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Where are the chinks in my armor?

By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)

Back in the days when wars were fought with bows and arrows, swords and slings, soldiers wore armor to protect themselves from the enemy’s weapons. Various kinds of armor were designed to protect the soldiers, while at the same time giving them the ability to move. At each of the places that were left open so that the soldier could move, there was a “chink” in the armor. This was where an enemy’s arrow, spear tip or sword could pierce between the plates on either side. So the term “chink in the armor” came to mean the places where we were vulnerable to attack, even though we were covered everywhere else by protective armor.

As far as I know, there was never any perfectly designed armor that would totally protect a soldier from weapons. Even the tanks and humvees of modern times, along with the “bullet proof vests” worn by our soldiers and policemen, don’t totally protect them from attack by enemies.

Our own armor

Each of us has some boundaries to protect us. Just as armor is for protection of soldiers, the boundaries are for protecting us in dealing with others ”¦ both friends and enemies. Boundaries are the armor that we use to keep others from wounding us. Boundaries prevent others from getting too close, stabbing us emotionally or piercing us to the core financially.

Of course, these boundaries keep people from closer, more intimate contact as well. The more boundaries we have between us and someone else, the less intimate we can be with them, the less trusting. However, we must have some boundaries with all other people ”¦ some limits that we place on how those people treat us, even people we love.

Boundaries in intimate relationships

In most marriages, one boundary is that sexual intimacy is reserved for the two of them only. This boundary is fairly frequently broken, though, with statistics showing that 60% of married men and 40% of married women have, at one time or another, violated that boundary at least once.

What is the consequence of violation of that boundary? Will trust ever be totally restored between those two people if that boundary is violated?

Another (usually) unspoken boundary between people who are in an intimate, loving relationship is that there will be no physical violence between them. Too frequently in our country, we read in the newspapers where this boundary is broken and domestic violence occurs. Should a person who has experienced physical violence from someone they love and are romantically involved with give that person another chance? And another?

Where do we draw the line?

Chinks in our armor

The “chinks in our armor” are those places between our boundaries were others can sink their weapons and wound us to the core. There is no way that any one person can have enough boundaries to protect themselves from any wound, physical or emotional, from everyone they know. If we could have, we would be like the soldier who was so encased in plate steel that he could not move, but was trapped inside a metal statue.

Sometimes though, the chinks in our armor are so large that we are very easily wounded, because our armor (boundaries) are so flimsy or loose that it is easy for a person to get around them and sink an arrow into our hearts. When we don’t set boundaries that protect us, we allow others to treat us with contempt and have no respect for our individuality. No respect for our person-hood. When this happens, people can repeatedly treat us with hostility and get away with it.

Reasonable boundaries

Having “reasonable boundaries” (and deciding what those boundaries are) is important for our healthy development. We must be able to stick by those boundaries when the going gets tough and people try to circumvent them. We must be able to stand up to someone and say, “I will not allow you to treat me that way,” or “If you want to have a relationship with me, then I must be able to trust you.” And mean it. We must be willing to walk away if someone is not willing to treat us with respect.

I’ve heard many (mostly) women say, “Well I took a vow ’til death do us part and I have to stick to it” when their husbands were cheating on them, beating on them, and not supporting their children. I never really understood why these women felt that their vows were important to keep, when their mate’s were out the window. The chinks in their armor were so wide that there literally was no armor, they just stood there while their spouses repeated “stabbed” them over and over.

It’s hard setting boundaries. I know. I’ve stayed when I should have gone. I’ve waffled when I should have stood firm. I’ve given in when I should have kept on fighting. But I’m learning. Day by day, as the occasion arises, I am learning to stand up for myself and to require others to treat me with the same kind of respect that I accord them. I am realizing that many times people will only treat me as well as I insist that they do. For those that won’t treat me well no matter what I do, then I just have to write those people out of my life.

I’ve come to realize that no vow I took, and no DNA donation I’ve received or made, allows others to treat me with contempt or disrespect. I’ve come to realize what my boundaries are, what I will tolerate and what I won’t, and to draw the line in the sand and stick by it. It will probably always be difficult, because I didn’t learn healthy boundary setting as a child. But the more I practice it the better I get, and the easier it is.

So close up some of those chinks in your boundary armor, and you’ll end up with fewer wounds to treat later.


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121 Comments on "Where are the chinks in my armor?"

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Joyce, fantastic article! Thank you so much for writing this.

Yes, boundaries will always have flaws, at some points. Even Achilles was untouchable, except at that one spot that you know about, yourself, Joyce! But, the “chinks” in the armor can be compassion, kindness, benevolence, empathy, and trust….they can be a host of things that are negative, as well: shame-core, abandonment, molestation, etc.

I acknowledge that I have myriad chinks in my armor, and that it’s going to be a challenge to sort most of them out.

Thanks, again, for writing what I needed to read WHEN I needed to read it!

Brightest blessings!

Oxy:

Thank you! Great post! It’s something I think we all needed to hear.

I was with my first sociopath from age 15 until 33 off and on. I would go back by twisting what you’ve said above and giving him grace because WE DIDN’T take that vow! My grandmother who was a model and beautiful had been married 7 times (I had 0 respect for this) but she once told me, “don’t ever marry expecting things to get better or to make the relationship work. It doesn’t”. I heard her because after all, she should know.

So my young love who had occasional outbursts with physical violence finally officially proposed. It was at a lovely place and my heart loved him enough to marry him but I was afraid of him. I said no in front of everyone! I am haunted with that memory. I have always wondered if I could have handled that differenly. I told him his anger was the only thing that made me say no and if he would just get that under control, I would marry him. After about a year more, we split up for good. I ended it believing I wasn’t what he needed. (He seemed to hate me at times) He showed up 5 months later and beat the hell out of me. I could’ve died but lived. (sort of) I was taken by ambulence to the ER. I always believed it was something about ME that brought this out in him and he liked it that way. I can say he has had 3 lengthy relationships since our break up. Each woman has been blessed with broken noses and I am not kidding! Hindsight 20/20.

After about a year of being a shell of who I once was, I came back with armor but timid. With emotional wounds, it’s tough to know where the chinks in the armor are to protect.

I am in that place again after this family court nightmare and psycho 2, who came in on the tail of psycho 1 and intentionally sabotaged contraception to impregnate me. This was after a year of healing from psycho 1. It feels like my armor is full of holes. I am slowly seeing progress but I am more timid than before. I thought psycho 2 couldn’t penetrate my armor because my hole from psycho 1 was in my heart. I did not let my heart get involved with psycho2 so he got there from a different angle. My child. HIS child. YUCK! Be careful is all I can say. Like OxD says, she doesn’t believe any armor was full protection.

Eralyn,
spath 2 sounds worse than the first one. To intentionally sabotage contraception means that he has no limits to what he will do to control you. His own offspring is meaningless to him, except as a form of control. That’s about as shallow as a person can get.

Skylar,

You are exactly correct. A friend from about 10 years old of mine, asked me during this horrid court battle who I thought was worse as she knew spath 1 very well. I didn’t even have to think about it and it is spath2. He’s the lowest of lows. The more I learned, he made spath 1 look like a damn angel! Spath2’s best friend told me he poked the holes in the condom although I confronted spath2 about it, I really couldn’t wrap my head around someone doing that. Of course he said his best friend was a jealous pathological liar (identifying himself here) and my life was forever changed. Look at what he said at the ultrasound. “We can always try again”. I immediately said spitting, “we weren’t trying in the first place!” But I guess h/we were……………

A**hole changed my life and it was a total control move. He threatened to murder us and cut baby out of my stomach to psychiatrists!! Said the devil was telling him to do it when I said “we don’t HAVE to be married just cause there’s a baby”. Must have been the wrong answer, huh?

I found out the real horror of all he was saying in the mental ward during our court case and we were in serious danger! I was told by 3 different sets of professionals to keep this baby safe from him! When he filed 10 years later for rights and unsupervised visitation coming out of the gate with a fraudulent letter from a psychologist saying he was of no danger to the child whatsoever, I was in totoal fear for her safety. The courts said the information was too old EVEN though he filed from PRISON!??

No protection. At least I’ve got the revokation of the psychologists license on my wall!

Eralyn,
The only protection from that kind of spath is “selective gray rock”. That means you feign a vulnerability that you don’t actually have in order to refocus his attention on something that doesn’t matter to you. In a way it is a backspath because spaths do something similar when they wear a mask.

I feel so sorry for you having to deal with that monster, but at least you did get a wonderful little girl from the ordeal. She sounds like a smart cookie.

Both oxy and Eralyn says two very interesting things:

Oxy: “I am realizing that many times people will only treat me as well as I insist that they do.” and ” ” some limits that we place on how those people treat us, even people we love.”

Eralyn: “I have always wondered if I could have handled that differenly.”

When I put these two togheter it creates the haunting question in my head that’s been whirling around like a ghost for a long time. If I had handled it differently, would the outcome have been any different? Meaning would the person who I loved (ex) still have done the same? Since Healthy people also break boundaries and they will treat you like sh*t if you let them is it still me as a persons fault?

The way I’ve seen boundaries since a child it’s my responsibility to also show respect to another persons boundaries. I may have a friend who don’t have boundaries or I may know about the chinks in their armor, but does it mean its a free way for me to do what ever I please with that person? NO, not for me, but it seems like others tend to think:” Well, if she doesn’t set her boundaries, she had it coming what I did.” To me this is also a way of signing away the responsibility for one self. Seems to me there’s always a flipside to the coin.

This is a piece of math for me, because boundaries have always been universal for me. When I say no I expect respect without any arguments and the other way around goes for me as well. I always ask my self one question: Would this be allright if somebody did this to me? If the answer is no, I don’t do it. If the answer is yes, I ask how they may feel about it and give them time to think. Many people I’ve met through the years who have talked about their problems to me, this question seems to be unfamiliar to them: It’s ok for them to cheat, but not their partners for example.

I don’t make a mess at home by the dinner table therefore I don’t do it when I eat out either. This is something strange I’m seeing in my country. People are very hysterical about cleaning in their own homes, but once they go out to eat, they put chewing gum under the tables, throwing trash on the floor or spill ketchup on wall – just because they can;someone else is hired to clean after them. And yes I’m talking about grown ups. Point being, it seems to be ok as long as it doesn’t affect them. Their own actions or how they contribute is a non topic. I am thinking about this as a boundary because it is a “universal” or unwritten norm that is set to instruct our behaviour- ergo it’s a norm boundary in society. “This is how you behave or there will be consequenses” just in a larger scale.

And btw, just came to think about it – Breaking boundaries is for a spath THE game its self.

He has destroyed my business that provided for us and me a decade before her. Our quality of life has changed so much and I don’t even have insurance for my daughter because I had to cancel it due to lack of funds. I had preexisting conditions and was paying $1000 per mo. just for my maintenance of my chronic issues which I used to function with but all of it became symptomatic after giving birth to my daughter. Some believe he may have poisoned me through my air conditioning unit since he’d go up there and leave a card on the door saying he serviced it just to continue harrassment and stalking. I finally qualified for Obamas pre existing condition insurance. My daughter still has none and I am still not functional after this round of abuse.

I did the selective gray rock (not knowing what it was:) over the 10 years when he called I would start talking about how busy I was and how broke I was (which meant to him I might ask for money) and he’d hang up. This went on for years every few months after the constant harrassment and stalking for the childs first 3 years of life. It tapered off as I would feel him when he was near. When he went to prison, I hadn’t spoken to him in years. He wrote a letter throwing bait to me. Instead of selective gray rock, I just said ‘leave us alone. I stepped up. You stepped off and a child doesn’t have time to wait. You have added nothing to our lives but drama trauma and upset and she can’t handle that now. Bye” (OOOOOPS!)

He didn’t ask about the child after years. He just puked his good deeds and progress and blew obsession in my ear eye mind like “God will reunite us wholly and completely as I have prayed 680 days and God does nothing in half measures.” The next day he wrote another page saying 681 days today. After I sent my letter, he thanked me for the scent in it!!! It had no scent! It sat on my floor of my room for months before I had the nerve to send it. It may have smelled like paper/ink/catlitter…. Dilusional!! Scary!

2 months later I got served with a pack of lies demanding rights and it never stopped. Our lives were under attack and they make sure you are a lone fighter in your battle even with attorneys. I wish I could kill him. Many times I said “Richard Ramirez at least had the decensy to kill his victims”. The grass is always greener even in death……..

You’re welcome, Louise, and truthy.

When I write an article…it is usually aimed at myself more than “teaching” others because this is where I need to focus and learn.

I realize that I was taught as a child that setting boundaries was (for most things) a “no no” and I had to let people that I shared DNA with walk all over me and worse, pretend it never happened.

WOW!~ How wide did that make my chinks? How flimsy did that make my armor?

Learning to have thicker, more substantial armor and to protect myself from the “slings and arrows” of others has been a steep up hill learning curve for me. Every time I stand up to someone, confront them, I feel like a little kid who has had their first successful ride on a 2 wheeler without the training wheels.

Recently, I confronted the people who rent my pastures on my farm. These people keep THEIR farm immaculate. It looks like something out of “perfect farm magazine” with the big white house on a hill, fields perfectly manicured, fences looking new…everything a “class act” but they had allowed my gates to fall down, damaged my gate to the road so that it was impossible for it to shut, let the weeds grow up in the pasture and along the fence rows. I had “mentioned to them” several times and then mentioned again….and received promises….but after 2 or 3 nights of losing sleep over it, I got my lease in hand and went over to the big house on the hill and said “You know, you guys keep YOUR place immaculate and weed free, so I KNOW you KNOW how to keep a place looking nice and the pastures free of weeds, and I’ve had to ASK and ASK to get the weeds in the pasture taken care of, and there are still 5 year old trees growing up in the fence line and I can’t close my gate to the road because one of your crew hit it with some equipment and broke the post off and bent the gate. It embarrasses me to have to come over here time after time and nag at you all to do this or do that…you’re adults, you know how to take care of the place and all I have ever asked is that it is kept in as good a shape as you got it in. I won’t ask again, the next time I HAVE to ask it is a 90 notice.”

Well, within 2 days they had a 4 man crew over here cleaning fence rows (one cedar tree was so big one of the Mexican hands took it home as a Christmas tree!) and setting new gate posts and rehanging gates and tightening fence wire.

I am right righteously proud of myself for confronting them. The thing is I thought of them as “friends,” and I HATED to have to confront them as “friends”, but they apparently thought of me simply as the land owner of some of the land they rented, not as “friends.”

In fact, I told the woman (her husband was the one I had told and told and told) of the couple, she said she had not known there was a problem (which I don’t believe as she has been over here moving horses multiple times) I said “I consider you friends and I hate to have to come over here like this and confront you about it” and as I left she said to me, “We value that LAND and I will see it is taken care of”—Notice, she did NOT say “we value your friendship and I’m sorry we haven’t done as well as we should have on your land we will get it done and do better in the future” she said they valued renting the LAND. Well, I hope so because I am done with begging them to take care of it.

Oxy,
Thank you for writing about boundaries.
I didn’t even know what boundaries WERE until I found LF.

Like you, I was taught that we don’t have boundaries when it comes to your family. On the contrary, I was taught to be a doormat. Based on that, I considered my spath a family member and never set boundaries.

Now, I look at my armor and it mostly consists of an early warning system. That system is my emotions. If I get any indication that my emotions are being meddled with, it’s a red flag.

The chinks in my armor are still my reactions. Though I know what is going on, I have a hard time re-learning how to respond without emotions.

Eralyn,

I hear your pain, and NO it would not have been any different in his behavior no matter what your boundaries were…but IF YOU HAD GOOD BOUNDARIES you would have left sooner. That’s the only difference. We don’t give them a chance to stab us AGAIN if we have good boundaries, that’s what was so hard for me to learn in setting boundaries.

I have told this story before but we had some “friends” (a married couple) that had been mentors for my son D since age 12 or 14 through scouts and they had worked for my husband and me before my husband’s death. Then for some unknown to me reason the wife started stealing from me…not big valuable items but ones tat were sentimental to me. That caused a BIG RIFT between us, but on the day my husband died, I did let her in to see him before he died (her husband was in the hospital and could not come himself) and after my husband’s death, while her husband was recuperating from his own serious surgery my son D and I helped them out in many ways. Then I realized that they were taking things from the farm…tools and stuff that had belonged to my husband and some how they ad decided that he “wanted them to have it—so another BIG RIFT—then while my son D and I were in hiding from my son Patrick, they had sold their house and were living in a motor home and they came out here and parked on the farm while we were gone. I didn’t really want them here but let them stay….and each day they seemed to be taking the farm and my house over more and more as their own (entitlement) and then one evening, I actually CAUGHT the woman stealing food out of my freezer in the middle of the night. FOOD THAT IF SHE HAD ASKED I WOULD HAVE GIVEN HER….and the horrible part was I cried for 3 days because I was so AFRAID I HAD EMBARRASSED HER BY CATCHING HER STEALING.

Now come on, Oxy! How can you have felt that way! Yep, I sure did. I was so worried I had hurt HER FEELINGS. But then I finally decided I had to set some boundaries and so I told them they hhad to leave “it just wasn’t working out”—they didn’t even ask why. But we all pretended we were still friends, and they still had a bunch of stuff here so I had son D and a hired hand or two move ALL their stuff into a building that I owned on the EDGE of the farm and said “nicely”—“please CALL before you come so you can make sure we are home and don’t waste your gas and find we are gone and the gate locked.” But caught the woman violating even that boundary….so made it a bit stronger and said “Next time call a day in advance” I never saw her again, but boy she was TIGHT JAWED the day I caught her trying to sneak here when she just KNEW I would be gone that day. LOL

They never did come get all the stuff they had stored in the building off the farm even though I gave them 90 days to do so, and so son D and I went down there and took what we wanted and left the rest to rot–also was INTERESTING THOUGH as we found all kinds of ODD things of ours that they had taken through the years. A box high school photos of my son D’s, and various kitchen implements, books, video tapes, living history costumes, dishes of various sorts, and a few tools…They were super hoarders too as well as thieves.

After they left my place they convinced another friend to let them live on his deceased parent’s farm, parked next to the old house which they were not supposed to go into…but they moved into the house, moved his brother there too, and the local police called the owner and told him they were dealing drugs out of the place….so he asked them to move on….and they have, but they no longer have any of the “good” friends they had before as they have used and abused every one of them. Both of them are working their way down toward homelessness at this point in time. But they have a long story about how everyone has done them “wrong.”

There was a good movie released not long ago – I’m trying to remember what it was – one of a series – but the wealthy bad guy (spath) snared people into his basement and killed them there.

I think it might have been the girl with the dragon tatoo.

The spath made a comment that his victims were far more inclined to be polite (and therefore get killed) than to be rude (and successfully run away).

Boundaries matter.

Do so appreciate this thread! The comments here are deeply insightful! I wish I could go to lengthS to type what it is I would like to say, but trying to type from this phone is at times an exercise in futility…
Skylar, you mentioned the ” selective grey rock” and the find it as such… my goodness that nailed it! That Is what I have been doing here in my home for months now as a matter of survival. And the “BACKSPATH”…YES! That nailed it as well. Talk about psychological warfare! Most of us can be counted as seasoned veterans and we have the scars to prove it. When I saw the word backspath, my mind said yes! Thats it! Since becoming fully aware of how this demon operates, and as I became aware of the fact that I was not crazy, as I begin to learn more and more about gas lighting, I have learned how to take his gas lighting and flip it around….. right now he is in damage control mode, as well as being caught in his own back draft. I would love to say more, but again it’s hard to type the words on this phone. thank you for such a wonderful article, Ox Drover And I’d like to thank each and every 1 of you for your insightful comments. Best wishes to all!

Dear Radar on, glad you are doing better and I hope that you have a full sized keyboard soon!

Great article and thread Oxy.

I for one didn’t have a clue what boundaries were or that we should have some for far too long and did much damage to myself as a result from a very young age.

Recently I decided I needed to define a boundary with my sister, to whom I have always considered myself close, and whose relationship I value. Unfortunately she has a habit of being rather mean spirited from time to time towards me, or just unnecessarily judgmental. She very rarely encourages or validates me, preferring to play the “devils advocate” in most cases.

She has said on numerous occasions “just because you are my sister doesn’t mean I have to be your friend” I have been careful to offer only positive feedback and not second guess or disparage her choices, actions etc in her own life. She has been battling cancer for the last 2 years and we have had many long talks about her situation.

Recently she trashed something I was quite proud of, verbally, and something she quite frankly knows nothing about. ( too long to explain, but I was telling her about something I felt proud of, in my work which was important because I had recently had some problems with superiors, and now they were being supportive etc) ).

I excused myself from the phone call and then stewed for a few days, realizing that I often felt worse after talking to her about my personal stuff.

As a result I wrote an email letting her know that her attitudes were hurtful and unnecessary
etc. and therefore I would no longer discuss the topic with her, which brings us to about the 4th topic I cannot discuss without getting into a tiff.

I knew I risked her choosing not to speak to me, as she has done in the past, once for two full years, but decided I needed to protect myself.

As expected, she has cut off communication which saddens me.
She lives alone on the opposite coast and is facing more cancer surgery and the holidays alone. She is my only surviving relative from my small immediate family.

My point is that setting boundaries can lead to losses that are hard to bear. I tell myself that if she cannot accept my boundaries she truly is not my friend in any event. If she routinely criticizes me or my actions but cannot take any feedback then I have made the right choice. Still painful tho’ as she is not a Spath or N, just a big sister who thinks that entitles her to reprimand and judge me.

In the past I have always been the one to initiate contact and try to communicate from a clean slate. Doesn’t seem to make sense to go back for more this time as she is letting me know she does not value my friendship.
Bottom line, setting boundaries means being prepared to pay the price, even when it hurts.

Setting boundaries and holding fast to them is the most difficult thing for me, and the most important. I wish I’d listened when, two years ago, my mother warned me that I had flimsy boundaries. I bought a book: Boundaries And Relationships: Knowing, Protecting, And Enjoying The Self–just in case she was right–but when I tried to read it I found the language a bit new-agey for me and put it down. In fact, it was on the bookshelf next to my bed when the Spath noticed it. He said gleefully, “What’s this?!” as he flipped it open. He laughed and read sections from it in a demeaning way, and something in my gut told me that this man should not know this vulnerability of mine.
I’ve been working on setting and following through with boundaries, but it’s difficult. I know how many of you disdain the idea of online dating, but the communications I’ve had there have taught me more about myself. Recently, I was exchanging long messages with a man who lives a couple of hours away. There was much about him (if he is actually who he claims he is) to like. The usual stuff. But there were a few yellow flags. He immediately said that it seemed we had so much in common. Ok, lots of guys say that, but it’s still a flag until proven otherwise. When I asked if he had many old friends in the area, since he lives not too far from where he grew up, he said that his friends had been closer to him than family, but after he broke up with his best friend’s sister, everyone had taken sides and shut him out, including separating him from his goddaughter. When I probed further, he said it hadn’t been quite so dramatic, but he’d been so disgusted by the fact that anyone was choosing sides when the parting had been mutual that he walked away from the drama. He did say that he’d had other long-term relationships since, and that he remained friends with some of his exes. But the story still sent up a big ole flag flapping in the wind. I said several times that I much prefer to meet in person because so much of what we learn about one another is through body language. He agreed, but then never made a move to actually meet. He also made several references to sex. I wrote a carefully crafted response that was lighthearted yet let him know that that kind of talk wasn’t welcome. He actually applauded me for this, and said he appreciated how I’d played that back to him, without ignoring it, writing him off, or going along with it when it made me uncomfortable. I told him I just wasn’t comfortable talking like that with someone I don’t know and have never met. For his part, he explained that he had a “sexual” sense of humor. Our correspondence continued well otherwise, and I flirted with him here and there, until Saturday, when he signed off with a note that he was either going to watch a movie or “flip through porn and beat myself up until I fall asleep.” Ugh. I was disgusted. My heart raced, and I felt nauseous all night.
On the off chance that he isn’t a Spath and is just a rude and slimy pusher of boundaries, I replied: “Perhaps I was wrong. It might be true that you can learn everything you need to know about a person over the Internet. It’s become pretty evident to me that you and I aren’t compatible in the ways that matter most. All best in your search for a woman who accepts that kind of disrespect. I know there are plenty of them out there.”
I told my close friends about it (who were also disgusted), even patting myself on the back for recognizing the signs early, and following through with immediate disengagement.
Then he answered that he’d only been joking, that his sarcastic tone hadn’t come across, and I hadn’t gotten the joke. He encouraged me to read it again and imagine how he might have been saying it. I was still determined to disengage, but I wanted to explain to him that the point wasn’t the tone–it was that he thought that was an appropriate thing to write at all. I hit send, and hoped that would be the end of it. But the next morning, in the light of day, I wasn’t as grossed out as I had been before. I didn’t plan on contacting him, but already I recognized that I’d relaxed that boundary. On an intellectual level, I was fascinated by this because I could clearly remember how disgusted I’d been before I went to sleep! Of course, he responded again, and this time he turned things around on me. Said I’d taken the joke the wrong way, and that he’d asked repeatedly for my number (which wasn’t true) so that we could hear each other’s voices rather than taking the chance of misinterpretation via email. And, “It’s unfortunate that things transpired this way but, it is also a strong indication of what I could expect for communication from you in the future.”
So here’s the part where he tried to turn it around and make it all my fault. The emails in which he tries to make me believe that I made a grave error, which is so unfortunate, because now he’s the one who doesn’t want to be with me.
And you see how it goes. And so did/do I. I made note of my own emotions throughout these exchanges, and continued as a practice exercise with myself. I knew I was playing with fire, and I told friends what I was doing so that they’d be able to hold me accountable. Ultimately, I was amazed that he was able to bait me so easily, and thankful that it was just an email exchange with some guy I’ve never met. I see more clearly now how important it is to not only trust your gut, to take note of the flags, and to be clear about your boundaries, but also to act immediately and decisively when those boundaries are violated and to not look back. Unfortunately, I had to hold my hand lightly over the flame to prove it to myself before I went No Contact. I had to practice with an encounter that was dangerous but didn’t leave me devastated. But I shudder to think that I might well have let his comment slide if he’d been right in front of me with a wink, and that sexy body and those gorgeous cheekbones…

Hilary,
BRAVO!! Well done. I applaud you for going out and working on your boundaries. I love that you are getting back on the horse yet making sure that you are staying safe. Your ability to examine your own emotional responses is going save you.

You were lucky too, that he didn’t meet you before he tested your boundaries because it gave you time to think about your response. As Athena has mentioned, part of our boundary problem is that we don’t like to be rude. So our automatic response to being slimed was to pretend we weren’t offended.

This guy used all the classic manipulations. He tested your boundaries by being offensive and then, when you were offended, he blamed you for misunderstanding him. hmm… where have I seen that pity ploy before…? It sounds vaguely familiar…

Of course it’s never the spath’s fault. lol.

Then there is the “I was only joking” boundary test: They like to test and when the test meets a boundary, they say they were only joking. sick — and old.

I’m very impressed with your insight. It’s easy for us to armchair quarterback on the blog, but when we are in a situation with a spath, we get confuddled. No matter HOW good you are in theory, the actual experience is like Alice in Wonderland.

@Hilary:

“But I shudder to think that I might well have let his comment slide if he’d been right in front of me with a wink, and that sexy body and those gorgeous cheekbones””

I just try to remember what that body is hiding…a black heart and no soul. No emotions, no conscience, no remorse, no regrets, no responsibility for pain caused to others. Ever. A snake, a swine, a thief, a liar, a conman…and on and on. And I NEVER want to be associated with another one ever again.

That’s great, that you actually tested HIM and he failed and you gave him an “F” and moved on. The more we educate others about sociopaths, the more power they lose over us. Good. For. You.

Hilary, TOWANDA for you!!!!!

Your gut was screaming at you at every opportunity, and you finally “got it!” I am SO looking forward to trusting my gut instincts. Seriously.

Even today, I have to force myself to disallow the cog/diss where other people are concerned. I have to actively disallow myself from making excuses for what I previously would have termed “oddball” or “off-color” remarks or responses. One of the issues that I’ve had with regard to this is attempting to “understand” the reason that someone would make these types of remarks, etc. – there HAD to be “A Reason,” even if it was their so-called “sexual humor.” Well, whether that person meant what they said or they blow it off like it was a joke, I cannot allow that to fly with me because it defines “GLIB.” And, from my experiences, the first wee, tiny Red Flag that pops up is “glib” remarks.

Good for you, Hilary! Honestly, good for you!!! And, you’re right – nobody (and, that means NObody) has any business knowing about your vulnerabilities.

Brightest blessings!!!

Hi, hi…

Round 4 ensued and, well, here I am AGAIN. This time my spath asked my dad for permission to marry me. He came toy house and told me what he did!

About 4 months went by and a giant argument broke out over me feeling as though I wasn’t being supported/considered. He didn’t get it…at all. We argued for 1.5 days and the day after Thanksgiving rolled around. I decided I was done w fighting and tried making nice. He was having nothing to do with it. We continued fighting some more and got even more heated to the place where he told me I had ‘no parental rights to (his) my son! You (me) are not his parent and can not undermine me!’ There was no undermining! I have his son an option to eat for dinner!!! Needless to say, I engaged replying ‘you want to draw the line and use your son as the delineation? Ok…this is MY house and you can’t come here and make yourself at home! You have to ASK me for a drink, or a shower, or food…it’s all MINE and well carry on like that!’

Well… He got PISSED! Told me I didn’t have to worry about th being at MY house anymore because after dinner ( yes, he was still gonna eat) they were ‘leaving.’ Now, every other time when hex ‘left’, he’d packed all his belongings and scooted himself right out. These have been break ups! THIS TIME, though, it wasn’t going to be. I began pulling his things out of the closet, assuming he was breaking up as he walked in to the room asking what I was doing.

Me-I’m getting your stuff out. You said you were leaving, right?
Him-(surprised)I am, but I wasn’t going to break up. I was going to get space from you.
Me-how was I supposed to know you just needed space? Every other time you’ve left you’ve packed all your stuff n left.
Him-(snidely) Nooooooo, I’ll take my stuff, don’t worry, yeah…ill take it home.

He took his things only to return to ask me for a hug!!! I told him to just go.., he did an I hadn’t heard from him for 3.5 days. He sent a text..,

Him-we need to talk n figure the rest of this out. I’ve got some things there still and your keys
Me-ok, let me know when

Tomorrow it will be a week since he sent the text. I’ve not heard one word from him. I’m so confused!

Onelukygirl, I don’t understand your situation with this man. I know that you’ve posted your situation, before, but forgive me if I can’t recall the situation, to a tee. I DO remember responding to your posts, though….I have the same condition that OxD has: CRS (Can’t Remember Shit).

With regard to this man’s stuff, talking to him, interacting with him, and playing his game, you have choices and options, at this point. Is the child in question your biological child with this man? Are you bound to this man by a legal contract of marriage?

Thanks so much for the support, y’all.
@Sky: Why is it so hard for us to risk appearing “rude,” especially to certain groups of people?! It would be funny if it weren’t so scary.
@Truthspeak: Yes, I never really thought about “glibness” in quite that way–thanks for showing me another way to look at it! My gut and my brain were cautioning me all the way, but I thought I might be transferring my wariness from my previous situation to this one. Then I was re-reading Red Flags of Love Fraud, and I came across the paragraph that cautions against doing just that. So I don’t know that I trusted my gut as much as I trusted Donna! :-). Thank you, Donna! But I do think, Truthspeak, that the more I practice, the more I’ll trust my gut–and you will, too!

Hilary, as the “appearing rude” goes for me, I was always VERY much pre-occupied with people “liking” me, or approving of me, or accepting me – these issues go back to my wounded “inner child” that never experienced resolution to those issues. So, instead of saying, “You know, that’s a stupid thing to say,” the cognitive dissonance would kick in and I would go with it like a house on fire to “excuse” or “explain” why someone would say/do such things.

I haven’t been able to purchase “Red Flags,” so I can’t remark about the paragraph that you’re referring to. But, I’ll hazard a guess that it speaks to reconciling the fact that everyone is NOT a sociopath with an agenda, and that we don’t necessarily move through life being unable and/or unwilling to trust another human being.

Where dating and romantic relationships go, I imagine that any red flag would be enough to put me the hell off because I don’t have time or the inclination to explore another person’s issues. And, I’ve gotten to the point where searching desperately for an excuse or explanation for another person’s questionable behaviors is not allowable – for me. I will NOT allow myself to grasp for an excuse or explanation, anymore, and I don’t care HOW attractive or “right” I may believe the person to be. And, this also extends to platonic relationships. I have a level of ZERO tolerance where I’m concerned.

Brightest blessings

EDIT ADD: And, where trusting my gut is concerned, I don’t do that so much, yet. But, what I DO practice is the observations that OxD has mentioned – watching and observing a person will provide enough information to confirm or refute my “feelings.” As I’ve posted before, I learned that “Feelings are NOT facts,” and I have spent my entire life riding on my feelings instead of being objective. And, this is an “uncomfortable” change for me, but it has definite benefits to boundary maintenance! 😀

Truth…
Lol-no worries! My situation is with the spath who wanted me to buy him a motorcycle. I didn’t, we broke up. 38 year old, living at home w parents, lived w me for 3 months n paid no bills but was supposed to. I got hit with 800 dollars of bills. Wanted a ‘video’ we made and told me I was ‘selfish’ for not giving it to him-after a year of no contact. Any of this ring a bell?

Onelukygurl, YES…..thank you, and I apologize!

So, you’re broken up with this guy, now? GREAT! And, keeping the “No Contact” rule first and foremost is going to be priceless for your recovery!

Brightest blessings

@Truth
I should clarify. The paragraph I referred to in Red Flags was one that cautioned against attributing your gut reactions to past traumas and thus dismissing them. It could very well be your intuition trying to kick in!

luckygirl,
I want to hear about this guy. I want to know what is so great about this parasite that keeps you going back with him.

He lives with his parents when he isn’t living with you. If I recall correctly, his long lost mother whom you found for him, also dissed you. How is that coming along BTW?

He uses his son the way my spath used my cats, to make him look like a caring person.

What is it about him that makes you keep contact? Is it the sex?

You know what he is. Are you aware that he despises you? Do you know that he lives for the opportunity to see you suffer? Tell me what makes you keep going back.

No Lucky, I’m not being mean, it’s a combination of curiosity and tough love. I want you to live and be happy.

Hi skyler

I don’t think you’re being mean. You remember the story… Yes, this is the story ehere I found his mom…he found out from his bio brother ‘who she is’ and has figured it out-about her, at least.

Interesting you picked up on him ‘using’ his son. My sister in law and BFF mentioned that to me this week as well. As I was on my bed crying after he came back in to get his things, I tried talking with him and the look on his face was SO unnerving! I said to him ‘you look at me like you despise me for bring upset, like I disgust you because this bothers me.’

He smirked

Idk what draws me to him really. I’ve thought time n time n time again about that. I KNOW I benefit minimally from him…his ‘contribution’ to the relationship amounts to ‘fun’. And that’s providing we’re getting along. This realization only occurred through this last ‘relationship’ we had. Things were different for me and I knew it immediately. I saw him differently and didn’t try to deny what I saw although clearly a piece of me still wants to deny ‘who he is’.

I miss his son. I feel angry he told this child we were getting married, we gave him ‘his’ bedroom and he brought his son to pick out paint HE liked for HIS room. Do you know how excited this child was? He decorated HIS room and asked me if he could call ME mom!

And this piece of shit runs away over a fight? I guess it’s his son that draws me to him. Some things are becoming clear today…

Onelukygurl, where this man’s child is concerned, it’s his “IN-ROAD” to pity, sympathy, and so forth. And, yes….he uses that child like a ping-pong ball. If he can get a source target to fall in love with the child, he can manipulate that target to the Nth degree….

The man’s a skank and you don’t have the power to “save” his child. As heartless as it may sound, you don’t have any responsibility to that child and it’s something to be grateful for. If you were tied to that man because you shared a child in common, the damages would be a hundredfold. From emotional to legal, you would be spending every ounce of energy in an attempt to protect your offspring from the madness, and it’s one of the most fruitless, frustrating, expensive, and senseless endeavors imaginable.

Brightest blessings

Hilary,

No doubt in my mind that you were dealing with a psychopath. Those flags were all red and the blaming you for what he did is typical for bringing in the kill. You are so smart to have cut it off when you did.

Hilary, gotcha. On one level, I understand that concept as it might apply to PSTD reactions – this is specifically applicable to me. I have often reacted to triggers that had nothing to do with instincts.

Thanks for the clarification. 😀

Brightest blessings

Truth…
Just sitting her thinking about AAALLLLL theirs messages, one in particular-
He asked my dad for permission to marry me (and lied to me about my dads response), came home THAT DAY and told me, then told me we were ‘dating’…’we did just start seeing each other again.’ This was done within the last 4 months- out history is 6.5 years!
WTH!

Eralyn,

I am so sorry. It is hell to have children with them. I went berserk when the psychopath in my life tried and succeeded to alienate my adult daughter. All I tried to do was extricate myself from him. I do not know if she will ever understand that he planted lies in her head and did it on purpose. He is so sly and cunning and I am not. As we all know, they can make us look like the villain just for standing up for our own boundaries. God knows why she trampled my boundaries claiming that I totally disregarded hers. I guess part of that is the curse of motherhood but her vehemence has got to be fed by his fire of evil.

The letter, “God will reunite us wholly and completely as I have prayed 680 days and God does nothing in half measures.” Gave me chills it sounded so familiar and so phoney and manipulative. They do not even know how to sound real sometimes. The exaggeration is so sickeningly transparent.

I pray you can keep him away from your daughter. I wish I had told him my children were not his…and to me they are not, he is no more than a sperm donor who used it to make our lives miserable.

Four minutes of animation that everyone should see…
I hope it gives a good perspective to you all…

Love ~ Dupey

http://www.upworthy.com/4-minutes-of-animation-guaranteed-to-put-your-life-in-perspective?c=ufb1

Ox Drover,

Great article on boundaries. I learned a lot about boundaries in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Too many boundaries leave us totally alone, too few boundaries get us enmeshed {or sucked in by a psychopath…my addition} Appropriate boundaries are where we decide who to let in and who does not qualify.

I am fortunate to have a few good friends whom I trust with my life and can tell everything without getting enmeshed. I came from an enmeshed family and may have enmeshed my children unwittingly. And as for high boundary relationships, I am just not interested in wasting my time…too much like psychopathy for me.

My daughter just might prefer too many boundaries and I find in rude, insulting and phoney but she does not care about my boundaries or her children’s desire to be with us and our desire to be with them. Oh well, she will get over it or she won’t.

Thanks for posting on a very important topic.

Betsybugs, there was a poster here on LF years ago named A New Lily. Lil.y lived with her abusive husband nearly 50 years until he beat her so severely she barely survived, at which point, she got her suitcase and fled to Arizona (from back east) and he said “I will bankrupt and ruin you” and he did, though he was a dentist and they were comfortable, he totally screwed her financially, so here she was at nearly 70 years old, alone in a strange city, scared and broke….he alienated their adult children from her and they believed him as she had protected them from the knowledge of the abuse their entire lives.

She became very ill with diabetes and other problems and except for home health and one neighbor that sort of checked up on her she was pretty much alone.

Some of her grandkids would write her from time to time and she even went to the wedding of one….but essentially she was alone. Lily was one of the SWEETEST women I have ever known, and I spoke to her daily while she was in the hospital. She never was able to “give up” that her kids would come around and as her mind deteriorated she kept hoping and hoping. After her death I heard from the neighbor about her kids cleaning out her house. I don’t know even where my friend is buried. In the end, her kids never saw her for what she was or respected her. I tend to think that her kids were just more like their abusive alcoholic father and that Lily could not accept that. That she stayed in denial though here at LF she did have some support and she TRIED to get out of the denial but it was just too painful for her.

I pray that Lily is at peace now….but I wish she had been able to find some here on this earth.

Oxy:

That is so sad. Gosh. Really tugged on my heart.

So this prompted me to think about something and I would like for everyone to give their opinion…

You said she protected her children from the knowledge of the abuse and the adult children then believed their psycho dad.

I can see how she would want to protect them so they didn’t have to witness the violence, etc., but in hindsight, that was probably not the best thing to do because they were not aware of what a horrible man he was. I think children should know what is going on so they can make their own choices. How can you almost not blame the children if they have no idea how bad their dad is/was? They probably think he is a saint. That’s wrong.

What do you all think?

I have to think that her children were aware of some of the abuse even though she didn’t think so. My x husband grew up in an abusive home. Father was an alcoholic. Verbally abusive to his mother. He chose to become just like his father as did some of the other boys in the family. The parents should have divorced.
I found out at his place of employment that he talked like he idolized his father. I agree with Ox Drover. I think her children made informed choices.

This story about Lily reminds me of the mother of a childhood girlfriend. Her father was a disconnected alcoholic. Her mother tolerated him because of the children. All he did was go to work, come home and sit in front of the tv and drink beer. In all the years we were friends I don’t remember her parents ever having a conversation. She finally left him when the children were grown. She finally found some peace but, it was short lived. She died a couple of years later from cancer. Very sad.

kmillercats:

Very valid points. I am sure you are right. People may think they are shielding children from things when in reality they are not. I guess it is pretty hard to live in the same household and not know what’s going on or at least to some extent. I can look to my best friend’s situation to realize this.

Thanks for your input!

I think children should be aware of what is going on as is AGE APPROPRIATE….and sometimes the Psychopathic DNA overwhelms the raising and the kids turn out to be “just like his father” (or mother) and there is nothing we can do about it.

Sure it hurts like hell to give up on your child and to sever a relationship with them, to “write them out of your life” but sometimes that is the only REAL option….that or allow THEM to ABUSE you.

Especially when there are grandchildren that you would like a relationship with. That’s the DOUBLE WHAMMY of pain. But you know, we have NO control over whether someone loves us or not. My friend Lily’s doctor told her once after she had her first heart attack and her daughters came to visit her in the hospital. The doctor said “Lily, those women (her daughters) are NOT your friends.” He never did give any more details to Lily, but I can ONLY imagine what those girls must have said to the doctor to make him say such a thing to Lily.

Sure it hurts when our boundaries must keep out some or all of our children, parents, siblings, etc. but better to live inside those boundaries ALONE I think, than to live in a large family of abusers.

Oxy:

Wow, that’s really something what the doctor said to Lily. Her children sound like monsters. Such a sad world we live in.

Louise, kmillercats and Oxy,
Children observe what is going on but they can’t understand what it means. I observed my spath and didn’t know what it meant until the guy in the sushi bar explained it to me.

Consider how confusing it is to us to see a person go from being kind and loving to mean and abusive. It’s so much worse for a child because they have to assume that this is normal. Then that behavior becomes part of their distorted world view. Explaining it to them later, does no good. They have already adopted their childish defensive strategies and they will take those with them into adulthood.

I’m not child psychologist but it seems to me that the sooner a child is helped to understand the disordered, the better. That way they don’t learn to take the blame and responsibility for something that is not their fault.

Of course, framing it in terms that an innocent mind can actually comprehend, is not easy, I’m sure. It seems to me that it would be good to call it a “sickness” that makes people want to hurt others. Then they can be warned that the sickness is contagious especially to little children who mimic how they see other people act.

Skylar, I agree – and, I agree that it should be “age appropriate.” I covered up the abuse in the first marriage, as did Lily. So, when I finally left, I was “the one” that ruined the marriage and was painted as crazy. Since I had always covered for their father and never spoke truthfully about what was going on, my sons STILL believe that the man was a beleagered saint.

It’s a very, very difficult challenge to accept the truth about our own situations. Accepting the truth that our offspring may not be what we had hoped that they would become is harder, still. We are taught that our children “deserve” our unconditional love, and that we are obligated to tolerate any and all behaviors and choices BECAUSE they are our offspring. It’s an ideal, but it’s not true. Just because it’s my offspring DOES NOT mean that I am required to tolerate bad behavior.

It’s hard to break that tie, especially when I was made to feel that I had somehow failed as a mother. Well, I did the best that I could with the knowledge that I had, flawed as much as it was. So…..yeah…..

Brightest blessings

Considering that abuse is all about secrets, it makes sense that we don’t keep any. Abuse only works when the victim cooperates by keeping secrets. Secrets are a BIG RED BANNER.

It’s a sabotage that the victim does to themselves.

Oh yes, the abuse is ALL about ‘secret keeping’….
I had been THREATENED over and over again, that
if I went to counseling, I would be in big trouble…..

I did it anyways.
Of course, I don’t and never have lived with PPATH…
He tried to control me and my life long distance, most
of the time. Blow into town yearly to ‘renew’ the bond,
mostly. I can see it all now…ALL OF IT.

Yes, if the victim keeps quiet, cooperates,
then yes, that is a HUGE RED FLAG. Huge.

Don’t keep secrets for the wicked.
If you are, you need to think about rearranging your life.

Dupey

Thanks to all for being such great sounding boards. And poor Lilly. Again, I’m reminded of “Mistakes Were Made…” How we have such a capacity to fool ourselves…

Skylar

I am fascinated with the “selective grey
rock.” It sounds like an awesome idea.
Have you used it, and has it worked?
Could you give an example? Also, what is a
backs path?

f You said abuse is all about secrets.

My neighbors have been divorcing. He is a well dressed bmw driving lawyer, she is a pretty stay at home mom. They were newly weds with babies at home, and then she discovered he had been sleeping with girls half his age. She has shown up around town with evidence of physical abuse but never said anything. She filed for divorce.

Yet for some reason he has been still in the house until the divorce is final.

Recently my child saw them outside arguing on the porch. The neighbor man punched his wife in the face and she tumbled down concrete stairs.
My child called 911. Cops came and arrested him, and forced him to leave the home. He was ranting “come on….who gets arrested on a Saturday??”. Jerk.

It is no longer a secret.

Athena, good for your kid! I feel for the wife, because it is always difficult to admit. I read today that it takes 7 attempts before most women will leave an abusive marriage/relationship and stay gone.

It is difficult to admit that we are being abused, and to take steps to stop that abuse. It doesn’t matter if it is our parent, or lover, our friend, or our spouse….abusers don’t stop and we must protect ourselves.

Lioness,
Yes, I’ve used it and it’s amazing. Spaths really can’t figure out what is important unless you tell them.

I first used it by accident, long before I knew what the spath was. And the upshot was that it revealed to me who all his minions were because they also aimed their ammunition at the selective gray rock.

I’ll tell you what happened but first I have to explain something about my spath. He sabotaged literally everything in my life. His motto was if it can go wrong, it WILL go wrong. And I was none the wiser that 1) it was him doing it. or 2) that he was doing it on purpose. How could I imagine such a thing? His goal was to make me feel like a total loser so that I would kill myself.

A couple of times, I missed the friday garbage pick up. It’s not that big a deal but I had to call and have them pick up 2 cans the next week. This happened several more times and I finally got fed up. I was angry that the spath was making no effort to help at all, so I threw a fit. It was a fit worthy of a spath performance. I told the spath that if we can’t even get the garbage to the curb once a week, we couldn’t ever expect to be successful at ANYTHING!

Suddenly, every friday morning certain people would call me and keep me on the phone until the garbage man had been by. They would talk for hours about nothing. But once noon had rolled around (garbage man comes almost exactly at noon or 5 minutes before), they quickly got off the phone. Or I could get them to hang up by saying, “Okay the garbage is on the curb now.”

I thought this was very strange but didn’t imagine that it was a freaking conspiracy!! lol! Still, I kept testing and it kept repeating.

After I figured out that the spath was trying to con me, HE started calling me on fridays. He would leave early and call before noon and chat about nothing. At one point, I started to email my good sister about it and predict what time he would call the next week. It was uncanny.

It was stupid too, because WHO THE HECK CARES ABOUT THE GARBAGE PICKUP? I only threw a fit because I was trying to make a point, not because I was really serious that this was a life or death issue. Yet, the spath made it his mission to sabotage the garbage pickup. hilarious!

It revealed a few of things: 1) the extent that he was going through to sabotage my life. 2) a couple of the women involved in the plot. 3) how spaths think: they really don’t know what’s important unless you point it out to them.

There a many variations to selective gray rock. In general it’s just a way to give them rope and let them do what spaths do best, hang themselves.

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