By June 3, 2009 Read More →

Diagnosing the problems correctly

By Ox Drover

I flashed on something a while back. I know a man who went into the navy at age 16. When he was 18, he was on shore leave and met a young girl, rapidly fell in love with her, married her, set her up in an apartment and went back to sea for nine months. When he got back to shore, she was gone. He couldn’t understand why.

Later, when he was 22, he met another girl when he was on shore leave and married her as well. Lived with her a couple of weeks, during which time she got pregnant, and then left her and went back to sea for a year. When he came home, his wife and baby daughter were gone.

At this time, he started thinking about “what had gone wrong” with his two marriages and decided that the “problem” was “American women can’t be trusted.” He had no inkling of the real cause of the problem, which I had no problem seeing. First, both he and these girls were very young; he had only spent a few weeks with them (less than 30 days) before he married them and then left for months and months. During the time he was gone, the very weak bond between them failed and the girls moved on. The fact that they were American girls had nothing to do with the failure of his two marriages.

Foreign woman

Going on his false premise of what caused the failures of his marriages, he decided to marry a foreign woman. While he was on shore leave in the Philippines, he met a bar girl there who had two illegitimate daughters. After he left the Philippines, he wrote to this woman for two years, then returned and while on shore for a week, married her. She was, at the time he married her, working, and living with 26 other family members, including her two young daughters, in a two room shack, without indoor plumbing. The total cooking facilities for this family (or should I say “tribe”?) was a Coleman camp cooking stove bought for her sister by another serviceman.

After the wedding, he brought his wife and her daughters back to the US to live. He educated the two daughters and then the couple had one more daughter. By the time the second daughter was 12 years old and he had retired from the service on a half-pay pension, and was going to college himself, the daughter became “conduct disordered” and “ran wild.” His wife decided it would be better if she and the daughter stayed in the house they owned and that he should move out. She told him that when the daughter moved out at age 18, that she and he would move off and “live happily ever after.” As the girl’s 18th birthday approached, she gave birth to an illegitimate son. The man went for a visit to his family for his and his wife’s 20th wedding anniversary, taking a very expensive pair of diamond earrings to his wife, and so looking forward to the day, coming soon, he believed, that they would leave the daughter and live “happily ever after.”

Taken for a ride

Of course, that didn’t happen, and they were divorced. They hadn’t lived together the last six years of the “marriage,” but he had sent money to his wife and daughter during that period.

What is wrong with the above situation? The man was totally wrong about what the problem was with all three of his marriages. He was operating on bad information, so he could not fix the problem.

He was taken for a “ride” by his Philippine wife for over 20 years. She had been looking for a “meal ticket” and a “green card” eventually leading to US citizenship out of a horrible crushing poverty in the Philippines. I can’t say as I “blame” her for looking to take any way out of her situation. However, he had not the slightest clue what was going on, so he could not fix the problems with his choices and decisions.

Correct diagnosis

I realized, in going over this man’s stories, that I too had had difficulties in making good decisions and solving my own problems because I had not clearly defined what the problem was.

When I was in nursing school, we were taught to define the problems in order to make a correct diagnosis and find a solution. Without clearly defining what the problem was, there could be no correct solution.

In my own difficulties in dealing with psychopaths, and people with agendas that were clearly different from mine, I didn’t correctly define the real problem.

I would hit a snag and be abused and used, just as my navy friend had been used and abused, and I would (as he did) grieve over the losses that resulted from the situation. I would try to find what happened, as he did. However, like the man, I came up with the wrong solution because I didn’t correctly define what the real problem was.

With each of the psychopaths that I encountered, starting with my biological father, I defined the “problem” as me not being able to adequately communicate my love for them. If only I had loved them more, tried harder, somehow I would have gotten through to them how they should have treated me. I thought that somehow I must have precipitated this unholy abuse and pain. Obviously, I allowed it to continue for a long time until the pain became so bad I fled in terror from this monstrous man, but still I didn’t see that the real problem was that he was unable to love, and that my own lack of self esteem and boundary setting was what allowed this abuse to go on.

More psychopaths

After years of floundering around, going through the grief process, my pain totally invalidated by anyone, even my mother, I worked through the process to where I could function again in life. At least I thought I was functioning adequately.

Encountering more psychopaths however, in many roles, some in my family, some as bosses, some as subordinates, one as my son, and eventually one as a “significant other,” I still didn’t “get it” that there was a problem with me! That the problem with me was that I didn’t recognize that they were unreachable, unchangeable, unfixable, that no matter how much I loved them, how much I gave to them, how much I forgave them, how much I “pretended that they had not deliberately hurt me,” I was a sitting duck waiting for the next psychopath or disordered person to get the “benefit of the doubt” from me, to get the “second chance” to screw me over, to use me, to abuse me, to lie to me.

Seeing the light

Finally in 2007, I fled for my life, leaving my home and everything I held dear behind except for my personal papers, one son, and my dogs. I finally “saw the light.” I finally made a correct diagnosis of the problem. I finally saw that I could not change them, that no matter what I did to try to placate them, they were toxic. I could only change my own reaction to them.

I grieved the “loss” of the illusion that my psychopathic son would ever “reform.” No matter how he promised, he was, in truth, a monster who wanted me dead. The loss of the illusion that my mother was my loving mother, instead of a toxic enabler, almost a psychopath-by-proxy because she would do anything to protect my son from the consequences of his actions, was another huge loss that I grieved intensely. I also started to realize that I had great difficulty in setting boundaries for the way that people treated me, and that there were others in my life who used me as “foot wipes.” When these people would lie to me, steal from me, and otherwise mistreat me, I was afraid to “upset” them and confront them, or to “make a scene.”

I started looking back at my life, and at the beliefs that I held to be true, the beliefs that influenced the way I allowed others to treat me. I then realized that like my friend the navy man, I had diagnosed the problems with these people incorrectly. These people in my family and my life did not respect me, but wanted to control me for their own benefit and I had allowed this to happen, over and over and over. When I had gotten to the point each time that the pain was unbearable, I had given in to their desires for control. I had paid dearly for “peace at any price.” They had done the bad deeds, and I had paid the price for their peace, but there was no peace for me, only pain.

My reactions

Having again gone through the grief processes over the losses I suffered—the fantasy that my psychopathic son would change, the fantasy that my mother was not a toxic enabler, and all the other losses—I now see that the problem was not just with the psychopaths, but also in my reactions to them.

I realize now that I cannot deal with them safely, in any way, shape or manner. The only choices I have are to have no contact with the toxic people in my life, no contact with anyone who is not honest, caring and kind. As I continued to stay on the “road to healing” I realized that in the past, when I had gotten over the initial grief of the losses suffered from dealing with psychopaths, I was still vulnerable to the next psychopath because I had not learned to set boundaries without feeling great guilt over “upsetting” someone who had abused me. I realized that no matter what the relationship with a psychopath is, no matter how close the blood ties, or any other ties, that these people will always behave as psychopaths behave, and that is abusively.

Now that I have made changes in myself, made changes in the way I react to abusive behavior, now that I have refused to blame myself for their abuse, and refuse to let abusive behavior continue, I am on a much more solid footing on the road to healing. I also realize that I must stay on this road, that I must guard myself with caution in dispensing trust to anyone in my life, and set solid boundaries for myself. I don’t feel that I can ever declare myself “totally healed” again, as I have in the past, only to try to “fix” the next psychopath that comes into my life. I will always to some extent be vulnerable to the psychopaths, more vulnerable to some than others, but I now watch for the “red flags” that indicate pathological disorder in people I deal with. I no longer trust blindly.

Oxy…good point….

“set solid boundaries for myself”

Boundaries….not for “them”….for ourselves.

“I realize now that I cannot deal with them safely, in any way, shape or manner. The only choices I have are to have no contact with the toxic people in my life, no contact with anyone who is not honest, caring and kind. ”


These days, when someone comes on very strong upon just meeting me, I immediately start asking myself the questions, “What does this person want from me? What are they after that they are trying so hard? What is their agenda here, and what is the big hurry?”

If you take this approach with people who are EAGER to get close to you right away, you can usually figure out their intentions pretty early on.
ESPECIALLY if you have educated yourself about personality disorders!!

That is progress for me, because I used to be flattered by people who wanted to get close to me right away. I would think to myself, “They must really like me.” I was completely oblivious to people’s hidden agendas.

Don’t ever think someone wants to get close to you within the first 10 minutes of meeting you because you are that “special”.
Nobody is that freaking special!!!!!

Wait! What do you mean I’m not that special! Of course I’m special!

Actually, Rosa, you’re making me think hard about another side to this. If you’ve read “Women Who Love Psychopaths,” then you know that WE ARE SPECIAL! And often we are under-appreciated for all the wonderful, compassionate, generous things we do for others, and all the responsibility we carry. Some of us are even “trophy women,” successful in careers, highly competent in our lives — whether as wonderful moms or leaders in the community, or as exceptionally hard workers in our jobs.

When a “trophy hunter” predator sees our shining glory, he may start to work on the challenge of how to bring us down. Not everyone that a con man targets looks particularly vulnerable.

Maybe I’m working on diagnosing situations a little differently. Thank you, Oxy, for another thought-provoking article!


What I mean is that the PREDATOR only sees us as a “target”, no matter how great and accomplished we are.

We may be special and have many wonderful qualities, but the bottom line for the predator is a “target” to manipulate/control. NOT LOVE.

Am I right?

you are right on Target…………..Great article Ox – could there be such a person as a sociopath with a conscience, that feels remoresful for disapointing all his abuser’s?


A remorseful sociopath with a conscience and everything. To me, that would be like finding the great UNICORN in the sky.

One came online here @ LF not too long ago professing that “not all sociopaths are evil.”
I wanted to hook him/her up to electrodes and examine them under a white light.

Rosa: My point is that a predator might target us BECAUSE we are “special.” Some predators go after the weak ones, some go for the thrill of taking down strong ones.

I think we see plenty of evidence on this site that some of us were at a vulnerable time in our lives, some have serious issues from childhood, and some were just going along as high-functioning people in their lives — and then the predator showed up. Some predators go after mice, some go after rabbits, some go after “big game trophies.”

Even a very strong person can have a weak moment, or may simply, and appropriately want to have a good relationship with a caring partner. The S/P WILL USE ANY ANGLE — if they want a target, for any twisted reason in their own heads, they will work to figure out how to go after that target.


I agree. That is how a lot of us here got in trouble.

But, the predator uses our “special” qualities as an ANGLE to gain control. In the end, we are left feeling anything BUT special, because then he will move on to the next victim and make them feel “special”, and the next, etc. etc. etc.

The only way we can feel special is when we are truly loved.

A sociopath does not have the capacity to love.

So, I don’t care how special any of us thinks we are, or actually may be. The point is you should never think you are “special” when dealing with a sociopath.

If you think you are special to the sociopath, and he is going to make an exception for you in his sick games, you may as well stick the knife into your own heart and twist it yourself.

Rune: Are we agreeing or disagreeing??? 🙂

P.S. The moral of my story is that any concept of “special” goes down the toilet when dealing with a sociopath, just like everything else.

P.S.S. I was not implying in my original post that only one type of person is a desirable target for the S. I understand that it takes all types to make the S’s world go round.

“The only way we can feel special is when we are truly loved.”

I am NOT necessarily talking about others loving us. We start by loving OURSELVES.

And Jesus will ALWAYS love us. 🙂

“You just have to tell a woman how SPECIAL she is— and the you can have her as ANY OTHER woman”,

Words from my father he told me when I was 7 years old (!!) My father is a P and he wanted to prepare and protect us from his kind of men.
I get the creeps when someone tells me how “special” I am. Needless to say that my sister fell twice for a P/N, me repeatedly, and my brother just married his second wierd wife (I think she is a N at least, very cold, self centered, entitled to the max)

Thanks Oxy for a very thought provoking article, again! Specially the last paragraph hit home with me. Thanks.


I think you just proved my point.

Oxdrover, Excellent post. I think I sometimes contradict myself in these posts, saying one moment I’m healed, the next saying I don’t like the term healed, the next totally agreeing with where you are in this post, feeling like I will never say “I’m totally healed”. That is where I am today. I think you have even questioned me in the past about saying I’m really over this now, moving on, etc. But today, I’m getting what you are saying and agreeing. And sometimes life gives me reminders, no, I’m not “all over this”.

Maybe why I can so totally agree with this blog is that while you point out WE need to change, you don’t for one minute let us forget that the S/P/N IS THE PROBLEM.

Yes we need to change, but they are the evil! Not us.

Ultimately, the only person we CAN change is ourselves. That is one piece of the puzzle. Another big piece is recognizing who and what they are.

It almost seems like a contradiction….to realize they are totally abusive, but that WE are the ones that have to change. But absolutely true.


Dear Justabout healed,

I think you have “gotten it”—I am not ever “blaming the victim” for the abuse, we didn’t DO IT, but wee allowed it to continue.

Our very goodness, strength, responsibility, committment to those we love etc., is turned against us to get us to stay with them while they abuse us over and over and over.

We must start to LOVE AND PROTECT OURSELVES, to PUT OURSELVES FIRST…which may be contrary to how we have been raised, or what we believe.

If you think keveryone is nice, then you haven’t met everyone.

A person who is paranoid, just has ALL THE FACTS!

Have a good day, and keep on keeping on, we may never get to the city limmits of “Healed” but we are sure closer now than we ever were!

OK….so I’m startin a new “cut and paste file…named it “Oxyisms”

Correction: startin?….so anyway, yesterday morning, I’m typing on my laptop, just naming a notepad file…and my “G” key stops working! Then I realize “G” is in my admin password, both e-mail user names, both email passwords…you get the picture. I can fool humans with a small “Q”, but not the computer. So now I have a full-size desktop keyboard hooked up to my laptop…and sometimes forget to use it. And I went to Indianapolis yesterday afternoon with my top down (Jeep) and left the plastic windows home…the local paper had pictures of the “storm damage” this morning.

…and the other quotation mark should be after “paste” above…we need “edit” in addition to “preview”…

…and a couple I know married twenty years are getting divorced…and the wife wants ME to give her “relationship advice”-wth?

Whoever’s playing with the voodoo doll-put it away! NOW!

LOL….best I can do is a lower case “towando” today!


And Matt…on a serious note…what everybody else said! You’ll do what’s right!

ROSA – But isnt it nice when a sociopath thinks we are special, before we know they are a sociopath? Isn’t it nice to think we have found our life long soulmate before we start counting the lies? Isn’t it nice to sleep with the man of our dreams, until we realize we are sleeping with the enemy? Isn’t it nice the way they decieve us? Isn’t it something we all yearn for, maybe too much? Isn’t it nice that that we have escaped with our live’s intact? That we have been given the chance to question our desires? That we have found this place and all the people here to help rebuild our troubled souls? Isnt it nice?


Since you put it THAT way….NO! There is nothing nice about it.

Well in hindsight I guess you are right.

no guessing about it, I know you are right…


You are special. And I mean that in a sincere way. Not the creepy sociopathic way. 🙂


You are right!

Before we can ask the questions we need to know what the problems and/or the question is…

Let’s think of it this way?

If your child is sick and tells you she/he has a upset tummy what do you do?

You will ask the child, “were does it hurt?”

Your child will then tell you or point to it and then you might think/ask “I think you ate too many cookies”…

In short, we need to know what we are dealing with before we know how to deal with it.

OxDrover, I know this is a simple way of looking at it but sometimes it can helps to see things simply and then know how a problem can be simply what it is.


A lie is a lie
abuse is abusive
manipulation is control
falsehood is denial

I believe other members call it an clarification and/or some type of enlightenment. In short a moment when understanding is accepted and then understood.

Thank you for writing this because it’s true that before we can diagnose any disease we need to understand the symptoms and then what those ailments are telling us.

Rosa, Libelle, Henry: I’m so glad you guys grabbed this thought and ran around the yard with it. It looked like a happy game of frisbee, and I hope everyone had fun! You are all so special, I was hoping you’d have an experience of enjoying it when NO ONE was out to get you!

So Rosa asked me my opinion, and here goes:

Rosa said, “the predator uses our “special” qualities as an ANGLE to gain control. In the end, we are left feeling anything BUT special, because then he will move on to the next victim and make them feel “special”, and the next, etc. etc. etc.”

Yes, I agree, but a different predator might use our desire to be a bit “naughty,” or a secret from our past, or our love of fresh-cut flowers, or expensive jewelry, or going to the opera with us, a hold they have over our children (as father/husband/mother/wife or someone who has conned the children who now “adore” him/her) or our desire to be appreciated. My point is that a predator will use ANY bait — some fishermen use worms, some use delicate hand-tied flies, and some use an old crank telephone hooked up to a car battery to stun everything in the pond. A predator can use anything. And we may not even know what the predator is after — our food, our social status, our bank account, perverting our children, or just destroying our lives (because we used to be “successful”).

Rosa said, “The only way we can feel special is when we are truly loved.” Uh-oh. Big red flag. Big, big chink in the armor. I’ll feel special when I KNOW I’m special, no matter what anyone else thinks, right? Because otherwise, I’ll be waiting for “someone who truly loves me,” and you can bet there’s an S/P just outside the door, or across the “crowded room” who can smell out that desire and is ready to fulfill it! Yikes! Been there, done and well-done and over-done!

Rosa said, “A sociopath does not have the capacity to love.” Now, how would you know that from his or her actions? The guy who really loves me might look a lot like an S/P who is fully in his/her game, and making all the right moves. We don’t know, until we know . . .

And Rosa said, (and I’m not trying to pick on you, but you said good things . . .), “So, I don’t care how special any of us thinks we are, or actually may be. The point is you should never think you are “special” when dealing with a sociopath.”

Yes, but, you don’t know you’re dealing with a sociopath yet, right? So if someone pays you a compliment and they are complimenting you for something that is true, then you can say “thank you” and feel good. But you don’t want to lock onto that compliment and let it rule your actions, right? Because it could be a genuine compliment from someone generous (like you) who wanted you to feel appreciated — which you deserve. OR, it might be someone who has a different agenda and is trying to get you to trust them and drop your guard. Martha Stout, Ph.D., author of “The Sociopath Next Door,” said — beware of flattery.” That was one of her major “red flags” about recognizing sociopaths — but not all people who give compliments are sociopaths — puleeeeezze!!

And Rosa, you made an awesome point that I think many of us should print out and paste to the bathroom mirror so we remember if we are EVER tempted to go back to an S/P, . . .

“If you think you are special to the sociopath, and he is going to make an exception for you in his sick games, you may as well stick the knife into your own heart and twist it yourself.”

Right on, sister! — as we might have said in another era.

Yep, this stuff sure is sneaky. And I hope you’ve figured out that when I dish a compliment, I really, really hope that it gives encouragement, a light on a dark day, a glimmer of hope that we can recover and not repeat the same mistakes.

Hugs to you. You are wrestling with this stuff on so many levels, and guarding your brother and niece as well. I really respect your commitment and heart, your developing understanding, and your generosity to others.

Henry: You said, “Isnt it nice when [X] thinks we are special, . . . ? Isn’t it nice to think we have found our life long soulmate . . . ? Isn’t it nice to sleep with the man [woman] of our dreams, . . . ? . . . Isn’t it something we all yearn for, maybe too much? Isn’t it nice that that we have escaped with our lives intact? That we have been given the chance to question our desires? That we have found this place and all the people here to help rebuild our troubled souls? Isn’t it nice?”

And I think you said it very well. I edited your words just a little, because I think we should all be able to hold those thoughts in our hearts, so that if a marvelous, loving, compassionate, responsible “soulmate” shows up, we don’t throw them out the door before we give them a chance to show they’re NOT sociopathic!

And if we’ve learned from here, we’re more likely to have the patience to let love grow.

Rosa – I should not have directed my ramblings at you. I like the way you express yourself . In my humble opinion – my need to be special to someone, not just anyone, but one special person has been a detrement to me – I see where I am flawed and my need of being special is a disorder, maybe codependent or even worse a nonborderline. I struggle with myself constantly to reassure myself that I am not bad or toxic or even worse a sociopath. In a earlier post I described how so many people in my life that say they love me and think I am special are in my life as long as I have treats and favors to give them – and here lately I have run out of treats and favors and suddenly I am not so special – life shouldnt be this hard – sometimes the voices just never stop – and more than anything I want to be special and confident in myself, to myself. I have been here well over a year (LF) and I want so much to change my life and leave the past behind, but the past is 54 years of my life lived for others – thats what I thought we were supposed to do. Ok I am going to say it ‘learned’ helplessness? or was it ‘taught ‘helplesness ? Only I can make this change or stay in this void, it’s up too me to live for me–or not.

I wish I’d known all this stuff 30 years ago.

Not-so-shabby: Me, too! No lie! How come we didn’t get this instead of the driver’s ed movies??!!!


I think we agree?!?

What they (psychopaths) take from you can be minimal or it can be devestating.

I ran around with a girlfriend when I was young, and she slept with MANY guys. People would tell me that she had multiple abortions when I first met her. She denied it, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt because she was my “friend”. I learned that I could not go shopping with her because she would steal when we shopped and no way did I want a rap sheet. And then she manipulated a guy into marraige and cheated on him within a week of returning from their honeymoon. That ended in divorce, of course. So, when she discarded me after 5 years of what amounted to just good times running around together, I was disappointed, but not surprised. Because by that time, I had seen her do it to so many people, including a husband who she sought out, manipulated into marraige, and then devalued and discarded. However, at the time, I did not know there was a name for this type of behavior. I think she latched onto me for the same reason she latched onto the husband: social status/connections. (Damage assessment: Minimal)

Then, of course, there was my sociopath boyfriend. That lasted longer and was more devestating. The lies were more complex, and I got my first dose of the Smear Campaign. My heart got broken in that mess, but that was my biggest learning experience. I still did not know about personality disorders at that time. (Damage assessment: High)

Then came the sister-in-law who is still in action. And that saga is still unfolding. Rune is right. Even when you know what you are dealing with, it’s not always clear what angle they are playing when it is going down. All you know is that you are being played, but it is easier to figure out when you know you are dealing with a P. They are very sneaky, though. The sister-in-law is vicious, because the stakes are high. The lies are so complex and woven together so seamlessly that my poor brother probably does not know what is real and what is not. None of it is real. It is all lies. And the victim is always the last to figure that out.
(Damage Assessment: Off the charts because there is a marraige and a child involved, and this one is capable of killing IMO)

Very scary stuff. That’s why it is important to be cautious when you first meet someone, like I said in my original post. I am still standing by my original post. Right??? 🙂 I feel like we went waaaay deeper than my original post. I don’t usually get this deep.

Rosa: We’re deep-water certified now. Great job! Was all that early experience so you could be ready to stand by your brother and niece now? (Forgive me — I’m always looking for a “reason” why we go through this in our lives, trying to make meaning and lemonade out of the lemons that “accidentally” got thrown into my grocery sack!

First of all, once you know that the personality-disordered exist, you can do a much better job of spotting them.

One thing I worry about is that we might lull ourselves into complacency by thinking that there’s a finite list of “red flags” that we can use, because the “disordered personality” will ALWAYS have some new twist.

Even setting boundaries isn’t enough, when we’re up against someone who is playing a different game. For example, “setting boundaries” against your SIL’s abuse of you in the way she drops off your niece to “abuse you” by demanding that you babysit would be counterproductive. I’ve encouraged you to let her THINK she’s abusing you by “setting boundaries” in a false way so that she’ll feel she’s winning by “abusing you” by dropping off your niece.

So, are we dizzy yet? If you feel like you’re running out of oxygen at this level, I brought an extra tank. And I’ll do all I can to make sure we both get safely back to the surface.

Bless you for all this deep, deep work you are doing. May the angels watch over us, and those we love who trust us to do our best.


You can ramble at me whenever you want.

I was a sponge for a compliment.

Sponge-Chic Square Pants!

And I thought Square Pants were the hottest fashion! You are SOOooo Chic!

I was born with a birthmark, it’s on my back and it looks like a doormat that says “Welcome!” I’ll have to have it lasered off now. I’m going to sit naked at a freeway off ramp with a little tin cup and a sign that says “Need money for laser treatment”.


You are right about there being an infinite number of red flags.
That is a key point that is not emphasized enough on this site.

That is why I hate the prolonged relationship that is going on with my sister-in-law. She is actually getting new ideas to manipulate from watching my family. She watches each of our personalities, and then tries to pit us all against each other. Crazy Making at its finest.
It does not get any more sinister than that. Not working like it used to, though. I am happy about that.


The longer you are exposed to the psychopath, the more traits and vulnerabilities they get to see, and can use later for manipulation.

When you are with a psychopath, you are under constant surveillance.

That is why No Contact is so crucial.

This conversation went way too deep. I am exhausted.

shabby – you crack me up………

henry: YOU crack ME up… I have copied and pasted some of your remarks in my “The Greatest of LF” journal, one you said last week that made me laugh because it is exactly how I feel was: “I just seem to attract parasite’s – Dear God please don’t let my shame degenerate into self pity Amen.”

: )

let me try that again 🙂

SoChic: The birthmark already says, “Welcome, true friends.” And your gut and your heart actually know already how to distinguish a true friend from a user. Your head is catching up very quickly. You are so far ahead of where you were . . .

I imagine us laughing about this over coffee, perhaps with an ocean breeze under the palms. You are cementing this truth into your brain. And you are still keeping your heart intact, you awesome person, you!

Oxy… you said:

“the pain became so bad I fled in terror from this monstrous man, but still I didn’t see that the real problem was that he was unable to love, and that my own lack of self esteem and boundary setting was what allowed this abuse to go on.”

I resemble that remark.

Thank you! Good one!

Boundary setting, and checking.. is a daily task. Think of it as fixing the fences to keep the docile animals in and the predators… OUT!


Thank you for another amazing, insightful post! I have also been working on whatever traits that exist in me that allowed me to let the s into my life. I know that setting boundaries is a big one, along with my need to seek approval from others. I am slowly beginning to learn to love myself (& my own company) for the first time in my life. I feel like I have spent my whole life taking care of everyone but me. I now take the time to do things I like to do, & trying to put myself first-that is a tough one for me! I just am so thankful that I found this site, & I know the wisdom & love found here, has done more for me than anything. I think you are an amazing person, & I thank you for all your sound advice, compassion for others, & willingness to share all this with the LF family.
(((((Hugs))))) to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Stiles,

(hanging head in mock humility, while tracing circles in the sand with my toe) “Ahhhhhh, it were nothin’ ” LOL Seriously, thank you, I think sharing is how we learn, and the “LF family” are all important members of my “community” and are very important to me….I am STILL LEARNING and GROWING because of this amazing group of people.

I know I have the same problems with myself that most/many of you guys have. Like what Henry said, trying to find validation and love from OUTSIDE ourselves, not knowing how to set appropriate boundaries (I’m learning!) not knowing or seeing what the PROBLEM really is before I start trying to fix it. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. all of these things are things I have dealt with and in some cases AM STILL dealing with.

I feel in some ways like I am an emotional teenager, learning to like MYSELF the way I am, rather than try to mold myself into what the OTHER KIDS think is “cool”—-I think I have been doing that my entire life, trying to BE what my egg donor wanted me to be rather than being who I REALLY am, and liking who I REALLY am. Sometimes I still get a flash and think, “I shouldn’t be like that” when I do something she would not have “approved of”—but IT IS OKAY TO BE ME, I AM OKAY! (Ok, class, write that phrase 500 times and turn it in on Monday!)

BTW Henry, every woman on LF is “in love” with you, we would all be so glad to have a man (if you ever go straight) who is as kind, caring and understanding as you are! SO THERE!!! BOINK!!! (((hugs))))

Aloha, glad you are still here reading.! Know you are busy, we will be thinking about you when you start your Masters program in August! It is getting close! don’t lose touch!!!

i love this post. could almost be a metaphor for the last 5 years of my relationship with a sociopath and his mother.
i became their target at a time when my biggest vulnerability was 100% unknown to me.

i had a chronic, incurable, undiagnosed medical condition. memory problems, fatigue, cognitive issues, vision, walking, muscle weakness…i KNEW something was wrong, but as i kept seeking medical attention and none of the doctors put all of the symptoms together- because they would happen at different times over time-i began to doubt myself (encouraged by the abusers in my life at that time) and started to think, wow-they must be right, it MUST be ME, i must really be an inept, selfish, lazy, useless, fraud of a person looking for some excuse for how defective i am (can you say projection-on their part?)

i lost confidence in my ability to function as various parts of my anatomy disintegrated only later to restore…felt that i must be going crazy, or maybe had blown the symptom out of proportion (how could i lose my vision to the point of almost being blind…only to weeks later be able to see as tho i had never experienced the vision loss in the first place), suffering fatigue so debilitating that i could not move for weeks, the experience of physically self-destructing at the same time as i was being undermined and verbally abused, accused of faking it, wanting attention, lying, being lazy, not a whole person/defective, not all there, making it all up, not wanting to take responsibility for myself…all the biggest lies in the world if you knew me like i had once known myself (or like friends knew me).

yup, i started to wonder-what the hell is wrong with me, this isn’t like me not to be able to function-self doubt and confusion crept into my thinking and adopting my abuser’s view of me became easy-backed up by what was happening to me physically.

i also think the abuse probably delayed my ability to keep trying to seek an accurate diagnosis-finally giving up and giving in to my abusers opinions of me instead of trusting my own knowledge that something was very wrong and no, what they said about me did not explain the reality of what was really wrong. it never explained the reality of who i was, ever-but it did say a lot about them.

it’s a gross and disgusting thing to be battered, undermined, sabotaged and subjected to abuse of power by those who supposedly love you, while experiencing the unsettling confusion of a complex illness.

i could not have predicted in a million years that something i wasn’t even aware of would have turned out to have been my biggest vulnerability. the diagnoses of MS 2 years ago turned out to be such a relief.

unfortunately, the unpredictability of that illness still remains my biggest vulnerability. i now seem to carry the added fear of being being further exploited and abused if i allow myself to be around others, if they know i have MS.

maybe someday, that fear will diminish, maybe not. but diagnosing the problem correctly, certainly helped validate my experiences, and allowed me to see how disgusting and repulsive the X and his mother truly are.

Dear Stunned,

I am so sorry for your terrible ordeal, having MS is bad enough (and hard enough to diagnose too–I’m a retired medical professional) but to be beaten down because of your symptoms is even worse.

I’m glad you are here though, as this is a healing place and will help you to “get your head on straight” about these monsters, and that, in itself, will lower your stress, and MS is made worse by stress.

I am glad to say that there are some good new treatments out there for MS and hope that you are getting better. I do know that WONDERING what the heck is wrong with you is sometimes worse than actually KNOWING you have something “bad.”

I hope that you are “taking care of YOU” now, and lowering your stress level as well. Getting rid of the monsters and other stress producers in your life will definitely, in my opinion, help your MS and your coping as well. (((hugs)))) and all my prayers for you!

Oxy… I am still here. I am reading the new articles whenever I can. Perhaps I will be back in the future with my MSW in hand.

In the meantime, I am accepting donations for books!

JUST KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I just heard from a coworker that she spent close to $1000 on books during her first SEMESTER of the MSW program. Can you imagine?! Do I get a free Cruise with that? How about a trip to Hawaii?

I am in shock!

Oh well, I will get through it.



Buy USED books. Besides saving you cash, if the former owner was a good student, they’ve already done the highlighting for you 🙂

Dear Aloha,

Glad you still find time to check in. I agree with matt, and the internet will help you find them…be sure to check the EDITION # though before bying.

Also, don’t know if you are aware or not, but you can sell plasma in some areas, it is 20$ usually for the first weekly unit and 35$ for the second unit. My son C did that for extra money and it isn’t too bad (pain wise) and you can study for the hour that you are there twice a week. that way you can say for sure you paid for your education with BLOOD! LOL

Excuse me while I shout out to all of you….


There are just too many to say a word to each. But believe me, it is every single one of you, who make this place so beautiful. So much love and support. So many sweet boinks! So much wisdom.

Oxy, another superb, insightful, and validating essay. My deepest gratitude for you and your willingness to give so much of yourself here. I have spent many years misdiagnosing the problem. Until I read about personality disorders. Then the light went on, and I was, for a time, blinded (shocked, as I recategorized many relationships based on this new illumination). Coming to this site has had the added effect of helping me come to terms with my new level of ‘seeing’, and not stay in the shock/sadness/hopelessness of finally coming to the truth.

I am grateful.

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