Character’s First Commandment: It’s Not All About You

In the current series of articles, I’ve been previewing my upcoming book with Dr. Kathy Armistead, tentatively titled: The Ten Commandments of Character: How to Build a Significant Life (see also: Nurturing Good Character: The “10 Commandments”). The book provides an in-depth examination of certain principles first advanced in my book Character Disturbance and featured in several articles (see the series of articles beginning with: Building Character: The 10 Commandments of Socialization).  The “commandments” discussed in the book represent the essential life lessons that my experience has taught me must be taught, learned, embraced, mastered, and lived out for a person to forge a character of integrity.

While all the “commandments” are interrelated and work together to build character, there has to be a starting place.  And in my experience it all starts with the realization while we may begin our lives thinking otherwise, it’s definitely not all about us.  Here’s a (heavily edited) glimpse of what I have to say about this first commandment in our upcoming book:

The First Commandment: You Are Not the Center of the Universe – Be mindful of how you, your urges, your desires, and your behavior impact everyone and everything.

Freud was right about one thing: civilization is but a thin veneer over our baser instincts. You don’t have to scratch very deep to find the uncivilized aspects of human beings. No one is born civilized.  Becoming a functional member of society is a process, one that begins well before we are even born (for more on this see the article: Socialization is a Process). And when we are born, we enter into a world that already has organized structures: families and other groups, language, ways of measuring time and space, institutions, and laws, to name a few. Our enculturation begins while we are still in the womb. Babies can hear and distinguish the sound (pitch and tenor) of their parents’ voices before they are born, and that the pitch and tonality of a newborn’s cry mimics the mother’s language. So even before we arrive on the scene, we’re already about the process of being socialized into a certain view, sound, and feel of reality. And we soon learn what behaviors are expected of us and with whom they are expected or desired. And we learn the benefits of meeting those expectations, despite our own urges and desires. As we grow, we also learn what is right and what is wrong. We learn that we shouldn’t tell lies, but that “white lies” are ok – even necessary sometimes. We learn how to talk, but that we shouldn’t say some words out loud. In short, we learn the rules of good social behavior. And the rules we learn are specific to the culture in which we are emersed.

The culture in which we’re raised shapes not only how we think but also our perceptions. And while cultures are different, they are the same in this regard: they want their children to grow up to have sound character, as they define it. And while the specific expectations and dimensions of how that may look may differ, there are commonalities—all cultures want and need respectful and responsible people. Across cultures, there are 10 general axioms that must be observed if one is to become a person of integrity and character. And the first axiom is to embrace the notion that you are not the center of the universe but rather part of something more vast, complex, and wondrous than you can even imagine. You inhabit space with other persons, creatures, and worlds, galaxies, and perhaps even other universes. Despite your innate tendency to think so, it’s definitely not all about you, so be mindful of how you impact everyone and everything else that exists. Learn to conduct yourself with both caution and concern for the impact your presence has on the rest of creation—your cosmic “foot print.”

Psychologists of various theoretical alignments have known for some time that self-centeredness (egocentrism) is an inherent characteristic of human beings from birth. Children naturally see themselves as the center of things and even view others as psychological extensions of themselves until they learn otherwise. Teaching the important lessons necessary to overcome this natural, inherent narcissism and making sure the environment supports and reinforces those lessons is a significant challenge, especially in a culture where people who glorify themselves get mounds of attention and are even held up as heroes.

I remember an incident with my grandson when he was but a toddler.  He came up to me and gave me a big hug. Naturally, I melted. Within seconds, however, he also bit deeply into my arm. When he did, he just looked at me and smiled. Despite my initial shock and undoubted expression of pain, he had no real clue about the ramifications of what he had done. He knew and trusted in my love and care for him. And he meant me no harm. Nonetheless, he did bite me and it really hurt. He only meant to gratify an urge, and at the time he didn’t have a clue in the world why gratifying that urge in the way he did would not only injure others but also would be ultimately detrimental to his own social well-being. His “Papoo” (and others) would have to carefully and daily teach him that his grandfather is a person like he is and has feelings, concerns, and urges just like he does.  This is the beginning of empathy (for more on nurturing empathy, see the article: Empathy and Character Disturbance – Pt 2: Nurturing Empathy). He would also have to learn that his grandfather is not just an extension of him or an “object” to simply “use” as he pleases for his own gratification (this is the beginning of mutual positive regard). Teaching these things and in the proper manner can be as difficult and challenging as learning them (especially in the case of children with certain taxing temperaments) but it’s what developing a sound conscience (the end-goal of socialization) is all about.

Sadly, the character-arrested among us never learned this important lesson, or if they were in fact taught it, they didn’t embrace it. For a long time traditional psychology paradigms insisted early childhood trauma was always at the root of a person’s later life misbehavior. The notion was: we’d all naturally turn out healthy and well-adjusted were it not for bad things happening to us and stunting our emotional growth. But while trauma can indeed negatively impact an individual’s development, some folks fail to acquire good character, simply because for one reason or another, they failed learn and internalize the crucial lessons about how to live in a social world—that is with other people.  And learning to overcome our inherent egocentrism is rule number one.  But it’s a complicated process. And it’s an especially challenging one at that in a social milieu in which individual worth is championed so highly that children have a hard time entertaining the notion that it’s not ultimately all about them and that other people don’t exist merely as objects of gratification to be used or even abused and possibly even discarded when they’re not longer viewed as a potential source of personal pleasure (this is precisely the phenomenon that plays out so often in troubled relationships and which I discuss at length in my latest book How Did We End Up Here?).

I’ll have more to say about the “first commandment” of sound character development in next week’s post.

This Sunday evening’s (7 pm EDT) Character Matters program will be a live broadcast, so I can take your phone calls.

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90 thoughts on “Character’s First Commandment: It’s Not All About You

  1. I have the following manipulation tactic thrown at me all the time. “Why go there, to me that is way, way in the past and what help is it going to be to you? What difference does in make now?” Anybody else experience this? What do you do about it?

    1. This is a favorite tactic of the character-disturbed individual – it’s called ‘minimization’ (“Character Disturbance”, p. 183). Past behavior is in fact *very* important in the analysis of the character-disturbed character.

      But, as Dr. Simon would have said before, the character-disordered person generally has an aversion to the truth. What happened historically would be truth, so there is a general aversion to that.

      Don’t fall for this manipulation tactic – historical patterns of behaviour are important, and the CD gains mileage if he/she can successfully minimize this fact.

      1. Thanks. I figured it was a common tactic, I just couldn’t quit figure if it was one of the common ones or a special tactic on its own. I’m going through remembered conversations and labelling identified tactics.

      2. Some have asked for more background.

        Martha (not her real name) came home about 11:30. Utterly exhausted, she literally stumbled through the living room toward bed. Soon after, I turned off the TV and went to bed too. But when I cuddled next to her she said, “I can’t tonight, I’m really sore.”

        “Sore? What do you mean sore?”

        For the last few weeks she had been attending meetings with her friend Mrs.
        S. each Tuesday evening about 7 pm. She usually got home around 9:30.
        What was it about coming home late would make her sore?

        After a few moments, she proceeded to explain that she had not really been to a meeting, but that she had gone to a local bar and picked up a guy and they had had sex in a local motel for several hours and she was sore from so much sex.

        What?!

        Bar? She’d never ever been near a bar in her entire life!

        Pick up some a guy?

        I was too stunned to respond or get angry.

        She immediately slipped into a deep sleep. I lay there in shocked astonishment and disbelief. The idea that doing such a thing would even cross her mind was utterly ridiculous.

        Then I too fell into traumatized exhausted slumber.

        I woke early for work and by the time I got back home in the evening, it seemed so patently unreal and absurd to talk about. In fact we never talked about it. It was as if it never really happened. Our marriage was so dysfunctional that we didn’t really talk at all. She never apologized for what she did, she also never went out again on Tuesday’s. A few years later, after several more incidents of infidelity, we were divorced.

        Now, thirty years later, her parents have died and mine have one foot in the grave. We are next in line. And before either one of us dies, it seemed to me that, for the sake of the children and grand-children, it was about time to try to make amends: to apologize to each other and forgive each other. I’ve been remarried for 20 years while she was in the middle of her 3rd divorce when we finally talked on the phone. But things didn’t turn out quite the way either one of us expected. We talked about an hour and a half after which she decided that she never wanted to talk with me again. I have puzzled for several years about what happened and recently I’ve learned some intriguing facts that I want to share hoping that friends and family will learn whom she really is. I present excerpts of that call, which I have saved in mp3 format, below along with some relevant comments. At one point in the call, the incident I mentioned above came up.

        I said, “There was one thing that’s always puzzled me was when you said that you went to those meetings and then it turns out…”

        She interrupted, “I went what?”

        I said, “You told me that you were still going to some meetings when in fact you weren’t…”

        “I don’t know.”

        “For about 4 weeks on Tuesday nights you would go out about 7 and come back around 9:30. You said you’d gone to meetings at Mrs. S’s house. And …”

        “I just want to interrupt you to save your breath, because I don’t remember anything about it. I only know I’d gone through a tough time. And this is way too specific …”

        “Please let me finish…”

        “There is no need to go into specific details.”

        “Look, on the 4th night you left at seven and came home around midnight.
        And when I turned in…”

        “I’m not go into these details. I don’t remember. I don’t care.”

        “How can you not remember? You told me that you had been to a bar and were taking men out and that we couldn’t have sex because you were too sore. Now that’s what you told me.”

        “That’s too personal! I don’t have a clue, what I was talking about!”

        Incredulously I asked, “How can you not remember something like that?”

        Angrily she yelled, “That is so, DAMN IT, would you listen to me! I can’t believe you are talking to me about personal things about my body, that you have no right to bring up! We are not married!”

        “You…”

        “No! Wait a minute! This is totally! I’m…”

        “for 4 weeks…”

        “setting a boundary here! We are not going to talk about something like that!”

        “So, you going out and having sex for four weeks in a row with whomever, doesn’t mean anything?”

        “I’m not going there!

        You will note that through out the exchange so far, she denied everything.
        It never happened. This is a manipulation tactic used to feign innocence and to make me think that I was mistaken, even though she knew that I wasn’t. She just did not want to face the fact of what she did.

        She continued, “You made me feel like you didn’t want to have sex with me.
        … You didn’t want me. So I wanted to find out if other men liked me or not. But what did you expect if you didn’t want me? I just don’t understand? What did you expect? For me to just go on being a nobody?”

        She had just been denying it ever happened, but she suddenly makes an about face with another manipulation tactic called rationalization or justifying. She concedes it happened, but says that she had no choice.
        It’s what any reasonable person would have done under the circumstances.
        She really meant no harm, but what else can you expect. She knew full well that’d she’d done wrong so this is just a tactic.

        I said, “Going out and having sex is not love.”

        She said, “I don’t need you to tell me that. All the time, this is common, this happens too, I’m not the only one it’s happened to, where they feel unloved, Women are looking for love.”

        Now she uses more rationalization, everybody else does it!

        Next she said, “What does it matter now what happened?

        “What does it matter?” This manipulation tactic is called minimization.
        She is trying to make a mole hill out of a mountain. Her past behavior is says a lot about her character and so she is trying to trivialize the importance of her behavior. She has a built in aversion to truth, and what happened in the past is historical truth. She still isn’t taking responsibility for it.

        You didn’t love me! You didn’t want me!”

        I replied, “That’s not true. You thought I didn’t love you, I don’t know why you thought that but you did.”

        Now she’s moves on to another manipulation tactic – externalization – i.e., its all your fault! She even claimed that she was the victim of my wrong doing.

        “You don’t remember going out to the bars?”

        She admitted, “Well I know I did that!”

        She finally admits what she did, but only because she had to.

        She continued, “But why do you need to know one specific answer that I can’t even give you? Why does your mind need to know? What difference is it going to make now?”

        Now she’s back to the minimization tactic. She is trying to shut me up and make me feel that I’m the odd one to think what she did was wrong.

        I countered, “Well, it would be nice to have an apology for you going out and doing that. You know that that is not normal behavior.

        She apparently apologizes, “I’m sorry Allen, it was wrong of me, like I did, and I know that, and I’m sorry. I didn’t think you cared”

        “Well, I did care. But it is nice to hear you apologize. That is very nice. Something that I need.”

        “OK.”

        It sounds as if she apologized but it turns out it is just another manipulation tactic – false concessioning – which on the surface looks like she conceded some ground when in fact she was standing firm. She ends by repeating one of her previous tactics – It’s your fault.

        I later said, “When you told me what you did it was so far outside of anything I would have ever imagined that you would even think of doing!”

        Martha responded, “Well, me too, but I felt like I had to go elsewhere to find love. And it wasn’t the way that I wanted to find love. I really resented you for putting me in a position in feeling so unloved and so unwanted that I would just go for whatever I could find. And I hated that because that’s not me, that’s not who I wanted to be. So I was very angry about it.”

        Here again she is using the externalization manipulation tactic of blaming me for making her go out and do what she did. It wasn’t her fault. She is not to blame. Given her choleric temperament it is impossible for me and my melancholic temperament to ever make her do anything she didn’t want to do.

        “Anyway, I know and I’m sorry, sure I had a choice, but I feel like you made me.”

        Here again is a false concession because she tries to put the blame on me for her choices.

        I responded, “I was shocked that you would do such things, that you would even think such things. I don’t need all the details of what happened, but the fact is it was your choice. You can try to lay the blame on me if you want to, but really that was your choice. We all make choices.”

        “Yep, that’s right, and that was … it was my choice for what ever reason it was.”

        “I just wanted you to own up to that choice.”

        Again she uses false concessioning, for she tries to hide behind some unknown reason.

        I continued, “And it wasn’t just me. I think you’ve had your share in this whole thing too.”

        She countered, “I disagree! I disagree! So what was I supposed to do?
        It’s not my fault! I tried my best. So don’t say I was to blame too! OK?
        I was in it for the long haul. And I was trying my best to make it a happy home and a happy marriage. And the odds were against me, and all it takes is one person to make it not work.”

        I said, “I disagree with you on some of these things.”

        She continued. “You can disagree with me all you want but I’m standing my ground! It was not my fault! — not at all! You had choices too.”

        “Well that’s true.”

        She said, “You made decisions, and it wasn’t because I was a bad person.
        Because I was OK! But you made me feel like I wasn’t OK! You don’t have to take all the blame if you don’t want to, but I’m not going to take any of the blame because I know what I did! And I know I did my best, I know I wanted it to work out and I tried and tried and tried for years.”

        This is mix of manipulation tactics – externalization, justification, lying by omission, shaming – designed to make her look good and blame me for all of her problems.

        All of these manipulation tactics (and more) are used by sociopaths having a covert-aggressive personality disorder. Such people are like the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing: they can appear benign on the surface because they carefully cloak their aggression. Inwardly, however, they can be quite ruthless. Rather than openly assert power over you, covert-aggressors use subtle tactics that not only blind you (and everyone else) to their real nature and self-serving agendas but they also have the power to bring you to submission and control you. They are but a step down from outright psychopaths. Dealing with these folks is often like getting whiplash: you only fully realize what’s happened to you after most of the damage has been done. (see Dr. George K. Simon http://www.drgeorgesimon.com/aggression-and-covert-aggression/ )

        Covert-aggressors are character-deficient individuals who fail to “own” or exercise responsible control over their aggressive instincts and who exploite the conscientiousness of neurotic individuals to get the better of them. They are undisciplined fighters who cloak their aggression in behaviors that are offensive power tactics that simultaneously conceal their aggressive intentions, effectively inviting the other person to give ground or give way, and prevent the aggressor from internalizing the values and standards of conduct that would help make them a better person.
        Covertly aggressive people are among the most manipulative personalities.
        They use tactics to accomplish two things simultaneously: 1) conceal their aggressive intentions, and 2) invite you to fear, be doubtful, or optimally, to concede or give in.

        At the very moment the manipulator is excuse-making, blaming, denying, minimizing, feigning innocence, or guilting the other party, they are fundamentally fighting not only to get the other person to see things their way and cave-in to their demands but also fighting against the rules they know most people want them to observe about healthy social behavior – all while looking relatively good and maintaining a benign social image.

        The more skilled manipulators are capable of using just about any behavior imaginable to accomplish their aims. This is especially true when the manipulator has a “good read” on the character of their target of manipulation. When a covert aggressor knows his or her “opponent” such as a spouse inside out (i.e. knows their sensitivities, fears, insecurities, core beliefs, level of conscientiousness, etc.), a vast opportunity opens up for using that person’s traits (often, their most socially desirable traits) against them in a covert war for dominance.

        This describes Martha to a “T”. Since the above mentioned call, she has refused to talk to me again. This is because she does not want to face the fact of her infidelities and because she realizes that she can no longer control me. She still has her second the third husbands under her heavy thumb. Refusing to talk with me is the only way left to try to control me.

        Martha was taking an Assertiveness training class at the time she went into that bar. Assertiveness training can be used by an aggressive person to manipulate others while not appearing to be aggressive and self-centered.
        Manipulation is a covert form of aggression. A person is aggressive when they impose their will onto another person and force them to submit, in effect invading that person’s personal space and boundary. Martha used it to become more self-centered – to express selfish desires that she knew she should not do because of her religious training in ways that didn’t appear she was doing so. The Martha after the Assertiveness training class was much different than the Martha before the class. Previously I could only feel the difference, but was unable to explain the difference to myself or anybody else.

        She has made herself my enemy, lying to her siblings and others about me saying that couldn’t get out of the past because I had some kind of sick romantic fantasy about her. Let me be clear, I have no romantic interest in this egotistical sociopath. What started out as an attempt to make things right has ended up exposing her as the manipulative bitch she is.
        Don’t let her continue to lie you.

        1. Allen Roy
          I originally did not want to comment without more info. I had a “GUT” feeling there was??????????????????? behind your first post. I need time to reread your posts and will gladly respond, if need be give me a few days so keep checking back.

          Thank you for sharing, I know how difficult this must be you.
          Hugs and many blessings

        2. Wow. You’ve got her number. It’s much easier to handle a person such as your ex when you know those tactics. And it’s quite interesting to watch them go from one tactic to the next. I watched my STBX do this. It was like watching a movie. Almost comical – had I not been so angry.
          It is frustrating to try to bring closure and make peace and it ends up escalating and into being thrown right back into Crazy Land.
          These people will try to convince their people that you ( and others in your predicament) that we are the crazy, sick, degenerate ex spouse. Let “their” people think so. They aren’t necessary in our lives anyway.
          Sorry you didn’t get the outcome you’d have liked. I think it still best to walk away from these life suckers if you can. They are not worth our time and energy. And I truly believe that they won’t change, unless they have a life-altering event.
          Thanks for sharing. I know, our lives sometimes seem surreal. Well, you’ve got company here!

        3. Allen,

          Excellent details. Recorded conversation, and few written notes, and bit of insight into covert aggressive behaviour, is all that is required to figure a person out.

          Now, she knows that you know her true nature, she is out on smear campaign mission. 🙂

          I am wondering what was she doing attending Assertiveness training. I feel it just may be a cover for her affairs. Mrs. S was also thrown in the mix for additional credibility to a lie.

        4. Allen,

          Wow… you’ve gone pro! I noted the control in your responses, and I’m quite impressed that you have accurately analysed the conversation and your ex-wife. Very well done.

          Also, thanks for sharing this. I can relate – as most of us can, I’m sure.

          1. I have learned a lot about myself starting with temperaments. I’ve also learned Assertiveness training. And my second wife has truly been a blessing.

        5. Allen Roy,
          Never saw a post from the webmaster like that. Anyhow, I understand how you loved the first and how painful it is to be cheated on, I left my first H for that reason and had children.

          If I were dealing with the situation which I could be in the same scenario but I choose to withdraw. First people will know you and judge you by you words and actions. I have learned in life true mature adults don’t want to get caught up in the messy,crazy making, triangulation of someones divorce.

          If they are her relatives – really who cares what they think, family sides with family, many times no matter how CD they are regardless of their conduct and misdeeds.

          Hold your head high, acting to and speaking to with dignity and respect. Ignore the idiocy of the moronic it will only tear you down. In no shape of form let them get your goat, remember – Sticks and Stones – A simplistic tool that is very effective. If anything avoid anything to do with her, have the kids over and its your time and let her do the same. Believe me all of you needn’t have to get together and if perhaps a wedding avoid as much as possible and try to be the better person in making things work. “Let go and let God.”

          Try to put the past away, it will only eat at your heart and make your life unhealthy and unhappy. Live in the moment of today. There really is nothing to understand really, she is and was always about herself and you got caught up in it all, because you were guilty of truly loving.

          1. So. It’s OK to keep on enabling her? Its OK to allow her to keep on hurting people just so long as it’s not me? Who gives a shit about anybody else? I’m OK.

            NOT

          2. Allen Roy,

            I’m afraid you are going to dive right into a hornets nest by telling others what you know of your ex. They are going to side with her. I honestly don’t think you can save anyone from her. I understand you want to help others. If you do this you are taking on a huge undertaking that will probably re-harm you and keep you from living the good life away from her.
            I delicately try to warn my adult daughter about her dad and give her a few details, but she does not want to hear it. It hurts her to hear it. She does not want to harm what relationship she has with her dad. But I do give her warnings. And she hears it. As my friend says “forewarned is forearmed”.
            Who gives a shit about anybody else? We all do. We choose not to fight that battle though. We’ve fought enough – trying to get away and deal with it. There is a good life out here . . . ..

          3. I appreciate your concern and advice. I will seriously take into consideration as I ponder what to do, if anything. I will finish reading “In Sheep’s Clothing”.

    2. When I would mention my husband’s affair in the past he would say that was years ago. Why do you want to talk about that now? All the while the relationship was still going on.

        1. Like it’s your problem of not getting over it. If they were truly remorseful they would continuously reassure you that they are sorry and behave in ways to renew the trust. These CDNs never do that. It flips to where somehow it’s your problem.

      1. That is what is so maddening when dealing with these jerks It’s like living in Alice in Wonderland where nothing is what it seems.

    3. The UpWard Way,
      Excuse me for jumping in and yes you are right. I also would like to add the CD use this tactic to divert attention away from their behavior. All is done and over with if it was CD who was the one in the wrong. If you do something wrong the CD will never let go of it. Also, as time goes on the event becomes nothing if IT was them and a mountain if it was you.

      In essence everything is upside-down and all around when you deal with a CDN. You never know where you stand i.e.: “Walking on Eggshells” another good read.

      It really is a shame because over time it is like a cancer, their brain is diseased and rotting and we can do next to nothing. Take for instance Theresa K her husband was a Doctor and the fool lost everything. Lucy her husband a lawyer and lost everything. Mine lost everything and others in my family lost everything and they listened to NO ONE!!!!!!!

      Their minds become even more twisted and sick, thinking only of themselves and what they are entitled to and what they don’t have. You can scream from the rooftops and display them and their ludicrous behavior at the movie theater on wide screen for all to plainly see and the fools still don’t see the Great Wizard of Oz has NO CLOTHES. Its that obvious, ridiculous, pathetic and downright sad.

      What a waste of life and talent and for What? The What is for SELFISHNESS the ME ——- SELFIE society. The CD refuses to look inward until it becomes so intolerably painful the CD looks inside and screams for redemption relinquishing their false Pride.

      That being Jesus Christ and asking for forgiveness and the realization of the false pride that they are not all that and more and the missing link being:
      HUMILITY vs HUMILIATION

      I have told this story many times of a sister who lived from jumping off of an 80 ft bridge and is a paraplegic in a wheelchair. She spent a year in the hospital and the doctors say it is a miracle she lived. She was the epitome of selfishness until this happened and a work in progress over the years turning her life over to Christ.

      I know of several more stories I may share in the future, all I can say is that it took immense groveling in the gutters before they came up for air and acquiescenced sincerely submitting to God.

      The point, Allen is “They” have to want to accept responsibility for their conduct and we have to lovingly “Let Go and Let God. (Quote from from Alcoholics Anonymous) In essence the are addicted to themselves.

      1. I understand that they don’t see their problem and it may take an earth shaking event for them to wake up, if they ever do.

        1. Allen,
          If they ever do wakeup it will take an immense amount of time for this change to take place. It is by their fruit you will know them. It took them a lifetime of lies and deceit to get here, can you imagine the amount of work to change. It is an addiction to themselves a powerful drug for them to give up.

          Over time you will know what you will want to do. Take your time and learn, observe and in the meantime gain some of yourself and strength back. You will be amazed at what the knowledge will do for you in freeing you from the grips of tyranny.

          Blessings

      2. Well said BTOV. The truth is only important to the CDN when it serves his/her purpose, or advances their ‘positioning’.

        Neurotics must be very careful to stand up for (and on) the truth, and not fall for minimization. The CDN often uses bullying tactics as well, and this can confuse the neurotic individual when in conversation with a CDN. The neurotic has to learn to calmly ignore these tactics, and return to – and set engagement according to – the truth.

        Ultimately though, the CDN is set in his/her way of thinking until they encounter pain/humiliation (as you rightly state); there’s nothing we can do, honestly, except to model good character as the alternative. But in the meantime, do not be used as a doormat for the CDN.

        1. I can across a note a CDN wrote to me when I first knew them for about 2 years, and yes the CDN wasn’t so brazen and callus as they have become through the aging process.

          The note said please don’t treat me like a little child. I was working so hard and didn’t have patience for whatever was going on and my first response was to treat the CDN like a 6 year old.

          Hear the bell ringing, the key, they are emotionally stuck in the Peter Pan, Princess age. This CDN would call me Child, Child, Child, except in the psychoanalytic sense, subconsciously he was telling me he is a child.

          Think about what they say, let them rattle and rant and the more you listen the more you will understand and know who and where they are coming from. The CDN love to foam and run at the mouth, not engaging and listening will prove to be a valuable tool if you can stand outside of your personal feelings and listen. Past behavior is an indicator of present and future behavior.

          1. You think you’re so good.
            Think you’re so perfect in everything.
            You think you can control my mood.
            Please, you must be joking.

            I gave you all my heart.
            I believed in everything you would say.
            I trusted you from the start,
            and everything went your way.

            I guess I made my biggest mistake
            when I became loyal to you.
            You’re one of those friends who is fake
            in everything you say and do.

            I thought your kindness would last.
            But now, I feel so used.
            Because when I think of the past,
            I thought you’d never give my heart a bruise.

            Why did I ever rely on a word you said?
            What did I ever do to deserve this pain?
            I trusted you, but you hurt me instead,
            And I don’t know if I could believe you again.

          2. Hmm… yes; an amazing thing about the CDN is the childishness/childish tactics: bullying, lying, rant-and-raving, etc. This is saddening – and shocking when first encountered – especially when manifested by persons from whom you’d expect mature behaviour by virtue of their age.

            Dr. Simon’s advice in this regard is particularly useful: don’t spend time trying to analyse (i.e. make sense of) their words – know the tactics, and call them out in a benign way. If there is constant resistance to this, move on.

          3. TheUpwardWay,
            Not so easy to get up and leave, many times when dealing with abusive CDNSP you better be very careful. Think through your exit plan and be very careful. Many tells come in rants, rages, boastings and so forth.

            I have met many women who have nearly lost their lives, have broken bones and scares because they were not cautious. Never underestimate the hate and loss of control these individuals will fight for.

          4. Very important point there BTOV. When control is lost, the CDN goes ballistic.

            I’ve realised now that best way to avoid a CDN is at the start… this means that I when I meet someone new, I look for signals (positive or negative) from the get-go, and make decisions based on the signals.

    4. Allen,

      I think you are looking for any hint of apology from your wife. My suggestion will be to give up. You mentioned she had affairs. So, it is quite evident, that she had been irresponsible, and selfish. And, very likely she had been irresponsible enough not to apologies earlier, & instead blaming you for her affairs! She had weak character to not acknowledge her misdeeds. And, she rather cruised through a divorce, very likely extracting more than her fair share of assets, than acknowledge her mistakes.

      My suggestion will be to stop wasting your effort in extracting an apology for past bad behaviour. If she is currently not indulging in bad behavior involving kids & grandkids, you should be content with that.

      1. She is continuing her games with her current husband (3rd) and her 2nd is still in love with her. The kids don’t really understand. After years of putting up with her shit, I’m not going to take it any more. Perhaps I can help wake up others along the way.

        1. Allen,
          Forgive me I must had missed something, I thought you were discussing your wife. Could you clarify so I can follow and comment accordingly.

          \Thank you

        2. Allen,

          I think you can give a copy of book In Sheeps Clothing. 🙂 In case others are seeking some answers, they may find it there. If they do not see any problem and not seeking any answers, then it is fine too… you gave a gift, they had nice sleep after page 2, everyone is happy.

          You cannot help those, who are not seeking help. Warning people about things that they do not believe in, will at minimum make you look like a fool, and in worst case will earn you enemies. Your attempts may get perceived as attempt to take revenge on your ex-wife by seeking to break her 3rd marriage.

          1. Also, you most probably will be labeled crazy and delusional by her. I can’t count the times my stbx has called me that. And it’s so true about never receiving an apology. In a counseling session I confronted my CDN about an affair with his girlfriend (later to be found out prostitutes). And you know what he said? He said I should look at myself to figure out why my husband would turn to another woman. Not quite the apology …… That’s just one example of the slime we are dealing with.
            The part about not taking her shot anymore – as highly advised by others I take the No Comtact route as much as possible. Otherwise it would be a daily negative destructive battle of ongoing assault from the jerk.
            Allen, you will come out of this ok as we are.

          2. AndyD
            Now, really, give em a book, yeah, right! You must like books thrown at you.
            I am in stitches, I just had to say this, your great.
            Big Big Hug

        3. After years of putting up with her shit, I’m not going to take it any more.

          Please remember

          Never ever Make YOUR recovery, dependent on obtaining justice !!!!!!!!

          1. Allen

            Believe me, I understand the anger. Problem is they will never ever quit, no matter what we say to them they will just keep on dishing out the shit. I’ve had my say with stbx in emails and boy did I disturb he hornet nest! Any time I dish it back I get a barrage of insulting downright nasty replies. At this point I only occasionally will contact him via email out of necessity and no matter how careful and non combative I am with my words I get slammed with the hateful abusive replies. As you have probably gathered I do not believe these individuals will change. From my experience they worsen.

          2. Joey,
            Absolutely, agree. You can never gain back all the lost years.

            In this world there are two kinds of law; Mans law and Gods Law. Believe me in the end “They will reap what they Sow” that is Gods law. Also, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.

            Your poem was perfect, so well said and to the point. Keep em coming they are inspirational and a reminder of Who we are dealing with.

            Thank you and blessings

    5. “Past behavior is in fact *very* important in the analysis of the character-disturbed character.”

      “What happened historically would be truth, so there is a general aversion to that.”

      Let me be a monkey throwing wrenches here.

      *Can’t someone exploit some past mistakes by someone else e.g. in order to tarnish, slander, defame, embarrass, ridicule, humiliate, discredit or otherwise manipulate perceptions of that other person?

      *How can you tell someone has truly taken lessons and changed their ways, especially if they have done something unconscionable before?

      Your responses would help me improve my understanding. I’m thankful in advance.

      1. Timothy,
        So glad you are back and hope you had a relaxing holiday. I had a TBI and my recall is poor sometimes and I have what is called aphasia. So please be patient with me. I will try to answer your post but have a mountain to deal with now. I just spent to 2 days in bed I was so drained. If need be please redirect me.

        Timothy, I think you said you are in the UK like Joey? I think Joey said the word Drukard. Could you or Joey clarify. I love British TV! This will give me an idea of the time zones.

        Hugs and am happy we have you back.

      2. Your recall’s correct. My family line’s very mixed, though. I may not be the spitting image of a Brit, but what do I know? I dare say no more just in case someone would happen to be reading these comments, who I don’t want to identify me.

        Brain injury is terrible. When did that happen? If you want to disclose, of course.

      3. Hello Timothy,

        If a person has truly changed his/her ways, the evidence will be abundant… it’s not something that you’d have to guess about. For example, a person who has genuinely changed from being self-centered/narcissistic will demonstrate their empathy in daily situations, speak less of themselves, et cetera.

        The most important things to look for are (1) the individual’s willingness to put in the *work* needed to amend the dysfunctions in their character, and (2) the willingness to restore the past damage effected by his/her actions. It will be *much more* than lip service.

        And yes, CDNs always use past mistakes by others in their strategy to control others.

      4. Timothy,
        UpwardWay gave you some good advise. Usually, in a CDN there is a lack of please, thank you, or a genuine I am sorry. This will be abundant in a caring individual. You will always be treated with “dignity and respect.”

        A person who has changed and I will use Jesus words “you will know them by their fruit.” In other words they will produce goodness, and if a mistake is made you will see genuine regret. They will show a concern not only for their well being but for yours too.

        You will not feel you are in a web of confusion anymore, your stomach can relax. Individuals do not throw the past in ones face. It is forgiven and forgotten. Healthy individuals do not play the blame game, they take responsibility for their actions.

        All said and done about others, we should be a continual work in progress and in this we grow and are able to discern unhealthy interactions in a relationship immediately.

        For someone that has done something unrcontionable, is a tuff one because one needs to earn our trust. This again is done by their actions and humility in asking in all sincerity for forgiveness and making amends. In time you will know if they are sincere, doesn’t mean they are a whipping boy though.

        Ultimately, it will be up to you if you forgive, which in turn releases you from emotional hurt and bondage. It also, is in you power to continue or end the relationship. Time generally is the final decider of fact.

        Hugs and hope this helps.

  2. Has anybody else found that once you got the courage and knowledge and skills to confront the CD that it became easy? I learned from my therapist at marriage counseling (about five weeks worth) how to confront and not back down, how to not let them use their tactics as a way for you to retreat. The jerk I married, when confronted towards the end, saw that I would not back down and retreat, so what did he do? He ran away like a little girl. Got in the car and fled. I stand so tall now.

    1. I’ve realised (over time) that CDNs are cowards at the core; it’s just that they’re much more proactive in terms of sizing up their battles, identifying weaknesses, determining strengths, et cetera. When a CDN meets persons that they cannot manipulate (or who can manipulate them), they avoid them.

      1. TheUpwardWay,

        I think it is mistake to assume “cowards at the core”.

        In my opinion, CD avoid a hardened target, because of following reason:
        – hardened target can expose them for what they are, & potential new soft targets can either see the real nasty person or become hard target themselves.
        – which hunter wants to target few rabbits that are wearing armour, when there are plenty of soft juicy rabbits in the world.
        – CD may not be afraid of their target, but they know there is a limit before law and other bigger things come into picture. Things that cannot be manipulated easily.

        And, there will still be few hardcore individual who will not mind any of above, just to end up as winner of the day no matter what is the long term cost of that victory.

        1. My CDN STBX is a coward. He hides the truth of what he has done because he does not want to pay the consequences. He is a bully and a coward at the same time. He is a coward because he Will not own up to what he has done. He is weak at the core. He is such the coward that he tried to incriminate a person close to him of his criminal acts. I think if he were jailed he’d hang himself. He’s a coward.

          1. Hi Andy,

            CDNs aren’t cowards in the same way that neurotics may be cowards; I can understand why the phrase “cowards at the core” can seem like a misleading statement.

            I meant something close to what Lucy is mentioning here… CDNs are cowards because instead of trying to face life through hard work, they determine to use/control others to do the dirty work, and get the benefits for themselves. This is selfish, and cowardly. And when they’ve finally been discovered (with no more excuses to buffer them), they will turn tail.

            This is quite different from cowardice in a neurotic, but it is still cowardly behavior.

        2. Andy,
          I agree with your logic totally. Behave their are ones that will plot against you and it is a game in their minds to destroy. Never underestimate.

          Yes, their are cowardly CD and beware their are the ones that can devour and are extremely deadly, they never for get a slight.

          I agree that one must never show fear but not in an engaging manner, step aside and size up the CD that has you in their sights. Their are the CD that we train to be even more devious.

          Each encounter is different and good judgement and discernment must be used. What works for one may not work for another.

      1. Today I’m not able to confront him with issues because I’m sure he’d use the legal system against me – as in call the police and have me arrested, file an Order of Protection, harassment, criminal charges, anything he could use to punish me. But while we were still married I noticed what a true coward he really is.

        1. Lucy,
          As time passes he will get desperate, don’t take any chances and be very careful the CDN love to turn the tables on one.

          Hugs

          1. So true. He’s using my daughter and grandson as a weapon against me now. He is desperate. And I’ve told her same. He puts her in an awful position. – being that she needs him financially. He is so predictable at this point. It’s living in opposites. Whatever the right thing is he will do the opposite

  3. I’m new to the site but certainly not new to Dr Simon’s books and concepts. The concepts have helped me immensely in unraveling the confusing mass of chaos that I’ve been living with for so long.

    I have to admit that perhaps I’ve not made as much progress as I’ve thought because I found that I was confused about who the Covert Aggressive was in reference to the dialog from Allen Roy with his ex spouse and who was actually doing the manipulation.

    I know I would be thrilled to have a conversation with my spouse that truth came out that quickly. I admit she obviously has some issues but in my experience its ‘keep to the lie til you die.’ The tone and identification of manipulative tactics struck me as aggressive at worst and minimizing at best. Allen Roy struck me as an experienced fighter who had his ex wife down on the mat.

    I’ve certainly struggled with how to cope with the CA in my life. I think I’m learning that constantly fighting back will only degrade my character turning me into a version of him. I’m working on finding the right tone to hold myself steady and centered while choosing the battles I need to fight and holding myself to a truth and higher standard within the fight.

    Thank you, Dr Simon, for bringing your experience of character, aggression, and knowledge to me.

    1. Thanks for your insight, Charlie.

      Developing the ability to confront these persons in a benign way comes with years of experience. I’d also add that it’s important to become grounded in these concepts, by understanding more and more about character disturbance, and more and more about ourselves and our weaknesses.

      Change in our relationships with character-disturbed persons begins with change in ourselves: overcoming our fears, increasing our solidity, and enduring the tough situations. We must determine to live a life that echoes sound character.

    2. Even if someone does admit things up front, they can still use many tactics.

      Also, any behavior can be used manipulatively. Trying to look at this objectively, yes, manipulators can “interpret” or actually interpret others’ behavior with the kinds of motivations and intentions they themselves actually operate from. Add to the mix this: Since some people are very good actors, it can be hard to tell from outside who the real victim or aggressor is.

      People come here all the time trying to make sense of things they have only just gotten clue of how to articulate and I think that’s the case with Allen Roy, too.

      Would you explain the matter a bit more, Charlie?

      1. Timothy,
        One has to be very careful, I gave an ultimatum once and the CDN was good for 6 months, real good, no mess-ups. Then Mr. Hyde was back, talk about pull the wool over ones eyes. It took a long time for them to become who they are and the change does not happen overnight, weeks, months and perhaps years. Be ever so careful.

        A good indicator of change is if they are seeing a therapist like Dr. Simon, who these individuals can’t fool. Believe me they are hard to find.

    3. Charlie,

      The constant fight can change you into a person you don’t want to be. It’s exhausting and never-ending. I wasted way too many years of my life fighting a battle I did not even understand, at all. Clueless.
      I wish you the best and hope to hear more from you.

    4. Charlie,
      Well said………….several CDN I know use those exact words and are their mantra’s and proud of it. All I can say what a web of twisted lies they live in. Can you imagine the tangled mess inside of their heads.

      The question is how do we put the Humpty Dumpty’s together again?
      I think only God can!

      1. BTOV, forgot to ask: What mantra? Keep to the lie til you die?

        Don’t some people simply admit a fact, but keep throwing blame everywhere else? It’s not like lying is the only tactic in the book.

        1. Timothy,
          Keep to the lie till you die: Is about and means Protect yourself and keep the mask on till you die!

          Some CDN will admit a fact, and use blame to minimize to defer from their conduct, now the onus is on you. There are so many underhanded,
          and deceitful tactics in their dirty little bag of tricks, the answer is not to take the bait anymore.

          I hope this helps!

    5. For all we know, Allen Roy’s ex-wife could in fact be exploiting and manipulating men skillfully and his way of expressing himself may simply come from the fact that he’s only just discovered the proper terminology to explain his ex-wife’s escapades. I don’t buy him being the bad guy simply because she’d admit an actual fact(besides using other manipulative tactics) and may not be the exact or pure type of manipulator like some of them are.

      Of course, experiences are different and it’s not obvious how much effect they can have on our perceptions. Charlie, I’m open to hearing more from you, especially on this matter, and I’d appreciate it quite a lot.

    6. Yes, BTOV.

      I’m just not so sure ’bout why Charlie seems to think Allen Roy is the aggressor. Perhaps it’s my gut-level instinct that isn’t as up to par, so I’ve asked Charlie to help me improve my understanding.

      So far Charlie hasn’t responded.

      1. Timothy,
        I have been trying to get a lot done, so popping in an out. Wrote a long post yesterday and it did not go through. I need to go back and read, from the beginning I asked more info from Allen Roy and look what came out which proved very insightful. Something, just something, is not quite ??????? so just haven’t the time now, will try to get back though.

      2. I think there is some misinterpretation in Charlie’s post. Experienced fighter and down on the mat I took to mean that he had been dealing with the ex for a long time and had quite the experience to where when he did confront her he knew all her tactics and was able to keep up the conversation and not let her escape with a tactic. He wanted answers and he was pinning her down to get them. I did the same thing with my ex. I never got the answer though. He stormed out of the house in a (fake) huff. (They use false anger as another tactic). Never ends!

        1. Lucy,
          At least you know his number, but there maybe some bobby traps, so keep all senses tuned but at the same time relax and enjoy life. Your daughter may learn some hard lessons in all this and help develop her her into a better person. Stay at a distance he will use whomever, to get back at you, you need to get the D behind you first before you can perhaps help with your daughters character issues and problems. She is an adult and many times the hardships we endure make us a far better person had we not gone through the storm.

          1. BTOV
            He always looks for something to file some trivial motion on. I don’t even talk or text much with my daughter now because it gets back to him and he uses whatever he can get. My family is a giant bobby trap. Ridiculous it all came to be this way. They don’t deserve me … Tired of being used and abused.

    7. Would it have been more clear if I had better labeled who said what. Basically Martha said every other line and I said every other line. I would certainly like to know where I appear to manipulate Martha.

      1. Allen,
        I don’t think there was any manipulation on your part. I agree with one of the post earlier that you are experienced fighter in the sense that you managed to counter all her tactics and stay on the point.
        I also think that best you managed to get is a false concessioning. Both of you referred to “it” and that can take different meaning for both of you in a single conversation:
        it for Allen: Martha’s having affair
        it for Martha: Martha’s drinking at bar. How she slipped once, doing wrong thing (i.e. drinking at bar), because Allen did not care, she did not have choice, blah blah.

        This is probably best you can get as closure. Focus on your own life, away from her as much as possible. 🙂

        1. What does not come across in writing is the fear and trembling in my voice as we talked. And she took advantage of my insecurity and pressed her tactics. But I was practicing being assertive and not backing down. I don’t consider myself an accomplished fighter. I just stuck to my position. She didn’t know how to deal with me, not kowtowing to her demands. At the time of the talk I knew nothing about CAs. It is only looking back now, 4 years later, reading the transcript of the call, that I recognize that she was using manipulation tactics.

          I just got “In sheep’s clothing” and am reading it. So I expect to learn much more.

          I’m pretty sure that we both had the same ‘it’ in mind. She had never been near or in a bar beforehand, and we were both teetotalers. And when she came home after the encounters, she did not smell of alcohol or any drink meant to cover up the alcohol, so I don’t believe drinking was on her agenda. But, I suppose anything is possible.

          This all started as an effort to get closure and it is a work in progress

          1. Allen Roy,
            It was hard to understand who you were talking about at first. I am going to be straightforward in my thoughts. You have been divorced from this woman for 30 years and happily married for 20 years.

            Why on earth would you want to bring up what happened 30 years ago. If she is still dysfunctional and you said is going on 3rd divorce it is clear she is still the same person. You are married to another woman for twenty years, and you think your x-wife of 30 years wants to talk about her infidelity. Why does it matter what she did 30 years ago, she did what she did because that is who she is – a selfish uncaring person always has been and always will be.

            First, you say you want to get along for the sake of the children and grandchildren to make amends and forgive.. Then you say you want family and friends to know who she really is. If she is as bad as the picture you painted, they know.

            Truly, after 30 years its a low blow to bring up the past to inform others, it doesn’t present you in a good light either. It would seem to me that a grown man harping on the past that happened 30 years ago has some issues.

            Your divorced, feel blessed that you have a wonderful wife of 20 years.
            IT can’t be very pleasant for your wife to have to hear about a wife thats been physically out of the picture for 30 years.

            You need to forgive and find closure, it sounds to me your still married to her. I would highly recommend finding a good therapist to help you to let go. This is what I gleaned from your post. It is extremely inconsistent and your obsession on some events that transpired are over 30 years ago.

            Really, you need someone that can help you to find closure instead of obsessing why things happened? You need to let go and find peace and forget about your X.

          2. BTOV:

            Thank you for your forthrightness.

            I disagree with your assessment that family and friends know about her condition. If she was so successful at manipulating me, she is certainly capable of keeping them in the dark about herself also. The fact that they have just recently refused to communicate with me implies to me that they believe her manipulative lies in response to my attempt to be the adult and offer apologies and forgiveness.

            It is because of the much better life I now have that I am able to write about what happened so that anyone who might be taken in by her covert-aggressive tactics can become aware of the real situation. It’s true that I can do nothing about her condition, but I can warn others who still have to deal with her.

          3. I’m also disagreeing with the perspectives that Allen Roy was either aggressive or wrong to broach the issues with his ex-wife.

            Whether 30 years have passed or one hundred, the pain and suffering inflicted by the CDN does not vanish into thin air. Not only that… as we well know, CDNs continue to tarnish the reputations of their victims, and propagate their lies along the way. When you meet them 30 years later, you have a mountain of lies (which innocent persons accept as truth) to contend with.

            If you are lucky to have no familial ties (i.e. children) with the CDN, then there is really no need for closure if the CDN is not open to it. But more often than not, children are involved, and it’s tough to have absolutely no contact. For the sake of family, some communication must exist.

            But as long as there is to be reconciliation, what has happened in the past must be dealt with – if for the single reason that it will be a proper index to the CDN’s remorse and willingness to work on his/her character, and on truly repairing the relationship (to being a civil one).

            Confront character issues – don’t wish them away.

          4. Allen,
            “What does not come across in writing is the fear and trembling in my voice as we talked.”
            Haha, I know that feeling. I get that feeling even on emails. You managed to stay on point during conversation! Excellent work! You taught yourself how to deal with nasty shape shifting buggers.

      2. Strengthens my suspicion that Charlie’s comment was a sly statement spiced by other statements to make himself look good. 🙂

        1. Hi, All,

          No the comment wasn’t meant to be sly and my apologies for such a delayed response. I lost the thread when I didn’t realize I needed to refresh the page.

          I am a fan of perspectives, not only my own but others, I find them all fascinating even when they’re in disagreement with my own. How does one learn new things if everyone is in agreement on everything? I also know that a single perspective can be quite skewed and add a little cognative distortion, of which we are all guilty, particularly in such painful and emotional situations.

          It was difficult for me to ascertain whether Allen Roth’s ex wife was showing poor function in handling a painful, shameful action(s) and the hurt she caused or if she was truly and aggressively manipulating. The interaction could have been either. Allen Roth definitely wanted some response and struck me as aggressive in attempting to get what he needed. It is neither good nor bad necessarily, we all fight at times. I believe Dr Simon stated its part of human nature.

          I can only speak for myself when I say I’ve noticed that I’ve the desire to simplify character assessment by dumping everyone into the category of aggressive or non aggressive which I believe for me is a distortive and dangerous use of Dr Simon’s information. I believe the cognative distortion may be splitting. Functional, healthy people can be both aggressive and non aggressive and struggle with their mistakes but it doesn’t necessarily make them overtly, covertly or passive aggressive.

          I also try to remember that aggressively fighting will cause even the least aggressive person to fight and defend. It’s nature and difficult to control when coupled with anger, hurt or fear. And it’s difficult to see through anger, hurt and fear to how our actions create reactions which leads back to perspective.

          I hope I helped clarify my comment from earlier.

          1. As I understand it there are three responses we can take toward someone, being passive, being aggressive, and being assertive. Being passive means that you submit to whatever someone does to you. Being aggressive means forcing your will onto someone else, and being assertive means to actively expressing your position and/or defending yourself from someone who is forcing their will on you while still respecting their rights. I believe that in the exchange with Martha I was being assertive rather than aggressive.

          2. Allen Roy, I stand corrected and thank you for helping me to see your perspective. I think you were being assertive and not aggressive in your conversation with her. My confusion in whether you were aggressive vs assertive came from the explanations inserted within the dialogue which sounded quite angry and aggressive, understandingly so. I failed to understand they were not part of the conversation and merely your translation of tactics after the fact. Rereading your post focusing only on the quoted conversation clarified the exchange for me. My sincere apologies for my misunderstanding.

            I think you should be very proud of what you accomplished in assertive training for not only your conversation with Martha but also with the discussion throughout the posts. I certainly know how awful it feels to be misunderstood when you think you are being very clear.

  4. Funny, it really is true, my ex would refuse to say Thank you, Sorry or Please and would not answer why he would not do that. In fact, when I asked him to say please when he requested that I get his passport for him (we were working on his green card request) he just up and threw me against the wall. Literally! I was shocked and at the time I could not understand it at all. All I asked him to do was to say the magic words and his temper was frightful. He never apologized.

    And I will finally put here something that I just could not deal with until now….

    When we were first married I was having reproductive problems and my gyn told my husband (who was a doctor) that he should wear a condom while having sex since I was unprotected and there was a strong chance that any pregnancy would be an ectopic pregnancy (where the pregnancy does not enter the cervix by plants in the tube creating a very dangerous situation where if it exploded I would most likely bleed to death very quickly…too quickly for any help to arrive.

    My gyn doc did not tell me that he had told my husband this (the doctor) until after the exploratory surgery to find how damaged my system really was. Sad to say, I found out then I would not have children.

    So my gyn thought it would be kind to not tell me about using a condom because of the very good possibility I could die if I became pregnant. He trusted my husband to do the right thing but he did not.

    When I confronted him (my husband) all he would say is….I should have married a doctor, she would have understood.

    So my husband refused to wear a condom while having sex with me with the knowledge that if I became pregnant there was a very good chance I could die from an ectopic pregnancy.

    It has taken me two marriages to him and almost 20 years for me to finally admit that what happened really did happen. I always knew, it is not like I totally blanked it out but it was such a horrible thought that I made many many excuses for his decision. I just could not believe anyone that I loved so dearly could be so very destructive. But after two marriages to him and twenty years I can now admit and say, yes, he really did not love me, he only used me and his decision to not wear a condom was an act of the worst aggression. Good lord! I could have died.

    It shocks me to even say it…but I am glad that I finally had a place to tell my story. And that place is here. I feel like I have a great load off my shoulders. I now know there is no going back now. No Contact.

    I always had that little bit of doubt that I did the right thing to leave him as I did because he acted like I had shot him or something when I told him I would be filing for divorce. Not any more. I finally am looking at his behavior in the face and it is a very ugly face. Funny again, that happened 20 years ago and only now can I face the horror of it.

    Thank you.

    Theresa Maria (TeresaK)

    1. Theresa Marie,
      Oh what a beautiful name. Hugs and many blessings. Thank you, so very much and I consider it a privilege that you have shared with us. Your thoughtfulness and unselfishness may help another who comes here to find answers and reads your post.

      How are all those furry creatures, mine is a bundle of joy and at the same time drives me nuts. He is a rescue, 11 months at the time from DT Chicago, he is 20 months now. He is a Standard German Spitz, a red and white sable in color and 23 pounds. He is a lot of company and at the same time a pest. I named him “Buddy Bill.” Thinking of another rescue but will see.

      Always glad when you pop in.
      Take very good care kindred spirit and sister.
      Blessings

    2. I just could not believe anyone that I loved so dearly could be so very destructive.

      I beleive this is called
      COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

      It is something that cost me thirty years of my life. I new from the word go that the HURT AND HUMILIATION the grandmother subjected me to was intentional. I new it. They made me codependant AND I WAS. BUT! NOT ANYMORE
      Judge actions not intentions

      1. Joey zanne,

        Good thing we learn and grow and get the f*** out of the mess, isn’t it?
        You’re right, actions are what matter. Words, intentions, promises, are to me meaningless.

      2. Joey,
        Take the good from what you experienced and keep helping others, you are so full of love and genuine humanity. You are who you are because of what you endured and are a gift of life and there is only one you.

        You may have been born in a sewer of despair but what God produced was the wonderful and loving you. A kindred Spirit who brings love and joy to this blog. I may not know your face or voice but your gifts that you have shared here are enduring. You are a blessing and a gift and all that you went through brought you here to this time and place.

        I will never forget all your inspiring and loving posts.

        Hugs and many Blessings

    3. TheresaK

      Wow. I can totally understand why you could not believe the husband would do an act, especially an act of intimacy, knowing what the possible consequences could be. It’s scary and sad and also infuriating. Scary because you’d been fooled and harmed by this devil. Sad because you gave the time and energy and love to one not deserving of it. And then what do you do with the anger once the shock and hurt is gone? That’s what I’ve been dealing with – the anger.
      So I’ll share a bit of my story. STBX CDN had been using prostitutes – unbeknownst to me – and had been close to being impotent for years so we hadn’t had sex, I thought he’d just given it up so I did also. Well, come to find out he paid to get serviced. During a short term of finding out of his infidelity (thinking girlfriend, not prostitute) we “tried” to have sex, unprotected. So here I was unprotected when his nasty self had been out there exposed to STDs. So I went through a year of testing and retesting and retesting until enough time passed to know I was not infected with HIV, Hepatitis and others. Yes, he did give me an STD but at least that one was treatable. It’s just another example of how self centered and uncaring these spouses can be, exposing your health to danger.
      You are correct, that face is an ugly face. So ugly. Disgusting. Inhumane. To actually put your life at stake . . . . . low. Can’t get lower.
      I’m hope you feel some relief for sharing. Many times I wish I had a “free” opportunity to face the CDN and do to him some awful things without having to face the consequences. It’s maddening.
      I’m so sorry all this happened to you. You will heal, as will I.

  5. You know, I held that information about the condoms all these years. This is the first time I actually told ANYONE!. It is just to awful and quite frankly, unless you have had a similar experience with these people, as have you all…most just don’t want to believe and would rather paint me with a black stick than believe that a doctor could be so very calculating and cruel. Think about what you must feel, if this is believed, when you go to your doctor for some ailment…especially if that ailment is a cancer diagnosis. The ex is a cancer doctor. It just creeps me out. Like is he capable of pulling the cord on someone in his care if he decided that person was a threat to him…whether they really were or not!

    I must just let it go now. Or I will start thinking all kind of creepy things he may be capable of. Thank you God that I was given the strength to leave that marriage and fight for a good settlement that will see me into my old age.

    Theresa Maria

    BTOV….God’s four legged creatures are God’s gift. Without them I really do not think I would have come out of this as well as I have (and it has taken almost three years to begin to heal and face the ugliness). But my animals were with me the whole way, licking my face, snuggling with me at night and most of all, their responsibility made me get out of bed, walk the dog, feed them, clean up after them and on and on. It kept me going and to see them healthy, happy and thriving. That is a wonderous blessing.

    1. Just to say. In Britain we had one of the most prolific serial killers. Harold Shipman. Why was he so successful. He was a DOCTOR ???????????????????

  6. Just a recount of one of mine and STBX marriage counseling sessions. I was trying to answers of why he did the misdeed. He would not answer. I kept at him and at him and he would not give an answer. The counselor just watched me try to get my answer. She’d say “I don’t think you’re going to get your answer.” At one point STBX got up and declared that he was leaving. With that I quickly moved my chair in front of the door and said “Oh no you’re not.” (Apparently I was determined and ticked off . . . .) So I said, fine, no answer. I won’t get my answer. So he sat back down.
    At the end of the session the counselor, in front of him, said “What I want from you is to not back down from him.” She saw all of the tactics that he would use to avoid EVER answering a question. So I said “I can do that.” And boy did I . . .. And once I knew anger was a manipulation tactic it became easier. I never did get my answers, but I no longer backed down from him. He is not the physical type of abuser, only verbal and through court filings. (“only” is a poor word choice)
    These confrontations never did get me my answers. Even in court he doesn’t answer straight. The only answers I got were ones I found out on my own, through investigative work and research.
    What a distorted, skewed fight I went through. These confrontations are not for the weak, I’ll tell you that. You have to have much inner strength, and determination, as Allen Roy said. He was not going to back down. And neither did I, but see, we did not get answers from these people. They will not let the guard down.

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