy!!
I ignored the background noise, intuition & gut instincts that poured on me when I endured the ex spath, but now? Now that IT’s out of my life I hear those background noises and relive them loud and clear.

I do believe that everything happens for a reason too, so this serves a purpose. It reminds me of the importance of NOT ignoring the background noise and the necessity to follow your gut.

Thank you for an enlightening read. 🙂


if you are afraid of angering him, you could try using Gray Rock on him. Be so boring he can’t stand it. Don’t give him any drama. If he’s a spath, he’ll run.


Hi ox-
With respect to the guy I can honestly say it’s 100 percent my fault for being so darn stupid. Yes, for right now I do need to be polite however getting 8 calls a day will stop. It’s a definate lesson learned the hard way. What happened was yesterday I cashed an out of state check which was to reimburse me for my travel costs (which all on its own is a sick and twisted story) I cashed it instead of depositing it so it wouldn’t take the 3-5 days to clear so I could deposit the cash into my other bank to cover my bills. Bottom line is somewhere in my daze between errands I lost the damn envelope. I spent 4 hours running around trying to find it.
Long story short I was in freak mode and pissed at myself and I took a call from someone I didn’t know very well but who I had once worked with. I was upset because I had a check from daycare that was about to clear and I would have been $100 short. Well of coarse he said give me your bank info I’ll deposit $100 for you and you can pay me back next week when you get your check. So I was reluctant but did it… Duh!! So of coarse he wanted to catch up and came over. It was the last thing I was up for but felt obligated. He stayed forever and I basically had to kick him out. The entire time was spent talking about how we need to go out.. He would pay for sitter and everything. I kept saying no. Then he said my place was great and he can’t wait to hang out again to wait out the traffic..(like everyday). Told me my hair was better blond.. He would pay for it to get highlighted again.. Ext, ect.. He turned out to be a real jerk. Told me he was 28 with a full set of gray hair. Before he became an architect had been a bartender for 12 years… Timelines not adding up.. Red flags everwhere.. How much money he has but still lives with his parents. Crazy shit!! Has called me 8 times today… I have never done anything to lead this guy on.. Ever!! Bottom line I can’t wait to get my check next week to give this guy back his 100 bucks.. Apparently his goodwill had other motives.
3 lessons learned.
1.If someone you hardly knows offers to do something for you that seems to nice and kind of strange don’t accept.
2. Never answer the phone when you’re in stress mode.
3. Never ever carry cash when your running errands and in a daze to begin with.
All within 24 hours.
Anyway.. No stress as soon as I pay him back this guy goes and the no answer list. Until then I can be polite but we are not hanging out’s only a week. I’m not gonna stress about that..
There’s enough real crazy going on.. Lol.
I swear I do attract them.
Yep.. Am seriouse about the smoking…
Thanks… Sometimes in life you just need to step back, crawl into bed and say wtf!!


Hi sky-
Lol.. Yesterday I couldn’t have been more gray if I tried!! Naturally!! No makeup, sick, in jeans and frankly a polite but quietly stressed out woman. I didn’t need to speak… He did it all.
Btw- thx for the response… When things calm down and I can process things a little better.. I’ll try to make more sence…the email didn’t really make sence or address the point well.

Ox Drover

Coping that is the old “get you obligated” ploy….then you can’t say “no” to their agenda…..lesson learned.


I, too, think gray rock works on these drama queens. The turd-eating, subhuman, low-life, parasite ex spath broke up with women he found boring. Of course this was when we were together. I let him screw anything that moved (what?!). Gray rock was the only, and I mean ONLY thing that made him turn away from his victim. Lucky ass boring people.


you cracked me up! “Lucky ass boring people.” is what I thought when I first figured it out.

Spath had told me he didn’t like talking to my good sister because she was boring. He also said that her son “lacked ambition.” He’s the kid who put himself through a private university with scholarships and got a 50grand a year job immediately after. He has no student loan payments and bought his own condo within a year of graduating. Poor kid, he has no ambition. LOL!


Envy is one of the many ugly traits spaths have. Yours didn’t really find your nephew unambitious. They lie constantly. He was jealous, pure and simlle. The only truth to what he said was your nephew lacked the ambition of getting thrown in jail.

The puke I put up with quickly turned into a boring, predictable, ten time loser. I was just sticking around because I feared change. Who knew change would eventually mean being able to breath?


yes, he was definitely envious. He also knew that my nephew couldn’t be “hooked”. He had one opportunity with him alone. With all the other minions, that’s all it took for him to OWN them.

He gave my nephew, C, a ride home. I’m sure he tried every lure and temptation. He got nothing because C is very non-committal, naturally. C conquered his own ADD as a teen because he didn’t want to take drugs. He doesn’t drink coffee and is very health conscious. He never follows a crowd, he’s very discriminating.

There are a few people out there who don’t do drama of any type. They have boundaries. I’m so glad for C.


I want C’s DNA.


I guarantee you, it isn’t his DNA. He has my family’s spath DNA and his father is an N, and his grandfather is an alcoholic. But he was raised by my good sister, who is a devout Catholic and very determined to “do what’s right”. She stayed married to the N and refuses to see that he IS an N.

C is very quiet and not extremely social. So he makes the effort to socialize with church groups and attends mass weekly. He is fanatical about exercise and he loves food. He also has lists of books he decides are important to read. 2 years ago, it was the bible.

His success has been the result of very hard work. He observes himself and other people and makes decisions about what he wants. He does tend to be judgmental about how things “should” be. And how people “should” be.

I love him dearly, he has a good heart.


Wonderful post. You’ve described the essential element of every dysfunctional relationship I’ve ever had: I’d tune it out, numb myself to it, but then eventually would “feel” it intensely and the result was anxiety attacks. Before I learned about disordered people, I wondered why I had so many anxiety attacks and I felt shamed that I suffered from them. But, then I learned that the constant stress of dealing with toxic people was the major cause of my anxiety attacks. Remove the background (& the ‘front ground’) noise of abuse & Whooosh, the anxiety attacks have pretty much disappeared.

Your post also reminds me of Alice Miller’s book “The Body Never Lies”: Even though we may tune out the pain & numb ourselves, eventually, that pain (both emotional & physical) will manifest.

donna dixon, it’s the trickle, trickle, trickle that eventually becomes a flood.

“I can’t figure out for the life of me why I couldn’t recognize it?”
I like this saying: ’We cannot see the water that we swim in.’
Since we viewed dysfunction and abuse as “normal”, we never saw it as abnormal or unacceptable. We were so accustomed to the water that we swam in, we never notice the water itself.

“I don’t think I would have been able to handle the reality/pain any sooner.”
Me too. Deep down, subconsciously, I probably knew the truth, but I also felt that I’d be bulldozed into oblivion if I confronted the Ns & SPs. So, the denial is a survival mechanism.

Agree woundlicker:
“Envy is one of the many ugly traits spaths have. Yours didn’t really find your nephew unambitious. They lie constantly. He was jealous, pure and simlle.”
For me, the Ns’/SPs’ envy & jealousy is almost palpable and often, I actually feel that very strong negative vibration.

Ox Drover

Dear Clair, glad you liked it….I realized too that the background noise/pain I had experienced with EVERY relationshit with every psychopath just accumulated like flood waters rising, ever so slowly, and eventually they got to where they covered my nose and I couldn’t breathe!

Not seeing the water we swim in is a good one. Thanks for that analogy.


Dear Clair, and Oxy, great posts! Also the analogy with the water! Very helpful were also the other enlightening comments. Have you all a peaceful weekend!

Ox Drover

Libelle, How are YOU doing my dear? I’ve been kind of worried about you as you were pretty down the last time you posted. I hope you are taking care of yourself well. (((hugs))) and God bless.

Terrific post Oxy. Also great comments LF’rs Thanks.

In many ways you describe the process of screening out unwanted information in a down to earth common sense way that is the subject of the book I am working through at present. ( I can’t say reading because I find it a tough slog)

The healing process and trying to make sense of where the hell I had been for 27 years has led me to a keen interest in understanding the process of denial. This is four years post P and after much much reading on LF and the books about P’s.

Okay, I get it now..there are such people and he was one of them. But where was my mind? How did I manage to keep accepting and excusing all the stuff that made no sense?

In VITAL LIES,SIMPLE TRUTHS, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-DECEPTION., author Daniel Goleman illustrates how our brains/sub-concious have a filter that makes a trade off between attention and anxiety. This filter acts BEFORE AWARENESS, in other words, it filters what we can be aware of without our conscious involvement. a brief quote follows :

” What can’t be seen is hard to change…..the person prevails against anxiety by sacrificing his range of attention. This failure to see our self deceits protects them.. a researcher is struck by “how suavely we simply ignore great bodies of experience , any clearly analyzed instance of which might present us with a very real necessity for change”.. our defenses insulate us from the vital lie at the heart of our misery.”

Essentially we are talking about a very primal biological survival tool, that allows us to shield ourselves from anxiety in order to function. Probably was very useful as an evolutionary survival mechanism, or else every snapped twig or roll of distant thunder would have us in a constant state of high adrenalin alert and we would not be able to function.

And perhaps we should mention the other more recent societal factor, the conditioning to “always look on the bright side” to “always make the best of things” and “always be polite” that are the fairy tails designed to keep us enslaved, on a micro and macro level.

On a completely different note, but related somehow- there is an article on line “are the rats fleeing a sinking ship?” Over 350 senior banking executives have resigned around the world in the last several weeks. And don’t miss the whistle blower article in the NYT from one of them. Basically saying they are all P’s and the entire business culture at his major firm is predatory . Great stuff! The masks are coming off.

Ox Drover


Absolutely, we use DENIAL to keep that background “pain/noise” inaduable so that we can stand it. Just like getting used to LOUD noises in your environment….at first you can’t stand it, but then you get used to it.

Out here where I live it is relatively quiet, there are natural sounds, and a few distant truck noises on the highway, the coyotes once in a while, birds or crickets, but when I spend a night in town it is like WOW! HOW LOUD THE CITY IS! When I lived in the city, I didn’t notice the car door slamming, horns blowing, trains going by etc. but since I am not used to those things now they blow me away.

A friend of mine used to come out here and she lived in town and when she was here she couldn’t stand it she would have to turn on the TV she said “the QUIET is so LOUD!” LOL

We just do that with the abuses in our lives, we tune them out.

Daniel Goleman—great insight and great author!


that sounds like a very interesting book.

It has also been my experience that the opposite happens when we see a clear and present danger. In other words, we can run around in denial as long as we think we can get away with it. There might be a thread of magical thinking involved, but something tells us that we will not be killed. Yet, once we see the SEMI-TRUCK SPEEEDING TOWARD US, the mind focuses with razor sharp clarity.

There have been a few times that this happened to me. One time it literally was a semi-truck breaking through the freeway barrier on a trajectory that would cross my path. My brain made everything go into slow motion. Those 4? seconds seemed like 5 minutes. I calculated that I MIGHT be able to speed up and move to the right lane and get past the trajectory path, but that I would NOT be able to slow down enough to stop before colliding with the semi. We were both doing about 60 or 65 coming toward each other for a total of 120 or 130, I think.

It seems to me that this state of mind came on as I accepted the very real likelihood that I was facing my death. There’s nothing like coming face to face with mortality to snap us out of denial and into razor sharp clarity. You suddenly see things you would usually have missed. For example, I remember seeing the semi laying on it’s side and sliding on the pavement just inches from my driver side mirror. It seemed to be sliding slowly. Even though I was probably doing 90mph by this time, it seems like a crawl as I drove past it.


my spath came to visit, after a year, the kids”it was a 2 week ordeal, of which he actually was here 9 hrs. being around him was a WOW, how he shits on me!
i kept going in other room or back in the house wen they were in the yard.
talk about background cacaphony!
i endured it for 2 wks, (of which he was actually present only 9 hrs) and it was THUNDERING and left me a basket case. i am still today trying to function at work—monday and tues both, my brain did not work well and i troubleshoot software :0
i will kill him b4 i have to endure him again”i dont think i will let him see the kids, without a court order, again. i supervised this time, but that future potential visit will be supervised by someone else”i can have nothing to do with his ridiculousness.
he keeps talkin to me too! txting me”i just ignore do u think i want to talk to you?????

Ox Drover

WOW, I’m so sorry that happened to you and I can only imagine the 9 hours in HELL you must have endured. WOW! How awful. I hope you can get away with him not seeing them again and the courts won’t make you and if you do have to let him see them supervised, let someone else do it, hire someone if you have to, but don’t put yourself through it again.

Be good to yourself for a while and let your brain unwind. Let the house cleaning go, go home from work, and feed the kids pizza and take a hot bath with candles and crawl into [email protected] God bless! (((hugs)))

Oxy, this post resonates BIG time with me. That was the first thing I noticed about my spath…. his refusal to “talk” about anything too confrontational. In the beginning (the hook) he made a point to talk about ANYTHING. I thought Oh we can talk about anything (the charm) Then little by little the insults, slights, and criticism piled up with of course NO apologies. I remember 12 years of marriage before he ever apologized. And then I felt like it was insincere and a get off my back apology, not heartfelt. He controlled me very well through the use of silent treatment, looking baffled (what are you talking about?), projection… he would say to me, “Why are YOU so angry?” and it became a self fulfilling prophesy. I fell for it WAY too many times.

He used drama and creating confusion to climb into his man cave. Now I now he would come home and pick a fight because he already had sex before he came home for dinner.

One of the biggest complaints I had at counseling (the 3rd one) was we rarely seem to resolve conflict. It is almost always “swept under the rug.” The counselor said, “Well, If you sweep things under the rug long enough, eventually you’ll hit your head on the ceiling. That time had come. I said my head was rammed against the ceiling.

My exspath also said many times, “You never let anything go. You don’t forgive anything. You perceive so many things as little slights. Actually he was wrong, I experienced outright bullying, insults and abuse NOT slights. He frequently tried to dumb his behavior down – like what’s wrong with you? He told
me going to counselor #1 that we were gonna shake loose whatever was wrong with me. I still shake my head at the abuse I allowed. Why why why?

I think I know now. He kicked my arse in our divorce and he probably would’ve won a custody battle if I had left and filed sooner than I did. Also, even we had shared 50/50 as the state likes, he would’ve turned the kids over to spathy MIL and frankly even though it was hard on me, all 3 have more much of my values, character, beliefs, and morals. YEAH !! that is why I stayed as long as I did.

He really did steal from me emotionally, physically (I did all the work around here) financially, sexually, and even socially (has no friends of his own) except a whore now. tee hee

He whittled away at all the boundary lines I had, until there were none left. I told him one time… “All that is left for you to do is rape me or kill me.” I think that is a pretty good sign it was time to start looking at how to get out.

I’m having a great life now. It gets better and better. Hopefully I’ll meet a wonderful loving man, but if I don’t … I’m good company and I have plenty of really good friends.


Donna you are so right that background noise is akin to the rattle of a snake.

Im not coping Im new to this and my mind is fried. I have background noise coming out my ears its everywhere and nowhere.

He was a liar -that was this first sound of the noise. About everything and anything. At first I pitied him for having to ‘big up himself’ all the time but it was much more insideous than that. It was the spath in him. Pure and simple.
Yes we were soul mates, yes he wanted to get married and have children straight away (were both 40)so the speed I guess wasnt surprising. He could never stick to plans, turn up on time, or respect my boundaries. He was impulsive to the point it scared me (and Im a pretty impulsive person).

He said he picked up SARS when he was living in Asia so blamed this illness on his lack of ‘remembering’ when his lies got confused.
He worked so much and was always so tired -poor thing, but yet more background noise. It just goes on and on.

I broke up after 6 months because of the lies. That I wasnt a priority and his ex girl F (20yrs younger) seemed to have more standing in his life than me. He barely fought to get me back. He was amused almost when we went for that ‘talk’.
I didnt know what I was dealing with.

Another month of breakups then I totally went no contact. He didnt give a shit about me anyway, it was all about him. His family (who apparently desperately wanted him to settle down) couldnt give me the time of day (I always have great relationships with BF’s family’s so this very hurtful) I can only guess he was bringing other girls around and / or bad mouthing me the whole time. -More noise in the background.

He had a factory of asian girl workers -god knows what he was doing with the poor things behind closed doors… my gut instinct when I went in to meet them the first time was -hes been sleeping with half of them Im sure’. The way another woman looks at you you can just tell.

So I got more and more paranoid and jealous, which he revelled in believe me. Even to the point where he picked up a price label showing some girl in underwear and started licking it. To make me jealous? is that not weird?

So I broke the nc after 3 months to get something of mine back and met up with him. Its gone down hill for me ever since.
First week of being in contact again he told me how much he loved and missed me -but never did anything to show me this. next week I txt him an evil note as I was hurting, this week I txt him to meet and talk about it being over then got drunk and called him when he didnt reply. He didnt pick up. So I emailed him to tell him how much I loved him back then and that Im still hurting. He emailed back to say he wants to see me however hes dating someone else now and its all my fault because of what I did by breaking up with him.That hes so hurt and not ‘well’ and I am beautiful and deserve much better than him.
Its such a mind game as the lies are still there, he never showed his love, it was always words words words, he was proably seeing this ‘new’ girl F months ago, and still seeing his 20yr old ex and a number of young asian girls from his factory. Or maybe Im now completely crackers??? I even get the gut instinct something is going on with his sister??? Would a spath do that?

The crazy thing is in all of this mess Im still (sickly) in love with him -attached to an evil arsehole and its only my gut that is driving me to stay away. The background noise is deafening while I self implode. Im becoming a nothing my life is being sucked away. 6months of awesomeness with 4 months of misery that aint getting better. What the hell to do. Its making me crazy sick I cant stop obsessing about it and him.

anam cara

I grieve the loss of the loving family I never had. My confidence is shattered by the manipulations and control of the people I believed would have my best interests at heart. The dawning truth is liberating but my trust is shattered and I see a very lonely future ahead.


anam cara ~

Yes, we do have to grieve “the illusion” and it hurts, there is no two ways about it. I think our confidence is the first thing to go and perhaps the last thing to come back. But, it will come back.

While your future will be “different”, it need not be lonely. I have read your recent posts to 2B and they are so insightful and caring. It is obvious to me that you have so much to give. Take your time to rebuild your trust, in the deserving people and your confidence will return.

Thoughts and prayers are with you anam cara.


My ex p committed suicide on Saturday. I didn’t think they did that very often but he was drinking and using crack. I received 3 calls at 1:30ish within minutes of each other but was asleep and didn’t hear the phone. The police called me the next day and he had been calling me right before he hung himself. He had always threatened to kill himself and make me listen. I think that was what he had in mind and I think God intervened and kept me from getting the calls. My daughters (both adults) are crushed. He didn’t even bother to leave any type of note for his only children. My youngest is in denial and thinks one of the dealers he owed money to killed him, but I’m pretty sure it was the drugs and alcohols and not being able to see how he was going to repay the dealers and his rent, etc. next month. I wish I had answers for my daughters, but I don’t. I think this was just a cruel thing for him to do, but maybe I’m being too hard on him, a friend said he was just lost.

Ox Drover

Dear Joss, I hear your pain, confusion and the trauma bond of still wanting to be with someone who has shown you so little love and so much devaluation.

REad here and read some more, knowledge is power, and educating ourselves about the evil beings they are will give us freedom and peace. I suggest too that you get one of Donna’s books RED FLAGS of Love fraud and read that, it will help you see and identify the red flags which will help you stay NC. and DO STAY NC because that is the only way you can heal. (((hugs))) and God bless.

Ox Drover

dear Cathyannjones,

I’m sorry that your daughters are suffering but I think God intervened to keep you from hearing those calls.

Your friend’s comment “he was just lost” is one of those platitudes to try to make you feel better, but it is SO WRONG!

Suicide (and the calling you before he did it) and hanging is the ultimate act of malice for a psychopath. The ultimate FARK YOU! With the idea that you will feel guilty for their death the rest of your life. DON’T.

As for your daughters, it is going to be difficult for them to accept the truth, because denial of the truth is the easier of the options of accept/ don’t accept.

Also though, denial is the FIRST step in the grief process. Google Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and get some information on this process and realize that it is not a 1-2-3-4-5 process but a 1-4-2-3-4-3-5-1-2 and so on, back and forth like a roller coaster.

They are going to go through an angry stage in the grief process and so you in your own grief over all this, and grief over the pain he is still putting them through, need to be aware that sometimes the anger may be directed at you, but it will pass, so educate yourself about the grief process and how it works, for them and for you. BTW it is OKAY to be glad he is gone as well. (((hugs))) and God bless.


Thank you Ox Drover. I have such mixed feelings about his passing. He was constantly calling me with a sob story, trying to get money, cigarettes, or wanting to stay at my place (a big no). He had spoken recently about wanting to be cremeted if something happened to him. The day after I got a call from the police that he had hung himself, his gay lover called me. Everything my ex told me was a lie, they had food, he had cigarettes, he choose to move out of the guy’s house because he wanted to do what he wanted to do and the guy was still picking him up and taking him home. So, basically, he used everyone he could used and basically ignored our daughters and acted like they no longer existed. I am not glad he killed himself, but I am glad he can no long play on my emotions and try to manipulate me. The sad part was that he was a gifted artist but never wanted to put the work it took to do something with the talent. It is all just sad and I hurt because my daughters hurt.


Dear cathyannjones ~

I am so sorry for the pain you and your daughters are going through right now.

I also believe God was watching out for you that evening.

I hope, with time, your daughters will understand and heal.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your girls.

Ox Drover

Cathyannjones, I can relate entirely….not glad he hung himself, but glad he is not going to be able to hurt you any more.

I would suggest that you get some counseling on grief, through the HOSPICE PROGRAM, Even though he was not in hospice they have group grief programs I attended one group (5 weeks) with my son and a friend of my husband’s who loved him like a father and it was very good. They are free, so maybe your daughters can attend one with you if they live close or where they live if they don’t live close.

I would suggest that you wait a month or so before you attend, but you might want to sign up soon so you can assure yourself a place. They are GREAT!

Maybe some individual counseling for your girls if they think they need it too

Dealing with a suicidal psychopathic father, and one who was gay to boot has got to be difficult for them. God bless.



I am sorry to hear that. Spath or not, I always hate to hear about suicide. Makes me sad.


I’m sorry you were targeted one final time by your ex-spath. This is how they play the game. They win by caring less than you do -even about their own lives. They play chicken. I’m just glad he didn’t take anyone else with him.

donna dixon

Hi Joss,

I am by no means an expert on dealing with a sociopath but some of the pain you mentioned really resonated with me. I remember my ex telling me how much he loved and missed me but his ACTIONS always did the opposite! (In fact, the second time I filed for divorce he claims it sent him into a tailspin and that’s why he moved in and got engaged to another woman). WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND REACTS THAT WAY??? NO ONE!!!

I do believe it is in deed the TRAUMA BOND as Oxy describes that you are experiencing. I have been divorced 2 years and still struggle to overcome it.

A book that helped me recognize and start to deal was Betrayal Bond by Patrick Carnes. I really thought my childhood played no part in my choice of a mate but after reading the book I came to an entirely different conclusion.

I hope the book helps you and you need to count your blessings that you did not marry this toxic man!!!

anam cara

Spaths have to devalue others GENUINE success obtained through hard work and merit. They see it as a criticism of THEM. They can’t just allow others to BE, as this is insulting to them and implies THEY(spaths) and their S O P is wrong.


Cathy Ann Jones, I tend to agree with Skylar. Based on what was said, you were targeted and it was a game of chicken.

I’ve read that suicide is a very selfish action, which used to confuse me because I thought people who committed suicide had to be very depressed and feeling hopeless. That’s how I would feel when those ugly thoughts started creeping in for me, but then I started reading that there are people who apparently do that as a last statement of selfish control, sort of, “You can’t tell me what to do. I do as I please.”

I’m sure there are probably many reasons why people commit suicide. Who knows exactly what was going on in his head. (BYW, I don’t feel that way anymore, but I do think I did because the P & S were driving me to it.)

I am very sorry that your daughters and you are suffering. I am sure it is difficult. My sympathies.

Getting back to the original idea of background noise, I believe part of that is our tendency to minimize and deny. “Oh, it’s not that bad.” “He/she didn’t mean it that way.” “If I don’t acknowledge it, it will go away.”

I also think that we carry a lot of unheard (silent to others) background noise in our heads, i.e., the “old tapes” of things said to us that either hurt or eroded our confidence. Things like “you’re the problem,” “you can’t do anything right,” or “you’ll never amount to anything.”

I took a temp job once where I was working in a small room with other temp. I was totally consumed with what I was doing and mentally singing to myself. I was happy and feeling quite productive. Suddenly he burst out, “I can’t take this anymore! This room is so quiet. This silence is driving me crazy!!”

I was shocked. I told him that I hadn’t noticed. I’d been singing to myself. I thought things were fine. I even told him that if a room is silent, I simply make my own noise. That’s why I sing to myself. Maybe I was a little too cheery when I explained it’s the proverbial, “If Life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.” He glared at me.

That was the first time ever that it had crossed my mind that maybe some people don’t always have other things going on in their heads.

If my mind isn’t already occupied with another task, like reading, going online, watching TV, or working, I’m thinking. If it isn’t about practical things, like what will I make for supper, it might be going over what happened during the day or daydreaming. Then there are the B movies that people play in their minds about what could have, should have, would have. There’s something happening up there. I do not, like this guy, have a silent, no noise vacuum existing my skull.

But to think that people have absolutely nothing going on in their heads to the point that it would cause an outburst like this guy’s, that never crossed my mind. How is that possible?

I’ve always assumed that people have something going on in their heads. Whenever I’ve been in a guided meditation, part of the initial instructions are to let go of the day’s chatter and let your mind settle down so it can be at peace and receive. If you hear a car drive by or a dog barking, let it go. Isn’t there always some kind of background noise? How could that guy been in total silence? Whatever.

On the tough days, I don’t sing to myself. My mind hits the Play button and I run the old tapes. It’s very self-destructive and a hard habit to break. At least now I am aware of it, like being aware of external background noises, and when I do catch myself doing that, I try to cancel out the negativity by consciously counting my blessings or turning my mind to something positive. Many times, I include, “They just don’t get to do this to me anymore. No more living rent-free in my head.” I’ve even heard the old tapes referred to as “The Committee.”

I liked this post. Lots to think about. Thanks, Oxy, for writing it.

Ox Drover

G1S, you’re welcome.

Yes, we have an “internal voice” that talks to us and we DO I think have “internal tapes.”

Dr. Eric Berne called these “tapes” “Parental injunctions” and in his book, which I think you might read and enjoy, G1S “Games People Play” he explains how these “tapes” that were dictated by our parental units (both nurturing and critical) are there forever, and we can’t get rid of them, but we can HIT THE MUTE BUTTON.

The critical parental tapes that say “you are not good enough” we can MUTE when we hear it playing by saying to ourselves, “I will not listen to that tape because it is not true.” etc.

This is a GREAT book about games we all ahve been taught to play and each of our dysfunctional families may ahve had their “favorite” games but we can use this great book to learn to recognized other’s games as well.


Agree Oxy, I love Eric Berne’s book ‘Games People Play’. Gave me great insight into Ns/SPs & the tapes we carry in our heads.

Ox Drover

It did me too, I just didn’t put it into practice for a few decades after I read it. I had a therapist from back in the day tell me that I had the “thickest pair of rose colored glasses she had ever seen.” I think that is true. VERY True and I hung on to that malignant hope for a long time.


“I hung on to that malignant hope for a long time. ”
Me too, I bet almost all of us did.

I love “How ’bout you and her go have a fight” and “Yes, but…”

Now, I (almost) don’t care what the toxic Ns/Sps do. I have no control over anyone but myself.

Ox Drover

Clair, one time I lived in a nice neighborhood with a whole herd of little kids about 6-10 and there was onelittle girl about 9 or 10 who would play “you and her go have a fight” and get the kids to throwing rocks or whatever, and the neighborhood mothers figured her out. Her mom was not part of our group and didn’t feed the “herd” or over see them in any way, just threw her kids out of the house to join the herd and locked the door (really!) anyway we knew we couldn’t punish her in any way so what we did was we GROUNDED her.

“Tammy, you cannot come into the yard to pay with the kids for 2 weeks” so if she came into one of the yards of the other mothers we would say “Tammy, you are not allowed to come into the yard to play with X, Y and Z.”

By the end of the first week she was standing out in the street watching the other kids play, no one to play with her. After the second week we never had any more trouble with her causing problems with the younger kids.


Bless you for that, Oxy.
Hope that lesson stayed with her for the rest of her life.

Love that book cuz it does show the games people play, consciously or unconsciously.

I realized I had many people in my life who played the “Yes, but..” game & before reading the book, I’d get suckered into playing it. But, no more. I’m like, “OK, fine, buh-bye”.

“Games People Play” shows how the disordered & toxic try to keep us on the drama roller coaster.

Ox Drover

I don’t know if it did or not! Most of the kids on the block that I still know where they are did okay, Patrick is the only one that ended up in prison. One is dead (car wreck) one an attorney, one a barber, one a wal mart manager, one a teacher, etc.

Yea, that is a book good enough to reread every once in a while. I keep a copy of it in my permanent library.

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