Some Different Views on Gaslighting and Gaslighters

I was recently interviewed by Carrie Borzillo for an article appearing in the current edition of Dame magazine about “Gaslighting.”  It’s a really good article, written by someone who’s “been there” so to speak, so I thought I’d share the link to: My Husband Convinced Me I Was Insane!       

Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman in a scene from “Gaslight.”

In the article, some differing views are offered by different experts about just what “gaslighting” is, who does it, what makes a person want to engage in this kind of covert-aggression/manipulation, etc (The term comes from the stage play “Gaslight” and movie by the same name in which a husband who wants to get rid of his wife tries to make her think she’s going insane).  As you might expect, there’s one expert who offers the fairly conventional notion that gaslighters are “generally people who were narcissistically wounded early in life—through emotional abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, inconsistent parenting and the like” whereas I assert that most gaslighters are not necessarily wounded souls but simply aggressive narcissistic personalities – disturbed and disordered characters “who are out to dominate, manipulate, and control; and will use any means necessary, including gaslighting (trying to make you feel crazy when they think you’re onto them and their schemes and lies) to further their ends.”  It’s a particularly popular tactic among serial cheaters. And I make the point I do because so often victims end up unnecessarily prolonging their abuse because they buy into the notion that their abuser must be coming from a wounded place and that only patient love and tolerance (and lots of misguided therapy) will help them heal.

I hope you enjoy reading the Dame article.  And I hope you share both the magazine article and this post with friends and acquaintances you think might benefit from them.  You can find more on the manipulation tactic of gaslighting in my articles: Another Look at Manipulation Tactics, Manipulation Tactics: A Closer Look – Part 2, Gaslighting as a Manipulation Tactic: What It Is, Who Does It, and Why, and Gaslighting Revisited: A Closer Look at This Manipulation Tactic).  You can also find an expanded discussion on the topic in the latest reprint of my book In Sheep’s ClothingAnd, as the article in Dame mentions, you can find a different perspective on what really makes certain characters do the hurtful things they do in Character Disturbance.

I’d also like to announce a planned “webinar” on understanding and dealing with (and seeking appropriate therapy for) manipulative and other character-disturbed people tentatively set for September 24, 2015 with discounts available to subscribers to this blog.  It’s important to get a fair idea of the likely size of the internet audience, so anyone reading this who thinks they might want to go online for the seminar should contact me through the “Contact Dr. Simon” feature and indicate their interest.  Further details will be posted about the program, teaching objectives, and registration in the coming weeks.

Character Matters will again be a live broadcast this Sunday, so calls can be taken.


140 thoughts on “Some Different Views on Gaslighting and Gaslighters

  1. Oh wow, I can relate to so much in this article. The crazy making phone calls…I used to get them, “the I love you, I’ll be home right after work” etc… only to be left waiting and wondering. It was a game he loved playing…then when questioned the same…”you’re too sensitive, you’re being paranoid etc”… He deliberately did and said things that were designed to make me crazy. It’s like you’re being played at every turn. Even when I first read about gaslighting after I left, I would still doubt that happened to me, it was one of my counsellors who kept saying… “that’s gaslighting.” when I’d tell her aspects of my story.
    It wasn’t only my ex either, I now know that my mother uses gaslighting often. Recently I thought she might have changed only to find that indeed she hasn’t though this time it wasn’t used against me. It’s an insidious tactic, that gives the manipulator fuel to call you crazy and unstable. Which works so nicely for them later on when the relationship is over especially with legal aspects.

    1. Tori, wow the calling to say when he’ll be home and then not showing up (sometimes for hours) … are you sure we weren’t married to the same guy. Also there was a lot of information he just won’t tell me (that truly does affect how my days and plans go), but then act like he did or innocently forgot. His job has no definite time schedules, so it played right into his hand. I often thought he was doing it on purpose, but when I would question him I’d get the same kind of reaction that you did. Then it ends up that I’m the one who seems controlling or crazy because I’m “bugging” him to “tell me everything he does” (his words), like apparently I’m controlling because I expect him to let me know when he’s going to be home for work, etc. Yet, it gets all mixed up and so crazy, that he can sit there with a “I’m so innocent, poor me for having such a over-bearing wife”; and when I try to explain it is so crazy that, even when we did marital counseling a few years back, I seemed to be the only one of us three (my hb, the counselor, and me) to think that’s something wasn’t quite right … and by the time we walked out of the session what I ended up thinking wasn’t quite right … was me.

      1. Oh Sheri, it’s all so similar. Most of it I think is to make you dependent on them. It’s a power tactic in my book. They accuse you of being overbearing and a control freak but the truth is that it’s what they are. They make you crazy so you feel that you’re so lucky that they love you. Because after all who else would put up with such a crazy wife! As Jean said in comments further down it sets you up so you’re constantly looking for approval or validation. The lengths some of these creatures go to to make another person feel as if they’re crazy is unbelievably cruel. I still wonder how it comes about that people behave in this manner…again I know it happens, I know it’s part of character disturbance but they must learn it somewhere and then actively, purposefully put it into play. Do they all get together and talk about it at the coffee breaks, how they managed to make their partner’s crazy doing this, that and the other!

        1. Sometimes it’s almost funny when I read things that other people post at how similar it is. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but a few weeks ago I had read a comment on a different site, a lady posted that she wonders if there’s a secret school they go to to learn these techniques. Maybe they even have their own forums where they can post tactics to try out, encourage and support each other. Part of me wonders, but then a bigger part of me thinks it would anger my hb to learn just how typical he is, it would totally deflate his idea of being so special and superior

          1. Ha ha ha Oh Sheri, that’s just classic isn’t it…how special and unique they think they are! Thank you for the laughter! 🙂 My ex believed he was an independent, anti establishment rage against the machine type person. He thought he was all that and more! He was a heart throb in his own mind! To him I was the luckiest woman alive to have him as a husband! Honestly, I think back and wonder what on earth did I ever see in him! He was nothing but a common, mysogynistic, spath who thought the world revolved around him and his wants! Yes so text book typical.

          2. That is so funny because I thought the same exact thing. It’s so weird how similar they all are. I think they all must share the same loose screw. Thanks to Dr. Simon, he is empowering us with the tools we need to tighten it through our new found strength or let it come undone and unravel like they have done to us for so long.

      2. I got chills when I read your last sentence.I was once there in your shoes. I wanted to cry for you, but I felt such joy at being understood at the same time.

        1. This reply was in response to Sheri’s comment about walking out of the manipulated therapist’s office convinced that she was the one who “wasn’t quite right”.

          1. Yes, i feel the same way! I don’t know whether I’m coming or going… is my mind playing tricks on me? Did i misunderstand? Overreact? Next thing I know, I’m the one apologizing for being crazy… 🙁

      3. well ….,, I am reading that …. and I feel good!!! I am not by myself !!! i am not crazy neither!!! i had the same situations…. he will text me he is on his way …. and few hours later show up like nothing happen … like he just said that to me he will be here so he is ….I am still trying to explain his behaviour but I see all my answers here…. Thank you guys !!

      4. To Tori and Sheri,
        Do you know after reading your posts that I had a sudden epiphany that my ex boyfriend is a gaslighter just as much as my ex husband was and yet before reading your posts I would have defended him valiantly that he was not like that! Wow! Thank you so much for opening my eyes to that.

  2. Dr. Simon, when I read about Gaslighting for the first time in you book In Sheep’s Clothing, I was astounded as I’d never heard the expression before. I also think that gaslighting runs along the same lines as subtle, covert conditioning. If you mix the two together it can be a disaster. By subtle conditioning it means never actually crossing that boundary line, but going right up to it and gradually pushing it. I’ve also noticed that the covert-aggressive is very good at knowing when they’ve gone to far and can quickly and effectively change tactics. For example, in our early years together he would overtly criticize and verbally abuse. But as I was going through a lot of counselling for other issues and had learned to be more assertive I basically said that is unacceptable, I wouldn’t stand for it and there was no way I would have anyone in the home speaking to me like that (especially in front of the children); and he truly did stop. However, now that I look back, he really didn’t stop – he just found more subtle and twisted ways to criticize and put me down, almost undetectable to the untrained ear – yet it has a great impact even when you don’t know what’s going on. If I’d confront him, he’d act like he was saying it because he was trying to “help” or that I was misinterpreting his intentions, etc.

    I often wish I hadn’t put such a firm boundary on the overt verbal tactics, at least those were easy to detect and easier to stand up against or deal with. However, the gaslighting and subtle conditioning, by the time you realize so much damage has been done. If you ever do realize at all, as even the counsellors I has seen in the past seemed completely oblivious to such a tactic.

    1. The boundary setting thing you describe is all the more crazy making. Setting firm boundaries is the reasonable way to go, yet these lunatics always find a way to do what they are going to do. Heads, I win, tails, you lose….

    2. ” I’ve also noticed that the covert-aggressive is very good at knowing when they’ve gone to far and can quickly and effectively change tactics.”


      Constant shifting of goalposts is what I’ve and heard happens, too, and have had happened to me. Sometimes it’s like you shouldn’t bother trying to figure it out. At times something to call it out would be in order, like “Would you stop being evasive/shifting goalposts and actually X?”

      1. Lulu and J. Exactly to both of you. The DC will gently and subtly push the boundary line…except of course there are those times where he’ll actually agree to a compromise, then do what he wants anyways and then get offended that I’m not holding up my end of the agreement…crazy making for sure. And the goalposts are constantly moving, the moves can be so subtle and effective that you don’t evev notice until you run into one and get a nosebleed.

        1. Bingo Sheri! I didn’t even realize the goal posts had been shifted till after the game was over. I have never been so upside down in my life.

          1. I know this all to well,and feel for all of you. I had my family, friends, neighbors, police,DOCTORS, groceries stores,Nursing home… all were in on this little game..It almost worked.They tried to get me to commit suicide. But I changed the game when I left the nursing home. (I visited my Godmother almost everyday till she past) I have a very long story so in a nut shell (pun intended) I believe my son started it but have no real proof.I was very upset one day leaving the nursing home.I had a lot on my mind.And they ALL took full advantage.Nursing homes are not a good place to have to bring someone you love,but keeping them in the same nursing home that broke one eye socket (to the point she went blind) strap mark bruising where her for arms were bound.I knew then if that didn’t make me snap nothing would.With no body to talk to I was trembling and getting an eye twitch and not sure how much I could take. I took all my Christmas money and got a tattoo for all to see what they ALMOST DID TO ME.But funny how it gave me the strength to do what needed to be done.I figured they thought I wanted her money (she had none) I took care of her out of Love.I told the head nurse I knew what happened and who did it and if they were not fired I WOULD BRING THE WHOLE FUCKING PLACE DOWN,INCLUDING HER. I told her I would be back EVERYDAY TILL SHE PASTA WAY. With time my gaslighters gave themselves away. I can stay away from most.I find it hard to deal with hypocrisy. I figure most people are hypacrit’s but have a hard time admitting it.They also do not like TRUTH, The TRUTH CAN HURT SOMETIMES. So my Aunt passed away I stayed where and with the one I love even though splitting us up was part of the plan. Lessons learned and now I know WHO TO TRUST.I have to maintain a relationship with some (NO ONE CAN HURT YOU LIKE FAMILY) And NO ONE CAN HURT YOU IF YOUR STRONG.I WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL WHO PARTICIPATED IN MY GASLIGHTING, FOR WITHOUT THEM AND THEIR SICK SENSE OF HUMOR I WOULDN’T KNOW HOW STRONG I REALLY AM. SO Thank you my ass hole family and friends payback as they say is a bitch I can give new meaning to that saying watch your back people!!!!!!!

        2. And the most crazy making about it, when you bump into the goalpost. They’re really great at acting innocent, like it’s in the same place. Not only that they can adeptly convince you that you were the one who put it there, it’s your clumsiness that caused you to run into it. And even better they’ll point out how now you need them to help clean up the nosebleed and they know best how to keep you from your clumsiness in the future.

        3. Reading these posts helps me feel less crazy and less alone. I call this stuff “Alice in LaLa land.” After 17 years, I am still with this angry crazy maker, and he is still completely unaware that anything is wrong with his behavior. Spent the first 10 years trying to help him see the light with lots of love and forgiveness. Explaining myself till I turned blue. Crazy. Been working hard for years to become financially independent so I can leave him. Know that some people get trapped. We have to choose between homelessness or being tortured. Maybe someday soon I will have a better option, before he sucks all the life out of me.

      2. Yes, Sheri.

        Useful words to keep in mind: evasiveness, shifting goalposts, crazy-making, brainwashing, sowing doubts

  3. Sheri, one of the more subtle tactic is withholding sex and sexual attention from you which makes you try harder to get their attention ” that way” all very amusing to them I’m sure. So much to say about all of that!

    1. I find the gas lighting in the area of sex is so astounding and crazy making. I too can relate to the withholding. But then he’d complain that I never initiated. Complain that I would withhold, because it been sooooooooo long when in fact it may have only been a couple days. Then there’s the getting angry if I was tired or actually physically ill. My favorite was when I would want to discuss a sexual problem or concern he would respond by bringing up sexual abuse I experienced as a child. I finally got to the point that I would respond that what I wanted to discuss had nothing to do with problems stemming from the childhood abuse I experienced and it had to do with the problems in our marital relationship. Since he knew that he couldn’t use the childhood abuse card any longer, he would then avoid discussing anything by saying “fine, then, we just won’t have sex anymore”. Then of course my reaction would be to go after him, saying that’s not what I meant, almost like I was chasing him. Finally, I realized what he was doing, so the last time he said it, I just responded that I agreed and that it would be an unhealthy to have sex until he was truly ready to confront and overcome his attitudes towards me sexually. Nothing is resolved, but at least I set a line that I can choose how I will accept being treated and not buy into his games or end up being the one chasing him when it’s him that truly doesn’t want a healthy relationship.

      1. Oh Sheri

        Good for you. You are protecting yourself with some very clear boundaries. And yes, you hit the nail on the head. They don’t want a real relationship. They want a master-slave type arrangement and will stoop to driving you insane to achieve it. As Dr. Simon describes, in other articles, they aren’t really communicating, in the way we understand communication, they are fighting, aggressing.

        1. Thank you it helps to get a “good for you” once in a while. There are a lot of things I’m dealing with right now and I have come really close to letting my guard down. A lot of emotional trials with one of my kids and I’m feeling so lonely. So the affirmation does me wonders.

          1. Sheri, you are incredibly strong. You, Lulu, Puddle, Tori amaze me. The best thing my therapist did for me was to keep reminding me of my own strength. Anyone who has the grit to stand up to a disordered monster has gumption to spare. My heart goes out to you in your lonely times. It is so hard. But you are doing ALL the right things and we are all here for you!

      2. I can see you responded in a way that worked the best. Well done, Sheri!

        And LisaO, it truly is distasteful that anyone wants to one-up others, whether honest about it or not.

        1. Hi J, I’m not sure what post you are responding to? Or if the one-upmanship you are referring to means me trying to one-up? Confused here.

        2. Excuse me, I don’t get how you would try to one-up anyone here. Now that I went over my comment, I do understand how you could get the impression I was thinking along those lines. I’m not. I responded to Sheri’s post about how she isn’t going to try to relate to someone, who doesn’t even try to relate to her. I also responded to your comment about how certain kinds of people want a master-slave type of arrangement and meant express my feeling about the one-upping.

          1. J, I am using my iPhone and so can’t get chronology of posts easily. Something about small screens. I thought you likely didn’t mean me one-upping but wanted to be sure! Thanks for getting back to me on that!

  4. Wow, Puddle, I never thought about the withholding in that way. And there was nothing covert about it. Once when I was trying to initiate sex, he looked at me and said in cold, almost sneering voice…..what do you want? Ah……….nothing I guess.
    Need some hugs, help from my CD friends. I went out yesterday to a wine tasting, then we went for dinner. It was one of my new MeetUps. It was so much mixed in with intelligent convo….all with kind, caring people. I couldn’t have designed a better event.
    Woke up, feeling so good. Got an email from the paralegal, this attorney uses a trust fund rather than billing. I knew I was supposed to put $1k into my trust account, except she had put $4 on my credit card. So tired of being punished because CD won’t do what he is supposed to do!
    I want my good mood back!

    1. Hi Lulu, what they do may not be subtle, it’s the reason they are doing it. Spathtard knew I wanted his attention and he totally blew me off. At this stage of the game, about the only thing I think he was honest about was that the reason he was with me was not about sex.

      1. Yeah, not clear! What I mean is, what they do (tactic) may seem clear but the intention is not clear. The way the victim interprets the situation is not the reality.

  5. Dr. Simon, I can’t thank you enough. I just need to repeat that – I can’t thank you enough. Your book “in sheep’s clothing” has been my survival guide for the last year.
    I got the courage to move out of my house a few weeks ago after a 40 year marriage. I spent many years feeling bad about myself, depressed – and believing it was all my fault. Through working with my therapist and reading your books I have come to realize that I was constantly trying to get approval and attention from my husband – which I only got occasionally – I was the perfect description of your slot machine effect. This is actually a repeat of my childhood behavior with my parents. To me this was “love”.
    The gaslight effect can be so minimal and so covert that each incident can easily be ignored. I still have moments – sometimes days – where I feel like I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I feel guilty. I feel scared. I am still healing.
    I still look for affirmation of how I feel he disregarded my well-being. I look for it from him, my family and my friends. I still get confused as to whether I’m being selfish and in typing this comment I can actually feel myself looking for affirmation from you and other posters. I guess it’s all part of trying to come to grips with realizing that the person you thought had your back since you were 18 – actually never did. A danger that I have found is that it’s easier for me sometimes to think I’m imagining things than it is to except them.
    He has always done things for me, cleans, cooks, but emotionally and physically he has just not been there. Once he told me that my therapist said something about me that he knew would hurt my feelings – but she never said it. He was caught in the lie and just said that he was confused – that he was on pain medicine. He always has a very good excuse – this is what makes it so difficult to see.
    The main trouble I’m having right now is that since the separation he is being nice but of curse distant. I fight for it not to make me feel guilty. I have worked on our marriage for so many years that it’s difficult for me to step back and not try to make it work. I’m in therapy – he’s not. I believe he feels the problem is with me.
    I’m looking forward to your September web seminar. I only wish it were sooner! If your website were a book, my copy would be well-worn, underlined, dogeared – much like my copy of “in sheep’s clothing” is.

  6. Dr. Simon, I can’t thank you enough. I just need to repeat that – I can’t thank you enough. Your book “in sheep’s clothing” has been my survival guide for the last year.
    I got the courage to move out of my house a few weeks ago after a 40 year marriage. I spent many years feeling bad about myself, depressed – and believing it was all my fault. Through working with my therapist and reading your books I have come to realize that I was constantly trying to get approval and attention from my husband – which I only got occasionally – I was the perfect description of your slot machine effect. This is actually a repeat of my childhood behavior with my parents. To me this was “love”.
    The gaslight effect can be so minimal and so covert that each incident can easily be ignored. I still have moments – sometimes days – where I feel like I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I feel guilty. I feel scared. I am still healing.
    I still look for affirmation of how I feel he disregarded my well-being. I look for it from him, my family and my friends. I still get confused as to whether I’m being selfish and in typing this comment I can actually feel myself looking for affirmation from you and other posters. I guess it’s all part of trying to come to grips with realizing that the person you thought had your back since you were 18 – actually never did. A danger that I have found is that it’s easier for me sometimes to think I’m imagining things than it is to except them.
    He has always done things for me, cleans, cooks, but emotionally and physically he has just not been there. Once he told me that my therapist said something about me that he knew would hurt my feelings – but she never said it. He was caught in the lie and just said that he was confused – that he was on pain medicine. He always has a very good excuse – this is what makes it so difficult to see.
    The main trouble I’m having right now is that since the separation he is being nice but of curse distant. I fight for it not to make me feel guilty. I have worked on our marriage for so many years that it’s difficult for me to step back and not try to make it work. I’m in therapy – he’s not. I believe he feels the problem is with me.
    I’m looking forward to your September web seminar. I only wish it were sooner! If your website were a book, my copy would be well-worn, underlined, dogeared – much like my copy of “in sheep’s clothing” is.

    1. Jean, I completely understand the guilt, they also want you to feel like the guilty one. I need to keep reminding myself all the different ways I tried to build a healthy relationship throughout the years, and that all the failed attempts were because I was living with someone who had no intentions of wanting a healthy relationship no matter how many times they professed they did.

      I’m glad you are in counselling, it may also be a blessing that he is not. Mine has been doing counselling for two and a half years and reading a lot of self help books. And it only seemed to reinforce his entitllement and give him more and new excuses, justifications, and manipulation tools.

      Of course you need affirmation, I needed it too form my hb, just wanted him to let do of the entitlement and blaming me, he will say he takes full responsibility, yet he’s unwilling to act honest and trustworthy then blames me for not trusting him. He also minimizes and denies the things I have experienced in the relationship,. Even though I still make attempts, it is a bad thinking pattern I am constantly having to work on breaking free from. I do know I will never get any true affirmation from him.

      That’s why posting on this site has been so great for me…I hope it’s great for you too. So many here have been so caring and so willing to share their own experiences that I have found much affirmation and understanding within this group

      1. Sherry I know this scripted line so well are we married to clones of each other? When you dare suggest he do something for you or adjust something his perfect know it all self is doing that is not enjoyable for you get:

        “fine, then, we just won’t have sex anymore”.

        Early in the relationship his rough clumsy hands were hurting me and i simply said , ouch! That hurts! Please be more gentle and he responded by angrily jerking his hand away from me, saying “fine i will never touch you again” and didn’t for ten years.

    2. Jean, welcome and so glad you had the courage to leave and truly learn to love who you are! It is a tough thing to do and will be painful but I hope you can be strong and keep forging ahead with your new life. In time you will find it gets easier and little ‘hooray’ moments will emerge when you realise the only validation you need is from yourself. It’s taken me a while but gosh when it happens it feels amazingly freeing.
      Like you I think much of my feelings for approval etc came from childhood. I think we’re groomed right from the beginning and then we go on to create the same feeling in our adult lives, it’s familiar, it’s what we know and what we’ve learned. It takes so much time to deal with it all. I think it comes in little increments.
      The problem isn’t with you Jean, and I sincerely hope you can stay strong and go on to live the life you were meant to live. It’s scary and getting over different aspects of the abuse is difficult but there is light. Look out for you, it’s not selfish. Take care and I wish you all the best. ((hug)) to you!

  7. Jean, you NEED and DESERVE affirmation. This whole CD thing is so insidious, so emotionally painfully, so unlike how you and any of the rest of us act, so shocking that someone who “loves” you could do such callous behaviors….absolutely crazy making. YOU are not the problem, nor will the problem ever be fixed, he doesn’t want it to be fixed. I separated 4 years ago, as I was going through papers, etc. in preparation to sell the house, I began to discovering things that he had told me that were not true. I’ve been on here for 2-3 weeks now, a few days ago, I realuzed that he had never loved me nor even cared about my well being….my 35 year marriage had been a sham. Crushing to get all the way to the bottom. I gave my heart and soul trying to help him. Didn’t we all? One thing I found helpful was reading through some other comments where people labeled this emotional abuse, which it is. And, further, that no one acknowledges the notion of psychological torment. Made me feel so validated. Stay tuned in… you will get lots of {{{{{{{hugs }}}}}}} , support, and care

  8. To Jean and all the other one who suffered with a CD for a long time:

    I was married 45 years to a CD. We have been separated with a dissolution for 8.5 years now. It truly an eye opening experience and changes you forever. My heart aches for any one just going through the initial shock of it all. It takes time and lots of thought processing to start to heal. It takes going over every thing you experienced with this new knowledge to understand what was happening. CDs are so cleaver that other people can’t believe it until their actions start affecting them personally. That is what is happening in my case.

    All we can do is from this day forward be very conscious of how people treat us. I will say that time alone has helped me discover who I am and I am more aware than ever before.

    1. Noel, forty -five years! You have earned a place in some kind of hall of fame. There are so many unsung heroes out there having their personalities refined in the most brutal way. Am so happy that you managed to get out and stay out. And yes, after 45 years the shock of realization must have knocked you to the floor AND to the core. You wrote that these types are ‘cleaver,’ and I had to smile–probably personal technology poetic license. But isn’t it the truth? Don’t the metaphorical knives in the back, and the undercutting manipulations make them more ‘cleaver’ than ‘clever??’

      How are you doing now?
      I would love to know how each and every long term victim manages the after-path experience.

      Big digital hug to you!

    2. Dear Noel,
      I can hardly believe that somewhere there is someone like me. I was married 47 years. The whole world that knew us . all said ” he adored you!!! in shock.
      I discovered that this “saint” of a man, had a whole other life ,and slowly took all our resources. The laws are not with me. I could not move or hardly breathe for 2 months the shock was so great.
      I have lost so much weight ,I am skin and bones. But I have learned all I can about Narcissism. And finally got a councillor who understands.

      1. Marie,
        If you read this reply, we are all posting on the current topic
        Toxic Self Love and I encourage you to join in on the discussion. There are others who have experienced similar betrayals and a will gladly help you.

        I hope you join us, and we can heal together,
        Take care and God bless

  9. One of the things that has helped me is noticing how other men treat their wives. And me. It wasn’t something I was purposely looking for, it just felt soooo kind when the separation was new and the LUNATIC was unleashed. I’m in a few groups that include men and it so pleasant to be with a non-CD. They notice little things, help me, I feel so cared for..and these are happily married men, dang, this must be what normal looks and feels like. That has helped me realize how crummy things were with the guy who “wanted to grow old together and take care of each “. I am not needy, I do not want someone to “fawn all over me all the time”, I shouldn’t have to feel (extra) bad because I get a migraine, such an inconvenience. I think most, if not all of us, experienced verbal and/or emotional abuse as children. We married what we knew. My CD was only emotionally abusive and he would apologize, over and over as he continued to do the one thing that hurt so so deeply. My therapist would tell me how courageous I was. To leave is huge, remember that. Sheri, CD has driven that wedge between my two sons and me. The loneliness of it.. No one gets that either. The three of us were so close, had so much fun together and now that he has gone on incessantly, mostly about me, they are so over it. And once again I get punished for something I didn’t cause. Sheri, my heart hurts so very much for you. Aching loneliness.

  10. Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement. It helps me tremendously. I have had another setback with my husband a couple of hours ago. I invited him over to try to talk again – I don’t know when I will be able to just let it go – but I keep trying to “fix” us.
    I asked him how he was doing and how he was feeling. I asked him what he felt we could do to work on our communication so we could possibly work things out. I’ve read how to talk to an emotionally distant husband – and I said all the things I was supposed to say and I said them calmly and nicely. He again shut the door on any further conversation by telling me that I just needed to go out and date a lot of men so that I would realize that nobodies perfect.
    Once again I felt emotionally beatten up when trying to talk to him. My therapist says I have spent years trying to communicate with him and get him to understand and that I just need to STOP.
    I’ll be glad when I’m able to do that. Only a few weeks separated.

    1. Jean, you will stop when you reach a breaking point or he discards you 🙁
      If he wanted to “fix” the marriage, he would be taking steps to acknowledge and repair his side of this. They do not believe they are at fault. This is an ugly place you are in I’m afraid, very painful. I’m sorry that you are in this but you are. If I could sugest one thing, it would be for you to take a 100% break from him for at least 6 months, no contact at all, and see how you feel towards him after that. The bond has to be broken for you to be able to see things clearly. During that time you can read, read, read and work on you. Once you see him clearly YOU might not have the same desires towards him and the “relationship” you once did.
      I wish you well Jean and welcome.

      1. Good suggestion, Puddle. When you are in the middle of the crazy and conto uing to be battered by it, it is hard to get perspective on how messed up it is. Read and reflect, go out with friends and maybe do a fun thing you would not do if you were with hb ( I went zip lining). I have come to love things that make me feel pampered….massage, pedicure. HUGE step to recognize that how he treats you is not okay, now keep trying to walk. No one here will judge you, if you struggle to make the break….it took me 35 years and it was our 3rd separation.

        1. Good words and thoughts from you too Lulu! There is so much support here Jean. We have been there or are there still.

      1. It taks time J, lots of 100% away from them time. Time to come out of the fog, to break the addiction and to face reality, time to let go of the dream that was something they wanted you to dream but they never shared in reality. It a horrible awakening. The bottom line is this, when a person really values something or someone they put sincere effort into getting and keeping it/ them. That is a one way street when you are with a CD.

    2. Jean, sadly Puddle is spot on, this is the most difficult time and when his mask drops completely you will suddenly see the REAL him and it can be devastating emotionally to realise the truth. If you can manage no contact then that is the best option and again that is so hard at this stage to do. It takes sometime to really come to grips with the reality of what he truly is, even if you have been miserable in the relationship for years. It’s a complex mix of emotions. As Lulu has said, take care of you, simple things work too. If you feel like sleeping, sleep, take a long hot bath, pamper yourself and I know what that sounds like… that nothing is going to help but it’s little baby steps forward to gain strength. Most importantly reach out for support when you need it, from friends, your therapist, your doctor and posting here. Take care Jean and stay strong.

    3. Jean, not to go into detail but I am still living in the same household as my hb. And it’s not a good situation, there is no compromise. We can discuss things, seem to come to an agreement on how to make this work for the time being. Then he just does what he wants anyways, then implies that I’m at fault or tries to put a good spin on what he’s doing. We’ve had a major crisis in our home concerning one of our children…and not even that will get him to change or even question what he’s doing. So my thing is to be firm on what’s expected of him in this situation, not back down and remain completely emotionally detached. Its not good trying to work out anything with my hb, so I do have to say if I long for the day when I can go completely contact free. I have tried several times over the past 24 years to get him to take part in growing a healthy relationship. And for the last 2 and half years with him promising change, etc. we’re no farther along, but I’ve learned to stand firm, it’s hard, it’s not the ideal. But from my experience, trying to fix a relationship with someone who has absolutely no interest in doing a bit of their part has only prolonged my pain

  11. Y’all are the best! I have been reading your posts for over a year – they have made me stronger. I’ve been secretly soaking in your knowledge – LOL!

  12. Baby steps! Jean, take time right now to appreciate what you have done in the past few days. You’ve been wanting to for quite a while, and when you were ready, you took what I think is the very hardest step. You left. What you just posted sounds so strong.
    Someone asked how people leaving long term marriages dealt with the pain, I served 35 years. It was always crummy, we separated at 5 years, but then he told me a great story about how he got it now. When we had kids, I was in. It was my ticket to being able to stay at home with them. Started therapy not long after 2nd left for college, after about a year, split #2. He tricked me again, acting all nice. He was out of town during the week for work, I continued with therapy.
    Then I began to set boundaries, ask for what I wanted, finally clicked that he’d been saying sorry for the same thing for over 30 years. When we split, he was as miserable as me. I just could not take the rejection, his drinking, his perpetual sour mood.
    Then this LUNATIC emerged. I was sad about my marriage ending and our family breaking apart. I was breaking a commitment (another reason I tried for so long). I am not a quitter. Then he started going out of his way to be cruel to me….and to our adult sons. Told them vicious things about me. I’m just trying to wrap my head around separating, and he was doing crazy, cruel stuff. I couldn’t call him by his first name because this was not the C I knew. Oh but it was. I started having panic attacks, still struggle with major anxiety. Couldn’t log into my bank account today, immediately I think he did something.
    When he filed taxes early on, he neglected to tell the IRS about The $100k he took from an IRS account. How dumb can you be? Next year I emailed do not file a joint tax return. He said okay, then he did it any way. Always on the lookout, i askedIRS to send me a copy. He did not report pension income. Attorney said re-file, so CD brought a Turbo tax form that had been filled out correctly. Even after getting caught, that form was not the one he sent to the IRS.
    Really tough day with my kids, sorry I’m babbling on so. He was constantly playing dirty tricks and I was so on edge, all the time, that the betrayals were not such a big deal. About a year ago, I finally settled into my apartment (which looks so me!) and had time to go through all the accumulated papers. Oh my gosh…this thing wasn’t the truth, he looked me straight in the face and absolutely lied about that. Things from the past would pop into my head….oh, that wasn’t true. Continuing to find the betrayals, some times for no reason, was stab after stab. It hurt, it was crushing at times.
    When I found this site a couple of weeks ago, I finally got to the end……every single thing about those 35 years was a sham. I have had many periods of debilitating anxiety and depression over the past 4 years, having money has always been an arduous process. And I’ve had great times too. I had to shut down emails fairly early on because he could not respect the limit of only about business. I inadvertently accepted a phone call from him once, only time we’ve spoken.
    That to me is very sad, but I cannot do anything about it. I refuse to be bitter, I refuse to look back and question myself, why did I stay so long? how could I have not realized sooner? I can continue to heal, hopefully get a financial snag worked out so I will have enough income, I can continue to grow, do new things and be increasingly grateful to be on this terrific path. With friends, FINALLY! who get this, banding together, moving forward one step at a time.

    1. Lulu, you are to be commended for your ability to hold your head high and leave that loser in the dirt where he will happily wallow. I hope the financial situation gets resolved as soon as possible and that you can be free of him. It makes me sick what they do to people, children!! How they self justify every sickly selfish move they make. I do not and never will understand how they live with themselves as such bottom feeders as they are. Keep up the good work and fantastic attitude Lulu!!

    2. Lulu, my situation is so similar to yours. I often wonder how I was so blind for 40 years. But I really don’t think I was – I think I was doing what I felt I was supposed to do and not facing up to the real situation. Finally I had to take a hard look at my husband and I realized I was alone. He had never been there for me emotionally or physically.
      Anxiety is a huge problem for me as well.

      1. Jean, like you I wonder how I couldn’t “see.” But I, too, knew that things weren’t right. I thought that he was just a child who didn’t quite want to grow up. I think for most of us we did the best we could with what we knew. It there is a lot of deception, gaslighting, and manipulation … things seem to sneak up on you. I have been to counselling over the years for several things, and even bringing up marital issues there, even they didn’t get it. And a few years back, when him and I did marital counselling together, even that counsellor didn’t get it … It’s all so crazy. But now you do know, and that’s a good thing, knowledge is the first steps to empowerment; one thing that has helped me was thinking back to all the ways that I attempted to stick up for myself (they all failed of course, NOTHING I did could have or would have changed the way he is). Most long-term victims of these type of people are not weak, we are strong. I remind myself of the ways that I was strong, the things I did try, that with a person who wanted a relationship would have been healthy ways to approach things, things I stood up for because they were important to me… etc. I can’t imagine the length of time you endured … I endured for almost 25 years. So I like to think that I’m 25 years strong.

        Also some sites that I like to visit are (it’s a Christian site, however, if you’re not interested in that, you can go there and check out some of the sites on their blog roll). These sites daily help remind me of who I’m dealing with.

  13. Puddle, thanks for your encouraging words. This whole money thing because he doesn’t have to pay alimony like the judge told him to, is so old.
    For me, and maybe for all of us, I stayed in it for so long because I can see the good in everything. It’s just my nature. The stretches of pleasantness were what I thought was real. In rough times, I had lots of excuses for him, and I wanted to fix his poor wounded self. We are good people so we assume everyone is. When you are going round and around in that hamster wheel, it’s hard to see the whole cage. So, Jean, give yourself a break, there are many reasons for it being hard to see.
    And, yes, isn’t feeling lonely when someone else is in the room, the worst?

    1. “We are good people so we assume everyone is.”

      It seems troubling that often if you’re a good person, you have a hard time to imagine an evil person. Does that need to be so?

      1. Going back to that critical thinking here. 😉

        It’s a crucial lesson to accept that evil indeed exists. That’s what I think would be a part of a so-called mass awakening. Like we now have more information at our hands and it travels through word-of-mouth. There are always many different problems needing to be solved and many, many different proposed solutions. No single one is a magical cure for all ills(nothing is, really) and I’ve never claimed that to be so.

        1. J, I really get the feeling and impression that you don’t fully grasp the very core nature of these involvements. Analogy: you can read about riding a bike for years and know that it is possible to ride a bike and study HOW to ride a bike (think about all the horror movies and books that are out there) but until you have gotten on a bike and ridden one you can not possibly understand and preform all that is required to actually ride a bike successfully. It’s one thing to read a book about these types or see them in a movie but it is not real enough to translate into protection from an a-hole like Spathtard.

        2. Not by itself, anyway. It’s sad that often anyone has to fall prey to have deep understanding of such unscrupulous folk and I really wish it wasn’t so, I really do, because good people suffer for no real reason.

          1. J, it is sad no doubt but just like other sad things in life, it happens. There are many MANY sad and difficult experiences in life that just come at you and there really is no way to prepare yourself for them. All you can do is manage the best you can and try to learn something from each one, maybe you can and maybe not. Life is very unpredictable when you think about it and literally, in the blink of an eye, your life can change in extreem ways. I think it gives people comfort to think they have some control over that but I have seen so many times where something has happened to someone, just out of left field, and suddenly they are on a totally different course. Spathtard was THAT to me.

          2. Puddle,

            It really is true that things happen for no good reason and you can’t anticipate anywhere near every single thing, beneficial or destructive, no matter how much you want it to be otherwise. My intent isn’t to dismiss, trivialize, demean, belittle or disparage anyone’s unfortunate experience. If you’ve had one, you don’t shrug it off(unless you happen to have some neurological anomaly, I think), which is unfortunately easy for many people to forget.

            I have taken it that folks here need and want empowerment. However, sometimes it seems to me like folks here stray from that. No one has said this and I don’t claim anyone to have said this, please do correct me if I’m wrong, since I’ve gotten the feel that it’s the logical next step we’re ultimately predator food and most likely nothing we do matters.

            For example, “We could accept that evil exists” is a thought. It’s not as simple to apply it as to say it. Still, why reject it out of hand? Why not discuss how it could work to help us? Why not meditate on it, so to speak(since you’re always meditating on something all day long, even if you don’t do formal meditation)?

          3. J, the concept of “evil’ is something that can’t be proven. Bad people/ behavior can be called evil and maybe they/ it are/is. My personal belief is that it is just bad, selfish behavior. I guess I don’t need any further terminology. I don’t feel the need to label it or attach any other words to it. Spathtard is an a-hole and anyone else like him is the same. If he is “evil” or anyone like him is “evil”, ok…… I don’t see that changing him or those that are like him or what they do. I’m not going to meditate on the concept of evil and I don’t see how that would benifit me but that is just the way I see it. I will do MY best to protect myself now that I have been through what I’ve been through and hope for the best.
            I’m not saying or thinking any of the things you mentioned regarding belittling or trivializing etc.

            Honestly, I don’t know what the answer is, or if there truly is one, in the way of 100% protection from these types when even people who study them have been taken in and they excell at what they do. That is my personal perspective based on my personal experience and my personal vulnerabilities. I’m not forming any sweeping conclusions.
            How do you see “meditating” on Evil as empowering?

          4. Nope, this is not about meditating on(really contemplating) evil or anything else, per se. This is about how some comments(not by any particular single one commenter either) seem unfortunately to lead into the conclusion “We’re just done for, period”. Things said here I have no doubt are true and drawing from personal experiences no one really wants to experience and for solid reasons and no one truly is 100 % immune from everything, just to reiterate, and I really hope that does come across in my writing. My thought, which I don’t know if anyone shares or agrees with and am not pressuring, cajoling, coercing or pushing anyone to agree with(however much I may write how it seems to make sense), is that some comments pretty much repeat that same fact how easily we can be screwed over.

            We could easily get into the wheel where no improvement ever matters a thing, because ultimately nothing in existence matters and everything just happens to go by pure chance and perhaps we’re better off dead all of us. That would be a run-away train of thought. Do we(commenters in general) want to arrive there in our discussions?

  14. Puddle, he doesn’t want to pay alimony. I mean, really, isn’t that enough of a reason not to? He was working a contract job out of town. He said they were going through some reorganization so he didn’t feel secure about his job. Sounds reasonable, except the reorg had taken place maybe a year before and they renew his contract months before it expires. He took a job where I still lived, house was here, etc. at a place that he had been offered before but would talk about how he could never work there. Hmmmm. Gave lame reason. Shocking, yes? Started seeing psychologist I had taken sons to years before, after many rants about how worthless they all are. Told her that he wanted to shoot my attorney, she had him committed. Perfect! Just as he had hoped. She wrote him out of work, which gave him time to go condo shopping in the state to my south. Paid cash for one, left w/o telling apt. managers. He’s out of state and I’m out of luck. There’s an arrest warrant for contempt in this state, but unless I want to start over with more attorney fees where he is now, too bad for me.

  15. Jean, I’d rather be the good person any day. Through therapy, I learned a lot about who I was and what kind of person deserved to be in my life. i could see that people I had called friends, were not. They had to go also. I don’t like to think negatively, but there may always be people around who want to manipulate. Can’t do anything about them, but I can choose who I let be a part of my life

  16. J, Most people make huge allowances for people they are emotionally close to. If targeted individuals realized that they are most vulnerable to deception in the infatuation phase of courtship, it would help. Delaying sleeping with a potential partner for a good long time would help, too. There are definite red flags in terms of behaviour. But once those initial red flags become commonly known, I wonder if the pathologicals would simply change their modus operandi. It’s a problem.

      1. J, in the initial stages, gut feelings are all wrong. Intuition is hopeless. They do an end run around intuition….same as magicians. Magicians have a superior understanding about how to trick intuitive perception.

        You hear a lot about “listening to your gut,” but it doesn’t work if you are dealing with a stealth predator. What you have to do, with a new romantic attachment, is ignore your intuition. There are always exceptions to the rule. I have, twice in my life, come into brief contact with a seriously dangerous criminal psychopath. Very very violent types. And these three individuals radiated it, to the point that I avoided all contact. These were fleeting job related exposures that I easily terminated. So, yes, sometimes you get such a strong whiff of pathology, it’s easy to ‘turn the other cheek’ and walk away. But, I think it’s easier with the less veiled types.

        The one was a cab driver who raped one of his passengers within a month of my deciding I’d never take a cab to work again!

        Lulu, I hope I didn’t come off as judgemental about sleeping with enemy too soon. For me it isn’t a moral issue, (usually!) just a question of emotional safety. And it’s equally applicable to men who can end up with a black widow femme fatale type, hopelessly bonded before he realizes he’s in a web, not a bed!!

        1. Edit– I meant three times I have had the misfortune to be in the company of very dangerous individuals. The one individual, I can’t know for sure…but the smiling through malice vibe was so intense, you could cut the air with a knife.

      2. Elva explained once what that “turn the other cheek” -bit really means. Why is that thought expressed in a form that’s easy to misunderstand? Why not just say it outright?

        1. Hi J, The sense I get from my own experiences is that it helps to know that purely self interested people exist. The truly evil sadistic types are more common than we think but not lurking behind every corner. Still, very very scary. The BTK killer was described by his children as, ‘the perfect father.’ That blows my mind.

          1. Dae with Israel Keys. No one suspected a thing. Friends, family. There are so many varieties of these types and they are not all romantic partners so ” waiting to have sex” isn’t always going to save you from their evil damage. It sure didn’t help with the contractor. The other thing I find interesting is how much of this I put together after we slplit How many things I didn’t even “get” until long after and I’m still putting things together. Never EVER had that happen in my life previously.

    1. that’s the thing, about information, they get it too and know what not to do? A whole new ball game! Definitely not sleeping with them, the old give yourself time to know someone first. There is something in all that old religious wisdom perhaps! Our gut instincts are not always good either especially once romantically involved out the window they go! It’s interesting that some of my friends husband’s though thought there was something not right radiating from my ex!

      1. Troubling.

        So should we also keep reminding each other that an evil consciousness uses ANYTHING for evil purposes? That would make sense.

  17. LisaO, I agree that delaying sex could be very helpful in seeing the relationship more clearly.

    Puddle, yes I get so angry, frustrated, sad, hopeless at times. The things he has done over the past 4 years….and counting……yet there are no consequences for him. I am continuously punished, though. A Judge took 5 months to decide alimony in a not complicated situation. Outrageous! Meanwhile when he took the lower paying job in this city, he made less money so he deducted the % from my “allowance” as he liked to call it. Oh, well, too bad for me.
    What is absolutely devastating me right now, though, is what is happening to my kids and between my kids and me. They are both an absolute mess because CD won’t just drop it and let everyone move on. Younger one especially is completely twisted up because of how unhappy his dad is now. He is so much like me in that he wants to help people feel better. I’ve been more revealing about some things his dad has done, I tried so hard for 35 years to make dad happy and it never happened. I want him to stop, see the reality, get his own life together. Once again, I get punished because they just want to ignore dad and me as a way to cope. I think I’ve already shared this, but I was in the ICU for over two weeks after a car accident. Dad did not do one single teeny tiny thing for them. What more evidence do you need to see that your dad is a self centered jerk of major proportion?
    Anybody got anything for me? It kills me that my kids are suffering so much. I am so afraid that I will lose them, my only reason for living at times. This hurts so much!!

  18. Hi Lulu,

    So sorry you are hurting about your kids. It’s hard to know what to suggest. I guess they love their father and part of their sense of themselves, their identity, is wrapped up in the same happy memories you have of the past. The current situation between you and CD might be so at odds with all they have known, or preferred to know, about their family, that they simply can’t bridge the two realities. Does the reality of the situation put them in serious emotional risk? If you think it might, is there something you could do to alleviate their unhappiness? Again, so so sorry you are suffering. Keep posting, sharing the pain you have to shoulder and it will lighten your load.

    1. Interesting perspectives, LisaO. Never thought about their sense of self, their identity being wrapped in their memories. I love the idea of family traditions, so they have that. We could make the most mundane thing into an adventure. We marveled at the world around us. One kind of alluded to the two different realities, the one he knew all his life, because my changes didn’t start happening until he’d left for college, what is now. I have thought back to the beginning of my therapy, I feel so distant now from that person now. I am Real Me. He said that I never used to have emotions and now I do. That other person who has the same name as me, stuffed everything about herself, only being very loving towards her children, she gave up on asking for her needs to be met. I think they are in a miserable emotional place. They don’t want to accept the reality of who their dad is. I protected them so much from who and what their dad truly is. Maybe that was a mistake. You just learn that your parents have separated, call dad and he tells you your mom is having an affair. Who could be that cold and cruel…to anyone, especially your own son. Not true by the way, and no reason for him to think it might be. Their struggle is hurting me so much. A band-aid and a hug don’t do it any more. Older one is seeing therapist tomorrow, mostly to talk about “the divorce stuff”. Finally. Younger can hardly stand to talk to dad, CD is so pitiful. I’d love for him to understand that everything his dad has done, he has chosen. Maybe he could stop feeling so responsible. Dancing around this hasn’t worked, hopefully honesty will.

  19. Lulu, It shatters their world view and makes them call into question all they ever held dear. You feel like a huge chunk of your life was a sham, but you had a life before your husband that you can draw on now. Your boys, on the other hand, may feel that what they accepted and loved as real from birth was nothing more than a well choreographed play. Maybe they feel like they are unwitting actors like the Jim Carey character in the Truman show. I am exaggerating here to make a point and please understand none of this is a criticism of you. I am just trying to put myself into their minds.

    This conversation helps me because it is bringing up almost identical issues I have had with my sister. Thank you for opening up and describing your situation with such clarity. I am learning through reading and talking with you!!

    Huge hugs to you!!

  20. Hi all, has anyone have any advice on how you talk to your child about these CD’s. My son is starting to ask about the why his father won’t acknowledge what he’s done to him, why he won’t say sorry etc… I’ve tried to explain that he will never acknowledge his behaviour because he doesn’t think he has a problem but really trying to tell a 13yr old what his father is without being negative is really difficult. I tried to tell him that in a sense he’s been lied to as much as I was but wonder if I am doing more harm than good? Any suggestions?

    1. Tori – talk about ACTIONS rather than CHARACTER and you can’t go wrong. So talk to your son about his father’s actions and you can talk relative to friends behaviors as analogy. For example, tolerate a friend’s lateness to go to a match? Father chooses to be late especially if that is habitual. If an adult knows there is traffic, a responsible adult leaves more time.

      talk about actions matching words.

      and when they don’t that falls on that persons character.

      your son gets it I am sure. You just need to affirm your son’s thought process. And that in no way is talking negative. That is affirming your son’s ability to discern good behavior.

      1. Thanks Elsbeth, I like the idea of affirming my son’s ability to discern good behaviour. He needs to know that he’s right in what he’s thinking, so he can trust his feelings and not doubt himself. When I think of it like that, that’s exactly what these CD’s want to create, the doubt and confusion. As he hasn’t been in the past directly a target, now since the separation he has become one in a way. I’ve worried how he must be feeling, the emotional pain etc… but he has never wanted to speak about really until now. It threw me a little bit as to how to respond.

    2. Tori, Your son is asking why his father has always treated him with such indifference–or at least for a pretty long time, relative to his age. My perception is that his asking questions, actively looking for answers indicates he is ready for real answers. You probably don’t have to pussyfoot around. It’s probably like sex ed. When a child starts asking questions they are usually ready for answers (unless they are 2 or 3 years old. Then storks and cabbage patches come in handy! LOL)

      1. LisaO, I have a feeling he can handle the real answers. I think for me and possibly others who have children with these CD’s is that we start to think in that politically correct framework. I have been told by some that he should have communication with his father and that I should make him because that is the “RIGHT” thing to do. It doesn’t seem to matter what that insidious man has done. Even some counsellors believe that and again that causes such confusion. The law states pretty much that each parent has a right to have a relationship with the child unless it is unsafe for the child. Of course that is usually in relation to physical safety. So as a parent you are caught between law, emotion and what is the right thing to do. In the end my son is at an age when he can decide for himself what he wants but he is in a state of confusion as well. He loves his father I know that but at the same time he’s angry, confused and is wondering the why his father would treat him so poorly. I sometimes wonder if like me he feels that he should be in contact with his father because others perceive it to be the right thing to do but inside he really doesn’t want to, he’s not silly he sees and understands how his father’s actions have led us to the situation we are in.

        Like Elsbeth says these CD’s are so manipulative with their charm, and my ex has that down pat! I have had a hell of a time aligning all the “evil” that he is with that charming facade and having to come to terms with it, so I can’t even imagine how hard that process would be for a child.
        I guess there is a fear that if I explain all what I know his father to be (without going into specifics of what I know) just working on the acknowledgement etc… that when and if my son has a relationship with his father in the future he is again fooled by that charm and I will become the ‘bad’ mother. Though in the end it will be the chance I will have to take and hope that it doesn’t come to that!

        1. Hi again Tori,

          Important too, is the non CD parent’s ability to discern the type of relationship the child had/has with CD parent. The parent has to be able to differentiate the effects the character disorder has on his or her relationship with the CD person, from the effects on the parent child relationship. Usually the effects are going to be felt in different ways but equally devastating for child and spouse of abuser. But, I can see cases where the relationship between a CD and his kids might be okay or even ‘great’ but tragically the opposite for the spouse (and vice versa.) Some CD’s might be miserable to their kids and great or okay to their wives.

          If a child has a good relationship with CD parent, even if it is spotty, that has to be taken into consideration. I think it changes everything. Based on what you have written about your ex-husband I think the more knowledge your son has the less likely he will be to get hurt in the future, and also the less likely your husband will be able to triangulate. I think I am using ‘triangulate’ correctly. Political correctness is a straight jacket for people who need direction on how to think and what to think about. It leaves me cold.

          1. Therein lies all the confusion. My ex is unpredictable. I have done all in my power to give my ex an opportunity to have a relationship with his son but he refuses. Being the sole parent my responsibility is my son’s wellbeing and I need to be sure of his safety when in contact with his father. That is no 1 and so far his father’s actions come from a place of selfishness, he does not have his son’s wellbeing at heart. If he did this would be an easier process and my son would not be so confused and hurt. And yes triangulation is a fear I have because all of my ex’s attempts have been underhanded and not upfront. That says to me he that he still wants some control and leverage.
            It’s quite possible that my son could have a wonderful relationship with his father and despite my personal feelings and worry about my own safety I am willing to negotiate something that would be beneficial to all. Yet it is impossible because his desire to see me financially ruined is stronger than his desire to be a father to his son. That’s the only way I can interpret this and to be honest, I am providing for my son and I am almost ready to say goodbye to the whole court process with that regard. None of this is worth all the damn stress!

  21. My heart is so heavy this morning. Now my routine is to get coffee and come to this site, there is so much here, I don’t feel alone in this nightmare. I’m so appreciative for all of you.
    Tori, I am amazed at the insight your son has.While I like what you said Elsbeth, talk actions, does that get the whole picture across? Not suggesting that you put it this harshly, but I wonder if your son will totally get it, that his father will never say sorry. Maybe talk in broader terms….some people have a really hard time acknowledging mistakes, unfortunately your dad is like that….?? This is nothing you have or have not done, dear son of mine. Is he old enough yet to make the leap to from action to character? I really don’t know. I might stay away from strong words like lie. Encourage your son to talk to you, validate his feelings, without saying your father is such a jerk (so hard). People kept telling me that my adults sons would eventually figure out who their dad is. Don’t think so.

    1. Thanks Lulu. You’re right the validation of his feelings, it’s what we all want in these messes. I don’t know how a child copes when a parent totally discards them out of their own selfishness. My son really does in someways have quite a good grip intelligently on the situation. Some of the things he says floors me, indeed he really pushed me to have no contact with his father in the initial stages of this mess. It is amazing how much a child perceives beyond their years.
      I did tell him that his father would never say sorry or acknowledge what he’s done because it’s part of his character and that in his father believes he’s done nothing wrong. The last contact he made was all about telling me how he’d been a great father and an amazing loyal and faithful husband! So there you go! Talk about words and actions not correlating! Now that he’s left us in a financial mess and won’t even negotiate in legal settlements so that things would be better for us financially! It’s hard to talk with him about it so I am going to speak with my counsellor, as I think sometimes I can’t fully appreciate his position, as I am so biased with my feelings. I can’t even imagine how hard this is for him, it hurts so much.

      1. Tori, I can’t begin to imagine the place you are in. Just processing everything that happened in your marriage is a heavy, heavy load. Then wanting to help your son. And, just in general, when someone hurts my kids, this mama bear gets real upset real quick. As much as you don’t want him in pain, his dad is what he is, so at some point he needs to understand the truth. You are my candidate for Mom of the Year. How articulate he is, and how safe he feels opening up so much to you…..magnificent, brings tears to my eyes.

        1. Thank you Lulu but not sure about mum of the year, I’m like you someone hurts your kids well, get outta my way! I am glad he can open up to me, I’ve tried not to push him. He knows he can call his father whenever he wants etc… it’s just that he chooses not to because he says it’s awkward and he feels as he said he won’t acknowledge what he’s done. Of course his father never calls him anyway. He’s been distant really eversince the separation. Honestly I don’t think my ex really gives a damn, only when he wants some attention ie Father’s day, or on his own birthday…that’s when he seems to want to contact. I may just give my son Dr Simon’s books, he’s at an age I think where he can understand and discern for himself the truth. He might have his own lightbulb moments and then learn how to communicate with his father whilst keeping himself safe.
          Maybe this is the learning curve my son needs, now that he sees for himself his father’s actions against him, I hope I can avoid future problems when he gets older. He won’t be so easily swayed as an adult. Thanks Lulu and I hope all is well in your world, and I wanted to ask, what exactly is zip lining?? Never heard of it! 🙂

          1. Tori, it sure sounds like your son has wisdom and insight well beyond his age. Perhaps reading the book, or maybe start with articles to see how it goes would be helpful. For me, seeing things so clearly spelled out, was very helpful. Everything on Divorcing the CD had been my experience. It was not until I got on here, though, that I could grasp the crazy making part. It wasn’t just this betrayal and that one, it was the entire relationship. The support I found on here, the me, too after me, too has given me my life back. Perhaps if your son sees it written in a book which clearly demonstrates that he isn’t the only one. We all know how isolating this is. Then he has you to process with. I wish him, and you, all the best, horrible when our children have to deal with this. All we can do is walk with them through the pain, they have to, to get to the other side.
            Zip lining….cables are strung between trees. You are safely hooked up in a harness, hook onto the cable, step off a platform, then zip along through the trees to the next platform. Repeat. You may want to google for pics. Trying to keep pushing past fear of heights. Exhilerating, wrong sp.

    2. Lulu, I think it is a good starting point. I am not sure how to get across the concept of “character disordered” and the devastating affects of it rapidly and quickly. I can’t say, have a child read one of the books by Dr Simon. I also think MOST people find it hard to believe that harm of the “character disordered” especially those CDs that come across so charmingly in the casual meetings. It is an issue I struggle with – how to make a court, lawyer, teacher, neighbor, relative, friend, acquaintance, coach, etc… see the CD for ALL the CD has done – the comprehensive list of everything that has cumulated into the best advice/reaction is to be away from the CD COMPLETELY.

      But always speak of actions and also validate feelings. A saying I like is one can’t be told their feelings are wrong. It is how you feel and that is valid.

      1. Elsbeth, my response of read a book was in answer to Tori. From what she’s written, it seems that he is very bright, intuitive, and interested in finds ways to sort out CD dad’s behavior. Maybe starting with smaller bits, specific articles, like the one on divorce, if there are some that have children as the topic, see how that goes and go from there.
        I haven’t found anyone who hasn’t lived it who can begin to grasp what CD is and does. Nor wants to. A friend, we’ve been in and out of each other’s lives since we were 9, has parents who divorced after dad had affair with mom’s good friend. Nice. This friend knows more than anyone about things that have happened to me and sons. Once again, when I am beside myself, because my sons are so distant, she reminded me that all kids have a hard time when parents divorce! Arrrrrggggghhhhhh!
        My son suffered with severe anxiety for years, I would try to talk to teachers, and was essentially told to go home and find something to do. Attorney?? HA! Didn’t even get my debilitating anxiety, I would beg for CD to have consequences, but Atty wanted to just go for big stuff. Agree, agree, agree with everything else on your list.
        I’m not sure even I can put CD into words. That is why I am so very grateful for each of you…no words necessary.

        1. Lulu, there’s nothing “normal” about separating or divorcing a CD person and you’re right people who haven’t lived through it don’t get it at all. Even if they do know what you’ve lived, they think after separation it suddenly becomes “normal” and again it’s so far from the mark!

          I’ve had professionals and friends who think that it is just a normal breakdown! The law even changes its tune! I get so frustrated by it all because it is this belief that somehow once you leave everything reverts to this accepted balance that allows these CD’s to continue to manipulate you further through the very process that is supposed to be fair and just!

          Kid’s have more than a hard time, they are completely lost and mostly cope the best way they no how which is to turn it all inside. I’d love to see some written literature or something that helps children understand but I guess they don’t have that knowledge base when younger, teenagers I think start to get it but they still need guidance. My son was given a brochure on separation, written for children much younger than him but it was all that was available. I’ll admit I threw it out. It had nothing in it really that could help him in this situation. Again it was written for those who are in a “normal” separation where both parents are doing what’s best for their children in a difficult situation. Totally different to these relationships!

  22. LisaO, you have helped me so much by giving me different points of view. Not only was their entire lifetime one of happy family, because I was determined to make it look like that, they never saw their dad as he really was. I left because I was tired of the emotional distance, his drinking, my realization that he could sustain good husband mode for a while, never for very long.
    Earlier someone (Puddle?) wrote that it wasn’t until she got out of the situation that she became aware of all the lying. Stab after stab of realizing all the betrayal that had happened. Jean, it does take time completely away to begin to process who this person really is. When we first separated, I was crushed by the LUNATIC that was unleashed. He was so unbelievably mean. There were current betrayals that were shocking and painful. I could not recover from the right hook before the left fist got me. Things calmed down eventually, about 2 years, I Was living in a charming apartment but had not really moved in. I went through everything, anything that had any bad emotional connection had to go. That’s when I began to discover evidence of betrayals that had happened decades ago. Odd experiences from the past would pop into my brain…..when looked at with the new camera lens of lying CD, they made sense. Oh the pain of acknowledging I had never meant a thing to him. I understood why we had been unable to get a divorce and move on. Why I couldn’t sustain an even keel kind of life. What was wrong with me…shocking, isn’t it that I blamed myself? It wasn’t until I got on here, that I had gotten to the end of the line…..the total marriage was a sham. All that I had done for him had never been appreciated…even a little bit. He was entitled to all that, right? It was both devastating and freeing. To finally understand what had kept me upset for the past 4 years, to have friends here who don’t need words and are always there to support me……..what a tremendous gift.

    1. Hi Lulu,

      I mentioned that the back and forth about your kids is helping me, too. My father had a very bad relationship with my younger brother, my older sister and myself. I became the black sheep–younger sister became the golden child. To this day, younger sister has to maintain, for the sake of vanity, or sanity, that there was ‘nothing out of the ordinary,’ about our family. As I was the black sheep, as a teenager, I have to remain so, as it solidifies the ‘happy family’ illusion she needs to support her sense of identity, security and ‘happiness.’ She will occasionally break ranks with the illusion and fleetingly make reference to the reality. But she quickly defaults to complete indifference or an imperious,”who are YOU to question me,” arrogance that is pretty telling of her character and takes very little to provoke.

      So, that is how she has reacted to being raised by a father who treated her relatively well, as she was very compliant (understandably!). This is the best she can do. I, unfortunately, don’t relish the role of black sheep at this stage of the game and have pushed back against it. And, that’s understandable, too. I haven’t represented any problems to my parents since I was a teenager. I realize after the back and forth (had already let her go after many years of turmoil) with you about your son’s attitude towards their father, how truly intractable wrong ideas can be. These family models were created when she was young. It is very very hard to change emotional bedrock, particularly if the child’s sense of self and emotional survival depended on it. My sister HAD to think of me as bad. She would have had to face that her father had major problems, had she not. So her stubborn impression, to this day, informs her point of view. There is nothing I can do (I have tried) to change it. All I can do is remove myself from a toxic situation, where I keep getting conflicting messages. She is a fragile haughty individual and so the situation differs from your own, as your sons are likely not! But…I feel this quality of trying to protect an idea of a parent can be so strong, it resists all change, even in offspring who are not character disordered. Your sons had you as a Mom, which was such a benefit. They will very likely come around but it probably has to be on their own timetable. I am so sorry you are going through this. We want to be fully supported by our loved ones, particularly when we are alone and hurting. Life…sometimes a bowl of cherries. Other times just one big rotten banana!

      1. Or the pits….I just saw this LisaO, you are spot on and more. Talked to younger son, D., not only is he struggling with a different dad, he has very different me, as well. We’ve touched on that a bit before, today he really got into it. When he left for college, we were Happy Family, even though he came home for a couple of summers, he worked at night and slept all day. When he graduated college, as you talked about earlier, that HF thing exploded into a million tiny pieces. Family gone, seeing how Dad really is, brother under the covers somewhere and I was a complete mess. Everything he had known since he was born had been shaken up like a snow globe. Thank you so very much, LisaO for helping me see the big picture from his perspective. I think I’ve said already that he has OCD , and for years he was holding on to me so he wouldn’t spin out into space. Clung to me literally and figuratively for survival. So all this happens and not only am i completely unavailable, he said he was so tense whenever we talked because I really did act bi- polar. Who is this woman? Also he’s resentful because he’s the kid in the family, yet felt responsible for keeping everyone going. He wants space now to have the young adult life he deserves. Also time to trust that I am emotionally stable. Money is to start coming May 1, that will help tremendously. Talked to older son, M, who had been to his therapist, he had two choices of how to manage “divorce stuff”. One to go NC or set boundaries, mostly no div talk. My heart stopped because he is such an avoider and I also feel I get blamed for a lot of what dad has done. He got a little emotional saying he did not want NC so he said he was setting boundaries. Hopefully this will diminish skyrocketing anxiety when talking to or seeing me. Would have given anything to hear how convo went with dad. Curious about how boundary thing will work with dad going forwaed. I feel like we’ve taken a giant step forward, but I know better than to think everything is peachy (to add to the fruit thing).

        1. Lulu,

          Thank YOU. When I read about your sons it gives me more insight into my brother, too. That’s a whole different story for another day! Another thing I have found, too, is most men don’t like interpersonal drama of any kind….if there is any complexity involved. If it’s really simple, like a stranger made you feel bad and you cry, their protective feelings are aroused and their deepest sympathies a d they will be the first to offer a shoulder to cry on. But if the exchange has an, “and then he said this and then I said this,” followed by numerous digressions, subsets of extraneous info, together with related experiences from our past, they are just lost. Either they back away, get hostile, or fall asleep! It’s so hurtful but so strangely necessary. I was really surprised by my brother’s hostility to my problems–I certainly have been there for him his whole life. And even though he writes about very deep and emotional subjects, it’s from a perspective of distance and is less interpersonal than philosophical and political. He is out of his league, to some extent, interpersonally. To make up for this he will send me funny youtube videos?? Like cue the caveman, “I sorry, sister. Here, look, went hunting and brought you very funny youtube videos!”

    1. Hi Lulu — yes, I’m OK, just very busy with workload. I do read all the posts, wishing you well, I know there are days when you feel down in the dumps, but then some days are better. Once when I was really down, I asked God for a sign that things would be better, it was May, June out in the country, and as I drove with windows down, I heard the most wonderful birdsong, there was a meadowlark on a fence post singing for all he was worth. And then there was a wonderful rainbow! Made me feel much better. I do pray for all of you daily. Peace and hope from Elva

      1. That really is powerful, Elva. I don’t want to go very far down the religion path, especially not in mixed company, as my book club organizer says. A couple of weeks ago, I felt so down, sad, helpless. I just said show me, lead me, let me know what to do. I came upon this website……I had really hit the jackpot!

        1. Hi Lulu — glad you have been helped. I should say that I don’t consider myself to be religious. I quit going to church about 10 years ago — the local churches, many different denominations, have pretty much all gone the way of the world, and I don’t feel comfortable in any of them. But I do read my Bibles (several different translations) and pray. Sounds to me like you’ve made considerable progress in your journey. It’s not easy, especially with your sons not fully understanding about their father’s CD. Take it one day at a time, keep asking “what should I do now?” and help will come. Peace and Hope from Elva

  23. I have been thinking of this subject Dr. Simon has revisited. Even though, all I have read I can still get caught up in the deceit. And, I do not dispel the cases of true sickness in the character disordered ie.. childhood that can cause them to subconsciously bury the pain and at the same time not be aware of the driving forces of their own pathological sickness. Question, at some point they must become aware of what they do and realize they have a problem and I’m not talking of the socio/psycho. Someplace, at sometime they crossover or continue to live in denial and their hatred and anger changes them forever and add to their psych diagnoses.

    I am wondering if some of you would want to share some of the most confusing but at the same time very plausible ruses used with you and if you considered it to be a power play, one-up, or their testing the waters or what the reason might have been.

    What struck me most was how agreeable I always was to stand up to the plate and want to fix/take responsibility for. The determining factor for me was an event that shook me to my core and in no way was I wrong except to be declared completely incompetent. It boiled down to this individual was now trying to define my reality.

    This sickness of CD as written about by Dr. Simon is of such great importance that it is defining our world. And, yes, even if we each take back one at a time we have stood up and have fought the good fight. In looking back with the knowledge you have today, how would you have handled it differently, in so many respects I now see this as an addiction of sorts. I ask these things for the sake of my grandchildren walking the same path just different shoes. I hope I made sense. Thank you and Blessings

    1. BTOV,
      Yes! I still get caught up in the deceit. I still doubt at times whether I am making mountains out of mole hills. Then at other times I know he said and did things he shouldn’t have.
      After 40 years of marriage it is so confusing. I guess everybodies story is different. I still get confused when I try to figure out exactly WHAT he is trying to accomplish with this behavior. I believe it basically comes down to he wants to control my thoughts and emotions. But why?
      Because it makes no sense to me I sometimes allow myself to think I’m imagining it. It can be so exhausting this emotional back and forth. From guilt to anger. From empowerment to discouragement.

      Lulu, your story strikes a chord with me because it is so similar to my story. I only wish that I could hurry up and be in a place where I know I’m right in my decision to leave.
      Although you are going through so much pain – there’s a confidence in you that I wish I had. Maybe I will someday – I only moved out about a month and a half ago.

      1. Jean, I have read so many different answers to this question and it depends on their individual pathology. In the individuals I deal with I understand their different mechanics. I still will at times get sucked into thinking they will hear me. Wrong! wrong! wrong! It is their addiction fix to have power over another. They usually feel so insecure, they need to feel control over another. It seems to me you have no small children to deal with. So, the best thing in order for you to heal is practice No Contact whatsoever with him. You will be surprised after just a few short weeks and gleaning all the knowledge you can from the people on this site how differently you will feel about yourself and situation. You may have to give up a lot but, then, you will gain yourself back. Their are ways to protect your assets too, just ask. Try to read as many of Dr. Simons posts as possible, and the responses. Of all the sites I have ever visited for 10 years this is the only one I have felt comfortable commenting on. Read and reread Dr. Simons books. Many of the commenters have suggested other good reads too. Give yourself the time you need to recoup your strength. Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft is a good read. Find a strong supportive group, I got stuck and wasted so many of my years trying to fix them. Many times I get called to come back into the twisted mess because I am the most “sane” for lack of a better word to try and cleanup and supposedly help, and when I did they sucked me dry and then tossed me to the side. It is NOT my responsibility! They need to grow up and do their own work. In essence for me to get healthy I divorced them too! I am fascinated by the sickness, but in your fragile state I would not try to dwell on them which is easier said than done. Stay strong, and begin to live, and let go. I know its hard to start over at our age but at least we have peace of mind and we are not the crazy ones. I will keep you in my prayers, my faith is what preserved my sanity. Blessings and be well.

        1. Another great book is The verbally abusive relationship, by Pat Evans. Awesome at waking people up to the tricks of the trade of our (un)favorite people.

          1. Vera, good recommendation. On my journey, it was my first read. Ordered it and he picked it up for me, could had cared less about what came in the mail, whew, was I glad when I had it in my hands, hid it and worried it would be found. After the first book I ordered all of her books. And it only got worse from there, I was so naïve and unaware, I knew something wasn’t right but I never how bad it would get. Blessings

  24. Here’s an example of gaslighting at it’s finest: my ex N gave me the silent treatment (to date someone else / secure new supply)… I went to his house to discuss this, because there was no getting a hold of him. HIS FRIEND CAME TO THE DOOR TO TELL ME I HAD THE WRONG HOUSE. I’d been there several times before. Inside in the house, even. I just cried at the door. It only added salt to my wound… how stupid did he think I was ? That was really annoying of me, too. How dare I embarrass him in front of his friend to confront him about HIS behavior.

    That’s just the most obvious of all the manipulation. What’s really sad is that he started manipulating me at age 13 until last year, 28 years old. I watched a confused boy turn into a narcissistic monster. I turned his last discard into my no contact. I only hope I have the resources, support and guts to send him away next time he comes knocking.

  25. I was married for 32 years. Eventually of course I knew I was being mentally abused, but the years of gas lighting, blame and belittling left me feeling so empty and insecure I was afraid to go out into the world. I believed I couldn’t cut it. My ex was the type that treated me like gold in front of others, and always said nice things about me. He conned everyone except for those of us closest to him, and we were terrorized into acting as if all was normal because it would be “betraying the family” to talk about personal issues. He never touched me, but he took an egg beater to my mind. I am finally on my own, still wrapping my head around what has happened to my life. My grown son will not speak to me, and my grown daughter is spiriling downward because of her life choices. Friends that my ex and I had together still think he hung the moon and I was the nut who messed up our marriage and kids. I know my marriage to him was a mistake…do we pay for some of our mistakes the rest of our lives?

  26. I’ve been through this or something like this for most of my life. My sense of self, my trust in myself, my confidence in my memory and opinions, my direction and goals… everything you can think of, including my sense of reality and what exactly my life is, it’s all a big mess so much so that I don’t even know how to talk about it and make people understand or where to even start, its all very confusing and I wish I knew how to fix it and be me

  27. my ex used to manipulate me this way. She’d always say “I’m going to start recording our conversations so I can prove how you say one thing then think you said another”

    I’m out of the relationship now, and she never did make one of those recordings…

    Men get victimized too. I was severely manipulated this way.

    1. Hi Neil,
      Yes, it is very true men get victimized this way too. Going through my divorce I had several fellows that had CD wife’s help me. In fact a fellow now that is helping me had someone do the same to him. Took him for a lot of money and then it was “good bye.”

      Another individual who is helping me was very CD and had a come to “Jesus” moment, that was 20 years ago and never has gone back to his twisted ways. He literally gave his life over to Christ and is completely a different person. He said he has to keep himself in check and when that old thinking comes to mind, he nips it in the bud, but as the years pass it gets easier. He willingly admits his past ways. I have know him for this amount of time and he knew my X, so when I left and told him he understood and knew that what I was telling him was true. He also enlightened me to the twisted thinking patterns and it was extremely validating and helpful. He said his selfish thinking was since childhood. So a CD can change if they want too, it is a choice.

  28. I’ve just found your site and the article(s) on gaslighting. I married a narc that used every tactic he could to literally drive me crazy. He was the nicest, sweetest, man I had ever known prior to our marriage. Then the mask slowly slipped off and my world shattered. For a long while, I did not know anything about manipulators and my effort was in finding the key that would unlock the door that held my sweet, kind husband. Only later, I had to face the reality that he was a sham. What I was now living with was the true person, the other was simply a make believe character used to draw me in. I began to search out books and articles. I started therapy but to my dismay, my therapist, though very good and understanding, knew nothing about my husbands behaviors. I think she actually thought I was paranoid, but I had studied too much to accept that that was what was wrong. The study I did had convinced me that I was dealing with an evil person, intent on convincing me that I was crazy, or that I had issues with trusting anyone, was hypercritical, etc. there were so many lies, my head spun most of the time. I however, could not seem to break free of him. He was like a drug habit I could not break. I put so much effort into “saving” my marriage, I was chronically exhausted, trying to please him at every turn, yet not ever feeling I did or ever could, still I could not stop. Then One day it hit me and I remember that day like it was yesterday, I remember the date even. Sitting at my dressing table, gazing into the mirror, I asked my image why I continued trying, as I had asked many times. Only this time, the answer was crystal clear. The feelings of never being enough, never doing enough, never measuring up, was exactly the way I had felt growing up with a mother very much like him. That realization freed me. When he got home that day, all his things were packed in garbage bags on the back porch and I told him it was over. No fanfare, nothing. He tried talking, but I had already decided there was no way out of this mess but to stay away, not to listen to anymore of his lies, reasoning, etc. I had a difficult several months, but I knew I could not reconcile unless I was willing to be continually abused, emotionally and verbally. I feel so sorry for anyone living in this nightmare. My only advice would be to believe your gut feelings. You are not crazy, but you are being manipulated with extreme tactics that will make you think it is all your fault. Read, seek therapy with someone that understands what you are going through. You are stronger than you think, smarter than you know and there is a way out. It will not be without pain, but that pain will get better. Living with him or her will be a lifetime of pain.

  29. Well, I’ve read and read this blog. Been there, done that. Manipulative people are angry, wounded, selfish, game playing, etc., etc. Finally, I was out of there. The shock was devastating. Facing the truth was excruciating. But after the numbness and pain receded I found myself saying that what I preferred was the truth. Hurting hurts. But within a month of not living with the craziness I heard myself say, “Wow, I get to be myself again.” Granted I had a part in that mess, but I didn’t see it at the time. When he wanted to try again. I asked, “Why?” It blew him out of the water. I had never questioned anything before. I was a trained puppet. He didn’t have an answer. Long story short: I eventually learned to forgive myself – harder than anything else. The pain went away. I laughed again. I have a life again. And my biggest lesson? I am NOT responsible for anyone but myself. I am not the savior of the world. Nor do I want to be. Whew. I was an accident waiting to happen, but God got me through it and I am who I should have been all along. Hang in there. You realize there’s something wrong? Good for you. You’re started to win already!!

    1. Ellen,
      Please come visit the current topic section where we have regular posters. We’d all love to hear your input. I’m sure you’ve got lots to add to the topic of discussion.

  30. You all lose. Check this out:

    My ex introduced me to the term gaslighting.

    3 years later, she claimed to have never heard the term and had no idea what I was talking about.


    1. Hahahaha, Jonathan!! Reminds me of this one:

      Joker: Why do narcissists indulge in gaslighting?
      Respondent: I don’t know, why do narcissists indulge in gaslighting?
      Joker: I said moonlighting, there’s no such thing as gaslighting. Why did you think I said gaslighting?

      And this one:
      What is a narcissist’s idea of being abused?
      Occasionally having to go along with someone else’s preferences.

      While we’re all busy finding an escape from the N-abuse(r)’s-spell by becoming authentic and less co-dependent, we must laugh once in a while.
      I call it “concentration-camp-humor, may be my dutch nature 🙂
      Lots of succes to everyone here who’e struggling! <3

  31. I don’t know what to do. I am living this right now and feel very very suicidal. My husband of 18 years (plus years dating makes it 27) has been, now realizing, gaslighting me since day one. We have children and I don’t have any financial support to help. I am on a mental trip I cannot seem to get a grip on.

    Has my husband ever loved me? Were the sweet memories nothing to him? I can not deal with this. Please somebody help me.

    1. Jackie,
      Be cause I’ve also been with a man for 18 years, I can totally relate to the intensity of your despair. What really helped me to overcome my unbearable fears, was reading and watching people like Lisa a Romano and Melanie Tonia Evans. (I’m not their friend/manager/sister or anything).
      If you listen long and often enough to what they went through, it will become clear that you have nothing to loose by leaving the person with narcissistic behavior. On the contrary, eventually you will gain so much from this jump in the unknown, be cause it’s a statement to the entire universe:
      I, Jackie, am a valuable person and love is my birthright. It’s my essence.

      Like Tina Turner escaped from Ike by chanting her mantra, everyone can transform by reprogramming your feelings of unworthiness.
      There WILL be light at the end of the tunnel!
      With love from Holland!!

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