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“Emotional blindness” and the sociopath

Editor’s note: The following article was submitted by the Lovefraud reader who comments as “Pearl.”

By Pearl

Someone on this blog once mentioned a book by Alice Miller and Andrew Jenkins, and it caught my attention. So now I’m reading The Truth Will Set You Free—Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self.

Even though I’m only about halfway through the book, I wanted to share parts of it because it is so important to what a lot of us are working on—forgiving ourselves and trying to understand why this (fraud) happened to us. I know this won’t apply or appeal to everyone, but it might help some of you as it has me. Miller’s ideas help me understand why I was susceptible and forgive myself for my blindness—my inability to spot a “bad guy.”

Miller focuses on childhood—on how corporal punishment (spanking/whipping) and humiliation—cause a type of blindness in adulthood that can lead to being manipulated and UNABLE TO SEE THROUGH LIES. She emphasizes that the kind of parenting and education aimed at breaking a child’s will and making that child into an obedient subject by means of overt or covert coercion, manipulation and emotional blackmail leaves long-lasting imprints on the way we think and relate to one another as adults.

Here is the cycle as she sees it:

  1. Traditional methods of upbringing, which have included corporal punishment, lead a child to DENY suffering and humiliation. (Can anyone related to having a high pain threshold? Where did I get that bruise or cut—I don’t remember getting it? Ever feel humiliated at being spanked, paddled or whipped as a child? Ever experience a parent being insensitive to suffering?)
  2. This denial, although essential if the child is to SURVIVE, will later cause emotional blindness.
  3. Emotional blindness produces “barriers in the mind” erected to guard against dangers. This means that early denied traumas become encoded in the brain, and even though they no longer pose a threat, they continue to have a subtle, destructive impact. (The memory of how to respond to such crappy behavior from our parents and authority figures is still there.)
  4. Barriers in the mind keep us from learning new information, putting it to good use, and shedding old, outdated behaviors.
  5. Our bodies retain a complete memory of the humiliations we suffered, driving us to inflict unconsciously on the next generation what we endured in childhood, unless we become aware of the cause of our behavior, which is embedded in the history of our own childhoods.

As children, some of us learned to suppress and deny natural feelings. Some of us lived in a world where our feelings were ignored and denied.

All the beaten child remembers is FEAR and the face of the ANGRY parent, not why the beating was taking place. The child may even assume he had been naughty and deserved the punishment. Miller writes that in the absence of a witness who can empathize with us in childhood and genuinely listen to us, we have no other way of protecting ourselves from the pain but to close our minds to it.

In a bid to blot the fear and pain of our abused younger self, we erase what we know can help us, we can fall prey to the seductiveness of sects and cults, and FAIL TO SEE THROUGH ALL KINDS OF LIES.

Having this information helps me understand why I was “ripe for the picking.” It also goes a long way toward helping me forgive myself and move on in the healing process.


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Emotional blindness was HUGE for me. I see it in a friend also. We are very close. She is married to an EXTREMELY controlling man, everyone who knows him, male or female, knows this about him and was afraid for her when she married him. She kept having problems with him and asked me point blank what I thought of him. I said, “I know you won’t agree, but I think he is extremely controlling.” She looked puzzled and pondered that, and said, “You are right, I don’t agree.” Then she went right on to describe some extremely controlling behavior, EXTREMELY controlling, even physically controlling her, and she had no idea she was validating my point. CANNOT see it. And it took me months and months and months, with a therapist helping me, to recognize what was done to me by the bad guy the FIRST TIME I saw him, that I should have RAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One book “Women Who Love Too Much” says,(and I think that unfortunately it seems to be true, and I think the Betrayal Bond author would agree), that a lover who hooks into your childhood drama (for me, being love bombed and dumped repeatedly by a N mom) will always be more compelling than a healthy love. That is part of the siren that tries to pull me back….that I’m USED to struggling to win back “the great man’s” love (even though a N or a P is not a great man, they create that feeling), I want, I NEED so much to win that battle at last. Whereas my healthy relationships just don’t COMPEL me. How do we get unhooked from that compulsion? Unaddicted? I’m working on the steps in Women Who Love Too Much, and I ALMOST get there…..there are times I let go of the need, that I start to feel contentment, calm….and then….there I go again! Does this book have concrete steps for getting past those barriers? (And I don’t have kids, but god forgive me, I’ve treated my husband at times, too many times, just as I was treated as a child.)

While I see the author’s point about corporal punishment, I don’t think it is so much the PHYSICAL punishment itself that is the problem with the “emotional blindness” but the HUMILIATION THAT GOES ALONG WITH IT SOMETIMES. My grandmother spanked me when I was quite little, and I vividly recall the first time I consciously LIED to her. I got a “switching” on my little legs.

She was going to the garden which was out of sight (but not hearing) of the yard and wanted me to come along, I was happily playing in the dirt in the yard and didn’t want to go. She said “If I leave you here you will run away (across a busy highway) to see the other children” The thought had NOT crossed my mind until then to run away if she was out of sight, but she gave me a GREAT IDEA I thought, and I looked at her and CONSCIOUSLY LIED “Oh, no, I will stay right here.” She believed me, and of course, as soon as she was out of sight, I high tailed it to the neighbors house to see their kids. I remember the switching I got on the way home. There was no humiliation with it (and it was not brutal or painful or injurious) I DID get what I deserved. She sanctioned my behavior.

My mother, who spanked me less often than my grandmother did, always made sure to HUMILIATE ME with it. Looking back now, I can see the DIFFERENCE in the two approaches. If my grandmother spanked me IT WAS OVER and done with, never brought up again. If my mother spanked me it was NEVER OVER, it was always a humiliation and a DIFFERENT ATTITUDE.

My mother made a point of reciting every time she had “had to” spank me previously each time she spanked me. In one of my recent conversations with her (a few months ago) she even mentioned a “beating” (literally) that she had given me when I was 15 as JUSTIFIED because I had lied to her—this was to “justify” her own lying to me THAT DAY when we were talking.

A “lie” 45+ years ago was enough to justify her (A) beating me then and (B) lying to me today. Actually, I remember the beating vividly, and my step father pulling her off me because I sat passively, while “counting the licks” (which I was defying her by doing) and it was NOT about a lie, it was because I had “sassed” her. I knew, even then, if I had cried she would have stopped, but I was defiant and sat there “counting the licks” while each one became harder (and the blood started to run) because I was defying her then by not “submitting.” I had determined she could beat me to death but I would neither submit and “give up” or fight back at her. It was my own little passive aggression….and of course it ENRAGED her.

HOW sick we both were!!! What brings a child to have such defiance? I think it was the humiliation and my own teen aged rebellion against it. My grandmother had long since before stopped “spanking” me (I can’t remember one after about age 4 or 5) my grandfather never spanked me, and I can’t remember a spanking from my step father at all (though I think he actually did spank me once or twice in my life) but I vividly recall the humiliation of my mother’s spankings, which lasted until I was 12 or so, and even a “talking to” was always a humiliation. I don’t recall being humiliated by any “talking to” I got from my step father. I actually don’t recall being humiliated by any member of my family EXCEPT my mother when I was growing up. I do recall being told my behavior was unacceptable and to “stop it.” (which I usually did) I was not rebellious or resentful of any adult member of my family EXCEPT my mother.

While corporal punishment can be a problem, in my opinion, I think the WAY it is administered (at least in my case) is the BIGGER problem than being spatted on the butt. Even VERBAL reprimand can be HUMMILIATING and I think the humiliation is the BIGGER culprit.

A timely post, in my case. Just yesterday was seeing my therapist and brought up this very topic.

I was brought up by two alcoholic (but highly successful) Ns. Verbal and physical abuse were the norm. I vividly remember my mother, on numerous occasions, while she was beating the living daylights out of me saying “Look what you made me do! I hurt my hand/wrist/whatever because of you!”

My father was a real prize, too. I can remember my siblings and I begging for my father to deliver the beating. He would deliver enough lashes to get us howling, and then whack the bedpost while my mother urged him on from the other side of the locked door. How sick is that?

The looks on both their faces while they delivered those beatings — eyes vacant, biting on their tongues — are indelibly etched on my brain.

By the age of 11 I dreaded going home after school and was going into a full-blown shutdown. One of the last times I tried to defend myself I told my mother to stop controlling me. Her response? “Everybody has someone controlling them.”

At 18 I just couldn’t go on. I threw in the towel and almost died of a massive overdose of seconal.

The ironic part is that my parents who were so big on how they were perceived by the public never figured out that what went on behind closed doors flew out open windows.

A few years ago, a friend’s mother, who is a neighbor of my parents, told me “I couldn’t stand listening to what your parents were doing to you kids. I’m so ashamed for not calling the authorities.” I told her “It wouldn’t have made a difference whom you called. It was the 60s and 70s. Nobody WOULD do anything. Nobody COULD do anything. It was considered a “FAMILY MATTER.” But it’s nice to hear from you that what went on there wasn’t normal.”

I told my therapist yesterday that I think my emotional IQ shut down somewhere around 11 and I feel emotionally retarded. What self-respecting adult would tolerate the crap I tolerated that began with my parents and continued on through a long string of acquaintances (I won’t call them friends) and lovers that culminated with S?

I agree with you, Donna. By the time S came along, I was ripe for the picking. How ironic that the S was my wakeup call that something has to change in my life.

I do remember spankings from my childhood, but even though I was humiliated by those infrequent punishments, what I remember more is my father’s endless lectures. He would hound and hound and ask leading questions to make me answer in agreement with him. His rules were always stiff, with no room for movement. I felt so stifled, I spent all my time in my basement bedroom. He was an abnormal father, to say the least, and I can barely stand him for a weekend to this day. I learned to follow his cryptic rules completely in order to make my life easier and not disappoint him. My brothers fought harder, and it eventually came to blows, and they both moved in with my partying, alcoholic, drug-abusing mom.

So I learned early the art of people-pleasing, which makes me ripe for a sociopath to pick, but I wouldn’t necessarily place all the blame on spankings. Lets face it, different children respond in different ways. Some can respond to time-outs, discussions, taking away things. Others OCCASIONALLY need a spanking, delivered in the right state of mind, and leaving behind NO marks. I guess it depends on the person. But most sociopaths, narcissists, psychos, etc, have little impulse control, and have hair triggers, so they will almost always be terrible parents.

Pearl:

Called you Donna. Sorry. Great post.

Kerisee04:

Can so relate to your post. My parents would browbeat me into submission. I find it odd that I went into law, a conflict laden profession, when in my personal life I have been conditioned to avoid conflict at all costs.

The cryptic rules — My parents made up the rules as they went along. The rules varied day-by-day, minute-to-minute. I never understood the rules of the game, because my parents kept moving the goal posts.

The sense of uncertainty my parents instilled in me is alive and well, to this day. Combine that with hair triggers and I lived through my own personal Nightmare on Elm Street.

I think those moving goal posts are partially responsible for my complete and total lack of boundaries. I told my therapist last night that I cannot believe I’m 51 and have no boundaries. I’m finally starting to establish boundaries, but I am absolutely exhausted from living a life without them.

I believe the physical beatings are also locked into our bodies and dull our aliveness and ability to “live inside our bodies”. I experienced this firsthand doing intensive meditation practice. I released long held beatings I received as a child, and the emotions that were bound up with them. Afterward, I could feel my feet planted more squarely on the ground and was able to taste food much better. Physical, mental, and emotional trauma all cause energetic blockages in our bodies. For myself, the best way to release them is through meditation and breathwork. I have also done a bit of bioenergetic work, hitting on pillows. I believe that as long as this energy is still bound up in our bodies, we will continue, as Pearl says, to live in denial.

I think we need to keep in mind ANY kind of “punishment” that is done to a child is wrong. I don’t even like to say “I punished my child” I would rather say I CORRECTED my child. Maybe that’s splitting hairs, but maybe not too.

What is a “spanking”? Is it a rage-filled PHYSICAL BEATING by an angry, out of control parent? That is PUNISHMENT, abuse, and intended to inflict PAIN and control on the child.

I can see a BIG difference in the “switchings” my grandmother gave me and the “spankings” and the one “beating” my mother inflicted on me. I don’t remember feeing “resentment” or humiliation at my grandmother, but I can’t recall a single spanking (or the one beating) I received at my mother’s hands that didn’t engender a combination of anger, humiliation and resentment in me.

Probably, if I were raising a child today, spankings, if any, would be fewer and farther between than when I DID raise my sons. Partly because I have learned to be more patient with children than I was when I was younger, and learned other ways to cope with a child’s behavior, but I would not say I would NEVER spank a child. I know one thing though, I would never BEAT a child, and I would do my dead level best to never humiliate a child.

Corporal punishment for me teaches only one thing shame…

I know that when my children were younger I would spank them but also felt inside it was wrong. And in the end I know now it did nothing more but teach them shame. I learned later that by sitting the child down and talking (when they got to that age) about the problem and then ask them what do you think I should do to punish you it gave them options and me too. This allow me to grief less (I always felt like shit after spanking them which was my shame) and felt we could work it out thru a mutual agreement. Like no TV for a week or being grounded. In my opinion Corporal punishment doesn’t work and again only teaches the child shame.

As for me my alcoholic father (he) never beat or spanked me (that I can remember) when sober but would attack me if he was drunk. Thank God I was too fast and would hide from him until he fell asleep. I do remember once when he got me in a headlock and thought “okay this time I gonna die” but somehow I got away. Anyway I didn’t spend a lot of time with my father but lived at Lydia which was a children home. As for the Children home I lived at they did believe in corporal punishment and would use a flat wooden board with a handle (it was painted red) to redden your butt. I remember getting old sparkly a couple of times. I also remember the other kids telling me to wear more underwear because then it would hurt less. But it taught me only to be more careful when breaking the rules then teach me anything of any important other then shame. Which I guess was the point. Because all the other children knew you got a taste of old sparkly. But I did thank God when that practices was stopped. Man it did hurt like hell!!

Very interesting thread, and I agree, that shame and humiliation are the more lasting scars of physical punishment. Also deeply imbedded I think is the sense of powerlessnes, defencelessness and so on.

So I would venture that there is one more defining feature to the arguement. Being made to feel shame, UNJUSTLY or UNFAIRLY.

Being shamed for breaking an arbitrary or unjust rule for instance, or blammed when innocent and so on. Those, I think are the incidents that we carry around for years, burying the anger at the injustice together with the shame.

Being spanked for a real offense does not carry the same baggage I think.

Speaking of childhood trauma’s today I had to take my beloved 2 yr. old dog to be possibly euthanized, as he is paralyzed (perhaps temporarily) My practical farmer neighbour suggested I immediately call the vet and put him down.

Well the floodgates of sorrow and greif that opened up were bigger than any tears throughout my split with the S.

Of course I love my animal, but the wall of greif that came today was from somewhere even deeper . I realized that the possibility of losing a pet brings back all the pain of when my mother gave away my beloved pet when I was little. As an only child of indifferent parents he was my most faithful freind.

The dog had been given away( over many objections, tears and begging on my part ) to new owners about 20 miles away. Three weeks later I got a call from a freind that my dog was in her yard. Within minutes he was home and we had an exstatic reunion. He had found his way home!.

It was early and my mother insisted I MUST go to school. I told her I knew we couldn’t keep him but to please PROMISE to keep him until I got back for lunch so I could have a few more minutes with him… I guess you can figure out the rest….
That betrayal and the feelings it engendered was never healed during my mothers lifetime.

Every loss brings up subconcious memories of other buried losses or pain from the past. Does it make sense that the more “pain” we have had as children, the more likely we are to turn ourselves into pretzels to avoid another loss and the consequent pain?
We make good targets because we have known pain, and naturally, want to avoid more. Once ensnared by a talented Socio, we are like a deer in the headlights, frozen in fear, and blinded when the devalue phase sets iin.

Reading all these amazing posts, I am confidant that once healed, and armed with our new knowledge we will not fall prey to the same illusions fom a predator again.

Go tribe!

But wait a minute. Aren’t we saying it is wrong to teach children shame, and yet saying socio’s are evil because they do not possess it? There are times when both children or adults should feel shame if they have behaved in a shameful way.

Isn’t it ironic tho’ that the worst of all feelings ,( according to my therapist the most difficult to endure of all emotions) is the one that socio’s lack. SHAME.

James: Grounded should have been my middle name. (LOL). I was always grounded for kicking my feet under the front seat where my brother sat in between my parents while we were driving in the car. He got to sit in the front seat with my parents, and the 3 girls sat in the back. I felt that since I was the youngest, I should have the front seat and he should be in the back seat with the other 2 older siblings. No! I had to sit in the back seat …so I was always kicking my feet under my brother who was sitting in front of me (go figure, I was always stuck in the middle of the back seat … no window seat – ever! Of course my parents would just talk in the air … saying over and over again “you better stop that fusing in the back seat, we’re driving on the road here! I’d stop for a while, but I just couldn’t get it in my head that I should be in the front seat with my parents … so kick my feet under my brothers seat I would. My father would talk to the air again …”if I have to pull this car over … someone is gong to be grounded! Yeah, right, like I’m invisible … well, he never mentioned who that someone was who was going to be grounded (LOL) … there was 3 of us in the backseat. I’d stop, then start up again, stop, start up again. My father would pull to the side of the road and turn around and say “Wini, that’s a week in your room”. I’d look at him dumbfounded … like, how did you know it was me, there are 3 of us sitting back here? Daaaaaaa … My 2 sisters would sit there and smile … like you dummy, you never learn.

I had more friends standing below my bedroom window … telling me they were about to play baseball or do this or do that … and how long are you grounded for this time Wini? They’d stand there for a half hour or so, just having conversations with me … until my mom would talk into the air again “who are you talking with Wini, there better not be anyone in that room with you”. Of course my friends would say “well, we gotta go”.

I must have been 5 or 6 at the time.

Ghee, I knew every square inch of my room by the time I was 6.

eyeswideshut

There is a really good book about this topic “Shame” called:

No Place to Hide
Facing Shame so we can find self-respect
by Michael P. Nichols Ph.D.

Shame is something we all have because we are taught shame. It’s unavoidable in fact it’s part of being human. The book tries to explain how to understand and live with ours shame. I am not finish reading the book yet but from what I have read it makes a lot of sense and answers so many questions I had about my own shame and how to deal with it..

One insight from this book was when the author wrote the different between guilt and shame.

He wrote:

“Guilt is what we have done but shame is who we are“.

I remember reading this and never forgot it! It help me understand that my shame is part of me unlike guilt which is forgotten over a period of time..

Good blog. An energy healer I know says that the eyes are part of the brain matter. Check out this picture. Does it remind you of someone else? What did this person have locked into his brain?

http://www.mtexpress.com/index2.php?ID=2005124282

And then, what happend because of the patterns locked into his brain.

Justabouthealed and all,

Doll, there wasn’t any love to win back now was there?

If you’ve read enough on LF you should realize by now that PDIs DON’T love anyone, not even themselves. Oh, they are self serving, self absorbed but I consider that a primitive survival instinct, not necessarily real respect and love for oneself.

I don’t think we should be so stubborn, so intent on yearning for the fantasy, an empty hollow fantasy at that but instead directing our focus on reality.

Being a die-hard reality oriented woman has saved my butt tremendous heartache. Keeps me grounded, sane and alert to any bullchit aimed towards me.

I will say it again for me as well as you folks, but learning to self validate yourself, to appreciate your own opinions, ideas/ideals and beliefs without seeking confirmation from any other human being, is absolutely fundamental in reaching that excellent plateau of undeniable confidence and self-possession.

I’m not spouting literature I’ve read or giving you lip service; I truly live my life according to what I say here on LF.

Yes, it’s taken years of constant introspective work, deprogramming myself from the damage of childhood, past destructive involvements with friends, family and lovers, the whole kit and kaboodle.

I’m also at a wonderful age where I simply don’t give a crap what others think or feel about me. Who cares? No time or energy for brooding over such nonsense. I like me though thankfully I have enough emotional, psychological, and spiritual depth to not fall in love with myself. Will never happen.

Right on Janie, isn’t it wonderful to be at an age where you don’t worry if your “hemline is straight” or if there is a curl out of place or your lipstick is on straight? LOL I can remember when I stood in front of the mirror for an hour or two a day just doing the hair and make up…JUST SO…before I would take out the trash! LOL

There’s a cute little book by an older female MD (can’t remember her name) called “Crones Don’t Whine” and is for JUICY older women who have earned the title “Crones”–which means “wiser older woman” and we should be PROUD to wear the title! Until recently I think I just got the older part right, now I am working on the WISER part! LOL Life is good, P-FREE AND GREAT!!!

Oxybodacious,

Yes! Aint’ it the truth!?…haha.

Though I can’t survive without my Burt Bees slightly pinkly colored lip protectant. Jupiter’s Moons do I go through tubes of that stuff! 😛

And, sweetheart, you are much more wiser than you give yourself credit for. Don’t you read all the glowing, appreciative comments written to you?

So humble and so endearing you are, my lovely padawan crone! *I love the yoda speak, can’t ya tell?*

Dear Janie,

Yes, I love the positive feed back and it helps me on those days I feel pretty dumbo! There are people on here to whom I feel very bonded—In the Betrayal Bond (book) it talks about how we are more bonded to people who have been through trauma with us—llike soldiers bond to each other in combat and stay connected for their entire lives. I had noticed that I felt closer to people that had been “through the fire” with me in times of crisis, at deaths in the family and other bad times…more so than those that I had “partied” with in happier times, and that book explained my feelings and the whys.

Yes, I love being a crone and not having to worry about being “on stage” any more, just being me—a slightly daffy crone! Okaaaaay, I admit, a VERY DAFFY crone!

Yes, Oxydarling, there are many wonderful bonds that have been created on this most essential website.

Why do you think I keep coming back? Well, I never really left just kept up to date on the articles and comments.

And there ain’t no way in heathers that you could ever be called a dumbo or daffy. EVER!

Ok….where’s my skillet at?!

**BOINK on Oxy’s gorgeous, highly intelligent, wise, loving, kind, compassionate and generous head**

Ouch!!! You’re pretty handy with the skillet, Janie! LOL xoxoxox

Pearl,

I can relate to “a parent being insensitive to suffering.” I was raised by my Dad that I adore, I guess out of loyalty, and my Step Mom (since I was 3.5 yrs) whom I can’t recall ever nuturing me as a human being… no praise, no kisses for Boo-boos… the standard answer was “you’ll live” and when I really cracked emotionally, she would say, “Oh. let’s all feel sorry for E now!” We have a relationship now but it requires that I pretend that it wasn’t how it was. You know what I mean?

I am dating an old friend now and I noticed that more than anything, I crave to be held… and the attraction is that I feel safe and when I am sick, he takes my temperature 15 times… (He’s a Doctor so I think he’s actually having a bit of fun looking in my ears and all that.. haha.) But when I was a kid, no one paid much attention when I was sick. My Step-Mom tried to send me to school with Chicken Pocks when I stared feeling sick EXACTLY to the day of the incubation period (my little sister had them first). It was really stupid because I never tried to get out of school. I was not that kind of kid. It wasn’t until the end of the day when my parents came home and I was covered from head to toe with the tell tale pocks that it was acknowledged that I was sick.

As an adult, I have noticed that I have difficulty taking care of myself when I am sick. I don’t do much and I keep going to work and feel really torn about calling in sick when necessary. At the same time, I recall demanding my Dad go to the store and get me cough medicine once when I was a teen. I kept telling him I was in pain and he kept telling me to gargle with salt water. I finally said, “Dad, GO TO THE STORE AND GET ME COUGH MEDICINE… PLEEEEAASE!” This was unlike me to act like that but I think he realized he was being lazy. It’s sad to me that I had to make a DEMAND that they take care of me.

However, I am still a very nurturing person. You can’t supress what just IS.

:o)

Aloha

My parents were emotionally cold and physically abusive as well … I have long since forgiven them and I understand that they probably didn’t have great role models either growing up.. I did understand how bad it made me feel in my growing years to be treated that way and I tried hard to be the opposite with my daughters… I feel like much more of a best friend to them than a mother figure…Not sure if that is the right way either, but they both have a very high self-esteem quite unlike the struggle I have had with mine all my life …. (which of course led to my way to long relationship with the X-S)
Aloha: I know what you mean about going in to work sick etc. You made me see it was from my childhood… Thanks for all your insightful and wise posts!
God Bless

Oops, miss a couple days and my post is up!

I was whipped as a child. We didn’t call it spanking. We didn’t think of it as hitting or abuse. It was whipping. Either a belt or a fresh switch was used. I remember having to pull my pants down for whippings, because it didn’t hurt enough with my pants or shorts on, my parents said.

It happened because we did something “wrong” like spill the milk or fidget in church. Now it seems crazy, but back then it was “normal.”

As a child, I considered whipping as the “tough” guy’s version of spanking. (Which, since I was a very young girl, was crazy.) Whipping was what my parents did. They took care of us. They made us go to Church. They even sent us to a private religious elementary school. And we got whippings.

So you see how twisted your reality becomes.

The Betrayal Bond puts it something like this:
Children presented with trauma are put into the universal bind. Do not see, hear, sense, fee or address what is real. Instead accept what is unreal in the interest of your survival. Disbelieve the obvious and accept the improbable. The bind is that the child is presented with only two options: (1) be overwhelmed with terror and not able to function, or (2) distort reality to survive.

These defenses are highly adaptive in childhood, because they let the child survive in an abusive family. In adulthood the defenses become maladaptive, because they prevent the survivor from accurately perceiving the presence or absence of abuse (or dishonesty).

I used denial to survive childhood and kept right on using it to deny the actions of my x. I believed what my x said; I didn’t see through his lies.

Is whipping considered “child abuse” ? I’m still not sure about that. My parents were/are misguided and have lots of other problems, but they were just doing the best they knew how.

Do mental health professionals consider whipping bare skin with a belt or switch (not just swatting with the palm of the hand) abuse?

Dear Pear et all,

I would most certainly think that the “whipping” you describe would today be considered child abuse.

Especially with the added humiliation of pulling down your undergarments. You are a strong one and a wise one and a survivor. Jane and Oxy and others , I look for your posts and read them knowing I will learn something all the time. Aloha, aloha to all.

In a recent post on this thread I questioned whether many of the SPN surviviors here were neglected or abused as kids, and these posts are certainly supporting that. I think that the P’s probably sense this or find out early in the relationship that we have been hurt in our early years and it is a terrific tool for them

It is very difficult to really escape the hurt of childhood and not pass any of the disfuntion on to our children.

I have conciously tried and changed almost everything about how I raised my kids, but my daughter who I had when I was 19 struggles with self esteem issues and has two kids with a nasty PSN posing as a starving artist.

My sons who I had when in my thirties, has a glorious childhood, I think, but in truth, the last many years I was not the mom I could or should have been in my struggles with the reality served me by the P and my inability to see a way out.

They are now young adults struglling to find their place as independant and productive adults in a difficult time, and faced with the war between their parents, and the reality of the lies heaped on all of us by their father, and the long term weakness of their mother.

In the end I think the path out of the pain is to try and fathom whether the parent did the best they could. With this comes forgivenesss and healing. But I adhere to the “Toxic Parents” perspective that “foregiveness” like respect must be earned.

In trying to forgive a PSN that has devastated us, what entity do we forgive? The mask, the flase self, the hollow package, the empty interior, the manipulative brain, the public image, the finances, the possible legal consequences, the jail time? The sadist? the mind f…cker? Knowing that even by defending ourselves from their predations we are in the catagory of unforgivable in their twisted minds?

Take a look at the devastation around the planet by socio’s and their way of thinking. It has now been institutionalized as a way of organizing the entire world, codified and written into trade agreements and law.

Are we really well served by the concept of forgiving all this? Certainly not until we have remedied the injustice.

In the final days of our split, my socio, who had heard much from me on these topics (activism) said ” I have learned a lot from you, about how the world works.” very slyly, like laying something slimy at my feet. Of course I had further empowered him, by illuminating that the guys on top of the global system are SPN’s just like him.

Silver lining was, by looking outside my little world to escape the gaslighting, I looked at the bigger picture in great depth, became active in trying to fight it, and awoke to fight what I finally saw as the same abuse at home.

During this period I painted the statue of liberty many times, many ways, surrounded by smoke and ash, tears on her face, anger. It took several years to realize that I was struggling in my public life, to understand and fix my private life.

The subconscious is a marvelous thing.

Peace all.

Justabouthealed— I think that The Betrayal Bond has better information to help change behavior than Alice Miller’s book. It’s helping me to see how the behavior patterns I learned as a very young child are repeated as an adult at an unconscious level. Then, trying to be aware and catch myself in action, and adjust my response—make a thoughtful response, not an automatic response. I recommend checking out the The Betrayal Bond—I’m getting a huge benefit from it.

OxDrover—I thought you’d be familiar with a “switching.” I bet Henry is, too. My parents kept belts and switches on top of the refrigerator, ready for use. However, if the switch was old, it was dry and brittle and would break when they used it on us. So my father would go outside and cut a new one and trim off the little shoots from the switch. I’d wait in terror inside until he came and finished with me. Those freshly cut switches had little nubs on them that really hurt and left little cuts on our legs. Your grandmother’s switching sounds more gentle than the ones my father delivered in his rage.

Matt—did you prefer your father to deliver the punishment because he was “easier” on you than your mother? I wasn’t quite sure that’s what you meant in your post. Either way, reading about what happened to you, it does sound sick. Yet we “normalized” this trauma to survive. The trauma and our survival mechanisms are laid down in our neurological system and become part of our hardwiring. So it’s no wonder we still behave with those same patterns—until we become conscious of the whole cycle and consciously try to change behaviors. (imo)

keriseeo4—I agree that a parent’s endless, controlling lectures and cryptic rules are not abnormal. Compulsive compliance is definitely a survival strategy for a child in your situation. I was fascinated that you wrote that your brothers fought harder and eventually moved out. I have two brothers and my older brother fought harder and longer than I did. I used the compliance method to survive. Also, your point about a spanking delivered in the right state of mind, leaving no marks is a good point. Punishment delivered in rage, or at a time long after the original “offense” of the child, or severe enough to leave marks has a terrible impact on the child.

Stargazer—I agree with your thoughts on the memories remaining in our bodies. Another method to release them that I want to try is Eye Movement Desensitization.

James–I like your ideas about talking to your kids instead of spanking them. What an incredible accomplishment for you to break the cycle of hitting children—you experienced it both from your father and the children’s home and yet were still able to make a different choice with your kids. That’s awesome.

Eyeswideshut—good point about being made to feel shame unjustly or unfairly. When I recently looked back on why my brothers and I were whipped, for the most part, it was because of reasons like we fidgeted on church (we were 3-5 years old, of course children that age can’t participate in an adult service; they don’t even belong there) or I accidently knocked over my glass of milk at supper. However, I never examined these things until now. But I felt the shame and I knew at an early age that I wouldn’t treat my kids like that.
I’m so sorry to read your story of your dog—both your now and the one you had as a child. What a wonderful story of how your dog walked 20 miles to find you. He is a hero and loved you so much.

Wini—I remember when cars had huge bench seats in front! And, of course, no one wore seat belts. Sounds like you were just expressing your sense of unfair treatment of never getting to sit in the front seat, in the best way you knew how at that age. I wonder if your brother got preferential treatment because he was the only son.

Dear Eyes,

On the subject of “forgiveness” I view it as a getting the BITTERNESS against them out of my heart. Not in any way condoning what they did or what they are. It does not restore the relationship or trust at all. It just means that I am no longer BITTER or use their actions as the focus of my life, or have hate toward them. I am working toward acceptance of what they are, acknowledgment of what they are, but in no way approval.

My mother had told me all my life that forgiveness included restoring trust and that without that, andwithout pretending that “none of this ever happened” that I would go to hell fire and brimstone and was a bad person… I struggled with that concept all my life, it kept me from appreciating my own spiritual aspects and thoughts, I struggled and struggled, and then with all this chaos and dysfunction I realized that I don’t have to obtain her approval, that her ideas don’t have to be mine and that I CAN DETERMINE MY OWN DEFNITION OF FORGIVENESS, which I did after reading and rereading the Bible and other texts, and speaking with others who were spiritually minded.

I realized that “pleasing” my mother was not the only way to please my God! What an empowering concept that was, and I was ONLY 61 whenI grasped that. I had spent the first 61 years in a vain attempt to please my mother and win her approval and acceptance. Regardless of how “smart” I may be or how high my IQ is, I am a SLOW LEARNER. LOL

I knew already all these concepts, but I just didn’t apply them to my life…I applied them to other’s lives and could advise them in a reasonable and rational way, but somehow I never applied them to ME. I am not sure if it was an arrogance in me, or what, but I didn’t see the BEAM in my own eye, while I was trying to take the splinter out of my “neighbor’s” eye.

What new and wonderful precepts I find in reading the Bible now that I never saw before. The kind and compassionate teachings of Jesus in contrast to the “hell fire and brimstone” of angry judgment that I was taught and tried to accept as a child. I can even remember as a very young child, maybe age 5 or 6, worrying about going to hell because of impure thoughts or not asking forgiveness the SECOND I died. Worrying that no matter how “good” I tried to be, I would go to hell if I wasn’t fast enough to get forgiveness in that last second before I died. I was programmed well and early into the FEAR of this “god” of my mother’s, this angry, vengeful, hateful, disapproving god who was looking for reasons to burn me, and I knew I could never live up to being perfect, and never would be able to…but I kept on trying to, or I rebelled andsaid “to hell with it” I’m going to hell anyway so might as well have some fun first” (that was about age 15)

Now that I truly SEE, it is all so simple, and spiritually I have finally grasped the idea that GOD IS LOVE.

Pearl,

I work in the realm of Child Protective Services. You can not whip children. You can spank them on their behind with an open hand only and you can not leave marks, meaning bruises, scratches. I see kids all the time with Mom’s hand print on their face. That is too hard!

I think if a parent over uses even the “appropriate” kind of spanking, that can be damaging.

I am sorry that you were whipped. That is not right in my book.

Pearl,

I just realized you addressed your question to mental health professionals… I am not one but I aspire to be. :o) And I read your next note… I can’t imagine whipping a child for spilling milk or fidgeting in church. Isn’t that just childhood? Besides, didn’t I just spill some milk yesterday? I guess I will never learn.. not enough whipping!

You were talking about normalizing your parent’s whipping… I used to think that my neighbor friend’s parents weren’t good parents because they didn’t know how to punish her like my parent punished me. When she got poor grades she wasn’t grounded for eternity like I was. I thought her parents weren’t good at punishing… that’s how I made it okay in my head.. normalizing.

Aloha,

Anyone who works with children like you do, is IN MY OPINION a “professional” in the useful sense of the word. I do hope at some time you can go ahead and go back to college and receive a degree and upgrade your skills and put some “letters” after your name, but you to me ARE what it is all about and I think probably are better than some “lettered” professionals who really “don’t get it.”

When I worked in inpatient psych units, some of the “mental health techs” (designated “non professional staff”) were wiser and better at dealing with the kids than the ones with PhDs.

Under-educated can be fixed, STUPID is forever!!! LOL (((hugs))))

Oxy! HAHAHA! I have seen exactly what you are talking about. We have some awesome children’s counselors at the shelter who do way better with the kids than the Mental Health professionals in the clinic. The kids don’t want to go and talk to the Mental Health people.. they say… I’m not going in there! I’m not mental! Kids! Love ’em!

I do have my Bachelor’s. I will let you know if I get accepted to grad school. Application is in… waiting… waiting… waiting…

Meanwhile.. I have laryngitis today so I am in bed with movies.

James—I’ll have to look into the book you mentioned on shame. I think my strict religious upbringing laid a lot of shame on me. It’s often called guilt, but I think shame is more accurate because the so-called “offenses” were not really anything bad or hurtful. They were just stupid, arbitrary rules, but I totally believed it all.

I found an online site about parenting that delivers a helpful daily parenting “thought”. Although it’s designed for parents of children with difficult behaviors, it is great for any parent. It’s helping me with my oldest son, who is 17. http://www.beyondconsequences.com/ is the site; the sign up for daily support/reflections is towards the bottom of the page.

JaneSmith—deprogramming is good way to put it. It’s hard to deprogram strict religious principles. Maybe the tit for tat program mentioned on LF will help.

Alohatraveler—your words “I crave to be held” jumped out at me because I crave that, too. I have felt that craving since I was a teenager. Touch deprivation and neglect are mentioned in The Betrayal Bond. I used to think that extreme situations, such as the Romanian orphanages, were examples of touch deprivation and neglect. Now, I see that this occurs many places, in varying degrees.

I also have a difficult time calling in sick to work unless I simply can’t move. But I don’t begrudge other people for missing work or school when sick. I have internalized a stricter standard for myself (which is not good).

Eyeswideshut—I love your comment about painting the statue of liberty in tears and with smoke and ash around it and how you realized that this public work was really your inner self being expressed. I look for “clues” all the time—how my inner being is symbolized in my outer life. I’ve learned a lot from that.

Oxy,
We seem to have been raised quite a bit alike. To this day, I will find myself thinking about something I did or said, & wondering what my Dad would think. I am 54 for God’s sake. I got my first tatoo when I was 40, & I remember not telling my Dad for about 2 months. (He was in the Navy, & has 5 tats himself). Seeking approval, love, hugs, or “good” attention seems IMO, to also be a common denominator in all of us. I was raised in a strict Catholic upbringing, & remember becoming very disillusioned at an early age by how angry & vengeful God was portrayed to be. I was always afraid of the purgatory/hell part. I was a pretty good kid, I think, not getting into trouble. I also remember right before I was to enter H.S., my Dad sat me down for “a talk”. He meant well, I think, but I felt accused of doing drugs, drinking, Etc. I thought WTF!? I hadn’t even considered any of these things at 14, but I was angry about being accused, so I thought, O.K., I can be as bad as don’t want me to be. So at 14, I turned into their worst nightmare. Nothing serious to ever get in big trouble, or arrested, just enough to “earn” the distrust that had already been heaped upon my shoulders. Yet, if a therapist asks me if I consider my childhood to be normal, I have always responded, “Yes”.

Today my daughter had a response to her email in response to his..he said I had brain washed her and that I was mentally unstable but cleverly hid it, he told her it was me who viewed the porn and even disputed that she herself had caught him..I received several emails telling me how glad he is to be free but that i destroyed him and ruined his Christmas, he has made a final offer of access before he goes to a solicitor himself. He is delusional and the love I had is turning to hatred and disgust. I don’t know how I ever stuck him for as long as I did…I must have been mad…thanks to this site I am better equipped to fight his demands and to stand my ground. The best Xmas present ever was finding this site.

Muldoon: You are experiencing the sabotage of your character as well as your very existence. What he’s doing is normal for an anti-social personalities when threatened that their cover will be blown. They have to destroy the credibility of the threat …. and that my Dear Muldoon is you. (Hey, this part of the saga is the story of my life (LOL)).

Hang in there … as I suggested earlier, have your daughter log on so she can read and obtain the knowledge of their shattered psyche’s for herself.

Peace.

Dear Muldoon,

I’m with Wini on educating your daughter, however, she might not be ready for the FULL LF site, so you might print off some of the articles, or sit with her while she reads them, and then discuss them with her. That way you can give input and have more influence over what she sees rather than just turning her loose with it. I am not sure how old she is, or how mature for her age, etc. I do say EDUCATE her, but I think you know what she is ready for at this point. It also might be bettr coming from an “autority” rather than JUST from you. I bet ya she will get the drift quickly.

Yes, dear, he will try to make you appear the devil herself. There was a movie once about a fat woman whose husband ditched her and she destroyed his life subtly…I think the title was SHE DEVIL or something along that line. It was funny, but at the same time sad, sort of like the “War of the Roses” where a couple destroyed each other in their divorce. It was a “comedy” (both movies were) of sorts, but SAD REALLY.

They will destroy themselves as well as destroy you, just to make you hurt. We call it “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” How true, how true.

I am also so glad that you are getting stronger and becoming more angry than fearful, and that anger will help sustain you for a while. Ultimately you will have to let go of the anger to come to peace, but now, the anger is okay…just keep in mind that while you are angry don’t let the anger and thirst for vengence make YOU go off the deep end. You must ALSO stay CALM in your anger. Keep the GOAL in mind, to get away from this sicko sod. Hey, I like that, sort of rhymes! (((hugs))))

Muldoon:

Character assassination by the sociopath is standard operating procedure as I’ve come to learn. I’m in the midst of it myself at the moment. It hurts.

I’m beginning to understand how lepers felt in the 14th century — walking along, ringing a bell and calling out “UNCLEAN” so that all could flee.

Based on what people have said on this site, ultimately the majority of the people who believe him come to see the error of their ways. But, boy is it one hell of a painful wait.

Wini is right — they know that we have the power to blow their cover. Keep your anger focused on that. It will help you do whatever you have to do with respect to your S.

Muldoon,

So glad you found LF as well. Read about the recent car incident on the other thread. He sounds at the very least very unpredicatable. I hope you take Oxy and others advice to be pro active in protecting yourself. When the mask slips we become the enemy and all bets are off.

Not to scare you further but be vigilant in avoiding him.

One little thing i do now is keep a plastic bottle of professional toilet bowl cleaner by my back door. It is a squirt bottle. I hope I never have to use it but you get the idea.

Stay in touch so we don’t all get worrying about you.

And please trust that it gets better once they are out of your life. Much better.
Peace and love

Muldoon,

I love how they think that can just rewrite reality. Kids are smart though and your daughter sounds like she is not buying it.

“the power to blow their cover”.. yes, the one that is closest know the truth more than anyone else. The “friends” are puppets and they are being played and baited to think what he wants them to think… if he has any friends. In other words, don’t fall for the old “My friend said you are the worst” or any other variation of that. The truth does reveal it self with time.

Good luck Muldoon. Keep your wits about you and keep referring back to LoveFraud for reality checks. I wish we could just be there as a whole GANG! Now there’s a gang that could do some good… Look out, the LoveFraud gang is in town… or how about… The “BEEN-THROUGH-HELL Angels”

XO Aloha

Dear Aloha,

I ROTFLMAO when I read your “BEEN-THROUGH-HELL Angels” You are so witting my dear! EVeryonce in a while I just fall out of my chair when you come up with one of your “Aloha-isms” you are TOO TOO FUNNY!!

Can you imagine a skillet weilding group of crazed women and a few guys, yelling TOWANDA!!! as we bash them about the head and shoulders, of course you can picture me riding one of my jackasses or driving the wagon cracking a New England twisted ox whip (looks awesome and bad but couldn’t flick the fly off your nose) LOL What a gang of folks we would make, and God help the poor fool that fell into our clutches! LOL

Gosh I have to go to bed, I am getting silly visions of the BEEN-THROUGH-HELL ANGELS!!! (Or “devils” as I think some of are pure devilish in our humor–that includes me!!!) LOL Goo’nite guys! Prayers for peace and calm.

BEEN THROUGH HELL ANGELS

I like that – it’s beautiful. When I am trying to look at myself, and all of us LF folks in a very positive light, I think of us as people who had so much goodness (as indicated by the Women Who Love Sociopaths book), that we were actually able to endure this horrendous relationship, and come out of it reaching out, with great love, to our brothers and sisters (first here on LF where we are with our tribe and we gather strength, and then out to the world).

But that is a nice way to put it – Been Through Hell Angels. Perhaps we are angels (not literally) who were strong enough and brave enough to endure the journey of passing through hell (an unnatural place for angels) and come through the other side with larger wings, bigger hearts, more beauty, and more light and love.

Angels with so much love and light thay can pass through hell and come out the better for it.

Thank you Aloha!

Yes Healing Heart- Angels with so much love and light they can pass through hell and still come out better for it…still clutching their Griswald #9’s and Tidy Bowl atomizers. lol

Can someone answer a few questions? A few months ago I had a call from a woman the S/P had an affair with a year before me. She verified the lies and I had learned that he actually met her in the same place he met me. Said the same lines, lies, stories about himself……. I also learned that he took me to the same palces for trips and long weekends that he took her.

While I was dating him, he discarded m e a few weeks before vacation that we had planned and then refused to pay me my deposit. he did finally write me a check but took the new woman with him on the trip and his daughters. It was so hurtful to me. I cried all week. I planned the trip.

When we first started dating he invited me to join him in Southbeach as he was finishing some work travel there. On that trip, he had all kinds of family drama…..(the adult daughter calling to tell him how horrible it is that he is away with me. His soon to be x wife and she were having a big party at their lake house and how he didn’t deserve to be there…..yada yada yada).

As I think about it now, I think he took me there because I later learned he had cancelled a trip there the previous year with his x wife and she was not happy…… I think he got the result he wanted…..the x wife’s attention, the daughter’s attention…..and he did the same thing to me with the new girlfriend on our planned vacation.

My questions are: Do they do these things on purpose, knowing they will hurt others? Do they do it strictly to gain attention bad or good? Do they just do what they want when they want it, not caring how bad it looks for them or how it will affect others? Is it the anger that motivates them to do these things? Or is it simply their own pleasure? He had to know he would be pissing off the x wife, the daughter when we went there together, and in my example he had to know how hurtful it was to me and my kids when he ditched us and took the girlfriend. he once told me, when I learned about his affair, that he did it because he was angry at his wife and he never really cared about the woman, he just wanted to piss off his wife. Although the affair lasted a year and a half? What the hell goes on in their heads?

HI Keeping Faith – I think about that topic, too. I wonder, sometimes if my ex S did things deliberately that would hurt me, his children, his ex-wife, or if he just did things, and didn’t think about the outcome. The sense that I get, at least from mine and from some of the stuff that I read, is that the sociopath does whatever he feels like doing in the moment, without regard to how it will impact others. My ex S would do things that hurt me, or his kids, or HIM, but he never seemed to think things through. He just did whatever he wanted without regard to consequences to him, or others. In his past relationship, he gave the woman a key to his house….and then cheated on her, IN HIS HOUSE. I think he did whatever he wanted to in the moment, and didn’t think “well, that might come back to haunt me” or “I shouldn’t cheat in this house because I gave her the key and she could walk in.”

When my sociopath wanted to hurt me, he would scream, yell, rage. He really functioned like a three year old in so many ways. If he was angry he yelled, if he was hungry he ate, if he wanted sex, he pursued it…..he didn’t worry about the impact on me, himself, the other woman…he just did what he wanted when he wanted.

I remember reading an article here that said that S’s are cognitively lazy, and would always take the shortest route. My ex S would take all of his girlfriends to Hawaii. That’s it. That was his spot. I think, his thought processes were as unsophisticated as “I like Hawaii, I like her, let’s go there!”

And he was a fairly intelligent guy.

I know that some of the LF folks have experienced S’s who have plotted and schemed. Mine was very sneaky, and lied all the times, but his lies were not well thought-out, his alibis were always weak, and he has gone through the exact same cycle with girlfriend after girlfriend – cheating the same ways, getting caught the same ways. I’m like a broken record here…but I think they funtion, emotionally, like three year olds, and do whatever they want in the moment, without much thought about consequences or implications for others or themselves.

I don’t think others matter enough to them for them to actually invest energy in thinking of ways to hurt us. They just do what they want – and inevitably, we get hurt.

Thanks HH,

The XS/P did the same thing to me with the key. He knew I had a key to his apartment and I walked in and found him in bed with the woman who is 18 yrs younger. I heard recently that she moved into the house he and I built and lives there with her three illegitimate kids and her brother who was a convicted felon. (I can’t even comprehend it). The S recently was fired from his job too. And I think he supports all these people now.

After that event, he actually told me he wanted me to find him so that I would let go and he wanted to hurt me because he was convinced I was cheating on him. A therapist told me it’s all bullshit. He hated being caught by me because he was then not in control. And he hated that i snagged him.

Maybe it is the laziness and familiarity of the places, but do you think they keep trying to re-create something that may have felt good to them at some point? Why did he take me to Toronto or Montreal when he had been there with someone else. In my mind, I wouldn’t want to go where i had been with another man. In fact, when we were planning a vacation together, he insisted we NOT go to jamaica because I had been there with my x husband for our honeymoon (22 years previously) yet he was taking me to all these places he had been with other women?????…..Doesn’t make sense.

What IS funny is that he lied to me about how he met the woman he had an affair with (because of course he didn’t wnat me to know he met her in EXACTLY the same place) so when I spoke to her and she told me this, I recalled a time when he ACCUSED me of going to this place SIMPLY to find men. i couldn’t comprehend the acusation, but I guess that’s what HE was doing. SICK SICK SICK…..

Yes, My ex S was very similar. He was very aware of going places that I had already gone to with an ex, but didn’t seem to think twice about going someplace he had gone before with an ex. I think they are very sensitive to their own feelings, and completely insensitive to ours. Except in the fake, honeymoon, phase where they are very effortfully on their A game and actually seem to care how we are feeling. SEEM.

My ex S accused me of a lot of things that I thought were crazy. Having lunch on my lunch break, having a match.com profile up while he and I were living together, having sex with married coworkers. I would say “WHAT?” it was ludicrous. I just didn’t get it. Someone on this site, Oxy, I think said “If someone accuses you of doing something you are not doing, they are actually telling you what they are doing.” BINGO!
All the crazy stuff he was accusing me of, he was actually doing.

I still can’t believe how awful the cheating was. He moved himself, and his children (he really pushed this, but I agreed, after a minor struggle) in with me, and then started cheating on me immediately thereafter. A couple of steady girlfriends, and multiple one night (morning in his case) stands with strangers on the internet. What he was doing was so outrageous that I didn’t even suspect. Who would do that? It just seemed so ridiculous. If you want to cheat MORE, why move in with your girlfriend, she is MORE likely to find out? I think he wanted to secure me, and once he knew he had me in place, he could branch out. And I was so hooked. But his poor children. They have gone through several “stepmothers.” And they actually moved in with me – that was a first. I shake my head, I should not have allowed this, but I was SURE he and I would be together forever. MY GOD.

His kids….and this is SO sad, they are very young, forewarned me. Give me hints. And said things outright like “my daddy is a cheater.” And the little girl once told that she really loved me and my home and didn’t want to have to leave. I remember thinking “Why would she have to leave?” She knew. I can’t believe he did that to his kids. He didn’t care.

The thing that makes me want to break NC is that I want to tell him off, and say “HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?” but I know the answer. He just didn’t care. He didn’t care about me, didn’t care about them. Didn’t even care that he was ultimately very upset when I threw him out and begged for months to come back (I’m sure he was keeping his harem intact all the while). I want to say “How could you do this to Me? To your children? To you?” It’s such a WTF??!!

But I don’t think it is possible for us to ever “understand.” It’s impossible for us to wrap around that with our minds or hearts. I think we just have to accept that they really are these empty, dysfunctional, monsters. Its so frightening.

I mean having sex on my lunch break! I did have lunch!

HH,

I have read some of your posts. What they have done to us is disgusting. I wish it would all go away and as much as i have made progress it still haunts me.

I too was accused of having sex with vendors and clients on lunch hours….. in fact, it took a long time to realize he cheated on me from the very beginning. One weekend (the first time he discarded me) he told me he was going to visit his dysfunctional adult daughter in NY (both were badly behave adult women) and he told his younger daughter he was working in North Carolina. When i questioned whyhe told her that he said he didn’t want her to be jealous that he visited one and not theother. I bought it. A week later we are back together and go to a concert…..this young guy come running up to him calling his name “Hey D___ Hey dude what’s up?” He grabbed my arm and ran out of the place. I asked who that was and he said it was some guy he did covert work with inthe military and he is not supposed to acknowledge him in public……that’s when the bizarre stories started. I never really found the truth about that particular weekend but I think he lied to everyone, stayed locally and went to some trashy bars, met some trashy people, screwed around and then came back to e as they do. Read the Novemebr archives “Not one thing about him was real”.

I, like you, thought he would never leave as I am a hugeoptopmist and I believe love takes care of everything and anything and you can make it work if both people really want to…… well, he pretended to want to and I didn’t know that for a while. i also saw the result of those adult children being with such a disordered and dysfunctional ma and it is sad and disgusting at the same time. They are not nice women. They just don’t know why.

We are a breed of individuals who want to understand why because we care HH….. they pretned to care. They secured us and then justified their bad, cheating, lying, pathalogical behavior along the way. The bad memories keep flooding back lately. I just want to forget. he was the only thing I regret in my whole life.

God – isn’t that so heartbreaking!? I was SURE this was my soulmate, my partner for life. I didn’t consider, in those first 5-6 months, that we would ever be apart. He did the mirror thing so well, and love bombing was executed so perfectly that I thought we were a match made in heaven, and that we were brought together by God. I guess we were – but for opposite reasons than I thought at the time. It was not to bring me together with my partner. It was to break me down so that I could come back together, stronger. But the break down was brutal. And I’m still not together, and it pisses me off.

I feel so utterly played. I was. And I do feel furious that I have had two years of my life in which so much energy was extended on him (and I was only with him, in a relationship, for nine months). I do like to think that there was a higher purpose, and that some day I will be better for it.

But boy, has it taken a chunk out of my life and drained me. And I have not been anywhere near ready to get into a relationship, I have had limited energy to socialize (though I push myself, and do go out, and even took off several weeks to travel Europe), and feel like my life has been frozen, because of this relationship with him, for a couple of years.

I hope it all makes sense some day.

His kids were both under ten. I’m sure (and this is so sad) that they are terribly damaged. He has put them through so much awful stuff, and they have been witness to terrible things. Their mother isn’t the healthiest person (how could she be?). I think she was so beaten down after 15 years with this guy that she doesn’t even have the strength to protect them properly.

I’ve been having a lot of bad memories flooding back, too. Dreams, day time intrusions. I don’t know if I should let them come through and pass, or actively block them.

Sometimes I feel so outraged for myself, and every one else here. We are good people.

We can make ourselves crazy trying to figure out why. I don’t think there is any way for an empathetic person to understand the workings of someone whose motivations are not affected by awareness of how other people feel.

It was a watershed day in my life when I switched from trying to understand him to thinking about how his actions affected me. It doesn’t matter why he did what he did. What does matter is how it made me feel. At the time, and cumulatively. And that led to me starting to evaluate things in terms of whether they were good for me or bad for me.

I think that re-learning how take care of myself was one of the most important results of my relationship with the sociopath. My standards changed. We talk about becoming more self-protective, when we’re hurt and scared. But when those immediate reactions cooled down a bit, that self-protectiveness evolved into just being better at judging the short-term and long-term impact of things on my life.

Oxy’s post today on stress got me thinking about this. How much more conscious I’ve become about my own limitations. And how I want to put my energy into things that really pay me back. Like working on things I like and believe in. Like developing relationships with people who expand my life and make me feel good about myself. Like using my spare time for improving my home, learning and exploring charitable opportunities.

This new focus on taking care of myself has accomplished something that I was never able to accomplish by guilt-tripping myself about “getting a life.” For the most part, I have a really satisfying life, and one that has more balance than ever before.

But I didn’t get that until I stopped obsessing on his issues, and started giving that attention to my own. And it wasn’t because I was mad at him, or decided he wasn’t worth it, or anything like that. It’s that it was just useless. Beyond a kind of intellectual construct of what makes him tick, I can’t understand why he did all the things he did. And I just got tired of trying.

Dear Kathy,

I’m aware that I “know” how they think as well as I ever can, which may or may not be right, but it is like trying to know how my DOG thinks. I can see his behavior in certain situations and draw a conclusion of sorts, but is it correct? I’m not entirely sure, and can’t ever be entirely sure. We are just TWO DIFFERENT SPECIES and therefore communication will be impaired by that fact. As far as thinking is concerned, I think in many ways the Ps are a DIFFERENT SPECIES, their brains work differently than ours, therefore there is no way for us to know how it “feels” to NOT have empathy or a conscience, or to not be able to feel guilt or remorse. I can draw some conclusions by observation about how they act.

Are they angry? I can usually tell by looking at their body language, but because I know that they conceal their emotions intentionally, I can’t always be sure when they are even angry or not.

kathy, I wanted to point out to you just how much I enjoy your article and your blog posts. You are an amazing woman and obviously very bright. Your insights are very good and your communication empathetic and direct.

Your comment above about “For the most part, I have a really satisfying life, and one that has more balance than ever before,” just rang true to me. I can also say that about myself. I do step in a hole or two along the healing road, but for the most part, the road is level and most of the pot holes are filled in now, or I lookk far enough ahead to avoid them. The encounter with my mother was one I wasn’t looking for and it caught me unawares…like sometimes when I am walking across the pasture or the yard and just take a misstep and before I know it, I am flat on the ground feeling clumbsy (which I am!) Fortunately I’ve been active enough in my life and have good genetics so that my bones are strong even at 62 and it takes a lot to break them (but I have broken them far too frequently especially when I was younger.) LOL

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