By | June 15, 2012 99 Comments

Taking care of ourselves–FIRST!

By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)

Wearing my “nurse Joyce hat” is part of what I am, although I am retired. Even though I am no longer in practice giving out specific medical advice to patients and billing insurance companies, Medicare and private payers for the advice, I still am inclined to look at things from a medical point of view.

One of the things I used to teach my diabetic patients about their condition was that I was the “coach” and they were the “team.” I could not get out on the field of life and play the “game” they had to do it. But if I were not a good “coach,” and didn’t teach them the “rules of the game,” they were not going to be able to play a good game. I told them that diabetes is a “do-it-yourself treatment plan.” They had to control their diet, their exercise and their use of medications in a wise way. It took all three things to successfully control the condition and prevent the side effects from literally killing their bodies, one organ at a time. In fact, lifestyle is one of the biggest things in any person’s health, not only in those with diseases like diabetes.

I have not always been a good patient myself ”¦ I have eaten too much, exercised too little, smoked cigarettes, and so on. I’ve put my needs last and others’ needs first. I am GUILTY of this, so I am not just throwing stones at someone else’s glass house. However, I have finally made a vow to make some changes in my life and my behavior, and put myself first. To make my own health a top priority.

Stress and illness

Back in 2007, during the “summer of Chaos,” I was living in my recreational vehicle with my adopted son D, hiding out on a friend’s property at a lake, while the man my son had sent to kill me was living in my mother’s home, conspiring with my daughter-in-law and my son, Patrick, to kill me, take over the family finances and ultimately to leave Patrick the sole beneficiary of the family trust. I was in such a stressed-out condition that I was a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wreck. I scored about 1,500 points on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, and a score of 300+ is over the top.

My immune system had almost shut down, leaving me prey to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Though I was obviously “sick,” I was unable to realize that I had been running a continual fever for weeks, before I finally got to a physician to confirm my illness. He was very concerned about my condition and actually thought I had cancer, because my “labs” were so out of whack. Stress does a number on our immune system, and as well on our ability to think critically and make judgments that are logical.

Dealing with psychopathic attacks, and the gaslighting that goes along with them, as well as the doubts we have about whether or not we have contributed to our own downfall, or whether we are at fault for what has happened to us, the frustrations we have in trying to “mend” the relationships with the psychopaths, and the grief responses that we experience in coping with the losses of perceived loved ones ”¦ all these things do a “number” on our bodies and minds.

Care for yourself

When you fly on an airline, the cabin staff gives you instructions on what to do in the event of an emergency. They tell you that if you are with a child when an oxygen mask falls down, that you should put the mask on yourself first. The reason for this is that if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot help others who are more helpless.

Many victims of psychopaths have small children that depend on them for emotional and financial support ”¦ and dealing with a psychopathic co-parent, poverty, loss of homes, finances, job changes, fear and frustration tend to make it difficult for the victim to focus on  him or herself first! If our children are, or have been, abused, we would want to put them first because that is what a good nurturing parent does. Put the child first. If the child is sick, you stay up all night with them, depriving yourself of needed sleep, and then go to work the next day.

Well, let me suggest that you change your perspective and put yourself first before everyone. You cannot take care of your children or your job or your finances if you are not healthy. If you do not put your own health as a priority, mentally, physically, and spiritually, you cannot do an adequate job of caring for your other responsibilities.

Real danger

When the world was crashing down around my head, and my life was literally in danger from the “Trojan horse psychopath” my son had sent to kill me, I worried about my house. I worried about my shop and barn; I worried about my animals and couldn’t make the logical decision to get the hell out while I was still alive and walking. Then something shocked me out of my denial and I started to act.

I had trouble waking my son D in the mornings. I just could not get him out of bed. I became very frustrated with him. Why the heck was it taking me from 7 to 10 a.m. to get  him to get up and get a cup of coffee and start the day? Well, finally I got it out of him that he had been staying up all night from midnight to daylight guarding me with a gun because he was concerned that the Trojan horse would come during the night and kill us. No wonder I couldn’t get him out of bed. He hadn’t suddenly just become lazy; he was exhausted from over 30 days of no sleep. Of course, he was putting me first! So we both decided to put ourselves first and get the heck out of Dodge. Leave the house, leave the farm, save our lives.

It was at that point that I started putting myself first. I realized that I could not guard this house 24/7 from sneak attacks, and that the house was not nearly as important as the lives of D and myself. So I decided that I needed to put myself first, not the house, not even the animals. In fact, as we snuck our essential things out of the house over a period of a few days, we left the outside animals in their kennels, vulnerable to the psychopath, because I knew as soon as they were gone, the Trojan Horse would know we were gone. The dogs went with the last load of important papers. In a week we had “disappeared.” As much as I loved my dogs, I knew that my life had to come before theirs.

Beginning recovery

Slowly over the summer, even though I was safe, the stress continued to weigh upon me, and then I got sick, which added more stress. It takes time for the effects of stress on our minds and our bodies to decrease. When I realized I was sick, I started taking care and seeing physicians. I also got EMDR therapy, and spent time on Lovefraud, which I had finally discovered. I consulted with a minister friend about my spiritual health as well. I started, for the first time in a long time, putting myself first. I was way behind the eight-ball, so my recovery did not come overnight.

When the Trojan horse and my daughter-in-law were arrested, in August,  I waited a few months and moved back to the farm in the RV, though I didn’t yet feel safe moving back into my house. I literally lived in the RV, parked near the house.

Even with the worst of the danger had passed, I had not “cured” myself of either the lack of critical logical thought, or of lacking in boundary setting. Learning to put yourself first is a step-by-step process, and one that if you are anything like me, you have to learn from scratch, as you have probably never done much of it in the past.

I allowed some of the peripheral psychopaths and users in my life to move in on me ”¦ and when I caught them stealing from me, I was literally embarrassed that I had “embarrassed them!” DUH! I had to learn to set boundaries for everyone, even those people that I cared about. I confronted them and asked them to leave my farm. I set boundaries for my mother when she showed no desire to process the devaluation and discarding she had done to me when I was being attacked by my son. Then she started to lie to me and to send him money and support. I went essentially NC with her, except for necessary legal business as co-trustees of our family trust.

Mending my ways

I decided to quit smoking and to mend my ways on diet and exercise. Stepwise, I started putting myself first. If I needed rest, I let the dishes sit. Let the floor go unswept. Confronted people who were being unfair to me, even if it meant the cessation of the relationship entirely.

Having fewer “friends” who added stress to my life left more time for those people who added peace and pleasure to my life. Taking care of me ”¦ going to the doctor on a regular basis for checkups and follow ups, doing what my physician suggested, those were all things that added to my physical improvement. As I improved physically, I also improved emotionally and mentally.

When I did have something that was a stressor, such as some long-term relationships that I realized were not healthy, probably hadn’t ever been healthy, and weren’t going to get healthy because the other person wasn’t willing to make any steps in that direction, I was able to sever these relationships with a minimum of pain and stress.

When stressful “life events” occurred that were not connected to anyone being “out to get me—” like flat tires, the car conking out, my dog being lost, I was able to weather these storms much better than I did back when I was not taking care of myself.


Not only did taking care of myself help me in every aspect of my life, from physical health to mental health, but my own self-esteem started to grow as well, because I was recognizing that I AM IMPORTANT TO ME. I am willing to do what it takes to make myself healthy. I matter to me.

Take stock of what you are doing to take care of yourself, and examine those areas in which you are not taking care of yourself. Don’t try to fix them all in one day, or one week, or one month, but do start to look at where you can make some progress in putting yourself first. Putting your own needs above all else. Get a medical check up, check into therapy, try to keep change to a minimum. Don’t make big changes unless absolutely necessary for your safety or security, and in those cases, where your safety and security are concerned, do whatever is necessary to ensure that you are safe!

God bless.

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Oxy – you have been through so much – I am so glad you are far along the journey of healing, and willing to share the lessons you have learned with the rest of us. Thank you so much.

Ox Drover

Thanks Donna, putting ourselves FIRST is hard to do, and especially for medical personnel…we are the worst patients in the world! LOL We neglect ourselves in taking care of others.


They have a book titled “respect-me R·U·L·E·S.” You can read the first chapter on line. They also have it set up as a tutorial.

About the Verbal Abuse Tutorial
This tutorial is designed to provide helpful information for anyone in a distressed relationship (man or woman) who feels:

* as if your home is not a sanctuary, but more like a concentration camp.
* that you are never good enough to please your spouse.
* that you are walking on eggshells around your spouse.
* that you may eventually convince your partner that you are worthy of love and affection.
* that the rules are always changing and you won’t know it until you violate one.
* that your partner always twist things to make you wrong.
* that if you treated them like they treat you, you would have hell to pay.
* as if your partner is unrelenting in his/her criticism, annoyance, irritation, and disapproval of you.
* that you can bring out the underlying good in your partner if you can find just the right combination.
* as if your spouse is accusing you of things they are actually doing.
* you are confused about why you can never seem to get it right.
* that you want to be your partner’s best friend but they keep making you the enemy.
* as if your partner controls everything, or tries to.
* like your partner has convinced you that you are going crazy.


Saw this last week. It’s suppose to be on PBS soon. ‘Tales From a Ghetto Klown’ Documentary On John Leguizamo’s. It’s a one man show about him growing up. Which wasn’t pretty. The end of the show has him talking to his dad. And he discovers something big.

Don’t know if I should give the ending away? It’s worth seeing just for the one line. The show is great.

Ox Drover

Yes we must take care of ourselves. No one else will.

My 2 Cents

Ox Drover


That book is right on as far as how we feel if we live with a psychopath or other abusive person…or have any kind of relationship with someone like that.

Because we are so busy BUSY trying to placate them we don’t take care of ourselves and the stress we experience hurts us more. It is ONLY by taking care of ourselves we can regain the strength to become healthy in all ways.

I wish I could get PBS, there is a channel near us here, but for some reason my TV won’t pick it up and I do not have cable. I bought a newer bigger antenna but it still wont pick it up.


Ox Drover

I saw it on one of Dish movie channels. Just happened to run a crossed it. When I checked to see when it was playing again since I didn’t see the opening of the show. I got nothing. Checked the web and all I could find was Air Date 07/06/12 on PBS.

I can tell you about his talk with his dad. But it is a spoiler.

Also read, well listening to a seminar titled “Going Beyond Automatic Response” by Danie Beaulieu, Ph.D. a lady from Quebec. Still processing the information. But it is an eye opener. Have read a little bit about the topic before but not put as well as this. It is another level to the problems with beliefs that are part of everyone’s genetic programing of survival and how it effects us later in life. For this programing is about our survival not our well being. But it to can be retrained and that is part of growing up at least it is suppose to be but can be short circuited, lousy childhood ect.

Fight or flight
Amplify the negative
Economy Theory spare your energy.
Following the person or group that has more certitude
Perceptional Blindness – Concentrated focus on one thing an exclusion of everything else. The need to tell the story of the spath over and over.

She is working on a book that will identify 50 of these genetic programs that everyone has.

A lot more to this then what I wrote.

My 2 Cents


Something that I learned in my recovery as an adult child is that adult children often live “from the neck up.”

They disassociate from the neck down because that is the part of the body that most endures the physical and sexual abuse.

When you are a child and have no control over what is happening to you, such as what was described below at the Jerry Sandusky trial, you shut down.

It’s a survival mechanism.–jerry-sandusky-prosecution-jurors-strong-case-weekend-alleged-victims.html

As someone who was raped as an adolescent, my mind has blocked out most of what happened, but some part of me still rejects me. I know that, but it is so deeply buried that despite years of therapy and intellectually understanding what is going on, the fear and rejection are still embedded somewhere.

To a child, and this can happen even to an adult who develops a life-threatening disease, it is common to assume somehow the body betrayed the person. While that isn’t logical, it happens.

The mind rejects the body because being in touch with the body, feeling the feelings, the sensations, and becoming “upfront and personal” with all the bodily fluids etc. are illogically identified by the brain as danger areas, i.e., go there and you’ll get hurt again.

So, many abused children live “from the neck up” because they want to shut out and forget what is happening to the body below the neck.

Many times, then, not taking care of oneself is actually the mind’s frantic, distorted belief that it is protecting or taking care of itself.

If a victim believes that being physically unattractive, perhaps by poor body hygiene and/or putting on an excessive amount of weight, dressing poorly, not getting enough sleep etc., will keep the abusers at bay, he or she will create these barriers that they can hide behind and protect themselves. It is a perverse form of self-caring.

Of course, this isn’t true. Some perpetrators wouldn’t be stopped by those things.

What often does happen, though, is the victims are criticized and rejected even more, which sets off a self-perpetuating cycle of trying to escape from oneself even more, which can result in neglecting oneself further.

Then, too, there are the helpless victims who simply want to die.

Alcoholism has been identified as a “slow suicide.” Not taking care of oneself can also be a slow suicide and a cry for help and protection.

How do the abused escape the pain? By neglecting the one thing that endures it the most – their bodies.



My heart goes out to you. I hope there is a very special place in hell for these animals.

Once we dissociate some time it is difficult to re-associate with the event.


After I posted, I remembered other things that happened which would leave a child with the impression that their bodies were not worthy of attention.

When I was 14 or so, my mother told me that she thought that I had hypoglycemia and that I should get myself tested when I go to college. Why then? I did ask. Because she’d have to pay for health insurance anyway and it would save her the cost of a MD.

I remember another time when I was horribly ill. My parents had to go to a wake and there was a pediatrician’s office across the street from the funeral home so they took me there. It was the dead of winter, horribly cold with lots of snow and ice.

My temp was so high that the MD yelled at both of them right in front of me. I will never forget him tearing them apart for taking a child as sick as I was out on a night like that.

And then there was the time that she dropped me off at a Friday night ballroom dance lesson (I was in the 6th grade.) Again, it was the dead of winter, one of the coldest nights of the year, with lots of snow and ice.

All the other parents had picked up the kids. The dance teacher was itching to go. People-pleasing me said I was sure that my mother would be there at any moment and to go ahead and leave. She said she had somewhere to go or otherwise she would have stayed.

I stood and waited in the dark for I don’t know how long.

Finally, my brother showed up. He was livid. He said he had come downstairs and asked where I was. My mother did an oops-I forgot to go get her. He drove over to pick me up.

Things like that-they leave a kid thinking that there is no real reason to take care of oneself.

Oh, yeah, and the other stuff, like when you try to do something nice for yourself and get shot down with, “What makes you think you’re so special? Who do you think you are?”

The Ps do so much damage.

Not complaining, feeling depressed, or looking for sympathy. Just stating the facts because I used to really get annoyed when people assume they know why you turned out the way that you did. They have no idea.

I’m past that. I don’t have time or interest to go around correcting people. It serves me better just to do my thing and keep pushing on.

And I just want those who might have trouble doing what Oxy suggested, not understanding why it is so difficult, to think back. You got messages, but that’s all they were-messages. They are not facts.

You can change your life. Live healthfully. It will so annoy the Ps.


Oxy-thanks so much for that article and showing us all that you can live through and make it through some horrible circumstances.

I started taking your advice. I am on a diet and have been trying to work more exercise into my routine. I am in a weight loss competition at work and I am determined to be the first place woman with the highest amount lost. I am down thirty two but kept gaining and losing those last two lbs. Smoking was the big problem. I kept starting and stopping, always re-starting when the N was upsetting me. Apparently I wasn’t able to think about quitting in terms of my health, but I did it out of anger for her. I finally realized recently that she was having a good time making me twist for a year, and was actually seeing my increased smoking in response to her bad behavior. Quitting was showing her that she didn’t have power anymore, and since I show virtually no emotion or interest when I see her, I am letting her know that she doesn’t get to me anymore.

Now, if she would just move away, then it would help me stop being angry. For awhile she was planning on it and then changed her mind-DAMN!!!


Liz, the idea is not to let her think she can’t affect you, but to get to a place where she truly doesn’t affect you. What she thinks about you doesn’t matter.

Anyway, if you are really serious about losing weight, I have your answer – Zumba. Since I started doing it, the weight has just dropped off me. I actually had to start eating more to have the energy to do it. It is more fun than I’ve ever had exercising. Doing it 5-6 days a week is a joy and not a chore. If you like to dance, you will love it, once you learn the steps. Before Zumba, I struggled to get that last 5 lbs off. Now my friends are worrying that I’m too thin. I’m down to 123.


Star-I’m working on getting to where she doesn’t affect me. It’s harder since she still hasn’t moved, but it’s getting easier. I went through the whole mourning thing for several weeks and now I’m in the anger stage. That is good for me now since it keeps me alert and ready for whatever she throws to try to lure me back. She isn’t aware yet that I am purposefully trying to cut off contact. Her ego is so large that she still thinks that I’m infatuated with her. She came out and ask if everything was ok with me yesterday, since I rarely see her, and when I do, it’s grey rock and brief. Once she realizes what’s happening then she will start the games-just going by what she has always done in the past.

Thanks for the idea about Zumba. How does it work for those of us who can’t dance and appear totally uncoordinated when we try? Maybe there’s a class around that will work into my schedule.



Got to agree. Living a happy life is the best revenge.


Liz, I am lucky with my rockstar neighbor. If I gray rock him once, he just disappears, and I have to go out of my way to bring him back. We actually reconnected as friends and gym buddies for a while before my most recent trip to Costa Rica. He even drove me to the airport on a Friday night, the weekend of his birthday. He opened up to me one night on the phone about all his insecurities with women and his body, his depression, etc. It was very revealing and surprising. But throughout all this, I still found myself wanting him and him just not showing the right kind of interest. I thought long and hard about whether I should chase him (again). But I decided that if anything is gonna happen, it needs to come from him. And it hasn’t. So I just appreciate that he is a great neighbor and leave it at that. He’s probably incapable or doesn’t want a relationship – at least with me. I have come to realize that a professional rockstar’s lifestyle is just not conducive to a monogamous relationship. His loss. He’s still hot. It’s just one of those things that will always taunt me. But I TOTALLY relate about how hard it is not to let a neighbor you’ve had feelings for affect you. I have just accepted that he affects me. Maybe someday that will change. Of course I slept with him in the past, and that doesn’t help. Lesson learned about sleeping with men I’m not in a relationship with. My attraction toward him comes and goes, depending on what else is going on in my life. I suspect if I find a great guy to get involved with, he will be history.

Regarding Zumba, I had two left feet when I started. It can take months to really learn the steps and get comfortable with the routines, then you start building muscle memory. After doing it for 6 months, I’m totally hooked on it. I missed it while I was out of the country. If you are doing Zumba, you can pretty much eat whatever you want. But if you also eat very healthy, the weight will just fall off of you. Go watch a class and see if it’s something that looks like fun to you. The fun factor can sometimes overcome your inhibition about looking like a fool out there. And no one is watching you anyway – they are more worried about doing it right themselves anyway. Everyone flounders till they get comfortable with the steps. Just do it!

One of the added benefits of joining a Zumba class is that you now have a new group of acquaintances and can make some new friends.

Ox Drover

Lizzy, good for you…you know yourself that YOU CAN do it, eat healthy and eat the right amounts…it is just up to us to make up our mind to PUT OURSELVES FIRST….and when we want that cookie, to say NO to ourselves too. NO to ourselves when we want that cigarette.

If we allow EXTERNAL things to rule us, then THEY are in control of us, not US. We must be in control of ourselves and we can choose to be or not.

We can say “Oh, heck, I want a cigarette and I am upset with X so I will have a cigarette and it will make me freel better.” or we can say “Oh, heck I am upset about X and I really do want a cigarette, but I am going to do what is ADULT, AND HEALTHY AND PUT MYSELF AND MY HEALTH FIRST.”

raised by sociopath

Spoon I like what you wrote “respect my R U L E S”

You had written down all the traits about my ex-husband (informed police about physically abusing me) and ex lover (whom turned over to the police as a sexually preying on his own children).

I’m now in 2 therapy groups to work through these issues and don’t want to date. If it means I have to be with wack-jobs just to have a companion then; I rather learn to live alone.
I felt like I was going crazy in these relationships both individuals like to play mind games about the reality of what was going on and day to day involvement with them.

I’m at peace and am starting not to feel crazy anymore. Had to get an OP on the sexual predator.
Now I’m feeling comfortable around people again and laughing again too.

I’m still not the same person before these 2 relationships.

raised by sociopath

Wow this article I definitely feel sorry for what she went through. Her own child betraying her and trying to kill her what a mind/heart fk. Wow this is very painful reality some people are forced to exist in. How horrible for her. I’m glad she’s safe now.

raised by sociopath

Interesting though it took these therapy groups for me to realize these 2 men sick traits are the exact hell I grew-up in.

A male friend told me after I kept saying “I want to stop attracting these really sick evil wackjobs. Why am I?”

He told me that they aren’t picking me; I’m picking them. I didn’t know what the hell he meant. Now I’m learning that he’s right.

My friend divorced his wife as mutual understanding his wife was dealing with the craziness of healing from her past childhood sexual abuses done to her. I wonder if what he said to me is a dido for him.


Dear Oxy,

What a heart wrenching story. It’s amazing that you have turned this sequence of events into something positive. What you have learned is that you must take care of you. Positive self regard. That’s a strong message, Ox.

You always write with such humility and you come across as wanting nothing but to help others to “see” that despite terrible things happening to them, they too can prevail and recover.

Bless you. I draw so much from what you have to say.


Ox Drover, Hi

Life reflects what is on the inside of us. If one is looking to the outside to define them, to fill a primary need then the outcome is out of one’s control and you just get what someone is willing to give. Usually that is just their leftovers. We want to take care of ourselves first. And to do that we need to take responsibility for our emotional selves along with what we think, say, actions and non-actions, those we let in our lives, how we treat others and how we accept being treated by others. Short list. Another way to see it we need to rise above our base survival programing. Past our automatic programing of limiting beliefs we have created.

“We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.”
Anais Nin

Hi, raised by sociopath

Glad your getting help and it’s working for you. Sometimes for me it took beating my head on a pole to get it in. 🙂

Gaslighting a piss ants MO.

Someone once told me that before we get into marriage or any serious relationship. We should enter it out of “want” not “need.” With “want” we are choosing. With “need” [compulsion] we have no choice. What do we have when the intensity of In-Love fades? The answer is what your really shooting for.

Your friend is right in most cases. We pick those we believe fill our needs. In a sense to complete us. Or those that seem normal to us. And coming from where you did. Normal takes on a whole other meaning.

In his case most likely [guessing here] she needed him and he need to be needed. Great to be needed. But neediness get’s old. Like trying to be it ALL for a spath. If it wasn’t for trauma bonding and our inborn propensity of the Economy Theory of sparing our energy and a few of the others. Then we wouldn’t stay as long. Cause meeting someone else’s neediness day in and day out will eat you alive from the inside.

Keep working at it. It’s not that we are bad or broken. It’s a puzzle. And few make it out of childhood with much more then just a few pieces. We either grow or stay where we are at.

Since you were raised by sociopath. Unfortunately you where just a kid that was caught up in a spaths cycle of sickness. It wasn’t you. It wasn’t you. It wasn’t you. It wasn’t you. It was it. It was wrong. It did it to you because you where there and it was it. Not because you where you. You where just a kid. The kid did what the kid had to do. Survive. Which is good. Now rip it out of your head and your heart. And grow to live, laugh, love. Always the best revenge.

My 2 Cents.


raised by sociopath

“I’m still not the same person before these 2 relationships.”

Be thankful.

That person got you into the 2 relationships and would get you into the next one.

The person you are now doesn’t want to need the crazies.

What got you to this point is not as important as where you want to get too.

Mels new article “Reclaiming Our Power ”“ One Decision At A Time” talks of the importance of our decisions. Our outcomes. What we get [want.] Is in the decisions that we make. We are where we are because of the past decisions that we have made.

Like I said be Thankful.

My 2 Cents

still reeling

G1S-speechless over your story. Amazed by your outlook on life after all that horror all thru your impressionable youth. I’m sure your humor helps, “You can change your life. Live healthfully. It will so annoy the Ps.” You go for it, girl.

Raised by a have provided for me an aha moment: “they aren’t picking me; I’m picking them. I didn’t know what the hell he meant. Now I’m learning that he’s right.”

So completely correct. I totally believe now that *I* chose path. Just as I chose all the rest of the inappropriate people in my life before path.

Being raised by an obsessive, narc mom and alc dad, (both also had wonderful traits, so I got a lot of good and bad), I walked right from the frying pan into the fire. It makes complete sense. My husband, passive-aggressive but a good person. Very critical, unable to be affectionate, can’t give a compliment, loves to put me down and calls it a joke, says I have no sense of humor. I brought this on.

I don’t treat him well either…find myself saying things that makes me hate myself. Find that I am selfish towards him and my daughter because I am afraid I won’t get enuf sleep or will have a panic attack. Compromise my rships with them because of those fears.

I take full responsibility for my behavior, something I did not do until therapy. Always saw myself as the victim.
Now I detest that in myself. Loved and revered my mom until I had therapy…then it changed. I still loved her but did not revere. This was in my late 20’s and I still don’t know if perhaps I was being too hard on her with that Freudian therapy.

When I was in my 20’s, I recall going to therapy (2x/wk for 7 yrs – group led by psychiatrist) and telling the group that I was talking to my mom on the phone (at the time I was a smoker) and while talking, exhaled some smoke. She asked me if I was smoking. I said I was. She chastised me. I got very angry at her. Stop running my life, no talking about what I “should” do or not do, etc. However, as pt’d out by the psych in group the next day, *I* invited it. I exhaled, then coughed, then admitted I was smoking. I supposed maybe he was wrong and he should have said, “Hey, mom, I smoke. Working on it tho. Love ya.” Taking responsibility for myself from her.

His pt, however, was deeper. He wanted me to understand that I was *looking* for her to chastise me. That I was still wanting to be the little girl. And that I was now an adult and didn’t need that. I did not get it at the time…this was many years ago. I did not want to get it.
I get it now. But it has taken a path’s abuse to get me there. He chose me because he could tell I was an already playing the abused victim role. Even tho I have tried over the last several yrs to appear strong, it came thru.

And true to my nature, I am so obsessive about not playing the victim, I am still finding balance. It may not happen during my lifetime, I am sorry to say.

I want so much from people in my life. Always have, so it’s hard to draw lines, set those boundaries with others, ask for what is mine from others. As I write even this I ask myself, “are you looking for pity, for kindness, for an uplift, for compliments, for whatever from these posters?”
Am I reaching out to them with kindness because I really mean it or because I just want to please them???????????
This is a HUGE struggle.

As Ox’s great commentary tells us, we need to take care of self first, and Ox, yes, yes, yes, you surely did have to do that to survive. I do believe in taking care of that body and mind we’ve been given. That is not selfish.

My own answer to myself about this victim thing may have to be:

1. Humor-so I’m a people-pleasing, pathetic, over-sensitive love grubber…so what.
2. Keep working on it and give others credit for seeing thru that to the good stuff you don’t believe you have. In my mind, it’s the old story…..if they only knew how I really was.

Yes, “raised by a socio” you sparked something in me today. “I chose him,” because i knew he would abuse me and I could be a victim.

I need to keep plugging. My poor daughter.

still reeling

Another thing I do is to discount almost anything good that anyone says about me…in this way, even tho using a very wide brush, I am being sure that I haven’t reeled anyohe in with pity or acting pathetic. It’s also an extension of mom so it’s very very easy for me to do.

People are amazing…I amaze myself with all this hard work when I could be using it to do something good for someone. ARGH

ash phoenix

Excellent posts – so helpful. It is also useful to remember from Donna’s book that spaths are also attracted to strong and independent women. I would place myself in that category. I have been financially independent since 17, have a good reputation in the marketplace, run my own business, was fortunate enough to be blessed with a great education with opportunities to go to university for undergrad and postgrad study etc. We all know that spaths want to destroy people they see as happy and successful. Rather like ripping off the wings of a butterfly just for the sick ‘fun’ of it.

But there was another part to the story, which I believe holds the key for me. It is that I was wounded at the time I met the spath – mourning the loss of my best friend to emigration. She was truly like a soulmate for me & we shared so much together – including her loving ‘godparenting’ of my children. I was also mourning another loss. I had been financially stressed for a while, as contracts that I expected to materialise had not done so, as a result of the global recession. For many years, it has been a source of sorrow to me that my chosen life partner has not been able to ‘spell me’ when needed and carry half of the load. My husband is a very good, kind and decent man – a million light years from the spath in every way. But he has never been very good on the provision front and the pressure has always been on me to earn the bucks. I have found this very difficult at times, especially when my children were small.

Being the predators they are, these people watch and wait until there is the slightest trace of blood in the water….when they move in like a shark. Or, to use another analogy, they wait until our ‘clockwork mouse’ mechanism starts running down & we are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually depleted. And then they move in. It is much harder to fight off a virus when you are deplated – and what could be a worse virus than the Spath variety!! All of which simply highlights the points so many have made on the blog: that we have to look after ourselves first and be hyper vigilant to mistreatment and unacceptable behaviour in any form.

Hang in there all. I don’t think I would have stayed sane over the past while had I not had Love Fraud and its wonderful resources in my life.

Ox Drover

Ash phoenix,

Yes, we DO have to put ourselves first and meet our own needs before we can meet the needs of anyone else (even our own children)

It is so important that we look after ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. ALL the aspects that make us truly human need to be addressed…Maslov’s pyramid is a good example and we must address the base of food, air, water, shelter and so on up the pyramid.

Keep on working at looking after your own needs and you will find I think that the rest of the world falls into place much more easily.



Unflipping believable. You should write a book. It is a testament to the goodness in you that you have healed as much as you have.

When I was in the end stages of being with P, I was so very sick and run down all the time. P was a doctor. He smirked at my complaints. Said everyone was tired. Then he was kind enough to refer me to a doc – in the same building as him, someone he was friends with. Convenient, eh? I did go to the doc, still not seeing the manipulation and intent to spy. I wonder what conversations went on between those two.

Since being NC, I am feeling better, have improved my diet and take all sorts of supplements, even exercise once in a while. I went through a phase of ‘losing time’. I would realize I didnt really know what’d I’d been doing for the past however long, sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes much longer. I would say something to my son, and he’d say, ‘geez Mom, you JUST told me that’. I had no recollection. It happened at work a few times too. That has passed, thankfully.

I am sorry for the things you have been through, I still have trouble taking it all in, the evil and malice is so hard to grasp.

Ox Drover


“losing time”? yep, check on that one

That’s part of the PTSD and it made me crazy, made me feel I couldn’t count on my brain, or my grasp of what was real and what wasn’t. That’s a scary feeling. My short term memory is still not 100% but it has improved some. At least I can read, but not as fast, and can’t remember what I read as well, but at least I have improved through the years.

Between the “gaslighting” and our own “losing time” it is difficult to realize what is real and what we are imagining. Hyper-alertness, all the things that make us as “jumpy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs” come together it seems all at once.

During that phase were we are like “rabbit on the run” we just run pell-mell like the devil is after us. At some point though we must stop and assess the situation and see what we need to do, which direction we should go in to be the safest. Putting our own health and well being FIRST is what we have to do in order to heal. It isn’t easy, and we have to do it just a bit at a time but we can do it.

It is difficult to grasp that some people can just be evil. E V I L for no reason that we can truly grasp. I don’t think we can truly understand how they FEEL any more than they can understand love and how we feel.



I had no idea on the losing time issue. How awful for you to lose so much memory. It happened to me again today just briefly when I came out of Walmart and could not remember where I’d parked. Not the usual type of ‘oh darn, where is that car’, but a panicky feeling because I didn’t remember actually parking. Of course I found it ok. I think I’m triggering a lot due to deciding to write on this blog. I think its cathartic.

There were 2 incidences of violence in my relationship, I left after both, but was lured back. This is very hard to accept, that I willingly put myself into danger. I have a child to raise, what was I thinking? This is not the first relationship in which there was violence for me, but I left the other one immediately and pressed charges. The P I just left liked to push me around when my son was in the other room. He knew I would not alarm my boy, and he was right.

There was so much deviance of every sort, I can’t even write about it. I’ve lost track of how many times I went back, thinking this time would be different, but of course it was not. The way I let him into my head, the way my thinking changed, it makes me want to cry that I was too weak to enforce my own standards and suddenly I had no standards. Who was I? It took being abandoned when I was going through a stressful move, and being treated in a snide and callous way when I had a cancer scare (both occured around the same time) to make me end the relationship, but then I was willing to be friends! If I had a friend who behaved as I did, I would lecture her until the cows came home about how she was being manipulated and mistreated! I am an educated woman for Pete’s sake!

Anyway, it’s good to be able to vent and get validation here. I do appreciate the kindness.


I’d also like to add that during the entire bizarro relationship, I never cried. Not once. I would go into some wierd fugue state, I’ve never experienced anything like it, except once when I was told my grandmother was very ill. It’s like everything was numb, but that doesn’t really explain it either.

I suspect the P is cyber stalking me now, my bank account and several other accounts have been impacted and I feel it’s him, but still, even after getting the call from my bank, I did not cry. When we were together, I had found bank receipts from his last gf at his house but didn’t ask him about it. Wouldn’t have mattered if I did, he had an explanation for everything.

Tonight was the first time I experienced any tears. I’m hoping that’s a good sign?

Good night. 🙂

ash phoenix

Thanks Ox – that is exactly what I am going to do. Put myself first.

I have had two more ‘aha’ moments since posting about why I was vulnerable to SP, which I thought I’d share with everyone. In addition to the previous 2 emotional issues I described (a sense of woundedness due to grief, loss/lack), there was also a third thing which made me vulnerable, namely Distraction! This is a key strategy for any conman. Here’s how it happened.

One of my clients of 4 years’ standing is a state-funded organisation, subject to strict procurement regulations with regard to recruitment/hiring/purchasing etc. I came across a flagrant abuse of these regulations and made the decision to ‘blow the whistle’. This was very stressful as it involved gathering evidence and submitting a formal complaint to the Chairman of the Board, who happens to be a businessman of some standing in his own right, who works for a large multinational corporate company. To cut a long story short, my actions were akin to throwing a grenade into a pond, because the trail led straight to a prominent Board member, who was himself involved in the corruption! His defence was to rubbish me, my reputation and my integrity. Fortunately the evidence was overwhelming and he was fired by the Board. And I was invited to lunch and thanked for my actions! So the story had a happy ending.

My attention, however, was taken up with the case for several months. It was terribly stressful, as the individuals implicated in the wrongdoing are very powerful people and could have caused a lot of trouble for me in the marketplace. So during the period of the case, I did not pay attention to what was going on right next to me – ie the spath manoevering closer and closer. Rather like a pickpocket relies on distraction to steal your purse while you are looking elsewhere! The moral of the story is therefore to Beware of being Distracted! And to be ever vigilant. There may be more than one enemy out there at the same time. Watch your backs all!

ash phoenix

Sorry, forgot to write about the second ‘aha’ moment.

My mother was very ill after the birth of her third child – a late addition to the family, when she was 41 and I was 11. Very little was known about it at the time, but she had severe Post Natal Depression. I became a caretaker aged 11 – looking after her and my baby brother. The situation lasted for years – she wasn’t given the medical treatment that she should have had. I was catapulted into being the caregiver, rather than a child, at a very early age. Life was anything but carefree. Somehow this pattern continued – throughout my life, I have been placed in positions of responsibility for other people, either in the workplace, or due to family circumstances. So when spath came along and made me feel lighthearted – it was a very intoxicating feeling. I felt that I was reconnecting with a part of myself, my ‘free child’, that I had left behind many years ago. Unfortunately this made me vulnerable. What I have to do now is to find ways of releasing my free child in a constructive way; to become ‘playful’ within safe boundaries. Any ideas anyone??

I’d also like to know what people have done to get their concentration back on track after an encounter with a spath. My focus is all over the place. Whereas I used to be able to concentrate for hours at a stretch, my attention span is now like a butterfly’s. I feel tired almost all of the time, my motivation simply isn’t what it used to be, in fact my ‘got up and go’ could be described as having ‘got up and gone’!

Thank you, special people.

still reeling

Ya know Ash….it’s funny that distraction both got you in trouble but can also be such a significant part of your recovery. Note your post above as to how involved you were with the business issues that you didn’t realize path was slowly worming his way into your life…this is proof that you are able to immerse yourself into things other than path. Thankfully you have a lot going on in your life and have also re-committed to your family. I believe I read that on another thread.

You speak of your loss of motivation, feeling tired, lack of focus and concentration. That’s the worst, isn’t it? I have the same issues and so much worse during and after path.
Like you, the infatuation period with him was like a trip to Euphoria where I could blessedly drop all my worries, obsessions and concerns and just fanticize myself into lala land and beyond. However, as you and others say, that state is usu rife with forgetfulness, memory blots, etc. I hate that part but think it’s normal when one is infatuated. When with a path, however, other things are happening.

The strange behaviors, the disappearances, the “funny” responses…..these are the the things for which I made excuses. These and all other insane things they do to take you over or hurt you….there really is no way to explain what or how they feel cause for the most part, they don’t!!!
This is a different kind of euphoria…a painful one but when you are in the throes of it, whether you are needy or just busy when they are working their insidious black magic, you tend to blow off that gut feeling that says, “This is wrong.” And not just wrong because you are cheating or they are not the perfect Prince Charming, but because on some level I believe each victim knows from the very get-go, that this person is in some way inauthentic, disingenuous, unhinged. There is something in us that allows them to enter our lives. Not to put any one of us down, but to say, care needs to be taken to heed these feelings.

still reeling

Ah forgot to say, Ash…the feelings you, I and others are having…classic depression, don’t you think??? And it makes good sense to feel this way. For some, time alone will help. For others, need to add therapy and/or meds. Can feel better tho. Once this depression is addressed, I think the triggers, which may continue to arise in different degrees in different people depending on so many and various factors, will begin to fade and become less troublesome and gut-wrenching.



That was me exactly…you wrote it so well…being so responsible all the time and then having someone come into my life who made me feel so euphoric…child like…free. I have not felt like that since and he hates me now which adds to the depression big time. I have tried to recreate that feeling with other things; constructive things as you say, but can’t duplicate it. I would also love suggestions from anyone, but I am afraid there is no substitute. I’ve done all the things I know to do…travel, read, write, etc. The only thing I haven’t tried is to find another man and I’m not going to do that. At least not for a long, long time. That would just cause more drama and I just can’t do that to myself; not healed and not ready. This blows 🙁


Hi, ash phoenix

“I’d also like to know what people have done to get their concentration back on track after an encounter with a spath. My focus is all over the place. ………….”

PSTD! What you have described is the classic symptoms.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Andrew T. Austin

Ox Drover


I can definitely relate to your Being a care taker….that is one of the things that we (former victims) have in common, is we are responsible and care giving.

I agree it sounds like PTSD. I used EMDR (rapid eye movement therapy) for this with some good success. It is a legitimate medical practice and you can look it up on Google and get more information. It is very good with PTSD I think.

I also take medication for my PTSD and depression, and have probably been somewhat depressed a good portion of my life and didn’t really realize it.

The stress actually makes physical changes in our brain’s pathways and chemistry.


Has anyone ever tried EFT tapping? I just read about it on a site devoted to recovering from narcissist relationships. My insomnia is so annoying, I am trying to find a drug free way of turning off the mental noise so I can get some decent rest.

KarmaChameleon – I’ve worked with a version of tapping – I think it works. I can suggest the book, Energy Psychology, by David Feinstein.


Thank you Donna, I will try it! I’ve been watching Miss Marple mysteries lately before bed, but I am running out of episodes! 🙂

Ox Drover

Karma, Here’s what wiki says about it

However, even if it is a “placebo effect” it doesn’t hurt anything to try it…it isn’t like a drug that might hurt you.

You might also consider mediation as a relaxing way to try to get drug free sleep.

Some of the things I used to suggest to my patients is to get up each day at the same time (even on days off work) no matter what time you went to bed.

NO naps during the day

Use the bed only for sleep and sex, do not read, watch TV or anything else in the bed

Go to bed and if you are not asleep in 20 minutes, get up, try again in a while

NO caffine after lunch in any form (that includes chocolate)

Alcohol actually inhibits “good” sleep so no alcohol

Benadryl makes you drowsy, but it also actually inhibits “good” sleep

Melatonin is an over the counter supplement that many physicians recommend to help you sleep. I use it and I think it helps. Take it about 1-2 hours before your chosen bed time.

A cup of milk actually DOES help, or yogurt or any dairy product.

A relaxing warm bath may help, but don’t exercise right before bed.

Good luck in getting a good night’s sleep.


Thank you Ox. I have recently purchased some guided meditation cd’s and I”m working on meditation, but I so often feel overwhelmed it just becomes more time spent ruminating. I’m not giving up though. Even bought some incense. 🙂 I have been reading up on Buddhist philosophy as well, it has struck a chord with me. Becoming enlightened is the exact opposite of the darkness of the spath’s world. The thought of the P coming back as a rat or fly also appeals to me.

I wasn’t aware dairy was sleep inducing. I do love yogurt, especially the Greek kind. I appreciate the suggestions.


This is what I’ve used on myself and others.…..ptsd/2010/
“A trauma is not an experience. It is an emotional response to an experience. If the emotional response is positive, the experience is not traumatic, no matter how harrowing its sensory details. (Think of all the people who pay money to have scary, dangerous experiences such as white-water rafting!)”
[The experience is the meaning we give the event. The emotional response is the hook we place on the experience.]


Thanks for those links, spoon, I read a bit on the first one and immediately got a knot in my stomach at the thought of reliving the events. I do think that the only way to get over it is to go through it, however.

Good news! New debit card arrived today! Old one was cancelled due to fraudulent activity on my bank account so I feel like I have a bit more control over my own money again. Very subtle son asks if we can go out to dinner now, not that he doesn’t love my cooking. 🙂



That knot is what you want gone. It’s the emotional hook. The intensity will lessen when you mentally step into the booth.

See the knot as the thing that is causing the problem. The event happened but it is over. All that is left is a little clean up.

The great part is it will be gone when your done. Like pulling a thorn from your foot. Do this a few times to the different events that are haunting you and it will become very easy and more simple to do.

Here is something you can do quick. Close your eyes and think of a clear bubble forming around you. It fits you like a glove. Nothing can penetrate it. Your completely safe. Now expand the bubble. Let it expand until you feel all the pressures leave you. Not a fix. Just to show you how our mental perception can effect us.

Happy hunting

My 2 Cent


Spoon, thank you, I’ve read of a similar technique a while back and I prefer my bubble to be pink and sparkly. 🙂

G1S, wow, your mom sounds so much like mine. ‘Who do you think you are’ was one of her all time favorite phrases. I was nothing but an afterthought to her, and she made sure I knew it. I was stupid, retarded, ugly etc, even though I made straight As in school. I finally went NC with her a few years back, but so much damage was done when I was a child. I don’t recall ever visiting a doctor. I know I had my immunizations, but that’s it. She had to take me to the hospital twice because her dog bit me in the face. Twice her pets bit me in the face and I still have the scars. She did not get rid of the second dog until he bit the neighbors child. My father made her get rid of the first one, but she divorced him shortly aftewards and moved on to husband number three who lasted but a few years.

I feel for what you must have gone through and I know the lack of boundaries due to being raised in that environment had many consequences in my life, and I’m sure yours as well. Thanks for your post.

ash phoenix

Hi Ox, Still Reeling, Louise, KarmaChameleon, Spoon and everyone reading this thread,

Thanks a ton for the advice. I googled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder some time ago when I started feeling these symptoms – and according to ‘The List’ the criterion is that to ‘qualify’ you have to have been in actual physical danger. It shows how limited the ‘official’ definitions can be. Spath (I’m going to call him Spathetic from now on) was never violent to me. Although I did sense a suppressed violence in him now I come to think of it. Red Flag, Huh?

I will look up all the things you suggest. I have taken action already – I am on Wellbutrin and a tranquillizer to calm the anxiety. ((Hugs all))

ash phoenix

Louise, you said: ‘that was me exactly”you wrote it so well”being so responsible all the time and then having someone come into my life who made me feel so euphoric”child like”free. I have not felt like that since and he hates me now which adds to the depression big time. I have tried to recreate that feeling with other things; constructive things as you say, but can’t duplicate it. I would also love suggestions from anyone, but I am afraid there is no substitute. I’ve done all the things I know to do”travel, read, write, etc. The only thing I haven’t tried is to find another man and I’m not going to do that. At least not for a long, long time. That would just cause more drama and I just can’t do that to myself; not healed and not ready. This blows ‘.

Of course, we know from Donna’s book that the euphoria is actually caused by all those feel good chemicals flooding our brains – oxytocin, dopamine, etc. And I think it is part of an ‘addiction’ that we former victims have developed. Drugs like heroin apparently have the same effect. No wonder it is so addictive! I think we have to retrain ourselves so that we don’t have cravings for that kind of unhealthy stimulation. The ‘euphoria’ is fake. I keep saying to myself now: ‘normal is good, stable is good, daily routine is good’. I wouldn’t want to go back to that roller coaster ride of adrenaline fuelled spikes, followed by troughs. Are you on something for the depression BTW?


ash phoenix

Sorry your having a rough time of it. They will no doubt come up with a new term for those that have ptsd and were never in any real threat. They may say you have an Anxiety Disorder. But if it looks the same, feels the same, with the same effects. Then that’s close enough. Until it’s dealt with one is stuck in a living loop of a nightmare that keeps on playing. Sort of an anxiety compulsion were they feed each other. Can’t stop thinking about it. But the more you do the higher the anxiety state until you, explode, shut down and go numb. Then it starts all over again.

Stripping the emotion from the event(s) turns them into a none issue. The emotion(s) we place on an event is how we
give meaning to the event.

It does get better.

My 2 Cents


Hi Ash,

How long has it been since NC? It is so very hard at first, just getting used to life again with no spath. You can’t rush it, and what I found was if you try to suppress your feelings, it makes things worse. So I did my best to feel my anger, even to the point of thinking homicidal thoughts. Of course we don’t act on any of those thoughts, we leave that to the spaths.

I found I’d let myself get financially depenendent on the P, I’m a single mom of an autistic child and it seemed there was just never enough in the bank account to cover everything, so having someone ‘take care’ of me was initially such a relief. It always came with a price, however. Piece of my soul here, piece there, etc.

I’m still working through it myself since I have not been NC for too long, but time really does help, and it sounds like you are doing your level best to take care of yourself, well done! My anger at his betrayal was so intense at first, I could hardly function. It will get better.


Ash, the exhuberance and euphoria will never be “duplicated” because it was based upon illusions that HE created.

With regard to his “hate” towards you, it may be helpful to you to understand that it is not YOU that he hates. He “hates” EVERYTHING and EVERYONE because he cannot have what they do: true emotional connections. So, what he cannot “have,” he must destroy with malice.

EACH DAY with no contact is one step further from spath cruelties and lies. Each day with no contact is one step closer to whom we were meant to be.

Do you have any interests in expressive creativity? Knitting? Singing? Musical instruments? Painting? Rock climbing? Belly dancing? You may not experience the “euphoria” that you believe that you did with the spath, but engaging in something that is solely for YOU will fill you with your Self (Self = soul, inner human).

Brightest blessings

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