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Why Do I Feel So Guilty? How Sociopaths Shame Us Into Submission

If I had to pick the most powerful tool in a sociopath’s arsenal, it would be shame.   I’ve experienced a myriad of emotions during my life with sociopathic parents:  sadness, anger, confusion, jealousy (from observing “healthy” families), fear, loneliness, compassion, forgiveness.  During the healing process, it is very normal to have waves of these emotions come and go.  But for me, the one emotion that hasn’t come and gone, the one that has blanketed my entire life history, is shame.

Why shame?  I didn’t ask to be abused as a child.    As an adult, I certainly had the choice to sever ties with my parents, but I didn’t because I thought a good daughter wouldn’t do that.   If I hang in there long enough, they will see I’m a good daughter and they will love me.

What I didn’t know at the time is that sociopaths don’t change.  They will never become compassionate people.  They will never feel true remorse.  By “hanging in there”, I was allowing them to tighten their grip on me, using guilt trips to keep me attached.  I now know that it wasn’t sacrificial love that kept me going back, it was shame.  Shame is sneaky that way – it disguises itself in many ways.

So what does this look like?  Here are tactics both my parents used to reinforce guilt and keep me reeled in:

You need me:  “I can help you.”  “We need to stick together.”  “You’ll never make it without me.”  “You have nowhere to go.”  “No one else cares about you.”

Sulking:  “You have no idea how much you hurt me.”  “You don’t love me.”  “I thought you cared about me.”  “You never appreciated me.”  “I cried after you left.”

Flattery:  “You’re the only one I can count on.”  “No one else can (fill in the blank) as well as you.”  “I can trust you.”  “Look, I just bought you this present!”

Aggression:  “How dare you, after all I’ve done for you!!”  “I will never help you again!”  “I will make you regret it!”  “You’ll be sorry for this!!”  “You are WRONG!”  “You are STUPID!”

Gas-lighting:  “That never happened.”  “I never said that.”  “You’re too paranoid.”  “You have your facts all mixed up.”  “You have no reason to feel that way.”

Intimidation:    “I know you better than anyone else.”  “You can’t escape me.”  “I’m smarter than you.”  “You know what the consequences are.”

It’s no wonder  shame tends to be the overriding emotion!  All of these tactics are designed to do one thing:  guilt you into staying enslaved to your manipulator.

The one thing I’ve learned from all this is to trust my gut-instincts. When we start allowing others to make our decisions for us (especially if it’s a decision we are being manipulated into against our better judgment), we enter dangerous territory.

I’ve learned it feels good to think independently.  It feels good to refuse feelings of shame when I make my own decisions.  It feels good to not be blown by the winds of other people’s opinions.  And if I make a mistake?  Well, even that feels good, because at least I can say it was my mistake.


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37 Comments on "Why Do I Feel So Guilty? How Sociopaths Shame Us Into Submission"

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Thank you for putting into words what I cannot. My sociopath dad died last summer and I’m still going through it…mom died years ago. My relationship with my dad, and with myself, was shame-based. He used mostly aggressive techniques mixed with gas lighting and intimidation. Pretty much ” I know you better than you know yourself, and what I know is you’re stupid, worthless, and just plain bad. You can fool others but you can’t fool me.” He said that and more and worse ever since I can remember–5 or 6 years old–until I just got worn out and stopped talking to him a few years ago. No drama, I just faded away, exhausted because he never stopped. Never eased up. I was in my late 50s.

We think our parents are supposed to wish us well, cheer us on. It was very difficult to come to terms with the realization my dad did not wish me well, did not hope I thrived in life. My dad actively took pleasure and delight in my mistakes, failed relationships, disappointments. He’d gloat, laugh, “see, I told you it wouldn’t work! You’re so stupid.” If a relationship failed–“hahaha, no one is ever going to care about you. You can’t even keep a man happy.” All designed to cause feelings of shame, and they did. I spent way too many years denying (to myself) that my dad’s only feelings toward me were malicious, and that the more I tried to please him the more contempt he had for me.

I get a lot out of your posts, thank you for writing here.

This sounds somewhat familiar and it is important to anyone co-parenting with a sociopath. My dad was very complimentary and supportive overtly, but I don’t remember how precisely, but he also conveyed that I would be lucky to attract a good man (not true, but I worried about that when I was younger). So what did I do? Felt very flattered, appreciated, and supported when love-bombed by a NPD psychopath. So much so that I married him.

Now my ex takes pleasure when I am beaten, I mean when he wins over me, even at the expense of his kids failing. Not quite so directly emotionally abusive as your situation, but similar in its effects. And he (ex) also always knows better than they do, of course, and tells them so and takes over any learning opportunity. Like he won’t let them learn to cook, for example. They will have to do their personal learning elsewhere in their lives.

Once again, your words open my eyes to so much, Wendy.

I’ve always been eager to take more than my share of blame in situations, from childhood to now. Now I realize the name for that is shame. My mom shamed me into living exactly as she wanted me to and even in doing that, it wasn’t enough for her. Now my Spath blames me and tells me I’m hard to live with, and I believe him. Me- the faithful wife who adored him, longed for him, raised good kids and managed our lives so well… I’m the one to blame. And I actually consider that it may be true. That is Shame.

When I step back and stop hearing his words in my head, Dadgumit, I’m so proud of myself for how I’m surviving this. I realize my worth and value. I make mistakes…..but I stay the path of right focus and always seek to avoid hurting others. Why should I feel shame?

It sounds like you did quite a lot, quite well, and with good intentions. I totally know what you mean about the shame as I feel the same way. But I have worked on this, in realizing that there is a big difference between taking the choices left available to us and being the cause of putting us in that predicament. I am not blameless because I did make the choices and mostly I did not choose to leave my sociopath ex sooner. But he is mostly responsible and should bear the shame of most of it. However, he does not appear to feel any . So that’s not going to happen. I try to only take on what belongs to me.

Wendy, my stepfather used to guilt me (or try) into giving him money from my savings account that I worked hard for. Or for “not upsetting my mother” with my feelings that I had no right to have any way. He tried to use guilt a lot. I didn’t buy into it – I just got angry and then stuffed all the anger down till it came up many years later in the form of rage. As I got older after my stepfather died, my mother found ways to try to manipulate me. She used her the promise of her willing me her estate to try and get me to communicate with her after I went NC. It didn’t work. I decided there was no amount of money that was worth sacrificing my peace of mind. Besides I didn’t trust her or believe her anyway when she said she wanted to give me something. Her history was that she never gave me much. She promised her bf for 20 years that she was willing her estate to him. In the end, he never got anything – it ended up with my sister and me after all. I’m sure he felt betrayed, but that was his issue, since he chose to live with her.

Today, I’m not too affected by guilt and shame like I used to be, but there are residual effects. My direct supervisor looks a lot like my stepfather, so he reminds me of him. The other day I was emailing him some questions when he emailed me back: “Please. Just stop.” I felt as if I’d been talked down to like a child. My initial response was to just shrink down and feel bad about myself for being “too much.” But instead, I let him know I felt demeaned by his comment. He actually sincerely apologized and we had a good talk and cleared the air. Whenever I do this, it shows me that not everyone is like my stepfather. Not everyone is bad, and some people actually do care about my feelings. Best of all this showed me that the most important person of all cares about my feelings – ME.

Wendy, you are so spot on !
My spath husband uses all the verbal manipulative tools you mentioned.
I have always been an independent person but was so flattered that he would volunteer to do everything for me because I thought he must “love” me so much.
It was after sometime that I found out that these acts of “love” came with a very expensive emotional price tag.
I had to learn to be manipulative as well just to survive – this is really uncomfortable for me because I’m big on free will but I don’t have a choice right now.
Your strength in recognizing and sharing this is really encouraging because it helps me put into clear detail what I found challenging to explain to others and sometimes to myself- Thank you

Short answer Wendy:
I felt guilty because everything was always my fault. I didn’t understand HOW it was my fault, but I knew something about me was SO bad that I was the reason why my family members did bad things to me, because I made them do it. I have worked very hard with a therapist to learn to discern what I am responsible for and when I be being blamed. There is a HUGE difference. People blame others all the time, mostly to see who lets it stick. I was accepting blame, and that’s why I felt like I had a kick me sign permanently attached to me. I took that sign off.

Question for all:
Has anyone ever used the help from this website and turned it on you?

My abuser has clearly monitored this site and is now using the advice members give each other to further smear me, as if what he has already done wasn’t enough. For ex: He’s going around talking about how he had to go NC with me, when it was I who went NC with him (I didn’t TELL me, I just did it.) He’s talking about how a relationship with me was so toxic that he cringed whenever he saw my phone number on callerID.

I don’t know how to counter this. I do not feel guilt but I know I am being shamed to others in my community. It’s like I’m being portrayed as the “crazy wife” again. But I already know, if I defend myself then I am just validating his accusations. Silence also validates his accusations.

I hate that the place I came for emotional support is now yet another metaphoric stick that I am being beaten with. I am dealing with the issue of my daughter and whether she is disordered, and now this. It makes me wonder if it’s related. I don’t want to sound paranoid, gee back to the “crazy lady” label.

ps I also wrote a post asking for guidance about my daughters behavior. And was so down, that I spent the next days crying. Is there a way to find our posts? I don’t remember which article I posted under. Am hoping to find someone was able to throw me a lifeline. I feel like I am sinking again. I swore I wouldn’t ever go down that rabbit hole but I feel like the rabbit hole is being brought UP to swallow me.

NotWhatHeSaidofMe…I am so very sorry you are going through all this. It breaks my heart to know people are suffering because I know what it feels like.

To find your post, look to the left under all the posts and at the bottom you will see SEARCH COMMENTS. Type NotWhatHeSaidofMe in there and it will bring up every post that you made. Then you will be able to see where you posted it and if anyone answered. I hope someone did. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up on here with so many posts, but I hope someone did throw you a lifeline. Let me know if you can’t find it.

PS: I don’t have children so I am not a good person to give advice on children. So I never reply to those posts as I am at a loss on that subject unfortunately. 🙁

NotWhatHeSaidofMe – Bless you, I understand. Our Sociopath seems to have read all the books and twists everything back on her victims. I watched her in court one day and walked out saying,”It was as if she read a book titled, “How to convince absolutely everyone that you were in fact an abused wife when YOU were the abusive one in the relationship 101 and 102”

I’m sure she reads sites like this as part of her preparation for court. Her problem is that her words and actions do not match. Keep watching long enough and it all falls apart.

Keep breathing! That’s the first step. Don’t panic. I know it is hard, but time outs the truth eventually. Document everything. Record conversations and transcript them. It isn’t paranoia, it’s self preservation. There is always someone around this site who can help with advise. You will survive.

NotWhatHeSaidofMe,

Yes, the exspath did find this website and use the language he found here to try and turn the wheels in his favor. I hated it at the time, but I never said a word. And I never said a single word to anyone outside my very small circle of trusted friends. Not about him being toxic, nothing.

I figured, at the time, there was nothing I could do about it. And I wanted this place for myself. So, I just kept coming here, getting support, and posting under this name. I did everything I could to keep my mind from spinning about what he was saying or doing.

I am not so good with words, but I think what I am getting at is that you have to take whatever you want and hold onto it, no matter what he is doing. This place is for you and he has no place here. He can use the language all he wants but he will NEVER get any real benefit from it, only a temporary feeling of winning. That is an illusion. He isn’t winning anything…he is only temporarily gaining the attention of some people who don’t know the truth.

It has, in the deepest sense, nothing to do with you, with Lovefraud, or with anything that is worth paying attention to.

Shift your attention back onto yourself. Feel the pain you feel. There is no shame in feeling angry and sad about what he is up to. However, remember, this website (and all of us) are here JUST FOR YOU, FOR US. We don’t give an damn what he says. He is completely insignificant to this website and the beauty it holds. He cannot ruin that. He can try and convince people you are crazy. That’s it. Try to let it go…..You ARE NOT what he says of you.

I remember when this (and other stuff) was happening, and I would feel SO ashamed, so humiliated, so ground down. At one point I started thinking about myself as a character in a movie. And I put myself in the audience. I was trying to get perspective.

A lot of times when I watch movies I talk out loud to the characters, telling them to move away from the haunted town, not to engage with a certain person, get a new job, etc…..You know? Just STOP engaging with the thing that is scaring, ruining, hurting them. I could see myself pick that character up and place them in a different city, job, relationship….like a figure on a Monopoly board, I could pick them up and transplant them to a different life. I have always believed that we can also do something similar in our own lives, if we can calm ourselves long enough to find a new path.

So, I did that for myself. I looked at myself as a character. I looked at what was happening around my character, the decisions she had made, the things that were causing her pain. Then I went about writing down what I would tell the character (me) to do with her life.

This helped me compartmentalize a bit and set my wounded feelings aside, in order to keep things in perspective, so I could rise above the chaos (of the situation, of my feelings) and do things differently. I used this exercise multiple times to sort things out when my feelings got too intense and I felt, literally, like I would die if I had to feel them for one more second.

This wasn’t the only thing I did, but it was specifically helpful when my feelings felt unmanageable, when I was spinning without direction, and likely making myself feel worse than I needed to.

Now, many years out I still see some of the people who think I am the crazy abusive and confused woman he told them I was. I don’t care one single bit now. I have NO FEELINGS about it. They are being deceived, and they don’t know it. That’s the truth.

Slim

Thank You SER. I posted my heartbreak and pleaded for help and then was so sad that I didn’t read if anyone answered.

And especially THANK YOU Slimone. You post is so supportive and reassuring. It’s just the encouragement I needed. Sometimes, even thought I can remember the past and I know how very much I have healed and can ever mark progress milestones, I still can feel so alone and overwhelmed. I have moved somewhere new, and I don’t tell anyone about my past because this is where I make my future. I want to live a life of strength and dignity. But I still need someone to understand what I went through and say hey, I’ve been there. We’ll all get each other through it. That’s what I think is the value of this site. The weird thing is, I have been defined as a manipulative B, when in reality, I am and have always been tenderhearted, easy to cry at the Hallmark commercials and rescuing animals. Somehow people have been convinced that I pretend to be caring, yet they know my ex’s history and know that he likes to ridicule people and that none of his dogs died of old age (something I did not know when he was impressing me with his photobook of the family pets). You are right, the language is being used, but I am the one who gained real benefit. NC helped me get space and time to stop reeling from the mindcontrolling and get my own thinking/thoughts back.

I feel SO Much better after reading your post. I know others surely feel the same. You should print it out and save it for times when or if, you ever feel overwhelmed.

I will say, part of the reason people believe my ex is like you said above, they don’t know any better. Afterall, I didn’t gossip about my husband, airing dirty laundry was so disloyal. I thought he just didn’t love me. I had NO idea, NO clue what misery was coming down the pike at me. I mean, when you leave someone who clearly has contempt for you, who expects things to get worse, that the abuse escalates? I thought he had what he wanted, the women, certain assets that I worked for, our home. He wanted more, to destroy me. He can’t but he sure does things that make me miserable, such as what he’s done to my daughter, the mindcontrol of her. That’s the worst.

Blessings to you slimone. Hope I can return the blessing. I really am stronger than I have been these last few weeks. Okay. Shoulders back, chin up. I’m free of my ex! I have a future to create! 🙂

Dearest Notwhathesaidofme…..I am glad my post gave you even the tiniest boost of go get ’em. Sometimes those little boosts are what propel us forward, even if only the slightest bit. Healing can be micro-mental (as opposed to macro mental!). This is where I found the tiny thrusts forward that lead me to a new life. I am glad, and honored, that I can be a part of that for you too.

Much love and healing to you….Slim

Slimone,
A new way to get perspective outside of my misery isn’t a little thing to me, esp when I’ve been stuck for months. But, appreciation makes me uncomfortable too. Maybe I’ll add that to my list of things I’m gonna work on. 🙂

It really does help to tell others about what you went through and what is worrying you. It is hard if you have moved and have to start with new friendships and understandably don’t want to bring the bad past with you.

I dealt with the same issues as I entered into a new relationship. I did not want to pollute it with bad history. But I am still co-parenting, so unfortunately what is past is not totally past, so I have had to share. I tried not to share too much, but I ended up little by little sharing more and more. I found my new boyfriend surprisingly understanding and supportive. He wanted to help more than he was bothered by it all. And he had some good useful suggestions. I feel less burdened and stressed now. So, telling him probably went against all the relationship advice one gets, but if someone cares about you, they want to understand you and help.

I think we on this site have all been through a special experience and we really want to help. Tell us. Ask for our advice. I hope you get the help you need. Don’t give up. Just come back and ask again. Sometimes we don’t all read and the posts can get buried. I know I am sporadic as to when I have time :).

Honestly, it took years of therapy for me to stop constantly packing my bags for the guilt trips my mother would send me on. What I eventually learned was that she was the one who was deficient, not me. I learned to hold up a mirror to her insults, accusations, aggressions, sulking, intimidation, flattery, and gas lighting. She wasn’t talking to me or about me. She was talking though me, around me, and off of me.

None of those realizations made the hurts less painful. The memories still sting. I constantly battle the self sabotage that was instilled in me. That I was never good enough for her came through even when she was lost in dementia. I cannot tell you how hard it was to get through her funeral without laughing at all the wonderful things people said about her. They didn’t know her. I suffered through her and I survived her.

I am happy now and now I realize that she never was happy. Nothing with her was deeper than a facade.

My sociopath would start rumors about me that were so disgusting, they did make me feel ashamed. It made me not want to leave the house because I felt like everyone had heard the lies that were being said by the sociopath.
I was new in town. And I didn’t know many people. So the only thing I thought people knew about me was the horrific lies the sociopath was spreading. She was telling my young daughters school that I was a prostitute in Ohio, and was arrested for prostituting, and that I was arrested for sleeping with under age boys there also. I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO OHIO. It’s no where close to where I have ever lived. The sociopath actually went to into my child’s classroom on field day and told the teacher and other parents there these things. The only way
I found out is because a nice woman who obviously thought what she was saying was card fetched, told me what she was saying. I was angry, but I felt like oh my gosh, I can never go up to the school again. I did end up taking my daughter out of that school and putting her in private school. Because the sociopaths children were at the school and it was just better for me and my daughter to get away from all that.

Point is – the rumors were all lies that are shameful and were meant to make me feel ashamed. Even tho I have never been a prostitute, or been arrested for it or sleeping with young boys. In fact I have never been arrested for anything in my life. I have never been in any trouble my whole life, except for a few speeding tickets when I was younger. The sociopath has also said things like I was my husbands maid before we married, and was having an affair with him, and he moved me and my child in and I was a home wrecker. Which is not true, but was made up because the sociopath thinks that being someone’s housekeeper is the lowest job one can have (besides prostitution) so she started telling people that. And it was all pure lies. But she said for one reason to make me feel ashamed and so other people would think I was trash. (BTW- I don’t think being a maid or housekeeper is a shameful job – at least it’s work ”“ something the sociopath has never done)

I am educated, and I have always had a good paying job. The sociopath just wanted to plant seeds in others peoples minds about me. So that I would feel a certain way. Shame.

What if it is a therapist (in my case a social worker/counselor)? None of the counselors I have seen in life rate an ‘A’ or ‘B’…just a ‘C’. And of course I have seen the ‘D’ ones.

Reading the above reminds me of the last counselor I ditched. I confronted her on something she said at our last session and she denied she said it. She also had told me, “I know your husband better than you do.” Just as above in context with someone’s father (she never met my husband and I hardly mentioned him in session).

She started showing up late (once she was 15 minutes late) and that was affecting everyone (like a stack of dominoes). The person out in the waiting area was also being held up…and so on.

She charged me $58 for a missed visit. I tried to explain to her but all she said was, “Read your introduction letter from me stating that missed appointments are charged.” She said I could pay it in installments. I did send a check but something was wrong.

It has been all I can do to refrain from sending her my “introduction letter” informing her that continued ‘late shows’ on her part would result in our termination. I did terminate.

I considered writing a declaration statement that would protect all of the clients involved with her. Something like:

“We the Clients, being of unsound mind, hereby inform and request that the therapist keep appointments in a timely manner…” The ending of which would state, “Our time is just as important to us as your time is to you.”

I would not go to a therapist who was so inconsiderate of her patients. It severs the trust bond that is necessary for such intimate therapy.

You have an ethical right to be treated with dignity. I filed a grievance against the bad therapist with the licensing board.

For example:
Before I finally found a wonderful therapist, there were other bad therapists. One who couldn’t remember my name or what had been discussed at our last meeting. Another one actually yelled at me for being negative and told me no wonder my husband treated me the way he did. (oh, he LOVED that). I didn’t know it then, but I was severely depressed. I got up and left and drove sobbing along a mountain road, sure that suicide was the only answer. The only reason I didn’t do it then was because I hadn’t planned it and I couldn’t be sure that I would die. I didn’t want to be just injured. My convoluted thinking is the only reason I didn’t drive off a mountain road. People who are depressed tend to feel hopeless and a therapist should have recognized my depression. She condemned me because I said over and over, “There’s no point to anything anymore, I don’t see any solution, I feel so overwhelmed and hopeless.”

Good summer to all my brothers and sisters. You are the reasons that make the world better.

The July date for our trial looms ever closer. Since January of this year mother has assaulted her youngest daughter twice. Reported by school officials to CPS. This marked 5 cases reported by on 3 different children in 5 years.

CPS in Arizona is currently revamping their system having allowed over 6,000 cases to go by without followup.

The mother has enrolled our 4 1/2 month son in a private school after he did not pass prek public school assessment.

The pattern of stories etal lies is becoming more apparent. My retirement spent on legal fees in an attempt to keep my son safe.

Mother has never communicated with me regarding any of the four schools he has attended.

We now have a court appointed Parenting coordinator, our second, and hopefully mother will have to cooperate. I’m not holding my breath

Mother has runoff her aunt and now another of the four fathers as sage refuses accountability or cooperation.

I am here to help anyone that needs a hand to hold onto.

Blessings to all.

Jj in Arizona

Try http://www.fcande.com/david_weinstock__j_d___ph_d_.html as an AZ PC knowledgeable about personality disorders, including those included in the definition of sociopath on this site.

I completely DISAGREE because I personally worked with him for quite some time. Dr. David Weinstock had a full blown sociopath/psychopath in his office for over a year and continually did not recognize what he really was; he was very stereotypically fooled and actually sided with and encouraged the psychopath. I would strongly recommend anyone dealing with a sociopath/psychopath in family court in Arizona stay away from Dr. David Weinstock and Dr. Brian Yee if at all possible. They both were completely fooled by a 38 score on PCL-R psychopath, repeatedly. Could be good’ ol’ boys club mentality or pure incompetence, either way, they are both incompetent and sexists.

Did you work with Dr. Weinstock and have success with a diagnosed psychopath? I am shocked he was so easily fooled in my case!

I defer to your experience. He was involved with our case and was referred by multiple people familiar with divorcing parties with serious Cluster B personality disorders. His quals on paper also looked good.

However, in our case, we did not actually see him as just the possibility of going to see him (with his background) was enough to worry my now-ex (probably NPD and psychopath) into not wanting to go there, and do what needed to be done. That was not the norm with him as our divorce trial was a long, expensive nightmare, so I was impressed with what Dr Weinstock brought to bear by being on the case.

But Dr. Weinstock, to my knowleddge, did not actually meet with my ex, so I can’t say whether he would have recognized him for what he is.

Donbmyers, it is kind of you to offer support. I wish there was a group of us in my town, who could meet and offer support and tips. I am saying a prayer for you this evening, for your case. I just wanted to say (and you may already know all these tips) to document, document, document the heck out of your case. My exSpath made many fatal errors, and I won full custody with zero visitation. I had several advisors (who’d gone thru divorces) who insisted I do these things, and they helped a great deal:
-Document every single conversation with Ex (record all phone calls, and keep all emails and texts.
-Be very careful of everything you say or write, knowing that it very well may be read by a judge in court one day. Stay totally professional. Remove emotion from your emails, convos, etc.
-Always focus on the well-being of the children, esp. in your communications, which they will use against you, if you do not.
-Gather every piece of documentation you can, from schools, etc. when your Ex is harmful or negligent.
-Find someone to support you, who will give you good advice and listen when you need to vent. Preferably someone who has been thru a custody battle… I got so many great legal tips from my supporters. They saved me.
-Photograph anything you can. I nailed my Ex in court when they claimed he did NOT block the end of the driveway, when he came to my house and violated a Dom Viol Protection Order. Voila—I photographed his car blocking my driveway, with my phone.
-Check your state laws online. It’s easy to do. If it is legal to secretly record any conversation you are a party to, then do it. I keep a recorder in my purse at all times, and I record any conversation having to do with Ex. (It’s legal in TN and NC.)
…I stuck the recorder in my pocket very early on after we split, when he broke into my home, and I went to confront him. I caught his confession on the recorder. He denied it later, of course.
– Understand that most professionals I’ve dealt with (counselors, attys, etc.) have not had a great understanding of Personality Disorders. Read online/educate yourself, so you will understand your Ex. It will help you strategize. If you have to educate some of the people helping you, then do. Send them brief articles that help explain what you are dealing with.
-Be particularly diligent in documenting any assault, but also any verbal attacks, emotional abuse, etc. I successfully obtained a DVPO against Ex for verbal/emotionally abusive text msgs to our kids. His mention of suicide was a particular sticking point for this judge. If you talk to a teacher of your child’s, and it is legal, then record THOSE conversations. She may mention abuse she witnesses. Etc.
🙂

AMEN!!!!!! Elizabethbrooks, You hit it straight on the head!

Documentation saved me too! I recorded every conversation and typed it into a transcript which was then mailed certified/return receipt. He had to sign for every transcript and had 3 days to dispute the contents of the conversation which made it legal and admissible in court in the State of Texas.

By doing this it made it easier for me to separate myself from the emotion and concentrate on the business of managing our child. His words of denial and misdirection could not refute the content of any of those conversations in court.

It cannot be emphasized enough. Documentation is where most sociopaths fall. They rely on charm and misdirection like a magician in a magic show. Having their actual words bite them in court is priceless!

Shocklingly familiar. Thanks for posting this Wendy. I never realized how my nurture set me up for socios. Constant guilt if didn’t agree w/my mother who said/did almost everything on your list. I recall her telling me once that the way I carried a paper bag was wrong. It shouldn’t be wrinkled and messy. I was never “finished” looking, always something missing from my attire or my hair, nails, makeup, posture were wrong. I understand *why* she was so critical and guilt-provoking. Truly do. And I do forgive her but she ruined me. I was never able to feel truly OK about myself and still don’t after decades of therapy.
I was true fodder for socios and realize that the experience about which I have written in here many times which occurred in 2011 was not the only one I had with a socio. Looking back, there was more than one, but not as slick or come-hither as this pro. I am ashamed and I am angry that I gave this monster one second of my time or emotion. 3 years later and I am almost better, but I can feel where I am still stuck on him in some ways. It just makes me so angry. I turned him into an Imaginary Lover, and a place to go in my head when I felt lousy, worried, ashamed, guilty, weak, much like a kid who finds solace and happiness in books, imaginary friends or running off to a friend’s house where relationships are more positive and normal.
Thank you for this extremely well-written, completely logical and sensible piece. I shall keep this as a go-to.
Peace and happiness to you today and tomorrow.

Thank you Still Reeling… for saying you feel ashamed and angry that you gave him your time. I am two years out from our split, and those feelings are hitting me now. My Ex is such a mess that I feel dumb for being married to him for 24 years. Of course, he HID it incredibly, then snapped apart when I ended things… but I still am struggling with feeling like an idiot. How could I never have seen what he was? He was a sociopath who lived a secret life. I console myself that none of my family or friends ever saw thru him either…but…it just helped me to know someone else feels this. I think, when we think those thoughts, we must have a technique we use, of turning to another place in our thoughts… things we are proud of that we are doing Now.

Still reeling, I tend to fantasize about ex lovers or almost would-be lovers, too, especially those who chose to leave. I recently read an article about this that made a lot of sense. It talked about how holding on to people you can’t have is not good for your survival. He compared it to the situation in Thailand of the monkeys (which I’ve told several times on here) who get trapped by jars with sweet fruit in them. They refuse to let go of the fruit to get their hand out of the jar so they can run to their freedom, so the trappers come by and trap them where they’re stuck. It seems that it’s easier for some people to let go than others. I am one who holds on. I had a dream last night that I was with the last guy I dated briefly. He just faded out of my life in March, but I still think about him sometimes. In the dream he was my boyfriend, and I woke up longing for him. Ugh

In the article it said that letting go is a matter of survival. If we want to thrive, to be healthy, and to be open to an actual appropriate mate, we have no choice but to let go, even though it is counter-intuitive to our heart’s desire. We have to go against what our hearts tell us. Fortunately, the article didn’t leave me hanging. It mentioned how exactly to do this. You do it by just getting back out there and living your life. Eventually you begin to form real bonds and real relationships with real people and develop real intimacy. These real relationships will trump the imaginary ones. I don’t know about you, but I find I go back into fantasy when I feel bereft in my life – when there is some well of emptiness or loneliness. I’m learning how to fill those voids through just living life. In those moments where I have lost myself – listening to music or dancing with friends or laughing at a comedy show, or engrossed in my work or some creative project, the fantasies fall by the wayside. Recently, I bought a condo. I’ve been so busy packing and mentally remodeling the condo that I’ve had little time to sit around and fantasize about loves lost.

But believe me, I’m a die hard romantic. When I get lost in fantasy, it’s not just about one. There are several who are the “ones who got away” and I dream about all of them. It seems my psyche is running some program about how I must always be pining away for a long lost love. I even dream about past eras (like the old west) or even faraway places (like Egypt and India) that I’ve never been to. In all of those dreams I’m mourning a lost love who had died or somehow gotten separated. I have a cellular release session coming up in a week or two. I hope I can work on exactly this issue.

But for now, I guess it’s good for all of us to know that it’s not a good thing to keep obsessing about a relationship that didn’t work out. And also that it is a choice to change the station in our minds.

@Elizabeth, sorry you had to go through your personal tragedy for 25 years only to find out that he was water running through your hands. No substance, nothing human about him, only evil behaviors that an empath cannot possibly understand. I find it grossly unfair that these grotesque beings are missing parts that allow them to walk away feeling no remorse but the victims have to suffer and waste even a day feeling rotten.
I’m glad to hear you are turning the corner, Elizabeth. When you’re conned and conned and conned over and over and over, it stands to reason it will take time to get over it. If you were the kind of person who would laugh in his face from the getgo, after the first lie or weird behavior, you would never have been chosen by him.

You’re right, I believe our minds and bodies want to be at peace, want to return to a state of homeostasis or balance, so when we think of the reality of what occurred and begin condemning ourselves, we can go to a place in our minds that helps counteract those horrible feelings.

Wishing you complete recovery and days ahead that are bright, fun and peaceful and filled with “normalcy.”

@stargazer, what an interesting post. You sound great. Your creative dreams, I think, are an outlet for your subconscious (thx Dr Freud). Maybe some material there for a book!!!!

“I find I go back into fantasy when I feel bereft in my life ”“ when there is some well of emptiness or loneliness.” Yes, me too. I think we all do this when we are depressed or have too much time on our hands. All of the things you wrote about in your comment prove that being busy and productive counteract the blue misery that can develop when we have too much time to think about the past and are unable to divert it. You can’t be busy all the time but if you are keeping busy (condo, friends, dancing, all the wonderful things you’re doing) you can focus on these things instead of on something that only brings you misery!

You are doing all the right things. Keep on keeping on. There is nothing more attractive to others than a strong, confident, but caring individual. You are truly on the right path.

Still reeling….Yes, I’ve developed a sense of fun, happiness, and confidence over the years…….and yet STILL I’m single…..lol. I think all of my failures in the love department have taken a toll on me. I’m a little gun shy now, and also I’m almost 54. Even though I’m still quite attractive, youthful, and radiant, I feel like I have younger women to compete with. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the salsa (dance) scene, which is a big part of my life. It’s such a double-edged sword because on the one hand it keeps me young and vital. But on the other hand, it plunges me into a world where youth is valued over wisdom and experience. Although I think this is probably true everywhere in our culture.

Regarding the long-lost-love-themed dreams, I have not ruled out the possibility of these being past lifetimes I’m dreaming. Some of the details in the dreams I would not and should not have known. Many of these details have turned out to be historically accurate. When I find out, my hair prickles from the eeriness of it! And sometimes I return repeatedly to the same places when dreaming. I often travel to India in my dreams – a place where I’ve never been nor even had much desire to go in my waking life. Most of those dreams take place in a bustling town along the Ganges River. In one of the dreams, there was wild ginger growing in patches by the river. The wild ginger garden was supposedly the favorite place of the man I loved deeply who had recently died leaving two women – me and an unknown other – to grieve for him. It was unclear what relationship each of us had to the man, who looked very much like Gandhi. One of us could have been a wife and the other a sister. This was never revealed to me. Apparently, wild ginger really does grow by the Ganges – I asked someone I know who is from India. I have come to have a great reverence for dreams beyond what wisdom they hold for our healing and promise of psychological wholeness. I used to be a student of dream interpretation in graduate school and have always been fascinated by the mystical quality of many of them. I often try to remember them upon waking because the images and feelings transport me into another world, perhaps even a parallel universe where part of me travels, has traveled, or will travel at one time, or perhaps just astral travels? At one time, I even wrote a few stories, and even a novel, based on some of these dreams. I’m convinced that fiction writers like Stephen King take their plots from dream sequences. Either that or they have learned to dream while awake and blur the lines between waking and dream reality. I believe that in the spirit realm, time and space are just mental constructs and are much more fluid, and this is why we can travel to times and places we’ve never even imagined.

Interesting diversion but off topic, I know. But this is just an example of a long-lost-love dream, of which I’ve had many. One was in the old wild west. My love was shot off a horse with a bow and arrow. My grief consumed me and I woke up sobbing. I’ve had (dream) lovers drown, too. I’m not sure how the East Indian man died, but we all seemed a bit older so perhaps it was an age-related natural cause. In all of these dreams the grief is so overwhelming, I usually wake up with an unshakable sadness. Perhaps some day I’ll get some insight into what those dreams mean or why I have them.

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