By | December 17, 2010 57 Comments

Denial is a protective device

By Ox Drover

Someone was talking about how she should have seen what her ex-significant other was up to with all of his sweet words. He was in prison, and telling her how he had changed and found the light and how wonderful things would be when he got out. She knew what he had done to get in there, the bad acts he had committed, but she chose to believe his “sincere remorse.” Now she wanted to know why she had been so stupid.

She wasn’t “stupid—”she was using denial to protect herself from something so painful the thought of it “scared her to death.”

Years ago, when I was married the first time, my husband and I were friends with a couple. I felt close friendship with both the man and the woman. I knew that they had been separated once in their long marriage because she had caught him cheating, and that they had lived separate for a year or so before getting back together. I also knew that the woman would not put up with any more cheating on the man’s part. She had made up her mind that if he cheated again, that would be it. They would separate and divorce.

The life they had made as a couple was satisfying. They had an adopted son. The man had a good, steady federal job. They had a paid-for home and some land in a community they liked. She was a stay-at-home wife who enjoyed that role and kept busy with homemaking and taking care of their son.

After my husband and I separated, I was totally devastated and frequently I would take my two young sons and go to my couple-friends’ home to spend the weekend. They lived out in the country and raised meat animals for sale. Our children were friends, and I considered both the man and the woman to be my friends.

One weekend a month or so, my boys and I went to see them for the weekend. Just before dinner on a still, bright and light Saturday afternoon, the man mentioned he had some new animals in the barn that he wanted to show me. With the full knowledge of his wife, who was cooking dinner, we walked out to the barn to see them. While we were walking down the aisle my friend appeared to stumble and fall, and I tried to catch him, but then realized he was making a “lunge” at me, literally!

I gave him a firm “NO!” and backed away from him. He got a sheepish grin on his face and said, “Well, you can’t blame a guy for trying.” I said, “Yes, I CAN blame a guy for trying, but I love your wife and I will not tell her what you just did.”

We went back in the house and ate supper. After supper, the boys and I left instead of spending the night. I was disturbed by my “friend” lunging at me, but I felt that it was wrong to tell his wife what he had done because I knew it would hurt her. I doubted that he would tell her, so I decided to just stay away from him without someone else present.

About two weeks later, in company with another female friend of mine, I went to visit the couple for an hour or so, and the wife was very, very “cool” to me. I couldn’t figure out why she would treat me in such a manner. After we left, I started discussing the situation with the girlfriend who had gone with me, and she said, “Silly, he figured you would tell her even though you had said you wouldn’t, so he had beat you to the punch, and he told his wife that YOU made a pass at him.” DUH!

Well, obviously my friend had it figured out, and that was exactly what this serially cheating, unrepentant creep had done. He had told his wife (my friend) that I had made a pass at him.

His wife knew me pretty well, I think, and she knew I would not have in any way encouraged her husband to make a pass at me. She knew also that I was reeling from the separation from my husband in a divorce from hell, and she knew her husband was a serial cheater in the past. But she chose to believe him. She went into denial about what she knew or suspected was the truth—that her husband was  lying to her (again) to protect his behavior.

She knew if she acknowledged the truth, that her husband was a lying cheat who would not stop trying to cheat, she would have had to leave him, and she didn’t want to do that. The pain and financial problems, the loss of the “lifestyle,” would have been too painful, so it was easier to deny what she knew was true, and to get mad at me, rather than accept the truth.

What would have happened, I asked myself, if she had believed what she knew, instead of what he said?  What would the woman whose man was in prison have done if she really looked at his actions, rather than listen to what he said? They would have had to act on those truths, and because the very thought of acting on those things was so painful, they chose to believe the lie. It was the less painful option.

I, too, have chosen denial of the seriousness of the things that were true. I did not want to admit that someone was evil, that they will not change because they do not want to, that a lifetime pattern of doing illegal, immoral and mean things means that person is not likely to alter that pattern. I did not want to accept that truth.

Denial in the short term is a salve to the heart of the devastated one who cannot immediately accept the whole raw truth that, for example, their loved one has been killed in an accident. They must accept that truth a bite at a time, like eating an elephant. Short term, denial is protective.

Long term, denial is worse than dysfunctional. We must accept that they are “deceased” in order to be able to “bury the body” (so to speak), because if we don’t do that, the corpse of our existence starts to stink and rot. If we accept the truth, we must ACT on information instead of perpetually remaining in denial.

I never saw my couple friends again. I knew that there wasn’t any use in trying to tell her that her husband had lied, that I had not made a pass at him. If I had told her the truth and she had believed it, she would have had to ACT on it, or continue to deny it. She did not want to ACT, so she therefore continued to DENY he lied, and put the “blame on me.”

I do understand, though, how that woman felt. I stayed in denial for many, many years, rather than accept the truth about my psychopathic son and his lack of repentance for his crimes, including murder. Accepting that truth after decades of denial was difficult, and at times I asked myself why I denied it. I think the answer is that at the time, I thought it was easier and less painful. Looking back, I know I wasn’t stupid, but I did make a choice that, “knowing what I know now,” I would not make again. There is no use in  beating myself up for not knowing then.

I know now. I make decisions now on what I know now.


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OXY – thank you for sharing such private thoughts. I , too, feel so guilty and stupid not only for the damage I allowed to myself out of denial – but also to my children. I chose and fell in love freely – to a very Narcissistic , even Sociopathic man. We suffer his B-S daily.

My Daughter is worried about getting a job , a car – college.

My son has been crying for days about his dad promising something for Christmas and it doesn’t look like he will come through with it.

My heart breaks for him and his big rolly tears – even at 12 yrs old.

There is nothing I can do to protect him and I can’t fix it for him because then I still protect the N/S.

I pray his eyes open soon and he can learn to protect his heart – my son – suffers because of me.


The Eagles “Yes, I’m Already Gone”. My victory song because I have the key.
Some women and men too will not awaken out of their sleeping beauty slumber. As you say, denial is a powerful drug, and “I” will not have to do the work necessary to make me responsible for me.
Love ya Oxy—Seeing Clearly


I finally told my evil sister that her husband is a trojan horse. Turns out my mom had already told her and she refused to believe it AT FIRST.
But I’m very good with words and symbols. After about 3 hours, I could tell I made a dent. Fact is, I knew all the WTF? moments that she had experienced. Those were her cognitive dissonance moments: the WTF? bucket.
I pulled items out for her and explained them to her. matched up her socks, so to speak. By the end of the conversation, she was still not convinced, but she wanted to know more…because she knew I wasn’t lying to her. She knows that I’ve always told her the truth. Now she holds simultaneously in her head, the contradictory ideas that I’ve told the truth and her husband does love her. How long will that last? and which one will win?
The reason I told her is because, if the positions were reversed, I would want to be told.
A wise woman once said, “the truth will set you free, but first it will pith you off!”


Dear Newlife:
Your son is not suffering b/c of you. You are and I am sure you will continue to do the best that you can. A 12 yo should have the capacity to understand this.
Sit your children down and talk to them in a very calm and collective manner. Give them choices to make for the good of all 3 of you.
Would you rather have xyz(toy game whatever) and do without abc(cable, internet). You can empower them to get what they want by them raking a neighbors yard,helping someone clean out a garage, babysitting selling their old toys, cd’s games. How about baking cookies together and selling to neighbors. There is nothing free in life a price has to be paid either by you or someone else even if you benefit i.e. foodstamps, ss, welfare. Somebody pays. They will have learned so much more than expecting something or given something out of guilt. Tell them how very proud you are that they have done so well under the circumstances. Explain that the economy is not good and how tight things are. You may be surprized by their willingness to except less. Your ability to communicate with them is everything.
Remind your children that the most important thing you have is each other. Things(stuff) comes and goes, friends come and go. Love for each other remains constant. If you have each other you really truly have all you need. God Bless.
Stay Strong Stay Safe Stay Sane


Dear Newlife,
I pray that your son does not close his heart off. Pain can also make us cut out the source of the pain and cast it aside. In all things speak gently and with compassion to him and validate his feelings and pain. Let him know it hurts you too. It’s not about the object that is the source of his pain, it’s the unmitigated neglect and freaking F hatefulness of his sperm donor(thanks Oxy) that he hurts so badly—-the empty feeling of abandoment. I despise what these creatures do. Stop the cycle,
More later—I’m getting worked up over this–need to distance for a while. I’ll be back. ((((Hugs)))).


Ox Drover,

What a good article, explaining what denial is, how it is implemented by our psyche to keep us from completely falling apart, crashing, when we are hit with shocking information. I guess denial is somewhat of a shock- absorber, steadying us until we’re ready to peel it away, looking beneath the surface (at the reality of a situation), then embark on implementing changes that can help us reach our new goals.



SeeingClearly is so right. Please don’t beat yourself up over things that you can’t control. You and your children are in my prayers – my heart goes out to all of you. The BEST GIFT that your children have is you – a mom who likes to spend time with her children, giving them love and affection, conveying to them day-in-and-day out that they are precious souls (you’re their rock). Your children (and mine) will learn some lessons earlier than others (about human nature), being useful information to have in the long-run. It is hard now, but all of you will come out all right. Peace.



This is such a soulful place – to come here – read – and remember we are not alone in this.

You are so right – the lessons hard learned now will serve my children in their adult lives.

My own denial and hopes for things to get better wasted the best years of my life. But no more – I still fight the memories and the pain – the lonliness and every day hardships – but someday I hope to know what it really is to be loved by a good man.

I’ve learned only over the last few years my own mom is Borderline PD, with strong Narcissistic traits and abandonment issues. I am 54 and always knew she was off somehow but didn’t know why. She threatened suicide in phys/rehab a few years ago so they evaluated her.

So now, I know why my N/S husband seemed so normal to me – crazy-making was always a part of my life.

And I praise Donna Anderson for now wanting to educate our high school kids.


OUCH, Oxy!

This isn’t anywhere so far away from me than a “river in Egypt”—–in fact, this one landed right on top of my house!

Yes, I remember a woman who talked about her ex-insignificant other in prison, who promised her that he’d never cheat again, & that once he got home to her house, everything would be wonderful…..they’d reach their dreams & live happily ever after.

And so she dwelt in the dreamy land of his golden promises….waiting & believing for years after he got out of prison….never wanting to see what was happening….going out of her way not to snoop or pry & possibly find something that would bring his betrayal to light. Hell, she would’ve had to act on it, wouldn’t she!!

Yeah. You’ve nailed it, Oxy. EXTREME truths you’ve shown here!! wow.

You know, it’s hard to get out the river of Denial….it’s so easy to just let go & drown in it….a sort of emotional suicide.

I find myself still battling that current every dang day. I STILL agonize every day (tho less & less as time goes on & I get stronger & more self-aware) that J was telling me the truth after he left—that he honestly had intended to reach those dreams With Me, that he’d patiently tried to live with me, loving me, all those years, & just finally had to give up & flee because there were “fundamental flaws in our relationship that were irreparable”. That he was “praying all day” on the day he left, asking God if he was doing the right thing, after “finally” realizing that he was “just a simple, quiet man” who had “nothing but his soul”, & couldn’t live with me anymore.

God!!! I was SO AWFUL! I MUST have been SO AWFUL! What a TERRIBLE human being I am! I destroyed the love of this kind, patient man who loved me SO MUCH in spite of all my AWFULNESS! If only he’d told me years ago that there were things I needed to change! Why didn’t he tell me? It must’ve been because I’m such a “dangerous, angry, & destructive person”! That’s why I’m in therapy, you know—trying to find a way to correct all my AWFULNESS….because he would’ve never left me had I not been a “shrew, a shrike, a honey badger!”

Well, at least he wouldn’t have left me had he not started the concurrent relationship with the 16yo younger, insanely wealthy woman with the powerful family biz connections within 2 months after he came “home” from prison. The woman who’d opened a joint checking acct with him just a few months after that, who’d given him $19,000, who flew to meet with him in the finest hotels all over the country & in Mexico for 4 yrs. The woman who he called “a sexy, yet practical, delightful potential partner” in an email to her only a few months after he came “home” from prison—the “home” that was a “shelter from the storm” for him for 2 yrs as a federal fugitive, & again, for the 3 1/2 yrs that he was on probation.

The “home” that was actually another “prison” for him……& all the time I thot we had the most PERFECT relationship. NOW I realize that he’d learned the skill of “doing his time” as an adopted half-Pyute wild child having to adapt to life in a very staid Quaker home, sent to camps all summer, sent to Christian boarding schools from 1st -12th grades, 2 yrs in prison, dealing with people in big business (while he was making 250# of Ecstasy in his spare time). He knew how to please the authorities, & how to survive with—but never CONNECT TO—his roommates & companions. (One of his fellow students was Franklin Graham, who he & his buddies delighted in beating up!)

Now, I’m slowly giving up beating myself up! It continues to dawn on me again every day that “OH! he was lying to me the whole time….lying that I was everything he’d ever wanted, lying about what he was doing on his ‘business trips’, lying about who he was talking to on the phone all the time, AND LYING TO ME AFTER HE LEFT about what a terrible person I am!”

THAT, my dear, is an example of Extreme Denial! Even after KNOWING all I now know, I still try to tell myself that he was good & I was bad. Criminy! NOW, THAT’S what I’m doing in therapy—-finding the sense of self-esteem, self-worth, & belief in who I am……that self-esteem that would’ve made me strong enough to accept long ago that he was a liar & a sociopath who was scamming & using & betraying me (& having Fun Doing It!)…..I would’ve had the strength to see it & ACT ON IT!

Thanks for another of many AH-HA moments, Oxy!


I understand your heartache at seeing your kids let downs and fear and stressors.
Please keep in mind….all the lessons of life. What your kids are learning will be valuable lessons for their future AND enable them to see their father for what he really is….outside of ‘dad’.
As painful as it is to see our kids being let down…..and every excitement they show when their spath father is involved, we already know the ‘ending’……all we can do is be there for them.
At 12, let your son (and daughter) know, they have a voice. (doesn’t have to be a convo in re; to daddy-0)….just generalize….
It’s Okay to let a person know how your feeling and that they can express their disappointment in someones letdowns….as long as they are respectful, say your feelings.
It’s okay to tell someone when they promise repeatedly something, and never come through that they have no trust for their words and why.
Teach them that their feelings are valid and they can’t be argued with (others may attempt to), they are entitled to ‘feel’ whatever they feel.
Teach them about looking at someones ‘track’ record……history will predict future.

Kids hold onto each promise as if it’s separate……they don’t look at the ‘big’ picture, and maybe this person has done this eachtime…..broken the promise.

Explain to them that this is how some people operate to get through the moment.

I taught my kids that if someone follows a statement with…..I promise, I swear……that kind of statement……to look closer.
If my intent is to be there to pick them up at school….do I really need to say I PROMISE?
Why do people say I promise……it’s becaue they are trying to be convincing.
People either DO it, or they Dont’.
If I am not sure I can do somehting a child is pressuring me for……I am honest and say…..I will make my best attempt but I can’t commit to a yes on that.
Or I say a flat out no, I am sorry.

This is somehting that toxic parents use with kids….reel in, let down, promise, promise…..just to keep the kids on the hook…..they don’t think longrange.

Seeingclearly is right…’s not the end of the world he won’t get an XX or YY promised by daddy-0. If you can look at it as the eye opener your son will get to see his reality….which isn’t going to change in HIS lifetime…….the sooner he see’s pops for what he is……the better off he will be.
Yes, there is struggle ahead for the kids……but i’ve learned that struggle builds character…..and they have an edge on the world at some point with all they’ve learned with their own parent.

Try not to dwell on what they don’t have and see things as gift to their character and longterm growth.
and X-box will be so passay next year…..but knowing their fathers true character as they build theirs is pricesless.


I’ve found this to be a valuable lesson for my kids…..



You’re one of those souls that will come out the other end, not staying in the river of denial. It hurts to stay in the river of denial and it hurts to get ourselves out of the river of denial, but once we’re out, we’re free.



You’re 54 years young. I hope that your desire “to be loved by a good man” comes to pass too. Wouldn’t that be fun and great! For some reason, I think that I’ll recommend a book to you, The Power of Positive Thinking, by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. If I ever get it completely read (I’m still reading it after, oh, quite a while of having the book), it will be an accomplishment – it is a good read. Take care.


SeeingClearly and ErinBrock,

I have to go get dinner started, but I am so glad that you two responded to Newlife 08 – it is helpful to hear from others, knowing that people do care about you and your situation. I hope that she feels that she isn’t alone.


you kill me!
that’s not denial, denial is a river in egypt.
What you’ve described is cognitive dissonance. an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously.
One of those ideas has to go. It has helped me so much to read here that all of our exP’s said the same basic bs.
So let me assure you that I heard the same crap from exP that J gave you after leaving.
I heard about how he prayed that God would protect my kitties, but God never answers his prayers and sure enough he found Julian, my favorite, run over by a car.
I heard that he was a “simple man with no ego”
I heard all the crap, don’t get me started!
BTW, when he said “nothing but my soul” he meant “I HAVE NO SOUL” That was a tell.


We are all in our own way children helping other children with the void each feels. WE have decided for what ever reason to bring ourselves to a full circle a never ending circle that increases with each new child that wishes for and expects healing.
It is my wish that each of you close your eyes and imagine a baby in your loving arms.Caress the baby with your eyes, smell the baby, now kiss the little sweet helpless baby. Look and see the love the baby gives back, It’s sweet baby smile—
it’s trust—whisper it will all be ok it will all be ok-


That sweet baby is you

Ox Drover

Hi, gang, just got back home, went to a “kill, skin and gut” party at a friend’s house, going back tomorrow for a “cut up and package the meat” party!!! It all went quite well and only one little tiny scratch on one finger—no stitches this year!! Yea!!!! But took my chain-mail glove and that helped.

Actually, Whyme, yea, I have a river side cottage on the RIVER DE-NILE myself, and two ski boats and a canoe on it! I think you are my next door neighbor there! LOL I’ve seen you swimming there as well!

Denial is very protective in situations like where there is an accident and someone gets killed, or someone gets a diagnosis of terminal cancer…it gives us time to absorb that horrible knowledge a bit at a time. If we tried to “swallow” it all at once we would choke to death.

However, if we stay in denial, denial PRECLUDES YOU DEALING WITH A PROBLEM.

Say for example you are going down the road and your car makes a “funny sound” and you have no money to fix a big thing, so you say “Oh, well, it’s probably nothing, I don’t have money to fix a big problem, so I am just imagining it is a big problem, it’s nothing.”

Well, because you are in DENIAL you do not stop to check and see what is wrong and you keep on driving. Maybe the OIL was just LOW and if you had stopped to check, you might have fixed the problem. The denial though, keeps us from doing anything to FIX any problem because we can’t admit we have one.

I had a patient come to me once and she had a big knot on her breast, it looked like a boil, and it was infected and I gave her antibiotics and made an appointment for a mammogram. She didn’t keep the mammogram appointment but did take the antibiotics. The boil got better but she came back a few weeks later for something else and I asked her where the mammogram results were.

She said “Oh, I didn’t get it, if I have cancer I DON’T WANT TO KNOW.”

Well, of course she DID HAVE CANCER, and it was treated and she lived, but if I had not insisted that I would fire her as a patient if she didn’t get the mammogram, she probably would have died….because of DENIAL. The thought of the cancer scared her so bad she didn’t want to know. (she thought)

TO ME, “wondering” if I had cancer would scare me, so I would WANT TO KNOW, but each of us has different things that “scare” us.

Realizing that we are SCARED and then listening to ourselves “rationalize” why whatever scares us can’t be true CLUES US IN when we are in denial about something.

But when you don’t know, it is hard to know you dont’ know. So watch for the signs that you are scared and listen to your internal dialogs. It will tell you when you are in denial if you listen closely, just like the psychopath will tell you s/he is dishonest if you look and listen closely.


Are you telopathic? I had been thinking about the same car annalogy?????????? A little different but along the same lines. Thanks for clearing up my thoughts. LOL You are a wonder.

Ox Drover

Nah, Seeing, I’m not telepathic, but just had someone explain the denial thing to me with the car thing and IT STUCK and I remembered it. Should have put it in the article to start with. But being in DENIAL does make us NOT FIX anything because we deny there is a problem so, no problem, nothing fixed.

It is only when we come out of denial and admit that we have a problem can we start to even figure out what to do to fix it.

ADMITTING “WE HAVE A PROBLEM, Houston!” Is the start of fixing it. Just like they say in AA, you have to admit you have a problem.


You know, Oxy,
sometimes you really are a WONDER. Sometimes–many times—you are so incisive that it might make one *wonder* if you really are telepathic!
Nah. Just insightful, having learned from your own life experiences, & so capable of expressing all that you’ve learned.
You’re a tentpole here, Oxy. Namaste, & all that implies.

thanks for the vote of confidence, darlin. I had SUCH a good session with my therapist today. She gave me SUCH a big thumbs up: “I’m so proud of you for how hard you’re working on your therapy on such a BIG process!” Man. That made me feel really good. I’ve ripped & torn & inspected & rejected & expected so much of myself in this “interior cosmetic surgery” for the last 6 months….& you know what….I actually am thinking there might even be a chance of REBIRTH at 66 somewhere along the line! There HAS to be SomeThing Excellent to come out of alla this!

I’m flummoxed on the cognitive dissonance point. I *don’t think* it’s cognitive dissonance, from everything I know about that. I do think it’s an attempt to keep denying that the last 8 yrs of my life had been a TOTAL LIE…it’s so tempting for me to give in to self-immolation & believe that it was all TRUE & I was the one who f***ed it up!
AussieGirl had a great explanation of this awhile back—talking about our being unable to give up the ILLUSION….of trying to find a “body to bury”, but only finding wispy nothings in our hands. Ya know? Blaming yourself has some sort of “reality” to it….that’s the way we Human Beings are conditioned to think of things….it has to have some logic to it…..the loss of a job or a relationship or whatever. This elusive nothingness is really confusing!

Ox Drover

Dear Whyme,

Thank you for those words of validation! I’m glad that your therapist is seeing progress in your “interior cosmetic surgery” (and I LOVE that phrase BTW!!!) because just since you have come here I have seen so much progress in your posts…you are as I’ve said about a couple of other people lately, started to “sound so sane!” LOL

I think that is such a great way to describe what we are doing is the INTERIOR Remodeling, and straightening out the wrinkles and lipo-sucking out the fat between our ears! LOL

Many of us have come here (most of us?) sounding completely INSANE! (at least sounding that way to anyone except the folks here on LF!!) but there are many of us that are starting to sound almost SANE again! LOL

Sure, it takes time and it takes energy and hard work to start to put our lives back together, our minds back together, mend our hearts, and health (physical and mental) and find a new focus toward the future. That’s a big job!

I bought a horse one time that had come from a previous owner who wasn’t too big on “feeding them.” Someone told me later that “any horse that can live through a winter on Mr. X’s farm can CLIMB TELEPHONE POLES WITH HIS BARE HOOFS” I sort of feel like the same thing with us, we can “climb telephone poles with our hands tied behind us.” We have survived—maybe with a few bruises and bumps, scrapes and cuts, but we SURVIVED!!!

We learned just how strong we really are, just how much we can accomplish when we set our minds to it. We also learned just how mean and miserable and underhanded some others can be, whether or not they would score 3 or 30 on the PCL-R doesn’t really matter—they are toxic and dishonest people and we don’t need that kind of person in our lives.

It doesn’t matter if they were toxic, mean, miserable, underhanded and dishonest because their mommy didn’t breast feed them, or because they were red-headed, or because someone bullied them when they were in second grade, the point is that they chose to do the things they did, no one forced them, and the things they did hurt us…again and again….and we chose to believe the lies they told, and sometimes in light of plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Okay, we can be mad at them. We SHOULD be mad at them, but we aren’t going to let that anger and rage at them keep us angry and raging for the rest of our lives, we are going to process that rage and anger, that JUSTIFIED rage and anger, and move on to the rest of our lives. We aren’t going to trust others without evidence that they are trustworthy, but we won’t live in TERROR, but we will take reasonable CAUTION in the decisions we make about other people. We WILL set reasonable boundaries about how we allow others to treat us.

We are going to live lives that are free of UNNECESSARY drama and abuse from others. DAMN! WHAT a concept! Wish I’d thought of that 50 years ago! LOL But now that I have thought about it, think I’ll practice sanity for a while and see how that works out!


didn’t mean to flummox you and I don’t know a lot about cogdissonance. Just that when you THINK one thing because you know it’s true based on all available and obvious evidence, but you FEEL like the opposite is true, that, to me, is cogdissonance.

All spaths make us feel this way. That’s why I want to learn to judge people by their fruit, rather than what kind of tree they seem to be. It’s very hard, because you want to be loving to those that seem to love you. It’s just part of who we are, it’s our nature. Furthermore, we are taught that all people are imperfect sinners and that we should “judge not lest ye be judged” My spath is clearly evil, I have no cog diss there. I can even feel compassion for him and still know that he is evil. In the dictionary, under evil, there’s his picture…

But other people in my life are not so easy to explain. I see lots of red flags and I can’t help but wonder if there can be more to it. Maybe I’m making everything too black and white? I know what Oxy would say, “boink, boink” with the skillet. Ouch!
OK OK OK. But I’m just doing my homework, crossing t’s and dotting i’s, making sure, but not letting my guard down.


it’s christmas that most commercial time of year.

my mom and gram – both with dementia – will never understand that i don’t celebrate – so i send them a card and a little something….but this year i have to deal with the dad situation too. first, i will find out if they are going south this winter, and if are, they i am thinking i will send him a card for xmas, too. tell him i couldn’t afford a present, but of course he would understand. i want to live in their house for a while this winter if they are gone. and then i want to sue him when i am on my feet – by sending him a card I will blindside him when i go after him for the money he stole from me. think this makes sense, and is okay to my heart…just a strategy.

please jump in and let me know if it has holes in it, or if i should do it a diff. way.


I don’t remember the details of how he stole your money, but if you want to sue him, then you don’t want to leave any evidence that you have been on good terms since he did it.
Cards are evidence, I’m not sure about staying in his house, unless you are taking care of your mom or her cat or dog.


thanks for the feedback sky. he’s an n, and i thought he might be easier to sneak up on if he thinks i am still licking his shoes.


oh, and he stole the money years ago – just took me a damn long time to realize that he was never going to pay it back…

became real obvious when he sold some property, hid the sale from me and bought another fucking big boat with the money. nnnnnnnnnnnnn….

Ox Drover

Dear One,

The only thing I can say is make sure your statute of limitations in time doesn’t run out on the money he stole from you. I’d check and make sure what the statue is in your state.

I wouldn’t be in “their” house when you file the paper on him. LOL They may also use you living “rent free” in their house as a Sign of “how good we have been to her and she does us this way” (sues us) so watch out about that. My egg donor even tried to milk the Christmas gifts she had given me through the years (Like $6,000 one year and $1,000 another year cash–“If I don’t give it to you now, the government will get it when I die.” How is that for a reason to give a gift?)

I don’t have a problem with you suing him if he stole money from you. I don’t have a problem with you sending him a “friendly card” either.


hey oxy – hell no, i wouldn’t be in his house when i file!

there is no statute on this money. he swindled an inheritance that he was executor of. i have a trust lawyer who will do the case on spec..whenever i am strong enough. it will be a bitch of a fight. he’s a n 🙂 i also have to tie up his lawyer somehow – have to wait till spring for her to come back north – have her notarize my will or something – she’s an absolute baracuda and a friend of the family and i don’t want to to be in court with her. he’s vicious, but she’s so smart,skilled and smooth it hurts.


One,–My N brother did the same to me. The older brother warned me{when I arived to see my Mum, only to learn she died while I was on the plane.} that Bro no. 2 had gone to see my Dad in Hospital, -{Dad was dying, hed had a major stroke, lost the use of one side of his body, was blind in one eye, had dementia},and you know what my N younger bro did? He asked my dying Dad, who was “in extremis” if he ,Billy, could have his inheritance.THEN AND THERE before the old boy died, so that Bill could buy himself a Partnership in his Architectural firm.!!Which he did.
Asking a dying old man to sign documents when hes had a stroke, and is blind in one eye? Go figure,as you Americans say!!Hows that for a low act??Bill actually got more than my other Bro and me, but other bro took his extra share in the form of younger bros Mercedes car.
I was still owed something like 15,000 british pounds, but that year was the year of the credit squeeze, I felt sorry for Bro 2, and I let him off the money,,as I didnt think he could afford to pay me that extra 15,000 he owed to me from Dads estate.{Mum died only 6 weeks after Dad, and didnt make a will,so everything was divvied up into 3, except for my missing 15,000 pounds.I now see I was stupid to let my N. Bro off the hook, but hey, I felt sorry for him at the time.A lot of the stuff Mum had promised to me, the elder chauvinist bro got, he took the lot. Not worth fighting over.I wish now Id taken these things when Mum tried to press them on me 2 years before, but, hey, theyr only THINGS. Older bro was a lways an aquisitive little sod.Hope they make him happy.Somehow I doubt it!
Love to you all, Happy Xmas when it comes!! MamaGemXX

super chic

Thank you for this article Oxy,
I just wish I could get back all those years I spent in denial,
that’s what really hurts now.

Glad to hear you didn’t cut your finger this year!

What’s for dinner?

super chic


Ox Drover

Tenderloin! Tomorrow night—will be too tired to cook tonight–dropped like a rock last night, most likely will again tonight—so left overs out of the fridge are on for supper. Though the wife yesterday did make us some killer chili for lunch! It had lots of salt in it, but I didn’t want to “hurt her feelings” (of course!) so I ate a big bowl of it..(you know how SENSITIVE, actually HYPER sensitive I am about hurting people’s feelings so I didn’T dare hurt her feelings by not eating that wonderful tasting chili because it had salt in it) hummmmmmmm I can still remember the fine taste .

Well, gotta go cut up meat! See you guys later.


Erin, Seeing Clearly, Bluejay,

It isn’t the particular gift for my son from his dad that I am focused on – actually I am totally against getting him BB guns at his age and level of maturity. I don’t want him learning to shoot squirrels for sport.

My focus is on the breaking of yet another promise – causing my son such anxiety and worry that what he was PROMISED may not happen because his dad ALWAYS waits till the last minute for everything and thinks nothing of the disappointment and turmoil he creates.

How many of us have shopped early, waited in lines , searched high and low over the years for that ONE thing our kids wanted most to see under the tree ?

Toxic dad has set this scenario up to make himself look good – he knows I dislike my son exposed to guns -we are not in a rural area and no one hunts. So he is enticing son with something he knows I would never get him and making himself look good. And dad NEVER had an interest in this stuff in the 22 years we lived together.

I know my angel faced kid has to learn who his father really is – my daughter already had at 14 and she does not deal with him at all. She can’t handle it and chooses to just distance herself.

Yes – she is missing a dad and it breaks my heart – but dealing with him breaks her heart as well.

God didn’t give me these two gems till I was 37 and 42 – and I thought WOW – I waited so long and finally have my family.

I thought the NH was the answer to all my prayers – and that ended when he cheated on me right when my daughterbwas born – maybe even before.

I don’t know why I have to walk this path – I was a good kid, a good daughter, a good wife – yet loving someone has only brought me pain and heartbreak . I know – I made bad choices – I didn’t about about personality disorders – and he seemed custom ordered just for me.

And his SKANK next door feels the same way – he is her knight in shining armour – they are so happy together.

Doesn’t she wonder – ever -seeing how we lived all these years ??
Doesn’t she ever wonder why he still doesn’t settle so we can divorce after 3 years ?

She didn’t see how I worked all the years , did everything myself – he was never home ?

She thinks I’m the crazy one and he is so much better with her – yup – that’s what she says getting
in her car in the morning. She even thinks it’s normal for him to live round the corner in the new house while he leaves us triangulated living right next to her all these years.



I know what it’s like to have a crumb of a husband.


Today has been a difficult day, not wanting to go into the details, having altered my former post, preferring to forget about an incident.

super chic

nolongernaive, are you working nights?

lesson learned


This absolutely blows me away. Absolutely. Even when I “knew” the truth, I kept going back over and over and over again….

I DENIED THE TRUTH, EVEN WHEN I KNEW THE TRUTH. And I now understand why. The truth would have been too painful to bear. What happened as a result of the denial was putting off of the inevitable. It happened anyway… it’s healing time.

With what I know now, I will NEVER allow that kind of denial again. Ever. And I’m going to take many more steps to secure that reality for me.

Thank you for posting this. When I feel discouraged and beating the shit out of myself, I’ll come back and read this.

Very insightful!

Ox Drover

Dear lesson learned,.

We all try to get through life with the least amount of pain possible, and we try to take “short cuts” around the pain, under the pain,, over the pain, or DENIAL=”WHAT pain? don’t see any pain!” but unfortunately, the only way is THROUGH the pain. Tough admitting it is there, it is painful, and we have to walk THROUGH it.

I’ve been DE QUEEN OF DE-NILE and that ain’t Cleo, Baby!!!!

The more we learn, the better we do. The better we do, the more we CAN learn. Just try learning something when your finger is slammed inside the car door! If the prize was A million bucks you couldn’t learn 10 new words in French while your finger was squeezed between those two pieces of metal, the ONLY thing you could concentrate on is the PAIN.

So we have to have certain amount of peace and quiet and calm in which to learn….but the more we learn, the calmer, quieter and more peaceful things will be and it makes it easier to learn more.

So, beating yourself up for not “learning” sooner only keeps you from learning NOW, so quit that!!!! Accept that NOW is the proper time for you to learn what you need to know NOW, and that will lead to peace, calm and a psychopath-free life! (((hugs))))


So so true Oxy – I was like a person in a car turning up the radio to cover the sounds of dysfunction so I could just keep driving in the now – how many years passed like that though? It’s just a blur now. I so regret shutting my eyes to it, but didn’t have the strength at the time to take action that would have been required if I had been honest with myself.

Ox Drover

Dear Polly,

Huh? What’s that?

I can’t hear you, my car radio damaged my hearing! LOL

Ah, yes, turn that radio up! BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT!!!! LOL


Very good analogy tootsie roll!


lol Oxy – I STILL do that – what’s that clunk clunk? Oh turn up the bass 🙂

One Step – I actually TRIED a Tootsie Roll the other week and thought of you when I did. Found them in a random shop out of the way and they were nothing like I thought they would be. They were kind of like a chocolate caramel chew but soft – very strange texture and taste – kind of malted. Oh well – now at least I know what they are!


Thank you Oxy…I feel a real kinship to you with our spathy sons. I think the matter becomes tricky when it is your son…the denial a much greater salve to the shock of discovery at their illness/disorder.

As for myself, I have given my son, now 17 his last LAST chance at infecting my home/family. Even though I literally terminated my parental rights (voluntarily) on him 3 years ago, with the courts agreement (very unusual), I still wanted to believe that his diagnosis at age 13 might have been incorrect. I took him back, literally out of adult jail this fall, right before his 17th birthday. 3 weeks of amazingly great behavior, then it went south and since he was on probation for his offenses, he ended up back in jail for a dirty drug screen- which I posted previously that I had literally faxed his PO an incriminating facebook conversation in which he had admitted to taking my car while I slept many nights- he has no license or drivers training- and it was the “hahaha LOL” about taking advantage of me, that finally woke me out of my denial fog.

Yesterday, he was sentenced to PRISON for 30-180 months for all of the felony breaking and enterings, ect. that he had committed while on the run from his foster home a year ago.

I found myself strangely sad. Really sad. almost devastated. He certainly wont be returning home when released. I haven’t been to see him since he was sent to jail a month ago for violating his probation. Though he did send me a searing letter, packed with accusations and clear manipulation..called me a liar, someone only concerned with her image and how her family looked,ect. Ended though with a big request for a favor…if I did this, he would PROMISE never to contact me or the other kids again. He wanted me to go into his jail property, pull out his two ipod touches and headphones, sell them on an online auction, for say $225, and send him this in a cashiers check once he wrote me from his new prison home.

Needless to say, I am not going to be doing this “favor”…but denial had me considering it for a minute…

How sad. I feel like I have failed this child, yet my intellect tells me that he is how he is, BECAUSE of how he is. I have 5 other children, also adopted, who are nothing like him.

It’s such a game of head vs. heart.

Head needs to win.

Ox Drover

Dear Roodyzoo,

I am sorry that you are experiencing this chaos, but it is not unusual for adopted kids to be this way as they come from a group of people selected for “high risk of psychopathy” by the very fact that they are placing their kids Either voluntarily or involuntarily up for adoption. This has been observed in adopted kids as a group for a long time, and back in the days when a child was presumed to be a BLANK slate on which the parents wrote the environment (and therefore the adoptive parents were blamed when the child didn’t turn out right, just as biological parents were) Now there is some realization that biology and genetics play some role in these children’s personality development. So, do not blame yourself and don’t let anyone else blame you for how this child has turned out.

Whatever promises he makes about “never contacting” you again, etc. IF you do thus and so are just like all the promises that every psychopath makes—-they are not to be relied on.

Of course this man/child believes that YOU OWE him this or that no matter what he does….or what promises he fails to keep.

I wish in retrospect that I had been able to LET GO when he was 17, I’d have saved myself probably some grief, but at the same time, who knows how much more he would have hated me if I had let go then, and he might have actually gotten paroled and come after me and succeeded in killing me. I’m not going to second guess how things turned out. I didn’t go NC with him when he was 17, so maybe this is the way it was supposed to turn out, but I KNOW NOW what he is, I KNOW NOW what he is capable of.

I am glad that you turned him in to the PO. When mine was turned in to the PO they FAILED TO ACT ON IT COMPLETELY, until after his court date came and went 3 months later, in fact he had on an ankle bracelet monitor that he had cut off and they STILL FAILED TO ACT. I wish I had thought of it at the time and had gone to his court date and told the judge how little support (like none) I’d had from his PO and I know now that THAT
judge would have TAKEN ACTION against the PO for failure to act. The judge was in a wheel chair from being shot by a thug and he was a NO NON.SENSE JUDGE.

In the meantime you must educate your other children what a psychopath is, and that their brother IS ONE, and that they must not be drawn into his web by his lies. That may be difficult with kids but I wish you luck on that.

My son also used to take my car at night while I slept as well, or our other family car if I was at work at night, and drive without a license. They have this “entitled” mentality that whatever is yours is theirs for the taking, and it expands to whatever belongs to anyone is theirs for the taking.

Stay strong and realize that the fledgling you raised wasn’t the same “species” as the rest of your children—he looks the same on the outside but he is lacking internal parts that make him unsafe to be around, a conscience and empathy, and prison will only make his problems worse, not better. He will get a master’s degree the first trip to jail, and a PhD in prison. Just remember, the boy you loved and the man in the cell are not the same–the boy is gone and the man is a STRANGER, a dangerous stranger. God bless you! Peace!


thanks for talking about adopted kids having a higher risk factor for psychopathy. I’d never considered this as a factor in J until a few months ago. Well, I’d never considered that he was a SP until a few months ago!

He often talked about the fact that he was adopted—it is an interesting story: this 3month old Pyute/Irish boy born to a 15yo mother & 16yo Pyute father in the forests of Oregon, adopted by a wealthy Quaker couple from NJ, with a highly nervous adopted mother (she was actually institutionalized for 6 mos when he was a toddler—he was always told it was because of him & his hyperactivity & other intractable behaviors), & his adopted father, the head of Chemistry at a prestigious NJ university.

Many of his bio father’s Pyute family still live on the res, & the father has been progressively morbidly depressed for about 20 yrs. His bio mother has been married (not to the father) 3 times & had 3 other children by 2 of those hbs. (& 2 of those have been in & out of jail.) J grew up in the enormous family home (built in the early 1700s), on his very strict Quaker adopted grandparent’s dairy farm, with a grandmother who wore only black & spoke in “thee & thou”. And in the academia environment as well. What a stark contrast from his birth!

J told me many times that he remembered the trauma (not the actual event) of the separation from his bio mother…that it resulted in desertion/separation anxiety. Okay. I understood that. I’d never even considered a “failure to attach” syndrome.

When he talked about his every-summer-all-summers at camp, & his years in very restrictive Christian boarding schools (like Stony Brook), it was always with a touch of bitterness. He never once talked about ANY life-time friends from boarding school or from camp. In fact, I could count his long-time friends on one hand….& he was in touch with them very infrequently.

I always thot that these things were “positive” in creating his unique & special character!
I know I have a lotta quirks & quarks myself, & I know I came by them all “honestly” by a lotta bumps & bruises from my dysfunctional family (N mother, distant father, & pathologically greedy & bitter, bullying SP brother, but thank god for my grandparents!), & from a “freewheeling lifestyle” that caused me to crash into a lotta nasty situations—like a couple of physically abusive relationships—& like too-long a love affair with drugs & alcohol & guys who loved them, too!
So I could understand & “appreciate” that he had his own share of Scars.

I never understood what “that look” was—that staring right thru you/ eyes like cold, hard marbles SP look. Now I know what it was. Something that I thot was such a minor aspect of his personality…his eyes really were mirroring his soul. He never learned to form attachments….in fact, he worked against forming attachments. And it showed in his eyes.

This is all such powerful realization. It makes me stop all the “whys & why nots”…..I still wonder “why me”, but I now accept that it was something I needed to learn—& not just about him—->about ME. I don’t like it! I thot I’d been very self-aware all this time (I AM an astrologer, after all!) But this has made me come to face things I hadn’t wanted to see in myself!

And being able to come here to LF & read & “listen” & ponder & share has been a huge part of my coming to understand all I do now.

Ox Drover

Dear whyme,

I also have a genealogical and biological history of alcoholism and abuse going back on both sides and my husband’s father is no doubt a high level abuser and control freak. Career military. So my kids have the double whammy on each side genetically.

The depression in J’s father is a KNOWN genetic trait, and the dysfunctional lifestyle of his mother, early sexual behavior, multiple relationships and marriages, chaotic etc. all sounds like J got a good dose of psychopathic-trait genetics. Factor in being adopted, but, and here is a BIG BUT—I don’t believe his remembering the trauma of being away from his biological mother at an early age—that is preverbal and psychopaths are great at putting on a PITY PARTY—-poooooor me, I was abandoned……sheeeeet!

Being blamed for his adoptive mother’s neurosis is a “MAYBE” and that may or may not be so, psychopaths again lay on the pity party—POOOOOOR ME, MY ADOPTIVE MOMMIE DIDN’T LOVE MEEEEEE” SHEETTTT! again!

Non attachment? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did he not attach because of his genetics, or did not attaching to a caregiver because one wasn’t there consistently the trigger for the genetics?

What about the “Quaker grandparents? ” Again, a maybe, but it is possible the reason he was sent off to camps and schools is that he was UNMANAGEABLE from an early age and that is the reason he has no friends from childhood or long term friends.

But don’t try to figure out his life by what HE TOLD YOU, remember, he is a LIAR AND THE TRUTH IS NOT IN HIM.

OK, so you were a wild child, I get that. I did enough of that myself to appreciate you trying to give someone else a break for being a “wild child” too—but the difference is that YOU have stopped being a wild child—in fact, you have stopped being a CHILD, much less wild.

So, now it is time to set some standards for the behavior that we allow others to do to us. BOUNDARIES. It is time to set some standards for the kind of people we will associate with in the first place.

1. NO CRIMINALS–simple enough, if the person has a record worse than jay walking—no friend of mine. It doesn’t matter to me any more if they are claiming to be reformed or not.

2. NO LIARS—now I am using this to refer to ADULTs (because kids do lie and that’s part of growing up)–and LIE means to deceive for the purpose of ‘putting one over” on someone or aggrandizing themselves. Like, embellishing your resume is LYING, telling me how nice my new dress looks is MANNERS! LOL

3. NO CHEATS/THIEVES/MOOCHES—no financial responsibility or work ethic–no friend of mine.

4. NO ARSE-HOLES—have some manners, fool, or keep away from me.

That pretty well sums it up for me—that’s the list of deal breakers, and as far as the positive side just “be NICE”—if it ain’t nice, don’t need it.


Hi Ox Drover:
Great words as always. Actually something like that happened to me but with a twist.

A friend thought her boyfriend who was a disc jockey was cheating on her since he always had women around with his job. This friend and I were very close for years, we worked together, went to each others homes, she watched my daughter, no issues.

So, she asked me to go to where he would be working one night and check him out (he did not know me). I did just that and he did hit on me, I asked if he had a girlfriend and got the typical “no”.

I called my friend and told her what happened and she was shocked and upset (as one would be).

The twist is she confronted him and he said I came onto him – which was a lie and from then one – she cooled our friendship.

It bothered me since I did as asked, told the truth and she took his word over mine. WOW, what an eye opener.

Shortly after that incident, she stopped returning or making calls to me, so I knew our friendship was over.

Reflecting back I figure she was so desperate for a guy – she would do anything, including freezing out a true friend.


Ox Drover, this is quite a story. And I imagine it happens all too often. How awful that your friend would believe her husband even though she knew he was a cheat/liar. But I totally get the protective need for denial.

I remember being in the denial stage very clearly, although at the time things weren’t at all clear… I was living in this bubble, hoping that things would miraculously change and that the abuse would stop and my abuser would transform into the wonderful person I thought he was. Thank God it only took me months to break free from the chains of denial and plunge into the chaos of change. It’s so much better on the other side even thought it was a pain in the ass to get here. I really feel for the women who take years to leave denial behind….and especially for those who decide to remain there.

Thanks for such great writing and such wise thoughts!!!

Ox Drover

Dear Carinamom and tormented,

I agree it is too often the case, and that is why I used that as an example of why we stay in denial—the “price” to get out is sooooo painful—we have to accept a truth that destroys our fantasy world.

The way my husband died (aircraft crash, I was FIRST PERSON THERE) was terrible, BUT I think it was better that I was THERE than if I had been gone and heard about it 2nd hand. I was almost gone that morning, but I broke my finger giving a cow a shot and because of that stayed home with an ice pack on my finger. I think it was the GRACE OF GOD that kept me there.

The MOMENT I SAW HIM I KNEW and I turned to my cousin who was there and said “He can’t live” and he said to me “Don’t say that!” (there was NO doubt in my mind, NO denial) I was still in shock because I couldn’t see my son or the other two people even though I was told later I was 3 ft away and “looking right at them” but the TRUTH of my husband’s pending death I think was easier For me (as a medical person) than if I had not seen it for myself. By the time I got to the hospital where they had taken him I WAS THE ONE WHO TOLD THEM HE WAS GOING TO DIE….they were trying to “let me down easy”—actually I was very angry at them for their attempt at deception.

Even back when my friends(?) turned their backs on me at a time when I needed it, fortunately my GF knew what was going on and pointed it out to me, so I think the hurt from my friends’ betrayal was less acute than it would have been if I had not known what was going on.

There are lots of lessons to learn in this life and learning about denial in ourselves and in others is important. When we see someone in denial our (at least MY) instinct is to try to educate them…I do that here every day, that’s what this blog is about, but I need (for myself) to understand that sometimes the denial is going to win, and to have compassion on those people who still aren’t ready to give it up. Sometimes it is frustrating when someone stays in denial for a long time and keeps on making excuses and wanting me to validate them….I can’t validate them, and I won’t, but at the same time, I try not to push someone into more pain than they can handle because I know that giving up that denial is painful! VERY PAINFUL. Been there myself. We all have.


You know, Oxy…..
when I think back about what a “wild child” I was for too much of my life, & when I compare that to those lists of SPN traits, it kinda scares me…..I mean, too many of them describe ways I was when I was younger. I’ve broken a law or 2 & got a DWI in ’73, so I have a “record worse than jaywalking”. I always had a good “work ethic”, but I managed to avoid working for other people most of my life….being an artist & astrologer & free-lance construction worker & girl-of-all-trades (& having a family with $) helped me with that. And now, at 66, having been “retired” for 4 yrs, thinking that my life was set with J, I’m not anxious to get a “job”, even tho I need one & know it’d be good for me…Okay, I just got emotionally slammed to the mat 7 mos ago, but I *should* be on my feet now….but I guess I’m okay with waiting for my inheritance I should’ve gotten 7 yrs ago. For now, anyhow.

And I sure’s hell grew up in a hotbed of pathologies capable of producing a sociopath! (Looking at the list of “effective parenting” in the “Sociopathic Children” article, I can check OFF every one of those positive parenting traits as ones that were NON-EXISTENT in my parents!)

But I’ve never been a LIAR—-to my detriment, I’ve always been painfully honest with the people in my life. (broken a law or 2, but “honest to a fault!” Is that a oxymoronic syllogism? LOL!)

So I mentioned this to my therapist the other day. Well, I guess the better way to say it is that I broke out in sobs, saying, “how do I know I’M not the sociopath, thinking about some of the stuff I’ve done?”
She laughed & said, “A ‘good’ sociopath never questions their behavior, or considers it ‘wrong” & possibly sociopathic! And never feels guilty about it!”

I sure hope she’s right. 🙂

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