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Chasing ghosts: psychopathy and the children

Psychopaths tend to be sexually promiscuous.  They often have numerous short term romantic relationships and indiscriminant sexual encounters throughout their lives.  Further, they commonly engage carelessly and recklessly, without regard for consequences.  This, unfortunately, often leaves trails of children behind in their wakes.

Psychopaths do not make good parents.  They may be able to create the children, but do not have the ability to effectively parent.  Frequently, they fail to properly provide for these children in most ways, as they are unusually focused on themselves, their own wants and needs, and often driven to act in anger and revenge.  This is true, independent of whether or not they are involved with the other parent.  (Although, it is worth mentioning that it may not seem as such in cases where they are still “wearing their masks.”)

They view their children as possessions or objects.  The children are not protected by the loving bonds of parenthood, because psychopaths are not capable of genuine, unconditional love.  No healthy emotional bonds exist either.  Parenthood takes on a whole new meaning when a psychopathic parent is involved and it is not positive.  While relationships may occur, and in some cases, may even span the course of lifetimes, they are always dysfunctional and potentially dangerous.  This harm can be perpetrated in many ways.  Acknowledging this as fact is important.  Yet, this truth is often misunderstood by many involved.

The children of psychopaths are often as confused as the rest of the population regarding the behaviors.  Some definitely achieve an awareness of the emotional disconnects and rage, even at very young ages, and have great fear, depending on what they have endured.  This group may not want to interact with the parent.  Others understand less, especially ones who were abandoned early in life and are less familiar with the actual traits and behaviors of the psychopathic parent.  All are at risk, however, even as adults.

Some children (adult or otherwise) may recognize that things are “off,”  but don’t know what to do with the information, are unable to articulate it, or choose to minimize the strange behaviors.  Others may seek further approval from the parent, yearning for love and attention.  Young children, who do not have other, outside life experiences to compare, may find the behaviors disturbing, but “normal,”  as the psychopathic parent may be all they know.

Regardless, there is a lot occurring that is incredibly dysfunctional when a psychopathic parent is involved.  They may operate very differently with various family members, but all of their behaviors are jaded by their own interests and agendas, not those of the children.

Psychopathic parents commonly play favorites with their children.  They position them, as they would anyone or anything else.  Their motives may be somewhat complex or very basic, but the reasons are not related to the care and well being of their offspring – ever.  Also, a child’s spot in this twisted hierarchy is not guaranteed, and may whimsically change, depending on how “satisfied” the psychopathic parent is with the child at any given moment.  Security, which plays a critical role in healthy child development, is non-existent.

An example may look something like this, remembering that not all will look the same; a “golden child” or children, as well as a “target child” or children.  Additionally, there may be others (who may be less useful to the psychopath) who tend to be more or less forgotten about.  They may feel that there is little to gain from interactions with these children.  In some cases, it is possible that the psychopaths recognize their similarly afflicted children, and distance themselves.  Could this be a “protective” measure, in an attempt to perpetuate “their kind?”  Could it be that they are less fun to manipulate and harm or irritate?  There are many theories and various schools of thought on why this is, some of with which I agree, others which I do not.  In this article, I will focus on first two categories.

What does all of this mean to the children?  Regardless of position, the answer is usually distress and some type of harm; physical, emotional, psychological, or otherwise.  None of these positions is desirable for any child of any age.

The target child or children

A child on the receiving end of a psychopathic parent’s wrath is in a precarious place.  This child or group of children may be targeted for a multitude of reasons.

In many cases, the targeted children are psychologically quite normal and require discrediting by the psychopath.  They may have the psychopath figured out.  Or, they may be the children of the parent that the psychopath harbors the most hatred for or resentment toward.  In some cases, these children bear the brunt of the psychopath’s anger and wild, abusive, neglectful, and manipulative behaviors.

Regardless of age, this group is lied to and about.  The psychopathic parent also tends to blame them and/or their normal parent for almost everything that is wrong in the psychopathic parent’s life.  This may cause guilt or anger in the target child, depending on the circumstances.

In essence, the psychopathic parent sees this group as a significant liability and/or objects of sadistic pleasure.  These children are also the ones who tend to become the pawns in the psychopathic parent’s games of “payback” with the non-psychopathic parent.  Although, a confusing, dangerous, and potentially frustrating place for a child to be, it’s relatively simple to understand, once alerted to the behaviors.

The golden child or children           

The plight of the “golden child” is much more complex.  It’s a larger scale manipulation because the psychopath must remain undercover.  Naturally, the position of “golden child” has to do with the psychopath, not the child, and what they feel the child has to offer them.  The golden child may fall anywhere in the birth and relationship order.

The psychopaths may recognize that they need to have at least one child on their side, as many others may be estranged.  Even psychopaths come realize their mortality (sort of) and may desire some type of  “insurance” that they will always have at least one relation at their beck and call, for either physical or financial support as they age.  It is also possible that they need a “partner in crime,” or “cover” in order to appear normal.  Perhaps they need a “buddy.”  The reasons vary.  One thing that does not change, however, is that their “caring” and positive affect is not genuine.  Conversely, it is harmful.

“Golden children” are sometimes gullible in many respects, which may be what influenced the psychopaths’ selections in the first place.  The children are not at fault for this.  This group typically believes that the parent cares for them.  They are easy targets, as they are often ones who did not grow up in frequent, direct contact with the psychopathic parent.  Or, they did and are under their manipulative influences.

In cases where psychopaths are attempting to “mend” relationships, that they claim were estranged due to the actions of an outside force, they will only try this with children they know fail to understand the  affliction.  If the child’s personality is forgiving and he or she does not seek greater understanding, taking most behaviors at face value and accepting excuses, the child will fall, hook, line, and sinker.

Yet somewhere, the child probably has or had an idea of the parent’s true nature.  They choose to overlook what they know.  They want to believe that they are important to this parent, so they cast reality aside.  Additionally, it is important to remember that psychopaths “lovebomb” their children too.  This feels good and makes the child feel special, especially if they are held in comparison to the targets.

If the child hears and gets what he wants from the parent, the child will invest in the “relationship.”  The child’s investment will be genuine, but the psychopath’s never will be.  When the children are older and have fewer interactions with this parent, the psychopath’s work is considerably easier.  Superficial relations are easier to maintain.

If other disordered individuals or enablers surround the psychopathic parent and fuel their assertions, the expectation should be that the manipulations will occur at a greater rate or to a pronounced degree.  Sadly, the child or children may not understand, which will eventually lead to even greater disappointment and confusion.

Significant dissonance will occur when the words and the actions of the parent really don’t match.  In time, the child will hopefully come to understand what he already knew.  With no ability to maintain rewarding relationships,  just simply knowing  what to do, say, or offer the child materially, will not mask the emotional disconnection.  Even when “emotions” are displayed, the normal child should eventually piece the problems together and acknowledge the reality.

At that point, he or she may ask the same questions and search for the same answers as every other person the psychopath has drawn close.  It is , indeed, an unfortunate position to be in.

Which is worse?

Neither is good.  However, although the target children may wish that things were completely different, at least members of this group know where they stand.  They have the ability to rectify what is and move forward in a healthy fashion.

The golden children will have to live and learn, which will, inevitably, come to take its toll.  They cannot fill the empty places, because they cannot define what the voids are or why they exist.  The pedestal can be a very lonely place, when the motives for their placement are sinister.  With the words that mean nothing, the lies and blame regarding the decent, and the feigned affect void of meaning, the golden children truly are left chasing ghosts.

Children of psychopathy have obstacles to overcome regardless of the scenario.  Again, education and awareness at all levels – mental health, legal, and within the families themselves -will be what helps to decide the outcomes of those in this position.

Look for future information on children of psychopathy.  Dr. Liane Leedom, M.D. and I have two research articles, currently in press, which will continue to shed light on this very important topic.  We are both excited to begin sharing our findings shortly. 

 

 


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59 Comments on "Chasing ghosts: psychopathy and the children"

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One of my 3 children has significant anxiety and fear of her spath dad. She knows something is “off” like the author of this article mentions. She often says things like, “He’s not like other people.” Or, “He’s really a bad man pretending to be a good man.” Or, “I can’t stand his fake talk.” “Fake talk” is her way of describing his lack of genuineness. She sees right through him and it scares her. My poor baby. I can’t imagine what it must be like for her. Well, I guess I can….. I lived it too. But I was able to divorce him. She can’t.

This is a great article, Linda. There is lots of food for thought and I’m excited to hear more about your and Liane’s research.

In my experience, the psychopath wants us to become like them. They want us to feel the envy and hatred that they feel.

I’m not sure what criteria they choose for picking the golden child, but I’ve seen that the end result is a more selfish child than the ones who were not chosen. I think this is because the pedestal feels so precarious and the fear of falling is constantly looming. Just like us, who have been subjected to the roller coaster ride of idealizing and devaluing, the golden child is subjected to swings of highs and lows. The child never learns that they are safe or that anything is predictable because it’s not. They never have control over the whims of the spath.

Some children, who are already spathy, recognize the evil in their parents because they can relate to it. I think the psychopath will not put too much energy into that child. His work is done. But the spath will occasionally team up with the spath child to attack the more normal siblings or even the normal spouse.

Although it may seem like the worst position would be to be a “normal” child in a spath household because that child will get the worst of the abuse and bullying, in the end, if the child survives and can discern what he has experienced, he will have gained resilience. It all depends on the child’s ability to discern what is happening around them.

In the end, any attention from a spath, is bad attention. The kids who can make themselves blend with the furniture are the luckiest.

Linda this is a great article but I have one “critical” comment, it should be a book, not just an article….there is so MUCH INFORMATION that I have read it over several times now and don’t believe I have fully been able to take it all in.

I agree with your statements 100% in every direction, but each sentence you write makes me think of this or that person and the next sentence makes me think of some other example of what you are saying.

Being an only child and only grandchild on either side for several years, I was the “golden child” for many years and have also experienced the position of “scape goat” as well. These ever changing dynamics of the “roles” played by each person in the family dramas in which we grew up are “interesting” and how we change and adapt to these “roles.”

If a family depends on a certain person being the scape goat and that person gets sober and starts to “straighten up” the family will goad him/hher back into drinking again so that the status quo can be maintained. If the scape goat leaves (goes NC or dies) then a new person will be appointed to fill that role if it is important to the dynamics of the family.

When my grandmother, the FAMILY ENABLER/PROTECTOR of the family bad boy, died, my egg donor changed her own role and assumed that role left empty by the death of my grandmother and when as my egg donor aged and saw the day that the family would need another “enabler” to protect the family bad boy, she started grooming me….and when I rebelled all hell broke loose when my chosen replacements took her money but didn’t fulfill the role the way she expected them to. I had been devalued and discarded by her when she though had replacements to fill the role. Now, I am the ENEMY that she must protect the family bad boy from.

In the mean time, he plays her like a fine fiddle….and she as no concept of what is going on.

Analyzing where we are in the DYNAMICS of the people we interact with (family, co-workers, friends, neighbors) can give us some clues in how to take care of ourselves and meet our own needs while NOT allowing someone else to assign us a role in their own drama that is injurious to us.

I truly believe that there is much to be gained by studying children of Ps with what is known about children growing up in alcoholic homes. Martha Stout claims that 80% of Ps are alcoholics.

Studies also show how these children are affected as adults. There are many books on adult children of alcoholics. The research has been around for a long time. Why not utilize it? Adult children suffer from social expectations that families need to be together.

Many ACOAs absolutely hate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. They can get stuck going over and over again what their parents did to them. How liberating it would be to know that their P parents were subhuman.

What hasn’t been done, to the best of my knowledge, is combine the bodies of knowledge ”“ let’s look at what we know about Ps with what is known about alcoholics. Both fields would gain much from each other.

The ACOA field still pushes that everybody is born good. It holds out hope that at some point the families may reunite. Granted, adult children will tell others to keep away from toxic people, but the implication is that yes, you, too, may one day be the lucky one with the family of your dreams. Put the focus on you and change yourself for the better. These are obsolete beliefs. They were based on what we knew 30 and 40 years ago. Times have changed.

We need to educate the public.

There is a point where people are good enough just the way they are. We shouldn’t keep forcing relationships on people when, if they used their common sense and had the right information, we can agree that certain people just aren’t worth the investment. Move on. Find emotionally healthier people.

I feel there is a sense of spinning one’s wheels in the ACOA movement because this missing piece is knowledge about psychopathy and psychopaths. Give these people that part. I think they would love it, once they grasp it, and go on to very productive lives. Meanwhile, they’re struggling over the myth that everybody is born good and if only”and people wonder why co-dependency continues.

There is alcoholism in my family. However, nobody’s ever mentioned Ps. I was pushed to look at what I was doing to cause these things to happen. What could I do to change me? I agree there was much that I needed to unlearn and re-learn, but at the same time, nobody ever suggested that I undertaking impossible quests if I thought that family harmony, love, and understanding would result. That was pushed on me.

My life would have been so much different, productive, loving, and far less painful if somebody had told me to cut my losses, run, and maintain no contact for the rest of my life. Instead, I’ve been fed that BS that there must be something wrong with me that I can’t get along with my family members or don’t want to be with them. What kind of person would be like that? And of course, we can all see how everybody else in my family is together so by default, the “blame” falls at my feet.

I am sure that children of psychopaths encounter the same.

Studies of alcoholic families have identified various roles that the children assume. These roles are not healthy, even for the “best” child, which is identified as the hero child. In Linda’s description, this would be equivalent with the “golden” child.

There are often more roles than children in the family. This means the roles can be assumed by any of the children at any time and some children will assume two or more of these roles at the same time.

These roles maintain the sick, alcoholic, dysfunctional dynamic of the family. They supplement the sick dynamic that is going on between the parents. Sometimes only one parent is the alcoholic and sometimes both parents are. What is important to remember is that Ps are also alcoholics. A study of adult children of alcoholics will give a good idea of the struggles children growing up with a P will face as adults.

The whole system has been compared with a mobile. The roles are in an unsteady balance with each other. Sometimes, like jostling a mobile, the mobile will swing wildly, but eventually things will settle down into a precarious balance.

Some or all of these roles may be present or absent in a family. Sometimes, one role may be assigned by the parent and it follows the child throughout life.

Which roles manifest depend on the parents and the dynamics between them, their personal issues (like substance abuse,) their personalities, their behavior, their presence or absence (and at what point) in the child’s life, education, economic, and cultural influences and expectations, sometimes the birth order, and many other mitigating factors.

Roles

Hero Child ”“ The hero child is also known as the “fair-haired child” or the “child that can do no wrong.” This child maintains the façade that there is nothing wrong with the family. People will point to this child and say, “This one turned out OK. The parents must be doing something right.”

The hero child may go on to become the most successful child of the family either through marriage, career, or some other means.

Hero children often identify with the dominant parent in the family. They can also be rescuers and caretakers, thus becoming heroes because the family expects them fix everything or have all the answers. The destructive side of these expectations is insecurity. The child will believe that he or she is a fraud or that his or her acceptance comes only if they give the smiling faces what they are asking.

When the child does not know, the child will lie to escape criticism or disappointing the ones with the expectations. In time, the child may learn that it doesn’t matter what he or she says, a response is all that is expected so the child will say anything even when knowing it is not the truth. The family does not care about substance. In fact, it is incapable of it as long as it is dysfunctional. Appearance is what drives the family. If this situation presents itself often enough, the hero child will become a chronic liar.

The family puts this child on a pedestal. This cultivates narcissism or makes the child emotionally unavailable as any sign of less being less than wonderful would destroy the image forced upon them. They often appear confident, but suffer from perfectionism.

They can also feel horribly guilty because they do not understand why they have been elevated above their siblings. They may struggle over why they receive the accolades and favors while their siblings are neglected, passed over, demeaned, abused, or dismissed.

Since they cannot control how their parents act nor can they influence the family system to make it healthy, they emotionally shut down, go into denial, and become emotionally unavailable.

Another way of coping is joining in the chorus of fault-finding in others including their siblings, the subordinate parent, or a group the family finds offensive in some way, which can lead to bullying, racism, or some other kind of superiority behavior. Pointing the finger at somebody else takes the focus off them and any of their shortcomings.

Because of all of the above, they have major control issues.

Scapegoat Child ”“ Just as the hero child can do no wrong, there needs to be a child that does no right. This is the Scapegoat who is most likely the one to be battered or otherwise victimized growing up and also throughout life.

This child can actually be an achiever, talented, and gifted, even more so than the hero child, but if these attributes do not suit the purposes of the family dynamics or would disrupt the well-cultivated image of the hero child, they will not be recognized. This causes tremendous confusion in the child.

Talented or not, these children can also suffer from perfectionism. Unlike the hero child, who is trying to live up to an image, the scapegoat’s perfectionism is to escape abuse and criticism and hopefully achieve some sort of positive recognition in the family. That usually never happens.

Because they are literally told if it weren’t for them, then ” (fill in the blank.) These are the children who believe that they must have done something wrong to have caused the misery in the family. They also believe that they flawed or bad. There is a tremendous amount of core damage done to these children.

A parent who sees having a child as a burden and resents the intrusion into his or her personal life will blame the child for their lack of freedom, costing too much money, or whatever else the parent deems is making the parent miserable. Neglect is very common.

Silent or Forgotten Child ”“ Usually, this role appears after there is a Hero and Scapegoat. This one tries to fade away and not be noticed. This one is also meek and will do what he or she is told.

Forgotten children may become the socially awkward child or may never leave home.

They may escape into a fantasy world. They can be the odd child at school which is ridiculed or bullied.

Their emotions are not recognized. They are valued by the family only because they do not cause any problems. Nobody really cares about what they think or do. The fewer demands they put on the family, the better the family likes it. However, this means their emotional needs not only go unrecognized, but unprocessed. They do not receive guidance on growing up. They stay out of trouble and out of sight. It is terribly invalidating for the child.

As adults, their anger may fester to the point of violence or murder. Their fantasy life can become perverted.

Most often, though, they become victims of abusers and remain stuck in abusive relationships.

Clown or Entertainer ”“ the Clown or Entertainer in the family is usually a younger child or the youngest. The younger or youngest child learns early on that being cute and adorable is protection in a violent, dysfunctional family.

The family “approves” of this child because the behavior is non-threatening and, again, can be used as an example of how “normal” the family is ”“ look! We have a happy child who laughs and makes us laugh.

In addition to self-protection, the child’s antics diffuse tension.

Defiant or Rebel Child ”“ This child is the emotionally healthiest child of the family because this is the child who is most likely to see how sick and dysfunctional the family is despite its attempts to convince others of its normalcy.

This is the child who sees the family an Emperor’s New Clothes situation. This child will speak up, which the family may interpret as “having a mouth” or being a smart ass.

This child is a threat to the family’s denial. The family will become dismissive by essentially pushing the child away. Because this child is kicked out of the nest, the child will gravitate to others. While delinquency, substance abuse problems, unwanted pregnancies, and other issues are not inevitable, there is a high chance that these will develop because the family is not present to give the child a healthy foundation and guide him or her.

However, there is also a chance that the now abandoned child will meet up with healthy interventions through teachers, peers from emotionally healthier families, or organizations. The child’s personality may drive the child to seek help. The child could learn that his or her family is not normal. On their own, these children may find those who can tell them what is normal.

This child ends up very confused due to feeling one way internally. The family has regulated him or her to a role where failure is expected and no help will be provided, yet the child feels like all the rest of the kids (at least initially.) This child wonders what he or she did wrong and ends up with tremendous shame issues.

The Peacemaker ”“ This child may also be the hero child or the family comic.

In the purest sense, the peacemaker has an overdeveloped sense of responsibility of bringing peace to the squabbling family members. It is an unfair burden to place on a child since a child is never responsible for an adult’s actions. It empowers the child with a false sense of right and wrong because the actions are not about the other people, but are done for approval or protect against harm.

There are two types of peacemakers ”“ the assertive kind who step in to calm things down and the passive ones who back down and will do anything to keep the ugly from erupting. While on the surface these may appear to be noble or benevolent efforts, in reality, they are polar opposites of extreme control.

Like the hero child, the Peacemaker can be a know-it-all. At the other end, these children may also become great enablers. They walk on eggshells and will sacrifice everything for peace at any cost. They will become doormats.

Linda, thank you for this insightful article. I don’t think enough attention has been paid to this specific topic, and the ramifications of what children endure at the hands of spath parents cannot be underestimated – ever.

I would like to see some serious data on this subject: percentages of spath children from spath parents; percentages of children by spath parents that end up as victims; etc.

Thank you, again.

Brightest blessings

Thanks, Linda, yes

“Analyzing where we are in the DYNAMICS of the people we interact with (family, co-workers, friends, neighbors) can give us some clues in how to take care of ourselves and meet our own needs while NOT allowing someone else to assign us a role in their own drama that is injurious to us. ”

When I was exposed to some “family role theory” during nursing school, I sort of “clicked” on it that it “fit” how I had been brought up, and then when I began working at the psych inpatient facility and became some what familiar with the 12 step programs that were part of it, I also saw the dynamics in my own family, and yet….it took me DECADES to start to APPLY what I was learning…seeing clearly in OTHERS but could not see at all in myself.

I had a therapist tell me once that I had the “thickest pair of rose colored glasses she had ever seen.” This was after I had been devastated by my divorce and D&D from my husband who was mentally ill and controlled like a puppet by his (I believe) psychopathic father. I did an emotional autopsy of that whole relationship with my husband and his family which took “dysfunctional” to a new level.

I was single for over 7 years and married an old friend….we had a great marriage for 20 years until is death in a plane crash here at our farm and airport. The crash and his death sent me into a tail spin of PTSD….and having dealt with my psychopathic son’s problems for 15 years during that marriage, and frankly, not in a healthy manner either…I finally started coming out of the FOG (fear, obligation and guilt) and realized just how DYSFUNCTIONAL my own family of origin was/is and started to look at the family roles that were assigned to each person and how my family had for GENERATIONS perpetuated these roles and when I decided to start to set boundaries this threw the entire family into a spin cycle because the STATUS QUO was not working any more.

We become accustomed to WHAT TO EXPECT and if we don’t know what to expect from those in our family circle, we become very anxious and do our best to restore it to equalibrum.

As my therapist would say….”tissue damage occurs” and in the case of my son, Patrick, he killed the young woman who was “disloyal” to him and turned him in to the police…just like his mother had been “disloyal” to him.

Just as my P sperm donor killed at least two people I know of for sure that “crossed” him and were “disloyal” to him.

Since my son Patrick never met my P sperm donor I know that this was not how he became a “clone” of P sperm donor, his grandfather….so there are some genetics at work there as well.

I know I participated to my own detriment in the dysfunctional family dynamics for decades….and actually thought that somehow the dysfunctional dynamics I saw in OTHERS was not operational in my own. DUH????

When I sat on the “wrong side of the clip board” so to speak, and started BEING the client of the therapist, I realized that I HAD SOME SERIOUS CHANGING TO DO MYSELF.

I told a man the other day who was a researcher of psychopaths that if I had known then what I know NOW I would have chosen NOT to have biological children. He was AMAZED at what I said, but I was entirely sincere. My son C who is NOT a psychopath, but simply a man who grew up ADHD and in a dysfunctional environment has chosen NOT to have biological children and I am glad for his sake he has made that decision. If Patrick on the other hand gets out of prison, he will spread his seed far and wide if given the opportunity I am sure.

My P sperm donor had 4 biological children by 2 women, and only one of the four that I know of (I am not in direct contact with any of them) I THINK is high in P traits. The other 2 of my half sibs SEEM at least to be successful in the business world and have stable long lasting marriages. I don’t know anything about their biological children though, which by now are adults.

On both my maternal and paternal sides there are MANY people who are high in P traits and violence at least toward family members or spouses, and in the case of my P sperm donor, violent against everyone associated with him. He was very smart, however, and VERY successful financially. Only the one child of his that I think is high in P traits had anything to do with him by the time they became adults. P sperm donor had 6 or 7 wives that I know of, most were physically and emotionally abused as were his children except the “clone” who was the “golden child.”

The genetics of the both sides of the family with ADD, psychopathy, and bi-polar as well as many of the members of the family obtaining MD degrees, or other professional degrees is quite interesting.

Many of the members of the families consisted of a psychopath marrying a victim, or members of the family who became victims of a psychopathic spouse. But tracing the geneology backwards there seemed to be at least ONE psychopath in every generation along with one dedicated enabler for that psychopath, even if the psychopath did not raise their own children or had little or no contact with them.

All I know for sure now is that I no longer want to participate in the “family drama” but my failure to participate has lead to chaos in my own small family. Lateral lines of the families though continue to function in the repetition of the drama though in my cousins on both sides.

Sometimes though, families are like the “Mafia” or a “gang” BLOOD IN, BLOOD OUT….and we are not allowed to leave peacefully and pursue our own lives, but are severely punished for even trying to opt out.

No matter how well we “understand it,” it still may be next to impossible to escape.

G1S:

Good stuff…thank you.

Linda:

Thank you so much for this article. My spath is a high functioning alcoholic and has two children. I have no idea what goes on in his household with those children as I no longer have anything to do with him, but your comment about children only being possessions to them rang true. If I know nothing else about how he parents them, I do know that he feels that way about them. I know he only sees them as pawns to be used or chess pieces to be moved around and used however it may fit. So very sad. I pray for his kids all the time. They seem pretty well adjusted, but you just never know. Kids can hide a lot.

G1S, I, too, studied the ACOA theory, and found out a lot about myself. I, was, I think, mostly the lost child. I don’t know if you enjoy fiction, but, as a Lit major, I enjoy reading Literature that supports a certain way of thinking. After being in therapy I went to college, and read a novel by William Falkner about a dysfunctional family that, I found correlated to the ACOA roles you cite above, although Falkner did not stress alcoholism as the problem….more like narcissism or perhaps psychopathy? Anyway, the title is, “As I Lay Dying”….if you enjoy great Literature, I couldn’t recommend it more.

Thanks, Kim, I’ll keep it in mind.

Oxy, why would a researcher of Ps (of all people) be so surprised that you wouldn’t have had children if you knew then what you knew now? How deep into research is this person? I am not getting the impression that the individual understands what happens to the victims.

I am not so sure that when we are in the dynamics of a relationship that we can grasp what is going on, our parts in it, or why we are reacting or acting as we are.

In 12-Step Al-Anon recovery for adult children, Step Two is restoring us to sanity. The problem is these people as children didn’t have sanity so it’s asking them to be restored to something they have never experienced. Perhaps like asking a blind person to decribe color?

Anyway, what I’d really like to see gone is the belief that children are resilient and they’ll get over this (their childhoods.) Of couse they will.

We go to what is familar. I used to wonder again and again what was so familar about my son’s P father. He just felt right to me. He’d fit into my family. Boy, did I get that one right – with a S mother and a P sister. Ugh!! He felt normal to me (and he was if you looked at my family of origin.)

Familar/normal does not necessarily equal healthy. I literally decided to study child development in college because I realized that my family wasn’t normal, but I had no clue what normal was. I thought if I took the courses, I’d spare my son what I went through. They helped a lot. He turned out pretty wonderful and great IMHO.

Linda,
Great article!!

I was not raised by direct alcoholics. But, my father’s mother was. Two generations and the traits continued. The traits of psychopaths and alcoholics are similar, as many alcoholics have a comorbidity. They are alcoholic and personality disordered, lacking impulse control.

One therapist told me that it was sometimes worse being raised by codependents. I don’t like the term codependents. I prefer to think of it as a generational defensive and learned behavioral responding which is passed from generation to generation.

My x-spath is an alcoholic as well as his sister. I feel for her two sons ages 8-10 or so, as she posts on Facebook details of her drinking escapades, some of which included her being drunk around them. I presume both parents were alcoholics as well, especially given they both died of cancer before the age of 50. Given that my x-spath’s parents died while he was in his early 20s and he only has one sibling, his sister, one would think that they would be close, but this is not the case. He rarely sees her, and I only remember seeing one Facebook comment, from her. He did not respond.

I strongly suspect my x-spath was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. In addition, I have some evidence he might have been involved in such himself (from some very odd dating profile questions).

Interestingly, I remember feeling “uncomfortable” when my x-spath talked about his nephews. Nothing he directly said, just the look in his eye and a gut feeling on my part. Perhaps this is why he and his sister are not close.

The x-spath’s oldest nephew looks very much like his uncle, right down to the stare. I doubt his mother has any capacity for understanding or intervention, and I fear this kid will go the path of his uncle.

Generation to generation…

BBE:

Mine is an alcoholic and I also strongly suspect that he was sexually abused as a child.

Rebecca P, I also don’t like the term “co-dependent” and prefer ENABLER as a term to describe the behaviors.

My family on my egg donor’s side went wayyyy back with alcoholic and abusive men and submissive, enabling women. The girl children married men like their daddy and the boy children became like their daddy, at least 1-2 each generation were alcoholic abusive.

My Maternal GM came from the alcoholic/abusive family and her husband, my maternal GF just came from a dysfunctional one. He drank and emotionally abused my GM until they had been married about 15 years and my egg donor was about a year old and he came home one night falling down drunk and reached out for her and she screamed. He said as drunk as he was he realized his child was afraid of him and he never drank another drop as long as he lived. He was hard working, provided as well as he could for his family, honest and paid his debts, and I never saw him be abusive verbally or any other way to anyone.

My GM however assumed the role of enabler and protected her son, my “Uncle Monster” from the consequences of his bad behavior because she was afraid if his daddy knew he was trying to smother his baby sister to death “he would get a spanking and he would run away from home.” From age 7 when my egg donor was born and hhe tried to smother her until age 14 when he had smothered her unconscious multiple times, he tormented her, but when my grandfather caught him he whaled the tar out of Uncle Monster and he STOPPED smothering his sister at least.

When GM died, egg donor took over her role of protecting Uncle Monster who is now deceased and now she protects THE PSYCHOPATH son of mine…and because I refuse to participate any longer in this family drama, she punishes me.

In the case of Uncle Monster I think he was bi-polar as well as alcoholic and psychopathic as well. I know that ADHD and left handedness are also more common in Psychopaths than in the general population.

Al-Anon does not use the term, co-dependent. First of all, it’s a clinical term.

Al-Anon goes so far as not to use “adult child of an alcoholic” or the acronym, ACOA.

The rationale is that it makes the individual a victim and defines the person by somebody else.

The healthier perspective is to see that these are how things are today and we can change ourselves whenever we choose. Therefore, Al-Anon takes things “just for today” and “one day at a time.”

Al-Anon firmly believes that we are all individuals with our own paths to live and walk.

Because we are all unique, Al-Anon invites its members “to take what you like and leave the rest.”

For me, this is fascinating; it describes my childhood to a tee. 3 children – elder brother, myself, & younger brother. Mother never made any bones about saying directly that the eldest was her favourite, I was just, well, “me”, definitely “my father’s child” & nothing could be done about that! The youngest was largely ignored & shipped off to boarding school.

The family was clearly divided into 2, I & my father, her & her boys. To this day it remains as such. I thought this was normal ”“ all parents have favourites, I was my father’s favourite & my elder brother was hers, it really was that simple.

I adore my father but had to accept that he also played a part in her drama by not standing up to her on my behalf; he ignored a lot of it for a quiet life and thereby enabled a lot of it.
Strangely enough one of her biggest threats was “wait until your father gets home—

I once had a metal music stand wrapped around my head for being a slut. One of my crowd of friends left his jacket behind after a group gathering & returned to fetch it. She caught me at the front door handing him his jacket & flew into a rage. She laughs about this incident as she relates the story as it was my fault I ducked ”“ otherwise it would have caught me lower down. But a lot of my childhood she seems to remember differently to the rest of us.

We were never hugged as children, in fact very little physical interaction ever occurred apart from discipline which these days would probably be termed abuse, but back then it was just a good old fashioned hiding, quite often with a leather belt or wooden spoon so that “she wouldn’t hurt her hand”. It has taken me a long time in adulthood to get used to friends hugging me without feeling uncomfortable and accept that physical contact is a normal part of any adult relationship.

I stopped interacting with my elder brother in my 20’s as the bullying was becoming increasingly vicious & after much soul searching cut out my mother in my mid 30’s. Although she still emails me infrequently, I never respond. She makes sure all family & friends know that she is “keeping the lines of communication open” so the fault of any breakdown lies squarely with me.

She has successfully managed to ostracize us from the rest of the family with various stories, & maintains to this day that my father & I have an incestuous relationship which has of course made visitation for my father with his grandchildren (all girls) almost impossible. ”“ After all, what mother would lie about something as horrendous as that? Like most of the posters on this site I could write a book on her antics.

I have decided to ignore it, and work on the premise that those that are important to me know the truth, & those that unquestioningly believe her aren’t worth worrying about. Yes, this is easier said than done.

I don’t remember her being an alcoholic but her favourite drink was a pint glass filled with ice & topped up with rose’, she did polish off a good few of these. Whether she could have managed without them or not I don’t know, after all, I was enough to drive anyone to drink! 🙂

She became a vicar for the Anglican Church, now retired, and lives in a flatlet above my elder brother’s garage. How’s that for Kharma!!

HeatherCT:

I read stories like yours and wonder why people even have children. I mean really. What is the purpose if you are going to treat them like they are not even human? I just don’t get it. Perhaps that is why they do it…so they will have someone to abuse.

My heart goes out to you.

Louise,
that’s one reason they do it.
Another reason is so they can torture their partner by abusing the child and making the child into a freak. What greater punishment can you impose on someone than to make them watch their children become spaths?

skylar:

That makes sense. Dreadful, just dreadful.

Louise,

My grandmother once made a peculiar comment about something my mother had said – that she loved babies, but once they were up and about that was the attitude change towards them took place.
I don’t think socioaths know that they won’t be able to love their children. Is is possible that what is supposed to be the ultimate in love is an attempt on their part to experience the actual emotion of love? Or maybe I am giving them too much credit and it is simply something one has to do in order to maintain respectability.

Skylar, I realise you didn’t mean it as it sounds, but I’m not a freak 🙂
I did at one stage however wonder if I had inherited her gene.
Having thought a great deal about it I am 100% certain that I have not. What I mistook for sociopathic tendancies on my part I think were “learned responses” from her, if that makes sense.
Quite apart from that, the very fact that she was able to control me for so long with guilt trips proved to me conclusively that I definitely am not a “path”.

I think my biggest adult issue is trust. I am to an extent a perfectionist, and a bit of a workaholic. I run a very loving and completely non violent household and would probably be described as a bit over protective. I am also known for a tremendous sense of humour.. All of the above more than likely courtesy of her.

HeatherCT, some people have children because they think it’s the “right thing to do.” Other people have children because they will, indeed, have a lifetime of “supply.” Still, other people have children because the children will have Things to use to torment and control others. And, there are those people who have children because they have the capacity to love and cherish the value of a human being – they have a love of family and healthy relationships.

Sunflower – what a horrible thing for any person to say to a child! That’s one of the most narcissistic remarks a parent could make to a child! It’s the OTHER way around: a child is born for a parent to love.

Brightest blessings

HeatherCT:

I think it could be both. They know they are different and don’t feel emotions. Maybe they do think that having children will evoke the ultimate of love in them and then when it doesn’t happen, they just abuse the children. I also do believe they have children to look normal, to look like they are a family man (in my spath’s case) or family woman. I KNOW he wants the whole IMAGE.

Babies are “trouble” to care for…get up in the night etc….but they are not defiant in any form, they are controllable.

People who abuse their children, and I think Heather CT’s mom would definitely QUALIFY as an abuser….see those children as possessions and if they “defy” the owner they are devalued.

Many psychopaths and others who are HIGH in P traits become ministers or teachers or others in positions of status, authority to cover up for the lack of INNER bonding. Doesn’t surprise me that HeatherCTs mom was a minister.

Many families live like that with one grossly dysfunctional partner and one enabler. My family did and I too thought it was NORMAL because that was what I saw at home. My step father was a wonderful man but he enabled my egg donor, the only time I ever saw him step up to her when she was in a rage was when she was beating me uncontrollably when I was 15. I “provoked” her by sassing her, but when she started hitting me I became definant and COUNTED THE LICKS which really enraged her to were she was foaming at the mouth, he finally pulled her off of . He was very supportive and nurturing of me though, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

I can’t imagine how horrible my life would have been without him. Even now, with him dead nearly 8 years, the love he showed me still supports and nourishes me.

When children have at least ONE nourishing person in their lives I think it makes a great difference in their ability to heal from the abuse. It may take a long time, but I think it makes healing more possible.

Sunflower,

You and I posted at the same time. I understand your post and I agree with you. People who are high in N or P traits do want to fill that void with their children as objects of control.

You CAN heal from this trauma and you CAN live a good life and learn to NOT BE a magnet to the abusers, so keep on reading, learning and applying that learning to yourself. We can’t fix them but we CAN fix ourselves.

Thanx Oxy, much needed words 🙂

Sunflower, I had a wonderful step father, but I realize he also was an enabler…but he DID nurture me and give me things I got no where else.

I know that ONE person in a child’s life can make the difference in how that child turns out. I am glad that you had that in your great grandmother. I also had a grandfather that was nurturing as well. So I was fortunate to have two in my life.

Keep that love alive in your heart and mind even if the person is gone, remember the kind words that they spoke to you and the wisdom that they imparted.

Sunflower, sometimes, adult children need to “divorce” their DNA donors, for whatever reason. Many don’t do this because of Wills and financial issues, but most don’t realize that “blood relatives” is not a MANDATE to be a lifetime supply. “Blood relatives” refers to a biological connection, only.

I know of very strong and resolved people who were abused and devalued by their parents and “started over” only to have one (or, both) parent(s) contact them when their health begins to fail or they experience some dire trauma. They only reach out to their estranged offspring to invoke the “sense of obligation” that they expect their offspring to feel: TAKE CARE OF ME. Those strong and resolved people simply responded with, “I’m sorry, but I cannot help you,” and shut the door and never looked back.

Yes, this is a drastic and paiinful step for most people. The “supply offspring” were raised with very strong shame-cores and they worked their ways out of those false beliefs. They knew that allowing that toxicity back into their lives would result in further harm, and they weren’t willing to risk more damage over some “sense of duty.”

IMHO, severing ties with ALL toxic individuals is a personal imperative, whether they fit the profile of a socipath, or not. Toxic is toxic – no amount of good intentions is going to alter that dynamic.

So….having typed all of that, you’re much more valuable than the opinion of your egg-donor.

Brightest blessings

Sunflower,

Sounds like we have pretty similar history’s.

The first step is learning to say “NO”.

We are so eager to please, we work so hard to live up to unrealistic expectations and put all our energies into gaining acceptance. Saying “yes” continually to whatever outrageous tasks and requests are put to us is second nature.

Changing this is a good step in the right direction.

Well, that is if the narcissistic parent doesn’t interfere with that relationship.

However, the only reason I think I’m “sane” is because I had a wonderfull great grandmother, which my mother never dared to interfere with, gave me the much needed love a child needs.

She was the only childhood I ever had and I’m so greatful I had her in my life.

There’s much needed and far too little information about how a child of a P develops.

Can a true P smell the difference on a bred supplier and just the casual victim? Just a thought…

There is a book called I think “the disease to please” or something along that line (CRS I cant remember stuff) LOL anyway, there are several good books on why we are “people pleasers” and I suggest you get some (more than one) and read them, You will see yourself in them and realize that there IS a void there for needing love and the psychopaths can sense that in us and they hone on in to it like a lion picks out the easier victim from a herd of 1,000 antelopes.

They “love bomb” us and we fall for it….I just fell for one a few weeks ago…just cost me some money and some tears, mostly mad at myself but the thing is that there ARE LESSONS there and we must LEARN THEM OR REPEAT THEM. That is our only choice. Learn or repeat.

Heather,
lol, of course I didn’t mean we are all freaks. The spaths don’t always succeed in turning their kids into spaths, but they do try.

I’ve met a couple of spathy guys who have no kids and are not married. But what they expressed to me is that they take GREAT interest in their nephews, the sons of their sisters (whom they hate, BTW). These guys are misogynists and they want to make sure that they spread that attitude around to other men. One of them even expressed to me, “guys should stick together” he was referring to sticking together against women.

But anyway, spaths want to slime everyone and turn us all into them. So it isn’t surprising that they would focus on the most vulnerable, the children.

Sunflower,
yes, they can tell the difference between someone who is emotionally reactive and someone who is “boring”. My spath expressed that my good sister was “boring” and that her son “has no ambition”, even though the young man got through a private university mostly on scholarships, landed a 50 grand a year job straight out of college, paid off the small loans in 1 year, bought his own condo the next year and spends all his time reading books that will better him. LOL!

What he meant is that my nephew has no “hooks”. He will often test for hooks by showing people his latest “invention” that will make millions! moron.

What a great article! Got me thinking…
Oxy&Skylar: read all your insightful input! I hope one person in a child’s life can make a difference, glad you had your step father. Sister in law is trying very hard to turn her kid to be like her. “They want to slime everyone.” My niece is a normal child, of course she is emotionally reactive. She will turn 7 the end of this month. Things are not getting any better for her.

SIL has invited her elderly family relative (74 year old male) to stay with them for a few days. This man has a shady past, my mom says he has abused young girls in the past in a different country, never got reported. My niece is currently being coached by her mom to be physically affectionate with this man. I am more inclined to believe he is a child predator, why else would SIL invite him, she is so excited and can’t wait for her daughter to spend time with him. In the meantime SIL is not very nice to her own parents (who love their grandchild, my niece), or her brothers! She isolates the kid from every family member, why should my niece be spending time with this man, why is that now important to SIL? My brother and mom are afraid to stop this guest from visiting, they are afraid to say anything to SIL, they don’t believe much harm will come out of it. My brother told me “he is too old to harm any child now… if those rumors were true in the first place.”

I am not sure, I do not want to falsely accuse anybody, but the way SIL seems overly eager does make me want to suspect that some evil intentions are in place. I have learned from this site spaths recognize their own kind and use each other to inflict harm. So I am worried for my niece’s safety, is there anything I can tell my niece? Is there a subtle way to give my niece a message, my SIL told my brother to keep this elderly guy’s past a secret… So I am not supposed to know about this.

I understand that spaths do not want to be questioned, confronted, lectured to, but I can only be quiet for so long. I have this urge to talk to her, tell her off. I have no support since my mom and brother are not willing to change anything, but still… Is being quiet to maintain my privileges to visit their home and maintain contact with my niece the right thing to do? Should I be more proactive and have a talk with SIL no matter what happens? It is really hard to stay quiet, especially when recently SIL beat up on her kid for scoring 60% on a test, and called her a retard. My mom witnessed this, went to her room and shut the door, told me she felt bad for the kid, but SIL cannot be talked to. “I am the mother, I can do anything I want to my daughter.” But in actuality my niece is very smart, she is now in second grade/third grade high ability class. Such distortion of reality and facts!

I DO NOT want to be like my mom or my brother, I am aware that I have no rights, there is no proof, I do not know how to stop SIL causing harm to her own daughter, I feel like I should be doing MORE!

I am looking for any input, pearls, suggestions… Anything to help me do what is right, and make a difference. Thanks everyone.

Codependency is not included in the DSM-IV nor any prior edition of the DSM, mainly because it’s not a mental illness.

CodependencyFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Development and scope of conceptHistorically, the concept of codependence “comes directly out of Alcoholics Anonymous, part of a dawning realization that the problem was not solely the addict, but also the family and friends who constitute a network for the alcoholic.”[3] It was subsequently broadened to cover the way “that the codependent person is fixated on another person for approval, sustenance, and so on.”[3] As such, the concept overlaps with, but developed in the main independently from, the older psychoanalytic concept of the ‘passive dependent personality’ … attaching himself to a stronger personality.”[4]

Some would retain the stricter, narrower dictionary definition of codependency, which requires one person to be physically or psychologically addicted, such as to heroin, and the second person to be psychologically dependent on that behavior.[5]

Not to disparage Al Anon, it saved my sanity and I am about to to back because now my child is an alcoholic.

caringaunt,
You have not only a responsibility but a duty to protect your niece. What is going on in this household is a serious danger to a child and if they cannot see it the situation should be reported to child protective services. I am really not a big fan of the quality of child protective services but you must do something. That is my opinion. Protect this unsuspectin child from a known preditor. Getting old does not stop their behavior. Best of luck to you and God bless you for caring enough to take action.

This post was thought provoking to say the least. My childhood home was a classic alcoholic “Whole Fam Damily” set up. We were all mini enablers lead by my tea toting mother the agoraphobic catatonic narcissist. We all walked on eggshells & everything we did was focused on not upsetting my mean alcoholic abusive (now I consider him also) Psychopathic father. He was the nicest funniest man anyone ever met unless you were his wife or children (the mask).

We all had roles in the alcoholic layout which appears to interlace with the psychopath layout. My oldest sister was the golden child. 3 years younger the second child & oldest brother was the peace maker comedian who was once so stressed out from all the shenanigans in our household that he took my dads shot gun out & threatened to shoot my mother. 2 years younger than him & 5 years younger than my sister was the 2nd brother. He tended to vacillate between good kid, scapegoat, & ultimately became the ill child at 16 when he became diabetic. I came along 3 years later, 8 years younger than my sister wildly different than the others who were born blond & blue eyed. i was black haired & had dark brown eyes when I was born. I was the 4th child in a world where my dad at the time worked two jobs. I had all at the delightful roles of full-time scapegoat, rebel child, forgotten child (that was my favorite role actually). I also had an opinion, a trigger temper, was prone to tantrums & by 9 I spotted him as an alcoholic & told anyone who would listen.

I was 9 when my sister left home for college never to really return. By the time I was 14 all of them were gone & I was home alone with my parents & my father was at the height of his disease. When I was 17 he quit drinking & I moved out or I was going to kill the man with my bare hands. He is some 33 years sober but I still can do nothing right. & he is still verbally abusive & opinionated. He recently wanted to be my Facebook friend. WTF? Really? I think not. best, Lil

Caringaunt,
you have to be very careful. You might be getting set up as a scapegoat, where once you are discredited, no one will ever believe you in the future.

Spaths are crafty. They plot and they plan endlessly. They enjoy that part of the game very much. It’s amazing the things that they come up with. In my experience, all of my imagination and observations could not have informed me, warned me or protected me of what several spaths were up to. It is only because somehow, my gut instinct screamed at me to protect myself, that I was able to get away alive.

I just wanted to make sure you are aware of this as you move forward. The information you have is hearsay and possibly part of a plan to “plant a seed” as my spath used to say. If so, then it is a plan to get you emotionally upset so you can’t think straight.

Until you have concrete evidence that this man is a child molester, there is nothing you can do or should do against him. It will only backfire. Remember to channel your gray rock and just keep going as if nothing is the matter. This is your best chance to discover what is really going on.

Caringaunt, Skylar’s 100% spot-on about being careful. Yes, this fellow could be everything you’re concerned about, including the Devil, himself. But, being “suspected” is only as far as it can go.

Skylar’s also spot-on about the plotting and planning. It’s as much of a rush to the predator to plot and plan as it is to execute the sin or crime. It’s like foreplay for them. And, in retrospect, I can clearly see the machinations of the exspath and how eagerly he played the trolling game with me.

Watch and observe, and continue to assure your niece that she can approach you with anything and that you will not judge, dismiss, or devalue her. The expectation of being judged, dismissed, and devalued is what creates the “perfect victim.” N and P parents create this feeling quite effectively. So, if your niece not only KNOWS that you are “safe” for her, but actually FEELS it, you’ll be the first person to know if she’s being targeted.

Grey-rocking this man and the whole situation is going to be a challenge, but it’s the best approach as Skylar pointed out. If you go into this situation under the assumption that this man is going to “do something,” he will be able to recognize the preconcieved attitude in word and body language. So, this guy is just some man that you don’t know. Keep it shut down and your suspicions strictly held close to your vest. If he is the predator that he’s been reported to be, he’ll turn his cards soon enough.

Brightest blessings

I agree that one should not act on rumors but a child’s protection is more imporatnt than becomeing the scapegoat. I know the risk. I told my 9 year old granddaughter to not trust her granddad, the abusive psychopath and my daughter’s reaction was to no longer allow her contact with either him or me. I protected my daughter but kept secrets about her dad but she knows how mean he can be. My granddaughter asked me if he was mean and I said yes. She said he seemed nice to her and I again said yes, he seems nice but he can be mean so be careful. I hope someday I may see my preciosu grandchildren again. I hurt like hell but I do not regret warning my granddaughter. I made a big mistake in protecting my children from knowing about their father, I protected him to do his sneaking evil work on them. I thought we were safe from him but you are never safe from a preditor. Not ever!

Great article on family positions. We are in the midst of a huge revival of childhood dysfunctions because one of my sisters has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The family is actiting like a lunitic asylum and the dying sister is suddenly the most sane of all of us. We are all pulling together to help her by heroic measures with all chiefs and no Indians.

My daughter is a nurse and legally in charge which would be great for my sanity if she was not no contact with me and withholding my grandchildren. She is now speaking to me as if I were a family member of a patient. OUCH! I am hoping for healing going through the typical stages of grief for losing my daughter, grandchildren and now my sister dying. I am falling to the pitts dispair, anger and denial alternately. But my role as scapegoat is for everyone to provoke my anger then blame everything on me. And I am trying very hard not to become the scapegoat, not to fight back and not to turn into a blubbering sobbing mess. The anger has always been the protector of the unwanted, denied, abused lost and last child.

The abuse ran down hill in my family so I got it from everyone. The only one lower than me was the dog and I did not want to kick the dog, she was my only friend. I do have my husband and son supporting me now and all seems amended with my dying sister. She has what she always wanted, everone breaking their backs for her. Narcisist or not it; sad but true, I love her with all of my heart.

I asked my daughter today if we could see the grandchildren. This triple loss is more than I can take. She said she will ask her husband which means she has to think about it. Her husband is not responsible for this, she is. Please send prayers.

Betsybugs: Thanks for your advice. I do believe in protecting children to the fullest. It is really hard for me to NOT do any more! I have called CPS once anonymously and discussed this situation. They said if I reported it (even anonymously) they will review with other team members and decide if further investigation is warranted or not. If they voted to investigate, they would then send a social worker to the home, talk to the teacher in school, one or two neighbors. MY SIL has such a perfect cover/mask, nobody would even suspect anything, and inside the home she would easily have her kid, husband, and mother in law (my mom) lying for her. SIL would also know I was the cause for this investigation and I will lose my privileges however limited they may be! I don’t want to lose contact with my niece, so unless I can be 100% certain justice will be done, my hands are tied. It is really hard for me, but I have NO allies, no one that has rights to the child anyway!
Thanks Betsy for your concern and advice. Sending good wishes your way for you to be able to have your grandkids back in your life.

Hi Skylar! Thanks for that valuable advice, I have known you for quite sometime on this site. I am glad you had good instincts, and you are ok. But I am sorry you had to learn the hard way like most of us on this site.

Once I am wrong, my credibility will be lost. How is it that we can be so good, do above and beyond for our family, be sincere, yet one wrong move we are totally ousted? The spaths are always doing evil and yet they get away with it each time? I will have to practice gray rock and be calm, at least act unaffected. Ever since I heard this, I have been emotionally upset, it has affected my thinking, you are so right about that! I really needed to hear this from you today, and I totally understand what you are saying. Thanks Skylar, I really appreciate your advice.

I will not say anything, but continue to be there for my niece. I will observe, watch, and wait. Hopefully they will fall, fall hard for being so evil!

Hi Truthspeak, I thank you for your insightful input. I will continue to be there for my niece, I will make sure she knows she is important to me, I care very much. She is very loving, sweet, bright, so that’s my motivation to help her… The world needs to have good people in it! It is a shame just one toxic person can ruin a lot of people around them. My brother is a totally different man, I don’t even recognize him, my mom is very unhappy but is afraid to say anything, and of course the cruelty my niece has to endure. SIL has caused me a lot of stress as well.

Speaking on a more positive note, this site has really helped me quite a bit. ” A life not lived for others is not a life” Mother Teresa. People on this site volunteering their time, wisdom, and advice are doing the divine work. Soon Donna will be going global!

I came back and reread this article several times. It helps me as I struggle along with ANOTHER relocation and rebuilding a new life. This is the nightmare I am saving my precious, almost 2 year old daughter, from. I need articles like this because when the going gets tough, I sometimes have a fantasy that if I contact him or his family after more than a year of no contact, we will reconcile peacefully and all will be well. HA! These types of articles are my reality check. I cannot allow fear to put me in a cloud of magical thinking. The more I read about children and the affects of sociopath parents, the more I am reassured that though times are stressful and I’m pretty lonely in our new environment, I’m doing the absolute best thing for my daughter to try to increase her odds of developing psychologically healthy.

LPMarie……TOWANDA!!!!!!!!

I will share this with you because I can identify with the “reconciliation fantasy,” personally. Right after the exspath left, I entertained the notion of contacting him and apologizing for having attacked him in a red rage. “We can save this marriage,” was what I wanted to say to him. I entertained this fantasy for a couple of days until he called me to ask me for money and then filed for a restraining order when I told him that my attorney would be contacting him with regard to his “question.” That was all I needed to blow that fantasy away.

They don’t care. They never DID care. And, nothing that we – the recovering survivors – can say, do, or promise will ever, EVER make them care.

TOWANDA for you, LPMarie. Your daughter’s “odds” are improved, and you are finally realizing your value as a part of this vast Universe!

Brightest blessings to you!

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