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Psychopaths’ cat and mouse game

Editor’s note: This article was submitted by Steve Becker, LCSW, CH.T, who has a private psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and clinical consulting practice in New Jersey, USA. For more information, visit his website, powercommunicating.com.

Have you ever seen a cat toy with a stunned, cornered mouse? How it will capture the mouse, dangle it in its mouth for a while, release it momentarily, allowing the mouse the pretense of an escape, only to recapture it, dangle it some more from its mouth, perhaps release it again briefly, now to watch the mouse, increasingly frantic, make another escape bid, only to recapture it, now letting the terrorized mouse (and, as if it’s fate) dangle yet some more, in dreadful uncertainty?

If the mouse could think, it might have thoughts like these: “What will this cat do with me? How long will it continue to toy with me? Will it kill me, or let me go? Strangely, this cat seems to be deriving a perverse pleasure in my predicament. My helplessness and suffering seem to be entertaining and amusing this cat. There is something cold and sadistic about this—that this cat could be using, and exploiting, my vulnerability in this way for its personal, shallow gratification?”

The mouse would think, “there is something wrong with this cat.”

In this analogy, the mouse’s imagined experience of the cat captures, I believe, the victim’s experience of the psychopath. Cats, of course, are not psychopaths, and mice, although traumatizable, are unlikely to experience their victimization in quite so thoughtful a way.

But to elaborate the analogy, let us imagine what’s taking place in the cat’s mind. The cat may be thinking, “This is fun. The mouse I’m terrorizing is pathetic. Look how scared and confused it is. It has no idea what’s in store for it. Even I haven’t decided what’s in store for it. I’m enjoying its helplessness, and my total control over it, too much to worry about my plans for this mouse. I find it amusing that its playing dead. Does this mouse think it can fool me? I, and only I, will determine whether the mouse lives or dies. Presently I’m going to release and taunt it again, with the illusion of escape. When I recapture it immediately, it will be trembling with fear, a prisoner to my designs. This is pretty funny. It’s not that I have anything personal against mice. As a matter of fact, they provide me with a great source of recreation.”

The cat in this analogy (and let me stress that I like cats, who don’t really think like this), captures with a chilling fidelity the perspective of psychopaths towards their victims. It is all there: the cat’s utter lack of empathy for the mouse; its view of the mouse as an “object” that exists to be exploited for its benefit; its amusement at having created the mouse’s predicament, now to watch and enjoy the mouse’s futile bids at escape; its contempt for the mouse’s helplessness and desperation, which the cat, of course, has opportunistically established for its own entertainment; its relish in its omnipotence to decide the mouse’s fate, but only when it is good and ready, and no sooner than the cat has mined the mouse’s helplessness for its full recreational value.

In sum, this is the essence of the psychopath: his joy of the hunt, his contempt for his prey, and his intention to take everything he can, and wants, from his victim.

When the psychopath takes you for a ride—that is, when he is victimizing people—it’s really not personal: You’re simply not enough of a person for it to be personal. In the psychopath’s eyes, you are an expedient, nothing more. When he crosses your path, the psychopath is assessing your expediency. He is asking himself, “Is there something this impending-sucker has for me? Is there something I can take from this fool that I want? Something I can take that will make me feel good?”

As part of his assessment, he is evaluating the kind of target you’ll be. If he decides to pass, it won’t be because he likes you, or feels something charitable; it will be because he’s decided that, either you have nothing, after all, worth taking, or that you’ll pose inconveniences and/or risks to his present self-interests that he prefers to avoid.

For the psychopath, you are like a sealed, vulnerable envelope he is constantly espying, with suspected money inside. He isn’t sure how much money, but he’s pretty sure there’s something in it. It might be a little, it might be a lot; it’s possible there’s too little (or nothing) of value worth his bothering with. Surely, though, he is scheming how best to glimpse what’s in the envelope, and how best to lift anything worth taking.

The psychopath is a high, and often imprudent, risk-taker; he’s in it for the catch, not to be caught. You, and all human beings, are mere commodities to him: maybe useful, maybe not. Certainly, once he’s expended your use, to the psychopath you’ll be as useless as a nagging headache.


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Gosh, it’s just hard to believe people actually think this way. I mean, I admit at times I have sized up people for what they might be able to provide for me, to use in someway, but I also know that I was much younger then. I think it was a bit more of immaturity than anything. I don’t really do that anymore, and when I did, I never thought about intentionaly hurting them or anything like that. It was an immature, self-serving way about me that I really have overcome. I have way too big a conscience to intentionally hurt someone.

I havent had contact with the S since his mask was uncovered. But I am still weary of him. I still have dreams with him in it. But he’s always at an opposing end. Us looking at each other from a distance. I dreamed I recieved an email from him, and it upset me (in the dream…and while awake). Why cant this experience just be over. It seems it just goes on and on in my mind….like the ‘Rumination’ post…..

Strange that, I bought him a book as a fun present, it was called ‘A cat and mouse love story’! Because that is exactly what it felt like. I knew he was up to something, or pretending to be up to something. It was a matter of catching him out and I tried many times. But like any Narcissist, he must have had a kick out of giving me the evidence on his phone, which he of course planned.

sometimes i wonder if their thinking goes that deep.

for example, when we display compassion, do we work on automatic or do we sit down and analyze what we do?

i think for me, i am automatic. seeing someone in distress, i automatically reach out. if someone falls, i stop to help them up.

i don’t even think about it. not for a second. if there is an accident, i call 911. there is no hesitation, as that is who i am. i act on automatic.

my experience with an S lasted five years. and i think in that time i saw little cracks of windows to his thinking open.

sometimes he would ask ‘why do people think i’m such a dick?’ and if i pointed out examples (that had nothing to do with me) i saw him actually try to rectify the situation. unfortunately, the behavior did not last.

he would end up resenting his actions, and get angry with the person he was making “amends” with.

during our last conversation, he said ‘but i don’t know what to do to show you i love you’ and i think he was being honest. he really doesn’t know what to do.

compassion, empathy, love, all that is not automatic with him. he guesses at how to behave in a relationship, and tries to imitate a human being, but it just isn’t him.

he always asked me again and again, what should i do? how do i show you i love you? how do i stop hurting you?

he has even admitted to manipulating me ‘i told you that to get you to shut up about it!’ ‘i asked you to marry me to get you to answer the phone – i know i told you i had a ring, but i was just trying to get back with you.’

in the end, my last question to him was ‘what can you possibly dangle in front of me, possibly say, promise or offer, that i will believe?’

and he had to agree, there was nothing left. his manipulations were exhausted. but i don’t think he is manipulating me as part of a master plan to use me. i don’t think he sized me up to see what kind of target i was.

he manipulated me because he thinks that’s how it works. he thinks that’s what i do. that’s what you do. that’s what we all do. his experience of life is that manipulation equals love.

when he regrets an abuse of me, i know he doesn’t regret it because it hurt me, he regrets it because it hurts his self-image of a “good guy.”

he has no clue, like the cat, that i might suffer from his abuse. it is not part of him to see my suffering.

but maybe i am naive, and he really has sat and calculated how he could use me for his own pleasure. someone told me yesterday, ‘he was just using you.’ right now, i don’t think that way.

i am thinking that he acts just as the cat does. or the scorpion. they are what they are. they do what they do. it is automatic. when he gets a negative reaction, he is stunned.

cat owners are encouraged to praise their pet when she brings in a dead mouse, because to a cat, that is the way she shows her love. the cat has no idea how we feel about dead mice…

sometimes when i think of him purposely thinking about ways to manipulate me, i end up thinking that he has control over his behavior and can change. if he is hurting me conciously, he can change right?

i don’t think they go that deep. they just find a mouse and kill it, thinking it is what everyone does.

but deep inside, he knows we don’t.

as a final irony to this, i told him that if he loves me, he can show me by not contacting me again. he said to prove his love, he won’t.

maybe the only loving promise he can keep is the one that finally destroys our relationship for good….

lg

Sociopaths do intentionally hurt and they put as much thought into it as is needed. My ex hurt me and intended to hurt me. I didn’t see it until I found out everything and pieced together my life with him. When we were together he treated me well if that’s what he had to do to get what he wanted. If he treated me openly badly he apologized and it ended up being poor him. The rest of the time he made me feel crazy by saying things that I didn’t know how to take and then would either tell me I was too sensitive or he didn’t mean anything by it or made me feel guilty for thinking he could do or say something like that intentionally. He has been cruel at times since he said he was leaving. He planned what day he would tell me to inflict the most pain. He toyed with me telling me on the phone I love you and then saying I just mean it like I care about what you’re going through. Telling me he was going to go to marriage counseling and maybe we could date and see how things go. This was all before he moved out because he had to keep me under his control, but at the same time he was enjoying the cat and mouse game. It made him feel powerful. All this while at the same time manipulating the girlfriend into thinking I was the crazy wife he was strapped with.

I’ve been conflicted with feeling sorry for him because he has obvious PDs. (although not so obvious to me while in the marriage or I’m sure not so obvious to the gf now) But I refuse to ever again feel sorry for someone who plans and manipulates and plays games with peoples lives including his child. He knows right from wrong. He doesn’t care. He does what he feels like doing because he feels like doing it. Screw everybody else. And if by chance he doesn’t screw you it’s because it fits into how he’s going to get what he wants. Even now a part of me feels like a bad person for not wanting to look at him like he’s sick and can’t help it, the person I loved for so long. This is the difference between me and him.

trying to recover, i understand exactly how you feel. for a long time, i thought he was sadistically torturing me. but i think my perception of things is different.

i know my S was cruel. i know he knew he was hurting me, and admitted to it. but what i believe is that his cruelty is not about me. what i doubt now is whether or not it was all part of a master plan to hurt ME.

was it a part of a master plan to give him a rush? yes.
was it part of a master plan to feel powerful? yes
was it part of a master plan to win? yes
was it part of a master plan to avoid feeling any
pain himself? yes….

but was it designed to hurt me? i don’t think i mattered that much in the grand master plan…i know for a fact he did this to women before me and he will do it to them after me.

i heard yesterday that someone overheard my S maybe having a phone conversation with another woman. yes, it hurts to know he is just switching partners instead of reflecting on how he hurt me.

but after a few minutes of pain, a thought hit me. my S does not like to think of himself as a bad guy. yes, he knows he crushed me so many times, but he can’t sit with that thought. he can’t sit with guilt. he can’t sit with feeling bad, he needs immediate relief.

i now am a living testament to what a cruel disgusting person he is. he sees that now when he looks at me.

a lack of conscience combined with a need for immediate relief and satisfaction combined with an impulsiveness that cannot consider the consequences of what he does makes for someone who can be intensely cruel and can replace partners at a whim.

but it is not about me. it is and has always been, all about him.

so instead of reflecting on his behavior the way those of us with a conscience do, he moves for immediate relief. another woman, who is flush with the “newness of his pursuit.” i remember well what it felt like for those first few weeks.

i even remember saying, ‘controlling? you are not controlling, how could a woman say that about you?’

it isn’t about hurting me, it is about providing himself immediate relief from any uncomfortable feelings he may have. he cannot deal with them. they must be destroyed.

having a new woman who doesn’t yet know his dark side is the best way to destroy any chance of him having to look at himself in the mirror.

for years, having me by his side allowed him to project all the bad feelings that he did not want to deal with onto me.

have you experienced your S accusing you of the things he does? of course he wants you to feel crazy, then he does not have to look at how insane he is. it isn’t you – you are just carrying around his backpack of craziness for him.

and you carry it because you have the wonderful healthy ability to reflect on yourself. when he looks in the mirror and sees a dirty face, then he blames you for not washing the mirror.

“have you experienced your S accusing you of the things he does? of course he wants you to feel crazy, then he does not have to look at how insane he is. it isn’t you – you are just carrying around his backpack of craziness for him”

yes, BUT he said those things…such as I AM the sociopath ( I had never even mentioned this to him or knew anything about psychopathy at the time) to HURT me. Yes, I agree he’d hurt anyone in my place, BUT he did it to get-off on pain. Mine loved to inflict pain, he read about killers, talked about killing exwives and used to write stories about torture. What a guy.

It’s not incidental, the game is fun for them.

My sociopath intentionally hurt me as I recall. Several years ago, when I got pregnant, he said I was a sort of psycho to have this baby and asked me to have an abortion. Well, I miscarried the baby. He never comforted me for the loss. He stood me up many Christmas holidays to be with the other woman (I did not know this real reason until recently). He said all crazy things like why he cannot spend the holiday with me, his student committed suicide (well, he is a university professor), his car broke down, he is working for the government for a secret mission. On the last Christmas day, he was not with me again. I finally suspected he could be a cheater and sent him an e-mail to ask if he was married or not. He replied to me with an e-Christmas card simply saying one sentence “Sorry, you deserve much better…” A few weeks ago, he sent me a Birthday card saying, I am sorry that I am such a BIG ***! Hopefully, you enjoyed your day! Isn’t that so cruel? I think he expected to see me hurt and miserable, because this way he can feel power over me. But this time, it did not happen. I hired a private investigator to finally reveal his double life. Since I exposed him, he has been silent. I guess that’s a game over to him. But not for me. I am so angry.

i hear you guys…and i am wondering….

does the cat know he is batting the mouse around? does he know he is eviscerating it? does he cause pain to the mouse?

of course.

but in my opinion, the only one who sees him as a predator is the mouse.
that cat? well, he just likes the taste of mouse.

i know you are angry. i know there is a hole in your chest that is so heavy that you can’t breathe.

i know the anger is protecting you right now. it protected me for a long time, but i also know it kept me ruminating and tied up in knots and still connected to him.

i still have flashbacks that make me spit on his memory. i literally spit when i think of what he did to me.

but maybe i am evolving in my process, from anger to a stage of acceptance, and from there i can move on.

for me, believing he did any of this “on purpose” keeps me hopeful that he will magically see the error of his ways and make it up to me. that if he can be bad on purpose, he can also be good on purpose.

i don’t think he has the capacity to understand that he is not human. he is not like me, and if i keep viewing him from my window, i will never see that. i need to look at him through a window i never knew existed.

once i see his limitations and accept him for who he is, i can let him go.

i do know that over the past months, i feel peace in my life again.

Cats, like most predators, assess their possible prey to see which is the weakest, the least likely to actually hurt them, and cats, unlike other predators, do seem to “enjoy” playing with their prey. This is also the way that they train their babies to kill.

Years ago when I worked with African wildlife, we actually trained some captive raised large cats to kill, by simulating the methods used by housecats. We brought purposely injured, nearly dead animals to the cats, and as the cats learned to kill and eat, we eventually brought them unhurt animals to persue andkill before the cats were released into the wild.

One of the things I noticed when we started doing this is the the prey animals somehow self-calm, and thought they are not dead, somehow the seem to not feel the pain. It is a kind of shock that sets in when they know they are trapped and cannot get away. This same self calming techniques are now used with both domestic cattle and with handling wild life that is captive raised. When they are securely held they will stop the struggle.

I think in many ways, we as victims of the predators (psychopaths) also stop struggling to get away. Somehow they have a “hold” on us so that we can’t imagine trying to escape, or if we do we come back into their clutches.

Just as we can’t “fault” a cat (even a well fed domestic one) from chasing and playing with a captured mouse (the instinct is there) he is “just being what he is” a predator. We cna’t fault the Psychopath for being a psychopath and picking out victims and “playing with” them. After all, to them, we are just another prey species and they are the predators and do what predators have done since the beginning of time.

We as potential or actual victims (survivors) need to learn from our experiences of being in the clutches of the predator, learn what the signs of a predator are, how to spot them (they do after all appear to be a sub-species of humans) and to differentiate them from “real humans” with real emotions and real feelings.

the diffrence between animals and these s path s is that animals dont pretend to be anything they are not and spaths pretend to be normal to ge twhat they want. eventually they sometimes forgett to pretend or they accidently let their gaurd down and we all go what the hell was that. we get a glimpse of the real craziness of the s path which makes us start to question, what they do. we just see little bits here and there of the weirdness he lets slips thru and you know something is not natural in that behaviour sometimes its so subtle we dont believe our eyes or ears but its there. its not natural like animal or cats or any other human being. besides cats kill to feed to survive. spaths can survive without it but they behave this way wether its planned or instinctual i dont know but i think their brain makes them behave this way and i think part of this is the brain making them plan to do these things. does that make sense cause ive been trying to work it out ever since i met the s path. feel free to coment.

Oxdrover. I refer to them as a sub culture. A culture amongst us, but not acting for the good of the collective, but rather exploiting and creating chaos and pain. Secretly wanting to be part of the collective but hating it like any angry disaffected teenager. And in the process thinking because they use tricks and illusions to suck us in, that that makes them superior because of that calculated exploitation – their power trip?.

In reading the ‘Art of Seduction’ so, much in that book reflects their behaviour. The distancing, the pain and pleasure technique, the short sharp shock. My ex N was bonded to his cat which looked like a tiger and he would often tell with pride when his male cat had bought in dead prey.

Lillygirl. I too am still bound up in disbelief and anger, and what compounds that anger for me, is anger at myself briefly for allowing it go on, when I just knew he was wrong from the start, but I kept overriding my intuitions and listening to his plausible excuses. I remember making a conscious decision that I had to go along with it – whether that is part of the mind control, I dont know.

I so agree with your comments and i can see how they careful craft their responses and that this is not a conscious intention to get at us in the normal convention. It is more a way to play out their omnipotence and the rush it gives them which kicks in when one of their voices is giving them grief. The voice of false self which starts directing them and gives them the kind of tension they know they must break before they get relief. In a sense they are setting up their own pain and pleasure cycle and we happened to get caught up in it. We also need to look within to find out why we have engaged with such a person. Does this make sense?

I now understand more, but he had every opportunity to tell me about his feelings but he lied to me at the beginning, knowing that he had a defect and hinting at it sometimes, but not openly telling me, so that I was putting everything into a relationship that was doomed to fail and I feel angry at him and myself for that.

you know something funny my ex s path loves cats he has a big panther tatooed on his back and his fav football teams are panthers and tigers. that is soo funny i never thought of this before till i read this .also i reallylike cats too i grew up always having cats, but i never thought about comparing his behaviour that way till i read here. . they really are like cats on the prowl for woman feeding their apetite for sex and what ever else and playing around looking for excitement. mine loves excitement he gets bored alone so always seeks female company. he was also vain as hell and i think cats are always grooming them selfs and strutting around like hey look at me. so similar really and i think cats even have many mates not just one either. but i like cats so now i dont want to think about the similar ways to s paths.

OxDriver,
Your observations about the victim giving in and the P having a hold on them really struck a cord. That is exactly the way I felt, almost zombie like and completely resigned to his control. I was very isolated from my friends at the time as I was having an affair but I know if they had seen me with him, they would not have recognised me. Normally I am an outoing person and not shy ay all but when I was with him I was a quiet little mouse. There were times when I was hardly able to speak at all.
Two years on I feel almost like myself again and I look back and wonder who was that person? and how could I have let this happen? I do understand all the ploys and manipulation coupled with my vulnerablilities but it still shocks me. It’s like I am talking about someone else.

Swallow

This made me laugh – I never liked cats but got one recently (and she’s marvellous – much better than that idiot); partly as my ex-S won me round to them!

Anyway: When shortly after we first met and he messed me around and all the women in the office were discussing how he’d wronged them, I discovered he’d proclaimed that he was in love to this other woman (one of many) in the office and she’d said to a friend that he was like a cat ‘interested in you but the minute you’re not there and someone else’s fridge door is open…’

She was very astute that woman! When we got back together I told him of this (didn’t reveal source…could have been anyone!) and actually joked that he was a cat…

I think what’s amazing to us all is that their behaviour doesn’t change even when they’re told we can see through it and even when they seem to acknowledge it a bit.

i am getting a lot from this thread – i am glad i am here….

beverly, i find myself resistant to the idea that there is somehow something inside me that made me engage with such a person. i don’t think there is anything about me, except for my goodness, my empathy and caring that kept me here, and as far as i am concerned, i am keeping those qualities.

yesterday i posted this below under ruminations, but i also believe it applies to why we found ourselves stuck with a S. it has to do with our reasonable expectations of how someone will behave who says they love us, and the ways a S’s manipulations turn us away from our own needs in favor of theirs –

i copied and pasted it below, let me know what you think —-
______

i find myself here a lot lately. i guess i am in the acute stage of no contact and i need an outlet for my anxiety,

anyway, i am thinking about ruminations last night i wrote a little about why i think we begin ruminating.

i read an out of print book called stop! you’re making me crazy! and while much of the book didn’t apply to me, it did explain one crucial aspect of why i ruminated on my S’s behavior.

it begins with expectations. i have a close friend who constantly tries to get me to deny my expectations, who says i set myself up by having them. that they are too high.

i don’t believe that. i believe our expectations in life are what we have come to know as our reality. it is our security in trusting our perceptions. it is the way we are able to go out in the world and trust that we won’t be harmed.

the book talks about a waitress, who comes to your table and says ‘i’ll be your server tonight, whatever you need, i’ll take care of you.’

but then she proceeds to ignore you for the next two hours.

are you wrong to expect her to serve you? i don’t think so.

and if you complain and she responds with ‘screw you’ your expectations clash with her response.

you just can’t figure it out. was it something you did? did you not hear her right? don’t waitresses usually take your dinner order? isn’t that your experience?

you get angry and try to get her to change her attitude so you can feel more comfortable, knowing your experience of reality is sound. you are safe in your perception of the world.

but if you complain and she responds with ‘i am so sorry, but i just got a call that my father had a heart attack and was taken by ambulance to the hospital’ your anger, confusion and rumination ends immediately.

you end up caring for the waitress, forgetting your own immediate need for dinner, and realize that yes, she was supposed to take your order, but there was a good reason she didn’t. you are safe.

i think in our relationships with S’s, like i said last night in my post, is that our S’s tell us they love us, make us feel loved, and our expectation is that if they love us, they are on our side, they want us to be happy.

that expectation is not wrong at all. our expectation is reasonable.

but what happens is while they tell us they love us, they treat us like the enemy.

immediately, like in the restaurant, we try to figure it out. was it something we did? did we hear right?

and then throw in a friend who innocently says, ‘your expectations are too high,’ and it is easy to understand why we start to ruminate.

when we express our distress to the S, he/she seizes on the opportunity to garner our caring and pushes us to forget our own needs, just as we forget about ordering our dinner when we hear of the waitress’ misfortune.

The S’s are masters at this, i truly believe it is at the core of all of this insanity.

i think one of the ways to stop ruminating is to try to understand why it begins, at least that helped me. i no longer go over and over and over things in my head. just understanding that simple, logical idea has helped me a lot.

my expectations when i entered this relationship were reasonable and sound. when someone loves me, they want the best for me. that is reasonable. i didn’t expect too much when i believed he wouldn’t crush me.

that is why i think we have such trouble letting these relationships go.

the waitress never comes back to the table and gives us a reasonable explanation. she just says ‘screw you.’

our sense of a secure reality is shaken to its core, and is replaced with a fear of the dangerously unknown. nothing is as we believed.

but then i remember that when i go out in the world, police have guns, but they don’t open fire on innocent people. other drivers don’t purposely crash their cars into me. my son’s teacher doesn’t let him out of the building on his own.

so except for this small number of S’s, i think we can be pretty secure in our perception of reality. our expectations are reasonable.

so, despite what my friend says, i will continue to keep my expectations
___________________

take care everyone, i appreciate you all being there. this is the hardest thing i’ve ever endured in my life. and only by writing and reading am i fighting off the pull back to him. i still ache inside for him and that is scary.

lilygirl

i am getting a lot from this thread – i am glad i am here….

beverly, i find myself extremely resistant to the idea that there is somehow something inside me that made me engage with such a person.

i don’t think there is anything about me, except for my goodness, my empathy and caring that kept me here, and as far as i am concerned, i am keeping those qualities.

yesterday under the ruminations post, i posted a story about our expectations when a waitress comes to our table in a restaurant, but i believe it also applies to why we found ourselves stuck with a S.

it has to do with our reasonable expectations of how someone will behave who says they love us, and the ways a S’s manipulations turn us away from our own needs in favor of theirs – it is a simple psychological process that hooks us again and again into thinking of their needs and forgetting our own.

of doubting ourselves in favor of their views. of carrying around the feeling like we are off balance, because our reasonable expectation – our very life experience – is shaken to the core and makes us doubt our perceptions.

we easily get sucked down into doubting everything we believed was true about life.

i think it could happen to anyone. we are not to blame in any way whatsoever. i know that for sure.

if another counselor said the word ‘codependent’ to me i think i would have screamed! i was not joining him in this sickness, i was not enabling him.

abused people are not codependent, they are victims of a crime…i think the very idea of codependency is utter nonsense.

take care everyone, i appreciate you all being there. this is the hardest thing i’ve ever endured in my life. and only by writing and reading am i fighting off the pull back to him. i still ache inside for him and that is scary.

lilygirl

lilygirl

You said:

“but maybe i am naive, and he really has sat and calculated how he could use me for his own pleasure. someone told me yesterday, ’he was just using you.’ right now, i don’t think that way.”

I used to not think that way about The Wolf, too. Thought him just confused, scared, maybe quirky…but this time around, I realized that he deliberately set out to damage people. Some of the details change because of the way you interact with them, like maybe if you do x, y, or z it can momentarily change the outcome of a discussion, or an evening, or even extend the length of time the cat toys with the mouse before moving in for the kill….but those are just minor adjustments.

Overall, the plan (atleast with this particular S/P) is to maximize damage and take away from you everything good he can get his hands on – your words, thoughts, heart, soul.

When I realized this, I could lie to myself no longer: the malicious intent was there. If the intent was there, the knowledge of what he was doing was also there.

As to Swallow’s comment about being shy, quiet around him – I am just coming out of this, and finding it hard not to be that way around other people, particularly men. It’s so not me to be this retiring wallflower – but after every put-down, every argument and question he gave me, saying I was nutty or — get this — calling ME a psychopath out of nowhere….I became afraid to even speak.

Thankfully, it passes.

lilorphan –
i appreciate your insight. i am not saying my S is confused or scared or quirky – i know he is an S and is dangerous to me.

but i don’t believe after my five years of putting this jigsaw puzzle together, that he is intentionally setting out to hurt me.
i am not saying he does not “enjoy” hurting me, he does. he gets a power trip from it, he gets off on it. he feels omnipotent.

but he doesn’t have to set out to hurt me, this is what he does, how he is. it isn’t intentional, it is who he is.

i used to think this was intentional, i don’t anymore. i think he is not human, as i know a human to be.

i think of him as a vampire.
he feeds off me to sustain himself.
he has no reflection because he is an empty soul.
he operates under the cover of darkness.
the symbol of a cross, representing goodness, keeps him away.

but i don’t think the vampire intentionally sets out to do this, it is how he lives – without giving it a second thought.

In my case, I believe his behavior was hardwired into him and then reinforced with success. He knows he’s broken and can even express frustration with it at time — or maybe pretend to? But by and large, he knows he’s a predator and acknowledges that he loves being one. Asking him to be a regular, normal, ordinary husband would like asking my cat to stop chasing the fuzzy little mouse toys that substitute for real prey in a housecat’s life. It’s in his nature and it entertains him. He sees no harm in it because these things aren’t even real, for goodness sake. Just as we aren’t real to the sociopaths we’ve loved. We’re here for their entertainment.

I loaned the sociopath over 60k during my relationship with him. I contacted him this morning about repayment of the loan; and he went ballistic on me. Even though, he promised to pay the loan on 2/15/08.

I’m trying to move on with my life. However, it is very difficult to overlook the loan.

Please, I need guidance in this matter.

notquitebroken –

wow, were we with the same guy?

mine would talk at length about how broken he is, and at times i believe he is tormented by it.

but at the same time, he expects to just be accepted. that i should honestly just stand there and let him beat the crap out of me. he cannot, to save his life, see my suffering.

he doesn’t see a reason to change. i think he believes that when he finds the ‘right woman’ she will cure him of all his ills.

anyway, i am celebrating a monumental 10 days of nc today, and geez, the phone is quiet. the email is quiet. he was a caller too, especially when he is idealizing me (which, is now).

he was begging me back for the millionth time, and i told him, if he loves me, he will show me by letting me go. stopping the calls. stopping the manipulations.

and they have stopped. the silence is extremely loud….

that’s why i keep coming here. just to know someone is out there….

and today, we had 6 inches of snow. one of the only things he ever did for me was send a man who works for him to plow my driveway.

the man still came today and plowed it. i am sure it is just that he comes automatically and my S didn’t think to tell him to stay away.

but still, i stood in the backyard with my dog, snow falling around me, and cried my eyes out.

lilygirl

Lilygirl,

I agree with so many of your insights. I myself initially ruminated on the sociopath in my life. Then I got mad and began reading everything I could get my hands on: books on stalking, books on sociopathism, emotional intelligence, etc. I admit that I have formed a lot of insights and my insights are along the lines of yours. I finally got educated enough and knew that s.p well enough that I was able to almost completely prevent her from stalking my family. Understanding saved us.

I also agree with the experts that sociopathism is extremely perplexing. More precisely the experts say that our minds do not work at all like a sp’s…so our attempts to fully comprehend them and their motivations are perhaps doomed to failure. Our very basic goodness, rationally, compassion, and EMPATHY invariably push us onto the incorrect path. It is just so difficult to us, in our humanness, to believe that VAMPIRES do exist……

And I find that even those closest to us, in the end, could not bring themselves to admit that the s.p. existed. So, we had to break some family ties as well….because they kept ‘helping’ the sociopath, showing her pity, and then condemning us…after all, we were told, “there is good in everybody.” And so we were condemned for not embracing our stalker, the sociopath.

Thanks for your postings.

CassieJWJ

Bookworm, get an attorney. Fight for your money, if you can produce the trail of records. Actually, there are some helpful laws about this sort of de-frauding.

One piece of experienced advice: you may have to meet with MANY, many attorneys before you find the right one. Many attorneys prefer to just blame the victim–these types will tell you there is nothing to be done.

We met with three attorneys while trying to stop the stalking (which was done by email, phone, fax, and notes taped on our house and car; rather than traditional physical stalking) and most of the attorneys seemed unfamiliar with the laws against this. Most attorneys find a comfortable spot in which they have knowledge. Instead, you want one that is willing to do some research and be open minded.

CassieJWJ

Bookworm, he will NEVER WILLINGLY REPAY THE LOAN, unless you have legal recorses that you can take, my advice is to “give it up” and chalk it down to the “price of tuition” in the “school of hard knocks.”

That is what they do. Been there, done that, got 2 tee shirts. I am not making light of your plight, but they are con-men, scam artists, etc. he never had any intention of repaying you. He used you for a sucker. That is a hard pill to swallow, and if you have to swallow 60,000 of them you will need more than one glass of water to get them down.

If you have anything signed, or he has a job, or you think you can collect it that way, I say get an attorney and go for it. If he got the money by “deception” you MIGHT be able to get him prosecuted for fraud. It probably won’t get your money back but might give you some satisfraction.

My late husband’s company was literally STOLEN and RAPED by psychopathic corporate raiders…successfully. He did get the empty shells back but all assets were gone. he was not able to prosecute them but eventually at least one of them was prosecuted and convicted and sent to prison for 4 years. Just like the Enron guys and their fraud, but it didn’t get the money back for the investors. Good luck.

Lilygirl, the “something inside us” that I think is what makes us victims is that we WANT to think the best of people, and sometimes that wanting lets us “overlook” faults to a fault, and also victims many times are “enabling” which is simply that we do for others what they have the responsibility to do for themselves, it is not the same as “helping” someone.

It is loaning them money to bail them out of jail, it is being their servant, putting up with little abuses that then grow into bigger abuses. It is believing their lies that are obviously lies, it is trusting too much when our “guts” tell us not to.

I know that I was “programed” in childhood that “forgiving” someone a “mistake” was to “pretend it never happened” and that I had to suffer the consequences of some one else’s bad behavior rather than “hold a grudge” (hold them accountable) for their behavior. That I had to “forgive” (pretend it didn’t happen OVER AND OVER with no sign of repentence or regret on their part.

Now I realize that forgiveness means getting the bitterness out of my own heart for what they ahve done, but it does not mean that they do not have to bear the consequences of their behavior EVEN IF THEY DO REPENT which a psychopath will never do though they may mouth the platitudes of it. They don’t feel it. They won’t change their behavior in the long haul.

Someone saying I “made a mistake” and “I’m sorry” doesnt’ cut it. A mistake is when you add 2 and 2 and put 5 in the check book, a DELIBERATE is seeing another woman for two months. It is NOT a mistake. Ps commit “deliberates” and then try to pass them off as “mistakes” which were UN intentional…

Even if you do accidently make a mistake you are still responsible for the consequences, if you add your bank balance wrong by accident and over draw you still have to pay the bank. Telling them “I’m sorry” won’t cut it. You still have to pay.

Robbing a bank (a deliberate) won’t cut it when the cops haul you in and you say “I am really sorry, it was all just a mistake. so I will just go on home now and I promise not to do it again.” You are still going to have to do the time and the consequences.

Yet we (victims) “forgive” them time and time again for deliberates and hope that they will change without consequences.

Unfortunately, with Ps even consequences do not make them change their behavior. They rationalize that getting caught was not their fault, and that next time they will be smarter and not get caught…My own P son has been incarcerateed multiple times and he still has not caught on that it was HIS fault that he went to prison in the first place.

In an effort to keep him from totally ruining his life, I turned my son in to the police when I caught him stealing and robbing, and to this day he is convinced that it is MY fault that after he got out of prison the 3rd time and then killed a bgirl that if I had not turned him into the police when he was 17, he would not be in prison today. DUH—

My take on it is that if he had learned that there were consequences to grand theft when he went to jail for 2 days when he was 17, he might not have killed that girl when he was 20.

He decided at about age 15 that NO one would “control” him, and that whatever the consequences were he would rebel. He has succeeded in part, but the prison system thank God keeps him inside, and I hope will til he dies of old age. If not, he will kill again. He hates me so much that even if he knew he would be executed, he would get out and come after me. It would be worth it to him to “show me” that I couldn’t control him.

Thank you very much! I truly appreciate the support.

To OxDrover:
I am so glad to hear from another parent of a psychopath. I went through 30 years of hell with my only child, thinking I was a bad parent, putting him through counseling and rehab, bailing him out of jail, etc., etc.

He was very intelligent and handsome which opened a lot of doors for him, but he kept ruining his life and hurting the ones who loved him the most. He broke his back in an illegal car race, shot himself in the head during a “Russian Roulette” game, stole cars, overdosed on drugs, etc. before he was even 18!

When he got out of prison a couple of years ago, he met the sweetest, most loving nurse, and married her. She knew about his past, but as a caregiver, she felt she could help him turn his life around. I prayed everyday for their success. Instead, he drained her financially, emotionally, caused her to loose her RN license, pushed her to attempt suicide, then left her for another woman, all within 6 months!

Her and I became good friends and neither of us have had contact with my son for a year and a half and hopefully never will again.

I didn’t realize what my son was until I found the Lovefraud site. I don’t know if anything can be done to change him, but I can’t let him ruin my life anymore no matter how much I love him.

Thanks for your help.

Sadmom

I find it funny how you use cats as your predator for this example. I often time see myself relating to cats. I also seem to be a magnet for cats. They instantly have a liking towards me, even the cats that are supposedly shy have no problems with me. Maybe they recognize a bit of them selfs in me.

Cheers,

When I was with my ex N, I used to tell friends that he is like a cat. When he approaches and you put your hand down to feed him, he backs off, then comes near again and the same thing and it is very frustrating and then when you ignore him, he is there. My intuition was firing on all cylinders at that time.

Mr. Green, I could imagine you as a big green furry tabby cat!

Dear Sadmom,

I know the paiin of admitting that our sons are monsters without normal “human souls”–aliens from another planet without the things that make us “human.” They only LOOK human, and from time to time SOUND human.

I also feel great sorrow for his x-wife and I am glad that you two have each other to support each other for healing.

The thing I have found about the MANY full blown sociopaths in my life is that it doesn’t matter if it is my biological father (a full blown monster) my mother’s brother (another man who shoujld have spent life without parole for his criminally violent physical and emotional abuse of all 3 of his children and his x-wife) or my narcissistic enabling mother who protected the males in the family from the consequences of their actions no matter how horrible.

I don’t know what your religious beliefs are, but read the story of King David and his son Absalom in the Bible, in the book of Samuel. David’s son Absalom was a psychopath and narcissist, and David was an enabler who grieved for this young man even after the younger man (who was no teenager at the time) went to war against David and tried to take the kingdom away from david. Absalom lost the war and died in the process, but David went into a terrible grief and mourning about his son’s death. David’s geneal came to him as he mourneed in sack cloth and ashes, screaming his grief aloud, and said “I perceive that if the young man had lived and we (the entire country) had died that you would have been well pleased.” David immediately saw the truth of this and stopped his grieving (at least publicly) and went and thanked the people who had fought for him, and sacrificed their own sons to his army to defeat Absalom. Even if you are not a Christian, this story is such a good example of how the Ps manipulate us and our hearts and our love and how we have enabled them in the vain and malignant hope that we can change them.

My son is 37 years old in March 2008, had has been in prison for all but about 12 months since he was 17. He is currently serving “life” for a cold blooded murder of whihc he is quite PROUD that it was a crime “more horrible than the cops even know” (he told me this, and I also have it in a letter he wrote to someone else.) His latest attackk was to try to have me murdered, and possibly other members of our family, because I had cut him out of my will and he knew that if my mom died before I did that I would inherit (I am her only chld and he and his brother her only grandsons) from her and cut him out completely from her property as well.

Fortunately, I wasn’t born yesterday and managed to find out what his plan was because his partner in this crime made some big boo-boos and ended up back in prison (at least for a while longer) This Trojan Horse Psychopath is professionally diagnosed as a psychopath and is also a sex offender, who molested a 9 yr old, an 11 yr old, and a 14 yr old—totally without remorse. He was a felon in possession of a fire arm and arrested for this crime and put in prison this past august. (He tried to kill my other son, the P’s brother) when he couldn’t get to me (I had literally gone into hiding when Iknew I was in danger–so I can definitely relate to King David’s plight with having to hide out from his P son.)

I am now totally NC with my mother and her enabling of my P-son (even after the murder plot was revealed and the Trojan HOrse P was in prison, she continued to send money to my P son in prison because I was “persecuting” him) DUH!

The Ps all seem to have their enablers that try to “fix” them or to “comfort” them, and those people seem to be pretty hard core as well. My mother was so enraged with me for “persecuting” her P-grandson (the GOLDEN CHILD) that I think if she could have killed me and gotten away with it she would have.

My other biiological son C has told her that if she lies again and/or sends money to the P son, that he will also go NC with her for life and since I am her only child and am NC, and my two biological sons are her only other lilving relatives, she is in a pickle. Neither I nor my son C trust her any further than we can throw her. (And it has been a very diffiicult healing process to realize that my own mother would have been “well pleased” if I was dead even byhis hand or plan, but my P son got out of prison before she died)

We all want the best for our children and want to think the best for them. To give them “another chance” to “go straight”–and God knows that my son has had more than his share of chances, but I realize that all I have done for him has been noting more than ENABLING him over and over again, out of my own malignant hope for him. He is bright and charming if he wants to be but totally without conscience.

Looking back it is almost impossible to understand why I did what I did to help him, to give him another chance, to allow my mother to enable him as well, and to fail to see how WRONG we were to do that….but at the same time, I have had to forgive myself for these actions, however bad they were or however horrible the consequences that they eventually had.

I have been NC with P son since January 2007, and at first it was so difficult because I was so angry with him and with myself, that I wanted to “tell him off but good” and I realized I couldn’t. Now I no longer have any desire to tell him off or to “get him to see” because he won’t see, maybe can’t see.

I will be at his every parole hearing, even if I am dead, I will go by DVD to ask them to NEVER LET HIM OUT OF PRISON again. He is in prison in Texas and I think that my appearance (dead or alive) will keep him in prison. If he does get out and I am alive, or his brothrs are alive, we will have to go into hiding, because he would jump parole and come after us, without a doubt. He is so raged filled at us for “spoiling” his life. It has never occured to him that HE spoiled his life by crime and murder. Laws and rules don’t apply to him. He thinks that by virtue of the fact that I gave birth to him that he is entitled to everything I have worked for my entire life. If I don’t willingly give it to him, then he is entitled to take it from me by murdering me. Talk about entitlement!

My mother’s idea of “forgiveness’ is to “pretend that none of this happened.” then go back to the status quo. I have done this for too many years and will not reengage with any of it. I am committed to living a drama free life, a crisis free life. To root out any of the Ps that I encounter who ever they are, and their “troops” of enablers as well. Since we have a very small family and I have no siblings, this limits me to my son C and my adopted son D, and one first cousin. But if it ended up I was by myself alone, it would be worth it to live in PEACE without the Ps in my life—on a “desert island” if that was the only safe and happy place to live.

Taking responsibility for the part I played in this by not setting appropriate boundaries was difficult–“I was only trying to help”—but it was cultural and aslo the “way I was raised” by my enabling mother. But it was my actions, my responsibility, and I have borne the consequences of those actions or failures to act.

“Losing a child” to death or separtion is difficult, but at the same time, I almost fee that my “real son” died at about age 12 or so, and the MAN who is inside his body (like a sci-fi alien who assumes the idenity and likeness of a human) is NOT my “son” that Iloved. I finally closed the casket lid on my grief for the loss of such a promising child, who no longer is alive. The stalking monster that resembles him is not someone I love, or want contact with. Or rent “space in my head” to.

Physical NC has finally led to EMOTIONAL NC as well. There will always be a sadness about it, but it is not the FOCUS of my life any more. The chaos and pain are gone, replaced by acceptence and peace. My heart goes out to you and his x wife, and my prayers are for the healing and peace of every person who has been a victim of one of these predators. God bless you.

OxDover,

After reading your last post, I remembered a story I heard once. It goes something like this. A man went to God and asked him to please take the cross he carries. It was too much for him to bear. God told him he would take the cross, but he would have to exchange it for another, as everyone has some cross to bear. So the man went into a room full of crosses and chose the smallest one he saw. When he informed God of his choice, God informed him he had chosen his same cross.

My cross might not be the smallest in the room, but it is far from the largest. After reading your story and some others my load doesn’t feel quite as heavy. When I’m feeling overwhelmed I’m going to try to remember this. I’ve been given an opportunity for an abuse free life and I just need to take it.

Dear Tryingtorecover,

Thank you, “I think” LOL

Believe me, when I say this, my cross is not the largest one I have seen, or the heaviest. I have been reading and rereading a book by Dr. Viktor Frankl who was in the Nazi prison camps (ultimate P-persecution) and his book, called “Man’s Search for Meaning” is the most thoughtful, spiritual work I have ever read.

Suffering, he says, is like gas, it completely fills any empty space in which it is put–expaning to FILL THE ENTIRETY, it doesn’t matter if it is a little suffering or a lot, it fills all the aviailable space. Each persons personal suffering fills up his own “whole”—Dr. Frankl’s spiritual as well as psychiatric messages (he was a psychiatrist) is so life affirming that I ca’t say how much I owe to this man’s thoughts in my own recovery and healing and my own “search for meanning.”

Interestingly enough, Dr. Frankl syas that the EMOTIONAL suffering in the camps was worse than the starvation, the beatings, the mind and body numbing cold and other physical tortures. He also goes on to give his opinion why some of the physically weaker people survived and some of the stronger ones gave up and died, almost willing themselves to die.

The spiritual aspect of healing he thought and so do I is so important to our recovery. Even a person who does not believe in a higher power or a god can use this spirtual aspect to heal themselves.

Another of his concepts is that suffering must also have meaning in order for us to accept it and go on living afterwards, that we must root out the hatred and bitterness within ourselves. This has been so difficult for me, and I cannot say that I have done so 100% at this point, or will ever acheive 100% rooting out of that bitterness at the things that I have done to myself and allowed others to do to me, or to totally accept all of the losses and grief, but I am making great strides compared to where I was 10 -12 months ago.

On your cross analogy, I saw one recently where a man kept whittling down the size of his cross so it would not be so heavy, until it was very light. When he came to a great canyon, though, his travel mates used their huges crosses as BRIDGES to cross and his smaller cross would not reach across the great open space.

I firmly believe that our suffering, or learning experiences, can have meaning not only to us but to others—this and other forums are examples of that—and that we by our suffering can learn and grow in such a way that we never could have without these experiences.

I see new hope and new growth in myself almost every day, spiritually, physically, and mentally and emotionally. In some ways my life has more meaning now than ever before, and my vision is more clear of the world and the things in it, and as Dr. Frankl says LOVE is the most important aspect in our lives. Either the memories of those that we have loved who have passed away, or those that we love today. The thoughts of his wife, though she was also in a camp and h e did not know if she was alive or dead (at one time he was only 1/4 mile from her and didn’t know it at the time, but she was then gassed) but her memory, his love for her, maintained his will to live, and her memory also helped him maintain his sanity and purity of spirit afterwards so that he could heal.

Sir Laurens van der Post, a South African author and former prisoner of war, who was quite arrogant and narcissistic himself, wrote wonderfully about his experiences in a japanese prisoner of war camp in Java. I don’t have any way to know if his thoughts were true or if they were merely ways to make himself appear “heroic” (he actually WAS very heroic in actions and sacrificed a great deal to save others) in the eyes of others, but he worked tirelessly after the war and actually stayed in java for another couple of years to try to promote forgiveness of his former captors by the US and other nations.

I am acquainted with his daughter who lives in London. Though Sir Laurens treated his wife and family with total thoughtlessness and abandoned them for other women, yet some of the things he did for fellow prisoners were awe inspiring and are on the level with Mother Theresa. So on some levels he was a very egocentric N without any apparent idea that he was hurting others very badly, yet, when the chips were down in other ways, he literally risked his life and took multiple beatings to help other prisoners.

The learning experiences I have been through, the self examination have helped me to see myself and my attitudes more clearly I think.

Thre was a time when I worked with abused women at a shelter and I was so frustrated at them for going back repeatedcly to their abusers. I actually felt superior to these women, saying to myself “I would NEVER GO BACK TO A MAN WHO BEAT ME.” Yet, at the time I was looking down my nose at these women, I was DOING THE SAME THING THEY WERE, only it was my SON not my S/O that was “beating” me repeatedly. That I was repeatedly enabling.

I realized this and remembered the story in the Bible of the Pharisee and the publican both praying in the temple. The Pharisee, a very “holy” man, who followed all the laws, looked down at the publican (a tax collector) and said “Thank you God that I am not such a sinner as this man” and the Publican threw himself on his face and said, “God, help me a sinner.” I knew that I had behaved like the Pharisee in my arrogance that I was “smarter” and “wiser” than these poor women. A humbling experience for sure.

I think too, that until we humble ourselves and realize that we have been duped, that we have ALLOWED the duping, that we cannot quit doing it. Until you recognize your own “sins” (faults) and resolve to STOP that behavior if you get rid of one P you will find another one, or they will find you and you will be back in the same spot.

I have finally gotten all the Ps out of my life either by distance, prison, or their deaths and it is wonderful, though sometimes I stil feel “odd” that there is no chaos or drama in my life. I don’t have to get up each day and wonder what horrible thing is going to come out of “nowhere” at me.

I think I like that though, it is peace!

Tryingtorecover, what a beautiful post. Something to remember, daily. During some difficult times my sons and I practiced carrying a small polished stone in our pocket, our “Gratitude Rock”. It was a daily comfort to rub the stone and think on things to be grateful for.

What Beverly said here is really powerful “It is more a way to play out their omnipotence and the rush it gives them which kicks in when one of their voices is giving them grief. The voice of false self which starts directing them and gives them the kind of tension they know they must break before they get relief. In a sense they are setting up their own pain and pleasure cycle and we happened to get caught up in it. We also need to look within to find out why we have engaged with such a person. Does this make sense?

Yes, yes, yes! it is so hard to remember that it is not ever about you, it is about them. They are constantly in internal conflict, therefore need to constantly maintain control. There is the relentless game going on inside the head, and then the really complex one on the outside.

I was just pushed into breaking the no contact rule, knowing it would be a disaster, but seeing no viable way out. Man did his predator reveal himself. First the apology, the offer of going to counselling, of asking forgiveness, and then BAMM – the switch. I can and will destroy you. 4hrs later he drops in unnanounced at 11;30 pm to tell me how wrong all that anger was.

I had been on a really good roll, and exited about getting a job after 24 yrs as a homemaker and self employed. Today I am useless, back in devastation land. Did he get a whiff of me being OK? Seeing him was just enough to rekindle a feeling of empathy for him, and confuse all my memories of how good it was when I believed the lies and then he showed me his angriest darkest side, the one you KNOW you need to protect yourself from.

This blog is such a great resource, especially on days like today. Thank you all for sharing your survivor stories. They are sustenance. And yes, we do have the opportunity to live a life free of abuse. Peace to all

eyeswideshut, breaking the NC early on in the healing process for me was a BIG MISTAKE, with all of my Ps—but I am at a point now that I can break PHYSICAL NC and still maintain EMOTIONAL NC.

Since I have had to break NC (physically) once with my mother, due to some urgent financial business, I just set my jaw and did it. I called her on the telephone and told her the reason I was calling was BUSINESS, not social. That out of the way, I spoke about the business and when that was done, she tried to “hook” me in emotionally.

I kept my cool (I am so proud of myself!!!!) and told her that I had called about BUSINESS and that was the ONLY reason, that I could not TRUST her and had no intention of resuming the relationship. I said it firmly and nicely, but so that she understood.

My P-X-DIL just got out of jail (after being in jail for 7 months after an attempt to kill him) and I am having to act as go-between in order to get my son’s taxes filed jointly with her (which is to both their benefits) and I had to return her personal items to her after she got out. (My son lives out of state now)

I am still quite angry with her (obviously) but at the same time I am keeping my anger in check and doing the “right thing” even though she has immediately started her manipulations and lies. I have set boundaries for her, told her what I will do and what I will not.

Early on in the situation I could not have been so “detached” at her manuvers and lies, but at this point, I am able to do what has to be done, and let the rest slide. My religion tells me that I must “do good unto those that persecute you” but it doesn’t say “be a door mat.” So I am trying to keep it so that I can face my God with what I have done toward her, but I have no intention of letting her run over me, my son, or steal any more from my mother. I can keep it at “arms’ length” now. Early on I could not have done so.

The STRICT NC physically helped me acheive “emotional NC” and that is I think the real healing.

I am currently the mouse-and the cat is a disabled sociopath. I didn’t see it spinning out of control as fast as it did. I’ve been very busy with college classes and didn’t pay any real attention to him-just superficial email. This man has spina bifada. I know his parents well, rent the rural space from them for my rv. I became a “sort of” friend with him-I felt sorry for him. All contact was through email. I have seen him, physically, only a few times and he was always with his dad. I have never been in his house nor he in mine, have never been alone with him. To me, he was just an unfortunate individual, born with a terrible disabilty who keeps on keeping on. I (many others still do) respected him for never giving up on life. I have had a “there but for the Grace of God go I” attitude. He was married once, for 3 years, no children.

Out of the blue, he emailed his undying love and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. This declaration came 2 weeks after the initial email. My response was that we were casual email buddies, at best, and that was all it would ever be. He turned very ugly, his real personality surfaced and he became fixated on me. He now stalks me via phone, internet and drives by 5-6 times a day. He has listed my name/phone number on myspace for phone sex. Men call and also email the most disgusting words and photos. He sends me pornography. He has used many different email accounts to issue threats. In the last 6 weeks, he has emailed hundreds of times, going from pathetic, to angry, threatening, sending porn and again, expressing his undying love for me. He claims he will never let me go-will never give up on “our love”. His dad, with whom I have been friends with for many years, will no longer speak to me. He thinks I am a monster for hurting his poor, disabled, sweet little boy. He tells anyone who will listen that I led him on then dumped him. This is as crazy as it gets! During this time, I have been totally immersed in completing my first year graduate work. I studied around the clock, literally. I just finished last week, with a very high grade point and it has consumed all of my time. Because of this, I have been unaware of how much his obsession has escalated. I stopped opening his email 3 weeks ago and put them in a file. I have not contacted him in any way for the last 6 weeks. I chose to ignore him, thinking he would GO AWAY. I’ve sold the rv, (which I have always planned to do) and purchased a house & will be relocating, finally, to the area I much prefer. My new phone number will be unlisted-and I will get a new email address. (I will be very careful from here on out who I give this information to). I have kept a file on him-email, dates/times of phone calls, the myspace email, etc. I will take legal action if this continues, in any way, after I move.

I am stunned by all of this. But then, that’s what a good cat does-stun its prey.

Wow. This is one powerful discussion. I don’t think I have ever read anything more poignant that what OxDrover wrote about her son:

““Losing a child” to death or separtion is difficult, but at the same time, I almost fee that my “real son” died at about age 12 or so, and the MAN who is inside his body (like a sci-fi alien who assumes the idenity and likeness of a human) is NOT my “son” that Iloved. I finally closed the casket lid on my grief for the loss of such a promising child, who no longer is alive. The stalking monster that resembles him is not someone I love, or want contact with. Or rent “space in my head” to.”

When researching and writing about psychopathy, I have always kept in mind the potential anguish of the mother of the psychopathic child, and it just boggles my mind to think about it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to imagine myself wearing those shoes (I have five beloved children) and it just tears my heart apart to even go there in my thinking much less if I had to do it in reality. OxDrover, my heart goes out to you.

I’ve used the cat and mouse analogy on a number of occasions and this article is well done and much appreciated. One way that I have thought (and written) about it is to say that the psychopath – and the narcissist to a lesser extent – is a predator. If we think about the interactions of predators with their prey in the animal kingdom, we can come to some idea of what is behind the “mask of sanity” of the psychopath. Just as an animal predator will adopt all kinds of stealthy functions in order to stalk their prey, cut them out of the herd, get close to them and reduce their resistance, so does the psychopath construct all kinds of elaborate camouflage composed of words and appearances – lies and manipulations – in order to “assimilate” their prey.

But this leads us to an important question: what does the psychopath REALLY get from their victims? It’s easy to see what they are after when they lie and manipulate for money or material goods or power. But in many instances, such as love relationships or faked friendships, it is not so easy to see what the psychopath is after. Without wandering too far afield into spiritual speculations – a problem Cleckley also faced – we can only say that it seems to be that the psychopath ENJOYS making others suffer. Just as normal humans enjoy seeing other people happy, or doing things that make other people smile, the psychopath enjoys the exact opposite. They are like mirror reflections of humans with souls and conscience, only everything in their inner world is backward, twisted, upside down.

Anyone who has ever observed a cat playing with a mouse before killing and eating it has probably explained to themselves that the cat is just “entertained” by the antics of the mouse and is unable to conceive of the terror and pain being experienced by the mouse, and the cat, therefore, is innocent of any evil intent. The mouse dies, the cat is fed, and that is nature. Psychopaths don’t generally eat their victims; or do they?

Yes, in extreme cases the entire cat and mouse dynamic is carried out and cannibalism has a long history wherein it was assumed that certain powers of the victim could be assimilated by eating some particular part of them. But in ordinary life, psychopaths and narcissists don’t “go all the way”, so to say. This causes us to look at the cat and mouse scenarios again with different eyes. Now we ask: is it too simplistic to think that the innocent cat is merely entertained by the mouse running about and frantically trying to escape? Is there something more to this dynamic than meets the eye? Is there something more than being “entertained” by the antics of the mouse trying to flee? After all, in terms of evolution, why would such behavior be hard-wired into the cat? Is the mouse tastier because of the chemicals of fear that flood his little body? Is a mouse frozen with terror more of a “gourmet” meal?

This suggests that we ought to revisit our ideas about psychopaths with a slightly different perspective. One thing we do know is this: many people who experience interactions with psychopaths and narcissists report feeling “drained” and confused and often subsequently experience deteriorating health. Does this mean that part of the dynamic, part of the explanation for why psychopaths will pursue “love relationships” and “friendships” that ostensibly can result in no observable material gain, is because there is an actual energy consumption?

In the end, only the individual victim can determine what they have lost in the dynamic – and it is often far more than material goods. In a certain sense, it seems that psychopaths are soul eaters or “Psychophagic.”

The “Cat and Mouse” game was continually played out between me and the psychopath I was involved with for close to six years. HOWEVER, it has come to my attention that the “same” game is NOW being perpetrated on the psychopath I was once involved with by his current wife. He is involved with another psychopath. I’m wondering what the statistics are for that happening? It is eerie how my psychopath is now experiencing the same torment that I had endured while in the relationship with him. It’s as if I’m watching myself in a mirror because he is acting/responding the same way I did. Allowing the emotional abuse. My “theory” is that since many psychopath’s have very little sense of ‘self’ and adapt more readily ‘initially’ to any situation in order to gain their way in, so it would stand to reason that a psychopath is less apt to see another psychopath coming at them. I guess Karma does exist. When he and I were involved, I recall telling him, “my only wish for you is that you meet someone just like you”. He never got it, but now he is.

Wiseronenow. I love it! I must admit to having got one over my exN here and there, right under his nose. They are only tuned into one frequency, theirs – which gives others the edge to abuse them! Some of them like being tortured as well as dishing it out.

For what it is worth, my P-son, when he started his overt P behavior in earnest seemed to get a “rush” out of definace. Of “getting by with” things. If we wanted him to go “south” he went “north”–if he got by with it, he “won” if we caught him, then he got another “rush” by losing, and so I don’t think so much it is winning or losing, but the rush of the “high” of brain chemicals in the “chase”—I think a predator gets a rush in the pursuit of the prey whether they catch it or not.

Redheeler,

The Psychopath’s father being an enabler for his “poor disabled son” is interesting as well. Many psychopaths have parents or others as enablers for them, especially in a situation where the psychopath is disabled physically.

My DIL had a child with muscular dystrophy, the child was not a psychopath (I don’t think) but he was one of the most selfish, selfcentered, unpleasant young men because his mother did not expect manners or politeness out of her “poor disabled” son. He was never expected to “behave nicely.”

Having in the past worked with spinal cord and head injured patients, the ones who became “whole” individuals (even though their bodies might not be whole) were the young people whose parents treated them like NORMAL humans, who just happened to be in a wheel chair. My best friend for the past 20+ years is the p arent of a patient I had when he was 15, quadrapalegic, and his parents treated him just as if he was a “normal” obnoxious teenager, and expected him to behave in a civilized manner. Today, 20+ years later, he is a “successful” human who just happens to be in a wheel chair. The “friends” he made at the hospital, are for the most part either dead or “pitiful” becaue their parents enabled them to behave in “nasty” ways because they were “poor pitiful cripples.”

My son who is VERY ADHD is a successful man, because I never gave him any “slack” because he was ADHD as far as how he behaved or his manners. I have worked with ADHD kids professionally who when they picked up a chair and threw it at the teacher, their parents would want me to write a note to the school excusing this behavior because “what can you expect, he is ADHD?”

Well, MY kid never threw a chair at a teacher….he might have squirmed on it, sat in it upside down on his shoulders, but he never picked up the chair and threw it no matter how angry he got…because he knew there were consequences to doing such a thing, and that if he got in trouble at school for unruly behavior or violent behavior that there would be consequences at home.

My ADHD son is self monitoring of his behavior, has a very good heart, a caring man, and is a productive and good man. I am very proud of him and the set of moral constructs that he has developed. He might have developed those without me holding him accountable for his behavior in spite of his “disability,” so I can’t say that his “raising” was totally or even partly responsible for his success as a person, but I have seen many other examples of people with less disabilities that had no accountability because of their disability that turned out much worse.

My P son was also held accountable for his behavior, but I also realize that I was “conned” by him in his later years after he left my home, in to “enabling” him in many ways….I wasted a lot of time, grief and tears in trying to “save” him and “give him another chance.” It is only in retrospect that I realize I was only enabling him, and that he actually got a “high” out of fooling me, just for the fun of it, playing the cat and mouse game. The predator and the prey.

For so long it was just “fooling the old woman” for commissary money, but when I caught on and tried to “get away” he started the kill in earnest—literally. Fortunately, he was not successful, and I escaped his clutches…but even that I am sure was a “rush” and he is sitting in his cell even as I write this “plotting” revenge (which has been shown in research to stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain) and getting a “high” after even a failed attempt at killing the prey.

So, heads he wins, and tails I lose. He gets a “reward” of one kind or another no matter what happens.

I am somewhat of an older and wiser mouse now though. LOL

Your comment, Wiseronenow, about how the psychopath paired up with a psychopath would be doing, is interesting.

My P-son recruited one of his P ex-convict friends to “infiltrate” the family, which he did, but the Trojan HOrse P got greedy and “blew his cover” too soon, which caused all this “house of cards” plan that P-son had to come down on all their heads before the final goal could be accomplished.

Since Ps have no loyalty to others, two Ps working together are really doing wha tI call “parallel play” like two two-year olds sitting side by side playing, but not really playing together. And when one two-year old gets tired of his toy and decides to take the other one’s toy, the “war is on” so while they may “conspire” for a time toward a mutual goal, at the same time, they are using each other too. That is why the cops can usually get someone in a “gang” of thieves to roll over on the others for a break in sentencing, when it comes down to the “rubber meetiing the road” the psychopath will put his interests above all others.

I’m coming in very late on this thread, which was really amazingly to read. There was a time when it seemed like all of us were in early-stage healing. And now a lot of us are much farther down the road. Time is really our friend in this healing.

I wanted to add something from my own life. I’ve been mulling over what to do about the judgments and anger that seem to continually return when I’m under work or family stress. Judging him, judging myself. It’s not that the judgments aren’t valid, but that I would like to live my life without all that angry noise in my head.

Part of this discussion has been about whether there is something “in us” that makes us vulnerable to predators. And in my own case, I believe I had a vulnerability and that it has something to do with the fact that I grew up in a household where there was emotional, physical and sexual abuse of the children. One impact of my background is that my tolerance threshold for abusive behavior is out of whack. I don’t recognize it as a reason not to love a person, and in fact, it may trigger a response in me to get involved, trying to heal the person or cure their problems so the “real” and “good” person can emerge again.

For all my angry and judgmental thoughts, it can be difficult for me to identify someone as a dangerous person, because I’m so good at empathizing with their problems. Okay, I think, he’s behaving like a mean-spirited and selfish jerk, but I also know that he desperately needs validation at work that he’s not getting, or he’s feeling insecure about my making more money that he does, or he’s feeling despair about ever getting his life in order. So his bad behavior makes sense, even though I hate it, and maybe I can help him out of it.

For me, at least part of this recovery process has been to learn to set boundaries about what I want and need in my life, and to feel good enough about them that I can enforce them. To do that, I have to make some judgments about people that aren’t as much about them as about what I want in my life. But still, it is about them, because these boundaries require me to identify them as “bad” or bad for me. And that’s the ultimate judgment, because it leads me to shutting the door on them, believing that no contact is best for me, no matter what they do, or how seductive or promising they may seem for the moment, or how pitiful I may find their problems.

I had a five-year relationship with a man I believe to be a sociopath. Five years is a long time, and I saw him in a lot of different conditions. One of the things that made it so hard to terminally judge him as a bad person, is that I’ve seen him vulnerable and trying to be a better person, and I know about his background and his griefs and emotional damage. Yes, he did everything that a sociopath does — exploit me, abuse me, sneer at my suffering, abandon me and show up again when he wanted to exploit me again — but I see him in all these different ways. And it’s made it hard for me to arrive at and hold onto that final judgment.

And perhaps, along with letting go of the idea that I might have “fixed” him, I’d like to also to give myself a break about my collusion in all this. Because that’s a related issue that plagues me. How can I blame him, when I got so sucked in, and participated in things that just make me sick when I think about him, harming not just myself but people I care about.

Well, last week, I tried a new thing just to see if it would help me make this final judgment. I decided to remove myself from the memories, and even to remove the context of my life from the memories and just see what he looked like in a vacuum.

To do that, I remembered our history together but with only him in it, doing whatever he did against the kind of “blue screen” they use in film-making before they fill in a background. Nobody else but him, moving and talking, the expressions on his face, his reactions, the stories he told, the decisions he made through those years.

If this sounds a little artificial and weird, it was. But it was also fascinating. Without me in the picture and all my sfeeling and my internal drama, he became … well, pathetic and obnoxious and shallow. There were times when he was childishly pitiful and needy. There were times when he clearly was trying to behave like a responsible person. But the persistent character that seemed to return over and over again was an angry, selfish, self-aggrandizing, grasping, heartless monster. Not only toward me, but in the stories he told about other girlfriends, friends and people he worked for. Totally untrustworthy. Totally unable to feel love or compassion, and certainly not express it in any meaningful way.

That is the man I was in love with for five, horrible years. And when I see him like this, all the confusing questions become less important. It doesn’t matter what vulnerability I had. It doesn’t matter what he convinced me to do. This is not about me. It’s about him. Who he is, and whether I want anything like that in my life, not only in person, but affecting my thoughts about myself and the world.

One of the things I’ve learned since him is that there are a lot of people like him. In fact, there were people like him in my life before, but I just didn’t see them that way. I felt sorry for them, while they damaged me and took advantage of me. I still feel sorry for them, but I am a lot clearer now about where they belong in my life and in my thoughts. And that is, outside the gates. I didn’t create them. I’m not responsible for them. I don’t want them sucking me dry emotionally or financially, or tying me up sexually or romantically. I don’t want them or their influence in my life.

Many years ago, while I was researching a book about rape, I took a self defense course given by a man who was a therapist and a martial arts expert. I went into it with misgivings, because I didn’t want to become “paranoid.” I came out of it knowing that I could physically defend myself, if necessary, and knowing how to keep myself from physically getting into dangerous situation. (I emphasize the “physically” here, because unfortunately, it didn’t address the way I emotionally walked into dangerous situations.) And that knowledge reduced a level of fear and paranoia that I didn’t even know I had.

I feel like a parallel process is happening here. Learning to recognize the signs of a user, staying in touch with my own reality, feeling absolutely justified in saying “no” or “go away,” and being prepared to defend myself…well, you might not think that’s preparation to love again, but I think it is. Except a different kind of love, one that’s not about pity or need.

On April 1, it will be three years since I got him out of my life. I did a lot of ruminating, and I actually think it was a good thing for me. I got to know myself a lot better. I found my spiritual core. I’m building a new sense of self and finding new meaning in my life. So, I spent three years without loving anyone, and thinking about some hard things. I don’t think it was time wasted, if I learned to love myself and take care of myself.

This is a very long post, but the one thing I want to add is that my sociopath forced this issue. By being so brutal toward me, by breaking every rule of kindness or social expectation, by giving me none of the emotional support I truly needed, he forced me to go searching in myself for that emotional support. I found that I really like myself and trust myself enough to live by my own rules. I’ve said this before here, but I think it’s important enough to say it again. I don’t like his behavior or the experience of being involved with him, but I’m grateful for the results of it. I think I manifested him in my life because I was ready to finally grow up.

If you come from a troubled background, like mine, that’s not the easiest thing to do. If I’d hired a trainer to break me of all the bad thinking and dysfunctional emotional patterns I carried out of my childhood, I don’t think it would have been any less painful. I had to let go of a lot. I had to get real about who was responsible for me. I had to build new ways of thinking and feeling and imagining the future. I’m still at it. But when I’m really feeling good about my progress, I look back at him as a kind of Zen teacher. There’s a side of me that keeps complaining about how painful it was and how much it cost. There another side of me that thinks it was worth price.

Khatalyst,

Your very thoughtful post sums up, to me, what we all should gain from this terrible experience. I applaud you for your insight, your strength, and your hard won wisdom.

I’ve just re-read some of the stories in this thread, and I’m afraid my perspectives may sound disrespectful to people who are still in the trenches. It’s “easy for me” to be so philosophic three years later, when the worst thing I have to deal with is emotional flashbacks.

And surely not all of us “manifested” these characters to play a supporting role in some necessary therapeutic work.

Still, I think that there is something important about saying no. And meaning it at a lot of levels, including doing whatever you have to do the exclude this person from your life, heart and mind, and being a warrior in defending that decision, if necessary.

And it may be reassuring to hear from one more person that getting over these relationships can actually make us better than we were before.

OxDrover,

Thanks. You were writing, while I was writing my apology. I admire you deeply for your courage and good sense and persistence in getting through this. The soul warrior in me salutes the soul warrior you.

This is completely off-topic, but you might want to check into the possibility of gluten intolerance in your family. Both sides of my family are full of ADHD, depression, all kinds of addictions, etc., etc. It turned out that the psychological effect of celiac disease was at least part of it.

Thanks Khatalyst, for you salutation, my “warrior self” feel somewhat battle scarred and weary from time to time, but an “atta girl” from my peers in this journey of healing feels very good. Thank you.

As far as the diets, been there and done that…actually when my ADHD son was small, they wanted to put him on ritalin, at the time I was not in nursing, but tried it and it made him into a zombie. I instead put him on the Feingold diet, which believe it or not HELPED TREMENDOUSLY. I didn’t tell him it was for his behavior or ADHD, but told him instead that it was from the doctor for his “allergies” and continual snotty nose.

The behavior changes took up to 8 weeks, but when he was off the diet even for a moment, it would be apparent for up to 8 weeks. After a year or so if he accidently got off, he knew it immediately. He even at that age knew he felt better—and BTW it did clear up his snotty nose, and continual sinus allergies and thick mucus–turned out the culprit was COW milk. I actually bought goats and squeezed teats to get him milk as he was a big milk drinker and that was the only way to get a continual supply of goat milk in those days.

The diet was draconian, and in order for him to “eat normally” I had to process everything he age from peanut butter to pickles (couldn’t make them out of cucumbers, but out of squash) even make his own mayo, and there are so many items with color and flavor that have been “grandfathered” in to the lists of ingredients (like butter) that you can’t trust the labels even.

When he went away to sleep over camp for a week, I took frozen jars of goat milk, his home made bread, eggs, etc. and the cook very nicely worked with me, and he lived on fried egg sandwiches, goat milk, etc for the week, but had the time of his life!

Recent reasearch has shown that the Feingold diet doesn’t do any better than placebo, but I can testify that it DOES and it doesn’t cost a thing (except time) AND CAN’T HURT A THING so why not give it a try? Some kids seemed to respond poorly to refined sugar, although that didn’t seem to hurt my son any. I kept him supplied with plenty of sugared treats, applesause, and candies made with (oh, heck I can’t think of the name of it but you get it in health food stores as a substaqtute for chocolate) CRS!!Yehhhhh! Oh, yea, Carob.

Home made jelly too (Welch’s puts color in their jelly though it does not list it on the label) found that out the hard way, we were on the way to a camping trip and I fed him a sandwich of Welche’s Jelly and for the entire weekend he bounced off every tree in the Ozark national forest! Heck, he was swinging from the roll bar in the Jeep before we got out of town!

Some families that used the Feingold diet put everyone in the family on it so the child it was intended for wouldn’t feel that he was deprived. I chose NOT to do so because the world outside the family isn’t going to stay on the diet and he would be at school with other kids eating “forbidden” foods. I was very surprised that he was so ameniable to staying on the diet, bt I think he felt so much better on it that he was “rewarded” by feeling good.

Life is “not fair” to any of us, some people inherit various talents and others don”t, but we have to play the cards we are dealt and make the best of our hand, and not whine over the fact that we don’t have a royal flush.

As far as your previous post being disrespectful to others who are still in the traps with their Ps, I dont’ think it was…I can vividly remember when I was very recently “stark raving crazy” in the situation (and that is not so long ago) and the posts from those who were “out a while” and getting their sanity back helped me, did not make me feel “bad” for still being there, but were a guiding light, a star to reach for. Now I only hope that I can impart something that I have learned, and give back the support I received from those wonderful people on several forums.

I know that some people want me to stop ruminating. I trust in my spirit to balance myself in the way it wants to take. I trust that I have yet to discover more about myself and as Khatalyst says, when I have really got to the core of myself, I am sure I will naturally put this to rest.

My healing path is not a straight road, though, some days I advance with strength in myself that through this awful experience I have discovered truths in myself that would never have come to light. when I am feeling strong, I think that this experience was given to me to grow, to fast track me through realisations and that this could only have been done this way. I certainly have not been moved like this, through the library of self developoment books and courses I have undertaken. Some days I take steps backwards and really feel for people when they say that they miss their ex – I understand that. I have realised that once an issue is visited, it is not necessarily put to rest, it re-emerges, sometimes reshaping itself, sometimes with less energy than it had originally – like those bubbles you get in a lava lamp!

For me the big turning point in my time with the ex N, was that during our longest breakup, I spoke to his ex gf, I knew he wouldnt want me to do this and I realised that he had behaved very differently with her. He had been possessive and carnal and critical with her – in some ways I was jealous, at least he had shown he cared about her. With me, he said he cared but he showed by his actions the opposite. We compared notes, although she was very reticent about talking to me. With me he was very detached and withdrawn and often dismissed sex, saying it wasnt very important to him and he rarely criticised me in a critical sense.

He had obviously ‘modified’ his approach and when I realised that he had done this, I felt really affronted, because he was not being his real self (if he ever could), he was reorientating himself for a reason and not treating me in ‘real time’ if that makes sense. I was acting as though I was in a real relationship with someone who was playing some kind of charade – so I never stood a chance – and that hurt me greatly to think that he was not accepting me and reacting to me as being me. He was acting in parallel to some kind of script he had tested out on others and that was my first shocking realisation that all was not well. In the year or so we were together, it was a very intense relationship, he rushed things, I tried to hold back and I felt in this short time we had fast tracked through a 10 yr relationship – that is how it felt. I am pleased in some ways, that I fast tracked him through all his skewed behaviours, because in a year I came to see what his behaviour would have been had it have slowly been drawn out over a longer period of time.

I would hazard a guess that with his current target, who is 15 years younger, he is probably modifying himself again, keeping very low key, not making promises, keeping things even, learning to suppress himself with her, in reaction to his experience with me. The bottom line is that as soon as she starts asserting her needs, she will have the shocking realisation that he has had control of the relationship all along. Once the boat starts rocking, he will start on his deviant behaviour.

Khatalyst Is that why that particular name – was he a catalyst of sorts in your life? I think mine was, this time. Like you, I spent several years alone, figuring myself out, learning to just be alone and happy with myself. When he returned, knowing I still loved him I was willing to hear him out, give it a chance, but warned the minute you do something weird, say something completely bizarre, show signs of running…I’m gone. Not another word.

Naturally, I did not run at the moment. Or the moment after. Or even the moment after that one. But this time I was really aware how much better treatment people deserve when they’re loved. With my family history, that’s saying something! I got it, finally.

And, finally, I ran. Vacillated, had bad days, got back in touch, but ultimately we both knew his game with me was over.

There are days, like today, when it physically aches to think of the good parts of him, and how much he meant to my heart. But most of the time, I’m ok. I do get it that someone saying I love you to me and then abusing me is not acceptable. That we all deserve more than that.

Only took 40 years, and, frankly, I really knew that before he came back…just hadn’t been tested on it. Now I have. Am not grateful for his return, but I am grateful for the lesson, if that makes sense.

khatalyst: You said “I believe I had a vulnerability and that it has something to do with the fact that I grew up in a household where there was emotional, physical and sexual abuse of the children. One impact of my background is that my tolerance threshold for abusive behavior is out of whack. I dont recognize it as a reason not to love a person, and in fact, it may trigger a response in me to get involved, trying to heal the person or cure their problems so the real and good person can emerge again.”

I loved what you said here – it hit home. My childhood and younger adult years were so turbulent with a terribly emotionally unstable mother, my stepfather who basically raised me with her and also sexually abused me, committed suicide when I was 16 and a father who was selfish and uninterested in any details about me.

I never thought of it the way you said it, but my tolerance for abusive behavior got out of whack! As a kid you are forced to just deal with what’s been dealt to you – you have little choice… and I guess I see now how it truly has bled over into my adult relationships.

I keep trying and trying and giving these men chances, believing in promises and sacrificing and comprising myself every time. Only when I become so broken down in the victim stage that I see the light and get out.

My patterns seem to never change much. I think I’m changing them in the beginning but this last relationship with an S has really shown me more areas of weakness and most of all – my places for growth and improvement in my boundries and knowing when to say “no more”.

Findingmyselfagain. I agree with you. Being brought up in dysfunction predisposes me to engaging in dysfunctional relationships – like – I am trying to fill my own void through the other – in a sense using them like mirror (the way they use me). If I love them enough, they will mirror that back to me and I will ‘feel’ loved. If I am there or them, they will be there for me and not abandon me like my father.

I have read about codependency which states that the coD is controlling. Now I understand that, it is like giving to get back to fix the other person, to mold them in a way that feels safe and ensures we arent hurt again. In a sense, it is not allowing the other to be what they want to be. In an extreme sense, I have been taught the bare bones of this by someone who absolutely refused and couldnt play ‘MY’ game. As khatalyst said, it had to take someone like my ex N to lift the lid off my void, otherwise I wouldnt have seen myself in my truth without the mirror of the other that I was projecting. I am learning about the true value of unconditional love for another – harder still, I am learning about it for myself.

‘To Thine Own Self Be True’. But what if for some of us, that self was so distorted in early years, that that is the mirror of ourselves that we and others relate to.

What if I am a hybrid of all the troubles I have encountered. How do I get to my true sense of self, when that self seems to have weathered all sorts of dysfunction. I have a fantasy of what I would like a relationship to be – I know that in my mind, but I dont get anywhere near achieving that, because my mirror is attracting something else, infact the opposite of what I request.

I realise I have been out of balance. Like findingmyselfagain. I set no boundaries (I had red lines) and I let the other run right up to my red lines. I tried to fix them to keep myself safe. If I ever have another relationship, the test for me will be to do the opposite of what I have done. What I have to remember, even if it doesnt ‘feel’ true and natural is that I have to be there for myself first. In a way I have to learn to be a person who was unconditionally loved at the beginning o my life – even when I wasnt – for me that has been my true lifetimes work. I see now that many of the paths my life has taken has just been a ‘bandaid’ I have employed to stick over my hurts. Ouch.!!

Beverly, you have some powerful insights…much food for thought.

Interestingly though, while I think many of us share your feelings, I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about her encounter with a P.

She was VP at a private “Ivy League” type college and there was a P who was also a VP there. He got drunk one night and really acted out “screaming at her I want to F**k you baby” and one of the other VPs had to drag him off to his room to pass out.

Fast forward a year, and he becomes the new president of the college…within 2 weeks, she gets a letter firing her, and ordering her and her personal possessions off the campus by 5 p.m.

She is a lady who sets appropriate boundaries and has no problems doing so–but this ONE encounter, this ONE stab in the back, this totally unjust slam, has haunted her for the past 7 or 8 years.

Actually, he did her a favor as she went on to bigger and better things. Yet, she still feels the utter humiliation of moving her stuff out of the office. I stayed with her while she raged against this man, and she knows what he is, and yet, even today, she has feelings of shame, humiliation and anger at this man. She did NOTHING to attract this man except be female and good looking, yet, he devestated and humiliated her.Where did she go “wrong”? Should she have made a big “stink” at the time he was drunk and filed a sexual harrassment suit? That would have killed her career right there.

She was in a no-win situation no matter what she did and he knew it.

Fortunately, this episode has not “ruined her life” but it is still a painful episode, thanks to a P.

I realize, too, Beverly, that I have NOT set appropriate boundaries, and I too have given love in the hopes of receiving love in return. Felt that if I “loved ENOUGH” it would come back to me…unfortunately, I “threw my pearls before swine.” For that, I have to acknowledge and take responsibility.

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