How to recognize and recover from the sociopaths – narcissists in your life › Forums › Lovefraud Community Forum – General › Lied to, deceived. cheated on, duped. I am broken.
September 22, 2019 at 2:46 pm #54428
I was so duped. “I love you” “I will never give up on our love” “I cant live without you” “No one can do to me what you do” “you are my future.”
For 2 years he fed me these lies. Two weeks ago I found out he’s been living with his 26 year old client (he’s 40) for at least 2 months. He’s a personal trainer, at least that’s what he calls himself. The reality is that it is just closer access to more victims. I have no idea how many there are total. The day before I found out the truth he wanted to look at land with me – to build a house. I woke up that next morning to being blocked on everything. Not his first time doing this, but I’d had enough. The young girl he was now sleeping with, he had just told me the night before that she wanted a relationship with him but that he saw her as nothing more than a sister. When he blocked me, I messaged her to find out the truth. That’s when everything unfolded. That’s when I realized that the last 2 years of my life were a lie. That’s when I realized that he is a psychopath, heavy on the narcissism. Now, here I am trying to repair my life, and the life of my 10 year old daughter who loved him so much. I have days when I can say “screw that pos” and really mean it, and I have days when the pain of it all wont let me get out of bed. Some days I feel powerful, but more often are the days that I feel stupid, duped, sad, lonely, depressed, numb, and lifeless. The ruminating is the worst. He has no idea what he has done to me, and even if he did he wouldnt care. I miss who I used to be, before him, but I dont know if I can ever get that me back. I believed in him and his fantasy love. I thought I’d finally met my one true love. I was so very wrong, and I hate that he did this to my daughter & I. It is going to be a long road for me. I am 48 & I dont know if I will ever be able to fully trust another man. I love the idea of being in love & sharing a great bond with a real man, but I don’t think I believe in it anymore. I am broken.
My hope here is to find comfort & strength from you all;to hear your stories and know that I am not so alone. Just maybe, together we can bring each other back to life.
September 22, 2019 at 6:02 pm #54432
Tammilyn, sending you huge hugs hon! 💜💜💜When you finally find out that you have been conned you feel like your head explodes & your heart breaks into a million pieces.
We all felt like we could never trust again. We all felt alone after ending a relationship with the sociopaths/psychopath.
I can promise you this, with time you will not only heal but you will thrive and you will trust but, most importantly you will listen to your gut instinct the second a RED FLAG pops into your mindset when talking to someone.
Experts believe that we meet a sociopath EVERYDAY!! Experts also believe we have one in our circle of friends/family or coworker with out even realizing it…simply because we are NOT EDUCATE on how to spot one. Yes, we know the terms sociopath/psychopath/narcissist, we have heard these terms but, we really did not know what they meant. And most importantly we never knew that there were so MANY of them!!
Did you know that 1 in 5 people have narcissistic personality disorder? 75% being men (but, I think that is now changing and a lot of women have this disorder with this materialistic world we live in)
It is believe that 1 in 25 people are sociopaths/psychopaths!! SCARY WORLD we live in!!
I read a study when I first left my ex h, a sociopath. That a human can detect if a person is trust worth or not with in 3 SECONDS.
What were your very first impressions of this guy when you first met him?
Did you see any RED FLAGS right away?
I did! I thought my ex h was a “tornado” the first time I met him..very hyper & self centers. The second time meeting I thought he was “crazy” but, not in a good way. I was correct. But, what I did not realize was these evil people literally can use trance, hypnosis, gas lighting abuse (search here on LF for this term), reward & punishment, brain washing, mind control, pity me manipulation (look here on love fraud).
It’s a very scary world. And these evil people are CON ARTIST who mind control us exactly like a cult leader mind controls us. They can easily suck us into their world with “Love bombing” (do a search here on LF for this term). They have been conning people since they were born. It is estimated that they have at least 100 victims in their life time. But, then there are very crafty ones that have huge Million people religious cults or political cults etc.
This new girl is a VICTIM also!! Know this, and do not get angry with her…she is going to deal with the same HELL that you dealt with (almost to the T) as you did. She will be contacting you possible when she escapes & wants answers.
Thank goodness you DID NOT BUY PROPERTY WITH THIS GUY!!
It’s time to follow the NO CONTACT RULE with him asap. Do not ever talk to him again. Protect your daughter also.
When I first escaped my ex h, I felt so alone. I read some thing during that time “You are never alone you have your angels in heaven”…I listed all my relatives that had passed on…and when I felt lonely I thought of them. I remembered memories with my grand parents and also just asked for their heavenly help. It helped me to realize that loneliness is a mindset. You are not alone hon. You have your beautiful daughter. You have us too for support.
I always say what sociopaths never count on is victims lifting each other up. Love fraud created by Donna Anderson & her husband Terry is a safe place to connect with other victims and a valuable library full of information to help you heal. You will get thru this nightmare…and you will be stronger. IN the future you will not put up with other BS. That’s a good place to be.
I’ll write more tomorrow.
Google: “Oprah Gavin Debecker you tube” and watch their videos on listening to your gut instinct. His book is The Gift of fear. I would recommend this book (your library may have it) and also Donna’s book “Lovefraud 10 signs you are dating a sociopath. Look up at the “book store” at the top of LF for this book & others.
Take care of your health. The stress you have been under due to his mind control & evil mental games has cause most likely for you to have PTSD. Look into the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. See sites like Dr Lam. com and Adrenal fatigue. org. See their symptoms list. Google “Super juice me you tube” to watch this free documentary to flood your body with much needed vitamins & minerals. Check with your doctor before changing your diet. Look into an Endocrinologist doctor = deals with the adrenal glands.
Sending you huge hugs. 💜💜💜
September 25, 2019 at 11:30 pm #54475
Thank you so much for your response. You described it perfectly; my head exploded and my heart shattered into a million pieces. I can’t tell you how badly I wish I would have listened to my gut the very first time I felt that sick feeling in it.
To answer your question, yes. Yes, I did see red flags very early on. Not the first time I met him, but very soon after. He is very much a smooth talker, a charmer, and he has all of the right words at the very right time. The love bombing was so intense and went on for so long, but when the devalue & discard did come, it hit me harder than anything I have ever felt before.
My feelings change slightly from one day to the next, but most days I have hatred for him. I didn’t think I could ever have hatred for anyone, but he destroyed me. He destroyed my idea of love, he destroyed my trust, he destroyed my daughters perception of men. I think it will be quite some time before I ever let go of this hatred, and that just is not me. Carrying that weight is not who I am, but he changed me in ways he could never understand. If I never see his face again it will be too soon.
I do believe that we meet at least one psychopath a day. They are not all like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy. They are dressed in plain clothes, they are handsome and charming, they are our neighbors, cousins, friends, and even our significant others. I wish society didn’t throw around illnesses such as psychopath and narcissist because no one takes it seriously when an individual truly is one.
It has been 17 days since I found out who he really is. The pain of knowing I fell in love and would have given my life for this man while he played games with my heart is excruciating, and the rumination is the absolute worst, but I have finally stopped crying. If that is all I can have right now I will take it.
Part of the problem is that we live in a small town, and I have to go out of my way to ensure I don’t run into him. That bothers me. I have been putting my resume in out of state and I have every intention of leaving asap. I want to be as far away from him as possible. Maybe then I will have peace.
I thank you again for your response. So much of what you have said has helped me. Though I hate that anyone else has ever had to feel such a pain, I am thankful that I have you all and this community to help me work my way through this. I pray that in some way I can be a light in each of your lives as well.
September 30, 2019 at 10:05 pm #54562
The rage/anger in me has been fierce today. The thought of his name or the thought of seeing his face ever again makes me sick. Things he said and did that I now realize were all lies keep coming to me. I don’t know if I am more angry at him for his complete disrespect for me and what I gave him the last two years or if I am more angry at myself for being such a fool.
And the dreams…they won’t stop. I keep dreaming about them together and there is always something in the dream that sticks out and stays with me. For example, in the last dream they were snuggling up next to each other on the floor. She was wearing pink socks, and she kept putting her foot on his leg like I always did. I can’t get the visual of those pink socks out of my head. Some days I feel as if I am going insane. He bought me a one way ticket to insanity, and I hate him for it.
- This reply was modified 8 months ago by tammilynn.
September 22, 2019 at 7:00 pm #54433
tammilynn- yes, this guy sounds like a sociopath. I have seen that male personal trainers/physical therapists can use the job to come on to women. i would be very careful with these types. Good you found out after just 2 years. NO CONTACT is the way to go. This is a good place to get information and vent.
September 25, 2019 at 11:41 pm #54476
Thank you for your response, Sunnygal.
I have used the no contact method in the past and it is definitely the right thing to do, but in this situation with him…I don’t just want to go no contact I want to never let him see my face or hear my voice ever again. He doesn’t deserve to. He is a coward, and he will never be man enough for me.
I will absolutely be using this space to learn all that I can and vent. I am pretty sure I just did some of that venting in my response to you. I am holding on to a lot of anger. I hate that there are people like him in the world even. Part of my problem is that I tend to think everyone’s heart is like mine. I cannot fathom ever doing what he did to me to another human being, and to do it to someone I love? Never. It only proves to me that his “love” was nothing but a lie from the beginning, and it brings me nothing but disgust that I allowed him into the world of my baby girl and myself.
Again, thank you for your response and words of encouragement.
I cannot begin to tell you just how much of an impact they have on me.
Blessings to you!
September 23, 2019 at 7:51 pm #54448Donna AndersenKeymaster
tammilynn – I am so sorry for what you endured. It really pulls the rug out from under you to realize that everything was a lie. Please be good to yourself right now. Cut out any extraneous responsibilities, take time for yourself. Also, allow yourself to feel the pain of the experience. Yes, it hurts, but the best way out of the pain is through it. Let yourself cry, let yourself be angry. healing is on the other side.
September 25, 2019 at 11:52 pm #54477
Thank you for your response. You nailed it, it pulled the rug right out from beneath me. The lies he fed me for two years…I just do not understand how he can live with himself.
I am definitely trying to be good to myself. I work a lot right now, but in my down time I have been searching for a different job and property in both California and Myrtle Beach, two places I would love to live. I need out of this town. The town where I know he will always be a part of. I have been allowing myself to feel the pain, but I am all cried out. Now I am left with feeling sick to my stomach, anxiety, and disgust. He is not the man i thought he was, and he never will be.
As you can probably tell in my words, the anger is strong right now. So strong that I hate the thought of him ever breathing my name again.
Did you ever feel this way? If you don’t mind me asking, what happened in your situation?
I would love to hear each of your stories if you would like to share them. Maybe it will get my mind off of myself and my anger toward him.
Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I know that I am in the right place in sharing with you all, and I thank you for reading my story.
I hope your day is an amazing one!
September 26, 2019 at 5:32 pm #54492
Tammi- Donna tells her story in her book. O.N. Ward tells her story in her book Husband, Liar, Husband. You can read it here. Others have told their story in posts. Read through some blogs.
September 26, 2019 at 10:18 pm #54497
Thank you so much for that information! I love to read and I will definitely be checking those books out tonight.
Thanks so much!
September 27, 2019 at 1:22 am #54502
Another book that has been helpful is Women Who Love Psychopaths by therapist Sandra Brown. She talks about the women but equally about the characteristics and behavior of psychopaths.
September 26, 2019 at 7:53 pm #54493drfitnessParticipant
Tammi, I can totally relate!!! I am in the same exact stage right now, ANGER, RAGE, ANXIETY!! What’s worse, he’s my husband and lives with me. My story spans a long 9 years and only now am I understanding who this man really is. There were red flags all over the place but I was enamored by his charm and his “big heart” HA!!! To absolutely every one but me. I only have a few minutes, so I’ll share the latest, and share the whole story later.
Tuesday morning I woke to an email from a woman he cheated on me with about a year and a half ago, the email was a forwarded receipt form my husband’s latest dental visit. Mind you, my husbands story a year and a half ago was that she meant nothing to him that she was just some fling, she pursued him, she was a stalker..blah blah blah. Is that so, that is why she was playing your personal assistant and you had her as your contact with your dental office?! I was also forwarded a video he had sent her when they were seeing each other, he was professing his undying love for her. So much for her being the stalker. Anyhow, that is where I am at today, a part of me always knew, but I guess it was easier to choose to believe his story. Well this just put the truth front and center for me. I told him, yes she may not have meant anything to you, but you sure manipulated her into believing otherwise, much the same way you do with me.
Needless to say I have been screaming shouting crying for the past 3 days…. I’m numb, I’m in disbelief, I have this knot in my throat that wont go away!! ANXIETY is insane right now. I want him gone, it’s almost like its not even a question anymore. After nine years of this same bullshit I JUST CANT DO THIS TO MYSELF ANYMORE.
September 26, 2019 at 9:41 pm #54495
drfitness, the anxiety you are dealing with is high levels of cortisol being released from your adrenal glands. This is common for any break up…but, much worse with a sociopath because you have been under contant stress with his daily chaos, drama & manipulation.
Look up symptoms of adrenal fatigue on sites like Dr Lam. com and Adrenal fatigue. org. Look into an Endocrilogist doctor to test you for cartels levels (see testign info on Adrenal fatigue. org), vitamin & Mineral deficiency, thyroid t3 & t4 (must fix your adrenal glands first prior to any thyroid issue otherwise you can damage your thyroid glands), etc etc.
Google: Super juice me…a free documentary on you tube
Google: Jason Vale juicing you tube
Eat to live by Dr Joel Fuhrman
All books from Dr Daniel Amen (see his you tube videos)
Heal your body from the inside = anxiety will go away
I was so stressed out during my marriage…and when I left my anxiety was thru the roof too…so bad I could not even sit still. Scary. My doctor gave me Dr Wilson’s adrenal vitamins (one was just B complex) 4 times a day..2 am 1 a noon 1 at 2 and 1 before bed along with a Rx of Progesterone hormone with in 4 hours I was much more calm & within a few weeks I was moving toward my old self.
With stress our hormone get imbalanced…some how sociopath know to keep stressing us out and they know that it will throw our hormones off kilter = they can control us easier.
Get your health in order asap!! This will help you to make a plan out of your abusive relationship.
Please know this other woman is a victim also. DO NOT focus on her…your husband used “sociopath triangluation” do a search here on LF & net on this term…he also used “sociopath smear campaign” on both of you…this was ALL done to keep you both apart…to keep the blame on her & her with you so that he could get away with his lying & cheating. Also, look up the term “sociopath blame shift”.
He is very crafty with his mind games. BEWARE. BIT your tongue to stay safe in the same house with him while you plan your ex out.
Get help with the National Domestic violence hotline USA 800-799-SAFE (google your country’s hotline if not in the US) and also get their number for your local center and go get help with an SAFETY & EXIT PLAN OUT!!
You are not alone.
I went thru the same as you…the first week I lost 10 pounds with the stress & endless crying. He still lied. And also said that she was “trolling” for someone since her husband cheated. He is a pathological liar (just like my ex h and every sociopath) he will just keep spinning your head with lies until you just give up. Just ignore what he tells you = they are nothing but lies = work on your exit plan out.
The most dangerous time for a victim in a abusive relationship is when she is about to leave or has just left so beware…and get help with your local abuse center, friends & family.
October 1, 2019 at 10:35 pm #54584
Well, on day 23 of no contact guess who shows up on my doorstep begging for my forgiveness!?!
October 1, 2019 at 10:45 pm #54585
Not surprising. They try and get you back. Again, say you want No Contact.
October 7, 2019 at 9:58 pm #54655
I could not believe my eyes when I looked out my front door and saw his sad ass walking up my driveway. For two hours he begged my forgiveness, told me he missed me, that I was the love of his life, that he wanted to be with me, that he wanted to get married, that he couldn’t stop thinking about me, that his client/current girlfriend said she would get her stuff and move out if he wanted to be with me.
I told him no way. Never again. That it was over.
I told him to go home to her and tell her everything he just said to me because she deserved the truth. She deserves more than to be living with him and listening to his lies while he is at my house begging me to take him back. Then I said, and when she is sad about it be there for her, because you were not there for me and I know how much it hurts.
Guess what he did?!?
October 2, 2019 at 8:48 pm #54600
If you take him back, there will be a honeymoon. Then the abuse will return and it will be worse.
October 7, 2019 at 10:03 pm #54656
Oh I’m not taking his ass back. That man comes with nothing but lies and nonstop madness. I never thought I could be as strong as I was when he showed up here. But I was, I did it, and I finally feel a tiny bit free. I know I am not in the clear yet. He has been doing this to me for 2 years, but I have never stood up to him like that. I didn’t let him in my house, and I didn’t let him touch me.
I may not be in the clear yet, but one thing is for sure. That man will never manipulate his way back into my life ever again.
- This reply was modified 7 months, 4 weeks ago by tammilynn.
October 8, 2019 at 1:02 am #54657
tammi- I’m glad you are committed to No Contact and moving forward so you will have a better quality of life.
October 8, 2019 at 11:19 pm #54680
I am absolutely committed to it. What makes me mad is that he forced that break in no contact by showing up at my house. I was doing so good. It was like 23 days, then he ruins it and I’m back to day one.
September 26, 2019 at 10:42 pm #54498
The mess your husband left you with is ridiculous! You have every right to that anger & rage! I cannot tell you how very sorry I am that you are currently living with him and going through this. You deserve better! I don’t know what your circumstances are exactly, but I am thinking that you life is going to be so much happier once he is gone, and he takes his madness with him!
Does he want to leave? Hopefully you will get lucky and he will go willingly. He made that mess so he should.
Do you think he has cheated more than the one time? I’m guessing the one woman is not the only one. These characters have to have a constant supply of attention and I don’t think they really care who it comes from as long as they get it. I have made many mistakes in my life, but to be able to do what these guys do to someone they say they love? I don’t have it in me to be that type of person, and I thank God that I don’t. These types of men will never be satisfied, never know real happiness.
I fell for the charm crap too. At first I was embarrassed for believing in him and his mouth full of lies and deceit. Now I am right where you are…so damn pissed off! I don’t know what makes these men think they have the right to play games with out lives, but they suck and I hope karma gives them all an extra dose!
Keep your chin up, and know that you will find the love you deserve, and when you do he is going to be so very sorry he was such a loser.
Take care of you!
September 30, 2019 at 10:10 pm #54564
Is that a web site for purchasing it?
September 26, 2019 at 8:11 pm #54494
Tammilynn, you’re so welcome. It does get easier. You will get to a point that it is a very distant memory. It just takes time, edcation, healing to get to that point. So be kind to yourself as your body & mind sorts thru this nightmare.
To answer your question, yes. Yes, I did see red flags very early on. Not the first time I met him, but very soon after.
THIS IS A GOOD THING…your gut instincts were very strong. You were just not educated that there were so many evil people in this world.
In the future you will see right thru these people. And you will know what to do when you meet one = follow the no contact rule asap.
the second I met my ex h…literally the second I met him I thought he was a “tornado”. I did not like him. The second time meeting him, I thought he was “crazy”. I was correct.
I had just moved out of state for a new job. Steven Hassan cult expert & author of Freedom of mind (see Lovefraud Blog for more info as Donna & Steven have collaborated to give an education course on Oct 3 about mind control (that is what your ex did to you) I would highly recommend this course.
Steven states in his book that the most likely time to get sucked into a cult, whether a domestic abuse relationship (like you had), religious cult, gang, or large cult with millions of followers is when you have a life change.
Life changes = move, new job, going off to college, empty nest, divorce, relationship breakup etc.
Why this time? Because your guard is down. And sociopaths can see someone’s guard is down a mile away. What life change did you have prior to this sociopath scamming his way into your life?
My feelings change slightly from one day to the next, but most days I have hatred for him. I didn’t think I could ever have hatred for anyone, but he destroyed me. He destroyed my idea of love, he destroyed my trust, he destroyed my daughters perception of men
This is a great place to be mentally. Normal people normally do not hate people…we simply dislike them & do not want to spend time with them. That is healthy minded. Birds of a feather flock together.
With a sociopath it is very good to hate them. EVERY victim of a sociopath gets to that point of literally hating the sociopath. I think that is very healthy. That is a good way to keep us safe in the future.
It’s very hard to sort thru your feelings. They played so many mind games that one minute in the relationship you love them…and the next thing they are playing more mind games that you hate them.
I remember wishing that we had two separate homes. I would clean the house (he never did) and he would literally come in and destroy it within 10 mins. It was all intentional. It was all to get a rise out of me. It was all mind games.
When I finally escaped I literally felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders when I was driving away. I believe now that my mind was so controlled by him that at that moment my mind, body & spirit was relieved. I knew I was doing the right thing. He attempted to play mind games via emails & text. But, by then without knowing about the no contact rule. I just knew instinctively I should not read his brain washing emails. It’s hard. But, our gut instinct knows what to do.
The fact you “hate” him = your gut instinct knows he is an evil person!!
“it has been 17 days since I found out who he really is.”
CONGRATULATIONS!! YOU HAVE SET YOUR MIND, BODY & SPIRIT FREE!! This is powerful! Pat yourself on the back!! BRAVO!! 👏😊🎉🎉🎉
Celebrate this momentous moment. You have escaped the grips of a sociopath!! You have imposed the No contact rule!! This is not easy…but, you DID IT!!
You should be so proud of yourself!!
I have been putting my resume in out of state and I have every intention of leaving asap.
GREAT step!! Your gut instincts are excellent. This is the best thing you can do for yourself.
I did the same thing. I literally packed up the car & drove across country to get away from him. I have no regret doing this what so ever.
Sending you hugs.💜 You have made amazing steps out of this abusive & dangerous relationship. Keep moving forward & educating yourself.
- This reply was modified 8 months, 1 week ago by Jan7.
September 26, 2019 at 11:06 pm #54499
Oh, how I pray so. I think one thing that makes me so mad is that I work in the mental health field and I overlooked the behaviors and red flags because I loved him. I am realizing now that I loved the man I thought he was, but he is truly just a mouse.
I have been been no contact for 18 days now, and for the first time in two years I know it is truly over. This is going to be a life time of no contact, because he is very much a sociopath and I will never subject myself and my daughter to his madness again.
I will most definitely be getting involved in the course you mention. I know it is so needed.
You asked, “What life change did you have prior to this sociopath scamming his way into your life?” Honestly, I can’t think of any life changes that occurred at that time. I was at a really good place in my life. I had went 4 years without dating and I focused on my girls and put myself though college. Then…him. He dropped a major love bomb on me and it literally exploded into a trillion pieces all over my life.
I am very mad at myself that I was duped because with my education and my experience from my marriage 17 years ago (my ex husband suffers from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and is an alcoholic), I should have know better! Unfortunately, love (on my part) took control of my everything and now I am left picking up the pieces.
When you talk about how you cleaned your home and he would come home and destroy it…that takes me back to my 17 year old marriage. My ex husband did that exact same thing. I got to the point that I took before and after pictures and laid them on the counter just to show him what a mess he was, but if yours did it intentionally to get a rise out of you…that wouldn’t have worked with him.
I have, I think I have finally set my mind, body and spirit free. Though the pain of his compulsive lying, and the though of how he is probably living it up with his new 26 year old girlfriend still has me
broken and so very sick to my stomach, I think I have finally accepted that he is not the person he led me to believe he was, and he did not love me to the extent he said, if he even loved me at all.
Thank you so much for your response,for sharing your story with me, and for offering me so many amazing words of encouragement. I cannot put into words just how much support I feel already though all of you wonderful women! You are all amazing!
I hope you have a wonderful evening!
September 27, 2019 at 1:29 am #54503
tammi- People in the helping professions with high empathy are good targets for these types. I know several mental health professionals who have been victimized by these disordered individuals. Gavin De Backer in his book Thr Gift of Fear says we must learn that nice does not mean good. Disordered individuals usually start off with a phony act of being nice.
September 27, 2019 at 7:36 pm #54512
You are right. I have been educating myself on psychopathy more so now than ever, and it seems these individuals can easily pull us out of a crowd.
I had high walls before this happened, and I now feel like they are comparable to Ft Knox. I don’t know how I am ever going to fully trust in my next relationship.
I loved my ex so completely and purely, and to know he took advantage of that and me now enrages me. I feel complete disgust for him.
Maybe that is what I need to get though this stage and never allow him back into my world.
I hope you are having a wonderful evening!
September 28, 2019 at 11:38 am #54513drfitnessParticipant
Reaching out to you Tammi because I am having an incredibly hard morning today, and know that you are in somewhat of a similar emotional state. I broke down in tears this morning and am now sobbing. All week I have been walking around in a trance, replaying every detail of our relationship in my head and its killing me. To answer your question, no this was not the first time he cheated on me (a year and a half ago), I’ve lost count, as a matter of fact I don’t believe there has ever been a time in the long 9 years where there hasn’t been someone else, I just can’t prove it. Looking back at all this makes me feel pathetic, how could I have stayed time after time? How did I not see the pattern? I’ve been angry and in full blown rage mode since Tuesday morning, i went on a texting frenzy Tuesday and Wednesday and by Thursday I was exhausted, completely not talking is not possible as we share a home. We’ve talked minimally, just as needed. He tries to make light of things and carry on as normal, I’m guessing he is hoping this will all blow over just like every other time. To him its just a matter of time I guess… I’ll scream, I’ll cry, I’ll ask how he could want to hurt someone he supposedly loves? And never ever get an answer, he does it because he can. Because I’ve always taken him back. I don’t know what about this time makes it so different, maybe it’s because I’m becoming consciously aware of his narcissism, I’ve read so much about it, and my goodness if he isn’t the poster child I don’t know who is!! I’m sorry I’m rambling, my head is spinning, feels like its going to explode with so much that is going through it. I get so mad at myself, I mean I see other women who have walked out of a relationship for far less and here I am stuck!!
This morning I was sitting on the couch watching CNN and drinking my coffee, and I guess the past week took a toll on me, I had been consumed with rage that I hadn’t really cried, maybe the raging cry, the your so angry your crying, but not the crying that hurts, and here I was in my living room full blown crying, the crying that literally hurts your heart. My husband walks around the house getting ready to go get his haircut, oblivious to the fact that I’m sitting there like a zombie holding my coffee with tears streaming down my face. He finally notices, and wants to know whats wrong, as if he doesn’t know?!?! I ask why again, knowing I’ll never get an answer, knowing that the answer is because he feels entitled to. He proceeds to tell me, it meant nothing blah blah blah. When I continue to give the details of his nothing relationship, he proceeds to tell me this was nearly 3 years ago (it was a year and a half ago). Then he asks I don’t know what you want from me do you want me to leave? That’s not a question, believe me it’s not, its his way of threatening me, his way of telling me to get over it or he’s leaving. So I simply look up and say yes. He goes on about how he needs a month to get a place… I cut him off, by this time I’m full blown sobbing, and tell him to do whatever it is he has to do. Then he proceeds to tell me this was over 3 years ago this is no way to live (basically again telling me to get over it), that he’s been tiptoeing over me all week, staying late at work to give me my space etc. At this point I’m just in disbelief at how aligned his characteristics are to a narcissist, he’s going on and on, until I finally can’t take it anymore and put my hands over my ears (childish I know but I just couldn’t take his words anymore) and tell I’m done listening to him; to leave to go get his haircut to leave me along. He does.
Minutes later after he leaves the house I get a text from him: “I’m sorry but you not speaking to me for a week doesn’t help anything.”
But it does, unintentionally what its done is allowed me to feel all of this without him conning me to believe his lies. Not speaking to him, refusing to listen to all of his “I’m sorry’s”, “meant nothing’s”, “I love you’s”…all of his “I was in a bad place”, all of his “if you hadn’t of been so mean to me I wouldn’t of done it” (referring to me being upset about something or another that led him to cheat), refusing to accept his bullshit has forced me to look at things for what they are.
So why? Why is this still so incredibly hard? Why am I sitting here sobbing, not wanting to get out of my pajamas, not wanting to do anything, and so not wanting to sit here and feel this way!! I’m smarter than this, I know better!!
September 28, 2019 at 5:36 pm #54517
I am so very sorry that you had a rough morning. I have been right where you are, sobbing and replaying everything in my head over and over. Since he has cheated on you before, I think it is safe to say that he is never going to stop. Once they know how far they can push you and get away with it, they just keep pushing for more. It’s twisted, because while we should be the one losing respect for them and their actions, they are the ones losing respect for us.
Trust your gut. If you know inside that there has never been a time in 9 years where he hasn’t had someone else, you believe in you.
Like you, I feel pathetic that I allowed so much and continued to stand by him. But, we cannot continue to fault ourselves for loving fully. He took advantage of you loving fully, and that is a representation of his character, not yours. You did your part and you did it purely. That is something to be proud of, not feel pathetic about. It’s hard to feel that. I know because I am right there with you, but these men have broken us down enough, we cannot allow them to continue breaking us.
It sounds like your best choice is to get out of that home. You are not rambling, you are venting and we all need that. You are not stuck. You are never stuck. You have free will and you are more than deserving of a life rid of that mans madness.
Men who do this do not respect us, but they also do not respect the women they cheat with. They are out for themselves, and what ever makes them feel good in the moment. They don’t care that they have ruined us, they don’t care about anyone but themselves so we have to be our own hero. We have to save ourselves from them.
He is trying to reverse the blame by saying he tiptoed around you all week. HE is the one to blame! HE is the reason he is tiptoeing. Not you. His text after he leaves “apologizing” is a bunch of BS. You cannot say “I’m sorry” to someone then follow it up with a statement that blames the other person – you. “I’m sorry but YOU…” He’s ridiculous.
Why is this hard and why are you sobbing? Because you gave a man your full love and respect, and he broke that and continues to break you over and over. YOU DESERVE BETTER!
Know him for who he shows you he is, not who you wanted him to be. He has taken advantage of your love over and over for 9 years. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and show him the permanent way out. If you can’t get him to leave, you leave. Then you go out and spoil yourself. Get your hair and nails done, but a whole lot of new clothes and shoes, and do it for you & your future. There is going to be a man in your life someday who treats you the way you deserve to be treated, and this “man” your married to now is going to realize just how much he messed up. Trust that!
You got this girl! You are stronger than you think, and stronger than he thinks. Show him that you know your worth and let him watch you walk right out of his self-serving life!
Reach out anytime you need to, sweetness. The support will always be here for you.
- This reply was modified 8 months, 1 week ago by tammilynn.
September 30, 2019 at 9:57 pm #54560
How are you doing? I have been thinking about you and wondering if all is ok!
September 28, 2019 at 2:41 pm #54514
drfitness- Give yourself some comfort foods and vitamin supplements during this grieving period.
October 1, 2019 at 2:56 pm #54573hurtParticipant
Hi, everyone. I’m new to the site. Like you, I was “lied to, deceived, cheated on, duped. I am (also) broken.” What I appreciate most about your site is how supportive you are towards each other. Can you help me get through my nightmare?
It’s been 2 months since my “ex” of four years “discard me.” Prior to our relationship, we were friends for close to 30 years. Like many of you — four years ago, he “loved bombed” me for the first year of our relationship. It was textbook. I can only describe it as “meeting my soul mate,” the “man of my dreams,” and “he was picture perfect.” I was literally on cloud 9.
Our second year was almost “picture perfect.” My “ex” introduced –“idealization” and “devaluation,” except I never knew that’s what it was. He showered me with so much love, gifts and attention —I was blinded by the fact he was putting me down in the form of sarcastic jokes. “You love attention, don’t you? All women do.” “You’re a terrible driver.” Since he never took it seriously, I never took it seriously. On top of everything, he had a terrible “hulk-like” temper, too. He said–he’s always been angry for as long as he can remember. He never dealt with it, either. He’d just sulk and passively aggressively wait until it passed. Sometimes, it would cause an argument. An argument that would results in a “silent treatment.” I hated the silent treatment. It felt like the worst punishment. As long as I walked on eggshells, I was fine. As long as avoided things that would “normally” trigger him, I was fine. But like all things, he’d still find something to complain about–the drama with this family, the guys at his work and everything in between. While this is going on, he’d still sprinkle in gifts, compliments “You’re the best woman in the world” and lots and lots of affection. He also promised to marry and grow old with me.
Our third year was no different, except there was less affection and more fighting. Despite my better reasoning, I hung in there because I already invested two years of love and understanding –why give up on him now, right? You accept the bad days with the good ones. When his father died, he changed. He was suddenly more vulnerable. It was like “finally, he’s letting me in…” He kept me close, too close. He wanted to be with me 24/7. At some point, I barely saw my own family. He didn’t want me, or “us” to be with my family, either. A definite “red flag,” but —I barely saw my own sanity… the flag had to be 30 feet tall in order for me to see it. I was “bonded” to him in away I never saw coming.
As we approached our fourth year, it started falling a part. He started pulling away. Despite being supportive during his health and family issues, work drama, father’s death, his sporadic anger, temper tantrums, and unpredictable mood swings, he was getting bored and withdrawn. I was working extra hours at work to pay for his needs and wants. But it was never enough. Suddenly, I started questioning him on his priorities (his family always came first, I came second). He started making me feel guilty for “starting arguments” and “attacking his family.”
His family was always a “trigger.” Since he lived at home, it was unavoidable to be affected by his family. The home was void of any value or belief system. Seriously, there’s no accountability, no discipline, no respect, no punishment/consequence for anyone’s actions. And, there’s at least a dozen people living in the home with this same mindset. Everyone walking around feeling “entitled” to having things done for them. And, in the center of this madness is his mother. In her 70’s –who does everything for everyone. She’s so passive, she doesn’t do anything about it. And, my “ex” –adds to the problem by projecting his frustrations on me. So every time I say something –I’m either “starting an argument” or “attacking his family.” It drove me “crazy.” It was a losing battle because I was always wrong and his family was never wrong.
Two months ago, he was so angry —I was sitting in his room and I became very uncomfortable, so I left. I’ve never done that before. It angered him SO much when I left. Trust me, he looked so angry, cold and mean. It was scary. An hour or so, we talked briefly. In the end he said, he didn’t want to marry me because he had doubts and (poof)—silent treatment for two months. I guess you can say —he decided we were over. I attempted to contact him in the first week, but he never responded. For three weeks, he continued to go to our favorite hangouts. He told everyone, I was either at work or unavailable. In the fourth week, he slowly told everyone it was “crappy, but it was over.”
I hate the silent treatment. In the first three weeks of “no contact” –I felt like I was dying. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t stop thinking…I was a mess. If I wasn’t dying, I wanted to die. He was talking to everyone, but me. Of course I blamed myself and shouldered the responsibility. It was a heavy weight. I cried so much I could barely do anything else. I started searching for answers. After drowning myself in “break-up” books and “coping” self-help books –I found the world of “Cluster B” personality disorders, including narcissist and other toxic people. It felt like someone wrote my “story.”
Now, I’m dealing with so many problems. I’m still addicted to him, I have painful withdraws, I’m struggling with my own memories (what was real/false), I’m trying to fix my own mind because he hijacked it with his stuff, and every time I feel like I’m making progress —I feel like I’m back to square one. It doesn’t help that he’s searching for my replacement. He’s performing the same tactics he used on me four years ago. I wish I had time machine. I’d go back and undo everything and save me from this heartbreak.
October 1, 2019 at 6:39 pm #54575
hurt- You are grieving the loss. It will get better. You’ve posted on tammi’s topic. Good to start your own topic.
October 2, 2019 at 11:45 am #54595hurtParticipant
Thank you Sunnygal.
I’m sorry I posted on tammi’s topic.
I’m new to the site.
I’ll re-post and create my own topic.
October 9, 2019 at 5:49 pm #54686RedwaldParticipant
I’m sorry for your pain. I can only echo what others have experienced here: that it will get better with time. That’s something you can look forward to.
I want to address a couple of comments you made. The first one is right here:
…one thing that makes me so mad is that I work in the mental health field and I overlooked the behaviors and red flags because I loved him. I am realizing now that I loved the man I thought he was, but he is truly just a mouse.
Well, you’re dead right in that last sentence! You loved an illusion that he created in your mind, not the mouse that he really was! But it’s the first half of that passage I especially wanted to comment on. Please, do not kick yourself for overlooking this guy’s disorder just because you’re in the mental health field and imagine you “should have known better.” It’s not true!
It’s not true for at least two reasons. Accordingly, this brought to mind two books.
The first is a book among many others on my shelves, titled Abnormal Psychology. It’s a big book, large format, around 800 pages. It’s a very good book, extremely comprehensive, covering just about every mental disorder under the sun. Panic, anxiety, depression, addiction, sexual variations, schizophrenia, eating disorders, mood disorders, ADHD… well you get the idea. Buried in the middle of eighteen chapters is a single chapter titled “Personality Disorders.”
Now I didn’t buy this book myself. It’s my daughter’s book. She majored in psychology here at ASU (Arizona State University; Phoenix is where we live). She’s not exactly in the “mental” health field; she’s an occupational therapist (though OT specialties can include mental health). Yet the point I want to make is that this book on abnormal psychology never came her way until she took a postgraduate course.
So how come anyone can get a bachelor’s degree in psychology without studying abnormal psychology in detail? That seems crazy to me. If we study civil engineering, say, we’re taught about what can go wrong in engineering: why bridges fall down and buildings topple over! The Tay Bridge, the Ashtabula Bridge, those recently built apartment blocks collapsing in China… Or if we study computer science, we’re taught about flaws in hardware and software design and all the “bugs” that can happen. Like the single missing bar from a software program that brought the Mariner I rocket down in 1962, at a cost of $18.5 million! And if we study medicine, we’re taught all about diseases and injuries, all the things that can go wrong with the body and how to treat them. So if we study psychology at college level, shouldn’t we be taught in detail about all the things that can go wrong with the mind?
Apparently not! That’s considered “advanced studies,” left until after graduation! Besides, personality disorders are only one of the things that can go wrong with the mind: buried in obscurity, as it were. As dangerous as these disorders can be, people are not routinely taught about them (as Donna is always pointing out), not even if they’re majoring in psychology! So even “being in the mental health field” doesn’t necessarily mean anyone is trained or able to identify a personality disordered individual when they see one. Come to that, even the great Robert Hare himself has admitted he can still be fooled by psychopaths at times.
On the same theme, the second book is very different, and one I’ve never read, but I do know about it: The Courtship Dance of the Borderline, by Anthony Walker. Walker is a doctor who, early in his practice, fell in love with a patient, a single woman, and married her. It was a disaster! She had borderline personality disorder.
Several reviewers said they found the book engrossing. One reviewer in particular headed her review: “Abuse, violence, codependency: I couldn’t put it down…” and went on to say it “reads like a novel – except it really happened!” The woman Dr. Walker married was “charming and captivating – but manipulative,” and “nearly destroyed” him. I understand from other sources that his wife had “fearful tantrums,” and physically assaulted him on at least one occasion. (I know who this reviewer is; she’s a Ph.D. therapist who used to be active on the Web, so she does know all about this stuff.) I ought to read the book myself some time; though it’s unfortunately out of print, there are copies available.
Luckily Dr. Walker got out of the marriage fairly quickly. But here’s the punchline: he’s a PSYCHIATRIST!!! So if even a psychiatrist was unable to recognize a personality disordered partner, despite being supposedly an “expert” in the “mental health” field, it’s not surprising if other people can’t either!
As I said earlier, there are two different factors contributing to anyone’s failure to recognize personality disorder. The first is simply not knowing that it exists, or what form it takes. The second is that emotional involvement can blind some people to what’s in front of their noses. I don’t know that Dr. Walker was necessarily “ignorant” about personality disorders. But I don’t doubt he was somewhat codependent; and above all, he was “in love.” How could this “charming and captivating” young girl be a serpent in disguise? So no need to go blaming yourself for overlooking that guy’s disorder.
October 10, 2019 at 12:52 am #54693RedwaldParticipant
Hi again Tammi,
No doubt you’re wondering why you fell for this guy in the first place, and what I said above was “why should you not“? Despite being in the mental health field, there was nothing to stop you from doing that!
However, there is still the question “Why did you? Why this particular guy?” There are possible answers to that, including the question Jan was asking you. I’d like to quote what Jan said:
I had just moved out of state for a new job. Steven Hassan cult expert & author of Freedom of mind […] states in his book that the most likely time to get sucked into a cult, whether a domestic abuse relationship (like you had), religious cult, gang, or large cult with millions of followers is when you have a life change.
Life changes = move, new job, going off to college, empty nest, divorce, relationship breakup etc.
Why this time? Because your guard is down. And sociopaths can see someone’s guard is down a mile away. What life change did you have prior to this sociopath scamming his way into your life?
Your own answer was that you “couldn’t think of any,” and you felt you were “in a good place” at the time this guy started dropping his “love bombs” on you. My only problem with all this is that what’s quoted from Steven Hassan here is merely one small piece of a much larger puzzle about why some people get sucked into a cult, or into an abusive relationship. It’s about all the factors that can leave people vulnerable–one of Donna’s well-chosen favorite words–to exploitation.
I personally like to use the term “risk factors” for exploitation. It means the same thing, with a slight refinement: that it is about “risk,” about probabilities of being exploited, never about certainties. We all know what it means where we hear people discussing “risk factors” for heart disease, cancer, and other afflictions. Smoking, for instance, or eating too much unhealthy food. Being a smoker doesn’t mean anyone will get lung cancer. Most smokers in fact die of something else. Some live to a great age! And some people get lung cancer who never smoked in their lives! But smoking does make people more vulnerable to lung cancer: they’re more likely to get it than nonsmokers. So we all know what we mean by “risk factors.”
In the same way, there are “risk factors” for abuse and exploitation. Donna likes to say, in effect, that anybody at all could be sucked in by some lying psychopath. And that is literally true, in the same way that anybody could contract lung cancer, despite never have smoked (or worked in a coal mine, or around asbestos dust) in their lives. And it’s important to point that out, because it saves some people from wondering “was there something ‘wrong’ with me that made me ‘deserve’ this fate?” The answer to that question, of course, is NO; there was nothing “wrong” with you in that sense; nothing that makes you “bad,” at any rate. In fact it’s some of best and kindest people who “never deserved it” who do get exploited.
Although exploitation might happen to anybody at all, in my mind it’s still important to realize that the probabilities are not the same for everybody. It reminds me of that stunning line at the climax of Orwell’s Animal Farm: that “All animals are equal–but some animals are more equal than others”! In the same way, I suppose “all people are vulnerable–but some are definitely more vulnerable than others!” And usually they don’t realize it–which leaves them more vulnerable than ever.
Regarding Steven Hassan’s observations, I don’t doubt that “life changes” can leave anyone more vulnerable than usual to exploitation. But let’s examine them in detail. “Empty nest, divorce, relationship breakup…” “Bereavement” isn’t mentioned, the death of a loved one, but I’m sure it should be included. These are negative events. All of them can leave people at a loss, in a state of “neediness”–for support, or for “something new” to fill the void they leave. It’s that “neediness” that abusive people can exploit.
I don’t exactly see this in Hassan’s words, about people being vulnerable “because their guard is down.” That is a factor, yes. Many people are vulnerable “because their guard is down.” More on that later. However, as far as this “guard” concept is relevant, part of it is due to naivety. If we “let our guard down,” then “goodness” can flow more freely between ourselves and other people. If we’re needy, we may believe that goodness ought to flow from others to ourselves, to satisfy our needs. The trouble is, “letting our guard down” can result in the opposite instead, allowing greedy parasites to suck the goodness out of ourselves when we’re most needy!
What else? “Move, new job, going off to college…” Generally speaking these are positive events–though not always, of course. Somebody may be “forced” to move or get a new job through circumstances. Yet they can involve a move into a “new world” that feels strange and unfamiliar, where a person hasn’t yet “found their feet.” Jan relates moving out of state for a new job. That’s two “life changes” simultaneously, not just one. New city: loss of contact with previous friends, family, or social network: “neediness” for someone to replace them. New job: unfamiliar working environment, possible insecurity (“can I succeed in this position? Can I really do what’s required of me?”)–“neediness” for a mentor, someone who anyway seems to offer advice and support. Reaching out for someone–anyone–who can fill these voids leaves anyone more vulnerable than usual to those who would take advantage of their neediness.
Going away to college? Yes, well that’s a “different environment” too. However confident and successful anyone was in high school–and so many people aren’t!–even if they were good scholars, social confidence is a “whole ‘nother matter,” what with teenage angst and the rest of it, and the college-bound “nerds” suffer the worst–college is again a break with whatever friends and family they knew, like being tossed into a new pool on the frontier with adulthood and being told to “swim.” So it’s not surprising if many feel a “neediness” for support, for a mentor to guide them into this new world of adults. And yes, that’s exactly the age when some young people do join weird “cults,” as Hassan observes.
That’s true whether they’re going to college or not. Some of them are just “leaving home” for the first time, college-bound or otherwise. That still falls into Hassan’s category of a “move.”
Can a life change seen as “positive” leave someone vulnerable to exploitation? Two comments on this. First, many years ago I also made a major move and change of job. I was happy and excited about it. I made new friends in my new job. I knew I could do the job well. I felt in a strong position. Not “vulnerable” at all. I fell in love with a woman I met there, and we lived together for a time. But it didn’t work out. We weren’t as compatible as I’d hoped. No way was this an “abusive” relationship! Just the same, I’d like to say that even in a “positive” situation after a “life change,” the whole thing can end up being covered with a thrilling patina of romance and excitement that in different circumstances could potentially blind someone to the reality that the partner who was wooing them was in fact a ruthless exploiter.
Secondly, fledgling adults going to college especially (I don’t like to insult them by calling them “kids”) are exploring a newfound freedom! “Freedom” is a great thing! “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité…,” well never mind the French who gave us that great statue standing in New York harbor; there’s much commonality of ideas there. The point is that “liberty” gives anyone the opportunity to go in any direction they want, after previously being restrained–and sometimes that’s the wrong direction! No wonder a few young people go running off to join a “cult” once they’re let loose from home. Likewise, there are far too many young people who leave home–more to the point, run away from home–only to end up in the clutches of an abuser!
In short, I’ve got no argument with Steven Hassan’s observations. I’m sure they’re all true, as far as they go. Yet they’re not the whole story about why many people fall into the clutches of abusers. The background is important as well. Functional teenagers (excluding born psychopaths of course) don’t generally run away from functional homes. The teens who run away from home (and too often end up on the streets, in drugs and prostitution) are by and large running away from screwed-up, dysfunctional and abusive homes. (Again, there are exceptions–I could name a couple–but it’s all a matter of probability, of “risk factors.”) And I don’t believe most young people go running away to join some bizarre “cult” unless there’s something “wrong,” something “missing” in their lives in the first place that has never been fulfilled by parental love, religion, spirituality, philosophy, whatever; above all by faith–that left in them an emptiness, a void, a neediness that the cult seemed to fulfill.
Often we have to look wider for the root of these problems, the source of these “risk factors” for abuse. I personally divide them into three categories:
The way people were BORN;
The way they were RAISED;
And their SITUATION in life.
It starts at birth. This might just be one small part of the real reason why you fell for this lying con artist. If I’m wrong, well then, I’m wrong; so what the heck? You spoke about being in the “mental health” field, and Sunnygal promptly piped up that “People in the helping professions with high empathy are good targets for these types.” Well, Sunnygal hit the nail bang on the head with that remark! She also remarked how people in this type of profession can use their position to exploit their clients. My only comment on that is that these abuser are not all “male” by any means, nor are their victims necessarily female.
Part of the point is that the mental health profession can be a mix of people, many of whom got into the field to “sort their own problem out.” That doesn’t mean they’re all bad; not by any means! But some of them are, and consciously or unconsciously, subtly or otherwise, they use their position to exploit their clients. Meanwhile, as Sunnygal said, many are genuinely caring people, full of empathy, and that’s why they do the job, a job that others might not want to do. That’s often the way they were born–“good, caring people”–yet those are the very “risk factors” that can also leave them vulnerable to exploitation. On two grounds. First, that they’re kind and forgiving, too prone to tolerate mistreatment from others and continue making excuses for their abusers. And second, that being the way they are, they find it almost impossible to imagine how somebody could be so completely opposite from themselves: how devoid of empathy or of conscience a psychopath could be, how anyone could tell lies or deceive them so cold-bloodedly. As you said yourself, “I tend to think everyone’s heart is like mine”–a quote worth remembering. Sadly, it isn’t true. Being born with “too much empathy,” though in no way “blameworthy,” is a colossal risk factor.
In my belief, this is where people who are highly empathetic need to guard themselves.
Second, anyone raised in an abusive family is likely to be seriously at risk for exploitation later in life. There’s lots of discussion about that on this site. One poster for instance described how “having a narcissistic mother” was a perfect training ground for being abused later in life.
Not every abused child becomes a victim. Whatever the reason, children react differently to abuse, whatever strategy they unconsciously adopt in childhood to cope with the abuse, emotionally and otherwise. Perhaps it depends on the traits they’re born with. Some seem to escape the worst effects, and do become functional in later life. Some grow to emulate the worse abusive traits of their parents, possibly on the principle of “if you can’t beat them, join them!” But many become victims of abusers in their adult life, having been “trained” to become victims, and to tolerate it. It’s a complicated dynamic, but one way of simplifying its toxic effects is to say that many children raised in abusive or dysfunctional families–and dysfunction can often be so subtle and insidious–have been taught to accept abusive behavior and discounting of themselves as “normal.” So the “red flags” don’t wave as vigorously as they should when an abuser targets them in adult life. I always urge anyone who has been in an abusive relationship to examine their childhood and their family of origin to see how they have may have been “conditioned” from their earliest, most formative years to accept abuse.
In my own mind the situational factors that Hassan spoke of only come third; certainly in chronological order. I don’t want to generalize–that’s never safe–but I believe that more often than not, when somebody gets trapped into an abusive relationship later in life, often the “ground has been prepared” to make them vulnerable beforehand, and the situation that propelled them into the disastrous relationship, like the hangman’s trapdoor, was just the “last straw,” the “trigger” that finally “let them down.”
One point especially with regard to Steven Hassan’s comments, as valid as they are, is that insofar as a “life changing event” can leave someone vulnerable to an abusive relationship, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a recent event. That may be what happens, much of the time–people falling in love with an abuser “on the rebound” (a notoriously unwise time to fall in love)–but first of all, you did suffer from a broken marriage. OK, so it was four years earlier. People might say stupid things like “you should have gotten over it in four years,” but that doesn’t mean a damn thing. In a sense, you did “get over it” in a very constructive way, not dating for four years, focusing on what was best in your life, taking care of your girls, putting yourself through college, ending up with what you felt to be a “really good place” in your life. Congratulations! In spite of that, there comes a time–especially after graduating from college–when people ask themselves “What’s next?”
That’s where Steven Hassan’s concept of a “life changing event” may fall short, because it doesn’t cover the whole territory. There doesn’t have to be a “triggering” event. The advent of the abuser can itself be the “triggering event.” Just as important, events themselves can have a delayed effect. Sometimes it’s not an external event at all, but simply the passage of time that can leave people feeling “needy,” and at risk of being exploited. It’s as if an alarm clock goes off in their heads–a “timeout” as we say in the computer business–and they know they’ve become needy for something. Then they’re vulnerable.
An obvious example for some women is when the dreaded “biological clock” goes off and they feel “I’ve got to get married, otherwise it will be too late to have kids.” They can be vulnerable then, as their thirties wear on, and at risk for exploitation.
I know this was not your own situation, but it just goes to illustrate how a “triggering event” that leaves someone vulnerable may not be external, but internal, dependent only on time. OK, so you went through college, went on raising your two daughters–GREAT job! But after a while, and having been divorced, it’s only too natural to ask yourself “What’s next in life? What have I been missing after these last four years I’ve been struggling–with great success, I might proudly add!–to build a better life? Well, dating of course! And love, and romance! And partnership!” Anyone is likely to feel “needy” after years of enforced abstinence from relationships. That’s just when they’re most likely to be vulnerable to exploitation.
The worst example I can think of was a cultured and talented lady, once engaged (we think) to a young naval lieutenant, who drowned accidentally. It was a tragedy she never got over. She always wore his ring afterwards, and remained faithful to his memory, never dating anyone else, for what was probably thirty or thirty-five years–until she was sixty years old! That was when her “timer” went off. She’d inherited enough money from her aunt a few years before to keep her financially independent for life, and she’d enjoyed traveling around a bit. But it wasn’t enough. She wanted someone to be with, to look after her in her old age. So she was vulnerable. She was targeted by a classic psychopath, a crude fellow who wasn’t even of her own social class. And although she realized at one stage that he wasn’t really after her, only her money, she went with him anyway. She had sex with him, for the first time in her life.
And he killed her. For her money. The miserable bastard! It wasn’t his only crime either. At least they hanged him. It was a long time ago.
I keep thinking about telling that story here. True as it is, it’s a long story, properly told. Except that it would take some time. I But it does go to show how long it can be before somebody’s “timer goes off” and they start becoming vulnerable, following the previous loss of a relationship.
Of course, your run-in with this abuser could have been just chance. But the fact is, you’ve had not just one failed relationship, but two at least. Both of these significant partners have been screwups and losers, and no doubt both abusive in some way. So your husband had “bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and is an alcoholic?” What a trio of troubles! Possibly he was “not as evil” as the slimy liar you’ve been entangled with recently, but just the same, getting hooked by these messed-up wrecks who call themselves “men” is not just an accident triggered by a “life event.” It’s a pattern. Some people get involved with one abusive partner after another! I always think people need to find out why this keeps happening.
Could it be just the way you were born? That you’re constitutionally too empathetic, too “caring,” could never resist looking after a “lame dog”–whether he presents as “sick” and “can’t help himself” due to his mental afflictions, or whether he’s just too good at making excuses for his lousy behavior, possibly seducing your sympathy by whining about his current circumstances or his supposed painful past? If so, you just need to learn about and guard yourself against these types.
Or could it be the way you were raised? If your family was dysfunctional, if there was abuse, if you were “trained” to be codependent, to take care of others with their rotten temper, their drunkenness or whatever, to accept abuse and bad treatment as if it were “normal,” that makes you vulnerable too. Having a failed marriage is merely an outcome of all this, of being conditioned by your upbringing to pick the wrong kind of partner in the first place, and only sets you up for further vulnerability in the future. If this happens to be your past, counseling with a good therapist can help you sort it out.
Whatever lies behind all this, I wish you good luck and a better future! Oh, and congratulations for your courage in dumping this latest guy! Keep it up!
Best regards, Redwald
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