By | May 20, 2007 78 Comments

Optical illusions: autostereograms and sociopaths

Editor’s note: The following essay was contributed to Lovefraud by Kenneth Royce at Ken discovered that a “friend” was a pathological liar, serial thief and con artist. “Though he made off with over $10,000 of my property in a very complicated scam,” Ken says, “it’s had the ironic benefit of outing him for the sociopath he is, and thus warning many other unsuspecting people.”

Autostereograms produce an illusion of depth using only a single image. The image is usually generated by computer, by repeating a narrow pattern from left to right. By decoupling eye convergence from focusing operations, a viewer is able to trick the brain into seeing a 3D scene.

How to see a 3D autostereogram

With your face about six inches from the image, look through it as though it were a window (and your trying to see something beyond it) and then move slowly back (keep the same beyond focus). You will see a 3D image come into view.

This is called “parallel viewing” because your eyes are unfocusing slightly (i.e., diverging towards parallel) as if seeing something beyond the 2D image. The muscles inside your eye that control the focusing lens relax. Various autostereograms are at

The sociopath’s autostereogram

Sociopaths train the unsuspecting to see differently. They train us to see the autostereogram image of their story.

Of their lie.

The mind muscle that controls mental focus is coaxed into relaxing. In the hands of an experienced sociopath, we do this unknowingly. Their goal is for us to transpose reality (the flat 2D nature of their shallow lives) for a mirage (their fictitious 3D image of accomplishment, success, bravery, generosity, integrity, etc.).

We are taught to not only see their mirage, but transpose it for reality—and keep transposing it until we forget what the reality ever was. The more relaxed your focus, the more intense and real the mirage will become.

Another helpful parallel is that once you’ve seen a particular autostereogram several times, it is much quicker to see that image than any new autostereogram. You’ve conditioned your mind to expect what it has already seen, and you will almost instantly bypass the 2D for the 3D.

You now seek the lie. Over time, and without conscious effort, you will
routinely forsake reality for a mirage.

You can blink, or even close your eyes for several seconds, and not lose the mirage because”¦you’ve…retained…it…in…your…mind. Your focus has become so casually relaxed that you’ve lost focus altogether.

To act within this mirage as if it were reality will confuse your friends and family, and they will question your judgment, loyalty, and even sanity.

At that point, you are fully operating within the sociopath’s construct, a dreamworld created solely for his enjoyment and benefit. He controls the rules and pace of the game, and thus the outcome.

He takes. You give. He wins. You lose. That is the probable outcome, and you won’t figure out that you’ve even lost until long afterwards. It may take months or even years to fully realize the hugeness of the lie you lived in. Once you do, you will be ashamed at what you retrospectively see as your own foolish trust.

How do I avoid the sociopath’s mirage?

By knowing how it feels when your mind’s focus is being relaxed. It’s a brief odd sensation, like putting on somebody else’s glasses. If you comport yourself past that sensation, you will lose your own focus. Remember, “decoupling eye convergence from focusing operations” is the 3D trick.

This odd sensation is your B.S. detector, especially when they are acting.

The “Hey, wait a minute!” reaction is your subconscious trying to get your active attention that something is wrong, untruthful, contradictory, dangerous, or even evil. Whenever “something doesn’t add up”…trust it!

Whenever you feel it, immediately stop listening to the speaker, mentally step back and regain perspective. Instantly challenge the prima facie untruthful and exaggerated. Don’t be shy—cry Bullsh*t! Seek independent corroboration. Consult with his/her former friends, lovers, business partners, etc. Sociopaths usually have extremely bad credit.

Keep your eyes open. It is possible to spot them before they strike. Selective distrust is the parent of security.

Once you’ve confidently identified a likely sociopath, coolly disengage ALL contact, and quietly warn others to beware.

What if I’m already in the mirage? How do I get out?

The sociopath’s 3D lie can only be seen from only one vantage point—the one you’ve been slyly placed at (through trust and gullibility) and subsequently anchored to (through familiarity and loyalty). If you shift (even slightly) your perspective…the image will vanish.

Usually, somebody will say that one thing that finally jolts the return of your mental focus—if only momentarily. The mirage will then vanish, if only momentarily, and that is your chance to maintain your focus by piecing together the lies told to you.

These mirages are fragile things. They require constant vigilance by the sociopath to maintain the viewer’s limited perspective and relaxed focus. (This is the purpose of frequent pity-ploys. It is emotionally impossible to simultaneously pity yet suspect deceit. Your mind can do only one or the other.)

Escaping from the sociopath’s mirage and returning to reality is an uncomfortable process. It will take much time for your mind to reorient itself. This often engenders considerable confusion.

Time away from the sociopath can allow your mind to regain its focus, but usually that isn’t enough. You will need the surrogate focus of your friends and family who haven’t been fooled by the mirage. Give what they say (no matter how painful or embarrassing) a chance, and hear them out.

Contact others who have been conned by the same sociopath; you will validate each other and this is incredibly relieving and comforting. Soon, the mirage will no longer have any influence over you, and you’ll wonder how you ever believed it at all.

My hunch is that one’s opportunity of seeing through a sociopath is most keen at the very beginning. Once you’ve let your mind go “cross-eyed” in order to “see”/believe the lie, it’s too late. You’ve already reprogrammed your vision by then to see differently, which makes seeing the truth very difficult. A good jolt is usually required to “snap out of it,” but by then the damage has already been done.

The eyes see only what the mind has prepared itself to observe. “Hear hoof beats. Expect horses, not zebras,” as sci-fi author Robert Heinlein once wrote.

In short, people see clearly only at the very beginning, or at the very end—and very rarely during the middle.

You’ll avoid incalculable grief if you learn how to consistently see clearly from the beginning.

Common Law Copyright 2007, Kenneth Royce. All Rights Reserved.

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This is an interesting and useful analogy far better than the genetic explanations as this offers us behavioral and cognitive resources from which we might rescue ourselves! It is extremely useful.

I really like the insight into the fact that it is impossible for the mind to simultaneously pity someone yet suspect deceit! This is a breakthrough concept, at least for me. And it makes perfect sense that it is impossible to pity someone and maintain your own defenses at the same time.

tough cookie

I too was amazed at this analogy…It was an interesting perspective on the mind of the sociopath and how they target their innocent victims.

It brought me back to my relationship with my sociopath and how clouded my sense of reality was. At times I could not believe the things that my sociopath took for granted and had no hesitations in asking me for. The main thing being money and clothes. He felt entittled to things and I couldn’t believe his audacity!

He didn’t work and I paid all the bills yet expected to go out for drinks, get new clothes, get cigarettes ect… In my world it is common knowledge that if you personally can not afford things than you don’t do or get them its as simple as that.

I started to think that I was crazy. That this person had the balls to ask me for these things. Esp after all the hell and drama he had put me threw already.

I guess the sociopaths no chalant manner is a mind blower. you think how can they think this is normal. In turn this throws our mind for a loop.



And I agree that (despite all the pain) the whole experience has benefited me in a way…

BUT I’ve been a bit reluctant about “outing” my conman to others in too big a way due to a fear of reprisal from him. I know I have a moral responsibility to do so, but on the other hand I’ve “suffered enough”.

What are other people’s experiences regarding this aspect of things? Do they tend to retaliate if you expose them? I’ve analysed and analysed my sociopath and tend to think he’d just disappear from this area never to be seen or heard of again, but I need to be more certain.


They the conmen, are like cockroaches, when you out-ed them you shine a light and they, the conmen scatter from the light like cockroaches, running for cover of darkness.
Use a flashlight of truth and the con man, like the cockroach, will run away from you not toward you.
The con man lives for the 9 out of 10 humans that will not make waves, fight back or out-ed him, the con. It is the 1 in 10 that will speak out that the con man fears the most. Attys have told me drug dealers have money reserves just to legally defend themselves from the 1 in 10 cops, citizens and prosecutors, people in general that the cons cannot intimidate with thier bully and buffalo threats or silence with bribes. If you speak out the con will avoid you like cockroaches avoid the light.

THIS is very interesting. Funnily enough, the days that this blog topic was started and discussed (20-26 May) is very significant for me. I got in my car and drove away from my psycho on 18th May after a three week period of intense emotional trauma. (long story which I will post in due course) The confusion and mental anxiety was unbelievable.

This explanation of the sociopath’s autostereogram life made a lot of sense to me and now appears as one more bizarre thing about my experience (I was in the twilight zone!!) . My psycho actually creates similar images of the 3D visuals as her profession. Astounding beauty created by using crystals in kaleidoscopes are her “bait”. Colourful patterned images are projected onto the human body in the name of “healing”. She has recently, in the past two months, teamed up with a Hypnotist. She is targetting children with learning disorders (ADD, ADHD, etc) through the schools ….. Why would a Hypnotist be brought in as her counterpart? … Yes, I do have access to a contact list of every school in the country and yes, I will be sending an email to each one recommending that a strict policy is implemented to validate and verify the credentials of any people visiting the schools. I do know that she has no legitimate credentials of her ‘profession’ and with some luck her intentions will be halted!!

I am adhering to the No Contact policy but I don’t need to contact her anyway. Sometimes the anonymity of the internet is a blessing 😉

Ox Drover

Going back over these archives I am finding so many wonderful essays and comments upon them.

My son C, whose psychopathic X wife of 8 yrs tried to kill him when he discovered her affair with the P “of her dreams” who is also in prison at the present time, she just got out and their divorce is final.

Son C, though knowing that his P-brother, my son, is a psychopath is having some difficulty realizing that his X-wife is also one, and that she had been conning him from the start of their relationship. He met her on the internet at a particularly vulnerable time in his life.

She has so many of the “traits” of the garden-variety disordered personality, but not all, and I gravitate and swing between Borderline PD or Psychopath PD, but which “clinical” diagnosis she has isn’t really all that important in the end, as the over all view of deceit, theft, attempted murder, etc are all there. Enough that she did 7 months in jail and pled out with 5 yrs probation while her lover got 3 years in jail on a plea as a felon in possession of a hand gun. The overworked DAs office dropped the other charges for a plea.

The autostereogam analogy is very real, I also call them “holograms” and someone on a post on a blog called them “Hollow-grams” which I thought was very clever, and so true.

In my own acknowledgment of the Ps in my life (several in my immediate FOO) it has been very difficult to “label” them all for me emotionally. But there comes a point that to not do so makes you in great need of a “reality check.” Until you finally get to the point that you can get out of denial and accept the REALITY that the IMAGE is NOT REAL, you can’t “fix’ the problem by NC…which is the only FIX available.


You know it’s funny the sociopath loves autosterograms. He even thought a workshop on them! Ha-ha!


This makes so much sense to me. It is the best analogy I have seen/read to describe the “fog”. It’s like when something happens and you know it doesn’t feel right and you react in a negative way, knowing in your mind that they are snowing you yet the pity ploy and tears and lies appeal to your heart. It just makes me feel more human right now for feeling sorry for him each time he cried and lied to me and I believed him. Understanding this helps me to forgive myself. This is the part that is so psychologically dangerous that is not easily explained to ourselves let alone others. It’s how ANYONE can be conned regardless of our IQ, EQ, or SAT score!!

This helps.


AMAZING analogy. That’s it, thats exactly how it feels. At the end I started crying BS, he didn’t like that. It feels good to know at least at some points I raged at him, confident, my old self, saying “NO, thats not true, that doesn’t even make sense!”


KeepingFaith and Eliza – I am glad to see this thread again, this helped me so much when I read it almost a year ago. I thought I was living in the twilight zone and in a way I was, but reading this article helped so much, and one sentence hit the nail on the head ” It is emotionally impossible to simultaneously feel pity, yet suspect deceit at the same time, the mind can only do one or the other ” and I think the spath’s must know this and they use this tactic to mess with are mind’s…


our minds not are mind’s – yeah he messed with my grammar and spelling as well, might as well blame it on him….lol


HOW DARE HE mess with the English language?! That is quite serious. They truly have no shame.

Ox Drover

Henry, my mind’s mine! And yours is your’n, so THERE!!! (how are you sweetie!? Hope you had a good day!!)


Hey Foxy Oxy – I am doing ok – just been real cranky today so don’t mess with me!!!!!


I can blame him for my bad english and spelling, I can blame him for so many things but I can only blame him for just so long. Sometime’s we have to be willing to let go of the life we had planned and start living the life that is waiting on us


optical illusions – kinda like the muppet that went to the doctor, doctor says ‘you have a hand up you’ muppet say’s ‘that explains so many things~~!!

Ox Drover

QUOTE HENRY: “sometimes we have to be willing to let go of the life we had planned and start living the life that is waiting on us”

AMEN, BROTHER!!!! That was a difficult thing for me to do, to give up “dreams” that I had that were “prescious” to me, some of them I wanted to continue to do, others were dreams I had put off “til later” but never gotten around to, but then realized I NEVER WOULD get “around” to them…we only have 24 hours a day, 7 days in a week, and if you persue dream A, sometimes that means you can’t ALSO go after Dream B at the same time, or you have to CHOOSE which you want, and you can’t have both.

The media tells us we can “have it all” and “be it all” and we WANT it ALL, but sometimes life just doesn’t work that way. Women are told we can have a great career AND relationships AND children, AND this AND that etc etc. and we end up not having ANY of it because we spread ourselves too thin. Sometimes it is just better I think to go after ONE or TWO things (that are not mutually exclusive) rather than to try to go after 10 things and never get any of them.

I think some of the Ps want to be “happily married” (by THEIR definition–like my X-BF) AND be a “playboy, footloose and fancy free” AT THE SAME TIME, and those things are just MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

I used to have a sign in my office (but gave it away) that said “I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER SINCE I GAVE UP HOPE.”

I know that sounds negative but I think really it is POSITIVE. What has hurt me the MOST? The UNREALISTIC HOPE that I kept hanging on to that (a) I would find another life partner that was “true blue” SOON (ever?) (b) my P son would ‘reform”, get out of prison, move home and we’d all live happily ever after (c) my mother would love me etc etc.

Since I NO LONGER have the malignant “hope” that any of these things are going to happen, that it is IMPOSSIBLE for them to happen—there is NO DISAPPOINTMENT IN MY LIFE.

Trying to “make” those unrealistic HOPES “come true” has been the frustration of my life…now I am looking at the REALITY I DO HAVE, and it is actually pretty darned good.

TRying to make unrealistic hopes “true” is about like planning your retirement on winning the lotto and EXPECTING it to happen. LOL



a health professional told me that ‘he (the XS/P) read me like a blind man reads brail” . the more I thought about it that all makes more sense now than ever.

they are extremely intuitive. and he knew y weakneses and my vulnerabilities and he exploited them and later blamed me for them. so as we are feeling sorry for them when they appeal to us for pity….. they are already knowing our demise.

the XS/P used to tell me he was very intuitive and always trusted his intuition and that’s how he always knew when I WAS CHEATING ON HIM. I wan’t and never did. what he was REALLY SAYING was. “I cheat and lie an therefore you must be too.’

what a bunch of jackasses!!

lesson learned

BUmp. For the rest of the newbies….


Awesome – don’t know how I missed this one, but it’s fantastic and makes so much sense. You can’t maintain focus mentally if you basically pity someone … wow.

That just sums it up for me – the pity play really takes our eye off the game that’;s unfolding with us at the centre.

Thanks for bumping this up – this is important science


QUOTE HENRY: (and Ox)“sometimes we have to be willing to let go of the life we had planned and start living the life that is waiting on us”

Ox Drover

Thanks guys, this IS a great article!!!! And what Henry said about giving up the life we had planned, and holding on to the one that we HAVE AND IS WAITING FOR US.

I read the original article and the comments (others comments and my own from back when) and I got to thinking about 99% of my grief has been over WANTING SOMETHING and not getting it…and unfortunately, what I wanted was NOT SOMETHING IN MY CONTROL. The things I wanted so badly and didn’t get and grieved over so much were ALL things in other people’s control, not mine.

NOW I am doing my best not to let my “happiness” depend on something happening that is OUT OF MY CONTROL…I wanted grandkids and had this vision of what my life would be like with these fantasy grandkids to play with—-duh! Well, having grandkids is not something in my control. Pinning my happiness on having these kids is pinning my happiness on something I can NOT control or make happen.

Actually, I realize now, I spent so much of my time living in the FUTURE in this FANTASY world I might as well have been playing WOW on line….I ignored the TRUE things, the REAL life around me, and “lived” in that future FANTASY WORLD instead. LOL

Now, I’m doing my best to enjoy the day to day, mundane, REAL world around me, and savor the small things in life that I enjoy!

I don’t look toward the future much any more with “Boy, I can’t wait until X happens” and I seldom if ever think, “boy, I’d really be happy if I had an X or if X happened” I also don’t spend a great deal of time feeling disappointed that I didn’t do X, Y or Z before now, or that it didn’t come true. Just being in the NOW and making plans for next week rather than next decade seems to fit me and where I am in this stage of life.

Realizing that whatever happens on the OUTSIDE OF ME, the inside of me is going to be okay and do what it needs to do to take care of me. That’s a long distance from where I was, with all of my happiness and well being depending on someone else.

Being able to focus my eyes and mind on what is real versus what the fantasy is also helps.


One step OH MY this is one of my favorite threads – it explained so much about the mind and the mind games they play on us. I can remember catching him red handed at doing something evil to me and before it was all over I WAS THE ONE APOLOGIZING AND BEGGING FOR FORGIVENESS for something he had done, all because of that pity game he played…he really was playing with my brains like play dooh.
Ox werent we engaged back when this thread first came up? Well that never worked out so you can be my granny – hows that?

Ox Drover

BE your GRANNY my arse! We are STILL ENGAGED! If you ever go straight, your arse is MINE and don’t you forget it. I ain’t holdin’ my breath though! LOL Besides I ain’t that much older’n you, ya old fart! And you’ve got more gray hair than I have anyway. LOL

Yea it is a great article. And we’ve come a long way, Mr. Henry, since we logged on to LF haven’t we!?


Yes we sure have you old fartress….

lesson learned


I wonder if just small part of your ability to live in the present and not looking so much to the future arises from being retired? Do you know what I mean? It’s a genuine question.

I worry A LOT about the future and what I’m going to do because I HAVE too. I have children still left to raise and I need to either shit or get off the pot about school or work or SOMETHING so I can take care of them. I think this is one of the reasons that I feel so overwhelmed in this process. I feel VERY tired and unmotivated about my future, yet feel very pressured to get er done!

There doesn’t seem to be a gray area on this one???


Ox Drover

It isn’t just about being retired–because everyone, retired or not needs a REASON to get up in the morning, something to DO and enjoy. I have to make plans for the future of my security just like you do….how will I have enough money to live on? Where am I going to live? I can’t sell my home until my egg donor dies because my husband and I tied it up with the TRUST that includes the farm and until she dies, it can’t be divided….protects me in a way, but also keeps me tied down. So I can’t rent or sell my home until after she dies, so if the P son gets out of prison and she brings him back here to live on the farm??????? Now that’s a scary thought!!! I will fight that but it COULD happen. But I don’t LIVE IN THAT TERROR OR FEAR. I also don’t live in a fantasy world, but I do MAKE PLANS. That’s a big difference in looking at the future as a “I”ll be happy when….” or “I need to make PLANS for the future…” Planning on going back to school so you can get a better job is a PLAN (I hope) not a FANTASY of “I’ll be happy when I get out of school.”

After my divorce I had lots of skills but nothing that would really support me and so I went back to college and finished up with a kid on each hip, cleaning houses between classes, and scraping by but I got my degree and certification as Advanced Practice Nurse and it supported me and the kids. I’m not sure how I did it, going to school, supporting myself and the kids, trying to heal and help them heal from the abandonment of their beloved father and his entire family….we made it though and I’m proud of myself for surviving. I didn’t learn as much as I wish now I had, but that’s the cards and I played them as well as I could at the time with the knowledge I had then.

Oh, I still make PLANS for “if my son gets out of prison I will have to move. Where would I like to go? How will I be able to best afford it? Live in the RV on a lake somewhere4? Rent or buy a house?” But my HAPPINESS is not dependent on any of the answers to those things, those are just the NUTS AND BOLTS of every day life that have to be taken care of…happiness and contentment comes from INSIDE NOW.

And, another thing, as each day that I feel GOOD ABOUT MYSELF passes, and I think “yea, it’s been a good day” the next day I feel stronger (well most days) and if I do have a set back like I had a little over a year ago with son C and the melt down I had then, I get over that melt down a LOT QUICKER than I have gotten over similar melt downs in the past when I “lost” something important to me.

Practice makes perfect. The more we handle problems the better we get at handling problems. The better we learn to deal with loss and grief the easier it is to deal with loss and grief and still be complete in ourselves I think.

So I think when you find yourself thinking “I’ll be so happy when X, Y or Z happens….” TELL YOURSELF TO STOP!!!!!

Our internal self talk is important and if we LISTEN TO THAT DIALOG as we talk to ourselves we can LEARN A LOT ABOUT OURSELVES. Unfortunately a lot of what I “heard” going on between me and myself inside in that dialog actually made me ashamed to admit that I thought that so I would tell myself to HUSH! You SHOULDN’T think that or feel that.

Now, when I find myself thinking something I know isn’t a positive or good thing, I listen and then try to give myself an alternative path WITHOUT FEELING SHAME for having thought or wanted that. That INTERNAL SHAME was keeping me a slave to feeling badly about myself. I think it was probably an extension to my egg donor’s “you must be perfect to be okay at all” attitudes, but I am getting out of that mind set and way of thinking at least gradually.

I hope what I am saying makes some sense and will help you see where I am coming from. It is a difficult concept to grasp for me, and I am only able to do it a bite at a time.

lesson learned


First I DO understand about INTERNAL SHAME. I struggle with that on a daily basis.

But what do you mean by you ‘listen and then try to give yourself an alternative path without feeling the shame…..what do you mean by “listening” to that voice? If that makes sense….

I don’t sit around and say I’ll be happy when X Y Z happens, I get ANXIETY in the now about the future because I”m not financially secure. I have an idea about what I want to do and then find that it isn’t within my college budget or is something I would hate doing. I want to get a master’s, but that’s going to cost me A LOT more in student loans. Not sure how I feel about coding anymore.

I’m just not SURE about what to do.

When I was SO SURE two months ago while trying to extricate or is that trying to SURVIVE while I extricated?…..

Somewhere along the line, I lost my passion that was overriding my fear, now my fear overrides my passion and has quelched my motivation. It’s very frustrating!


LL and Oxy,
thanks for having this conversation.
This is where I’m at too and your perspective Oxy, is very helpful.

I have also lost any desire to do anything. I do things that my BF tells me he wants done. He pays me, I pay my horrific credit card debt that the spath left me with. I’m getting nowhere with MY LIFE. But I have no desire to.

I’m not sure if I ever had any desires for myself, or when they got buried. When I was with Spath, I remodeled my cabin a bit, taught myself how to hang drywall, and added some built in cupboards, installed flooring and insulation. I used to clean too. I would do all this when the spath was gone because he made it impossible otherwise. He sabotaged everything. I don’t know how I could have wanted to stay with such a monster when I KNEW that he was creating obstacles. But everything I did, I did because I wanted to make him happy. (no that doesn’t make sense now, but it did to me then)

It’s so bad now that I’m looking for ways to trick my brain into wanting to do things for me. If I could find someone else to make happy, and whose happiness depends on things that are good for me… you know? But I still haven’t gotten there.

What I do feel is that people in my life don’t want me to be happy. My happiness and good fortune is always and has always been envied. I have to hide my success and my desires. If I don’t they will be sabotaged. I hide these from everyone. It’s part of the reason why I’m so still and do nothing but when I do move, it’s lightning fast before anyone has a chance to sabotage me.

Someone posted yesterday that being a spath survivor is like being a soldier returning from a war. The 25 year war has left these survival strategies imbedded in me. I think the reason they are so deeply imbedded is because I didn’t UNDERSTAND what was happening. So I HAD to make them into HABITS which required no thought or evaluation. As long as I implemented these ways of thinking and acting, I had a modicum of success.

In writing this, I just had another breakthrough. I was reading that the personality disordered individual tends to rigidly follow the same strategies even when they stop working. They lack the flexibility to change strategies. I can see that what I just described is a form of personality disorder that I developed to cope with constant sabotage that I didn’t understand and couldn’t control. It seemed like magical thinking that things worked out better for me when I hid my goals and desires. I could not conceive of the REALITY of a sociopath sabotaging me, so I noticed the pattern without understanding and developed a rigid strategy that always worked.

I’ve been so convinced for so long that this is how to be “successful” that the idea of behaving otherwise is extremely anxiety provoking. It’s like the thought of walking around naked in public – unthinkable.

lesson learned


You described ME. I just felt a knife like feeling in my chest when you said that.

I have begun to realize that part of the reason I’m so obsessed with success, is 1. in part to my spath upbringing and 2. spath and his constant desire for money and things.

But it’s also a feeling of something I had to do to survive. When I went back to school, I went because I felt I was forced to AND also that i was good in school. What I realized is that it helped me feel good about myself. But spath also tried to sabotage that too. One of the things I’ve realized is that there was this big part of me that wanted to be successful for myself and the confidence it was building, but also because I knew spath was switching his “strategy” to someone who was successful and making money. He wasn’t looking for someone to simply use as a cover anymore, given his debts. His first major love bombing attempted victim made major money and was a credit consultant. He is massively in debt and yet continues to spend as if he HAS the money that he doesn’t. Kinda makes me wonder….I also think he’s spending company funds for private purchases. I wanted to be able to graduate and make money right away to hold onto him…….

But over the course of the last year and a half, I began to see what he was really all about, worse as the divorce commenced. I also began to clearly see my alcohol problem and that he was USING that to sabotage my efforts to continue with school. I wanted to get “healthy”. He did not. He became insanely demanding, even more so the more independent I became.

This was sooooo confusing for me at the time. So much for my fantasies.

Now I don’t know what the hell I want to do and unfortunately, I don’t have much time or money to figure it out. I’ve not worked, I’ve been in school for many years now.

I’ve also realized that I have a tremendous fear of going out into the workforce, although I WANT to get out there and be productive. I don’t think I’m overly bright by any means, but I do believe that I can do SOMETHING…….

After spath was permanently gone, so was everything else, which tells me that my drive to do what I was doing was not wholehearted. That is very troubling to me.

I think this is somewhat a form of self sabotage too. My bio spaths made sure they did everything they could to sabotage every single effort I made to be a success and if I didn’t do it, they would be proven right. I proved them right every time.
This is a frightening place to be. Because I know NOT who I am nor what I want. I’m apathetic to everything. I have to force myself to look at the ONE class I now have that I’m taking and I’m scheduled up for Spring term not knowing if that’s really what I want to do.

Sky, you’ve mentioned personality disorder with regards to yourself a few times. Do you mind if I say that bothers me? I think the term is used way too loosely and from everything I’ve seen in your posts, you are FAR from a sincere form of personality disorders.

Thanks for your post. Always creates food for thought for me.



I only say PD because I’m trying to understand where my thinking is going wrong. Obviously I can look at a spath and tell him that his thinking is disordered in several ways and point them out. I wish it was that easy to do this for myself.

Even after pointing them out, one has to FEEL differently to ACT differently. Well not really, but it would be nice if the two states were congruent.

What you’re saying about yourself is that basically you have lived your life responding to how other people view you. Depending on who it is, you will attempt to either prove them wrong or to please them. With a spath, of course, you can’t win. I think I’ve been doing the same thing.

For so long I’ve been responding to other’s needs, that I can’t get in touch with my own. Don’t really know what I want. Or maybe I don’t want to know, because if I know, then someone else might find out and sabotage it.

Subconsciously, I must have known what my spath was from very early on, because when I first noticed the over the top lies, I got the book, “People of the Lie” from the library. But I would only read it when he wasn’t around and I would hide it otherwise. I also shredded my diary and put it in the dumpster. I didn’t even use the trash can at home. I went out of my way to use a public dumpster. And one day, when we had broken up, I wrote him a heart felt letter about how he had hurt me. Then I panicked and burnt it. I ALWAYS FELT AFRAID to let him really KNOW my feelings. Thank God that I did that. It is a survival strategy that makes no sense unless you are living with spaths.

Spaths are what make the rest of us personality disordered and neurotic.

lesson learned


I’m having an unbelievably difficult day today. it’s nowing and all the warm fuzzy stuff…went and had coffee with a friend and she went to the store with me…I don’t do snow!!

Distractions, but he comes to mind. I miss him right now, particularly with the weather the way it is.

Damn him. Damn me.


lesson learned

So that creates a situation in which I’m hopeless to assist, but I do know what you’re saying.


Oh, lucky, lucky me – guess who I heard from today? He’s blocked from calling/texting, but I didn’t block e-mail because he never really sent me any. Didn’t even think about it – and because I was so surprised like an idiot I opened it and read it.

Here are a few highlights, with my questions/comments in parentheses:

I realize you are probably still mad at me and I don’t blame you at all. I just wanted to say a few things and if I get a response then great, if not then I know the answer. (Does this mean he won’t try and contact me again since I’m not responding?)

It has been over a month and I am still very, very, very sorry for hurting you. I had no reason to do it and I can only say sorry over & over again. I haven’t contacted you not because I didn’t want to, I wanted to everyday but was ashamed for my actions. How I was an ass the last time we talked is truly regrettable. Again all I can say is I’m sorry.

I miss you like crazy, I still tear up every time I see our pics on my phone & computer. I have nothing but good thoughts of our times and I would not change anything you did. As for me I feel much better about myself. (Not sure what that last sentence is supposed to mean?)

My son misses you too, he asks for you every time I pick him up and the first valentine he made was for you. (ahhh, there’s my weakness…)

The reason I’m sending this is something is sending me messages to contact you. (Cosmic vibes!!!) Today I kept hearing your name, heard “our song”, passed by the restaurant you wanted to go to, and saw a TV show we liked to watch.

I am reaching out to you because you may never want to be my girlfriend again but just maybe you will be part of my life and my son’s life, just an awesome friend and role model for us.

It’s killing me, it really is, because even though I know it’s all lies, well you all know how hard it is to stay NC. I thought I was moving on, but it is going to take all my strength not to go backwards. I have a few things in my favor – internally, I’m STUBBORN and PRIDEFUL. Externally, I have friends, family, and neighbors who would kill me if I let him back. And of course support from LF friends.

Please send out good NC energy – I need it –


I totally understand, I had triggers yesterday. Today is better but I didn’t go to the cabin again and I’m worried the pipes will freeze. But don’t care too much about anything and I’ve very tired today too.

The one thing that really seemed to help in the past was accupuncture. I really need to do that again.

Yicky, their BS lines all sound exactly alike.
Now he wants to be your “freeeeiiiiinnnnd”, read that “frenemy”. Is he running out of people to torture and slime?

Save that email. He admits that he had no reason to hurt you but did anyway. It shows that he is insane and acts without reason. You never know when you might need it. Besides anyone who reads it can see the manipulitive behavior when he uses his son’s valentine to get to you.

NC is the only way to stay clean of their slime.

lesson learned


Truthfully? I would DIE to have gotten an email like that from exPOS right now. **sigh**

At least I would know I was at least on his mind.

It’s a good thing that he doesn’t contact me and has a new gf.

Perhaps yours is not “attached” yet?

Stay NC, Valley. While I’m stuck in the “mirage” today, tomorrow, I’d probably tell you that if you don’t stay NC, you get back on the merry go around…………well, ya just go another round with the bastard…..only next time, you’ll be sicker than the time before because the go around WILL be faster than ever.


lesson learned


I so hear ya. I think we really “Get” each other here and I so appreciate you. I feel a lot of love and support…..

So how can I support you when I feel like shit right now?

GO back to acupuncture? I”ve never tried it but I hear from those who have that it does WONDERS.




Yes, it’s kind of sick and twisted that in a way I was glad to hear from him. EVEN THOUGH IT WAS ALL LIES. Thankfully I found LF otherwise might have fallen back into his trap.

You may be right, he does not appear to be “attached” yet. Wonder whatever happened to the woman he was involved in while our “relationship” was ending, maybe she’s still on the backburner.

I’m ashamed to admit I have been in stealth mode observing his activities on on-line dating sites and he has been trying very hard to attract his next victim. His tone seems to have gotten a bit more desperate lately.

Which is why he’s contacting me – out of desperation. Huh, that’s actually an insult when you think about it –



“He admits that he had no reason to hurt you but did it anyway” – That whole section, he’s sorry he hurt me, etc. – I don’t even think he knows what he he did to hurt me, or what there is to be sorry about. It’s so generic – hardly even counts as an apology, does it?

This is all about him, not me – he doesn’t say what is is about ME that he misses – my smile? my gourmet cooking? A few weeks ago I would have probably not even realized that HE is the focus of this letter, not me. The blinders are off, baby!

When we broke up in December, I was so devastated, and when he wanted another chance 2 weeks later, I gave him one. NO THIRD CHANCE.

lesson learned


You named it correctly. Its’ not even back burner girl to him. It’s “desperation” girl time. What a BASTARD if you think about it!

They say NC is the worst thing you can do to them. I suppose in some cases that is true. But not all. Many times, they’ve moved onto the next victim and don’t give a SHIT about you…NC is more for you than it is for them. They could give a shit if they have a new victim, val.

BUT this is YOUR opportunity to SHINE in your last “discard”…staying NC, ignoring HIS ass!! You have a PRIME opportunity to have the last word!

MIght hurt like hell. It just might. But keep in mind, that everything he said is nothing but bullshit meant to suck you in because he has no one. I think when we are not quite “over” them yet, it’s natural to get “excited” and think they “want” us when they contact……but truthfully? That is projecting YOUR feelings onto HIM. He doesn’t feel that way. he could care LESS…….it’s just that his “dates” online haven’t worked out yet.

Stay NC. Have the last word. Let YOUR last word be about your strength. He’ll land another victim soon enough (mine did, just like DW, in two months!).

It doesn’t mean shit to them.

YOu can’t “hurt” him dear.

You can only hurt YOURSELF if you RESPOND!!



It’s perfect knowledge.


LL, Sky, Valley,
great discourse! have been reading posts for about an hour now; it never fails to amaze how these alien-pod-humanoids pick the best of the best when they glom on to a host.
after two and a half years of NC, i was missing the spath-hole today, too. i haven’t been on LF in a long time — but knowing it’s here for reinforcement can be life-saving. i’m in therapy, and now on anti-depressants … twenty years of being mind-effed certainly took its toll, and while i’m certainly getting better, i still have the sense of ‘apathy’ and non-movement that you were describing. i didn’t realize just how clinically depressed i was … it’s embarrassing that i couldn’t pull myself back together without ‘professional’ help, but please … if you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the healing process after a year, seek out whatever help you need. i wish i had gone on meds long ago … it’s made a huge difference in how i feel. the physical aches and pains are 80% resolved (the rest are just about gettin’ old!), and just having a focused mind again has been a godsend. i’ve recovered the old ‘me’ more than i thought i ever could.
the thought of dating is still a big NO; i don’t think my spathdar is strong enough yet. just being able to do for myself all that i did for ‘him’ is enough of a task. nothing seems to matter if there’s no one there to ‘perform’ for.
on the up-side, the mind fog has lifted and much of the confusion and my ability to think straight is back. thankfully. for a while i was certain i had a brain disease. guess i did. spathitis.
the main post here was brilliant: that 3-D illusion that was created for me had me mired in a mirage that lasted half my life. it’s hard as hell to readjust to reality, especially when that reality isn’t in technocolor. he created a world that was larger than life ever should be, complete with opti-sex, for which i was always a sucker.
there is so much strength on this site; amazing men and women who have made it through the unthinkable pretzeling of their very spirits.
i love you all, and so good to see many ‘old-timers’ (((Oxy, Hens, sky)))
peace be with us all.


SKY – on the subject of cussing, or rather, anger demanding to be expressed: read Kathy Hawk’s articles on anger, #5 + #6.

(and anger is better outside of you than inside. you write about not being able to do much for yourself – this is connected, i think, to the anger being inside. cuss away!)

there is a line when cussing, between expression of and courting anger. you’ll know it when you cross it.

i swore a lot for a long time. it was necessary. now i don’t swear much, because at THIS time swearing is more than likely giving her power over me. (big dogs don’t need to bark!)


Skylar – I really like your description of being unmotivated and your explanation of why. It makes sense – unconscious patterns of behaviour that are self defeating in reality, but in a spath situation are self protective mechanisms. Makes sense. I wasn’t always like this. I have to remember back a decade to remember my personality before this horrific experience and I wasn’t like this back then. I was so so positive and always optimistic.

I still can be – but I have to ‘make’ myself be optimistic. It doesn’t just ‘happen’ like it used to. My natural positivity flowed into motivation and action back then – I just didn’t question or doubt myself like I do now.

I call it a loss of self efficacy – I’ve lost the view of myself as being a person who can solve any challenge. I have lost reliance in myself. Because when I was with the spath no matter what I tried, I was thwarted.

Despite the criticism of the study, I am always drawn to the picture of dogs receiving random electric shocks in a cage and eventually developing learned helplessness and not moving at all.

I’ve described it before as a stuckness – if I think of what I want to do, then the thought comes into my head “What’s the point?” and the memory of being on my own because of the spath comes to mind. It all flashes through like a fast fast movie and I sigh. What is the point?

I also agree I can do for a significant other … I’ve also thought about finding someone who has similar needs/ wants to me so I can get some things for myself by doing for them. And I wonder why the hell it is I can do things for others but not for myself. Why don’t I come first and why am I putting strangers (in my mind’s eye) ahead of myself who I’ve known all my life?

It makes me sad to realise I’m still looking outside myself for my solutions. So I’ve started to think of myself – it’s not easy. But I’m thinking of my own future – just my own. For the first time that imagined future doesn’t involve a man who will come to the rescue. It’d be great if I met someone wonderful, but my imagined future and the actions I am taking towards it is finally what I would like rather than waiting for some man to come along and give me direction for my life.

Men I have met lately have been pretty unreliable – I don’t want to have all my hopes tied up in these coffee dates- it makes you too vulnerable and easy to hurt. It feels more grown up and realistic to give up the fantasy. Or maybe it’s just plain cynical lol If it happens it happens, but if it doesn’t then I’m going to make sure I’ve got a life I can love. I deserve that. That’s what lots of men go after so why shouldn’t women?


polly! how are you? are you safe?

Ox Drover


The not having any desires to do anything—just coasting, just floating, only doing what has to be done, in other words, not really wanting anything or caring about anything is a classic sign of clinical depression. Been there and done that.

After my husband died, I stayed that way, just doing the minimal things I had to do. Then my step father died and I quit doing ANYTHING except sitting and looking at the dirt pile up in my floor and I could have cared less. Went days without a bath or clothing change. About all son D or I did was to feed the dogs and the bird. We were CLINICALLY depressed, even with medication and visits to our psychiatrist. Then—got involved with the P Now-X BF and “snapped right out” of the depression into euphoria for a while, then back into DEPRESSION again when that went “south.”

Then, the chaos of the family psychopaths—-one trauma after another, one run in with tragedy, the next with psychopaths, then back to tragedy again and then more psychopaths–INSANITY SQUARED!

It has taken me quite some time to start to find my way out from under the load of bull crap and sorrow, grief and sadness and dig my way to the surface where I can even SEE the light.

Starting to CARE what my house looks like, to CARE if I have a bath or not, to CARE if my yard is mowed or CARE if I look nice. To CARE about taking care of my health and doing something about it.

Simple things, maybe, but important things—and doing what needs to be done to take care of myself, my environment both physical and emotional is what is allowing me to heal. Being AWARE that I didn’t care was the first step in learning what I needed to do to take care of myself.

It’s been a long haul as I worked on one thing at a time, sort of like we always talk about “peeling the onion”—one layer at a time. Boundaries, with others and with myself. Self esteem. Self care physically. Self care emotionally. Self care spiritually. What a pile of work I’ve had to do to take care of myself. Going back and cleaning up messes I made in the past. Learning to trust myself to keep me safe, not only from others, but from my own poor decisions. Learning to be more INDEPENDENT as well as inter-dependent.

lesson learned


Your post resonates so well with me right now. I”m able to care for myself physically, but just barely. Still working on getting the house up to speed. Trying to figure out what to do with school, still dealing with one class. Being able to take my kids where they need to go. Getting to therapy each week, taking my meds….

But frustrated with the apathy at the same time.

I’m having a hard time being where I’m at right now. There is something to that too. I’m finding that I’m not the “success” I wish I was or want to be, as if that makes a difference.

I have no idea what I want to do with my life now. I’ve spent ten years catering to this man, and avoiding ME.

NOw that i have to look at me, I have no idea what i’m looking AT>

Thanks for your post to Sky



Good morning, everyone!
I wanted to back up and respond to the excellent coversation between LL, Skylar, and Oxy about security and survival. Oxy, I echo your thoughts.

First, LL, you say you have to feel differently to act differently. I have found this not to be the case at all for me, but I certainly have felt the way you feel. When my old bf of 3 years – the one I was in love with – discarded me over 10 years ago. I was numb and suicidal. I didn’t feel like doing anything but lying in bed. But I had no choice. I forced myself to get a temporary office job to pay my rent. I dressed up in office clothes and dealt with condescending doctors and judgmental co-workers because I HAD to. I made myself do it. It sucked and I hated it. 10 years later, I’m still at the same job (it was always a part-time job), and I actually like it a lot these days. I have grown so much in that job and learned how to be a professional. I learned how to just “show up” no matter how I was feeling, and to become part of a team. Now the job has morphed into something else. It is a way to finance my traveling, and has allowed me to have multiple streams of income, like my massage career and teaching dance lessons. It pays all my bills. I have decent medical benefits and 6 weeks of paid vacation a year. I am grateful for the office job.

15 years ago, I was a stripper. If any of you think I actually FELT like dressing in lingerie and stripping in front of total strangers, you are WAY off base. I did it because I HAD to in order to get out of a bad relationship. It worked, and I learned so much from that job. I have even written a short story about it. I believe that you don’t need to “feel” it to do it. Just do it. Just take the classes. Take the lessons. Whatever it is that you have an inkling to do. You will learn something from doing it, even if you learn that you’re not ready to be out in the world with people. Just do it.

In another vein, recently, I forced myself to exercise every day for 3 weeks. I hated exercising, but I just kept doing it because I want to get into a bikini in Costa Rica. After about 3 weeks, the endorphins kicked in and I started looking forward to exercising. I couldn’t wait to go to the gym. I think if you just act like what you want to be, eventually your emotions will follow.

Regarding security and the future: (Hope you don’t mind hearing the world according to Star – lol). There IS no such thing as real security. It is an illusion. At any time, anything could happen to us. With the economy crashing in recent years, millions of people have lost their retirement, their homes, and everything they called security. I think it is forcing people to redefine their idea of security. For me, I started living in the now, which means not worrying about the future. I have been putting money in an emergency fund for years, saving for the future. Well, the future is now! I started spending some of my hard-earned money in my tiny savings account to have fun. And the IRONY is that because I’m enjoying myself more, the universe is providing me with more income. I’m getting more massage clients. I started giving dance lessons. I have a client coming tomorrow who pre-pays for 10 sessions. That is half my trip to CR!

I’m waiting to read a book called “Die Broke”. It talks about a new paradigm of security for a new economy. This is not just for single people, but he also mentions teaching your children the philosophy. I can’t wait to read it.

I also used to seek out men who had money because I believed my security will come through a man. After dating a bunch of rich controlling assholes, like the one who discarded me all those years ago, I have come to look for totally different qualities in a man. I don’t need a man to support me any more. It’s about time – I’m 50!

lesson learned


I thank you SO MUCH for writing that! Could you come back from to time and kick my butt into gear? LOL!

I’ve decided to continue with school. Taking the term off was the right thing to do. I want to join the gym SO BAD, but I don’t have the money to do it right now. I have to BITE MY TONGUE everytime I pass the gym up the street and I’d give ANYTHING to join. ANYTHING. I have a lot of positive feeling about going and wanting to exercise to work through stress. I so so so SO SO wish I could do it! It’s one thing I think that would be positive and new for me that I could stay committed to to help me get through this. AND it’s just right up the street!! lol! 25 dollars a month doesn’t sound like much, but when you don’t have it, it’s a lot, unfortunately.

Yep, I’m doing this because I HAVE too. I don’t see choices in the matter other than sitting passively by. I’m not likely to do that. I really appreciate you sharing this Star. I really really really do. It means so much to me right now!!


Ox Drover

STAR, great post. LL—I agree with Star, you have to DO something, make yourself DO something, even if it is only get out of bed and take a bath.

“Security” is definitely an illusion—look at what the Jews before WWII had in Germany. They lost everything they had and their lives to boot many of them, so no matter how much money we have or land or people who love us we CAN lose it all in a heart beat or the change of a government. Or ill health or a lot of things.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a “rainy day” fund or that we should spend every dollar as soon as we get it so we don’t “die with a bank account”—I am a frugal person but I do spend money on myself more now, but at the same time, I couldn’t sleep if I was at this stage in my life broke because I took a vacation and spent all of my “rainy day” funds.

In many ways I’m secure, I have a tiny retirement income and don’t owe anyone anything so I count my blessings every day. The REASON I have the retirement income and the paid for house etc. though is because I WORKED MY ARSE OFF and did without a lot of vacations that others took instead of them saving their money for a rainy day or paying off their house note, and now those people ARE LOSING their houses because they can’t pay the mortgage and I’m not in that shape.

So I do caution people to think before they spend money and watch the PENNIES and the dollars will take care of themselves.

I know plenty of people who spend $8 or $10 a day for lunches and Lattes, and I always carried my lunch to work…well $10 a day X 5 days=$50 a week x 52 weeks= $1100 per year just for lunch and a latte—and yea, I know, I smoked up a lot more $$$ than that! LOL And of course, each of us have to make CHOICES about how we spend our money that we earn but I chose to save some of mine rather than buy lunch out every day. That’s just one example, though.

LL as far as exercising—YOU DO NOT NEED A GYM MEMBERSHIP to exercise. You can make weights out of water bottles or cola bottles and you can make a Stair stepper step out of a couple of thick books, and you can dance to music on the radio and exercise for FREE at home. The free treadmill is right out side your door, it is called a SIDEWALK! LOL A guy membership isn’t a magic pill, it is the moving, so get moving!

BTW exercise is good for the spirit as well as the body as it raises our “feel good” hormones and gives us more energy which helps to decrease our depression.

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