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Healing from a psychopathic experience is a continuing process

By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)

Years ago I used to think that healing from an emotionally devastating experience, like tangling with a psychopath, was like recovering from a physical illness or injury. If you cut yourself, you put a band-aid on it and a few days later, the cut was “healed” and you didn’t need to work on it any more. Or if you got the flu, once you were over it, it was all done; you didn’t have to worry about it again. Or if you got the measles once, you could not get it ever again, because you were immune.

Now I realize that healing from an encounter with a psychopath is not like a simple cut that heals, never requiring any more care or even notice. It is also not like having the measles and becoming immune to that kind of disease. Having an encounter with one psychopath does not convey immunity to the rest you will encounter in your lifetime. It isn’t something that you “get over and never have to think about it again.” It changes you.

Tangling with a psychopath leaves serious emotional injuries that are not “healed” easily or quickly, never to be thought about again. Serious emotional healing is a continuing process that lasts a lifetime because emotional trauma literally causes the brain’s chemistry and structure to change.

Emotional wounds are different

Psychological and emotional wounds are wounds of a different kind. First, they are not “visible” to others. Also, others may have strong opinions about how long your emotional or mental wound should take to heal. In fact, society in general, and your friends in particular, may tell you that you should “be over that now, it was just a break up” and give you “medical advice” about emotional healing which they are not qualified to give you. Many times the wounds left by a psychopath need to be dealt with by a professional therapist who “gets it” about psychopaths! Just as you wouldn’t try to treat your own broken leg without professional medical help, or continue to limp around on it saying “oh, it will get better if I just give it time” we shouldn’t try to treat our own emotional wounds either. (This is coming from someone who tried to self-treat for way too long, but who finally got the help I needed.)

If you had an unhealed and grossly infected wound on your arm, I doubt that many people would try to give you advice on which antibiotic to take (though there are even a few of those people), but most people would recommend that you go to a physician for treatment. With emotional wounds, though, everyone is an expert and tells you to “just get over it.” I can’t see them saying the same thing about your festering cut on your arm or your broken leg.

Physical cuts do, with proper treatment, heal and scar over, never again requiring any care or work, but emotional “cuts” will always to some extent, require a continual maintenance, if nothing else. In addition, deep emotional wounds leave behind invasive memories.

Memory good and bad

Memory is a good thing in many, many ways, bringing back enjoyable experiences from the past, bringing back warm feelings when we think about loved ones who have passed away or the fun experiences we had when we were children or on a special vacation. Yet, memory can be a two-edged sword, also bringing back the unhappy memories of being abused, the emotional voids of being neglected as a child or the devaluation and discarding done to us by a psychopath. Sometimes these memories become “invasive” and intrude into our “today” and our “now” to the point that we can’t seem to think about anything else.

I don’t mean that we can never overcome the damage done to us or that the memories must always be invasive, but what I am trying to say is that we must continually work on keeping our emotional health healthy, that we must not let these unpleasant past events recur in our memories and minds to bring about emotional pain. We must also overcome the emotionally dysfunctional ways of coping that we learned to use in order to survive the abusive relationships previously in our lives, and learn newer and more functional ways to think and live in the present.

We must develop new tools, one of which is NO CONTACT with people who are dishonest, unkind, abusive, or in any way toxic to our wounded souls and spirits. I have found the “hard way” that some of these people are members of our families, people that we wanted close relationships with and people that we love(d). The truth is, though, that we can not allow anyone, no matter what the blood or other relationship is, to continually emotionally wound us. We must set boundaries. If boundaries don’t suffice to keep these people from acting in toxic ways to us, then we must cut them from our lives with NO CONTACT.

Peeling the onion

I’ve also realized that as I heal one level of dysfunction in my life and in the way I handle things, I find that there is another layer underneath that one that I should “improve” on. Al Anon calls this “peeling the onion.” I had picked up that phrase somewhere not knowing the origin, but a friend who is in Al Anon told me that she thought it came from there. I think it is a very good analogy, as it is to me like peeling an onion’s very thin layers, and when we get one layer peeled off we find—ANOTHER LAYER that needs to be worked on.

So, healing becomes for me a continuing process of self-improvement. I learned to set boundaries ”¦ so there is always practice to perfection on doing that and as I practice, I get better. There are self-esteem issues, and again, as I practice, I get better and feel better about myself. Each layer of the onion I peel and each improvement I make in myself gives me a new awareness of the next thing I need to work on in Joyce.

Acceptance and grief

As I focus on improving Joyce, I also realize that there is nothing I can do to improve the dysfunctional people who abused me ”¦ and I can’t do anything to change the past. So I must also start working on the acceptance of what was. I grieve the losses that go with my emotional injury. I work on coming to acceptance and peace with that loss, the way I have finally been able to accept the loss of my late husband and my late step-father, and the loss of the aspirations I had for my son Patrick, and the dreams I had for the relationship I wanted with my son C.

Some of the losses I have suffered due to the behavior of my psychopathic son, Patrick, weren’t losses of anything that was actually “real” and tactile. They were simply my dreams for my son, who is so bright and talented that he could have done or been anything he wanted to be. He was blessed with the smarts and intelligence to do or be anything! I guess it was selfish on my own part, because I wanted to say, “Oh, yes, my son Patrick, who invented the way to run cars on water, cured global warming, cured diabetes and cancers of all kinds”¦” so I could, in mock humility, be so proud of him! LOL

Of course my continued working on “healing” doesn’t take up my entire life or thoughts any more, but it makes the rest of my life more fulfilling and more fun because I am slowly eliminating the people and the behaviors that make my life difficult or painful. It is amazing just how much time I have now to do things that I enjoy, when I am not dealing with the drama and dysfunction of people who are not healthy, or people who are actively abusive. I have more time for the fun and enjoyable people and experiences, since my time and energy are not taken up by the drama of dealing with dysfunction.

Tired in body and mind

The cost of emotionally unhealthy relationships and unhealthy people is very expensive in terms of time and effort. Just as digging a ditch with a shovel will make your body tired and sore, emotionally “digging a ditch” in an encounter with a drama king or queen, or an abusive person, will also make your mind tired and sore as well. If you dig the ditch physically, when you come in the house and shower and sit down, you are not able to handle mental or emotional tasks; the body is so tired that the mind doesn’t work well either. The reverse is also true: If you are emotionally tired from dealing with dysfunctional situations, your body is also tired. There is no big dichotomy between body and mind. We are one!

We are well aware that emotional stress puts great strain on our bodies as well as our minds. So it is important for us to continually take care of both our emotional and physical health. Just as we wouldn’t go to the gym one time and work out and expect to have “abs of steel,” we would also not expect to read one book about psychopaths and expect that we would instantly be healed emotionally from an encounter with psychopaths.

Applying the knowledge

Knowledge is what we must acquire by study. Wisdom is the ability to use that knowledge to our benefit, which is acquired by reflection.

Learning about psychopaths, learning about ourselves and then applying that knowledge for our emotional and physical well being is a life-long process.

I’ve frequently said that the healing process starts out about “them” (the psychopaths) but ends up being about “us,” changing our thinking and behavior. I still think that is true, and when we start focusing more on us, and less on them, we are well on the way to growing and “healing,” but the road continues onward as long as we live.

While none of us would wish an experience with a psychopath on our worst enemy, and while it has been a painful process for us, it can be the impetus for us to go on to greater and better things.

God bless.


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134 Comments on "Healing from a psychopathic experience is a continuing process"

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Loved your article, Oxy.

Could you give examples of how emotional trauma literally changes the brain? In what ways? Is that permanant? Is this something that we can/need to overcome or is just something we’re left with that shapes us as we move forward?

A big thanks for pointing out that “everybody” is an expert when it comes to getting over emotional things.

As an Al-Anon member, I can say that when I started out, I thought my onion was pretty small, not much bigger than a walnut. And I knew just what my onion was made up of – my S mother and fiance at the time. But as I progressed in Al-Anon, I was dismayed to find that as I peeled away the layers, the onion not only got bigger, but there was a lot that I was doing to myself and those around me that made my life (and theirs) difficult and unpleasant.

A good portion of those tears and nasty side effects of the onion were because of me and nobody else. I did learn, though, how I got to be that way. It wasn’t entirely “my fault” in the sense that there was something inherently wrong with me. I was a product of many things, and fortunately, I could reverse, eliminate, and change much of that.

Still, there were times that my walnut-sized onion seemed almost impossible to hold with two hands.

As embarrassing as the increasing size of my onion was and my contributions to it, things started to turn around. The onion stopped growing and went back to a manageable size.

It helped a lot knowing what I was responsible for and what belonged to others, such as all the “experts” who know what do about emotional issues. This didn’t necessarily eliminate problems for me, but it got them under control.

Once I knew what was my stuff, I could deal with that much more effectively than trying to solve all the world’s problems and everybody else’s.

You’re absolutely right. We cannot change others, but we can change ourselves.

I had gotten the impression that we would eventually “get over it,” i.e., our emotional wounding. It’s not something that “they” tell you up front, that you might be working on this for years and you may never totally recover, that you may still be vulnerable to being triggered, or that you might need to go back and address things later on in life at a different level or perspective. It’s good to hear that this is a process and a journey and not a one-time fix.

This is a powerful post, Oxy. Your points are excellent. Thank you so much for writing it.

God bless you, too, wonderful lady!

OxD, thank you SO much for this article! How is your achilles tendon, by the way?!

I am looking forward to a point when my healing processes aren’t the absolute focus for me. When you said that it isn’t taking up so much attention and effort, it gave me a feeling of anticipation. Having fun. I look forward to simply “having fun,” again. I look forward to really feeling that sense of ME-ness that all is well with me and Great Creator.

I also identify with how you discussed the physiological aspects of emotional healing. That’s something else that I eagerly anticipate – FEELING good in mind and body.

Once again, it’s what I needed, WHEN I needed to read it.

Brightest blessings on this obscenely hot day! 😀

Dear Grace,

According to what I have read, Yes, there are both chemical and physical changes in the brain. I think some of them are permanent and some may not be. I do know that the brain is a complex organism and how it functions depends on a lot of things.

After the plane crash that killed my husband and injured my son and two friends, I was unable to read for nearly a year (that was why I had to retire after the crash) and now I read slower than I did, and I have some difficulty with short term memory that I didn’t have before the crash…so the trauma of the plane crash did change my brain. Since then I have regained many of the things that I “lost” like my ability to read. These are of course my personal experiences, and each of us may experience different things. Sleep disorders, insomnia, depression, hyper alertness, fear responses, night mares, there are lots of things that people experience after trauma that is either one big deal or smaller traumas over the courses of longer times.

Our environment changes us. We change our environment.

Yea, My onion got to the size of a basket ball at times…..LOL

Thanks for your response Grace!

Truthy, we posted over each other! Thanks for your response too and I’m glad this article was what you needed when you needed it.

My tendon is going to be operated on August 1 so I’ll be non weight bearing on it for 6 weeks….that should be fun! NOT!!! LOL I feel sorry for son D having to put up with me! LOL

The having fun days will come Truthy! it is just that they don’t come suddenly but sort of sneak up on you a little at a time I think. One day you will wake up and realize you are happy and then you will look back and think, “Yea, I’ve been happy for a while now” LOL

So don’t think it will never come because it will…just take care of yourself and keep on learning about yourself, putting yourself first and the happiness will come. Find a little thing that you enjoy and SAVOR it. A mint or a cup of coffee. Whatever thing that is nice. Just SAVOR it. Don’t think about “I’ll be happy when X happens” but savor that thing that moment.

Yea it is miserably hot here already today, but may have rain in the forecast for next week…and we NEED ONE BADLY.

I tell my friends I did a NAKED rain dance in the front yard but all I got was lightening strikes! LOL ROTFLMAO

OxD

Nice one.

In most cases when we get into the healing process far enough we find out that though the spath was a problem they are not THE problem. This normally makes people mad when they first hear this. But after some time they start to see. It’s in the why one doesn’t run at the first few signs of problems. There is something that the person sees as value beyond the signs. Second if the spath was to disappear and never come back. No phone calls. No contact. Does the problems go away. Then it is in us.

And with healing we all must walk the path. No one can do this for us. We can hold their hand. We can encourage. We can be there for a shoulder to cry on. And listen.

Everybody go find something to laugh about.

My 2 Cents

OXD! (SNARK, SNORT, GUFFAW)

Yeah….thanks for the encouragement, Oxy. I’m okay with learining about myself and focusing on me, finally. Not the “needy” me that was so desperate, but the “real” me that is fighting to recover and emerge. I said in a WAY earlier post that I wasn’t very comfortable with the person that I’m evolving into, but it’s going to be okay, in due time. I’m going to be okay.

Nekkid rain dance….(giggling) You are hilarious…..

Oh….and my personal onion is like a medicine ball. BUT, it used to be like one of those Hoppity Hops….the kind that you throw out into a pasture for horses to play with! SO…getting to the core, a little stinking bit at a time! 😀

Truthy,

Yea, Sweetie, we can get there one day at a time. External problems, whether it is an Achilles tendon operation, or bankruptcy, we can be happy in spite of those things. EXTERNAL things are just that, Outside of ourselves, and not something we can control, we just learn to live with them and be happy anyway.

Yea, I can be funny sometimes and the Nekkid rain dance is one of my best “one liners” I think….I love one liners! My husband was great at them and sooooo funny because he came out with them when you weren’t expecting anything like that and you would just roll.

My P son Patrick is also good with the one liners, he was funny. But heck, I guess even a Psychopath can come up with a good one liner now and then off the cuff. LOL

Another one of mine is when a clerk asks “how are you today?” and I usually answer “I’m doing fine, but I’ll get over it” LOL Always makes them smile.

Excellent, excellent article. Very well said! 🙂

Thank you,, Linda, coming from you that is high praise indeed.

Hi All,

Thanks for the article Ox. Makes perfect sense.

Spoon, hey. Hope you are OK. You said,

“In most cases when we get into the healing process far enough we find out that though the spath was a problem they are not THE problem. This normally makes people mad when they first hear this. But after some time they start to see. It’s in the why one doesn’t run at the first few signs of problems. There is something that the person sees as value beyond the signs.”

Yeah, so true. I can remember reading “Women Who Love too Much,” and I felt so righteous about the first chapter or whatever. Then when Norwood got into “why” we love too much, I was furious. Haha. I didn’t read any further. I was so young and so sure I was perfectly loving and giving. G-d I was so selfish and self-involved and the expectations were plain old stupid.

I really believe that we must look at the reason why we accepted this abusive crap into our lives. Yes, as you said the path is a problem but not THE problem. Very well put.

I’m exhausted trying to find work and it’s beyond depressing because I know age-ism is killing me and there is not reversing that. I can’t take another group, counselor, etc. This job search thing has become a big business and it appears that these resume specialists, careeer coaches, networking group leaders, etc., are trying to stretch our your job search rather than help you find work. It’s so confounding to someone who has not job searched in many decades. Sure I understand tech has changed the entire situation but each time I go to another group or session or workshop or center, they decide my resume has to be yet again revised….Lord have Mercy. I am at my wit’s end. Doesn’t anyone care that I work was my life, my focus, my passion? Does this not make a great employee??? No, it doesn’t matter at all.

I read these books and have to put then down. The Power of Now. Hate it. Can’t focus on it. But happen Tolle had his epiphany. I’ve had no such epiphany.

This Trapped in the Mirror. I read some of it last night and it was all I could to not to off myself. I feel like a giant N now and that I have ruined my daughter because of it.

Should I even try Am I Good Enough?

And this thing about friends, Ox. I am unable to tell if a friend is truly toxic or not. I mean, sure, if it’s obvious, but is someone toxic because they are uber-irritatingly controlling but have a great sense of humor and very loving? Do I write someone off because they seem to diss me for another friend whenever that friend is available? Is this toxic because it makes me feel bad or is it me being some degree of insecure and selfish?

Do I write off Jane because she may get laid off and called me to find out exactly how much I’m paying for health insurance and when I told her, she sat right there on the phone with me and typed that info to another friend, Sher?
I did not want Sher to have that info because I don’t trust her and she is a manipulative bitch. I could have told Jane right then and there, “Wait, don’t share that with Sher!! I don’t want her to know anything about me or my finances.”
Do I have a right now to be angry with Jane??? I messed up because I let her go ahead and share it for a couple of reasons I won’t bore you with. Then I sent her an email stating that I do not ever want her to share anything about me with Sher, she should have asked me first, explained what she wanted and why. I know Jane is a good person and for some reason is in awe of Sher (who I suspect is N and possibly socio-I’ve suffered her injustices before and really don’t want her in my life) as are many people, including her managers! It’s uncanny, she gets away with murder…ever known people like that?

I also told Jane I felt used. I told her I cherished our friendship but in light of her and Sher still having jobs and my inability to find one (both of them are much younger than I) I am extra sensitive these days.

I mean, is she a friend I should discard? I think, btw, she has already discarded me. She just blew back at me that I was fine, she understood, she was having a bad day, etc. Have not heard a word from her. She is a bizarre person, to be honest, but a caring one. I don’t take friends lightly these days…don’t want to blow someone off and be alone like my mom did. And as all N’s do…see I am an N.

Well, I’ll end here a confused mess, way behind in my chores, and will end up rushing because we are taking my brother to dinner tonight for his birthday. No money to do it but it’s a special bday and I really, really want to.

Hope you all have a decent weekend. Prob going to have more storms and power outages tomorrow. Great. It’s been such a challenging week with the power and heat. Hope you all have not suffered.

StillReeling, hugs to you – the job searching is horrible for everyone, these days. Temp agencies might be a short-term solution, but I’m looking for work, myself, and none is to be had.

As far as “toxic” friends goes, I say this only about myself: if someone leaves me feeling tired, drained, confused, unbalanced, and uncentered, I DO NOT NEED THAT INFLUENCE in my life, whether I’m excusing their behaviors, tolerating them, or simply ignoring them. I need every ounce of energy that I can salvage for my own healing processes.

And, YES…..you DO have a right to be angry if someone shares YOUR financial information!!!! If Sher needed to ask about YOUR insurance information, then she could have done it, herself. Going through the “back door,” so to speak, is sneaky and reeks of manipulation! Your finances are NOBODY’S BUSINESS, not even people that you might believe are “good friends.” A “good friend” isn’t going to inquire about sensitive and personal information.

StillReeling, sometimes, we ingest too much information by too many different authors and it can really, REALLY muck up our personal ponds. I only associate what makes sense with myself with my healing.

What I have learned about myself is that I’m not obligated to be “nice” to everyone or allow any other human being to trample over me just because I was needy and wanted so desperately to be accepted, appreciated, approved-of, and loved. Oh, HAYELL no – not anymore.

Indeed, the exspaths and spath “friends” and business partners and coworkers all created damages. But, they created those damages because I allowed them past my non-existent boundaries to begin with. Today, I will not agree to tolerate anything that is going to jeopardize my well-being, on ANY level.

So….yeah….you DO have a right to be angry at Jane, but you also allowed her to trample your boundaries. So, don’t be hard on yourself, but try to examine how she was able to work her way around them, and then fortify those vulnerable spots. If it has to do with shame-core, then take that and dissect it. If it has to do with acceptance, do the same. Etc., etc…..

Sorry for the long response, but I’m learning that my former approach to Life and its numerous hitches was based entirely upon my emotional responses. “Feelings are not facts,” and that has become my personal mantra. Sure, I may “feel” a certain way, but that feeling(s) should not be my driving force, ever again.

Big hugs to you……..and a tall ice water!

Truth, hugs back. And don’t be sorry for the length of your response. First of all, have you checked out the average length of my resps??? Even when I try to keep them short, I guess there is so much pent up stuff in one small brain…or maybe my succinct button is on the fritz. Plus, your thoughts are welcomed, long, short, inbetween.

I hear you and I agree with what you’ve stated, basically simple. You do what you need to do to heal. I know that when I don’t KIS, I have issues…I’m prone to scatter so do need to remember to try and keep one thought going at a time. An overall goal of doing what feels right for my sanity might be a good way to funnel all this overwhelming crap. My only issue is whether I’ve done something for the wrong reasons (selfishness, narc, allaboutme-ism, jealousy, etc).

I know this sounds awful, but this circle of friends I see once in awhile from my last job, which include Jane, Sher (who moved away thankfully-she just added confusion and guilt to the pot) and 2-3 others are straight-arrow, very assertive, controlling kind of people. They are good people too. I am afraid that if I cast them aside, I will be alone when I need someone. I don’t feel comfortable actually calling upon any of them, save one, and she is hardly ever available. These are the kind of women who drive wait staff nuts in restaurants….while I mentally crawl under the table, each asks for round rather than square ice, an extra glass in case they want lemon in one water and not the other, can they mix two dishes into one?, please bring the tartar sauce on the side but a little of it under the larger piece of fish…on and on and on…and don’t even mention check time! Separate chex if there is a “from now on.”

Jane, btw, the last time we went out, actually w/out saying a word, grabbed my fork and asked the waitress to bring me a clean one as it had a particle of food on it. Honestly, I am a little phobic about certain germ-y type things but I don’t use anti-bacterial anything and a crumb on my fork did not bother me. I needed to say something to her. But I didn’t, so it’s on me. I suppose as I think about the worst that could have happened, she would have looked or been angry or sad. I can’t stand that. I think I’m afraid to be in that position.

OK, sorry, there is more I wanted to say about your very very informative and helpful post but my hub is back upstairs and I’ve been online for almost 3 hrs…I know, why is that HIS business? I give him hard times too though about watching the same movie over and over.

Will read your post again later, Truth, hang in, go for it and know you are a huge inspiration to me and all of us.

Thanls for this great arrtical, Oxy…so true.
I wanted to post the following link on gas-lighting and D and D, also much about the trauma bond, for those still aching for their abusers:

http://narcissisticbehavior.net/the-effects-of-gaslighting-in-narcissistic-victim-syndrome

Still reeling,

Think about the situation with Jane….has she really shown that she is a FRIEND or is she just an acquaintence, just someone to go have a drink with once in a while or go shopping?

A lot of the People we have in our lives are not necessarily “friends” by my definition of a “friend” but they are just someone to hang out with, play cards, or trade baby sitting with. A real “friend” in my definition is someone who if you call up in the middle of the night and ask them to come help you “bury a body” asks if you already have two shovels. LOL Seriously though, there are lots of people I hang out with and enjoy but they are not someone I would tell my deepest secrets to or loan them a significant amount of money or cancel my doctor’s appointment to go pick them up because their car stalled on the freeway.

So think about which category you put Jane and/or Sher in? If they are not in the REAL FRIEND list, then don’t worry too much about them. just hang out with them, play cards with them, but don’t sweat it if the “friendship” doesn’t run deeper or longer….and don’t ever tell them anything you wouldn’t want printed on tomorrow’s front page! (((hugs)))

Kimmie, thank you for that post, the first couple of paragraphs TOTALLY DESCRIBE the “summer of chaos” which I experienced with the gaslighting and lying from my egg donor.

Here is the first part of your link:

What is “Gaslighting”?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. The techniques used in “Gaslighting” by the narcissist are similar to those used in brainwashing, interrogation, and torture that have been used in psychological warfare by intelligence operative, law enforcement and other forces for decades.

The intention is to, in a systematic way, target the victim’s mental equilibrium, self confidence, and self esteem so that they are no longer able to function in an independent way. Gaslighting involves the abuser to frequently and systematically withhold factual information from the victim, and replacing it with false information. Because of it’s subtly, this cunning Machiavellian behaviour is a deeply insidious set of manipulations that is difficult for anybody to work out, and with time it finally undermines the mental stability of the victim. That is why it is such a dangerous form of abuse. The emotional damage of Gaslighting is huge on the narcissistic victim. When they are exposed to it for long enough, they begin to lose their sense of their own self. Unable to trust their own judgments, they start to question the reality of everything in their life. They begin to find themselves second-guessing themselves, and this makes them become very insecure around their decision making, even around the smallest of choices. The victim becomes depressed and withdrawn, they become totally dependent on the abuser for their sense of reality. In effect the gaslighting turns the victim’s reality on its head.

This is one of the best descriptions I have read of gaslighting and it totally describes the TORTURE techniques used on me and many other people. Though the psychopath probably hasn’t had training in these techniques somehow they know how to use them to get us into a state of “crazyness” that we cannot think or act rationally.

It is so IMPORTANT TO GO NO CONTACT so that you can regain your emotional and mental strength in order to THINK LOGICALLY and rationally.

Kim Thanks so much for this link!

Thank you for this beautifully written article, Oxy.

I am still trying to discern between the truly unhealthy and/or abusive people in my life and those who I might falsely feel are “out to get me”. Unfortunately it is a byproduct of CPTSD.

In particular, I have a friend with whom I have become very close to, but I find some of the things she does very manipulative and I see signs of narcissism in her. She claims to be a very giving person, but only gives so much and then expects you to pay her back some way. She also has used my weaknesses against me in arguments. She very much thinks of herself first and gets very defensive if you catch her on it. She comes off very sweet to everyone, but I can’t shake the feeling that she is very insincere about her emotions.

I run into a problem here because she has listened to my problems and has been there for me as I recover from my ex-spath. She tells me I’m like a sister to her and she loves me. She insists that she is being genuine.

I guess my question or thought is, am I just being over cautious and looking too closely at people’s motives because of all that I have learned about personality disorders? Perhaps I am being too hard on her and i should just accept her for who she is and not let every little thing affect me so much. I mean, no one is perfect and we all hurt each other from time to time. I have just had this gut feeling ever since meeting my friend that something is off. Can’t figure it out.

Any suggestions on how I should deal with my feelings going forward?

Thanks again!

Truth, meant to wish you good luck with your job hunt! Let us know how it goes for you.

Ox, thank you for the thoughtful comments. Agree with you and need to think about these particular “friends” a little more realistically. It’s prob true that they are not friends in the “bury a body together” sense, but for now, they are the closest I have to real friends. I am a one on one type of person so never sought myriads of friends. Had some really close and good ones when I was single but once I married and had a baby, we drifted apart. Still keep in touch but it’s certainly not the same.

I guess if I went singular, I’d probably have closer friends, if they’d have me that is. I have recently realized I am an extroverted introvert type of person. I come across very outgoing and it isn’t phony; I just don’t enjoy going out a lot or being in groups. Having a couple of really close friends and a great job has always been enough for me.

Your article rings so true in so many ways. Again, thx for sharing. ” If you are emotionally tired from dealing with dysfunctional situations, your body is also tired. There is no big dichotomy between body and mind. We are one!”
Yes, this is so true. That is why I do think friends are so important. I used to feel better when I was emotionally distraught just thinking about the fact that in 2 weeks I would see “Cindy.”

Aquaintances have their place too….I like warm fuzzies tho and never feel that way when with these ladies. I have to censor so much of what I’m thinking and feeling. No path discussions at all. They don’t entertain such notions. It’s mainly cat talk or what I heard on npr. Nothing against either, but I don’t find it very interesting or engaging. Me, I’d rather analyze a movie, book, article, behavior, etc. And laugh, I like to have a good time and be close. Laughter is good for that but I just don’t find something Margaret Thatcher said very funny. Sorry, guess my lack of intellect is showing.

Anyway, Ox, listen, best of luck with the Achilles surgery. I’m sure many have chimed in to tell their stories. I know that both my brother and my BIL had very successful surgeries. My brother is in his 60’s and still runs miles every day and my BIL is 50-something and still plays volleyball like a wild crazy kid 3-4x per week…so there you are!! Like you said, just do what the docs say and try to really baby it for as long as they tell you to. I prob wouldn’t but it’s foolish not to.

Thanks again and hugs back.

Incredibly helpful to read this today, as I needed to focus on someone other than myself! Every so often, I experience pangs of empathy for Nick’s parents. I remember what I didn’t understand at the time–the hopefulness in his mother’s countenance and voice, and the disdain evidenced by his father–and I wonder how much pain he has caused them over the years. I wonder what, if anything, they understand about their son and what it must be like to love a child that much who cannot love you back. I’m so sorry for your loss, from wherever those losses stem.
All best to you…

Kim, thank you so much for sharing the link. Wish I didn’t see myself so much in it – certainly a great eye-opener in addition to a reminder to always keep an eye on the big picture.

Still Reeling,

I so relate to what you describe regarding personal relationships. My extrovert/introvert personality is similar to yours. The two people I was closest to I have since lost and my “friends” are either old friends from years ago that I had drifted apart from or new acquintances I have, none of which provide the “warm fuzzies” I so miss. It’s a lonely road. Hopefully someone will soon enter our lives who we’ll be able to establish a close connection with. 🙂

Oxy,

My former MIL had surgery on her achille’s tendon and eventually was back to a pre-injury state. It was slow to heal but the end result was realized.

Many positive thoughts and prayers to you for your upcoming surgery and recovery.

I agree with Oxy. We need to be mindful of how we label people in our lives. After an intense education in the University of Hard Knocks, to me a friend now has to earn my trust.

I know a lot of people. That doesn’t mean that I would trust them with my personal and/or confidential information.

There are plenty of aquaintances that I can spend pleasant moments with, like crossing paths at an event, running into them at a store, or seeing them at somebody’s party.

Speaking of which, one of these aquaintances with whom I am friends with on Facebook (a category of friends all unto itself) posted on FB this week that she took some kind of personality test. I was floored that she happily agreed with the evaluation that she has a hard time connecting with people on an emotional level because she is too consumed with focusing on herself and what’s happening with her. In other words, it’s all about her. She laughed and said, “How true.”

She and her husband frequently throw parties. Because one of their sons is very good friends with my son, we get invited to these. I’ve been feeling like a fifth wheel somewhat because I just don’t connect with her emotionally, but after reading what she so readily agreed to on FB, I understood why. It’s her, not me.

BTW, I’ve noted that her husband posts on FB all the time. He is open about sharing his feelings and gets a lot of people engaged in interesting discussions on what he posts.

Still Reeling, your issue is with Jane, not Sher. You’ve already recognized that Sher is not to be trusted.

It seems to me that you’re not recognizing that Jane is not respecting your boundaries.

And it isn’t a simple, brush-off excuse like her saying, “Oh, I didn’t know you wanted to me to keep that confidential.”

That was your personal, financial information. Most people know that is confidential since it is personal and it is financial. What business is it of hers?

I’m uncertain why you would share a financial figure like that with anyone, but obviously, the finances of others is not the boundary that Jane has any intention of respecting.

And the fact that she immediately conveyed that information to somebody else right in front of you with your full knowledge is a slap in the face, f-you if I’ve ever heard one.

IMHO, Jane sounds emotionally abusive to me. Putting the focus on you, what are you getting from this person that you consider her to be a friend?

Likewise, Sisterhood, a friend who gives with the expectation of something in return is not “a very giving person.” She is a manipulative person.

Kim, thank you for the link about gaslighting. It did a great job describing what goes on, which ties into the discussion here and with stalking.

Neither stalking nor gaslighting are singular actions/events.

There is the old story about the five blind men who examine an elephant. One feels the trunk, another the elephant’s side, one the foot, one a tusk, and the last one the tail. Each man’s perception of the elephant is correct, but the whole package must be taken into consideration.

We all need to look at the whole picture, just like somebody who “gives” on the condition of something being received in return is not a “giving person,” or somebody who violates socially reasonable boundaries (as opposed to boundaries that might be unique to one individual) is not somebody who has our best interests in mind.

In keeping with Oxy’s theme in this piece, I have enough damage going on in my life from things over which I have no control. What I do not want to do is compound or exacerbate that damage by contributing to it by not seeing the whole elephant.

still reeling

Doing fine thanks for asking.

Yes no one wants to hear it’s not them. I thought the guy that first said it to me was nuts.

“I was so young…” We all knew it all. Getting old, no way. And the world was going to just open up and give us everything.

Sorry the job hunt is not going well. Here’s a movie you might like,”Entry Level” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0902279/

Toxic friends. Have to go with Truthspeak. If they take and never give back positive stuff then their toxic.True friends are the one that show up when your moving.

With boundaries there are different levels all the way to the inter circle. Inter circle few make it this far. Reserved for those who you would trust with your life.

Next week is a new week. So make it your week enjoy and may the right job jump up and bite you..

OxD

There is some stuff that will help before the surgery and after with the rehab.

Lifetime Stopain Topical Analgesic Roll-On Advanced Formulation containing Glucosamine, MSM and Boswella For Temporary Relief of Arthritis, Muscle & Back Pain Fast!

http://www.nextag.com/Lifetime-Stopain-Roll-On-504579357/prices-html

Found this stuff when I broke my wrist and my tibia plate. A life saver. Just don’t get it in a cut.

Hope it goes well

OxD

The link to the Stopain was just so you would have a picture of it. Don’t know where your at but Drug Emporium is where I get it. There is also another brand called Stopain but it is not the same thing doesn’t have the Glucosamine, MSM and Boswella and it’s not from lifetime. It’s a waste of money.

Sisterhood, and others who are ha ving problems deciding if people are “positive’ in your life or not…I look at it this way. If I have to “walk on egg shells” around a person they are NOT FOR ME. Period.

My “best friend” for 30+ years and I parted ways a little over a year ago. I realized that she is manipulative…I also realize that she has her own cross to bear with a husband that is abusive and I didn’t realize it until I spent more time around him after he retired.

I had “called BS” on her about some of her “outbursts” of hateful things which she did from time to time, INSULTS really, but I had always been hurt, but “brushed them off” until a year ago January when she pulled that shaiat again, and then said “well that’s what best friends are for, you fight and then make up” and my reply was “BEST FRIENDS DON’T TREAT EACH OTHER THAT WAY.” I have not heart one word from her since. I realized that I NEVER TREATED HER THAT WAY, and why on earth should I expect that every so often she would “go off on me” verbally and INSULT ME, sometimes in public? I realized I don’t want to be around anyone that treats me that way, no matter what rocks they have in their shoes. I have had some BIG ROCKS in my shoes but I have NEVER EVER TREATED ANYONE THAT WAY.

So I decided that her “friendship” (and we had been through a lot in those 30 years together) wasn’t worth the insults or the plain she thought was somehow her “right” to do. If I ever deliberately insulted someone that way I would be on my KNEES to them if I cared about them.

People who are acquaintences and mutual-interest “friendly” people are important in our lives but also really honest to goodness deep FRIENDS are important too. It is normal when you have babies to have friends who live near you and also have babies and you share that intrests in your babies…but then drift apart as circumstances change and you may keep in touch and you may not but you aren’t every day friends any more. That is normal.

I don’t have a lot of “close friends” and that is okay with me, but I do have folks that I call my “running buddies” that I go places with and do things that are of “mutual interest” but I may not discuss my deepest fears or problems with them. That’s okay. I have those others though that know what is going on in my life and I can talk to them honestly and openly, and share the good as well as the really bad with. But I no longer tolerate people violating my boundaries and I’m pretty clear about what those boundaries are. If I would not treat them that way, then I do not tolerate them treating me that way. If I talk to them about it and they listen and quit it, fine, if not, then bye bye!

That’s about all the advice I have to you about who to put up with and who not to, if that makes any sense. People who are cranky and hateful I do not need.

OxD, you are SO spot-on!!

I believe that my entire view of my Self, my relationships, and my formerly inexplicable tolerance of others’ bad behaviors (along with my own) was forever altered once I learned about my “shame-core.”

Where once I would simply “accept” intrusive and inappropriate behaviors because I was so NEEDY, today, I shut down anybody that makes even minorattempts to minimize me or drain my energies.

And, I am getting to the point where I do not cause myself to feel GUILTY for shutting out those people. This is about me and my recovery and NOT about gaining approval or acceptance from others.

Thanks, OxD, for your words of strength!

G1S, Thanks for the post and hope you are doing ok.
Love the story about your fb aquaintance who actually acknowledges her self-involvement, and with humor to boot. I applaud her for that and agree with you that it’s a relief to understand the *why* behind folks’ behavior that make us feel uncomfortable, left out, invisible, et al. You may not want to be around her much but knowing that, as you say, it’s “her,” not you, certainly helps greatly. Some people just don’t care or even notice others’ offputting or cold vibes but I think most of us on this forum are sensitive to this, both prior to and certainly after our path experiences.

Your story about the blind men and the elephant…..I see what you’re saying about taking the analyzing behaviors a bit to see what’s really going on, basically inside you in response to someone’s behavior.

In addition, it reminds me that I always need to look at the big picture in any situation where I feel negatively about someone else. As the blind men illustrate, the elephant is not just his leg or his tail. He/she is the sum total of all parts. It has taken me years to move just an inch away from my mothers’ snap harsh judgements of people. In an instant, these one-time good friends were out of her life and she was done with them. I don’t wish to be like that but it’s so ingrained in me, I feel that way most of the time. It’s hard work to stop and look at all the parts of the elephant, but I think it’s essential in decided whether or not someone is out of your life.

This is why I get hung up on the Sher’s, Jane’s and, of course, Godzilla. I don’t mean to say anyone here or anywhere should waver in their decision to cut off a toxic friendship at any point. We all have to do what is personally best for our health. It’s just that some of us struggle with trying not to throw out the baby with the bath water.

For example, I know that Jane and rest of the group are pushy broads (sorry, but it fits). They act as they do in restaurants because it gives them a sense of power and control. Also, it’s a good way to blow off anger. Each one of them has serious issues in their lives that keep them with cats instead of men. Nothing wrong with that but they all *want* a partner. I know these things about them and I don’t want to be alone so I do go out with them on occasion. And I have felt lucky to have them in my life altho we are so different.

With Sher, she has already proven to be a manipulative, sweet when it suits her, sourpuss when she feels like it, money-grubbing bee-yatch. Jane is in awe of her, why, I do not know. She gave Sher the personal info about me while I sat on the phone because honestly, she couldn’t help it. She so wanted to be in Sher’s good graces, she dumped sh*t right on my head. When I called her on the carpet for it (in email) she let me know that she didn’t think I’d be angry and that she was trying to help a “friend!” We had discussed the price of retirement ins at dinner the last time we met and she felt it was OK to share that with Sher.

Jane is very innocent and tries to help everyone. She once bought me a beautiful umbrella just because I’d admired it somewhere. She is a bizarre person but I like weirdos.

I have prided myself on staying friends with these folks over time and not just saying, “What a bunch of outcasts.” Honestly they seem close to each other, but I am definitely the “fifth wheel” always. Do I now push another one of them away knowing what I know..Quite honestly, I think *she* is done with *me*. She is very very sensitive and even tho I did request that we chalk this up to misunderstanding and wipe the slate clean, and she agreed, I’m pretty sure she’s had it with me.

Sisterhood, you reflect exactly the way I feel about iffy friendships and I know you’re confused about your friend. I applaud your looking at the big picture and putting all the parts of the elephant together to decide if you want this relationship or not.

The input you receive here on the forum, from other friends, even therapists can be outstanding (I know it is here esp since we all share many common traits and experiences-we understand each other in many ways) but only *you* know the real deal, the big pic, the entire pachy. We can’t possibly, even if we wanted to, describe a relationship in its entirety. It’s too long, too much and some of it may look differently to you than to me or any of the bloggers here. I applaud you for your confusion! Better than making snap judgements.
I would only caution folks to take all the good advice here about drawing that line and establishing that boundary and being sure it fits for you.

New Beginning, thanks for the post! It is very warm fuzzy and I feel so much less alone when I read that others are in my boat. Esp when “big picture” tells me how kind and thoughtful you seem to be. Thx for the encouragement and good wishes…right back at ya.

Spoon, hey! Thanks for the movie sugg. I’ll put it on Netflix.
You said per Truth, “If they take and never give back positive stuff then their toxic.” True. But I think there is so much more to be considered regarding who makes a good friend and who doesn’t and it’s all subjective and all about the big picture, for me anyway. I work so hard on not making snap judgements like my mom did. Sometimes I do well and other times I don’t – anger gets me like it does her, so I am one who needs to consider all aspects.

Hey, I promised myself I would never give my daughter the silent treatment and I did it *anyway!* Even tho I know how it absolutely killed me inside when my mom, my idol, my lifeblood did it. I also did it regularly to my hub. He treated me so much more kindly and thoughtfully which was bad.
Now I no longer do that…yeah, I have been depressed so I’m not as talkative and involved as I once was. But I don’t cut my family off anymore. I also thoroughly explained the silent stuff to my daughter and hub and can only hope it didn’t affect my daughter. mmm mmm mmm.

I’ve gone on long enuf…….trying to work on that.

Enjoy the day.

Still reeling, do you really believe this? “She gave Sher the personal info about me while I sat on the phone because honestly, she couldn’t help it.”

People can help what they say. There is no demonic force in possession of them compeling to utter these words.

I agree with Oxy, about best friends don’t treat each other that way, although I’ll modify her statement into my own words:

“People who genuinely care about us do not hurt us.” They have it under control. They respect boundaries. They ask for permission. They think before they act.

Your answer included so much other stuff that is going on with these people. It’s important to recognize and pay attention to it all.

Getting back to the elephant, it seems to me that you’re pointing to the tail and insisting that’s all there is to this situation. If I had to point to one part of the elephant’s anatom,y based on what you said, I’d be very concerned about being crushed under one of the elephant’s feet.

G1S-Please don’t think I don’t hear you….
Let’s go straight to the “tail.”

That’s the way I used to look at things. I was always a victim. I blamed others for my plight almost all of the time.
Over the years, with the help of books, therapists and hard, hard introspection and work, I have seen the light. I am FAR from perfect but I don’t see myself as a victim nearly as often. (There ARE times such as being set up by the Hewlett Packard Co to be laid off when others who did zip still have jobs. See, not perfect yet.)

I also had tunnel vision and could NOT let go of anger or blame. Where others moved on, I stayed mired in mud.

So that is *my* big picture, so now if I err, I try to err on the opposite side of victimhood. Being an all or nothing type (something else I work on), makes balance difficult but hey, we all have our challenges getting along in life. And I make a lot of mistakes, and am confused a lot of the time. Confounded actually.

As a result of all this, yes, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. (Path was one). I do believe Jane is overwhelmed with some type of idol worship or under the spell of Sher and did *have* to help her even while f’ing me over. She saw it as “us” helping Sher. These ladies have been friends with each other for decades, while I only came into the picture say, 6-7 yrs ago and don’t see them on a regular basis or travel with them, etc., as they do with each other. I don’t care about any of that. I do enjoy the occasional play, movie, dinner. One of them is actually pretty pleasant and we’re kind of close but she is hardly ever available.

You are correct, Jane over-stepped and it was wrong. She also took me out for dinner when I lost my last job. I’m trying to factor all of Jane into the this rather than just the negative. Like I said, the friendship is prob over anyway.

Does this make sense? It’s more to my own big picture and does define how I look at things. Just as a diabetic has to avoid certain foods, I have to avoid victimhood at all costs. It feels way too comfortable. I try to play things down and not place blame or jump to conclusions, all things I lived by for years. My mom was a great, great teacher as I’ve said before.

You said, “Your answer included so much other stuff that is going on with these people. It’s important to recognize and pay attention to it all.” That is exactly what I’m trying to do.

Take care and thx so much for your perspective.

Great article Oxy…..it raised good questions. Keep up the good work.

I would like to say to Sisterhood, that I understand that you are struggling to find out if your friend is indeed your friend, or a closet narcissist. You are not alone here, and there are reasons for the confussion regarding women and narcissism.

Many articles about narcissism points at it being a “male” personality disorder, but actually that is not true. The most up-to-date research shows that there is a marked shift in the numbers of women presenting with narcissistic behaviors, however, there appears to be noted gender differences in the acting out of the behaviours due to the pressures of social constraints (namely, gender stereotyping). Gender stereotyping conforms to the picture that all women are sweet, caring, kind, nurturing good-mother’s etc, unfortunately they are not, at least not when they are displaying narcissistic personality traits. The truth is that both male and female are equally narcissistically aggressive, and neither have to suffer from a full blown narcissistic personality disorder in order to do huge damage to people they are in contact with.

Here is a link to an article on the subject, the title is:
“Can Narcissism Effect Women?”
http://narcissisticbehavior.net/category/can-narcissism-effect-women

Still Reeling,

You sound a bit upset. It saddens me that you feel that way. I wasn’t criticizing. I was just giving you my thoughts. I apologize if I came across as insensitive.

My guess is that many of us who have been victims of Ps are victims elsewhere in life. That was/is certainly true for me.

It took a lot of hard knocks in my life before I realized that most times when I was giving somebody the benefit of the doubt, they really didn’t deserve it. That being said, there is no easy way to tell who does or doesn’t deserve that benefit of the doubt.

I, too, used to wonder about, “Well, they did these good things as well so why am I being so hard on them?”

In the article about gaslighting, it describes how there are those who start right out with the gifts and kind behavior because they are parts of their ulterior plan; these are means to an end. Not everybody is like that. It certainly doesn’t sound to me that is where your friend, Jane, is coming from.

Not everybody who fails to recognize or honor boundaries is filled with gile and ulterior motives. However, they still do this and the damage still happens. If we do not want to get hurt, we need to protect ourselves. We can’t lock the proverbial barn doors after the horse (or elephant!) has been stolen.

It isn’t that we are meant to go through life mistrusting everybody. We need to be cautious and take care of ourselves.

Yesterday, when I tried to buy gas for my car, the pinpad wasn’t working correctly. I eventually went inside. The clerk said that I could leave my card with him and after I was finished filling the tank, I could go back in, he’d swipe it, and I could pay for the gas that way.

I reacted strongly. (This P stuff does change our perceptions of things!) I said, “No way am I leaving my card with anybody.”

Immediately, his face fell. He understood that I didn’t trust him. I felt badly that he felt badly, but he was a stranger.

I’m pretty certain that he understood my position because he next tried pre-paying on that pump with the card from his register, but it still wouldn’t process correctly. He turned the monitor around so I could see.

I understood that he was trying to be helpful, but that is not the motive of everybody telling you to leave your card with them. I bet he won’t make that offer again to anybody. I wasn’t nasty about anything. I was just taking care of myself in the circumstances.

I don’t think he had bad intentions. I honestly think he was simply trying to be helpful and he didn’t think before he spoke, but we don’t know nowadays.

Ultimately, I told him that I’d move the car to a different pump, which worked.

I understand that Jane might treat you to dinner and does so out of the goodness of her heart. I have encountered people like Jane in my life.

What I have learned is to ask myself how much am I willing to accept? I might remain friends with the Janes, but on my end, I would limit what I share with them. I am not willing to leave a card with a cashier for me to go outside and retrieve it after I have made a purchase – ever.

It behooves us to know what our priorities are. If, for example, my financial information is sacred, then I don’t share it with anybody or only enough with someone who truly needs to know the information.

We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater and none of us are perfect. People make mistakes, including us.

That comes from the “peeling the onion” process, e.g., learning what part is my responsibility vs. what part belongs to the other person. Or, learning what I need to guard vs. what I am willing to share with others.

I’m a very generous person. I used to be willing to give away the world just to prove (I thought) that I cared about others. That made me very vulnerable, which in turn meant that I was the one who got hurt. Nobody swooped in to fix it and make it right for me so I had to learn how to prevent the damage from happening in the first place.

Does any of this make sense?

Oxy, this is one of the best articles on personal recovery I have ever read, I think. If you can get through what you’ve been through, there is hope for the rest of us. I just had to cry the whole way through reading it! That’s what happens when you peel onions!!

Once people are dead and gone, like my mother, I think it’s easier to make peace with it. I know where she’s concerned, I sometimes miss her company, but on the whole, getting through the trauma of going no-contact with her got my grief over with. It’s frankly a relief not to have to deal with her dysfunction and drama anymore, and not to feel guilty for abandoning her. My sister and I can have honest conversations about exactly who she was, warts and all. She also had many good qualities along with her exasperating and abusive ones! We can acknowledge that. It helps.

It’s just now hitting me that I may never speak to my brother again, after I made a final attempt to get through to him, and was met with abuse and contempt! I didn’t think that was who he was for so long, most of my life! This took place a few months ago, but I find the loss of any future relationship with him, when I used to love him dearly, is just hitting me in the gut today. I am almost 56 years old, and he was born when i was 13, so I always felt motherly toward him. But there’s not a chink there I can possibly get into. I am just now feeling the emotional devastation of it. It is like a death, but on the other hand it’s so weird to think he is out there, living and breathing, and not caring about me whatsoever!

He’s stonewalled me, smear-campaigned me, and lied to other family members about me for the last four years. It’s just that the depth of it, the complete lack of empathy he has for me, his own flesh and blood, was pretty astounding to contemplate. You can make excuses for people for a long time, chalk things up to misunderstandings, or poor communication, or their own dysfunction, and you always want to give them that one last chance to make things right. I did that. I tried reaching out to him, and that’s when I was gifted with the full depth of his total lack of any human feelings for me. I have never ever done anything to hurt him. It just blindsides you, when you realize that none of that matters.

My mother was narcissistic and abusive, and all four children are messed up in one way or another. His father (he’s my half-brother) was a sociopath who abandoned him. He’s definitely narcissistic, and full of rage which he hides under a sweetly charming, outgoing and fun personality. So like my mother in that way!

I don’t know if he’s sociopathic, or just personality-disordered. Both my two younger siblings are borderline, I think – but extremely high-functioning. It has taken me a long time to figure that out, but their actions over time give them away.

My sister and I reminisce about how our mother was so loved by all of our friends when we were younger. She was always “the cool mom,” or their “second mom.” She was manipulative enough to never show her rage to those who could run away! That makes you wonder just how much consciousness and control a person like that has over their own behavior! It’s kind of fishy, isn’t it? She was the QUEEN of cold rage, the silent treatment, and stonewalling you if you made her angry. So I guess it’s not so surprising that’s what my siblings do. But she always knew when to stop at some point, she didn’t want the relationship to end. She wanted to make amends and get you back into her good graces at some point. She managed to have that one redeeming feature, although she was unable to apologize, or see how destructive her actions were. But apparently, my siblings are capable of banishing me without reconciliation. That I am their family means nothing to them.

When my sister contacted my brother a year ago, to let him know his mother was dying of lung cancer, and would not last long, he was en-route to a cruise vacation. He didn’t go see his mother one last time, he continued on with his vacation.

Who does that? I thought he adored his mother, at least some of the time! That definitely surprised me! Guess he wasn’t going to get anything out of it!

7 steps,

Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed the article and it helped you peel your onion.

Yes, finding out that people we love, ANY person we love, cares not a fig for us is devastating to say the least. It sounds like your brother has inherited the personality disorder of his father as well as your mother…and that is not uncommon, especially given that your mom raised him as well.

It HURTS to be “discarded” by people we want a relationship with, but that’s what this healing stuff is all about…we must heal from those wounds and go on and live good happy and peaceful and productive lives. We can’t live or die by who loves us or who doesn’t….we have to love ourselves.

I’m glad that you have been able to come to peace about your mother, I have with mine and it is so good to be NO contact with her I can’t believe how GOOD! Keep on working on your healing and growing…the best is yet to come!

I hear thunder for the first time in nearly 10 weeks! RAIN!!!! and we so need it. God is good!

“In most cases when we get into the healing process far enough we find out that though the spath was a problem they are not THE problem. This normally makes people mad when they first hear this. But after some time they start to see. It’s in the why one doesn’t run at the first few signs of problems. There is something that the person sees as value beyond the signs. Second if the spath was to disappear and never come back. No phone calls. No contact. Does the problems go away. Then it is in us.”

Dang, spoon,that just about says it all!!! I have done that so many times I couldn’t even count ’em! My biggest problem, was that i had no CLUE what the red flags were. I was so used to being treated that way, I didn’t know any better!

It’s taken 50 yeas for me to even start to recognize what’s abusive, and I am really working hard at it. But the constant anxiety and fear about people, the distrust, is not something I think I will ever get over. I just can’t trust anyone anymore.

7steps,

The thing we lose trust in MOST I think is in OURSELVES TO KEEP OURSELVES SAFE….but we must learn to trust US that we will be wise enough to keep our self safe. Just as learning to trust someone else takes time and experience, it does in learning to trust yuourself too. Give yourself some slack and give yourself some time. It will come. (((hugs)))

In reading the posts above it started making me do an evaluation of myself. Why was it so easy for my spath to get a strangle hold on me so quick.

Basically I am a hopeless romantic. At least I was years ago. I really think that mothers should never let their girls read Cinderella because it gives them the inpression of a Prince Charming that DOESN’T EXIST ANYWHERE. But I read it when I was a child and was always looking for my night in shining armor. The male infulances in my chilhood were all wonderful caring men. My grandfather especially. My father was a little standoffich by I always knew he loved me. What I hate about therapists is when they try and blame all your problems on your childhood. It makes but usually can figure out solutions. Except now.

I thought my move out of state and being close to my family and away from my spath would be the greatest thing I had done for myself in a longtime. I loved the song by America – A horse with no name. Especially the refrain:

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can remember your name,
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.

And that’s where I am, in the desert and loving it. I was never so happy as when I moved. Little did I know what I was in for.

Somewhere along the way something in me let this man steal my soul. Breaking up with him was so easy, just a phone call. Bright skies everywhere. Then when he stopped contact I felt like I was drowing, no longer in my lovely desert.

One of my problems was always believing that there was a pill to cure anything. Ain’t no pill for this hell.

Have a lot of soul searching to do, layers of that onion to peel away. I’m kind of afraid of what I will find.

As far as friends, he took them all away from me. I broke contact with them shortly after moving in with him. There is one friend I contacted shortely before I moved and started up our relationship again. She is a nurse and had told me he was a sociopath when I first met him but I didn’t belive her and stopped tallking to her. Unfortunately she is kind of dingy. I don’t know how else to describe it. she’s a nice person but when I talked to her she always stressed me out because she had so many problems and I was working on my own. When I got here I only called her a few times and then stopped. When this happened I called her and apologized for not contacting her and she scolded me. That kind of made me mad because she had my number and didn’t call me. Anyway we are talking again but don’t know how long that will last.

Since I am in a new state I have not had time to make any new friends that I could share with so I keep blogging here.

Thanks for listening.

In doing my research I did come across this article that explained the changes to the brain when someone is rejected. Don’t know if this applies to what was spoken about here but I have included the link:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100706150611.htm

Thank you for your responses, Oxy, G1S, and Reluctant Shaman. I love that I can come on here and always get the support I need at any given time. It is so much appreciated.

I think that vigilance regarding the people in our lives is not a bad thing. I’m at a new awareness now about my boundaries. I recognize abusiveness more clearly now. And even though it is difficult for me to get real close to or trust others, I’m glad that I am listening to my gut.

As far as my friend or any other friends in my life, I think it’s alright to take things slow and be continually cautious. When I was younger I was much too trusting in EVERYONE. That is how so many abusive people came into my life, especially my ex-spath.

The only time I find I run into trouble is when my yearning for closeness to others becomes a little consuming. I am at a place where I’m alright not having a “bestie”. I like the idea of “running buddies” Oxy. That is really how I view most of my friendships and I like it that way.

I guess when I’m feeling insecure or sorry for myself that I don’t have a true “Best Friend” I need to remind myself that it’s alright and that my life is still good without one.

G1S-one thing I just hate about speaking online – ya can’t see the other person and their expressions, body language, smiles, etc. No, in no way was I upset when I wrote my comments – absolutely not. I would NEVER be upset with anyone who cared enough to respond so thoughtfully to my drivel!! The apology is mine…I’m sorry if I came across that way. Did not intend to..I guess I’m kind of passionate and intense about my little grain of sand life just like all the rest of us. We just all want to do the best with what we have. On the contrary, completely appreciate your first post and this one as well.

In fact, your latest post is right on I can barely stand it. I so appreciate you sharing these thoughts. I want to respond back but can’t do it with hub around. My concentration is not what it used to be and I don’t feel right getting angry with him every time I have a thought and he says something or makes noise! I will post a response later when I can actually respond sensibly.

I just wanted to let you know that I did not take offense in any way to anything you said first time around…..no way. You are a good person and it shines through in all your posts.

Later.

still reeling

Yes a whole lot more to it. Though it all can be distilled down to simple rules. And that is what we should strive for. Simple and clear rules for our boundaries. One part of our boundaries is what qualifies someone as a friend. What is a toxic person. Most of the rules we already know it’s just coming from the world like yours and mine. We learned not to listen to our heart. Same thing for those caught by a spath. The spaths prey if there long enough is in survival mode and has taken on the thought process of catering to the spath. Which is not listening to their own heart.
G1S wrote”“People who genuinely care about us do not hurt us.” They have it under control. They respect boundaries. They ask for permission. They think before they act.” I’d add they have empathy, admit their mistakes, seek forgiveness and try to right it if possible. They keep their word. And it’s nice if they can make us laugh at times. And don’t take themselves too seriously.

7stepstoheaven

Thanks

The trust thing starts with ourselves. We must own ourselves first. Then we can interact with the world around us from strength and not weakness. From want and not need[compulsion.] Most of this stuff in my mind starts with ourselves. Because every where you go there you are. And only you know what is best for you. We are our best advocate.

stormy

Correct. Prince Charming doesn’t exist. Just like there is no Cinderella.

“I’m kind of afraid of what I will find.” Anything that you find that is bad, ugly, destructive etc. . Be glad. In this search what’s there is there. Meaning it is in you and now that you found it, it can be removed, altered, overcome etc. Then it can never give you problems again.

Interesting question, Still Reeling.

I used to be someone who would always see the half full glass in people, always trying to see innocence and assuming they did annoying stuff out of not knowing any better.

I don’t try to ‘diagnoze’ everyone in my life, and I do believe that some people just regularly fuck up out of the best intentions (the road to hell is paved with good intentions)… But when I see people cross boundaries or behave in another manner that shows they have issues with normal social interaction either to me or towards others, I limit at the very least my socialising to the impersonal. I do not associate with them anymore if I can help it.

Yes, people can make mistakes. For example, a friend of mine had an outburst towards me the past winter. She nearly bit my head off, and I said goodbye to her right there and then. I haven’t seen her since then and hardly have interacted with her but a ‘like’ here or there on fb. I don’t have ill feelings towards her though. I found out the same week that she had just broken up with her boyfriend she was living with and her mother had gotten diagnozed with terminal cancer AGAIN, after she had hardly been declared cured, and her mother kept dating sociopathic and abusive men. She had known I had been going through a really down period for months before that, and simply thought I sill was feeling down. In fact I had just made major breakthroughs and felt happy again for the first weeks since a long time. I’ve heard from my best friend, a mutual friend of ours, who saw her very recently, that she’s bothered by that incident and I’m sure she wishes to solve the distance between us.

Now, I could contact her myself, pre-emptively and make clear to her that I’m perfectly willing to leave the incident in the past and associate more again. But I won’t. The reason is that she was the one biting my head off at the time. And I’m not saying that for petty reasons, but as something factual. It makes no sense that I make up our friendship, when I wasn’t the one blowing it up at the time. Not to her, not to me. At some point she will realize I do not harbor any hard feelings towards her at all and she will have the courage to initiate contact. If I were to initiate the re-contacting it would defy the strengtening of her self confidence. So, I’m not initiating contact because it’s in her best interest long term and for our friendship that I don’t.

And I know it can work out well like that, because I abruptly stopped any contact with 4 female friends before this. They were all shocked and pleaded innocence, understanding and promised to never do it anymore (in the past it used to be 2nd or 3rd strike heavy boundary crossing), and I plainly ignored it. 2 of them returned back into my life afterwards. 1 of them is a friend again. We don’t see each other as much anymore, but several times a year we make time for each other. The other I see once every two years now, but when we do see each other it is with absolute mutual understanding and respect. Anyway, both told me afterwards that it helped them to grow in confidence and independence, and that at some point they realized without my help that I was but a phonecall away. They just needed to forgive themselves before taking up our friendship again.

So, to me, it’s not a question about who’s toxic, who’s a sociopath, etc in my life… but simply, who crosses boundaries that I will not tolerate I will not associate anymore with. I do know who may just have made a rare mistake, but I also know that I would be enabling them in their minor issue if I would pretend there was nothing the matter. So, I don’t. I will not apologize for that. I won’t feel guilty about it, and in the long run never regretted it.

As for ill treatment of people who serve for a livelihood: there is NO excuse in my eyes for ill treatment and disrespectful behaviour to anyone, certainly not someone who’s job is to serve others. Yes, they have to do their job well, but there’s no need to treat them as a superior, or as a scapegoat, and make their jobs heavier than it already is. Waitresses and waiters and bartenders and cleaning personnel are all just people being responsible of their own financial life. It says nothing of their degree, their intelligence. The only restaurant where I ever disliked a majority of the clients was the one across university (I loved my boss though and I didn’t mind the work itself at all). Some lectors treated me with obvious disdain, obviously thinking me a dumb nitwit who hadn’t finished her HS, while in fact I had a master. I did it as an extra job, aside from starting my teaching career. I’m not mean, so I never did anything into their dishes or drinks. Instead I made sure to do a job I and my boss would be proud of, profesionally, and I smiled knowingly when they left the restaurant again: they had shown their true colours more than they thought to have seen of me – they didn’t know a thing about life.

So, in the end it’s just all about boundaries and having them respected by anyone (a client, a boss, a colleague, an acquaintance, a friend, a partner, a child, a sister or brother or parent). Meanwhile, perhaps it would ease your worries if you just struck out into the social world and make some new friends, people who do respect your boundaries? And if you start finding truer friends and discover it’s not even that difficult to find good people out there in RL to befriend you will feel less need to hang on to not so true fruends. 🙂

Real friends in this life are a precious commodity and as we journey along, in this life…there are not many REAL friends or people we can call a REAL FRIEND. That is a harsh reality of life – however, that is what makes the REAL ones so special.

It’s ALL about boundaries.
OUR boundaries and nobody can set those down but ourselves….we need to please ourselves in order to be happy at all.

Anything short of that is a facade.

Dupey

One benefit from this conversation is that we all see that real friends are not common.

I just assumed that everybody else, except for me, had a lot of real friends, but now I know that isn’t true.

I thought there was something wrong with me. I used to feel very lonely because I assumed it was due to me being unacceptable.

Well, it was due to me, but not because I was unacceptable! It caution on my part. I was waiting for people to value me as I valued them. That wasn’t happening. I didn’t realize that I was setting boundaries.

I know now who my real friends are and I treasure them a lot. I’m glad now that I didn’t connect on a “real friend level” with a lot of these people because I discovered there were aspects of them that I wanted no part of. I was taking care of me without even realizing it. 🙂

G1S: yes, you were taking care of yourself without even realizing it. Just like I did, when the lovebombing started; I knew something just wasn’t right. So, I never dove into the relationship even though there had been YEARS of lovebombing and stalking by a full fledge psychopath.

We need to give ourselves more credit for all the things WE DID DO RIGHT and realize that we are just as entitled to set those boundaries as anyone else. This is OUR LIFE. It is not to be dictated by a psychopath or sociopath.

Right: no, there is nothing wrong with us. We are entitled to be the person we are.

No, REAL friends are very hard to come by in this lifetime. If you find one, that is everything a friend should be, you are in a very small percentage. I know. Yes, caution and that is what we should be using with our lives.

Thanks for the coversation G1S –
Have a good night.

Dupey

This is a very important discussion, I believe.

A good friend of mine and I have been talking about thi for a few weeks – what defines a “good friend.” Sure, there will be disagreements and even arguments between “good” friends. But, those issues are resolved and the frienship strengthens, sometimes, through disagreements.

But, people can trample someone’s boundaries in platonic relationships and there is NO dialogue or resolutions – these people are either disinterested in a true relationship and are simply acquaintances, or they fulfill a personal agenda through their association with us.

For me, drama/trauma addiction is a deal-breaker. Constant one-upmanship is intolerable. Passive-aggressive behavior is also intolerable. So is being dismissed, stonewalled, betrayed, or manipulated. These are things that I no longer excuse.

Once upon a time, I WOULD tolerate all of that negativity and spend great energies on finding “excuses” for why people might violate boundaries. They were from dysfunctional homes. They just broke up with boyfiends/girlfiends. They were “misunderstood.” They were _______, today, I do not have the time, energy, or inclination to sort things out for other people. I need to spend my energies sorting out myself!

And, when I shut seriously negative energies out of my life, I may feel sad about it, but there’s also this sense of relief – I don’t HAVE to feel draines, dismissed, devalued, or compelled to tolerate bad behaviors, anymore.

A good while back, I posted about how uncomfortable I felt about these changes in my perceptions and approaches to other people. Today, this is how I choose to construct my boundaries – impenetrable. And, as weird as it may sound, I am beginning tosettle into a comfortable space with setting strict boundaries.

Pardon the typos as it’s a night of apparent insomnia and I’m using a hand-held device. LOL!

Thanks, Dupey!

Spoon,

I think what you added to my comments rounds everything out perfectly. I really liked it.

G1S wrote”“People who genuinely care about us do not hurt us.” They have it under control. They respect boundaries. They ask for permission. They think before they act.” I’d add they have empathy, admit their mistakes, seek forgiveness and try to right it if possible. They keep their word. And it’s nice if they can make us laugh at times. And don’t take themselves too seriously.

Thanks for adding that!

http://abcnews.go.com/International/highway-tears-unsolved-murders-indigenous-women-canada/story?id=16726944

The worst, she says, is the feeling of being alone in your pain.

This is what I can relate to. Nobody listens, the cops don’t care.

What is described in this article is exactly what happened to us: they met a spath. The circumstances were slightly different because of who the victims were. But it’s just the luck of the draw. We should never say that it couldn’t happen to us. Remember “The Hangman”.

I had the “luck” of hitchhiking when I was 15 and being picked up by the green river murderer, Gary Ridgeway. Although he is considered to be one of the most prolific serial murderers in history, he was nice to me. Why? because he ONLY killed prostitutes. He propositioned me, “How much?”

I bitched him out. “See this thumb? It means I need a ride, that’s ALL it means.”

He apologized, “I’m sorry, I’m just a horny toad.”

I never forgot his face because he was the ONLY person who ever offered me money for sex in the two years that I hitchhiked almost daily. Then one day, almost a decade later, I’m sitting with my spath and we see a documentary on GR, after he had been imprisoned. They showed a picture of him as a young man and I recognized him. “oh, he gave me a ride once!” I said to spath.

Little did I know that I was sitting with a more horrific murderer, who is still out there and won’t ever be caught.

I just want people who read on LF to remember that the women on the peripherals of society are people too. They didn’t deserve what happened to them. It could happen to anybody. People need to know that spaths are among us, everywhere. Ridgeway had a wife and a job. My spath had me, friends, a life and now a helicopter. The serial killers blend. They aren’t living in a hole in the ground like Ted Kazinski. You can’t tell what/who they are.

These women weren’t killed because they were prostitutes or because they were indiginous. If neither of those classes existed, the spaths would choose another class to focus on. These women were sacrificial victims, scapegoats. Just as we were.

These women were professional victims. All societies have them. We just can’t always tell because it’s hidden.

The aztecs actually had a class of professional victims who were raised by 4 “protectors” to eventually be sacrificed on the pyramids. Each society needs it’s professional victims. We need to stop allowing it.

Skylar, When you wrote above, “it’s just the luck of the draw”, I was reminded of the short story, by Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery.” As always, I concur with your ideas about culteral scapegoating. In ancient Greece they used orphan children and called them the pharmacon. The root word of pharmacon is the same root in our pharmacy…meaning cure. These children were sacrificed as the symbolic cause of the evil in the culture, but ironically, they were also the cure.
“The Lottery is set in modern american culture, but it’s theme is the same.
Hope you enjoy reading it. It is only about 9 pages, and it created quite the stir. It is now a classic.

Skylar…..I have “said” this before with regard to your brush with Ridgeway, and I cannot imagine how that must have felt to see the news. Then, the later horrors of knowing about the spath and HIS “alleged” murders!!! OMIGAWD, you are one lucky, lucky gal, Skylar. And, I’m grateful that luck has smiled on you so that I can learn from your experiences.

Brightest blessings

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