Mary Ann Glynn, LCSW: Blame your brain – brain science about optimism

By Mary Ann Glynn, LCSW, located in Bernardsville, New Jersey

I recently wrote about how partners of sociopaths tend to take responsibility when things go wrong in the relationship, figuring ways to make it better. We then blame ourselves for overlooking warning signs early on, and for not leaving immediately when we did see them. Sometimes we blame our childhoods for the vulnerabilities that made us caretakers who overlook and tolerate abusive or rejecting partners.

Neuroscientists tell us that our behaviors are about 90% driven by our subconscious minds. That means 90% of what we are taking in from a person on a conscious level is being received by our subconscious minds, not our conscious thoughts and experience. It takes a lot longer for our conscious minds to catch up and integrate what we are experiencing on an unconscious, visceral, or “gut” level. Hopefully, this information will help you to give yourself a break!

Optimism in the face of reality

But, there is even more compelling evidence that goes beyond naivete, beyond whatever childhood we may have had or type of personality we might have, that explains why we didn’t see the signs, overlooked them, and stayed. I watched a documentary on brain science, which described a recent study done at the University College, London. Dr. Tali Sharot wanted to find out, “Why do we remain optimistic in the face of reality?”

Subjects were put in a brain scanner and asked what they thought the probability of them encountering 80 different negative events in their lives, such as cancer, Alzheimers, car accident, burglary, bone fracture, sport related accident, heart failure, drug abuse, household accident, diabetes, alcoholism, and death before 60. Initially, the subjects responded well below the actual probabilities, for example guessing 18% chance of getting cancer vs. the actual probability, which is 30%.

After these questions, the subjects were shown the actual percentages of the negative events happening and the great gap of their beliefs and reality. Normally, when people are given new information on a subject, it will alter their view or beliefs. After being given the new correct information, the subjects were asked the same questions all over again while in a brain scanner. Instead of the new information altering their beliefs about them encountering the negative events in their lives like should happen, it had little effect!

Negative, positive and the brain

Here is what they found in the brain scans that explains this: The part of the brain that contains negative information malfunctions, while the part that contains positive information is much more active. The brain willfully ignores negative things, and sees the world through rose-colored glasses.

The reason our brains are formed this way and trick us is for survival reasons. 1) It reduces stress and anxiety, and 2) We are goal driven from an evolutionary standpoint, to ignore risks involved in exploring the world and universe and discovering something novel to better our world. It keeps us striving for a better future. Risk takers who less concerned with playing it safe are the ones who are not afraid to venture out, and who keep our species going.

When thought about from the brain science perspective, there is good reason that we ignored the negative, which does not in any way point to a personality or moral flaw. It’s just the way we are.

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Thank you Mary Ann for such an enlightening article!The brain is so fascinating!Truly it shows why we are for the most part survivors!It may require alot of struggling,but we do “what we feel we gotta do.”

It explains why I fought so hard against my dad’s negative thinking(now changed;it was his upbringing)….I struggled HARD to see the glass HALF FULL rather than HALF EMPTY.
From that,I endeavored always to look at things in a positive light.Sure,it meant that I wasn’t always correct about some things,and I got hurt.But,hey,who escapes some hurt in life?!

Although I fought against my dad’s negative thinking,subconciously,I absorbed good traits from both parents such as responsibility,good work ethics,compassion for people and a readiness to help.I was brought up that way.

Ox Drover

Very interesting article, Mary Ann. The neuroscience that is being studied now is amazing to me and I wish I could be around in 100 years to know what they have found out by then.

The brain tricks us in many ways that’s for sure. Also the brain is very “plastic” they are finding and makes both anatomical and chemical changes in response to environmental circumstances.

Thanks for posting this very VERY interesting article.

Mincheff Joyce

Just leaving the safety of the cave to forage for food, put our primitive ancestors at risk. It was essential to ignore the dangers that lurked beyond for their basic survival. It’s amazing to see how much of our personality is nature vs. nurture.

I believe that the key to finding peace in the aftermath of falling prey to a predator is the awareness that everyone is wired differently and the person who harmed you had brain chemistry that retarded or “disordered” the development of their moral reasoning.

People who have empathy don’t expect others to be without it. When they first see the effect exhibited by the person who they are drawn to, they don’t comprehend that they are witnessing the result of a disordered mind. They continue the relationship thinking that the bad acts are “errors” and that communication and caring can make them stop because, as you admirably point out, we are optimists.

In addition to our optimistic nature, our body chemistry kicks in, particularly if we’re engaged in a sexual relationship with the person. Our bodies manufacture oxytocin and endorphins that connect us to a mate and make us receptive to their advances. These chemicals were designed to help perpetuate our species, but can glue us into harmful relationships with CADS.

Undoing the chemical and psychological hold that predators have is not easy. Our physical connection to the person will wane through total separation and that is why it is recommended to have “no contact” with someone you recognize to be a predator.

Replacing the pleasurable endorphins that are no longer triggered by contact with endorphins from exercise or other enjoyable endeavors can bolster a person’s resolve.

Unfortunately, when the bonds of marriage and parenthood exist, extrication becomes a minefield. Understanding that the toxic energy being hurled your way results from disturbed moral reasoning can help you take a mental step back and stop listening to the blame and shame they foist at you.


Mincheff Joyce, SPOT-ON!!

Well said, Mincheff Joyce. My opinion on why victims tend to stay in a relationship with a sociopath even after they realize the relationship is a loss is because it’s in the victim’s nature to work out problems rather than run from them. However, this takes the efforts of all parties involved. It’s that reality of the fact that the other party is not on the same page as the victim is as far as problem solving is concerned, although the sociopath may have clearly stated they were in the beginning, is what’s so hard to let go. That idealism of the perfect mate was the sociopath’s hook on the victim, just like a fisherman hooks his prey with the perfect bait. The only difference is the fisherman takes the hook out of its prey before he/she throws it back into the water; the sociopath doesn’t. Its up to the victim as to how badly they want to pull that hook out themselves before they can lead a normal life again. (my writings on this subject)


Mincheff, that comment just turbo charged the article!!


I had heard that Spaths react differently to oxytocin, it makes some aggressive. 180 rule


Hello to All,
Quote to share,
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; and the realist adjusts the sails.”
William Arthur Ward
I am no longer an optimist, I was never a pessimist. I will make an attempt at becoming a realist.
My experience with a pyschopathic /sociopathic /predatorial /womanizing male has changed my veiw of life. I no longer beleive in love, for me. Thx to all of you for your help, insight and compassion. I wish you all happiness and healing. I am going to a cave to heal.Thx to LF for “teaching.” Peace and light to all, Bluemosaic


Ahoy Blue! Don’t go to the cave! But if you need to, ok, just come back soon, ok?



It all changed my view of life, too…completely…and I also do not believe in love anymore. I know it sounds negative, but it’s how I feel. I am starting counseling tomorrow and pray this can help bring back my joy destroyed by two very disordered people. No, I did not lose my home, I did not lose my life. I did lose money in an indirect way because I gave up my career. I did have another source of income, but so what? I still gave up a good paying job to get away from their antics and then to find out they are still in contact despite them BOTH saying they would never speak to each other again is a lot to take. It should be none of my business, but how does one get past that…the lies? The deceit? It’s hard. I don’t want to sound negative or ungrateful. And I am really just rambling. Sometimes I ramble and I think people take it the wrong way…just getting “thoughts” out of my mind. Better out of my mind than in my mind swirling around…thanks all.

Tea Light

Blue, Look after yourself and happy healing, hope to see you again soon

Mincheff Joyce


Loved your analogy about the hook!

I think many of us who’ve gravitated to this blog fully understand that a predator is not likely to change. It took us a great deal of heartache and soul searching to get there, and on the way, we went through the process of shaming and blaming ourselves. Our fatal optimism kept us hoping the predator would wake up and see the error of their ways.

But for some of us, an even more insidious glue kept us cemented into the relationship, a traumatic bond. For those of us who had our entire value systems knocked out from under us, we may have responded with an unhealthy, addicted-like attachment to the person who had dealt us harm. For people who’ve experienced this type of attraction, it’s truly important to seek help in order to free oneself, and not be ashamed of the need to do so.


Mincheff Joyce, I am starting to have bad dreams about him and can’t stop images of us together sexually from entering my head……wondering what he was thinking. I’m sure it wasn’t what I thought he was thinking or what I was thinking. It’s stuck in my mind. I can’t wash the slimy images away! It’s very unsettling. I know he was just being a’s what they do. In his twisted infantile mind, it all made sense to him.

Mincheff Joyce


Memories and images are bound to happen. Particularly if you’ve only recently come away from the relationship. It takes time for all the internal chemistry that attached you to him sexually to subside.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to get physical exercise that pumps your endorphins and makes you feel good about yourself. Taking on projects that force your thoughts on something new, and bolsters your self esteem is helpful. The worst thing you can do is nothing.

Another idea is to limit the amount of time you allow yourself to think about him…. adhering to a strict limitation, and shrinking it over the next couple of weeks. You’ll be surprised how just feeling you can control your thoughts about him will restore your sense of power.



We haven’t met before – I am old to the blog, and haven’t been around for a while.
It’s quite usual to have obsessive thoughts about the spath during certain phases of our healing. I have come to think of it as both a manifestation of OCD and the twisting road to acceptance.

It is very hard for us to make sense of spaths – what they did and how terribly different they are from people who have empathy and moral conscience, so we replay and replay the key experiences that most deeply hurt us (or unlock other aspects of pain and healing) trying not only to understand and accept them, but feebly trying to reinvent the past (or our present).

The advice Minnchef Joyce you were all things that worked for me in reducing the habitual obsessive replaying of certain scenes. Another thing I had to do at some point (and I am not suggesting this as anything but a last resort, as it has its own consequences), I put a LARGE rock on top of my experience with the spath. It was ruling my life, and I had little support – and I couldn’t function well – so I shut it down hard. Now, it’s going to take a team to life the damn rock, but it got me through a very difficult time.

More than anything, obsessing is part of our healing. You can let it show you a bit about how our minds work in general to protect us, how hard it is for us to accept and integrate what has happened to us, and very importantly, where you feel most injured by the experience with the spath. This can help you to identify where you may feel/ be most vulnerable to attack, and give you the opportunity to explore and change this vulnerability.

one joy step


Trying out the new format for a test run…….looks nice, Donna.

Wow, do I ever resonate with this article, as my nickname is Pollyanna. My eternal optimism helps me so much in life to remain positive and open to possibilities. But it has also kept me in situations/relationships that I should have left long ago. I do feel the “rose-colored glasses” thing is a coping mechanism. If we confronted all the suffering and dysfunction in society all around us all the time, we would probably curl up and die. I have chosen to interpret events more positively. Fortunately, this didn’t keep me from walking away from a sociopath once I figured out what he was. But I have put it past me and don’t go around looking for them under every rock. It took about a year for that to stop happening. And yet I’m aware that possibly 1 out of every 25 people is a sociopath. It’s in the back of my mind, but I don’t think about it too much.

Recently in my life, I’ve had two situations where I’ve utilized the positive thinking. In one situation, it worked. In the other situation, it hurt me. In the first situation, I chose not to see my sister – with whom I’m recently united over our mother’s death – as disordered. Instead, I choose to see her as suffering and needing love. And instead of reacting to her acting out (which she’s only doing a tiny little bit this time around), I am responding to her with kindness and patience, and with love. It has really lifted a huge weight, to begin to love and trust my sister again. I could have easily gone the other direction and shut her out, as I have for many years. It has been so wonderful to have a relationship with her after so many years.

In the other situation, however, I’m not so lucky. I kept a door in my heart open for a man in my life who has been giving me a lot of mixed messages. I’ve been making excuses for him and reaching out more than I normally would, hoping for the positive. I know better. I know that if a man is really interested, there will be no doubt. But Pollyanna over here thought this guy was different…. It ended up hurting me in the end. I am a true Libra – a daydreamer and idealist, and a hopeless romantic. I depend on my friends to bring me down to reality, but it only helps if I listen to them. And also, a lot of time, my daydreaming does pay off. The visionaries of the world are all basically daydreamers. They sit around and think…”what if?”. It’s hard for me to give that up. My optimistic nature has had such a huge impact at work and in my Zumba community. I have received much recognition and even awards for some of my initiatives based on my optimistic thinking. In the salsa community, however, not so much. 🙁 This is a place where a woman must protect her heart. I learned the hard way. And yet, there are many people who do find love in this community.

Have any of you seen Life of Pi? One of the interpretations of the film (you must watch all the way to the end, BTW) is that we can choose to believe whatever story we want to believe. Very profound message and beautiful film.


Great article, Mary Ann….something to chomp on especially to those of us who pride ourselves in a round of “Put On a Happy Face”, referring to a song from the 1960’s I believe….It is good to look on the bright side, however, being shaded to reality when it is plain old bad would sure enough explain our overlooking, ignoring and hiding the very negativity that should make us shiver, quiver and with eyes wide open, ditch and run…..


@Stargazer- kudos to optimism. this is how we keep the kernel of our best selves alive after the damage of a sociopath. never let them kill the love in your heart. we will all shine on!


Thank you Joyce and One step, I appreciate your comments.
One step, this is interesting what you say about using it to see where you are most vulnerable because I immediately connect with the sexual aspect. Maybe that is why I’m left with feelings of being raped. This seems to be the thing that bothers me most. That I gave myself to him under false pretenses. It turns my stomach and the images just come into my mind so much.


Thanks, Carriesguns. I won’t allow anyone to kill my spirit, for sure. Everything to me is a re-affirmation that life is worth living and love is worth risking, even when I get hurt.

Since the relationship I spoke of is a salsa relationship, I have decided to write the guy a “Dear John” letter in Spanish. His name is John so it’s fitting. He can either translate it himself, or I will translate it for him in the letter – haven’t decided about that yet. I think writing it in Spanish will help me choose my words carefully and sparingly and keep it succinct. It’s also romantic, as our entire relationship has been, as *I* am. Also, once I put something in writing, I will never go back on my word.

And another one bites the dust….

still reeling

This is a difficult post to write. First, let send kudos to Donna for her efforts and unrelenting hard work in all aspects of LF, not the least of which is this great new site. Thanks for everything Donna.

I’ve searched for an appropriate blog topic to share these difficult thoughts and this one comes closest as it truly puts the onus for our issues w/paths on something other than us, this time brain chemistry.

It isn’t that I disagree that some folks are just more vulnerable to the wiles and charms of a path than others. I don’t disagree that some of us are victims of the frightening and confounding behaviors of a path while others would throw that crap under the bus immediately without wondering or caring what happened. I, too, Star, have always been a hopeless romantic since childhood and I don’t know why. As the author of the article stated, we are who we are for many different reasons or combos thereof.

My favorite image since adolescence was that of myself and some guy sitting in front of a fireplace and a lot of laughter. A warm, inviting atmosphere and getting along effortlessly, a kinship, a connection. These 2 factors have been ultra important to me in my life w/friends, jobs, family, even day-to-day encounters. Not sure why.

I’m also a daydreamer, Star, always have been and this is the biggest reason why path was so important to me. He was my mental “go-to” for almost 2 years, when I didn’t feel like living in reality. The minute I hit the car, (no more playing music), the shower, housecleaning, feeling guilty or upset about almost anything, I’d start the internal dialogue w/him, and if I could get away without being heard, I’d speak out loud. It was a lovely, lovely life w/him in my head. I knew I would never really get together with him. I have never cheated even on a boyfriend so was not going to cheat on my husband. In fact, when he “faked” asking me out, I got sick in the bathroom. I knew in my gut there was no way. I didn’t trust him and I surely wasn’t putting my family on the line for his sick a**. I knew the first time I met him (interview) that he was nuts and a cheat because he said something inappropriate to me that very day. I just thought he was smarmy and wrote it off.

So I’m a dreamer and exactly as you say, Vision, I allowed my life-cheating la-la existence to substitute for living and also to hide all the horror, slime and ugliness that truly was this sinister monster at work. For this, I am extremely infuriated with myself.

What is so difficult to say is that I think some folks (I used to do this years ago but thankfully maturity and therapy helped me turn it around completely) stay stuck in this sick relationship, whether it’s over or not because it’s easier for them than taking ahold of life and living it. We all need time to grieve and vent and being able to share on this blog and in other ways is invaluable. But getting stuck for life on anything or anyone when you *do* have a choice, is sad. I am afraid I’m getting stuck there myself for the first time in decades. I do have a habit of getting obsessed with some situations until I get to the bottom of them to my satisfaction. I haven’t been able to get there w/him. And I don’t understand why it matters so much. Perhaps in hanging on, I’m doing what I so fear and detest, attaching myself to the impossible so I don’t have to face the realities of my life.

Honestly, I don’t know if this monster at work was a path or not. He did hit on me, but no love-bombing or anything like that. And he did bait me, then run the other way. Lots of contradictory behavior. And he was fired, but I was unsuccessful in finding out why and I let him use and abuse me to protect himself. When I look back, there were so many things I could have said and wish I had. I was completely into doing and being whatever I thought he liked, wanted, needed. It DISGUSTS ME!! It was a short term job, (a little over a year; I worked with *it* for about 8 mos) and I didn’t really get to know people very well so no info.

I want to get to where it doesn’t matter *who* or *what* he is or *why* he acted out w/me as he did. Somehow it still matters and that is just a huge disappointment and problem for me. I suppose I am afraid on the other side of it is nothingness.
I write all this not just to air my inner fury over this, but to let others know that it is OK to just let it go! I have friends who wouldn’t angst over these pathetic creeps for one minute.

I recall another time I was definitely w/a path (I was about 30 and single and no internet)and he wreaked havoc on my life…I did not have a *clue* what was going on. On a very pivotal day, he did something so cruel and heinous, I called my sister-in-law right where I was (concert venue, at a charity event no less) and she said to me, “Still, I don’t understand why you keep choosing abusive men. I respect myself way too much to ever have done that. I just don’t understand it. Come on over for dinner.”
Her words were very meaningful to me and I’ve clung to them.
Every time we think of these insidious sick f’s, we are disrespecting ourselves and falling further into a hole. It is not good fodder for daydreaming.

What’s really bizarre and sickening is that both of these horrendous creatures have the same first name, one they don’t deserve.

I’ll shut up now.


I’ve never been an optimist…always see the glass half empty. If I had taken that test, I would have guessed super high on all the bad things! Maybe just getting knocked down too many times in life.

As I read through the comments, it does help me not to feel so alone. I could really relate to dorothy’s comment about feeling bad about having sex with someone who is saying they love you and you feel you love the person they are showing to you, and then feeling so bad as they become so rotten pretty quickly afterwards….once they have you.

When more optimistic people were writing about their hopes and dreams and optimistic thoughts concerning a significant other, all that came to my mind is my mother constantly telling my sisters and I that we would be so lucky to find someone like “daddy” and that he was the most wonderful man in the world and we probably would never even BE ABLE to find a man like him. It was drilled into us repeatedly over many years. We have to adore him. We can’t let him get upset because he is so much more important than the rest of the family.

It has taken me decades to see the truth. He is not a wonderful person. He suffers from horrible narcissism. He is a terrible gambling and food addict. He made fun of us all of the time. Put down little girls to make himself feel good! He expected perfection. He hit us. He verbally and emotionally abused us all of the time. But ALL of us were so brainwashed into what our mother said, we did, do, and continue to find men just like HIM or worse. A lot of my attraction to this type of man is definitely the “nurture” aspect.


Still reeling, I’ve been blogging on a salsa website too, asking for advice on how to deal with a salsa crush that won’t fade. You will never guess what the advice is! NO CONTACT. In order to do this, I would have to completely drop out of the salsa scene, which would be incredibly sad for me after 9 or 10 months of immersion. I know they are right. I’m hoping if I get a small inheritance (big IF) that I can pursue a former dream of moving to a smaller town farther south and take up salsa dancing there. Hopefully, I won’t get into this mess again. But I did notice that last week I went to California to visit a friend and missed a few salsa club nights. I also went to AZ a few weeks before. Both times, it really helped me detach.

I think it’s really really important that in the time you are NO CONTACT you are not just using your time to sit around obsessing. Do something you enjoy – take classes, volunteer, get out and meet people. This will give you breaks from the obsession. When you have enough breaks, the energy you spent on the obsession will eventually dissipate. I know this will be true for me if I just stop going to clubs and salsa classes. But I’m not ready to give that up yet. I’m gonna see if just limiting the contact and number of dances will help. I’ve detached before in that way. Problem is, when I pull away, he starts coming closer, and I get sucked back in. It’s been going on for a long time. I need to just stay strong. But I have to say, I was obsessed with my neighbor, this rock star dude, for 2 years. I blogged about him on here a lot. A month after I took up salsa dancing, I totally forgot about him. So do something that gives you joy and confidence. For me, it has been dancing. Something where you will build your self-esteem and get to express yourself.


Star…….I will tell you that for the last three months, I was so knocked on my ass by this Spath break up, I barely had enough energy to go to the bathroom! Yeah……dancing……..that was NOT even an option. I was GONE!
Awesome that it helps you though. I’m hoping now that Spring is here,,,,,I’m going to start feeling a lot better. I’m sure of it.


dorothy2 – my hand went to my heart when I read your comment about rape. Yes. I also feel raped – not physically, but in the part of me most precious to me, that was abused by the spath. I feel like that part of me is also buried under a pile of rocks (hmm, rather cairn-like). So, I slammed a large boulder over the whole experience, my most precious part is under a pile of rocks – and I feel like I am trapped. That all makes sense. As does your obsession with the repetition of certain scenes from your experience. They are all landmarks on our respective paths. Take heart and be brave when investigating these scenes you play over and over – discover what wisdom there is in them.


stillreeling – is there not a similarity in ‘getting stuck’ and the fantasy of never real/ loveing relationships? both are a repetition of something that takes us away from ourselves.

guilty of it here, also. spath wouldn’t have hooked me if I wasn’t. i am also a compulsive overeater and a workaholic. i am chock full of transferable addictive behaviour.

loved your post, by the way.


That should have been ‘loving’ not ‘loveing.’ I need the edit feature more than most. 🙂


I’ve been reading every pearl of wisdom on this site for many months now – you have all been such a blessing to me & I thank God I found you & this site.
Dorothy2’s description of ‘being so down she could barely make herself get up
to go to the bathroom” is exactly where I too was when I saw Donna’s story on
Lifetime & learned abt this website. For the 1st time in my life I dreaded waking up; because… when I woke up, I had to face the reality that my life, my future & all hope had been destroyed by my s’path spouse of 6 months who skipped town leaving me penniless to face a mountain of debt; As soon as I opened my eyes, this thought came crashing into my head & heart & refused to leave;. “I truly Do NOT Want to be Alive ” . I NEVER considered killing myself, I just wanted to be dead, gone.. And Knowing that I really really meant it, took me to a level of despair I couldn’t have ever imagined was possible.
That’s why Dorothy 2’s comment seemed like a good place to write this 1st comment… I can SOOO understand where U were.
I have to spend the rest of tonight sorting out the tax mess s’path left me with so I won’t be able to share anything from my nightmare that might be helpful to all of U who have helped me muster up the guts & will to start dragging my sorry self out of this pit of hopelessness. When I Can , I will share a thumbnail version of the damage this s’path ghoul did to my life that in reality, I may be too old and crushed to ever recover from.
You have all helped me to stop beating myself up so badly & to least keep putting one foot in front of the other to face each day as best I can… Even when the prospect of working til I’m 75 makes me want to give up. I thank you all from the bottom of (what’s left of) my heart⤠for sharing your stories, your wisdom and experience. Be back after I duke it out w/ the IRS.
Blessings on your day, Stunned

still reeling,
I am also a romantic and an optimist.I think those qualities have alot to do with being willing to “stick it out”. And give spath more chances than he deserves,to make all those changes he keeps promising to make!

But,after some time I realized that ‘standing by’ an abusive husband that I couldn’t make myself love or respect,wouldn’t ever make me happy.There was no romance;and I sure didn’t feel optimistic!

Even in homes where mothers haven’t told their daughters they should marry replicas of daddy,studies have shown that girls usually grow up to follow in their mother’s footsteps.They are affected by what they SEE and EXPERIENCE in the home,although it’s true that they’ll pick up ideas from things HEARD also.It’s sad,but many of us have grown up in dysfunctional homes.It’s the ‘domino effect.’

Tea Light

Stunned, so sorry to read of your experience. Horrible. Please keep us updated, wishing you peace and sending you best wishes

Still, loved your post. “He was my mental “go-to” for almost 2 years, when I didn’t feel like living in reality. The minute I hit the car, (no more playing music)” me too.. The music stopped when he entered / broke into my life. How strange. I love music. I just stopped listening. And reading. I took cd’s on holiday to play in his car. I put in “desire” by Bob Dylan and started singing. He doesn’t speak English so he didn’t understand the lyrics I thought when he went silent and turned the volume so low I couldn’t hear the music any more that that was why. But it was also because something was giving me simple pleasure. He hated me singing and English language music that he couldnt follow (he’s French) made him jealous and threatened. Don’t ‘shut up’ Still! Love to you x


Dorothy2, I understand what it’s like to be knocked down so low that you can’t even get out of bed. I have been there over several guys, not just the spath. With trauma, sometimes you just need to be very gentle with yourself – if you can’t do anything else, take a warm bath or call a friend.

But I have been surprised how many times I felt really down and didn’t have the energy to do anything. I forced myself to go to Zumba class or salsa class, and the exercise seemed to lift my mood. It’s the endorphins that get released when you exercise. Plus I’ve made some friends in these places whom I now consider very much like a family. Being around people who care seems to lift my spirits too.

I’ve also gotten aura cleansings when I feel like I’ve been “slimed” by toxic people. They actually do work. The key is to move energy. If you are obsessing and obsessing, you are energetically stuck. You need to get unstuck. There are many ways to move energy. Sometimes you can have an imaginary conversation. Or you can breathe in such a way to stop holding tension in your gut. Or you can exercise. Focusing on something outside of yourself sometimes helps. Prayer can help – ask God to help and then give your troubles over to him/her. Massage or Reiki can help. There are a number of forms of energy work that are very effective. Pick one and try it. Even if you do nothing, it is likely that with time alone, you will eventually heal, as long as you don’t get stuck in the victim phase. But you can speed it up by doing some of the things I mentioned.


You look for small changes when you are healing – momentary shifts in your awareness, stopping to enjoy a sight or sound. In this moment, when you are completely present, you are moving energy. Just forcing yourself to be in the present moment, focusing on things around you and what is going on in your body can help shed a light on the pain you are dealing with and move it around a little to where you can look at it, process it, and release it, without being too identified with it.

We get into these mental states where we feel we are so screwed up and nothing will help, or it will take forever. It may “feel” like this because maybe you are in fear and are tied up in knots, or maybe you are very angry. But these things are not permanent. It actually requires a lot of energy to hold these things in. If you shine the light of awareness on them, they often shift and become manageable. For instance, “Why am I afraid? What does the fear feel like in my body?” Often when I ask myself these questions, the fear will expand and come up as I’m watching it with my inner awareness. I will feel it completely and then it will be gone. It is the AVOIDANCE of the negative emotions that make life so difficult and seem so impossible.


Stargazer, thank you. I know your suggestions are valid but they feel so out of reach to me right now. I do feel stuck. Emotionally constipated and I have an anger towards him tat seems like the ONLY way it could be released is to express it to him and have him keep his F’ing mouth shut long enough to hear it. I just want him to hear me tell him what he has done. Pointless I’m sure.
I’m going to copy and past your two posts to look at and try to pick something to at least take a step in the right direction. No dancing though. 🙂

Have you ever thought of closing the blinds,turning the radio up and “letting go”,getting rid of your feelings?And as Donna suggests,have a pillow handy(with his face on it).
Maybe once you’ve gotten past letting your anger out,you can get on with the healing process.


Welcome Stunned.


Blossom, I live in an rea that I can say or do anything without any concern about who hears it. 🙂
My frustration and anger lye in the fact that I can not tell him. I’d like to tie his worthless a** up and duct tape his mouth shut and splain to him exactly what he has done and how much it has affected me. I’d like Dr. Phill, Donna, George Simon, Lundt Bancroft, Robert Hare, Martha Stout and Judge Judy to all be there. Take the tape off his mouth just long enough to dig himself a little deeper in the hole and then turn them loose on his sorry, lying a**. THAT is my one and only desire and it will never happen. I’d like to have all the facts……be able to prove beyond any chance of him being able to wiggle out that he has been lying to me for te entire time we were together.
{{Thanks Blossom}}


Dorothy2, I’ve been where you are many times, even down to feeling like I can’t make too much sound in my condo when I needed to rage. So THIS is where you’re stuck – you don’t need to go dancing or smell the roses – you need to get the anger out of you. First step is to know it’s there, which you do. For me, it is often masked as depression. Second step is to realize that getting through it IS within your reach and it’s not as hard as you think it is. Third step is to know that you deserve to release it and get to the other side of it.

It is very important to know that you are totally in charge of this anger, and releasing it is NOT dependent on him being in the room and being duct taped. However, you can conjure up a very vivid fantasy that he is in the room and you are duct taping his mouth and yelling at him. Feel the anger while you are doing it. It is just energy. Once you start to really experience it without shutting it down, it will slowly do what it needs to do and then it will dissipate. It’s not as hard as you think it is. After you’ve done this a few times, you will find it very empowering to know that you have control over your feelings, and that they don’t have to hold you hostage.


Wow, can’t edit my comments anymore. So I have another add-on. Start with the fact that you are feeling frustrated that you can’t express your anger directly to the spath. It’s great to be aware that you are frustrated. This is good awareness, and it’s a good start. Keep talking about why you are frustrated. Talk to God, to a friend, to a therapist, to us, to an empty chair…..just put it out there. You may find yourself having the conversation you need to have with him with God, the therapist, or the empty chair. If you don’t stop the process, it will just come out. Sometimes just feeling the anger in your body and not avoiding the feeling will help it move. You will know when it starts to move – you will feel a little lighter. You may feel sadness when the energy moves up to your heart. You may need to picture the spath in front of you. Put up a picture of him and talk to the picture. It’s important with anger to bring the energy up to your eyes, which means you’re seeing the person in front of you. That’s why it may help to have a therapist, because you can temporarily transfer your anger onto them, just from the eye contact. Remember, you are doing energy work – so you need to take some steps to move this energy (anger) out of your body. The way out is often through. You can do this.


Stargazer…..I am not the type of person who feels bad about being angry. AT ALL! LOL
I’m positive at this point that this is tied to very very early traumatic damage. I really want to address it but I can’t seem to find a good therapist yet. I’m suposed to see someone tomorrow so I’m hoping hoping hoping that we click.
I’m just overwhelmed with it ALL! My whole life got behind while I was with Spath x. He occupied me. SO subtle too. He can not be alone and when I’m on my own…..weekends are mostly veg days and week days are get it done days. God he took up so much of my life and time……I really need to get my ducks back in a row.
Thanks again Stargazer…….I’m sleepie so good night.

still reeling

Blosson, Tea, One Joy, Star, thank you all for your encouragement and sharing yourselves w/me. We have so much in common but that would make sense, wouldn’t it? A lot of folks would walk away from a person who even displayed a whiff of what we accepted and excused but we have to accept that is not the case with us. Ever vigilant.
I know what the payoff is for me. It’s what it always has been all through my life, a way to stave off the real world and deal with issues I feel I can’t handle. Even though I have lived life, worked, paid bills, raised a child, cleaned house, enjoyed friends, living in a fantasy bubble has always been my escape from those things I am unable to face.

Per Mincheff Joyce, I am of the same mindset re: wiring and nurture as well. For these sick individuals to behave as they do, there has to be a brain chemistry issue. In my case, the path seems to have been nurtured in a way that worsened an already disordered mind. I think he had a huge amt of anger towards women and was a true misogynist, not uncommon for paths. Being older, I was a perfect target for his love/hate w/mother, older sisters, wife, mil (pure hatred for her) and other “matriarchs” in the family. He did not want me, he wanted to control me, one of his peon employees who filled the bill SO well. However, I did not see the reality of this at the time. I have to say I did think about it but as MJ said:

“****People who have empathy don’t expect others to be without it****. When they first see the effect exhibited by the person who they are drawn to, they don’t comprehend that they are witnessing the result of a disordered mind. They continue the relationship thinking that the bad acts are “errors” and that communication and caring can make them stop because, as you admirably point out, we are optimists”

Wow, exactly. And I am not an optimist….however you have answered the question that has been gnawing at me since I realized he was acting weirdly, one day being so “there,” and in the moment and hitting on me, the next telling me I should move Out West “I’d love it there!” What???? I couldn’t believe it. How could he be so attracted to me one day and the next let me know he was fine w/losing me, and actually pushing me out of his life? Shortly thereafter, he admonished me for running an errand for my daughter, which involved meeting up w/a young man and giving him some concert tickets…”What do you mean, you’re going to look for some guy you don’t know? That’s not a good idea. Why are you doing that?” Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? He had just told me to move out west so why the fake caring/jealousy routine? This constant contradictory behavior was something I just did not understand at all.

Well I get it now but then, I just made the old excuses as MJ describes and considered his behavior, yes odd, but surely the result of his increasing inability to handle his miserable home situation (crumbling marriage)along with his high pressure job.
How could big important him possibly have time for insignificant, older me? Boy was I perfect for him or what? He placed a big Cog Diss Salad in my head and just kept tossing it for his amusement.

Hope some of this makes sense. Bad day. Kind of just pieced it together. But hope it’s helpful to some.

still reeling

I do need to add one thing that I still do NOT understand and has certainly been the driver all along and still when I get that horrible WHY question stuck in my head.

I do NOT understand why this guy with SO much to lose, so so much to lose, (which he finally did w/great pain and anguish) would hit on me, an older woman, who could have at any second ratted him out. I don’t understand why, months later, after he already was in trouble, he, for the first and only time since I’d known him, asked me to come and spend the day w/him at his place. I just do not get it. He did know my husband was out of town so I know that gave him some comfort but why “nothing” for months, then this excited request for me to come over. Now that I look back, I wonder if he was going to kill me because after that day, he only cared about keeping me on his side as he watched his undoing occur, being fired, etc. I don’t know any of the facts except that he was fired and I believe he is divorced now.
What kept me so tied to him was the notion that he must *really* care about me on a very deep level if he was willing to get in huge trouble should I speak to his boss. Was he really that sick?
It was until he’d been gone for months that I googled his behaviors and came up with pages and pages about socios. To this day, I don’t know if I really believe his is socio. I just do not understand why he made a play for me knowing I could do him and his family so much harm. Was he THAT sick?????

Tea Light

Still, hi, you wrote, ”I do NOT understand why this guy with SO much to lose, so so much to lose, (which he finally did w/great pain and anguish) would hit on me, an older woman, who could have at any second ratted him out. I don’t understand why”

I don’t understand either, why a man whose first son hates him and hasn’t spoken to hiom for 7 years would risk his second marriage and access to his second son – because his secone wife is foreign and the child has dual nationality and she will take the child to her country which does not recognise dual nationality, so she would not have to comply with any court ordered access he sought in his country – WHY would he risk his second son to stalk me who ended my relationship with him back in NOVEMBER and has told him I have reported him to the police. Why? This is why I am questioning whether these people are sane. The literature says yes, they know what they are doing. OK, so they are what, just mindlessly destructive to their own detriment ? I can understand screwing others over but themselves?? Gah I give up

still reeling

tea, I posted a comment but it went away. Basically I just agreed, “Gah,” yes, it makes no sense at all that anyone would risk something so significant to their lives/existence just to be able to experience the high or thrill or whatever that they get from the game. It must be the 3 yr old emotional maturity thing. If you are indeed that immature, you would be attracted by the immediate want/need and not the future outcome even if that outcome means the worst torture known to man.

I don’t know about your stalker nutcase but I’m pretty darned sure most real paths do not care about anyone, not really, they are unable, so as long as he isn’t hurting the mothers of his sons, he doesn’t really care. He gets no internal benefit from the love of his sons or anyone else. He is 3! Like you said, the first wife can do what she wants so he can’t hurt her. It’s no fun anymore! They don’t live for goodies and love and passion. They live to control, hurt, maim for their immediate gain to feed their hedonism NOW. So you are the perfect target. There is no sense to be made of it other than that. I watched this behavior firsthand and you are watching it now and in the past!!!

I think that I’ve basically answered my own question. I don’t really know a thing about the path in my life but from the way he mopped the floor with my psyche, jumping from open admiration to total and completely dismissive and apathetic to my existence, I’m guessing the 3 yr old theory is correct. There is no emotional connection to anyone. Just an immediate high born of need, want, desire…….*in the moment*. After it passes or is sated (sex, food, screwing someone over, getting the best of them, beating the competition at Candy Land), it’s done.
WE assign them their power over us because they know how to talk, to pretend, to deceive their way into our hearts as well as into powerful positions, which make them seem more credible, but behind it is a baby that just wants what it wants and RIGHT NOW.


TeaLight…..I don’t get it either. They are destructive to others and themselves. Is it just because they just don’t care straight across the board? They don’t respect or care about them selves in any deep or significant way, so therefore they don’t respect or care about anyone else in any deep or significant way. They live in the now….what they want now, what appeals to them now. I don’t know….trying to figure them out is a dead end street in the house of mirrors. Futile


Still reeling, when you are asking yourself why he would pursue you under those circumstances, and why he would do the other things he did…….a really good thing to do is to step back and look at your motives for asking those questions. I don’t know if this is true for you, but when I was trying to recover from the spath, and I asked those questions, I was looking for a spark of hope, that maybe somewhere deep down, he loved me or found me irresistible, being willing to go to great lengths to pursue me. This thought somehow validated me and I needed that validation, to feel I was lovable and irresistible above all others. Because with a spath, you can never really answer those questions. It’s not possible to really understand a spath in any kind of way that would make sense to you. And the reasons don’t really matter. A lot of people on here spend years trying to understand spaths – there are people who make it their life study. It’s good to understand them enough to recognize them, so you can protect yourself in the future. But outside of that, it detracts from the truly important question of “why do you care?” This will lead you to the real healing, which is about you and not about him. Seriously, why do you care what a toxic person thinks about you? Why is it important to know? To me, this is a great question to ask and a good starting point for healing.

still reeling

Yes, Star…you are right. If you read my earlier post March 26, 2013 at 1:48 pm, Paragraph 7, I’m kind of saying the same thing. I feel that hanging onto this experience is a way for some people to allow themselves to feel miserable and not embrace life. Why? Well, various reasons. For me, right now, it’s because I don’t know which way to go, jobless, older, uncertain, no real hobbies, etc. So jumping into trying to figure out this horrendous situation is basically something to do and allows me to forget my real problems. However, there will be a time, (maybe on my deathbed) when I’ll be SO sorry for having wasted so much precious time thinking about him and trying to figure out why he did what he did/whether or not he was really a path.

Yes, you’re right. There are times when I feel he had to have cared. But in reality, it doesn’t matter because he hasn’t contacted me so, path or not, he does NOT nor did he ever care. For me, the decision has to be to face the world as it is without a hiding place and that is uber difficult for reasons I mentioned above. I don’t know if I need to start a new life on my own, stay in my marriage or what. I feel like a terrible phony and don’t know how I feel about anything. Because I don’t like myself, this guy was perfect for me. Another tramp to lose myself in as I did so many times in my youth, scoffing at nice guys who would treat me with respect.

If this jerk was not a path, he was, as you say, toxic and I couldn’t care less what he thinks of me. I’m not even really attracted to him. I was only attracted to the him I created, a warm, loving, affectionate presence in my life, someone who appreciated me for who I was. But he was not that…he threw crumbs and when I picked them up, they turned into diamonds and he into a prince. I wove songs around him, songs that literally dripped with passion and emotion and angst, Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, George Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness.” He was my muse, my creation. But he was not involved in any of it. There was a little confusing flirtation, one true hit, one seemingly genuine invitation and a few suggestive comments and emails. But inbetween there was always dismissive and uncaring behaviors. I would think, “How can he act like he cares one day and just deny my existence the next.” It was so completely damaging for me because tho I tried to ignore it, of course, I realized he was not really interested.

I love your post, Star, and I will cherish it and read it when the urge hits to go into that very dangerous place and waste time there. That’s all it is – a mind game. Nothing else. What I wanted from him, a friendship based on mutual respect, trust and a real and honest connection, was never to be and I did NOT think for one minute it ever would. He was smarmy the very first time I met him and a throwback to many times past when I allowed myself to make something out of less than nothing.

Thanks again and hope you are doing well. If you living the comment you sent me, you are doing very, very well indeed. Rock on, Star!! Hugs


Still reeling, I don’t think anyone deliberately wants to feel miserable by obsessing – it just seems to be how we deal with pain sometimes. So many of us don’t know what real caring feels like that we hang onto every crumb thrown to us. We don’t recognize when someone doesn’t love us. I know I am like this, and I count on the wisdom of my more objective friends to remind me “That guy doesn’t care for you. That’s not what love looks like. Love is not that difficult. If a man is really into you, you won’t have to guess.” Oh yeah, reality check. I remember after I broke up with the spath (because he had played some sort of discard game with me), I saw him at an expo. He followed me around and stood over me, smelling my hair, at every booth. He was actually stalking me. Would you believe I took this as a sign that he cares about me? I asked a counselor, and she told me it was a power play, to see if he still had me in his control. Fortunately, I believed her and snapped out of it. But getting over him was extremely painful. When I finally surrendered the denial and felt the pain, I cried myself to sleep every night for a few months – the pain was so overwhelming. I had help from a spiritual teacher in releasing some of the energy. Without her help, I was suicidal. This is why we obsess. Because the alternative – facing reality – can be overwhelmingly painful. Sometimes life just sucks.

And yes, it’s extremely painful to let go of the guy I have been obsessing about. I may even have a conversation with him at one point – not sure. At least I can say he’s not a spath, just someone not ready for a relationship. He seems to get his needs met through dancing and flirting, and doesn’t want anything more, at least not with me. He’s actually a great guy in many ways and a step up for me from the guys I usually go for. The other part of this is that I’ve had a really hard time expressing my feelings to him, so I don’t think he really knows the depth of my feelings. I do think he cares, and may even come closer if I could express them. But my overall urge is to protect my heart with him. Again, if he were interested, he’d be coming around.

still reeling

Star, first of all I finally get it about the salsa dancing. I didn’t realize there was a guy involved. From some of your other posts, I thought you were just obsessed with the dancing! lol. I am a horrible dancer so I stick to fitness routines. That’s the closest I can get to dancing. However, I am a firm believer in dancing for lifting the spirits. It is definitely a mood enhancer just like exercise, without which for me, life is not worth living. It truly keeps me going; I can’t count on people to do that and no one should, not because people are bad but because my expectations are so high and I’m extremely sensitive. I worked on it and got a lot better and was able to realize and accept that it was not all about me, but after my company kicked me to the curb after all the years I busted butt, then path, trust is almost impossible for me. I’m back to square 1, humor gone, interests gone, work was my life and now I feel like I am worthless to anyone. I absolutely knew this was going to happen when I got laid off, knew it because I know myself.

Monster path took away some of the pain and self-doubt I was feeling but I was just bs’ing myself. I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. I saw all the signs that he was a cheat and a total f-up but didn’t know a thing about paths or think he was anything but a lowlife. I didn’t care. I needed what I thought he was giving me.

I think it’s great you were able to “surrender the denial.” Kudos to you. I have done the same – old habits die hard tho, and I still, out of habit, think about him but I have no interest in him. It’s all smoke, mirrors, obsessiveness, needy crap.
And you are correct, if you don’t know what love looks like, you are apt to make mistakes. You just have to love yourself above all else (not to sound selfish) but if you don’t respect and love yourself, you (and I mean collective “you” as well as you and I), will fall down the same rabbit hole over and over and over, not listening to your gut.

I think it’s great that you heed the warnings of good friends and your therapist when you are feeling uncertain. That is excellent. You are really trying to make life better for yourself and that is exactly where you need to be.

From what you said above about salsa guy, it does sound like he’s not stepping up to the plate. I would be carful unless you feel very resilient these days because even if he is not a path, he can still hurt you, and he doesn’t sound like the type of person you need right now other than to dance and flirt around with. It seems to me that you need someone who is healthy and wants to do more than dance and flirt! For example, if this guy had asked you to go out after dancing or asked for your number, showed *interest* in you as a person. You need someone who cares. If you can just have a good time with this guy, that’s one thing but you state that you have “depthy” feelings for him. That is just not possible as you don’t know him. Don’t mean to overstep my boundaries here but just going by what you’re saying. Your last 2 sentences, please go with that!! You don’t need to be hurting again. Hugs.


Still reeling, he has actually expressed a lot of concern about what is going on in my life, and we have spent some time together off the dance floor. But neither of us have stepped it up, and as the woman, I don’t feel it’s my place to do so. However, I have been sort of game-playing, too, out of defensiveness. I have started with a new counselor today. He’s done a lot of work with PTSD, which is what I’m dealing with in relationships. I seem to have a lot of fear of expressing myself, to the point where I often can’t even identify what I need to say, or my wants and needs. If I could have been more upfront with him in the beginning, I wouldn’t be in this situation. We would either be dating, or I would have moved on. Probably the latter. It’s really hard for me to separate out what are my issues and what are his. Because I know a woman expressing herself directly is very attractive to a man and raises her value in his eyes. And This is what I am struggling with. I went through it with my neighbor for 2 years, too. Everyone tells me, “He is not right for you,” but my hesitation is that I have not been totally open and upfront. For a guy who is shy or lacking in confidence, it really helps for the woman to be very direct.

still reeling

I hear what you’re saying Star. Glad you’re seeing a new counselor and hopefully he can help you sort things out and increase your confidence about sharing your feelings. I don’t think you should put this all on yourself. These guys, shy or not, can take some responsibility for sharing their feelings as well. There’s always email, right? Being totally open and upfront is fine but I get the feeling you think you have to bear the burden of this with men. Shy or not, mature, healthy adults find a way to let someone they like know it. If they can’t or won’t, I agree, it’s probably not a good match. But I do agree that you need to figure out what your fears are and why you have them. It may be that you are simply choosing the wrong type of men and just aren’t comfortable sharing feelings with them. Pulling for you!

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