Bearing the Burden of Responsible Living – Wrap-Up

Living in a socially responsible manner inevitably requires a person to bear certain burdens. Fortunately, there are many who are willing to do so. And some of the more ardently conscientious, “neurotic” individuals among us are perhaps all-too-willing to bear these burdens (thus often “enabling” character-impaired individuals to shirk their responsibilities). When fairly conscientious folks find themselves in relationships with disturbed or disordered characters, they generally end up carrying a disproportionate share of burdens. At times, it can seem like the weight of the whole world is on their shoulders. The vignette that follows (as always, details have been altered to preserve anonymity) illustrates such a scenario, which, based on the thousands of stories I’ve heard over the years, is, unfortunately, an all-too-frequent occurrence, and concludes the current series on bearing social burdens (see also the articles: Bearing the Burden of Responsible Living and Bearing the Burden of Responsible Living – Part 2). 

The fact that Mary was as accomplished a person at all she did would astound almost anyone. She’d worked her way up to management-level position in a major international corporation, somehow still found the time to be “super mom” to her 4 children (operating the after-school “shuttle service,” for their various activities, serving as tutor, coach, and mentor, paying the bills, managing the household), and was the consummate, dutiful and devoted wife. She knew that Steve worked hard, too, in his own way. He was quite the entrepreneur, operating as many as 3 businesses simultaneously at one point in time. But she was getting a bit weary of all the schemes that had never quite paid off and all the promises that had never come to fruition. And lately she’d come to feel like she was both bankrolling and underwriting a lifestyle that Steve always wanted but never really earned strictly on his own. Now she didn’t really begrudge him the time he spent on the golf course, because, after all, it appeared his primary – perhaps his only – form of recreation. But she was getting increasingly weary of carrying so much of the load and she really needed him to pitch in more. And it bothered her even more that not only did he not seem to feel inclined to do more on his own but he also seemed to be complaining more and more that she wasn’t being “supportive” enough. Here she was, emptying herself out completely each and every day and he was the one somehow feeling the right to be dissatisfied. So she knew she needed to confront him.

At first things looked promising as Steve promised to go to counseling with her. But he quickly found fault with the therapist who, according to Steve, only seem to want to blame him and tear him down, so he stopped going. Soon after that, and without warning, Mary’s whole world seemed to fall apart. Her company laid off several mid-level managers, and although she had escaped the first round of cuts, she eventually found herself without a job and its substantial income. But perhaps even more of a blow to the gut was Steve’s announcement that he’d been thinking for a while that he needed time and space to “sort through some issues” – to find himself as it were. And within weeks he’d be wanting a formal separation, having already secured an apartment in town that fairly soon afterward she would learn he would be sharing with someone he’d met some time ago through one of his business ventures. She would also learn that their joint bank accounts no longer had the balances she had every reason to believe they had. It seems Steve’s enterprises had been experiencing a “cash flow problem” for quite awhile and he needed the money to sustain himself. So now she had no one to lean on or depend on but herself, and at the moment she had no job, little money in the bank, a stack of unpaid bills, 4 children who still very much needed their mom, and very little hope for the future. How could her life have unraveled so quickly? And how could all Steve’s shenanigans have happened right under her nose?

Actually, the warning signs were there early on. Mary entered her marriage with every intention of being a full partner to Steve and doing her part to build a life together. And as their family grew, every decision she made was made with both Steve’s and her family’s welfare in the forefront of her mind. But right from the start, it wasn’t quite that way with Steve. Somehow, it was always about him. All his energy was directed toward he enjoyed or what he thought would get him the things he desired. True, he could sometimes work very hard. But his efforts were always in the service of his own interest. And whenever things got rough or when it was pretty clear that Mary or the kids really needed him to step up to the plate, he either had no time or energy to give them or was all-too-ready to bail out. Now, it had happened again, and big time! He’d literally taken the money and run and seemingly without a concern in the world or a moment’s hesitation, leaving behind not only his dutiful wife of 20 plus years but also his own four children – all, for the purported purpose of “finding himself” (The truth would out much later that Steve quickly lost interest in his marriage when Mary no longer had the means to support a lifestyle to which he had become accustomed.  And the money he drained from their accounts would help him maintain positive impressions while he plotted the exploitation of his next victim).

Mary had to learn the hard way something both I and Stanton Samenow have written about many times with respect to persons of impaired character: They seem to have a real aversion to a particular kind of labor. They find expending energy on anyone else’s behalf quite unpalatable. That kind of w-o-r-k is truly a “four-letter word” to them (For more on this see the articles: Character and Attitudes toward Work and When W-O-R-K is a Four-Letter Word). As Samenow asserts, they have a big problem with accepting “obligation.”  They hate to feel like they owe anything to anyone other than themselves and are unwilling to engage in those “labors of love” so necessary to make things work and that persons of decent character more willingly and freely embrace. The more narcissistic characters are so self-absorbed and feel so “above” the need, they simply don’t concern themselves with the needs of others. And the more antisocial characters find the whole notion of heeding their social responsibilities too much like submitting themselves to a higher power or authority, a notion I assert in my books In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome is inherently abhorrent to them. To care enough about the welfare of others to want to work on their behalf requires empathy and is the essence of genuine love. Disturbed characters of the ilk I described above, lack the capacity to love in this way because they lack empathy, and the warning signs of such empathy deficits are always in the attitudes they display toward accepting obligation.

This Sunday night’s Character Matters program at 7 pm Eastern Daylight Time (6 PM CDT and 4 PM PDT) will again be a live show, so I can take your phone calls.

104 thoughts on “Bearing the Burden of Responsible Living – Wrap-Up

  1. Re: meditation. This has been much discussed here lately. I would strongly urge anyone contemplating transcendental style medication to do a bit of research first. First, google for and read “Dangerous meditations” by Douglas Groothuis, on the Christianity Today website. Next, google for “Escape from the Spirit Guides” by Sharon Beekman; when you google for this one, use the quotation marks. If you empty out your mind, you may find that what then fills it is not what you would choose, if you were rational.

    I also suggest Malachi Martin’s book, “Hostage to the devil: the possession and exorcism of five contemporary Americans” – c. 1999. But before you read it, go to and read the reviews — it may give you nightmares.

    I’d also like to remind everyone of some statistics: according to NIMH, 1 out of every 4 Americans has some degree of mental illness or mental disorder; according to the American Psychiatric Association, the ratio is 1 out of every three. Martha Stout estimates that 1 out of every 25 people has some degree of sociopathy.

    During the Middle Ages, Arabs kept civilization alive with advances in medicine, mathematics, astronomy, etc. That has dwindled over the centuries. People have theorized as to why? Here’s one possible answer: marriages between cousins, aunts, uncles — intrafamilial marriages — have led to great inbreeding with resultant multiple physical birth disorders, lowered IQs, and though the article didn’t mention it, most probably mental illnesses and /or disorders. In Pakistan, for example, the article said that as much as 70% of the population was inbred.

    Given the high percentages of such ill or disordered individuals, do you, any of you, really want to be part of a “mass cultural awakening” ???
    Do you really want the random thoughts of all of these malfunctioning individuals to impinge on your mind???

    No. I do not, and I suspect that if any of you think this through, you would not either. It is “magical thinking” to imagine that such an “awakening” would somehow cure all these ills.

    Dr. Simon, perhaps you could comment with your views on meditation? Thank you. Peace and hope from Elva

    1. You probably remember this link I’ve posted here quite a few times.

      TM isn’t for everyone, even though the TM -cult claims it to be.

      Also, I don’t think it’s supposed to be forcefully emptying the mind, but disciplining it, not getting too caught up in all those random little thoughts. You can’t literally stop thinking. You’re always thinking, even if it’s on a very subconscious level.

      I have commented on New Age -thinking and magical thinking, too, as well as seen some others do(I recall LisaO criticizing how it’s all supposed to be oh-so-positive just like that.)

      “If you empty out your mind, you may find that what then fills it is not what you would choose, if you were rational.” While I’m not sure what exactly you’re saying with this, I have read about people forcibly numbing their own minds with TM(not sure about other kinds of meditation) and suffering psychological ailments. A great example is in Margaret Singer’s Cults in our midst. I’ve also read about trance channeling, which has a person believe s/he is channeling messages of an external entity. Automatic writing I can understand letting the unconscious speak and write, but channeling supposedly external entities is in whole another realm.*

      *Side notice: I do remember refering to an old text in Carl Jung’s vol 8 quite a few times about people feeling an uncanny presence of supposed complexes that don’t feel like they belong to them. I think I misexpressed myself, because I remember you being quite aggravated at me. Someone’s mind can play tricks on them(let’s say someone catches a glimpse of a lost figure of a loved one that really isn’t there), unfortunately. The example I gave back then was a little bit too extreme and I admit I misexpressed myself. You were also wondering about “unconscious entities” and I think you’ve seen me mention autonomous complexes far more often here, split-off parts that seem to have an autonomy of their own and that need to be re-integrated. Autonomous complexes(or like Jung said in his one text, soul complexes) are denied and repressed parts of a person.

      “Given the high percentages of such ill or disordered individuals, do you, any of you, really want to be part of a “mass cultural awakening” ???” Besides only one question mark being necessary, are you, Elva, perhaps refering to some comments I’ve made in response to Puddle and LisaO in the comments of the last article? That was some reasoning there, about spreading awareness and getting more and more people to awaken to many, many troubling realities. We do discuss those kinds of things here, too, even if we can’t exactly predict how it’ll all go or even if we can’t say exactly how we’d go on to bring about our ideas.

      ” In Pakistan, for example, the article said that as much as 70% of the population was inbred.” What article?

      “Do you really want the random thoughts of all of these malfunctioning individuals to impinge on your mind???” Not sure what you’re saying with this.

    2. There are many great guided meditations on Youtube alone and I urge you survivors to check those out.

      Also, feel free to take a look at I and Elva’s little conversation here. Interesting thoughts about spiritual bondage and liberation.

    3. “It is “magical thinking” to imagine that such an “awakening” would somehow cure all these ills.”

      Missed this the first time. I have never claimed any awakening or anything similar would be a magical cure to anything. I don’t know what this is supposed to be, but I sure haven’t claimed what you say I have.

  2. There’s a lot in this post that really hits the nail on the head for me! With these types it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t…there’s nothing that you can do that is ever good enough! They think they’re the bees knees and the rest of us are chook feed!

  3. This article hit very close to home for me also. The lack of feelings of responsibility, the lack of desire to “do” for those you love.

    My x just could not hold a job, in the 14 years we were together he was fired twice for attitude, his condescension and superior attitude, his inability to control his temper got him fired twice. Then the attitude about it, like it was a joke! He thought it was funny!

    He stayed home and collected unemployment for several years. I was working full time plus overtime, took a position that I did not feel qualified for to compensate for the loss of income and he did nothing. He did berate me for my work though, “a monkey could do your job”, “you cannot handle this job” as I was handling it and even being promoted.

    Then when I would so gently and diplomatically ask him for help with house work or yard work, he would instantly get defensive and angry. It was easier to just do it all myself.

    Also, during the last year together, when he would say that he never felt loved by me (his excuse for his first affair), we would discuss, “what does love look like”. This came about because I was determined for things to be better, to dig to the core of our problems. I was not going to settle for the status quo anymore. He would say that cooking his meals, cleaning the home, working a job, washing his clothes, none of that was done from love. He couldn’t tell me what love was to him but that was not.

    I think his second affair came about because I was not the same person he left the first time. I was pushing for authenticity, reciprocity, honesty, love, real honest to goodness love without abuse. No more empty apologies with no change. That would have meant work for him, change for him and he had no desire for that.

    Easier to start over with a blank slate, with someone that believes his empty words. He can pretend, as he did with me, until his attitudes and anger start to show. Show they will, I lived it. I also know that others have lived it with him before me, I was conned.

    A recent letter from him, “I know what I was doing. The manipulation and abuse was deliberate. It is all on you though because you did not stand up for yourself. I kept my promise to you to protect you. Now you know better and no one will ever be able to abuse you again. I made you strong.”

    That has had my head spinning. The anger keeps rising and I want to lash out. I know that it will accomplish nothing. There is nothing I want from him that he has to give. He will only give more pain. I think the topper is that he is giving himself credit for the changes in me, as if he did this for me as opposed to , to me.

    Then add the layer of does he even believe any of this or is it just more manipulation??? To what goal??? Just because he had the opportunity???

    I really wish that I never knew that people like this really exist. I think it would be easier to grieve for the death of his body instead of the death of his humanity.

    I feel like I have either entered or have exited the Twighlight Zone, haven’t decided which yet. It is as if my whole reality of the world has been altered.

    Thank you again for your articles. They do help so much, the validation, the sorely needed validation after so many years of confusion.

    1. Freedom, I can relate to so many aspects of your post, some differences but ALOT of similarities too. Sometimes I wonder if we are all talking about one guy who somehow magically transports to different places around the world and dupes a whole lot of ladies. I had read in a forum on a different blog, one lady commented if all these character disturbed individuals go to a secret school or have secret meetings to learn how to do all these things.
      I can completely understand the anger you felt upon reading the letter. It truly also angers me when the CD in my life won’t even attempt to learn from his mistakes. I rarely even get angry anymore over his false contrition, desire to hurt, lies, manipulation, etc. but when he sits there and either acts oblivious to what he’s doing/done, blames me for his issues, blames me for not “helping him enough, confronting him enough, telling him what he can do to ‘fix’ things, then overtly ignore or do the opposite of what I’ve asked if him, and then blame me for ALWAYS confronting him, and then to take credit for helping me be a better person … Those are the things that almost boil my blood, it’s sounds so crazy making that if I try to wrap my head around it I just get more confused and angry. Then try to explain it to someone else, a therapist or a pastor, and they just look at you like your the crazy one … Since such outrageous attitudes seem so crazy that no one (who hasn’t experienced it) could accept that someone could really behave in such a way.
      Wow, this has really brought up the confusion and anger just thinking about it. I’m actually even angry at your ex, and I don’t even know him or you (unless of course he is that magical guy who transports around the world, abusing, blaming, acting entitled to every woman who has the misfortune of crossing his path).
      Although, my heart goes out to you for having experienced this, it is such a comfort to read and understand that I’m not crazy…there really are men out there who are so blatantly inconsiderate and irresponsible

      1. Hi Sheri,

        The similarities are very creepy. Wish it was just one guy! Then we wouldn’t have to fear running into another one!

        I understand what you mean when you say you take comfort from hearing others stories. It does help to “normalize” it all. I keep telling myself, when I feel crazy, “this is a normal reaction to an abnormal experience”. Sometimes it helps.

        I am so tired of the pain though. It just seems to be never ending. I do have some good hours now but still to wake up one morning and not have this be my first conscious thought. I long for that. Working hard on finding good, creating good in my life but it is a very long, hard process.

        1. It is a long, hard process. It can be exhausting. Sometimes I find that even try to fill time with good is tiring. I’m not meaning to start a pity party, but sometimes it just seems so unfair. I’m always willing to learn, to grow, etc. there have been so many obstacles in my life that I’ve overcome, some with help, some with just maturity and learning from experience. But overcoming what these people do seems so much harder because, even though we know from experience what they are like, it is still difficult to truly comprehend how some people can be so cruel. That’s the hardest part, it’s not so much even what happened in the past, it’s hard to wrap my mind around how now that so much of it has been exposed and confronted … They still fight so hard to continue to do whatever they want and truly believe they shouldn’t have to face any consequences. That’s the part I don’t get, I’ve done many wrongs in my life, but when I faced a consequence for the action I readily accepted it. A person can read about these people, experience a relationship with them first hand, and it’s still so unbelievable

          1. Sheri, I know…….I wish I had a dollar for every time I found myself shaking my head, literally or internally, in perplexed disbelief. I don’t know if this is true but maybe it is one of the things that makes this all so difficult to get past. I’m SO over spathtardx. that is not a problem for me anymore….no lingering desires, hope, longing……..nothing but disgust and repulsion. But, trying to process the reality of a person who would do this to someone, in the way he did it, that his mother and sister and who knows who else were in on it…..just mind boggling. BUT, they may have been in on “it” only because of some line of BS he fed them for his own twisted reasons. At any rate………I really do feel like I’m close to, in Dr. Simons term, The Wrap Up of all of this emotionally.

          2. some of it is actually so incredible that if I hadn’t of experienced myself it seems almost funny. For example, this is a statement he actually said once not so long ago…. “I know I’m not changing, I really am trying (add tears now) if you would just stop noticing how I’m not changing (add whiny tone to voice) maybe I could actually change.” At that point I went to the bathroom and quietly laughed at how a person can actually think that something like that even makes sense on any level. Okay, here’s my translation of what his statement means when you translate CD speak to common language… “It’s all your fault I’m the way I am, so if you go back to just believing all my crap so I can continue to do whatever I want whenever I want, and you just treat me like a great guy, meeting all my unrealistic, unspoken expectations…and do it with a smile. Well, then, everything will be okay and I can superficially love you again and seem like a great guy!”

          3. Yes Sheri, I have a few of those “funny” stories as well and they are so rediculous to me now. As I’ve said, they are either like the example you have described (utter nonsence) or like something from a really bad soap opera. LOOKING BACK from where I am now, out from under all of it, it’s obvious. Then, not so much. It’s like someone put me and him in a blender for two years and set it permanently on high speed, just a blur of confusion. I understand it but can’t explain it.

          4. Yes, a lot of it is also very confusing … most of the time when I attempt to make sense of something that, even now, I am still confused about I just have to stop thinking about it and let it go. (I like your analogy of the blender). My counselor that I was seeing had told me that when these memories or experiences get confusing that I should write it all out to make sense of it. (Even though she was great at helping me learn how to set appropriate limits for myself, set some goals, tools to use to change my thinking and reactions – in the moment, through practice, practice, practice – I could tell that she never really experienced this type of level of manipulation and crazy-making from anyone). Not sure even you ever tried writing out some of the experiences, wow just trying to made my head spin even more. I just gave up. I will still occasionally write “letters” where I respond to a situation in a healthier way or “get my angries out”, in which I burn or paper shred, but if anyone says that writing out these encounters with these people will help, I don’t know, I often think they really haven’t met someone seriously disturbed. Very little makes sense with these type of people, so many double-standards and contradictions, there’s often no point trying to make sense … it’s far better to just realize they are who they are and to realize that often making sense of this is a waste of time.

            Something that I do like to do, in my head sometimes (as I still have encounters with the CD in my life) is something that I’ve run across on that the people who post there have done a few times. Is they take “abuser” speak and translate it to expose the underlying manipulation; what the statements would mean if they were spoken by someone who is clear about what they are meaning and intending. Now, I don’t want to purport that I KNOW what he thinks, however, I can infer from past painful learning experiences (things that took me a long time and a lot of heart-ache before I caught on) how when he says certain things, to normal ears it would sound like ‘wow, this guy is really great and truly wants to change his ways’. I of course don’t tell him, it’s just from experience, and it helps me not get sucked in … for example, when he says “I really want to resolve this.” (Now when a normal person says such a thing, it show progress, growth, a willingness to work things out, etc… however, it took so much craziness before I realized that to him this meant something entirely different) Translation: “I really want you to sit there and listen to me subtly minimize, make excuses and subtly blame you/others for what I’ve done, I truly am going to attempt to act like I had no clue what I was doing and then (with tears, whining, pitiful looks, a few sarcastic remarks) when you ask me for a clear commitment and accountability for a way I’m going to ensure it won’t happen again, I will get angry at you for not forgiving me. Hopefully it won’t get that far, as I really want you to pat me on the back and tell me that I’m such a great guy … there, issue resolved, and I can go on doing/saying whatever I want.” I know it almost seems horrible of me to think “I know” what he’s trying to do (him and counsellors have told me not to jump to conclusions, take what he says at face value,etc. … but nothing with him can be taken at face value). It has really helped me to not get sucked back in to his false contrition and vows of love, etc.
            Long post, just trying to get out there some of the things that have helped me.

    2. Freedom, oh ugh…so awful. I feel such sorrow for you. If you can do it, it’s probably better for you not to read anything he writes. Complete monster.

      1. Hi LisaO,

        I am prepared now I hope. I have a plan in place. I cannot just throw away letters because they just might contain an alimony check. I will give it to a friend to open for me.

        1. Freedom, I honestly can barely believe some of the twisted cruel vile nonsense these perpetual 2 year olds come out with. Am happy you are going to get a friend to open his mail. It’s a bit like opening something that might contain a designer scorpion that can sting you only. Everyone else is immune to the venom…

  4. Freedom, your words show a high level of understanding the whole situation. You mention his last letter…..and the reaction it brought in you. I’m sorry if I don’t remember but why are you still receiving communication from him? I get the stories mixed up sometimes.
    Your description of your feelings and experience hit very close to home Freedom.

  5. Hi Puddle, I think I understand it, I certainly have read enough about it. There does seem to be some sort of disconnect in me still though. I understand it, but it is almost as if I just cannot believe it.

    No worries about not remembering my story. I get them all mixed up too.

    The contact came about because I filed contempt charges for non payment of alimony. I changed my mind though and did not have him served by the sheriff. First because it would cost $50 and I didn’t think he would pay anyway. Second because I was afraid of this. I was afraid that it would make him contact me again. It had been 8 weeks of total NC from him.

    So, he did not read the papers from the court, just showed up without it being on the schedule. I did not go. He had to go before the judge. That is all I know. She must have told him that would go to jail if he did not pay. I got a check in the mail, not for the whole amount but a portion. My cost though is the contact.

    I suppose I could have just not read it, that would be the sensible thing to do. Apparently I am not that disciplined yet. Maybe if I ever receive another check or envelope from him I will give it to a friend to open. Oh yes, the check actually cleared!!! That was a surprise!

    1. Freedom, I understand your reading the note(?). With as much drama and intrigue as they tend to generate and crazy nonsense… You would have to be very very disciplined to not read something. They really know how to bait your curiosity. Heh! There is nothing he could say to me at this point that would surprise me or hurt me. That bridge has already been crossed. At this point anything he could or would say or do would only further validate the truth and provide entertainment.
      Again, I can relate to your entire post Freedom so it’s not that I’m to this place because I didn’t experience what you have…’s that my reaction to it all has changed. It has not gone away, it’s just different, but that twilight zone part? I doubt that will ever go away.

  6. Hi Freedom — glad you are still with us. Have wondered how you were doing, please keep us posted, we care. Peace and hope from Elva

    1. Hi Elva,

      I haven’t disappeared. I read here daily. I have been in a bit of a funk, almost unable to put words to my thoughts. Thanks for the kind words.

  7. I SO don’t like Steve. Even though I must have read a hundred stories very similar I am still aghast that someone would willingly parasitize another human being for that many years.

    Dr.Simon’s statement that the Narcissist feels arrogantly above the needs of others while the anti-social would rather die than submit, are interesting qualifiers. The P who targeted me was diagnosed anti-social, as a child. When he told me, I thought his parents must have been exaggerating or chastising him, or using the term loosely. It didn’t make sense. But then, neither dd his actions with his family at the time. I can remember being utterly confused by this, ‘kindest man I had ever met,’ on a few occasions. His son was engaged and wanting to get married, and soon. He was waiting for his Dad to tell him when he would be able to make the trip out there, so he could start making wedding preparations with his future wife. Over the course of the next 6 months, I kept asking him if he had let his son know when he could go visit him. His answer was priceless, “I know I could leave any time at all but I just don’t like being tied to a schedule!” I had never heard anything as gobsmackingly weird. It actually was a red flag and I puzzled over it frequently. Now I know, his committing to a schedule, in his mind, was submitting to the wishes, not just of his son and future daughter-in-law, but his entire extended family! And he would have none of it! How mind numbingly callous and selfish! If only I had known more about this type. Oh dear!

    1. It never ceases to amaze me how consumed by hate, envy, disdain and contempt they are. That is the core of their personality. Instead of cooperation, they are in constant competition and one-ups with those who are closest to them. Absolutely mind-boggling.

  8. You know these last few articles on Bearing the Burden of Responsibility have opened my eyes quite a bit when you put the whole three together. I do realise how I enabled my Spath to not take responsibility. I was like these women in that I believed my ex was a wounded soul when I met him and believed that there must be a good person underneath it all. I was fooled! There was one particular incident where I put all the things in place so that he could get out of a car accident that would have put him in jail. He didn’t come home one night and I just figured as usual he was out having a good time and he was…only he drove home drunk and had a car accident. He was fine and took off from the scene and arrested later. He spent over 5 hours in lock up and NOT ONCE asked how the person in the other car was! He rang me early hours crying on the phone not making any sense, hanging up then ringing again. I had to pay for him to get home. I could not believe that this man I was married to could be so callous as to not stay at the scene and man up to what he’d done. It was all about self preservation.
    Later when I basically got everything organised for him to go to court…he lied in court and he complained about having to pay for the ladies car he had totalled. I couldn’t believe it! I said to him, “just think if the shoe was on the other foot you would be wild if the other person didn’t pay for your car…you would demand more than this lady has!” Didn’t make a dent he was adamant that he should not have to pay. Took his own lawyer to tell him to shut up and pay! I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before and appologise if I have but I realise now that I took on the responsibility. I made sure everything was paid for, supported him in court when he should have done everything himself to make it right! He should have gone to jail that would have been the right thing! Only I felt I was protecting my family. Afterwards he treated that incident like it was some joke. I guess I look back now and see that I fixed it for him and I saw the real person but for some reason put it all in the back of my mind where all the other incidents were kept.
    All I’ve seen since our separation is the same kind of callousness an cruelty and yet now every now and then he pays child support (of course that’s again impression management and self preservation). Gosh I really was a fool.

    1. You know a lot of times, when I think back I can clearly see the ways I enabled and also feel like a fool. I wish I would have saved the article I just read about enabling it really helped me. It talks about how victims don’t intentionally enable, they aren’t choosing to enable. Often they are attempting to preserve their sanity, protect their family, trying to stand up for themselves….etc. we weren’t enablers, wanting our abusers to act the way they did. We did enable, nonetheless, but a lot of it was just trying to do the best we could in a situation we didn’t understand, in a place where a lot of what we chose to do was based on lies, manipulation and crazy making

      1. Thank you Sheri 🙂 That sounds like an interesting article and a well balanced perspective. I read something similar (more in a statement in a book) lately but it didn’t really delve into it the way the one you’ve mentioned does. I think we all need to be reminded of that at times, so again thank you Sheri! 🙂

        1. It really did help me to read about it. Often when people think of enabling they gain an attitude that the victim was encouraging the abuse, asking for the abuse, or (as I had a so-called lay trained Christian counsellor tell me) that the victim believes they deserve to be treated that way so they put up with it (this counsellor actually told me that the issue was that I didn’t think I was worth of love and my issues had nothing to do with the way my husband was behaving) … That’s what made it even harder to think of myself as being a victim, I knew that stuff wasn’t true about me so I didn’t fit the “criteria of an abused person”. This article really points out how strong targets of abuse become and really encourages you to think about all the ways you stood up against and protected yourself against it (yes, some of it definitely enabled the CD, but that was not what we were attempting to do…we were not trying to enable). It’s really helped me find strength within myself. I really wish I would have made a note of the article. Since I still live with the CD person I erase my computer history each time I go on it, sometimes I forget to make a note of sites I find with great info

          1. Hi Sheri — if you can remember any of the phrases (even short ones, 3 or 4 words) or sentences in the article, exactly word for word, if you use quotation marks around the phrase when doing a google search, you might still be able to find it again. How rotten that you have to erase your search history. Gah! Peace and hope from Elva

          2. I couldn’t find the site about enabling, however I took your advice Elva and typed some of the words I remembered and came across this instead:

            I know it’s about co-dependency rather than enabling, but I found it to be a great article … I really get frustrated when people label survivors of abuse as “enablers” or “codependent” like we someone want to be deceived, like we thrive on it and that we are somehow to fault for the abuse. So thought I’d share this link with anyone else who gets frustrated when someone else labels them “codependent.” I know Dr. Simon has touched on this topic as well.

  9. To me it’s like there needs to be a completely new and different vocabulary when it comes to describing and understanding these types and the damage they do. Like the word “enable”……what Tori and Sheri write about enabling the person they were with…..not exactly enabling when EVERYthing is different when you are in a covertly manipulative and or abusive “relationship”. Tori, the “person” you were with was physically abusive! How can fear of many kinds not under lay almost everything you do or think or feel? And then when children are in the mix? Not to mention the weakening affect they have on you and the addictive quality THEY foster early on.

    1. You’re so right Puddle, I don’t know usually I am so sound on that “enabling” thing myself but will admit that I did wrap that problem up and fix it for him he was useless…except for the lawyer as he’d used him before and he was well known! I just went and did what I always did, I had three children at home then and didn’t want everything to come tumbling down. Ironic as that’s what eventually happened anyway! Actually after reading Sheri’s comment I went searching for an article on it…just to see if something came up I found a link to a book… Philosophical Perspectives on Power and Domination: Theories and Practices. There are some interesting thoughts on enabling… here’s a link I haven’t read it all but I might read a bit more. I think this “enabling” subject needs to be examined a little more deeply. Thanks Puddle and Sheri, for bringing me back around not sure what planet I was on this morning! 🙂

      1. Tori, for some reason I’m not able to view that link. It says I have reached my viewing limit! Lol? Really? I didn’t view anything!

        1. Never mind….. Now I can view it! I am really disenchanted with technology these days when there seems to be a glitch at every turn. More than likely operator error. 🙁 it looks interesting Tori and from the small paragraph I started, make some points like what was said earlier.

          1. Interesting what they are saying about forgiveness, “beyond the call of everyday morality” and I agree. In my mind and heart, there are things which are unforgivable. This notion about forgiving myself for allowing myself to be abused is even more absurd to me and shows a total lack of understanding about the entire meaning and process of COVERT manipulation and abuse. Like somehow I allowed myself to be decieved? It’s an oxymoron, if I’m using that word right?

          2. Very much so Puddle, and oxymoron is the right term I think! It’s funny or not so funny I should say that with counsellors I’ve spoken to nearly all have asked that question… “how did you enable him?” Each time they asked I would balk at the suggestion. It seems to be the theoretical practice to start with that which immediately puts you on the defensive. I’ll also admit most seem to retract it but on some level it always turns around to that again at a later time. You really have to stand strong because you do end up mulling these things over. After listening to my psychology lecture last night on something totally different…he said that there are so many theories in psychology…many of them are wrong but they’re the best we have to work with” I think it might be the same with this “enabling” thing.

          3. Possibly that “enabling” might be quite right when thinking on parents with a “spoilt child” type scenario but in abusive and cover manipulative relationships it is a whole different dynamic where the theory of “enabling” doesn’t fit in it’s usual context!

          4. Tori, if you look up the definition of the word manipulate, and there are many, you will find some very telling ones. For example: to control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously.
            and: control, influence, use/turn to one’s advantage, exploit, maneuver, engineer, steer, direct, gerrymander; twist someone around one’s little finger.
            Notice that these are all “done to” someone, not someone allowing it to be done to them. Red flags are only red flags if you know what they mean and if they have meant one thing in the past, that is how you will interpret it in the present. Spathtard certainly had some but nothing that he could not explain away and the red-est flags were kept hidden, most of which I didn’t know about until it was really over. SO clear now. they know how to lie in saying something and they know how to lie in saying nothing. Quite possibly he said nothing about several things because I’m sure he had justified it as their fault anyhow. idiot. well I know now that they may not have been perfect but there was so much more to the story than the version he told me. The best thing I ever did, and the scariest, was to pick up the phone and get in touch with his past. I am so grateful that those people filled in the blanks for me. Bye bye “real name” hello
            “Spathtard”. So many things all came together so quickly I could not keep up and even during the time things were coming together I was still quite vulnerable to a relapse because it was so traumatic. All I wanted was someone to hold me and guess who I wanted still? The addiction and bond was not completely severed yet. There were a couple close calls, no doubt.

          5. Love this……….I’d like to post it on a couple of the supposed victim support sites where “the forgiveness brigade” pops up now and again………
            “Forgiveness, in order to be consistent with self-respect and moral equality, is appropriate only when the offender ceases to hold a degraded view of his victim and repents of his wrongful actions. Repentance requires that the wrong doer recognize and accept responsibility for his abusive actions.”

          6. Puddle I am thinking I might see if I can get a copy of that book, it might make for interesting reading. It’s the odd feeling too that wanting them when they’re the cause of your distress. I feel I am nearly over all that now but some form of bond lingers but whether a biological because of our son or some psychological thread that hasn’t yet severed completely but I am the same repulsed by him, his actions and my own knowledge that he is an evil POS!! I believe if I knew people from his past I’d get the same consensus…those who were intimately involved with him.
            I think I am effectively closing off those “nice” bits that tend to haunt and cause guil. They are nothing but lies and the horrible, cruel person is the reality that rules out any “nice” things he ever did!

          7. Tori, they are a self created addiction and just like any addiction they leave their mark in your brain. A person can go through Hell and back again addicted to heroine or alcohol or x, y and z. They can be completely rid of the physical addiction for years yet still have cravings for it. I watched a show the other night about sports players who became addicted to Rx pain meds and then ended up on heroine, OD’ed, are so disabled with brain damage, seizures, can barely walk, talk like they are retarded,,,,,,,,,,they still want heroine and fight that desire with everything they can muster. The very mention of the word sends chills of desire up and down their spine, in spite of almost loosing their life to the drug! Why?? Because it felt good, it made them feel good.
            These “men” appealed to and satisfied (initially) some deep inner desire or need in us and created an illusion of…..fill in the blank. For me it was several things, but it was a ruse and when it was outed, the party was over. I miss the party but not the host. The same needs that he pretended to meet, to get what he wanted, are still there because I’m a human being and there is nothing wrong with having them but there is something very wrong with someone using them against you for whatEVER reason.
            Tori, it has to be more difficult for you because you have a child with this “man”. I can not begin to imagine being in that position and my heart goes out to you because of that. Also, as LisaO mentioned, there is trauma bonding with the abuser. It’s all very complex like that and hard to reconcile but I do think that time smooths the edges.

          8. Puddle I have quickly read the article and it has some interesting points that I have some thoughts on. Right now though I am getting ready to go to work, I will reply when I get home! 🙂 Just didn’t want you to think I hadn’t read the article…comment later!

          9. No hurry Tori, I just see so much in what he says. Maybe because I relate so much being adopted and the whole Fetal Alcohol Syndrome component. He has been at this for decades, working with people and watching/ studing what the go through. There are not a lot of people really delving into what he has and I would say that he is right about “band aids” and suppressing pain etc. it just feels right to me.

          10. Hi Puddle, it is interesting what he says and I think I agree that you have to get at the source of the trouble…what really is the disease? Like suppressing pain, emotional pain needs to be dealt I think so as other therapies can work. Mind you I’d also think that some pain is so deep that a person may never ever be able to deal with it fully in their own lifetime.
            Honestly, I think that’s why things like CBT don’t work for some people because it’s all right to say change your thinking remove the negative thoughts but if you haven’t dealt with what caused the negative thoughts in the first place how can you just say go away. Not that I say CBT doesn’t work, it has worked for me particularly with a fear/phobia I had with getting on buses of all things! I really worked hard and took little positive notes to encourage me to face my fear. I felt it difficult for a very long time to go to meetings, classes, help out in schools and like I said for some reason buses were terrifying for me! Still I would make myself go and then when I took my little notes that said things like “you knew you’d feel scared BUT this won’t kill you” somehow it worked! (There was a lot of others but I won’t go into it) Now I work in a school and buses I don’t give them a second thought anymore! So I do believe in CBT I just think that it has to take in other kinds of therapy, such as getting to the root cause. Like you say Puddle, band aid measures never work. My anxiety and issues that caused me such distress in my relationship were a direct result of the idiot’s behaviour…if someone had just said to me “is he violent” that may have really made a difference earlier on. Just opening up that box might have saved me from further trauma I believe and then my thought processes would have been open to CBT etc…they are now because I have the knowledge. I wondered about his idea on going to the Doctor though as another “fix”, replacing one addiction with another…unless that Doctor really does help by getting to the source of the problem then that is essentially what it is! I think drug companies and some doctors made find those who continue to see them weekly as cash cows and so continue to feed these addictions. It’s interesting though!

  10. I don’t post much on here although I read the blog every week and Dr. Simon’s work has been a great help. In a few short years it has changed my beliefs about the reality that not everyone thinks the same way I do, that there are folks out there who are quite frankly ‘retarded’ when it comes to their level of empathy for others, even for their own ‘family’ members.

    What Sheri said about what these CDs did in the past not even being as crazy-making as their current fight to ignore what happen, not own up to their many wrong-doings, twist reality so they appear to be the ‘victims’ and still continue to play their sick mind games although they have been confronted and exposed (and in my case permanently cut out if my life and the lives of my spouse and children to some degree) all for the sake of avoiding consequences and being too lazy and pathologically stubborn to learn just boggles my mind.

    This is what I’m struggling with now. For me, I’ve run into more than my fair share ofCDs because of my past naivety about different styles of human nature, but the one that has really struck home for me and changed my way of thinking is not a situation with an intimate partner but the 6 individuals who make up what was supposed to be his core family (aside from myself and our kids). 3 members aren’t really ‘blood-family’ as they married into the family just like me, but still… There just seemed to be no empathy, consideration or respect for boundaries when it came to these individuals, in fact they have proven to be anti-social in nature because instead of creating an environment of cooperation and inclusivity (given children would also be affected by bad choices)!they created one of aggression, underlined by their extreme selfishness and desire for power and control. And the other 3 blood relatives let them because they are just as selfish and I e come to learn that they really believe the only thing that matters is themselves and their desires. I guess that’s why they attracted other CDs because they’re not much better.

    I’ll finish up here because this post is getting long and it’s not that I really have anything profound or new to say about the idea of CDs and w-o-r-k, or at least them owning up to how they have so deliberately tried to hurt and destroy others. It’s just so twisted that they continue to live that way without ever feeling enough shame to pause and learn from wrongdoings so they can make even tiny changes to get slightly different results. The thing that really grinds my gears is when the odd one reaches out once in a blue moon in a shallow way to say happy birthday or something and “Hope to see you soon.” Might sound ‘nice’ like maybe they’re changing, but I’ve read enough of Dr. Simon’s work to know it’s just another tactic– lets just pretend the hell we put you and your family through never happened; you should feel happy ever one of us thought of you and now you’re just being the stubborn one for not letting us back in your life– until we abused you again that is. At least that’s the messaging I get from that when people show such a lack of transparency and accountability. All I know is that I will continue to protect myself and my children from those who refuse to admit to their wrongs and work toward becoming much more decent human beings. If you’ve read all of this you’re awesome!

  11. SM, you are so on target. And good for you to see the truth. Once you do you CAN protect yourself which it sounds like you are doing. I’m sorry for you and your children that these people have crossed your path. Your children are fortunate that you have the strength and now have done your homework, learned, and can be an advocate for their well being. No matter what pain the Spath I encountered brought me, I always feel so much worse for people who had children with one of them, for their sake but especially the children’s.
    Thank you for posting this SM. 🙂

  12. Puddle,

    I just gave Janov’s article a cursory look and think hope I can sum up his angle, together with what I have learned from Dr.Simon, this way. let me know if you think I am WAY off the mark here. Janov’s appears to be saying that addiction isn’t the real core issue, it is self medicating the DIS-ease. The person self-medicating in this way, is, for the most part, seeking to restore equilibrium. We should have nothing but feelings of warmth and regard for people born into a condition of disequilibrium.

    CONTRAST this with the psychopathic individual, who is not seeking equilibrium. He has calm. He has peace. He is as cool as a cucumber. Thrills! he is on much more of an ‘even keel’ than most. He seeks extremes of pleasure, euphoria. He (she) is fundamentally different than the damaged soul running from pain. He is indulging himself, running toward an excess of pleasure, because that is his raison d’être. At best you can say he is running away from boredom. Hard to work up a lot of empathy for that, as ‘boredom’ of the sort they are running away from, might register as a sense of peace and calm to us.

    1. Yeah I can relate to that too…gosh all I wanted was peace and like Puddle loved the simple things, a walk in nature, my animals, poetry…oh wow to him his poor head must have been done in by such mundane things! No doubt he’s living it on the edge now! Here I am with my little dog, son, studies and nice peaceful little world boring to some but just MAGIC to me!
      How can they feel pain you need to have a heart…something lacking they’ll never understand!

  13. Edit–He is seeking thrills! My iPad meshes words together and appears to delete them because they don’t make sense.

    1. I have the same problem with the iPhone only it’s even smaller and harder to catch LisaO.
      I think you summed it up. I also think that Spathtard tired of me quickly when I quit drinking and was ok with settling into a boring predictable existence……..not that my life seems to ever get to that point EVER but mundane existence is like kryptonite to them. Where I find joy and pleasure is small simple things…..sitting by the fire as opposed to the three alarm warehouse fire it takes for them?

  14. Dr. Simon, I have spent weeks researching this exact issue, I have been married for over 18 years, I am at my witts end. There has never been more than a 3 month period in my marriage where there was some sort of stability. I work a full time job, we have 3 kids. He has had at least 7 FAILED business ventures, blows through money like it’s water, and blames the failures of all of them on one thing or another that is simply not his “fault”. When he decided to venture out once again, I was hesitant and I got blamed for not being “supportive” now 4 months into it, another failed business another excuse. He has never had a normal job, his reason is that he cannot stand to have a “boss”. While most will read this and think I am too easy on him, I promise I am anything but! It is now at a stage in our marriage where I resent him, I resent the fact that he just doesn’t care enough about our family to do what’s necessary to bring some stability into our lives, there are many more things, many that aren’t work related, he does have ADD, and it’s addressed with medication. Personality wise I always thought he was a good person, but now I can see him turn his backs on people that could help him at one point ( money wise) now when that money runs out he wants nothing to do with them, how can someone I THOUGHT had a huge heart have so many issues?? I am torn!

  15. Enabling, another word that is used to twist and spin confusion into the minds of good and innocent people. To dump blame in the wrong places. It might be a suitable term if our partners were one of the everyday jerks but not a severely character disordered person.

    Those in abusive situations are highly focused on the welfare and survival for their children and themselves. The basic needs, food, clothing, shelter, medical care, transportation, education etc. A warm bed to sleep in without a leaky roof over their heads. Yes, outsiders call it enabling, well they can call it whatever they want….I call it survival.

    I remained highly focused for one simple reason, if not then my children and I would have to go without. Without even our most basic of needs. I know for a fact because we had been caught in many dire situations. Good grief, somebody has to take adult responsibility and it certainly isn’t going to be the CD.

    Anything from a life or death crisis to something as simple as putting the garbage out I could never count on my husband to take responsibility from start to finish. There is always a drama and smoke screens of some sort involved. If I was a gambling person I’d bet on it every time.

    It’s not enabling it’s a matter of survival and it’s terrifying.

    1. Suzi, it was not that type of survival for me but because he hooked me in such a primal, infant like unmet need zone, I think that part of me bonded to him like a baby to its mother? That was the bait and the carrot. It was horrible when he coldly withheld the very thing he used to manipulate me, indescribable pain. And if I cried, he would tell be to “knock off the boo hoo’ing shit” like I was doing it intentionally. Then of course the make up I’m sorries and the huggs and holding. On to the next round. Some part of me was just life or death even though it was not so. Crazy.

    2. I can see ways that what I did was “enabling” but I agree that otherwise things would be left undone. I remember someone telling me once that I should just stop doing things for him. But most of the things I was doing was not “for him”, it were things that needed to be done, and no one else was doing them. I also think back and can see how I was conditioned to be overly-responsible. (I do have to say that I my hb almost always had a job, only short periods of time when he didn’t. But the job has sparadic hours, but a job was the only thing that he did like that was his free ticket to avoid any responsibility in the home).
      Back the the being conditioned to be overly-responsible; it was like a slow-burn. They slowly do less and less, and you slowly take on more and more. When we first got together, had he said you do everything, take care of all the household duties, yardwork, ALL duties with the children, all errands, bill paying, plus work a little bit, plus I’m going to get you to do all the extra things and a little help with my work too…I probably would have told him off. However, they start gradually doing less and less, and you don’t even realize when you take on just one more thing. Until one day you realize that your plate is so full it is unbearable, and you can’t dare ask them for help, they’ve always got a reason.

      Suddenly before you know it, you have a newborn (which I was very sick after having), a two year old, a 6 year old who’s already got daily reading homework plus in an activity … plus you still have all the duties with no help.

      1. Hi Sheri — that looks like a good site, thanks for posting it. Will add it to my list for passing on to folks. Peace and hope from Elva

  16. For the past few days, I’ve been asking “show me a sign, show me a way forward”, I’ve just finished skimming the comments. It’s been 4 years since my CD and I split after 35 years of marriage. The monetary and emotional costs have been astronomical. He quit his job and moved to another state to avoid alimony. He says “why should I care about you” (meaning me). There’s a warrant out for his arrest, but since he’s in another state….too bad for me. He has been so horrible, never knew what was coming next, that I developed a severe anxiety problem, still taking lots of meds to get through the day.

    My mother was an emotional and verbal abuser, so I didn’t know anything else. He only abused emotionally, and said he was sorry after, I had really moved up. He could walk away from me over nothing and not speak to me on into the next day..until I grovelled my way back to being in good graces. Then, he was oh, so sorry, even cried at times, didn’t know why he hurt me blah, blah…I think we are all so consumed with survival that we, or at least I, never thought about if he were so sorry, why does he keep doing it?

    He was a hard worker and provided a very comfortable living for us, although the investment monies were his, and I was sure to get in trouble if I asked anything. A good job was the only responsibility he ever took. He never proposed! He could, and often did, whine about his job, but I was clearly not supposed to ask for any support with the kids. One time he even told me how hard it was on HIM when I would go through bouts of depression. I think that would qualify as lacking empathy, yes?

    Wow…people who get this as abuse, as real as if there were visible bruises. He gets away with everything, nothing in the legal system holds him accountable. It has taken almost a year, thousands of dollars but in April I should start receiving the other half of HIS (as he puts it) pension. I can pay bills. Yet, no one seems to view this as very harmful to me. Words hurt. A lot. I feel like I’m looked at like I’m being a baby. But as someone said earlier, if you haven’t lived it, you can’t begin to understand.

    My heart wrenching situation now is what he has done to our two grown children. He goes on and on to them about what a wretched person I am. The day I told them we had separated, one called his dad, then texted me–mom, are you seeing someone? His son is sobbing and he makes up this terrible, and untrue, thing to say about me? With no reason to even be suspicious. It has gotten so wearing, so difficult for the kids, that they are done with all of it. And that includes to about 90% me as well. We had been so close, been through a lot together, had so much fun……my heart is shredded. I am at such a loss for knowing what to do. I am essentially estranged from my “family” (or as I call them, DNA packets). I have been to so many groups to meet new people, done lots of fun new things, but without them, I am just so empty. I can go along for a month or two, then I just collapse, no energy to keep going. Maybe I’m too needy or tiresome to find friendships for any length of time. I’m sure that being a friend to someone who is dealing with, and financially dependent on, a CD can be draining.

    Anyone dealt with this? Please help!! I’ve been in long term therapy, CBT that did get to the core issues I’ve tried writing/talking with my sons, it might be better for a little bit. He does all the garbage, nothing happens to him, I pay the price (as well as my sons, of course).

    Thanks for being here tonight. I feel like I’m among friends.

    1. Hello Lulu and welcome. Yes, you are among friends. Most everyone who posts here has gone through some variety of terrible treatment coming from someone they thought they could trust. You can safely vent here, ask questions, we’re here to encourage you. You will have more difficult days, and some better days, it will take time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Peace and hope from Elva

      1. Elva, waking up to your warm and kind words mean more than I could ever say. Even if I can’t stop crying. I have a place to belong.

        My current dilemma concerns my adult children. For their entire lives, I have shielded them from their dad’s behavior–it’s so painful and I wanted them to have a relationship with him. During these 4 years of post separation crazies, they knew I was an emotional mess, but I did not tell them what he was doing.

        In an article Dr. Simon wrote about divorcing the CD, he talks about the CD triangulating the kids.Bingo! I don’t think my kids really believe the evil caricature, they are just so over the mess, it’s become out of sight, out of mind. I am devastated. It impacts other parts of their lives as well, neither dating, etc.

        How have you dealt with adult children? If you are honest, do you share an article like Div the CD and say, this is who your dad really is? I am so lost on this, would appreciate any help.

        1. Hi LuLu and welcome! My advice about how to deal with adult children with a disordered parent is as a friend of mine’s is, someone older and wiser than I am…….much wiser, slightly older 🙂 She knew in time, they would realize the truth about their father and they did. When they were young, she never triangulated them or spoke badly about their father in their presence which is very hard to do in these situations. When they grew up, they came to realize that this man was no count on their own. I would imagine it depends on the severity of his character disorder and how it might affect them (your children), if they are in danger, etc..? Unfortunately, they are VERY skilled at turning and twisting things around to avoid detection and responsibility and if you do choose to say something to them it could backfire on you horribly. Just be aware, keep reading and you certainly are welcome here to vent and seek support.
          I’m sorry you have ended up here, and all that implies, but I hope you find the answers you are looking for and a way of reassurance in this forum and in Dr. Simon’s writings.

          1. Hi Puddle, thanks for the welcome, they are so comforting. And your thoughts. How long did it take your friend’s kids to get it? I have always, and still do actually, want them to have a relationship with Dad. What I’ve thought for 4 years is that they will figure it out, now I see how far the CD poison can spread. He is so good at being the victim, it took me nearly 35 years to figure out that he consistently had troubles getting along because of HIM. Somehow the divorce thing has gotten twisted into which of us is in the worst financial predicament. Of course he is,because he just leaves out some of the “details”. Poor dad. I was the rock for my kids through some really tough years (unrelated) for them. After the sep, I completely fell apart and was way too emotionally dependent on them. It was so wrong. Now they want their Mom back, I am working really hard but I’m not all the way there yet. Most of that is because we can talk/text some but time together is miserable for each of us. They can be so rude and ill-mannered. Gosh, acting just the way they saw their dad treat me. I absolutely get the backfiring part, but how long does it take for them to get it? A few months ago, one said to me that he knew he [didn’t treat me right] but he knew he could take things out on me because I would always be there for him. No matter how much we talk, express our love for each other, I can no longer bear the excruciating pain of seeing them because visits fall apart. So do I just say I love you dearly, lay low and hope they eventually get it? I can’t do the hope and anguish roller coaster again. Do I accept the reality–CD doesn’t care about the kids but he won, he got them away from me. Then just get on with my life and hope they come back some day?

          2. LuLu, I am not qualified to GIVE advise but I will say that you do not have to tolerate bad treatment from anyone including your children. Ugh…….I do not envy your situation. I hear time and time and time again about the disorderd-ex poisoning the minds of the shared children and of course there is always the pity ploy and the lies and the villainizing, slander, etc……….it is what they do and they most often succeed, if only temporarily. They do it with everyone who will listen and believe them.
            I don’t know how old her kids were when they came to their own conclusions about their father. I think part of what got them there is that he was basically a no show in the child support department and was fairly uninvolved in their lives. Not sure how old your “adult children” are but….Gosh LuLu…..I’m sorry. I can’t imagine having my children stolen from me by some POS’s lies and manipulations. They just have ZERO shame when it comes down to the depths of their depravity.
            Lulu, please do not judge your self harshly for “falling apart”. If you continue to read about these types you will see that it is pretty common, which is another sign that you have been with a manipulative abuser. They drain you in every conceivable way and spin your reality into another dimension. I’m in my mid 50’s and Spathtard was not my first rodeo. I have never EVER had anything like this happen in my entire life. I’ve had some pretty messed up situations, “relationships”, break ups, make ups, etc…..but what this did to me stands alone. I don’t KNOW this but honestly…..if I would have had children to care for when it all came to the end, the lights came on and the party was over?? I doubt if I WOULD have been able to care for them. His first wife went off the deep end and dumped the kids on him (and Mommy of course was right there to help him out).
            So, hang in there Lulu…….do not despair. Do what EVER you can to build yourself up and make yourself into the best you possible. I think things will work themselves out with your kids in time (again, not knowing how old they are now) but it is probably something that can’t be forced.
            Rudeness should never be tolerated, especially from your offspring.

          3. Edit, I meant to say that I can’t imagine having my children’s minds stolen from me……….

          4. Lulu, you don’t have to go to the wedding and you don’t need to make excuses. You can send a card or something to the couple getting married. Protect yourself on that one. I went to a wedding where every person who had ever abused me in one shape or form was going to be in the same room. I had panic attacks before it and practically had an emotional breakdown afterward. I wasn’t conscious of that fact before the wedding it was only afterwards when I thought about why I was so anxious about going. Talk about a light bulb moment! Of course even during the wedding my now ex and another family member used the event to basically have a go at another dose of abuse toward me. They had an audience!
            I understand the feeling of not being able to say anything to your children because you feel like you did in the relationship. I felt like that too! It makes you feel again that somehow you are at fault and it’s just defeating. I felt very desperate at that time. Now I put in perspective and think they’re adults. They make their own decisions and are responsible for their own behaviour. As others have said you don’t have to accept it! Now I just live my life and focus on my youngest still living with me. I have the dilemma of working out whether he should have contact with his father. I have done everything I can to facilitate contact with him that is safe for my son and safe for me. So far his father refuses to engage and now that’s it as far as I am concerned. The longer I can keep his father from having influence over him the better. I have come to realise that sometimes what is better is no contact with an abusive person. Lundy Bancroft in his books also believes that to be the safest option for the children and I’ve read many others who say the same. It’s the law that says differently. Whether or not I pay the same price again that you are now paying when he is an adult, I don’t know. I certainly hope not! I want my son to grow up as a respectful, caring and loving adult. So if others want to say that a father has rights no matter how abusive they’ve been I say that’s BS! Both my son’s have written pieces on DV. My youngest when he was 12, I was so proud of them and know that on some level they have an understanding of what happens and that gives me hope!
            I know that my adult children don’t see it as my fault but they have set their boundaries and I have to respect that with regard to what has happened. I certainly hope that in the future my ex doesn’t have a manipulative sway over his son. It scares me but I have to believe that my son will be wise enough to see through it!
            CD’s are so good at manipulation, I could see that my youngest was starting to treat me in the same manner as his dad toward the end of the relationship. I even confronted my ex about it and of course he took it “seriously” with a wry smile. It’s all so clear now! These types know exactly what they’re doing. In the end Lulu you are doing the right thing, trying to work on your life and your children will see the truth, I think from what you say one is starting to and if they can see that their behaviour is not right then that has to be a starting point for them. It may take some time but in the end you can feel good about you and that in the long run is the best medicine.

        2. Lulu, I’m so sorry to hear about your distress over your relationship with your children. I’m not sure I can give you any real helpful advice except to say that I don’t think adult children in particular have any idea of the ramifications of living with a CD. They love their father as they love you and parental bonds are so strong. It’s a bit like they have to experience it for themselves in their own relationship before they can fully understand it all. I know that doesn’t help much and none of us want our children to go through a horrible relationship. So like many others they just don’t understand and they may never understand. They may have a block emotionally where their father is concerned. Yet they may come to realise if he keeps up his negativity toward you. Remember they’ve grown up with this covert manipulation too! To them it is normal and familiar behaviour, you are out of it and can see it for what it is and unfortunately they are still entrenched. I think by working on your own self esteem and going out and meeting friends they will see you change and when the see you changing then they may start to see exactly what has been going on.
          My adult children were very angry at me for reasons of staying with my CD, putting them in that position. He wasn’t their father and they felt I had put him before their welfare and quite frankly they have every right to be angry at me for that! I have a long way to go to build those bonds back up and thankfully they are on the mend. Whether or not we will ever be the little family we were…I don’t know but I certainly hope so. It hurts more than any other pain I’ve experienced. I also know that part of their cold treatment toward me was to ensure I got out and stayed out, they let me know in no uncertain terms if I’d stayed with my ex he would never be welcome in their homes again. Yet even when I did leave they were so distant I felt I’d been completely isolated. I realise why now and I have to do the work to repair the damage and gain their respect again. It’s painful Lulu but give your love to yourself and know that you have done what is right for you and keep building on yourself, in time I know they will see it for themselves. Take care Lulu and stay strong 🙂

    2. Lulu; I am so sorry for you with your children. I can so relate. I am still with the CD in my life. I do have a plan to get out. But what you talk about is one of my biggest fears. I have realized for a while now that he is CD. I can relate so much to your story. I am already seeing how he is subtly playing the kids against me, he’s so good at playing the victim, how he subtly turns them against me. He can put on such a good show and say things like, “I’m really trying to make your mom happy, nothing I do seems to make her happy…” etc. So, now, I’m working on taking steps to stay emotionally distant from him until I see my youngest two through school (I have 3 years left).
      I don’t know what I’d do if they turned against me; people have said “oh, children know, they can see what’s going on”. But he’s so good at hiding his true self (it took me 23 years to fully get, and I was on the receiving end of it). Now that he knows that I see who he is, he’s suddenly become this great father, and has great ways to make these little comments to shed a bad light on me, but he can do it in such a way that if he’s questioned he can plausibly deny that’s what he’s doing.
      I really do hope your sons come around.
      And you have friends here, we all may have experiences things slightly differently, but they are all also ironically the same.

      1. Sheri, there have been several times I’ve asked myself if leaving was worth it. The hell I’ve been through since we split is 1000 times worse than when we were together. He was never there when the kids needed him, but was delighted to be their buddy when they got old enough to drink beer and smoke cigars with him. There were many secrets kept from mom about their fun times, such a disapproving hag aka parent I was. The wedge was started a long time ago.
        One texted me this morning, his car had been broken into, always when they need something I’m first on the list. I was minimally sympathetic, not the usual neurotic response I’d have given anyone. It felt so phony yet I know if I had given a typical response, I’d be buying a ticket for that Hope, then Despair roller coaster I’ve been on for 40 years. We are all supposed to be at a wedding next weekend but I’ve sent regrets because I cannot bear to see them.
        He texted later that maybe we could talk this weekend. I replied that I don’t know if I’m ready. We’ve been on a time out, not angry, we just all wanted a break. We’ve always been honest, but I am totally at a loss right now. He will eventually find out that I’m not going to the wedding and want to know why. How do I answer that? It feels dishonest in a way not to talk about the last visit but, again, what do I say? It is so much easier for me right now to just not have any contact with them, too painful. Is it okay to say that? If this isn’t directly driven by their dad, I know they are so drained, exhausted from the past 4 years. And, as we all know, you have to step out of it to be able to have a life. In any other circumstance I would talk/help them process, but intellectually it doesn’t seem to be right since it concerns their dad. There’s a lot of talk about having a good relationship again, but in real time, it crashes. How does it get resolved if we aren’t real about the root cause. Any thoughts, ideas?

        1. Lulu, could you just say “you are not feeling up to it”? No explanations? It’s not a lie and you do not need to explain. There is no malicious intent, just don’t let yourself get backed into a corner with explaining. You are an adult, they are adults, all individuals with individual lives now.
          Tell them to enjoy themselves, etc, just not up to it right now. Just a thought.

          1. But why????? Your response only needs to be “that is personal and I’m not in a position to discuss that with you right now” or something along those lines. Short and to the point.

        2. Lulu, I’ve learnt that, unless, all sides really want to get to the root cause then there’s no way to resolve or work through anything. It’s crappy, but it seems to be the way it is.
          Right now, I’m still close with my kids as they are still at home. But it’s so hard. My two daughters, (each at separate times within the same week) were giving my a hard time for eating something that was there’s. (For one it was 10 years ago, and the other it was 3 years ago). And I commented that why, the one instance that I crossed a boundary with them, they can’t let it go – yet “dad” is regularly crossing their boundaries, eating their things, using their stuff, etc. and they never say anything to him. Their response, “we expect that from him, he doesn’t know any better!…but you do!” I asked them if they expected me to be not human… they said “yes!” They were kind of joking, but it’s sad. It seems like they expect me to always make the right choices, to be the strong and responsible one (since it has always been up to me to do that as the man I married would never even attempt to be responsible or be accountable for his choices). Now, if I fail even a little, they believe something is wrong with me … however, when he fails they have bought into the “I can’t help it … I didn’t know any better … ” kind of sympathy play.
          I know, for me, right now … I at least want to stick it out until they are done school and gone from home, the idea of them choosing to live with him (our community is really expensive for housing, I would have to leave to a less expensive place … I don’t think it would be fair to ask them to leave their highschool and friends at their ages), I really can’t bear the thought of the man I married being the sole influence on them at this point in time.
          From what I’ve read … it seems like it’s hell if you stay and hell if you leave (when there’s children involved) … I guess right now I need to decide which “hell” I can tolerate the most and do whatever I can within that situation.

          1. Sheri do you think that’s an expectation of society as a whole that mother’s should be this amazing creature that should just accept and do? Dr Simon alludes to it in his post this new “Super Mum” who not only holds down a job but keeps the family in order. You know I hear people of older generations revere their mothers for putting up with abusive behaviour and working through it, never letting the family down, keeping up appearances and doing what is EXPECTED! Almost as if they are not human beings! That really saddens me because I think WHY?? It’s like mothers are expected to battle through and if they have a weak moment…OMG! Everything comes crumbling down.
            It’s like there really needs to be a reality check!

          2. You know I wonder if that’s really at the heart of all this adult children’s resentment? Honestly even these CD characters have this expectation that you should put and shut up and accept! If you don’t WELL obviously there’s something wrong with the program!

          3. Tori, I do think that a lot of how a mom is viewed really is a societal issue, I think we’ve come a long way but still further to go. I think a mom is naturally expected to pick up the slack. I’ve only ever had part-time jobs and they’ve all been from home. However, I think a mom is expected to work, to make sure her kids make it to all their activities (and be at them to), volunteer in the church, take care of all the errands, take care of their spouses, cook, get groceries, handle all the emotional turmoil the children are going through, do it properly (which varies depending an which book you read), etc, etc, etc. Then on her “down” times she needs to get the house cleaned. IF she wants to do something for herself she just has to fit it in.
            However, as long as a guy holds down a job, no one thinks anything of it when all he does on his weekends off is play video games or watch tv.
            I think that’s how society has set it up. Any husband who helps out, turns his buddies down for drinks so he can put the kids to bed, spends his day off helping clean … then they are called “whipped”.

            My 14 year old made this comment to me the other day, a little different topic, but it shows you societies mentality and the message that goes out about men and women. She asked me why, when people get married, does everyone talk about how the “guy is giving up his life”, refers to the woman as the “ball and chain,” etc. And then when addressing the bride they all talk about how she’s gaining something, that it’s the best day of her life, etc. No wonder we have so many entitled men, when they are being fed these type of messages.

          4. Oh my Sheri, isn’t that sad…I’m so glad that your daughter is questioning those things and speaking to you about them. I think it is a very real issue such terms and messages… “the ball and Chain”, “old dragon” and worse women use these terms toward women or toward themselves as well which doesn’t help at all. It’s a conditioning, I think needs to be challenged. I think that’s why these CD types can say…”oh she’s emotionally unstable…high maintenance, drama queen” etc and it’s believed. It’s bad enough fighting what you’re living with but then having to prove yourself to those outside the relationship trying to debunk these labels causes a load of distress. I think that is an extremely important point.

    3. Oh Lulu, I just reread your post here. My, oh freaking my. You have been through it! It’s hard to describe to people who have never been manipulated, never been on the roller coaster. Another thing you have to watch is accepting the much loved pop-psyche term, “needy”. Everybody is needy! Some people have their needs met and others don’t. When we are in pain because of unmet basic needs we reach out to others. That is just what we do. If we don’t reach out to other people we can collapse into ourselves and become cold and brittle.

      I don’t have children but I have a younger brother who I was very close to. I played a very protective, nurturing role in his life, all of his life, that he used to thank me for — quite profusely. We were much closer than most mothers and their sons. In the last few years I have had to distance myself from him. When I desperately needed help, he wasn’t there and that was part of a pattern. It used to hurt so much, more than being targeted by a P, the melting of a steely familial bond — . but it’s something I had to do. It hurts less now. I am trying and partly succeeding filling the void with friends in my community. I throw parties. That’s what I do. It takes me forever to recover, physically, but darn, we have fun. And I invite all of the other dispossessed people I know, to help them out.

      It will take time but you WILL make it. You have wonderful memories of close times in the past with your sons. I have mine with my brother. We were closer than most twins…but I can’t hold myself hostage to those memories. And I won’t let anybody control me through shame. I accept that I am flawed, am working very hard to be an even better person and I will not let anyone, including close family get in the way of my progress. When I started going to a therapist several years back, I had problems not just with physical health but with mild agoraphobia. I felt so creepy about myself I had to be almost deprogrammed from a cult; The anti-Lisa cult.

      You are going to be okay. It hurts much less as time goes on. Oh and btw, since I have given brother clear message that I am distancing myself, that he hurt my feelings, offended my dignity, guess who wants to be close again? Yep..him. But, I don’t know if that is possible now. And, I am beyond caring. I figure I have a good 20 years left on this planet and I will be very careful not to risk my peace of mind again.

  17. Hi Lulu — I’ll have to ask some of the other posters to help with this on dealing with adult children.

    Don’t feel bad about crying, it helps to release a healing hormone. Keeping a journal, writing out your thoughts about what you are feeling will actually help you work through your healing process a bit faster. will give you a short daily motivational uplift. If you’d like to read the Bible, see; I particularly like the J.B.Phillips New Testament in Modern English. If it’s possible where you live, try to get outside and go for a walk — trees, lawns, flowerbeds help lift your spirits. These are just a few bits of emotional first aid.

    You will have some emotional and psychological work to do, but if you hang in there, almost always someone here has been through something similar and can say “This particular thought or activity helped me with this problem, it might help you.” Or people will suggest other websites where you can find more information. Again, you are welcome, continue to ask for what you need to know, Peace and hope from Elva

      1. Hi Puddle (hugs) 🙂 I made that up actually but I know I’ve seen something similar somewhere…probably at school or something! 🙂

      2. Hi Puddle — ooohh, FIVE question marks!! In one place!!! You’d better be careful or the punctuation policeman will be on your case!!! 🙂 Heh!! Cheers, peace and hope from Elva.

        1. Yeah…..busted! I couldn’t think of another way to convey the pleading, pressing way they might insist on her telling them WHY she just “didn’t feel up to it”. Maybe WHY? 😉

  18. GIRLS (a la Tori)you have so incredibly helpful today. Peeps who really get the CD thing and its impact down to your very core. The 26 y/o can be the kindest, most gentle, caring, best to talk to person ever. But when we are together, there are times when he talks just like his dad. The other is 30 and is a turtle, inside that shell, safe, not dealing. When they are rude and ill-mannered, I revert to how I reacted to CD. Head down, very cautious about what I say, do not escalate for fear of the ultimate punishment–I’m there but invisible, unworthy.

    I have come such a long way, I have created a glorious life……which I can only sustain for short stretches of time. I have realized that CD is still in my life, thanks to all of you, which is why I struggle.

    Now I am going to count on you for caring, sharing, strength and support. I deeply hope that there will be times I can do the same for each of you? The kids? Even though will readily say I gave my life to them, I need to stop. They are capable of making choices, it has to be their decision if we are a family again.

    1. Hi Lulu — Good for you!! You do NOT deserve to be rudely treated. Maybe you could try a variant of something I said once to a customer who was talking so loudly that she was beginning to hurt my ears. I politely and plaintively said, “Please don’t yell at me, I’m not deaf.” She immediately apologized, said she hadn’t realized she was talking so loud.

      No one deserves to be a victim. Cheers to you, you’ve started on the road to emotional health, and in your turn, as you get better, you will be able to encourage others. Meanwhile, be good to yourself, find some new activities, don’t fall into the trap of thinking “if only I had done this…” it might have turned out differently. No, it would never have been enough, whatever you did or didn’t do. Now that you know what your x truly is, things will get better in time. Peace and hope from Elva

    2. Hi Lulu — I’d like to chime in here with everyone else. You need to take care of you first. Your feeling of absolutely not wanting to go to the wedding is your mind and body telling you to back off and give yourself time away from the abrasive atmosphere you’ve put up with for years.

      Long ago, a friend in college gave me a good answer for when someone I did not want to be around asked me out on a date. My friend said, just tell him you already have other plans. (said plans can be to wash your hair, hah!) And I recall that when I had to go back to my female parent’s house for Christmas (she was NPD), after I got there I actually became physically ill (had a horrendous headache and ran a fever of 101 or so the whole time I was there), got back to foster parents’ home, illness magically disappeared. It was was a totally psychogenic sickness.

      I’ve been mulling this over my work today. It seems to me that if your ex were not your sons’ father, he is not someone you would want them to pattern their lives after. But they are adults (legally) now and must make their own decisions. You did your absolute best with the knowledge you had at the time, as have we all.

      If you get any backtalk about why you weren’t at the wedding, you could even be a little mysterious and say “I have my own life now.” It may take some doing to get sons to treat you with respect, try practicing what you might say. Write something out, practice saying it in front of the mirror, so that when the time comes to use it, you can rattle it off with no hesitation and with head held high. “I don’t deserve to be spoken to in that snotty tone of voice.” or whatever seems appropriate to you when the time comes. Don’t let any of them rush you until you feel ready.

      Do you remember the musical “Carousel”? — one of the songs says in part “When you walk through a storm, hold your chin up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark.”

      Reading your latest posts, you seem to be in slightly better spirits; remember we are all sending good thoughts your way. Peace and hope from Elva

  19. Lulu, it’s probably really important that your kids get the clear impression that you value yourself. If you don’t stand up for yourself, when you should, you won’t necessarily make gains, or offset the impression your ex has left your kids. When people accept lousy behavior, become door mats, it resonates in a way that can support a smear campaign. The unconscious reasoning of your kids, then becomes, “if Mom feels guilty, there is a reason for it. Maybe Dad’s right about her!”

    Hold your head high and don’t accept other’s impressions of you, when you can easily reason they are not deserved. You have the moral high ground. We have all behaved weirdly when forced to deal with oddballs, freaks, CDs etc… and those exposed to that weirdness should be exercising compassion. More than that we have to be really careful to give ourselves a break, cut ourselves some slack.

    You seem like a totally lovely woman. Let nobody convince you otherwise or mistreat you for even a moment!

    Hugs to you!

  20. You’ll Never Walk Alone

    When you walk through a storm
    Hold your head up high
    And don’t be afraid of the dark
    At the end of the storm is a golden sky
    And the sweet silver song of a lark

    Walk on through the wind
    Walk on through the rain
    Though your dreams be tossed and blown
    Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
    And you’ll never walk alone,
    You’ll never walk alone.

  21. Suzi, I remember that song from 9th grade Chorus, I really embraced it and found it so soothing. Still do.
    I think I took on the SuperMom role because I wanted to be everything mine was not. I wanted my kids raised by my values and philosophy, so CD being out of the picture wasn’t all bad. Until they were older and challenging and I needed back up.
    Being able to sort through my feelings over the past few days has been enormously helpful. Although I have been honest with them, I need….., or I feel hurt when….they act like they get it until it is time to put words into action. Then I wimp out and don’t hold them accountable. I am so tired of fighting dad, I feel bad they are stuck in something they did not create, lots of reasons, aka excuses. Which is so very different than it was until 4 years ago.
    So when kids find out I’m not going to wedding (CD isn’t) and ask why I’m going to be honest….it is because it is too unpleasant for me to be around them. That’s the truth.
    One was going back to his therapist to “talk about div stuff”. So indecisive, and told him so but sent Dr. Simon’s article, Div the CD. He called it an “interesting” read, thanked me for sending it (whew) and said it made him see the big picture which he hadn’t thought of before.
    Now I’m wondering if they have to see dad for what he is, love him if you want, no need to abandon him, that is absolutely not my intent, but I’m really questioning now if they can get on with their lives when they are crippled by CD dad. How are they immune from the impact? I wasn’t nor any of the rest of us. Like I told son, we’ve been in quicksand for so long.

    1. Hi Lulu — you’re on the right path. Being honest is the best policy. Stay strong, hold your head up high, if you can afford it, buy yourself a red blouse or outfit. It is a “power” color, look up color psychology when you have a few minutes. We all feel bad when our kids have hard things to go through, but at some point, each person has to make a decision as to how they will act or react in whatever situation. Peace and hope from Elva

  22. Thank you so much Dr. Simon.

    I’ve been trying for 15 years to understand what in the world has been going on in my marriage.
    The last month I have been obsessed with your web site and book, In Sheeps Clothing.

    First: I must state that the enlightenment I’m currently experiencing does not come with out a price. I’m dealing with some intense feelings of bitterness and resentment over what I now see as a sham of a marriage. Moving forward, I can see there are ways to empower myself, though I can envision a scenario where, by empowering myself, My wife will be called out for what she really is. Will the new dynamics of our relationship render our marriage beyond salvagible.?

    Second: Most of what I’m seeing on your site and in the blogs appear to focus much more heavily on women as the victim as opposed to men.
    I have to believe there are many more men experiencing this type of abuse than most people know.
    In response to Suzi, believe me, there are many men out there who Walk Alone on this issue.
    Men trying do deal with marriage that is based on manipulation, control, lack of empathy, etc who have finally had enough are often vilified for being insensitive, uncomassionate, and uncaring.
    They are not only vilified by society, they can be vilified by friends, family, marriage counsellors, and in extreme cases of divorce, by the court system.
    Not to sound insensitive toward women, but I wish there were a blog more focused on men and what were faced with regarding this type of abuse.

    Thank you again Dr. Simon, and thank you to all those sharing your own personal experiences.

    1. Hello John Michael and welcome. We have had a few men comment here, but then they seem to drop out. Someone here posted fairly recently about a website for men experiencing such abuse, if the poster sees this, perhaps you could re-post? You are right, society does tend to vilify the man, particularly when the woman is a covert aggressive person or a “drama queen.” Hope you will feel free to comment again, and perhaps read through some of the archives for additional help. Peace and hope from Elva

      1. Thanks Elva, there is a site called shrink4men, and one called A Voice For Men, though they don’t quite nail it like Dr. Simon does.

  23. Hi John Paul,

    So sad for you…and YES, just being a woman affords the character disordered, social camouflage. There is probably nothing worse than a really mean, aggressive self-centred chick. And if they are super stealthy…whoa…bad news.

    I wonder though, what differentiates your wife from the merely cranky bitchy walking wounded? Do you sense deliberate, underhanded guile?

  24. The men are worse than women/ women are worse than men issue is not one that can be answered in its totality because there are unique circumstances in both dynamics.

    1. And….what can look like a “mutually abusive” situation initially often turns out that the one who is being intentionally and covertly decieved, manipulated and abused finally cracks and melts down under the strain of the abusers tactics.

      1. Continued…………and they end up looking like the “crazy one” or an equally abusive partner, which by the way is exactly what the abuser wants b

  25. John,

    I understand, I really do. My father was in a similar situation as you. I saw him and my family suffer unmercifully, we endured.

    You’ll Never Walk Alone is a song I chose for my wedding. I held it close to my heart throughout childhood and have continued to this day. I had no support which is true for most of us on this journey. All this stuff is so unbelievable to outsiders, it’s extremely difficult for them to grasp. Although I never walked alone, I leaned on a higher source.

    And it doesn’t matter if whether you are a man, women or child because indifference knows no boundaries.

    Yes indeed I understand.

  26. I used to rationalize everything away to ‘cranky bitchy’, and ‘what in the world could I have done wrong now?’. I could go on and on with example after example. For the sake of brevity, let just say that the book and the blogs drive it home. There is no mistake, she is a covert aggressive. To a Tee. We can toss in some sadistic and channeled traits as well. I am, without question, a neurotic, naive enabler.
    All I ever wanted is for her to be happy, and to stop torturing me.
    I know know that pipe dream is over.
    She did a 180 on our honeymoon and never looked back. I Never saw it coming, nor could I have ever seen it coming (channeled).
    Our story in a nutshell. I’ve been trying for 15 years to forge a loving, compassionate, intimate marital relationship with her. She doesn’t want it, never did. Just wants a bread winner, and someone with whom to make babies, nothing more. (We do have two wonderful kids, ages 11 & 13) She doesn’t work, does nothing all day. I thought by giving her as much space as possible to ‘relax’ and chill out all day she would finally find a place of peace and contentment. It just gets worse. It’s relentless.
    It’s truly sad. I make good money, I try to make her happy, give all of myself and more, and more, and not to boast but I’m still a good looking guy at 44 (though aged beyond my years). Could never figure out why she never appeared happy, and was bent on making me miserable. Why so frigid, so disconnected with me emotionally? An argument occurred last month that finally made me start looking for answers. Boy did I ever find them!
    What a sucker I am. Our counsellor also appears clueless after four sessions.

    1. Hi again, John Michael. Your comment about 4 apparently useless sessions with a counselor could be repeated by many who post here. Some counselors just DO NOT understand. For help in finding a competent counselor, try scrolling down to the bottom of this page, look on the right hand side under the heading blogroll, and click on contact Dr. Simon. The details you give him will of course be kept private, with proper counseling, you can begin to work through your pain. It is painful, but almost everyone who posts here has been through similar heartache. It does help to be able to talk about your problem with others who’ve been there. Peace and hope from Elva

    2. Welcome John, it is good to get the a male perspective on character disturbance in women and in relationships. Male and female definitely can be cover aggressors that’s true. As others have said it’s horrendous coming out of it to realise that your relationship was not what you thought. I applaud you speaking up because it can be tough for men who have suffered in silence.
      I’ll admit I find a few triggers in your comment when I look at my own relationship with a CD. To be honest I found the hair on the back of my neck tingle. Yet everyone has their stories, they are similar and yet so uniquely different! We come out of it with so many emotional scars. Through sharing our stories we come to a better understanding of the dynamics and hopefully to a place of healing. 🙂

    3. John Michael,

      I can understand your situation. As male stereotype, we are supposed to handle it. Consultation etc and having softy-softy feelings and sharing them are for sissies. Concepts that are getting outdated now. 🙂
      Problem of character disturbance is gender neutral, maybe the exact prevalence is different between genders. Also, the tactics are likely to vary. A general tendency to have assertive nature protects males for time being, but one can be a mountain only for a finite period against relentless attack. A long stay with character disturbed will eventually take its toll.

      I agree this blog & books nails the problem, whereas others quite often miss the point at best, and instead make the problem bad in worst case.

      If you think your therapist does not get “it”, then you should change the therapist fast, before he turns enabler for your wife. There are some blogs here that talk about what to look for in the therapist who get the “problem”. If you like I can find one link for you.

  27. Hi John, welcome! I’m sorry to hear of your situation. The wake up period is brutall I’m afraid but there is no way around it. It does get better!
    I think the reason you are finding more women in the recipient position on this site and others is partially because generally speaking we do tend to be more emotional and we connect through talking. That is how we tend to process things. So we do tend to reach out to others like that more do then men do. It’s part of that men are from Mars, women are from Venus thing! 🙂
    But, you are welcome here and can substitute the genders? Although I do think the modus operandi tends to be a little different between the sexes, but that is just a general observation.
    I also think that maybe men are a little bit more emotionally resilient than women, another general statement!

  28. Do you prefer John or John Michael? After lots of therapy, I now know that I am worthy. Before that, my “friends” were what I now call Takers. One, though, I’ve come to realize is CD. She presents as really sweet, kind and sensitive, and can be as long as she makes all the rules, you follow them, never question her and she does whatever she wants to. She would go on about how much she loved her husband, while she had one affair after another. He was physically abused so would do anything to avoid anger.
    J or JM, you are a kind, caring, wonderful human being. For every single person on here, it is nowhere near our radar screens that someone could be as twisted and cruel as a CD, if it is cloaked in sugary sweetness or mean. Please don’t beat yourself up and label yourself as a sucker. CDs are good at picking their victim and they don’t have a conscience, remorse or empathy. (I was married to my personal CD for 35 years, we, then I had a really good therapist, but neither therapist or I were prepared for the Hell that rained on me after we split. If I were not financially dependent I could just walk away, but I’m having to use the Courts for garnishment, etc.). Until you read Dr. Simon’s work on CDs which so clearly and concretely explains what it is, good guys like all of us don’t even realize that a person could be so evil.
    We all did the best we could with what we knew at the time. I look back at those years, and wonder why it’s so I can learn as I move forward. If I start getting the “if onlys” I get up and start doing something to distract myself. I am a good, kind, generous, funny, loving person. My guess is that you are, too. Nobody can take that knowledge away from me.
    But I still miss my kids so terribly much. You all have given me so much hope and strength, I know my guys and I can work through this.

  29. Hi John Michael, I haven’t much time to real all the postings, I just wanted to let you know I have met many men who express what you are going through. In fact on my journey with my CD it was mainly men who had gone through the same thing that helped me. In fact it was beneficial because it was the male perceptive that was hard for me to understand. Many things are done on a male level the same as a woman’s level. We all share the same experience though of the emotional damage the CD inflicts. Stay here on your journey, the resources, encouragement, and support you will find here are no different than if this site were strictly men. We are all on the same journey. Blessings

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