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RESOURCE PERSPECTIVES: How sociopaths mess with your head

Editor’s note: Resource Perspectives features articles written by members of Lovefraud’s Professional Resources Guide.

Sarah Strudwick, based in the UK, is author of Dark Souls—Healing and recovering from toxic relationships. She has also created a wonderful animation that describes the antics of a sociopath, called Exposing the Mask of Insanity. View the animation here.

Getting your head out of the washing machine

By Sarah Strudwick

Sarah Strudwick profile in the Lovefraud Professional Resources Guide

I often receive emails from people asking me to talk about different subjects. One recent subject was the mind-bogglingly creative ways in which a sociopath will literally mess with your head. A client came up with the perfect analogy and said she felt like her head had been in a washing machine.

The sociopath will use many different techniques—gaslighting, emotional blackmail, manipulation, creating confusion, lying and creating fear.

Gaslighting, for example, is the type of abuse whereby an abuser uses an increasing frequency of systematically withholding factual information from the victim, and/or providing false information. This has the gradual effect of making victims anxious, confused, and less able to trust their own memory and perception. When it’s done for a long enough period, you will literally start losing your mind and feel like your head has been in a washing machine for most of the time you have been in relationship.

It could come in the form of verbal gaslighting, whereby the sociopath manipulates by lying to control information. They may also do it to keep you off balance psychologically. The classic example of gaslighting is to change things in a person’s environment without their knowledge, and to explain that you “must be imagining things” when you challenge these changes.

Let’s say they wanted you to think you were forgetful. You lose your car keys then they help you find them. Whilst they have been very “helpful” searching for the keys with you, the keys suddenly appear in the ignition of your dashboard. You’re thinking, “I am sure I didn’t put them there.” They say, “Oh silly you, see you are so careless, you need to be more careful otherwise someone could have stolen our car!” The reality is they are the ones that moved them there in the first place.

One very sneaky trick a sociopath I knew used on me was to hack into my hotmail account, not change the password but selectively delete some of the incoming messages so I would see them one minute and the next they were gone.

More tactics

Sociopaths appear to have selective amnesia. They may say things like, “I don’t ever remember saying that I think you have you’re wires crossed,” or “Did I really say that?”

They are experts at creating unpredictability. The victim feels on edge because they never know where they stand and the goalposts are constantly shifting. Victims always remain hyper-vigilant, wondering when the abuser is likely to have an outburst or change of mood. As a result, the victim may start to feel frightened and unsettled.

Other tactics might include keeping the victim unaware of what is going on and what changes are taking place. For example, they may make plans for you and then cancel them, or talk about you behind your back, with the intention of isolating you from others. This type of abuse is done with the intention of keeping the victim in a constant state of anxiety and confusion.

There are a number of other mind blasting techniques that do not fit into any of the other types of verbal abuse categories, such as putting you down, being verbally abusive, using the silent treatment and so on. These tactics can also apply the narcissistic type personality.

The silent treatment is a favourite weapon of both personality types, and is particularly effective because it renders you unable to communicate anything to them. This is the most powerful weapon in their arsenal of sneaky abuse tactics.

Crazymaking comments

Other tactic includes conversations or actions that divert from the original argument or put blame back on the victim, but often they are very ambiguous. These comments are meant to make you feel crazy, confused, off guard and unable to respond. For example:

“I think the fact that you are really angry is stopping you from seeing things clearly. Let’s talk about this another time.”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Why would I do such a thing? I wasn’t going to tell you, but only yesterday, I went out and bought you that present you wanted.”

“Look, if you are going to cry every time we have a conversation, how can I answer you? You’re not really in a fit state. Here, have a tissue and let’s talk about something else instead.”

“I really don’t see any point in discussing this further until you have all your facts straight.”

“It’s all your imagination. Isn’t it about time you went back on the antidepressants darling? Here let me make you a cup of tea.”

The mist clears

If you are left feeling confused and crazy by their gaslighting behaviour, their verbal assaults and emotional demands and strange conversations, stop!

This is exactly how they want you to feel. The minute you become aware of what they are doing, and the fact that they are actually manipulating you, sometime miracles happen.

You realise much of what they say and do makes no sense at all. You take yourself out of the washing machine. Your head stops spinning and suddenly the mist clears. You realise you are not crazy, but they are.

After the relationship many victims of sociopaths have literally felt like their head had been in a spin cycle. They are left emotionally, spiritually and financially drained. On an energetic level you have literally been sucked dry and brainwashed until you have no idea what is real or imagined anymore.

My advice is to start writing down what the sociopath says to you and you will soon find yourself wanting to take your head out of the washing machine— hopefully long before the spin dry and they have completely taken you to the cleaners.


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515 Comments on "RESOURCE PERSPECTIVES: How sociopaths mess with your head"

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Dear Sarah, Thanks for a great article. “Rinse and repeat!”

My older spath Daughter used to always call l me a “Drama Queen”.
Shed say things like;
“Look how you alienate everyone, like Robert?”}{ MY chauvinistic brother who told me off for crying at my Mums funeral!}
“Claire,{spath D. no. 2} doesnt want to see you becuse she s frightened of you.”She doesnt want to get hurt by you again.”
{Frightened of ME?}!!
“When are you going to realise that YOU are the problem ,MUM?”{This in SUCH a lofty, patronising tone.}
“Deb never threw an iron at your head, you are CRAZY and should be committed!”{this from spath D 2.}
On and On. Its bizarre, if you geta lot of this shit, and if are isolated, you do start to believe theyre right!{I had three against one,{ me.}
Thans why NC forever is so vital for our survival. MamaGem.X

one/joy_step_at_a_time

check out the animation!!!!!!

hehehe…well done!

would you like to do one about sock puppets?

one/joy_step_at_a_time

’emotional demands’: YESSSSSS!!!

one/joy_step_at_a_time

Aussie Girl ”“ you wrote the other day and I didn’t have time to give you thoughtful reply, but I do tonight.

You said: ’The thing that still bothers me; the thing that I wonder about the most, is whether my laugh will ever be fixed again and go back to normal. I joke, like I used to; I laugh at funny things the way I always did; only now, my laugh sounds “broken” to me’
(especially with your parents). I REALLY get this. I have the same experience with my voice. I don’t know if it will ever be right again. We need to pay close attn to where and when we respond this way”it’s our souls saying, ’nuh uh’.

I had this really good experience the last few days (and not with my colleagues, I am new, they are mostly new, and I am not close with them). Many people I have been networking with have talked about being stressed and having holey memories. I have felt really comfortable with these folks ”“ it normalized my experience to some extent.

I do wish I could just break down ”“ I wish there was enough safety there to do it. But I don’t feel it ”“ and I hope I break down somewhere where I do. I am on a few month contract ”“ no stress leave possible. No union. No counseling through work, and a whole lot of stress, a job with a lot of pressure, regardless of my stress response.

Thank you for writing. Your story about breaking down at work touched me with it’s humility and truth.

Getting your head out of the washing machine is like a miracle. Seriously, I hear angels singing right now. That is how amazing it feels.

I felt weird for years, unsettled, foggy, couldn’t sleep, etc. It was something that I couldn’t put my finger on, but I constantly felt bad. He would tell me that I was mistaken all the time in my perceptions. I felt like such an nasty person. He would actually tell me, well nobody else sees it. Gosh, it made me feel crazy, jealous, passive aggressive and like a horrible wife.

Now I know that is how he wanted me to feel. Like the animation, he changes his story to suit him and change the context of his meanings.

Now I sleep the whole night, without ambien. I couldn’t even sleep when I took ambien. I have not done that for about 12 years. It would be sporadic, mostly when I was ruminating on my perceptions and saying to myself, I really did see that. I wake up and feel good. Not perfect, but just so much more at peace.

Gaslighting is so freaking sick and wrong. I realize he has been telling me lies since the day I met him. He wanted to isolate me and was so sly about it. He has fooled many people so I don’t feel like such a sucker but I will have my eyes wide open in the future.

This article is dead on and it is so validating to me.

Sarah, One step, Hope, YES! YES!! YES!! and FRIGGING YES!!
And did I say YES!???Can we ay Hi 5!!
Oh Boy how GOOD this feels that after all this time of being made to feel crazy, you guys all GET IT!!!
Hope your Joy, you hit the nail on the head!
After 30 frigging years , {not all lived with the spaths}IM only really NOW getting to this place you describe so WELL, ie, waking up feling NORMAL, sane, happy,at PEACE! Waking up listning to the birds, with such JOY!No more freakin dialogue, like,
“But what if they ARE RIGHT and IM THE PROBLEM?
Your right on about gaslighting being evil. Years ago, when my lovely 2nd Husband and I wer first married, wed just come back from Bali where wed been on Honeymoon. Got this tragic call from spath D no 1,
“Mum, Im homeless, can I come and live with you and David?”
You can imagine, my heart plummeted to my boots, but my kind husband said,”Of course she must come,”
WELL! she made so much trouble for us,in 6 months she practically driven us to divorce!
This is the sort of crazy making thing she did.
“Mum, have you seen my new make up purse”?
{one id bought for her full of cosmetics , recently.}
“Me, “No darling, but Ill look for it for you.”
I came back from my Teaching job, to find her incandescent with rage.”You FOUND my purse! I bet you stole it! her it is on my bed! Why didnt you tell me you had it? On and On.
Useless of me to protest, that no, I hadnt found it, Id no idea how it came to be on her bed.
Obviously, shed found it, and put it there, then accused me of pinching it!Why on earth would I do this, when I bought it for her??!
Dave and I manage d to find her a nice furnishe d bed sit, only walking distance from where our ground floor flat was.
We took he r to see it, she said she loved it!
Dave gave her a rug, bedding, we put up curtains, gave her a table, a rocking chair, filled the fridge and cupbards with food, move d h er in, helped with the rental bond.
We didnt hear from her for several weeks, so assumed she was happy and settled.Then I got a call from her landlady to say D had “donea runner! Leaving 3 weeks rent unpaid. We wentover, what a disaster, filthy unmade bed, food rotten on the bench tops, a large flagon of wine on the table half empty.
So, we paid the rent owing, cleare d out the food, furniture rug, bedding, etc.
Davi was naturally upset, so was I. Still not peep from her.
Then a call from spathD 2,”I have D here,she was very upset, and lonely . How COULD you just dump her in a bedsit?Shes staying with me right now! I cant believe you, Mum!!”
spath D 1 was NOT a child at this point, she was 21.She d lived with us, rent free , for almost 6 months, had all her meals,{and drinks!} with us.Shed seemed to LOVE the bedsit, it was only 5 minutes walk from our flat, and wed urged her to come over any time.
They are truly something else! THANK GOD I no longe r have to live with these witches, or believe their gaslighting and lies.!
Mama gemXx

one time my x said in his little baby talk way ‘ your going to have to learn how to trust me. ‘ duh was that gaslighting? i was like dood you just lied and your turning this around like i made the whole thing up….they are species all their own…twilight zoners…..

Another thing she did was sob in Davids arms that her Dad had stolen her bed.”Ill buy you a new one,sweetheart” my kind husband said.
{Shed run away from home to live in a squat, and her dad put her clothes on the tip, after asking her for months to come pick hm up.}
I rang her Dad to ask him why he would steal her bed.!
“Why the hell would I do that?” he said,
“I MADE the bed for her, remember? Im keeping it for her, but as Ive moved to another state, shell have to come get it.”
Later, I heard her chuckling about how shed fooled David into thinking her Dad had sold her bed!
These people are SICKOS. They play on their goodness and kindness, but finally drive them away.. Mama Gem,

gemmer’s what is a bedsit?

Hens, A bedsit is kind of studio apartment, ie,just one room, with a bed in it, table, sometimes a tiny kitchenette, but in Debs one she got to share the kitchen with some students,-also the bathroom was shared.Students like them, as the rent is usually very reasonable. David and I were delighted wed found it for her, it was 5 mins from our flat,{condo} and we thought the students would be company for her. Seems we were wrong.You cant win with a spath! Dave has been very kind to both my girls, and has been rewarded with abuse, scorn, indifference,lack of consideration, lies,and has just plain been treated badly by them.He used to make a baked dinner,{ie a roast dinner for them, they d ring up to say,”Were running bit late, David,” he d say, how long will you be? theyd say,”half an hour.” this would go on all evening till 10 oclock, when they dcall to say they couldnt make it after all. By which time the meall was ruined, and my nice, kind husband was actually in tears of anger and frustration and hurt.”Im never doing this again!” hed say.They seem to get a sick kick out of hurting people.What they are too stoopid to realise is when that persons trust is lost, its lost for EVER.
GemXX

I need to get my head out of the washing machine…..or at least add bleach to the load!

Hi everyone, I am Sarah Strudwick and thankyou for all the great comments. So sorry to hear about all of your negative experiences with these people. They are extremely creative when them come up with different ways to gaslight us. I think I might put up a page and get people to add at will all the kind of mind boggling comments they actually dream up!

Erinbrook, I couldn’t help laughing at the bleach comment LOL. Maybe if I have time I’ll do the sock puppet video. There was a lovely cartoon drawing of that on the net somewhere. Yes these people can really mess with your head and I try to add a bit of humour in my writing otherwise I would have really gone nuts. As for hens comment about them being their own little species and the twilight zoners, strangely enough I wrote a whole chapter on that same topic called living in the twilight zone. I am so glad I am out of there !

Hi Noordinary:
Nice visual huh?!
Glad you had a chuckle…….

Noordinary…I LOVED this! Not only did it validate all the crap my ex spath hole did to me, but there were enough “Italian F-you’s” to make me laugh! Wonderful!

@jazzy129 laughing my head off. Well exactly thats what they have been doing to us all this time so its nice to have a bit of payback in the form of a cartoon cut out because thats really all they are

Oh my-YES! Especially this, “Sociopaths appear to have selective amnesia. They may say things like, “I don’t ever remember saying that I think you have you’re wires crossed,” or “Did I really say that?”

I use to get so upset when I would repeat things back to him that he told me and he would say “I never said that”. Thankfully, I had proof many times because we communicated via e-mail or messenger. I could go back and pull the “proof” of what he told me. He would just look at it and say “I guess I did say that, I don’t remember”. He claimed that he has had a bad memory his entire life and that it always bothered him that he couldn’t remember things. When he would explain his inability to remember things, and how frustrating it was for him, I would feel sorry for him. He sounded so sincere that it bothered him that he was like that.

Also, creating confusion, lying–YES! When I caught him on a dating site and confronted him about it he said “I am not on any dating site”, I asked him if he was sure because I knew he was, he again replied he was not. This went on for hours. Every time I gave him a chance to come clean with the truth, he would reply with one of the following, “It’s not my profile; if it would make you feel better to think so I will say its mine; I am not on ANY dating sites; I am not a paying member on any site”. The last one was a good one, not a PAYING member. So I informed him how I KNEW it was his profile. I used the user name on the account and his password (which he gave me and used on ALL his accounts) and I was in HIS account. So he KNEW I KNEW it was actually his. Once I told him that was how I knew, I asked him, “what do you have to say now?”, his reply, “nothing”.

Excellent article and animation! How true it is…. washing machine head.
EB… [email protected] bleach
soimnotthecrazee1!

After meeting so many women who were saying how they had felt they had met their “soulmate” and doing a workshop today, I thought it might be appropriate to do this one animation LOL . I also chucked in a funny at the end about how along with the sock puppet theme 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0BLMp1Xbso enjoy

Dear Noordinary, another good one! When I have time I will check out your other animations.

My ex spath hole didn’t use the ‘soulmate’ line until about a month after I kicked his lazy ass out. He immediately started stalking and slandering me online and by phone to all my friends, families, and even doctors. After I contacted the police (who told me to talk to him one last time and tell him not to contact me again), they gave me the # and website for a U.S. based domestic violence and stalking advocates. THEY also told me about NC…and I applied it immediately….within a week or 2 of kicking the spath hole out.

Well, as you can imagine, I lost some good friends because of his slander…they didn’t know who to believe. I’m not sure, but I think he went to an old girlfriend when I kicked him out. Oh, that was planned, too. I didn’t realize he had been moving stuff out when I wasn’t home (my stuff, too…not just ‘his’). The rest of his clothes were already basically packed. He had PLANNED this…sorry ass bastard was using my phone, computer, heat…everything…for free…and he PLANNED this.

A month or so later I get an email from one of the friend’s…’Oh, **** wants to start a new relationship, but he misses you and thinks you are his SOUL MATE. HA-ha-ha-ha-ha! The ‘girlfriend’ must have realized what a piece of shit he really was and he had nowhere to go! His PLAN backfired (he wanted me to sell my house and move near his Mommy)! I emailed back to please tell him that he should go ahead with this relationship because I want nothing to do with him. Also, I want no more messages from him. Still no contact.

Months later, I find out he has been calling an elderly neighbor of mine to find out what I’m doing. She is a darling…I told her what a bad person he was, and please do NOT give him any more info about me. She felt so bad, but of course it wasn’t her fault. She told him not to call her anymore.

So last I heard he is back with Mommy…46 or 47 years old and living off his mother. Soul mate my ass.

Dear Noordinary,

Loved your animation!!!! thank you!!! it is such a great visual for someone who just can’t get it by reading about it.

One of my friends who’s been very helpful in my healing process and whom I copied on the lynk has another great visual he’s used on me before …..there I am pushing the rickashaw while Spath is sitting in it with 4 babes drinking champagne and fanning himself, holding out a carrot in front of me….all the while cracking the whip saying “just push a little harder Aeylah because if you don’t want that carrot I have 4 other babes here who want it!….LOL

Noordinary,
Thank you so much for you presentations!
Aeylah:
That’s what they do to us…. get the carrot or else you lose me!
soimnotthecrazee1!

noordinary, great animation. Spot On. Pretty revolting to hear on the same note, as psychopaths’ behaviors and strategies are- but spot on. Now i’ll just have to get that robotic voice out of my head… lol

Edit : PS, If you haven’t seen Henry Rollins’ music video, “Liar”, i think you might find it interesting. Really captures the essence of a Socio/Psychopath to a T. When i first saw it, i was still involved. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vgQalXaIxs

Yes, I heard the soul-mate within the first two months of dating, and I got suckered in. Married the bastard and was with him for 20 years before he dumped me after finding a new victim. Didn’t realize I was being gaslighted until after he left me, and now seeing him in a totally different light.

I gave up my successful career for him once we started a family — it took him 10 years before he “found himself.” Yet, he only found himself because I did his resumes, his job searches, had the connections, etc . . . and thus he finally landed a career.

Naturally, I supported him all the way (despite earning half my salary) and wanted him to be happy and successful . . . and the “man” of the house (because that’s what “he said, he wanted”). As a result, he used it against me.

If ever I questioned his late nights, “networking” events, out-of-town meetings . . . his response always was, “Don’t you want me to be succesful?” “Don’t you want me to be the provider.” “I can’t get that bonus, if I’m not there.”

Always worked on me, because it would make me second-guess myself and think I wasn’t being “supportive.” Little did I know at the time, that he was never really bettering himself professionally, that there was no meeting, or bonus incentives . . . he was cheating and lying to me the entire time.

And while I was sitting at home eating mac’n cheese and doing homework with the kids after putting in a 10-hour day of work (making again more than his salary), I now learned he spent his days trolling the internet for porn, playing golf (“networking”), and his evenings wining and dining his newest victim (or shacking up in a hotel room).

All the while, I kept telling myself to not feel “alone” or sorry for myself . . . because he’s working hard for his family. Ha! And even worse, I put such a positive spin on his “accomplishments” that everyone around us (especially me) was convinced he WAS a success!

Now that I’m out of the washing machine I see his little tricks. And I’ve learned that he was a no-good worker, and that was the reason for our constant moves . . . because the gig was up once his employers learned he was all talk and no action. Me? I thought it was because they never “appreciated him” and he was “too good” for the job.

I still get conned every now and then by him, but every day I get wiser and stronger.

Sad for my two young boys, as they are being manipulated as well. The ex will go for some time with no contact with his sons, and then when he does call his first words to his 11yo is “why didn’t YOU call me?” Thankfully it seems my son just dismisses it . . . and hope so!

Because when he used those tactics with me, I would question myself, feel insecure, and then I would start always making the first move and doing all the work in the relationship so he could never question my love/loyalty.

20 years of brainwashing . . . and I never knew!

dancingnancies…that Henry Rollins’ video is spot on!

Dear Woodrow,

I am so sorry that your X is treating your 11 yr old in such a neglectful manner. No child deserves to be treated that way. I am glad that your son has at least ONE nurturing parent though. He deserves at least that. I hope he and his brother will be able to use their father’s behavior to “out” him themselves, and that you will be able to teach them as they grow what it is and why and that it is not their fault their father is what he is, or treats them the way he has and that they deserve better from the man.

It is difficult and painful to me to see the collateral damage these people do to everyone around them, and especially the children. At least though, you are aware of the tactics that he isi using, and hopefully can guide your sons gently to see that they are not the deficient ones, that HE IS. God bless you and your sons. (((Hugs))))

mendingthebrokenpieces

Finding myself, “if it will make you feel better to think so I will say it is mine” aaahhhhhhh…mine said stuff like that all the time. “If it will make you feel better I will just tell you that I did it then since you think I did anyway so ok..I will just say I did it even though I didn’t” blah blah blah I have not been on here awhile..I am in the process of planning a big move back home to where my family and friends are to get away from my spath…I talked about it before but I am actually doing it. Things ended on a really bad note with him..everything that happened was of course crazy but he of course flipped everything on me and it was alll my fault and he turned a really good friend against me with his lies. He told me that finally I have been exposed for the things I do. Uh..ok..but I didn’t do anything except tell the truth so I am not sure what he made up about me and I don’t want to know..he sure had my head in the washer for 3 years. There was no closure but i am making my own. The last thing he said to me was to call me immature and hang up on me while screaming at the top of his lungs naturally. I hated to leave it at that but i did. I hate him. Starting day 9 of no contact for me!! That is the best I have done in a long time… I am in another state..so it is much easier but if that is what it takes so be it! I have to go back to the area where he is for about 3 more weeks to wrap things up there with apmt and job and then I am leaving there for good. It really put things into perspective for me when my counselor tracked down my parents phone number to call to make sure I was safe. Oh and hens…you are going to have to learn how to trust me. Ha! How can they just expect you all of a sudden just to trust! Because they claim they have changed? Hahahahaha…THEY CAN’T CHANGE AND CANNOT BE TRUSTED! I think this fact has finally hit home for me. The only thing is can trust him for is to lie to me and fool me and hurt me everytime.

Dear Brokenpieces,

Congratulations on your NC! That is the start and the KEY to healing!

What gaslighting they do! “Trust me” is psychopath-speak for “hey, look the other way while I screw hell out of you and LIE LIKE A RUG!”

As for losing a “good friend”—no, you didn’t lose much if they believed his lies enough to just take his word for it and not talk to you about it for verification. I realized that people who just “take their word for” the fact that I am a horrible person weren’t my “friends” in the first place, just people I had hung out with. FRIENDS don’t turn their backs on you without seeing what is going on first, to see the truth behind things. Not without evidence.

I’m glad that you are going back where you have real support! Good for you! Keep safe, take care of yourself and heal your heart! God bless.

Oxy,

He went from crying yesterday to anger today. I told him that we should tell the kids tonight, he already told our son. I think he has been feeding him misinformation for awhile. He is ignoring and getting meaner to his sister.

I see the therapist today and will talk about these issues.

Spath is now the man behind the mask. I just feel so badly for son because he is a caring, kind young man.

I now know why son has been sad lately, good old spath has been turning him on daughter and me.

So yesterday spath was asking what he could do for me, get groceries, etc. now it’s the a-hole who speaks to me like I’m a piece of garbage. Stay strong. I can’t wait until he’s out!!! It’s d & d big time.

For 7 years I thought I was losing my mind. I have had NC for 6 weeks. It has been so peaceful….in my head! He has texted me over the last six weeks with:

“Hey will you please answer me so I know you are ok?” NOPE!!!!

“I didn’t think anything could come between us.” BETWEEN US? THERE IS NO “US”!

“It is obvious that you don’t wanna communicate with me and that’s fine. Can I still expect Bank of America statements in the mail?” WHAT A MORON? TRY AND ASK ME A QUESTION TO SEE IF I WILL ANSWER. NOPE….NC AND THAT’S FINAL.

****BTW – He owes me about $8,000 dollars that I loaned him. At one point he texted me that the loan was OUR problem, not his. He wants me to somehow have contact with him to get a payment. I will see him in court before I will text him back only to have him start harping on me and making me feel bad about myself, like he has done for 7 years. Mr. Nice Guy full of compliments until I don’t comply, then he turns to Mr. Nasty.

He once told me that he had 6 other gals waiting in the wings if I didn’t want to be with him. WHAT AN EGO!!!!

Anyway, I just wanted to say that this NC is the only way to heal. I have been in therapy and that has helped, but what really opened my eyes was the book, “Women Who Love Psychopaths” by Sandra Brown. And the line that floored me and slapped me in the face to reality……HE CANNOT CHANGE! HE WILL NOT CHANGE! That was all I needed to hear. I will never be able to love him enough, do enough, care enough……But I HAVE had enough of the craziness.

I never realized how easily the mind can be tormented into an abyss. I thank God everyday for the reality that came just in the nick of time, before I married him or had children with him.

This is some of the most helpful info, especially the animation!!! Awesome!

And yes, after all I went thru to get free, along with all the long term psychopathic abuse starting in childhood with P brother right thru two P marriages, one lasting 28 years, I am BLOWN! I don’t have the emotional energy to handle much of anything. When some scene starts draining me, my survival kicks in and I just have to leave. My body/mind start ‘shutting down’ and I have no choice but to remove myself and disengage.

Oh, I thought you all might find this interesting: my last PX, now married to the South American, is headed with her to her country next week for three months. This country is notorious for drugs, drug cartels, drugging tourists, and kidnapping Americans for ransom. It’s not safe to use their roads, cabs, streets, ATM’s, clubs,malls etc for Americans. So……they may find this old boy butt up in the jungle. In his pursuit of ‘thrills’, he may find the ‘ultimate’ one this time.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

TB – can i please send my spath down with him?! 😉

One_step: you betcha! LOL! ;p

The lies, the lies, the lies, iremember in the beginning when i was still reeling from my husband leaving and the s had entered my life i knew when the lies began but i rationalized that he was a pathological liar and that justified it, nuts now that i look back but i was so dam vulerable that i even excused whe n i though ” hey this guy is playiing games and i don’t want to play games”. I’ve been the longest in no contact in over 7 years approx 7 or 8 months and im struggling with all the pent up distane i have for the s and i’ve managed to add a few more toxics, brother, lawyers in estate to be honest im very down on men in general. I know the anger is a waste of energy directed at the ones who least deserve it and i try praying for them to divert my anger but it’s still under the surface. Why the hell wouldn’t i be disappointed in men and yet i know there a some good guys. I just found out the s is evicting a nice young single mom with 3 boys to put his daugher in rental, every time i hear how evil he is it just adds fuel to the fire and the anger comes to the surface again. I know it’s a process and i think once i get this estate over with and hopefully find employment i can get past all this. I’ve come to the realization that i can’t have my brother in my life not that he wants to be anyway. It’s taken me 50 yrs nearly to really get how toxic and manipulative he is, i put too much stock in the alcoholism as i know not all alkies are alike. It’s hard to know where addiction ends and personality disorders begin i’ve met so many that the addiction seems to mask it. At any rate i actually thought once i got the s out of my system i would be free, and then i had more of them with the estate but nothing i can do, they have driven me as crazy as the s did with all the threats, etc. Gosh i can’t wait till i can sit back and enjoy what i have and i know it’s alot of how im looking at things. love kindheart

My S woman of 28 years knew how to gaslight like nobody’s business. Her most ironic line of all was..I never wanted you in that way(sexually). I was never attracted to you.. this after getting me to do what she wanted. The last time was early October when I saw her for what I feel was the last time I will ever see her. She conned me for all this time but I didn’t realize until the last two times I saw her in person that she never really treated me right when I was face to face with her. But over the phone and in emails she couldn’t have been nicer. When I went up to see her in October I spent over 800 dollars on the trip up there,buying her things..and giving her 4 full days of hard labor in her yard. She fixed my brother and I a grand turkey feast the first day we were there and we spent the rest of the week eating it.. with her complaining the whole time about cooking..about my brother’s personal habits like snorting instead of blowing his nose… she couldn’t wait for us to leave at the end of the day after all we did for her. That’s when it hit me square in the face that she never did appreciate anything I had ever done for her. I then told her that I had changed my mind about moving up there to be around her and to care for her. Why do anything for her when she didn’t appreciate it anyway? She told me in an email that I had “casually dismissed” her by having my broither tell her I wasn’t moving up there. No. She wouldn’t call me nor give me the chance to tell her. Then it was..I never cared for you.. I was never attracted to you in that way..I said fine. Goodbye..and you will never get another chance to use me again. Lastly I got to tell her”If you never cared for me then you used me”. No answer to that one.

Dear Renewedhope,

I am still somewhat confused about your relationship with this woman, but I did go back and re-read some of your previous posts, about this relationship, and that you were married as well.

People who are selfish or high in narcissistic traits will try to manipulate us to get us to do things for them, or to give them things. I can’t get a handle on your relationship with this woman (“for 28 years”) but it sounds to me like you perceive that she used you to do things for her and that you were interested in more than a “friend” relationship with her, but she then told you that she was NOT interested in you sexually.

Sometimes when we do things for people we expect them to show “gratitude” for services, which is really a form of payment for services. Sometimes that’s all we want, and sometimes we expect more than simply “Thanks”–like a continuation of a relationship, sexual or otherwise.

If you were expecting sexual favors as a display of gratitude for 4 days of yard work, it appears you were disappointed by her response. I’m not sure what your and your brother’s intentions of moving up there near her so that you could “take care of” her—but apparently she was willing to accept your favors but not willing to show any “gratitude” for those services beyond a turkey dinner.

If this woman doesn’t even like you, but she IS willing to let you do her yard work for free (except for feeding you) then I don’t think you have lost much in the way of a relationship with her. As for your brother’s “personal habits” I think that would kind of gross me out too. Maybe it would have been more fair in the long run if you had just told her “I’ll do your yard work, but here is exactly what I expect in return________” that way you and she could have come to an agreement BEFORE you drove all that way and spent all that money on her only to find out she didn’t “want you in that way (sexually) and was Never attracted to you” AFTER you had done the yard work.

I think it is very important to be really clear up front in a relationship (and especially in a fee-for-service one) what you expect for what you are doing so no one is disappointed in the end result.

Renew, i don’t think they stay attracted to anyone, novelty wears off fast . I rem hearing the s commenting on not being attracted to diff women he had been attracted to in the beginning. Longevity is not in the cards for them and they have no accumulation of goodwill. We can give till the cows come home and it will still never feel like enough, pointless , futile and they keep on taking like nobodies business. Things don’t make a person happy but everything with them is material, they value worth completely diff than normal people. They will never know the essence of sharing or giving unless of course it is to gain something in return> I remember the vicous circle of trying to get his constant approval like there was something just not perfect enough. Glad to be off that merry go round. kh

Dear OXI;
I think I also told you several times that I had accepted the fact that she didn’t want sex with me but that she KNEW I had feelings for her. I am looking at the trip we took up there as purely as a friendship basis as I knew long ago she wasn’t sexual. But You put yourself in my shoes for one minute. Look at me as a dear male friend going up there to do for her what a friend would do. but when you get up there she complained the whole time about everything. How would YOU feel AS A FRIEND.. spending $800 to take a 600 mile trip and looking forward to it and when you get up there having your “friend”treat you like a hired hand. I just didn’t feel like she treated me right as a friend much less as anything more. Forget about anything more than as a friend.. then when I rescinded my offer to her to move up there because I didn’t feel appreciated.. SHE brought up the fact that she never cared about me as anything more..In my opinion to just to hurt me.

Oxy: very good post!!!!!

I have a friend that said he just loved to do things for me and wanted to ‘help’ me extract myself from this PX. However, after all was said and done [and I was TOTALLY HONEST with this person up front] he has since come forward stating his great disappointment that I was not interested in more than just a friendship and that he thought I would consider an intimate relationship and marriage to him! Now, where did he get that idea? BTW, the offer of help has diminished greatly when his ‘idea’ of repayment was not founded. When people make it very clear, a person needs to find themselves listening and not merely overriding it and entertaining ideas of their own, which some believe will come to pass if they push/give hard enough. Seems to be their motives were to create an obligation of repayment [and on their terms to boot]!

Dear Kindheart;
Yes you are correct. in this particular case this woman has never stayed longer than 3-4 years with anyone person. the woman she has been with for 14 years she only admits she’s with her when it’s convenient for her.. yes she has been a Lesbian for over 30 years but before that married 3 times to men. I personally think she is bisexual and prefers women because she can manipulate them easier and not have to worry about being physically abused as much as she would have with men. I told you she was a mess.. too much baggage for me and I am glad to be rid of her sorry arse. Yes I am very happily back with my wife in every way! Very lucky she didn’t give up on us. That doesn’t mean however these feelings aren’t still there. I am a human being not a light switch. but what I know now.. is that this woman is a user and will never be good for anyone..doesn’t matter what sex they are..

Dear Renewedhope,

While I am am in NO WAY saying that how this woman treated you was RIGHT, in fact, absolutely NOT—however, on your part, I think having a “friendship” with a woman that YOU are interested in when YOU are a MARRIED man, AND “helping” her, and then getting your feelings hurt because she isn’t “interested” in you seems a tad odd to me.

What is your WIFE’s role in this triangle? How does SHE feel about you spending all this money and time and labor for another woman that YOU admit that YOU have feelings for and seem disappointed that they are not returned.

Well, I’m done with this, it sounds like WAAAAAY more drama than I am inclined to take on or give advice about…the whole thing sounds like two people manipulating each other…you rescuing/enabling her and her using you to do her unpaid labor. You both got taken as far as I’m concerned and if that sounds lacking in empathy I’m sorry.

I MYSELF HAVE ENABLED MY SONS, AND “friends” and then been pithed when they didn’t “appreciate it” or treat me well, in fact one of my sons tried to kill me for my trouble.

NOW when I do things for people I do not expect “gratitude” and I am NEVER DISAPPOINTED….so if they appreciate it fine, if not fine, no skin off my nose. I am NOT OBLIGATED to help anyone unless I WANT TO and if I want to “FREELY GIVE HELP TO A FRIEND” then I should not expect repayment in “gratitude” or other services.

Enabling others ALWAYS (100% of the time) causes BAD
FEELINGS on the part of the one “helped” AND on the part of the “helper” because the helper never gets enough gratitude or repayment and the helped always feels the helper is trying to control them with “gifts” that are really down payments on control.

SEEING my OWN PART IN THIS kind of tit for tat drama with pseudo friends, and doing more and more for them for less and less respect, and then down right hatefulness—I wasn’t making any progress until I learned the differences between “helping” someone freely and ENABLING—and there is sometimes a FINE LINE between them, but the man point being that we don’t expect “gratitude” in retgurn.

Jesus healed TEN men with leporacy but only ONE turned around and thanked him if I remember the story correctly. So I figure if Jesus didn’t get any gratitude for that miracle then I shouldn’t expect any for my assistance.

I see your point. There is indeed more drama here than I can handle which is why I am so glad it’s over. The situation with my wife is one that is hard to explain. Any other woman would have left even though there was no sex involved. She knew me better than I knew myself and knew that I would come back to her. I can’t explain it any better than that. And I know morally it wasn’t right to want to do for this woman when I am married. That doesn’t change the fact that it happened. I have since forgiven myself for my wrongdoing which is been the hard part for me. I don’t intend to ever do this thing again.

Dear Renewedhope,

I sincerely hope that you and your wife can work this thing out between you, and that you can be open and honest with her (your wife) about the “emotional affair” with the other woman. (Those are my words, not yours, but to me that sounds about right the best I can figure from your description of the “friendship” with this woman).

For what it is worth, my opinion, is that I would be as much hurt by an emotional affair by my partner as I would be for him crawling into bed with someone else or maybe more hurt.

Since this thing (the whole relationship with this woman) was “off center” from the get go, my advice to you would be for you to work on YOU and YOUR path, and just realize that NEITHER OF YOU were on the moral high ground here. Frankly, I think when we get involved in ANY KIND of dysfunctional relationship and it turns out badly we tend to want to say, like a kid in second grade, “It all started when Johnny hit me back!” LOL

It was difficult for me to realize just how “helping” people was a “bad” thing, or how I was at fault, for any of the situation because “ALL I DID WAS TRY TO HELP THEM……” (my portion was as pure as the driven snow, in other words) but in the end, I finally FINALLY came to see that YOU CAN GIVE PEOPLE THINGS BUT YOU CANT HELP THEM, THEY MUST HELP THEMSELVES. And—if you give someone something and expect gratitude in return, then it was not a GIFT it was an advance payment on services…

My late husband used to have what he called “the golden rule”–not like the one in the Bible, though. My husband’s rule was “HE WHO HAD THE GOLD MAKES THE RULES” and when someone is in a position to “NEED” us and we “take care of” them then they by common human agreement become “beholden” to us for whatever we did for them. In other words, in our “debt” for what we did for them. That is also a ONE-DOWN position, where we are “superior” to them because they NEED US.

An equal relationship, where both partners are EQUAL, each sharing with the other is what a good marriage/friendship should be, rather than one person being “beholden” to the other or indebted. Inter-dependent relationships are like that. Sometimes you need more, sometimes I need more, but we share the burdens of life together and we don’t keep “score” of I did this, so you owe me that…

I suggest that you work on doing things for yourself and your wife, and trying to show your wife that you ARE truly sorry for any (even) emotional infidelity and regain her trust again. It may take some time I am sure. I can vouch for the fact that I would not give a partner another chance after a long-standing (28-year?) emotional “affair” with someone else or any physical affair. Your wife must be a saint! I hope you can show her that you value her and respect her and that you truly “don’t intend to ever do this thing again.” Good luck and God bless.

schnoodle64 –

Stay strong. x

First offI knew said S woman about 12 years before I met my wife. When I got dumped by said S woman in 1993 I had decided to put her behind me..it took me 3 years though before I would date anyone and then my wife came along. At the time we met I had kept said S woman as a “friend” even though she had hurt me. It wasn’t until last year at this time that she revealed to me that she “Thought” she was dying. She wasn’t but it made the old feelings start all over again. We had been going through this roller coaster ride for a year now until October when I made the trip to see her. I have been nothing but honest about my feelings from the first second I started feeling them last year. it kills me that I hurt my wife. it is the biggest regret of my life. But forward is where we are going and I can’t take this time back. All I can do is show my wife how much I do love her and always have even when I was feeling something for someone else. I am going to show her the rest of my life how much I love her.. That is all I can do. I can’t go back.

Dear Renewed hope,

GOOD FOR YOU! None of us can go back, and I think I have a better grasp on the situation than I did before (you don’t really owe me to tell me the details but thanks, it helps me understand) I wonder if this “dying thing” was a PITY PLOY on her part or if she really thought she was dying?

It is not infrequent that people who are manipulative will use some “I have cancer” or something to hook someone back into their manipulation. I can see for sure how you would possibly be hooked with feeling pity for her if she was dying…my egg donor got very angry when I didn’t fall for her “pitiful old widow lady” routine. Heck as far as that goes, I’M A “pitiful old widow lady” but that doesn’t mean people should feel sorry for me and drop their lives and come “take care of me”—and then have me bitch them out because they didn’t do it the way I wanted it done! LOL Sounds like your “friend” may have been of that kind of manipulation bent.

All of us I think have done and said things that we regret later, or that we have not held firmly to our moral compasses, so you are not alone in having done something you regret! Forgiving MYself was harder than forgiving the psychopaths. But nothing excused what they did or what I did for that matter, so I can’t change the past, just go on toward the future and today. Good luck and God bless.

Renewed: If I read this correctly, you did help this woman, but you wanted a relationship [including physical] with her and that was a huge reason you went to her aid. That didn’t work out, so you returned to your wife.
And it’s my personal opinion if we are truly in love with someone we don’t have these feelings for someone else. Any way you slice it: wife is getting short end of the stick.

Dear TB, how in the world are you? Are you recovering after the babysitting fiasco? I’ve been thinking about you and hoping you were doing better! It is just so difficult when the Ps’ behaviors impact on innocent “bystanders” especially their kids. Gem and I have both been there with you, darling, and it ain’t easy, but right now, putting yourself FIRST is a good thing! (((hugs)))

Oxi you explained her to a tee! When we went up there we worked from sun up to sundown in the yard. As we were leaving I asked her if she was satisfied with what we did and she said “For what we did”. Which meant we didn’t get everything done she wanted us to. My brother told her to her face”You would complain if you were hung with a new rope!”. She laughed it off but I could tell she didn’t like what he said. But it was the truth. She is a great deceiver. She could charm the pants right off of me and she knew it. She had the attitude”I don’t want you but I don’t want anyone else to have you either!”. Anyway..
Thanks so much for your input..it has helped clarify a few things for me.

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