Character Disturbance and Hardness of Heart

Hardness of Heart

What do we mean when we talk about “hardness of heart”? Folks with hardened hearts have an impaired ability to empathize. They also have an impaired ability to truly connect. This makes healthy, intimate relationships virtually impossible. The harder one’s heart, the harder it is to achieve real intimacy and to truly love.

Different Manifestations

Hardness of heart can manifest itself in many ways. A person can show it through insensitivity. They can show it through the callous use and exploitation of another. They can also display it in verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive behavior. Sometimes, however, their displays can be so subtle they go unnoticed for awhile. That’s how some folks get trapped into abusive relationships.

There are many ways a heart can become hardened enough to do such the things mentioned above. A person might have suffered so much hurt in the past that they built thick walls of protection around their heart. Or, they can simply have been so successful in manipulating others that they never had to develop any empathy capacity they might possess. And some folks became so successful at acquiring power and so enamored of both it and themselves that they came to despise openness or vulnerability. Then there are those rare but truly unfortunate cases where the qualities commonly thought to make up the human heart simply aren’t part of a person’s constitutional makeup. For more on this type of serious character pathology, see:

Can Anything Soften a Hardened Heart?

Can enough love soften a hardened heart? Many folks have entered relationships believing it can.  The simple answer to the question is simple: sometimes. But the more accurate answer is much more complicated. Sadly, all too many folks enter tenuous relationships hoping enough love will fix things and conquer all. So, the bigger question becomes how to discern when such hope truly exists. And to that question, there is no simple or easy answer. (Find more on these topics in: How Did We End Up Here?)

Like we’re realizing about so many things these days, hardness of heart is a spectrum phenomenon. Folks can harbor varying degrees of hardness in their hearts and for very different reasons. Regardless, penetrating a closed heart is always a challenge. But the important thing to remember is that no one bears the responsibility for “fixing” another’s heart. Only life itself can do that. Intense joy or nearly decimating pain can open even the most closed of hearts. (See: Hitting Bottom Can Help a Narcissist.) And in the end, it’s each individual’s personal responsibility to cooperate with any purification process such events can precipitate.

Next week I’ll be concluding the series on purity and sincerity of heart. And in the coming week’s I’ll be discussing the wider spiritual dimension of all the “commandments.” (See: pp. 140-148 in Character Disturbance.)


80 thoughts on “Character Disturbance and Hardness of Heart

  1. I definitely see hardness of heart in my family members. For many of the reasons stated above. Being successful at manipulating is so very dangerous especially to the manipulator. They truly can’t see how they align themselves with the enemy of our souls and thus, the eternal danger.
    I’m gonna be a grandma again but by my other child. All of a sudden my married child and spouse who were completely abusive to us for the past 9-10 yrs all of a sudden are feigning interest in us????
    Boy could that be exploited by us….Nope, sorry not interested in losing my soul!!
    It’s truly one of the saddest things to see in my life, my own child change so much and become so hard hearted towards me that he uses my innocent grandkids to say things no little one would ever say much less think on their own.
    Still praying and behaving according to God’s Word!!!

    1. Hi Priscilla,
      It is sad to have to stand by and watch this stuff go on. My daughter manipulates my granddaughter as well, only she had made her anxiety so bad she doesn’t want to leave the house. Its such a helpless feeling, you see the harm being done but are powerless to stop it. We are adults and are able to see what is going on and so there we have some protection. Children raised up by them for the most part are unable to see what is going on. I feel like I should be able to do something, something to make my daughter see what shes doing, but I have tried and its just denial everytime. Its beyond my control but its just so sad to see this happening and not be able to help.

      1. Pricilla, Kat,

        The family members I have had to deal with the older they got the harder their hearts became. They would connive and do anything they thought would harm me or cause me misery even if it meant harming and innocent person. I believe this state of sheer hardness of heart is a opening into seeing how heartless and empty the landscape within them is. It’s a shame to see them destroy another right in front of you and at the same time they know you can’t do anything about it.

      2. Yes, Kat I feel the same way. Every time we are with my son and daughter in law we feel sad to see how they are truly hard hearted towards us and their own kids. One even seemed to resent that I put 2 towels in the dryer to warm them for the kids when they got out of the pool and a cool breeze developed. They’re 5 and 3 1/2??? I told my husband I felt like saying geee when you were young I would’ve done it for you too except I had to run to the laundry room pay to start the dryer and run it back to the pool in the apt complex???

    2. Priscilla,
      That’s so difficult to watch. And to be helpless.
      Hopefully you can have the grandkids visit at your home without the adults parents around. That would be your only way of enjoying them, and them you.

      1. Hi Lucy,
        Yeah I keep on mentioning we would like to take them out or have them come swim and stay over. DIL is seeming to avoid that all of a sudden. Since June stay over it seems she’s trying to avoid them staying over because the kids get real excited to but not with her mom. That’s because her mom never put any love into those kids. Never would take any time off work to watch them even though her husband is retired.
        The kids see through her and believe me I’m not a jealous grandma. Funny thing is she is towards me. Constant rude comments towards me that for the most part don’t even make sense.
        I blow those off and laugh, maybe that irritates her to make more comments but that’s not my problem.
        Last birthday party all of a sudden she’s constantly taking pics of me.

  2. We can’t change anyone’s heart, make them see what they should see, make them realize the consequences of what they’re doing, unless they are open to really listen. And then do their own self-work.
    We can bang our heads till we bleed trying to help distorted people, but it doesn’t help till they truly want to work on themselves.
    Still, after over three years of coming to the realization of what had been happening to me in the long-term marriage, I’m still working on myself, trying to fix what went wrong within myself so that these things will never happen again, that I’ll not cozy up a friendship or romantic relationship with people who are not emotionally well. This has been difficult. There are so many relationships, I’m finding, that just are not healthy relationships. It’s difficult to reverse old patterns and habits, but once I’ve become conscious of it, I’m doing it.
    I don’t have to fix people. That’s not my job. Never was – but for my own reasons I took on that job, and to no avail. No more of that for me.

    1. Lucy,
      I agree with you on everything you’re saying about really only being able to change ourselves and not others. I applaud you on trying to discover what you can do to avoid a rotten character disturbed relationship partner of any kind.

      I want to say something that hopefully will be encouraging to you though. Please remember what Dr. Simon says about seeing someone for who they really are. While we are older now and hopefully wiser, ( I think we all are) it is NOT our fault that people hide who they truly are when we meet!

      Bad characters hide who they really are. Good character is transparent for the most part. Of course we all want to hide the warts and scars. Bad characters not only do that, they lie to cover up their true agendas to hurt maim and manipulate to get something for nothing. Remember they don’t like to WORK for authentic relationship.

      Also, I believe we can instill and inspire change in others by removing our emotions from the response they would like to generate!!! I’m practicing that a lot in fact and I can see my son’s new family completely confused by it. The only ones I really put any emotion into are my 2 grandkids! They know me, love me and confide in me.

      I truly believe we can all make a difference in their lives, by withholding the negative responses and emotions they long to extract from us. Then keep the visit short if you have to. Above all DON’t LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT so to speak!

      1. Priscilla

        That’s all great advice. I’m sure once you get used to being non-emotional it can become second nature. I’ll give that a try. I do practice Don’t Feed The Beast. It works.

        I am afraid of being tricked by a CD. I will watch for the red flags and listen to them.
        I do know, however, that I will never marry again. I’ll never had a legal tie to another person who can drag me down emotionally and financially. Next time, I’ll just leave. Adios. Hopefully, if I let it be known that I’ll not open to marriage again that will run off CDs out for the money. They can move on to the next victim. I’ll be too hard to crack. I won’t crack.

  3. I honestly don’t know how I’d handle that situation with distorted parents mistreating the grandkids. I guess there is nothing we can do, not being the parent in charge. I feel for you all.

  4. BTOV, Lucy,
    I have to stop carrying guilt around for not being able to get my daughter to stop being abusive to my granddaughter because there is nothing I can think of that I could do. When I address it, there is only denial. It’s verbal abuse – things like belittling her ideas, laughing at her, undermining her confidence. She tries to do the same to me but I know its coming out of a miserable person and am doing good at not taking it personally, but the granddaughter is brain washed. I have said things when we have all been together about the negative remarks, and said things to my granddaughter to build her confidence when her mom is not around, but its the daily verbal criticism that I can’t stop. And then when the two of them get together on criticism of me – my driving or anything can trigger them, I just have to go.

  5. kat
    Sounds like they’re making a game of abuse with you. Mom is teaching her daughter how to be mean and ugly.
    I think I’d limit interactions to being only with the grandchildren, minus your daughter. She’s poison.
    You may reach the point where you just get worn down, beat up, and give up. And that’s ok. It’s survival. It’s taking care of yourself.

    1. Yes, and to much exposure can lead everyone into adopting patterns of interaction of their environment.

      I’ve seen many times over the mean and abuser children often have a mean and abuser parent that teaches and encourages them from early on to be just like the parent. There may very well be exceptions, but most often I find that horrible people have learned to be horrible from at least one parent. Wifebeaters, especially. The wifebeater dad teaches the sons to beat, abuse, intimidate, control, degrade, dehumanize, objectify, and hate women from very early on.

      To a large degree, people are products of their environment. I myself was raised in a very prosocial manner, and yet after years of dealing with a monster, i began to sometimes act like him (not that I didn’t hate myself afterwards for it, or not like I hadn’t been traumatized and crippled from the abuse and violence).

      A person learns what they live. The Bible talks about this, I believe, and the verse that springs to mind is the one where it talks of bad company corrupts good character. Same with Proverbs, where it says warnings, like, ‘my son, if sinners try to entice you…’

      Finally, I think it’s very difficult to retain one’s good character when amidst wolves and fighting tooth and nail for survival. So I feel for kids who grow up with abuser parents who expect their offspring to be abusers like them. They really don’t have a chance.

      1. Olivia,
        There are those folks who have grown up with abuser parents that have managed to free themselves of the same behavior. I don’t know what the difference is, sometimes I wonder if it could be genetic. I pray for my granddaughter to have an awakening and brake free of this. It makes me so mad and sad that this goes on.

      2. Olivia,
        I experienced what you speak of here, being around that type of person can wear on a person and gradually I took on some of those ugly traits. It’s happened with my daughter. And I remind her when I see it – saying her dad does that. I’m sure she thinks about it, because her dad emotionally abuses her, and maybe if one is aware of what one is saying or doing one can stop doing it. This includes me. You’re right, when you run with wolves you start acting like one.
        Fortunately for my daughter and I, we are no longer in the same household as the father/husband. But yes, I’ve experienced what you are speaking of in this article, and am working hard on myself to bring about some clarity and changes of who I am and my behavior and patterns. “bad company corrupts good character” I’ll remember that one. It surely does.

      3. I so agree with you. A person learns what they live. That’s so aggravating because my son lived with me all those years, yet he acts like non-existent father who never gave his son the validation he needed. He now acts like his wife’s dysfunctional family. Guess he thinks they’re more powerful because they’re all jerks?
        It seems a lot of people think that. They seem to think forgiveness and overlooking of insults is weakness. Kindness is weakness?
        Hate to break it to them forgiveness and kindness is STRENGTH!!!
        Insulting behavior is a true sign of weakness, no self control required there.

        1. Priscilla,
          I think you’ve nailed it on that comment. Some people see people being outspoken jackasses as strength.
          That is aggravating your son taking on the father’s traits and the wife’s family.
          He at least he’s had you as an example and knows that not all people are like them. Being around it does rub off on a person, some of those traits.
          I’m so over dysfunctional people. They are exhausting to deal with.

          1. Lucy and Priscilla,

            Yes. The measurement of strength being how much of an outspoken jackass one can be. And people are accorded power by that measure, too. Domination is rewarded. Cruelty is rewarded. Cutthroat is rewarded.

            I wonder how many victims become dysfunctional people. I think it depends on the severity of the abuse. I worry that I am dysfunctional and will be forever dysfunctional due to all the abuse and victimization.

            As for the son taking on the abuser dad’s behaviors and characteristics, it’s almost as though most children side with the abuser father because that is where the power lies. Maybe, maybe not. But there is a high price paid if anyone goes against abusers, including the children who refuse to side with and emulate abuser dad. Perhaps that is what happened with your son, Priscilla. Just a thought. Plus male socialization is inherently anti-woman, generally speaking, that is.

    2. Lucy, you are exactly right, it is a game for them when they do it. I can see they are enjoying it and my granddaughter is able to please her mother by doing it – one of the few things her mom expresses approval of her about. I have been cutting the conversation short when that happens as its on the phone now since they are out of state. The two will be on speaker phone in the car so it makes it easy to “have to go”. Hope things are going well for you Lucy, and thanks for your response, I have learned a lot from others on this site. Nobody knows what its like except those who have dealt with it. I have been going to a 12 step group but when I say something about having dealt with narcissistic people in my life, I don’t think the majority of people have any idea. People naturally default to how the average person is, not the motives of the narcissist.

    3. Lucy, you are exactly right, it is a game for them when they do it. I can see they are enjoying it and my granddaughter is able to please her mother by doing it – one of the few things her mom expresses approval of her about. I have been cutting the conversation short when that happens as its on the phone now since they are out of state. The two will be on speaker phone in the car so it makes it easy to “have to go”. Hope things are going well for you Lucy, and thanks for your response, I have learned a lot from others on this site. Nobody knows what its like except those who have dealt with it. I have been going to a 12 step group but when I say something about having dealt with narcissistic people in my life, I don’t think the majority of people have any idea. People naturally default to how the average person is, not the motives of the narcissist.

      1. Kat,

        You mention a 12 step group you are attending. I have been rather down as of late and think that might be a good thing for me to attend. If I may ask and if you are willing to share what is it in relation to?

        I have a special friend who I call Captain Fly Lady who has been instrumental in me decluttering and letting go of things. Wow, has she been a rock of support in guiding me to let go. This special friend is always kind and loving in her guidance and support and I am truly blessed that she happened into my life.

        I am on my second cleansing and from my understanding have 8 more to go and she is right about that. Its true of so many things in our life in letting go of and putting a house in order that makes sense without being ourselves CD emotionally, physically or otherwise.

        This is the Topic of Character Dr. SImon has been discussing, where the true point is is it really starts with us. I am trying very hard to make the changes I need to make in my life to be a better person. It is not easy to change at my age though I have been blessed with the personality of an empath and for that I am grateful and above all this blog and all who willingly share.

        Kat, I have also been blessed with wonderful health care providers who rank above docs who are indeed Healers. It is I who needs to look within and do the work to be worthy of those who have extended a helping hand which are few and far between in this world and in return pay forward.

        Above all, prayer and God has kept me going. I have been in my prayer closet for weeks and today I must put on the suit of armor and come out.
        Please say a prayer for me as the things I must take care of are not that of what a woman of my age should take on. I know that with the grace and strength of God I can do it.

        Kat and all, thank you for your prayers and strength. I miss you to Andy, you have such a level head that I wished I had.

        God Bless All..

        1. BTOV,
          I just saw this post. There is a codependency 12 step meeting at a church nearby me, I don’t attend the church but its one of those large churches that has lots of programs going on. One thing I like about that group is that they are all professing Christians and so talking about God is no problem and not offensive to others attending. The two volunteer leaders are very good which is kind of the exception in these volunteer positions. They have both been in a 12 step group for many years and so one of them especially, an older woman, is very knowledgeable and has very good leadership ideas – which is why I wanted to attend this group. I have also been going to an alanon group. Coming from an alcoholic family I can relate to what the alanon book for families of alcoholics says about how that effects a family. The 12 steps themselves I find helpful and kind of a plan for action. I find I worry most about the things I cannot control, and those are the things I need to give to God. Trying to control those things is a waste of energy and self-defeating. The meetings emphasize that the only one whose behavior we can change is ourselves, and I just need to be reminded of this. Also, hearing what other people are dealing with helps me not to feel so alone in my struggles. I have social anxiety so its hard but I force myself to go and I am going to give it year and see if things improve in my thought life. I am dealing with my own personal struggles as well. One thing I do find frustrating though is when I talk about my narcisstic ex and my son and daughter who both display those characteristics and as you say they get worse with time. I find people don’t understand for the most part and possibly misjudge me, so its hard to talk to anyone about these things except others who have dealt with it in my experience. Its not all things but its something. I love decluttering, I live in a very small house and at first I hated it, but its got me get used to not collecting much and just having the basics. I like being organized and not having a lot of extra stuff. I read that Kon marie method of folding and have all my clothes folded like that, it makes more space and keeps things from wrinkling as much.
          One thing I learned in the alanon book for alcoholic families is that we take on the responsibility of trying to get the alcoholic, drug abuser or I would even apply it to narcissist to change their ways and we do not have the power to do it, the constant struggle to change them eats away at our self worth and our focus is all on them and we do not use any time and energy to take care of ourselves. I did that with the ex and have been trying to get my daughter to see what she is doing to “save” her from being a narc and to stop being abusive to her daughter, but its just been a failed attempt and something I have beat myself up about for many years. She is an adult, it is her responsibility and I am not that powerful is what I am learning. I just started these groups and hopefully will be learning more about myself and the “stinking thinking” that I need to address.
          BTOV, I will pray for you and I hope that whatever is happening that you need to attend to will work out.

          1. Kat,

            Thank you so much for sharing, its a blessing to have you posting on this blog and I hope our input helps you to not feel so alone in dealing with the CDN. I know this blog has been a life saver for me.

            I did go to Alanon many, many years ago. I also went to a CODA group. I think I may try one of these 12 Steps again, they are excellent programs. I tend to worry about the things I haven’t any control over and exhaust myself in doing so. This is key for me and truly your message is an eye opener.

            As you know God works in ways beyond our control. God also puts people in our life for a reason, it just doesn’t happen. I believe you are on this blog for a reason, it just didn’t happen. My special Fly Lady Friend didn’t just happen either and her support has been immensely helpful and uplifting.

            God Bless You Kat and may things get easier for you. Just know we may not see each other but you are a Kindred Spirit.

            Hugs 🙂

  6. Just to say.
    I am not diabetic any more.

    Hardness of heart, I found a video of the mothers 74 birthday. In it she subjects me to verbal abuse. The brother shows up with it’s daughter. they both start a process of ridicule and humiliation.
    At the end of the video I laugh. The reason, I GOT THEM. I can show anyone who they are in reality and no more GASLIGHTING. AND THEY JUST DO’NT SEE IT.

    1. Joey,

      I am glad to hear the good news about the diabetes. Keep eating all the right things and stay healthy.

      Joey, most of all you are no ones whipping boy anymore. You are you, a kind and wonderful man who brings joy and tears of happiness to others. So many times when I have been down, Iv’e read a beautiful poem you choose and posted just for me.

      All the rejection from the mother was yesterday, you have today and the future and I know it will only get better for you. Joey, that very special part of you the very part the mother coveted and wanted to destroy was not accomplished. Here you are and you are exceeding all expectations and I know you will continue to climb the ladder to new heights.

      Hugs and God Bless You, and Know This, You are very Special to Me.

  7. kat,
    You’re right about how people who have not experienced relations with these disordered people do not understand. And they have bad advice.
    It’s frustrating when they try to tell you that “oh, he/she does this because he’s hurting.” BS. They do it because they derive pleasure in it. We don’t need to be more understanding and tolerant of this type. We need to think of ourselves and our mental and emotional well being, and what it usually finally comes down to is separating ourselves as much as we can from the one inflicting the damage.
    You’re doing a good job of it, cutting off conversation as soon as it gets ugly.
    I think I’d say something like, “On that abusive note, I’m hanging up now.” And hang up. Every time.

    1. Lucy,
      I agree, the feedback I got one time was that she just “has a hard time showing love”. I said no, you can’t give what you don’t have, she’s not capable of real love unfortunately and she purposely tries to run me down. What I don’t say is that she purposely waits for an opportunity to attack and put me on the defense – but I am learning not to go there – I rarely find myself “explaining” myself anymore – that’s a trap that I am aware of from reading this blog.
      Of course people will think different things about that statement and most the time its best not to even go into it unless the person knows me and her well- then they can see for themselves. I like your suggestion, it acknowledges what she is doing but doesn’t attack.

      1. kat
        When I reached that point of no longer explaining myself it was a real life changer. When I realized he kept being put on the defense for no good reason, that was a life changer. I’m so done with that!
        You are doing so well.
        I try to teach this to my daughter when dealing with her dad. It’s such unnecessary, toxic drama. It’s all part of their manipulation tactic.
        You’re right to not even try to educate people with their bad advice. It gets so frustrating and draining. They don’t get it.

  8. Joey,

    That’s great news, Joey. You must have really made some big dietary changes. That takes perseverance and will.
    That mother of yours, goodness sakes. What a mean one.
    I’m sorry you had to tolerate that for so long.

    1. I’m sorry too Joey that you had to tolerate that while growing up. I can’t imagine treating your son like that, these people are something else.

  9. Joey and all,

    Joey, you are such a influence of change and endurance. I cannot even compare to your accomplishments and determination. Your a giant in my eyes that you could walk away and turn your life around. I, waited to long, hoped to long and before I knew it my life was gone. In that I mean I an to old.

    What is wonderful to me is when I hear your story of success, when I hear how Lucy has risen above all. I have been in a low place and all your successes give me strength to go forward.

    Joey, Lucy, Kat, you all bring so much hope and positivity.

    God Bless you all……

  10. The video of my the mother birthday. I have made a MP3 download of it. You can hear everything. But will see nothing. The reason I have done this, is I would like to send it to Dr Simon. It needs 10 seconds removing. Place names are mentioned as is my real name. I am trying to edit it. But not having much luck.
    In it you can hear my the brothers manipulate my the mother for money. I thought it might be useful for teaching. Just a thought ?

    1. Joey,

      I think it would be best to discuss with Dr. Simon via Contact. For me, I would like to hear it, as I study the CD and I am sure it would be beneficial. For many it may prove to be to painful, not at all within their understanding of not understanding and knowing your history or they have moved on.

      My advice is to run it through Dr. Simon as he will be the best person to understand and guide you since he knows your history and this is his field of expertise.


  11. Anonymous
    A great point you just paid is the mention of a high price to pay when you go against the abuser.
    I suffered that while divorcing and my daughter sided with him during it because she was living with him and he was supporting her and her new baby. She paid a price for siding with him and she paid a price when she didn’t side with him.
    She has told me, regarding borrowing money from him, that it’s “blood money”. She has learned a lot through experiences.
    I tell her now to borrow from me if I’m able to loan because I don’t want him holding anything over her. She knows well how he operates.
    When I took the X husband on during the divorce process, I knew it would be bad, but I had underestimated him. The cruelty and deception and extremes he would go to discredit me and try his best to emotionally and financially destroy me was way beyond what I’d ever imagined. Some victims of an abuser CD see this and try to avoid that type of pain rather than endure the every day pains.

  12. Joey
    I envision him sitting in a filthy home while he drinks scotch.
    But for now he is focusing his attentions on work and his grandson. He’s still little and I think he treats him ok for now.
    He lives next door to a bar/restaurant, so how convenient for a lonely old jackass.

  13. My adult daughter has recently stated she “wanted to apologize for the years she treated me so callously.” She also asked me when it started.

    The acknowledgement of the callousness is new. In the past she used all the CD tactics when confronted about her behavior or even when I attempted to be heard.

    I’ve limited contact with her due to severe verbal and psychological abuse, threats and intimidation. I have seen small changes in behavior after years of limited contact, but with limited contact and no variations of situations, it’s challenging to gauge her intentions.

    I’m having a hard time believing it’s sincere and not a image management/manipulation to suck me back in. She is so self-absorbed when it comes to our interactions and has such a hard time with vulnerability. It’s all about her, what she wants/needs. Sometimes she would go the soft manipulations to and if that didn’t work, increase the efforts. Her M.O. as she got older was being very demanding and when she didn’t get her way, she would punish. She was also competing with me, which makes no sense to me.

    Is saying you want to apologize actually an apology? To my mind it’s not. It’s close enough to appear to be an apology but not really an apology. It’s seems petty, but I’m learning to pull back and really listen/look “for” what they are saying.

    If it’s truly an attempt at growing, I’m supportive. On the other hand, if it’s not, I don’t want to enable her with her faux apology.

    Any thoughts?

    1. “I want to apologize… I’m so sorry for what I did to you and the hurt I caused you. I did x, y, and z. That must have caused you tremendous grief and heartache. I’m so very sorry for doing x, y, z and saying x, y, z.”

      So long as it’s followed by an actual apology, I’d say it’s a good lead-in.

      I find that if someone is truly sorry for the pain they caused you, they are more than willing to sit and hear the pain you experienced and to apologize more than once and hear you express your pain however many times it’s needed in order for you to feel truly heard and to lessen the burden of harm.

      1. Thank you, that’s what I thought. There was no actual apology after it. This is the first acknowledgement and “apology” for the hurtful behavior.

        “I want to apologize again for all of the years that I treated you so callously. I know this apology is not enough, and I’m working on figuring more out.”

        At least she realizes it’s not enough.

        It seems like this is what she thinks she’s supposed to do. But she doesn’t seem to really feel any remorse. Regret maybe, but not remorse.

        1. I want to call her on it, point it out, but I am fearful of both pushing her away/discouraging her if she is sincere and just clumsy and also of teaching her how to better pretend to be empathetic if she’s too far gone. She has very destructive behavior patterns. Based on her pas behavior and utter ruthlessness and cruelty, I’m sincerely afraid that she is a sociopath.

          If anyone has suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. It is so painful and emotionally and psychologically exhausting.

  14. Mindful,

    This is a difficult call to make and we need to remember there can be change of ones heart. Given her track record I would be extremely cautious. From my experience we can also educate a CD individual by the information we give then and thus they change their tactics.

    If it were me I would stand back and watch her actions and listen closely to what she says as it can be smoke and mirrors to draw you in. Its about continued change and living in truth, character and integrity. A person does not change overnight and the ingrained CD thought processes of manipulation are very difficult to break in these people. Just what you have reported on her thus far does not bode well for honest change though the behavior may change due to new tactics of drawing one in.

    Has she gotten any therapy, does she participate in any 12 step program or is it she proclaims change. I have been drawn in by a several people over my lifetime who supposedly changed, they put on a good act for several months and when I started to let my guard down they pounced on me with more sophisticated tactics.

    Time will tell and I would be extremely cautious in protecting you space, heart, soul and mind from being further drawn in and hurt. Keep your guard up and watch from a distance. Many times when a CD doesn’t feel they are getting anywhere with you they will let their true self show.

    1. BTOV,

      Thank you.
      I am concerned about just making her more clever. I’m also concerned about enraging her. I wonder if this is a test.
      Yes, she said she has sought therapy. I think it was originally to prove she was right, and it was me, then I think it helped. She had stopped last I heard (2 years ago), but that could have changed. She saw and remarked on the change in me and knew I was going to Alanon, so she said she had started that as well. She certainly thinks she’s smarter than I am, and that she is always right. But at times, when she doesn’t feel like I’m criticizing her, she will be vulnerable. Once she told me to protect myself because she fights hard. It was sincere. I felt it.

      She learned her tactics (and was rewarded for her”loyalty”) from her father and I think she thinks it keeps her safe and in charge, but she does not consider the cost to me and others. I am more empathic and have been fearful of confrontation and she works on those vulnerabilities.

      I’ve come to recognize that she treats me like an envious rival much of the time. She wants to get rid of me, until she wants or needs something or wants to “show me off” (she actually said that).

      So heartbreaking.

      1. ….I do wish there was an edit feature!

        I forgot an important part of this, one that tipped me off. We had an agreement on limited contact. That is was only checking in to see if the other was okay, that’s it. As in I’m okay, are you. She broke that agreement and did not ask if it was ok or even acknowledge that she was breaking it. And, she did not ask if I was ok, just said she hoped I was. It seems so petty as I type this, but I realize in these seemingly small things is where the boundaries get trodden on and worn down. She new the boundary was there.

        Any tips on how to calmly, assertively push back would be appreciated.
        I’m thinking of acknowledging that the email is not what we agreed upon and that if she wants to change the agreement we agreed upon that she needs to discuss it with me first. As well as point out that I appreciate that she wants to apologize, but that stating so is not an apology. And that I appreciated her acknowledgement of, and naming the callousness and cruelty. I want to encourage her growth, but not support her boundary busting behavior. I certainly don’t want to rescue her.

        1. Mindful,

          It seems behind the facade the same old person is there. I know how much you love your daughter but then is she really a daughter. Many times we must love them enough to let go. The only person who can change one is themselves and they have to want that change.

          I think you are still in the stage of wanting to do something in order to bring about change. In most cases all one will do is age with health issues. lose years of ones life trying to bring about change in another instead of concentrating on ones ability to change themselves.

          I say all this in care and concern as I have been where you are and wasted years of my life. When you change, those who interact with you will change also, be it for good or for worse. You need to preserve your own sanity and correct those things within you that allow this type of behavior. We have no control in changing another, though we can hold them responsible and stand our ground.

          Most importantly, it is about changing ourselves, doing the difficult work to grow beyond and not be the enabler or live our lives around another.

          The agreement is concrete, no need to revisit, she is well aware that she voided the contract with her behavior, all she is doing is trying to take back ground, there should be no compromise or discussions as she is an adult and well aware of what she is doing.

          This may be extremely painful to do, the most loving thing you can do is let go and stand your ground. If you are a person of faith, pray for her, prayer is powerful….


          1. Mindful,

            I would highly recommend you read this blog in it entirety. Also, there are other books I can recommend after you have read Dr. SImons books, read is other articles and watch his Youtubes.

            Its not about you pushing back, it is about you asserting yourself and changing those things within yourself that allow others to disrespect you. The best way to deal with these kind of people, be it family and loved ones is to step aside and hold them accountable. You can’t fix them!!!! You can only fix yourself.

            I have children like this too and I have to stand firm in tough love and in truth. If they don’t like it I will not compromise myself to their level. I know all this is hard and in the end your daughter may decide to have nothing to do with you and trash you too. Its something so many of us have had to endure.

            When you begin to understand the CD and their games of manipulation, their deapth of character you will want to disengage and take care of yourself.

            Above all keep educating yourself, be kind to yourself and surround yourself with others who truly do love and care for you, those that treat you with dignity and respect….

      2. I’m not even reading further, as this said it all for me:

        “Protect yourself because I fight hard.”

        There are abusers who will ‘announce’ or ‘disclose’ their propensity for violence, abuse, or belligerence, or that they are mean drunks and so forth. And I’ve found that whenever anyone has said such about themselves, they show it to be true.

        One rapist would tell potential dates about his being accused of rape and utilized such a ‘disclosure’ as being this supposed sign of ‘trustworthiness’ and ‘integrity’ and ‘vulnerability’ and it helped him on the dating scene. Can you imagine?

        Dr. Maya Angelou said something like, “when someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time”. And I find that if abusers tell you they are mean drunks or are belligerent or that they are calloused, heartless, or cruel, BELIEVE THEM.

        “Protect yourself because I fight hard.”

        Sounds pretty calculated, self-aware, and okay with herself as being ruthless. Sounds like she’s hoovering with the bait/draw of an ‘apology’.

        There is something to be said for damaged and harmed individuals who eventually adopt some of their abuser’s mannerisms in hopes of protecting themselves. Your statement, “She learned her tactics (and was rewarded for her”loyalty”) from her father and I think she thinks it keeps her safe and in charge, but she does not consider the cost to me and others.” says a lot.

        Unless she is profoundly traumatized and struggling to function and has difficulties with most everyone in her life, I’d say this is her elected character and she sounds narcisstic and abusive and is probably a sociopath, since, as her mother, you’ve considered the possibility of her being a sociopath. You’re years of experience give you the most information and the greatest weight in judgments/assessments.

        Sorry, Mindful, it has to be super painful.

        1. Thank you, annonymous.

          I did take her confession as a warning of protection to me, as well as an acknowledgement. She is very aware of what she does and why she does it. I was hoping that she was sincere in wanting to change.

          I appreciate your pointing out the big flags and helping me understand what they are really saying. It helps me to cut through the denial/cognitive dissonance/foolish hope.

          With all the abuse and gaslighting I’ve found a huge side effect is loss of confidence and trouble trusting my gut with her. The space I gave myself without contact helped immensely, but as soon as she starts again, my head starts to spin and it’s more difficult to think cognitively.

          With any other abuser I would, and have, immediately cut all ties, or gone gray rock if I have to be around them for some reason. With her I have done no contact, then limited contact/gray rock. She is trying to break/change/bulldoze through our limited contact agreement (my boundary).

          Since it is a hoovering/bait attempt, is ignoring her email completely the healthiest, most effective response?

          Thank you for your compassion as well. It is super painful.

          1. There is rarely, if ever, any good to be gained from succumbing to a hoovering attempt. No Contact is pretty much the way to go for most people.

            But you have to decide for yourself what is best for you. What if you are right, and your daughter is a sociopath and is dangerous and an abuser? Do you still want to remain in contact? Because she is your daughter? Because you hope she’ll change one day? Because it feels good to be actively mothering her? Because you miss her otherwise? I’m sure you have your reasons either way.

            All such items (or some other reasons) are valid, legitimate, and understandable. Your life, your values, your choices. However, damage is damage and the wear and tear an abuser inflicts is cumulative and you have an obligation to protect and safeguard yourself, too.

            Is she starving and homeless? Is she being beaten up by an abuser boyfriend? Is she being abused by her father and in need of a place to stay? (I don’t know how old she is.) All might be reasons why you discard a No Contact policy.

            But otherwise, if she is managing her life and functioning and is sheltered, clothed, fed, and safe (no abuser boyfriend beating her) and all, I’m not sure I’d want to risk further harm and be in contact again. But it’s your daughter and you get to decide for yourself if it is worth it to you.

          2. mindful

            All these responses are well thought and good advice. We’ve dealt with people such as your daughter, on different levels, and do have an understanding that we’ve gleaned through living through bad experiences ourselves.
            My thoughts keep coming back to how you feel when you do hear from your daughter. It brings you anxiety, fear, confusion, hope?, and you most probably are losing sleep. These emotions can affect your physical health as well.
            You experience this because of her past acts, which is how we are to judge and know what to expect from someone. Unless someone has gone through in-depth counseling, self reflection, enlightenment, or something such as this, I don’t see how there can be real in-depth personality change.
            You are smart to stay wary and careful and at-guard. To not do so would put you again in the position of being abused.
            My opinion is she should never again be trusted as genuine. She’s told you as much. She’s got a dark side that she may not be able to conquer.
            What you do with all this is a choice you have to make. There is either full contact, no contact, limited contact. The limited contact even makes you anxious and confused. That’s what happens when the abuser is still in the picture.
            My X husband is a CDN and I had an unbelievable ordeal with him that is so twisted and convoluted I don’t even want to get into it. But only till now am I speaking a little with him when he picks up or drops off my grandson, who lives with me with my daughter. I am cordial. Speak as if everything is just fine. This is for the sake of my grandson. But inside, I know the man cannot be trusted, ever. What he did to me is unforgivable, never forgotten, and he’s shown what a beast he can be. I’ll never put myself into a position with him again to emotionally and financially abuse me.
            You’ve got to do what you need to do to live a healthy life.

  15. BTOV,

    I appreciate your responses. I have been educating myself, disengaged and have kept strong boundaries. Unfortunately, I still struggle sometimes when she pushes past them as to what is best way to respond is, the best way to assert myself. With anyone else it’s easier. She knows exactly where to push and how hard and I get off balance. You’re right, I’m still trying to help her and maybe I can’t. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do it “right”.

  16. Mindful,

    I have a son that comes around infrequently and is always trying to push my buttons. He is always looking for and argument and tries to put me on the defensive. When I don’t give him want he wants he huffs away and stews about it. It seems the only relationship he wants is to use me as his whipping post or doormat. I have found it much easier to just let him have his space and let him be. I do know he will come around again at some time. He just had his first child at 41 about 3 months ago. He never even called me or came over to tell me. He is withholding my grandchild to cause me emotional pain. I just have to let go and let God. It just further shows how selfish and immature he is. Its sad that an adult acts this way, however, I am finding out many many people are having the same problems. The only thing we can do is love them from afar and pray for them.

    1. BTOV,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I do think it is more common than we think. It must be painful for you even though it sounds like you’re handling it well. Congratulations on your grandchild. I hope that you are able to meet him/her soon. With any luck, fatherhood will help him grow up a little.

      We can’t make them love us, or treat us with kindness and consideration. Yes, selfish and immature.

      I use to think that was what my daughter was. Now, I realize she is calculating and malicious- malignant. I do still love her even after all of the cruelty, which is crazy to me. It was easier to love her from afar when she wasn’t bothering to pretend to care. Which, I would imagine, is the point of pretending to care now.

      She is my only child. I need to protect myself, I need to change my legal documents.

  17. Mindful

    One more thought, I believe once you accept that your daughter is what she is, even the limited contact will become easier.
    I’m sorry. I know family members can haunt one’s thoughts.

    1. Lucy,

      Thank you. It is all great advice, including yours.

      I’m taking some much needed time to let myself get centered again so I can make a decision about how I want to/need to best take care of myself. As anonymous stated, the abuse is cumulative and I am certainly and suffering from the effects, physically, psychologically and emotionally. In recent years I have come to recognize the great cost of not protecting myself and not fulfilling my obligation to myself to take great care of myself. I had started on this path of firm boundaries, better self care and discovered
      I have developed a life-threatening disease. I have spent this time apart from my daughter focusing on healing.

      I agree, the fact that I get confused and anxious when she does contact me outside of our very limited contact agreement, is important information, and I have been paying attention to it. She could teach master’s level gaslighting classes and she combines tactics.

      I also remember how vicious and ruthless she can be, and often out of the blue.

      I’ve been thinking about it and it is like the frog in the pot analogy. But she turned the burner turned down for a while when I was on to her and had jumped out of the pot and told her why. First she tried to convince me that it the water wasn’t hot or that I shouldn’t be upset that it was hot, then tried to convince me she didn’t understand that boiling water would kill me, then acted as if it was my problem (it was, all of it was) and pretended nothing was wrong, rinse, repeat. Now she’s trying to coax me back into the pot. I just need to get my head/heart to accept her as she is. She believes the means justify the ends and I cannot change that belief for her or make her understand that it is an unhealthy belief, at least it is to me.

      It’s the abuse cycle and I’m breaking the trauma bond.

      I have to say that I spotted it quickly this time and rebounded much quicker than I have in the past. Thanks in a large part to all of you that have given advice, encouragement and support. I haven’t lost sleep about it, but it has been on my mind of course, but not obsessively. I went back to my routine and living my life and focusing on my health.

      As you say, it may become easier when I fully accept who she is. I know it is with my ex. I don’t have any reason to have contact anymore, but when I have in the past, like you, I knew not to trust him. Period.

      Thanks again, Lucy. I’m sorry you and everyone on this board has had to deal with these type individuals/behaviors too. Haunt ones thoughts….that’s a great way to put it. I’m going to keep exorcising them as best I can.

      1. Mindful,

        Rereading these articles gives me insight to the same thing I deal with with my family. Truly, are they family? I think not… Maybe we have that connection, they do not. Therein is the connection that will do us in, the ultimate hope and the maternal connection. Beware and be ever so caring and just loving from afar can destroy us and they know it.

        Truly, because of our ability to love and care we will always be vulnerable. I know this well from my own family, to destroy you is their ultimate joy of completion then on to the next victim. I may seem harsh in say these things but with these ones death and destruction is their ultimate goal and air of superiority.

        Just beware, we can never play with or understand their level of destruction until it is to late.

        I have been there and the ultimate for them is to toy with you as a hungry cat before they pounce and slowly eat you alive. Enjoying every tare and feeble scream of pain and agony. Beware, they lack any humanity and that where are weakness is, we think they have a muster of humanity and the have NONE…….

        1. BTOV,

          Thanks for writing your comment. It helps me to know that someone else out there knows about how evil these wicked people are and how they truly do love destroying you. And indeed, it is the ultimate fun for them to toy with you as a cat. Ever watched a not hungry cat be a sadist and just keep clawing and mangling and biting a mouse but then leaving it alone and watching it. When it moves and dares to make a run for it, if even a few steps, the cat swats it again. Just toying with it, playing with its suffering. Refusing to deliver the death blow/bite.

          It is our vulnerability and weakness to think they have a muster of humanity. They do not. Nope.

          I think about the Bible and how many verses are devoted to telling God’s people how the wicked are, describing the bloodthirsty, the deceivers, the ones whose feet rush to do wrong, to plunder, to lay traps.

          Same with God’s words about “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. Wolves devour sheep. Tear their flesh and devour them without any problem, all the while presenting as a fellow sheep (in their sheep suit).

          1. Mindful, BTOV

            …. being toyed with. I’ve been there. And fell for it numerous times. Just could not believe the X was that mean, cruel. But he was. I’ll never trust him again, his intentions towards me, never. And no apology, not admitting to fault, nothing. It’s inhumane.
            This type of person has lost him/herself, their soul, their heart and soul.
            I think time apart makes it easier to deal with, makes the wounds feel less hurtful, makes the memories not flash before us so regularly. The thoughts of them lessen.
            Time away can be very much healing. But knowing they are still there, it is just something we have to accept and deal with. When it’s family, the ties (on our side) are strong. But not on their side.
            Out of site, no to little communication is really the only way to not feel victimized over and over again.
            It’s too bad people have to treat us that way. As Joey would say, “Fuck them.”

          2. I feel like I’m perpetually slow and unable to learn. I get it, intellectually, and know these things, and yet I keep hoping and then hoping some more and then I just am harmed all the more, a joke for others.

            How do any of you resist the stupid hopefulness, and refuse to be hopeful of change or things being different this time, and stay hard and indifferent and resolved?

            Thanks for your comment, Lucy, as any hints at helping manage the pain and sting of it all is needed. I’m going to apply Joey’s words as much as possible.

  18. Anonymous
    If the perpetrator is going through a rough stage, Maybe a nervous breakdown or some psychological breakdown happened, I believe a person can change somewhat while they heal. But if a person’s core jist seems tainted, just wrong and ugly, I don’t thonk they can change much. Think of it this way – donyou think your core, your basic personality can change? I don’t think my basic personality will change. I’ve lived and learned but still basically feel I’m the same person deep down
    It’s easier I think if it’s an x spouse rather than a parent or son or daughter. It’s like you have to fight your natural instinct to love, to help them, encourage them. You want them happy.
    Yes there is hope but it’s not the kind of desperation of hope that I felt at the beginning stages, hoping things could change.
    All you can truly bank on is ones past history. If you do see real change that’s great. It just gets to the point of emotional exhaustion and waste of good energy and waste of living life positively because these people are life suckers.
    It’s not really that you are hardened, really you’re acknowledging what they’ve done and protecting yourself from further damage
    It’s sad. You want so bad for it to be different than it is. Because you’re a good caring person. And giving up on them seems unnatural.
    When you get to the point that you decide to do your best to heal, figure out the steps you need to take it becomes easier because you are then making yourself the priority.
    Believe me, we are all still suffering. But it’s tolerable.

    1. Lucy,

      Thank you for such wonderful advice. It’s so wise! I don’t even know what to say, but that it’s good stuff and I’m blessed from you writing it. 🙂

      1. Anonymous
        You’re going to be ok. You’re figuring it out. You’re learning and healing. It sure does not happen overnight. It took me a long time. In fact it’s still ongoing.
        Dr Simon has articles in the archives about what it takes for real change of anCDN and what steps they need to take and what to look for, before you can determine then trustworthy or genuine.

  19. Thanks all for your comments, perspectives and advice.

    I took some time away to rest (actually went to a retreat! 🙂 Working on accepting my daughter as she is and keeping in mind the callousness she is capable of. As expected, when I didn’t respond, she contacted me backpedaling and saying I didn’t have to answer her, but what was most important is that I’m okay. Then finally asked if I’m okay. That is the game. It’s all about her and what she wants, bulldozing over any boundaries I have and not considering me or my perspective. Then when it doesn’t work, acts like that wasn’t what she was doing. It’s about winning for her and I’m tired of the game. I’ve not responded to that email either. So, I’ve had several calls from various phones from her area code. I do not believe it’s genuine concern, I believe it’s all about control.

    Thank heaven for this site and you all. It’s giving me the strength and courage to keep going….and keeping me sane!

  20. Mindful
    Nice that you went to a retreat to refresh yourself!
    I think you’ve got it figured out, you know what works for you and what doesn’t work, you’ve got your daughter and her game totally figured out. Knowing all this will make dealing with (or not dealing with) her more manageable and less damaging to yourself. And it gets easier and easier, because you come to know what to expect with each next move. It’s predictable.

    I’ve learned a lot from you as well. I think we all keep each other’s strength up. Unless someone has lived it they really don’t fully understand the toll it takes on oneself and the confusion it creates.

    But with Dr. Simon’s articles explaining this type of person, along with our real life experiences, this site is a God send.

    1. I learn a lot from the comments. The support is really great, too. Dealing with others’ ignorance or refusal to acknowledge evil, gets really old. It’s almost crazymaking to a certain degree to have to deal with so many persons’ denial, dismissal, disbelief, etc. Psychopaths aren’t just limited to scary movies. They show up in real life and feed on some of the best, kindest, most genuine persons and then people act like the rage-filled, severely depressed, pulverized, shredded victim before them somehow came to be that way all on her own, by some organic means, not because she’s profoundly traumatized, hunted, targeted, and criminally victimized (in so many people’s minds this makes perfect sense — it seems any twisted misperception is preferable to the truth — that psychopaths walk among us and they look like you and I.

      Thankfully, some people here seem to have experience with psychopaths, or at the very least, narcs, and other abusers.

      It’s crucial to have support for us to keep our and one another’s strength up. I think that is one thing I aspire to do someday, if I ever heal and recover to a sufficient degree that I could be useful. Help other victims/targets/prey.

      Thanks for what you do, Dr. Simon and Lucy and all the others who comment here. Even just hearing the details of others’ victimization is helpful because a person can see that indeed, it happens to others, they are not alone, and here is concrete proof.

      I think there are two divisions of people — people who know, and I mean really know what it is like to be the target of a psychopath(s) and those who are blissfully ignorant. I think it’s most healing to surround oneself with as many people ‘in the know’ as possible because those who have never been targeted cannot fully understand what a hell on earth experience it really is like to be with a psychopathic predator (or I should say, to be the prey/target of a psychopathic predator, as there is no such thing as being with them, but rather a predator/prey relation and the prey doesn’t know she is prey until it is too late and she is severely harmed and entrapped and unable to escape or save herself or get out).

      It hurts so bad when so many doubt that my abuser was/is a psychopath and a total predator, as he doesn’t let anyone see that side of him, nor does he speak freely with others. But I saw and I suffered and it seems that others on this site might know what it’s like.

      It’s really terrible when the allies and duped supporters rally for the predator and you become even more outnumbered and all the more attacked, targeted, hunted, preyed upon, and harmed. Perhaps others have experienced such, too.

      1. Anonymous One,

        You explained your experience very well and how the psycho’s operate. Psychopaths are convincingly charming while their internal landscape is nothing but pure evil intent. Above all, they are like predators in the wild that stalk their prey/target, determining ones weaknesses only to pounce on, maybe to toy with, rip apart, destroy and consume.

        I understand your pain and in time as long as you can free yourself from these kind of toxic waste and keep educating yourself, surround yourself with healthy supportive people you will heal. Not to say you won’t have scars and remember this for the rest of your life but you will be wiser. You will be in a position of strength to defend yourself and help others.

        All psycho’s which are narcissists always tend to have backups in the wings. Also, when they are actively cannibalizing their victims, they tend to be very good at hiding their evil deeds from others until another unsuspecting person becomes their victim. Then there are many CD flying monkeys who enjoy the company of such and enjoy watching another suffer.

        Yes, many of us have endured the same.

        1. BTOV,

          “their internal landscape is nothing but pure evil intent” — you said it so very well. This is the absolute truth and they know it and eventually their victims come to know it and that presents the great problem of what to do about it all. How many murder-suicides were psychopaths whose impression management skills were excellent and saw it finally unraveling and decided it was time to check out.

          I hope for as much healing as possible but head injuries were his forte and I struggle so very much with anything and everything. This is only one part of the lasting damages.

          And I had wondered about the flying monkeys. Were they deluded? I’ve come to believe they are fellow evildoers, fellow predators and do enjoy their abuse by proxy roles and are active participants and they know full well they are being evil, wicked, and criminal predators and they, too, enjoy it all.

          It’s really unnerving to know just how many flying monkeys and fellow predators there are in this world.

      2. anonymous one

        You are helpful, today, by posting your experiences like you did right here.

        Unfortunately for me, my workplace became intertwined in my divorce of the X, because I work at the courthouse. So I was a major topic during the highly contested, volatile divorce. My court documents were open for anyone to read. The extreme circumstances which were taking place had taken a tremendous toll on me. So my responses to the abuse I was suffering were said to be seen by others as I’m crazy. How could I not know what was going on in the marriage. etc. ? My mental state was being questioned. So yes, I know what you speak of.
        This site has been a life saver for me. I’ve learned so much.

        1. Lucy,

          Oh my goodness. You work at a courthouse? And the divorce was processed through your workplace. How awful. I find that the legal industry is ripe with psychopaths, predators, abusers, narcs, and criminals. Would you say that is accurate, too?

          How dare they question you. I think the widespread belief in domestic violence myths is so effective. Just as rape myths are effective. Anything to help the abusers, narcs, and predators. Victims are judged, scrutinized, blamed, shamed, and abusers are given sympathy, support, encouragement, etc.

      3. annonymous one,

        Well spoken. It’s not just you, and you are not alone.

        They are excellent at hiding who they are .

        It’s brutal when you are already down from the abuse and then others, whether they are abusers or simply apathetic, stand by and watch, or worse, join in b/c they believe you are the abuser/deserve it, or whatever rationalizations they come up with. They always seem to target the empathetic ones and/or the ones that see through them and stick up for others being victimized.

        Your feelings about the abuse are understandable, all of them! I hope that you are able to find others locally that are able to understand what you are going through and can support you through it. We need limbic resonance and a relationship with these sorts of individuals leaves us starved for it. It helps us heal.

        It’s also important to find healthy outlets for our feelings, including the anger…hopefully you are feeling it. I feel it it bits and spurts. It does no good to blame the other person as that gets us stuck focusing on them. It also does no good to blame ourselves and that keeps us away from finding ways to heal and improve our lives. But we do need to feel and release our feelings.

        What I find most frustrating is that my anger, hurt, etc… only empowers them! My rage feels impotent and it’s an awful, powerless feeling.

        1. Mindful,

          As you said, “they are excellent at hiding who they are”.

          The worst is when so many join in. I wonder if they believe I deserve it, or if they believe I am the abuser, or if they just like an already targeted victim to dogpile on.

          It is so hard because in coming out of such, a victim is even more vulnerable and desperate than she has ever been before in her entire life and people group up on her and escalate things and it’s a miracle that anyone ever escapes with their heads intact.

          I took some bad advice and tried to vent my anger and rage (justificable, healthy anger/rage) in a private way, so nobody would be hurt, and such privacy was violated and such venting was used to smear me as even more ‘evidence’ of me being a bad person/deserving abuse, etc.

          Now, I’m too tired and too beatdown to experience much anger anymore. Takes too much energy and self-esteem to be mad. And it’s all impotent as none of it protected me, or stopped the abuse or anything. I know that awful, powerless feeling. I went numb for so long just to cope with the pain. Going numb is a double-edged sword.

          Ultimately, there really are no good options for victims. They are already destroyed. But at least I get to feel not crazy and not alone by reading of others who have suffered immensely due to their narcs, CDs, psychopaths, etc. on this site.

          I wish you all the very best. And if anyone is reading this who is still in it, please, guard your life and well-being, and I hope they don’t suffer head injuries and brain damage too as it ruins you. It impairs your ability to function. And there is no undoing it.

          Same thing with psychological abuse — it scars the brain. These researchers studied the brains of those who were bullied in school and it created grooves in their brains. It scarred them and said scars showed up in brain scans. Same thing with extreme, prolonged stress, which is what life with a psychopath consists of, and such kills off neurons in mass, and also leads to premature aging of the brain and there’s all sorts of irreversible effects that these evil abusers do to their victims.

          1. Anonymous One,

            I know it is difficult to do but try to find the little things that give you joy and peace. Fill your heart soul and mind with these things as much as you can. There truly are good people out there who do care though this world today is disease ridden with toxic sick people.

            Guard yourself and try not to share and trust to early on in a relationship until that trust is earned. There are many people today that literally enjoy hurting others using them as human doormats and scapegoats.

            I think because we don’t think the way they do we tend to be more trusting with letting our guard down before we should. I am sorry you had to suffer so to learn a lesson that should not be. The amazing thing about these sicko’s they sure can’t handle it when they are on the receiving end.

            I hope you stay and keep posting, in time you will find some semblance of peace and you will indeed find the understanding and validation of your experiences that is so important. Know you are among friends.

            Hugs and Gods Peace

          2. BTOV,

            From your messages, you sound to be quite a lovely person. Thanks. I hope good things for you, too.

            As you said, “hugs and God’s Peace”.

    2. Lucy,
      Thanks, it was great to get away.
      It is a process and I’m accepting that. I still feel guilt at times and I’m accepting that too. She is getting pretty predictable. I feel very sad for both of us. It’s such a loss.

      I’m glad I’m able to help you too. I think that too. So few people understand this and it’s wonderful that we can support one another. It’s a very lonely and alienating position to be in otherwise.

      Glad you’re through the worst of it and on the other side!

  21. To All,
    Some things I’ve learned through all this. Number one, the anger, the intense anger I had, I carried it for a long while. I had reason to be angry. I’d have been brain dead not to be. But it’s a horrible feeling carrying anger. And I cannot say how it finally left me, but it did. I think it just had to run its course. It took time, and finally lessened. I was so miserable carrying it. There is no fix for it. I think you have to feel it, because it’s real, and in time with acceptance and carrying on through life it dissipates little by little.
    As far as people who take the side of the CD, feel sorry for them, blah blah blah, it’s a waste of time speaking with them. They still believe the things we’ve been taught, like oh, he hurts because he’s hurt. It’s a waste of time and energy to try to educate them about CDs, their tactics and motives an psyche.
    Most important though is working on fixing ourselves, educating, and working on ourselves to live the good life and to heal and help others. We’ve got to fix ourselves so this won’t happen again.

    1. Lucy,

      Agree with all that you said, well put.

      We can only change ourselves. Been reading like crazy, Dr. Simon’s articles and several books. How to Kill a Narcissist (not really kill them), The Scociopath At the Breakfast Table and The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. All give different perspectives and tips on spotting and just as important, steps we can take to protect ourselves, change ourselves (the only ones we have the power to do that for).

      The Emotionally Destructive Relationship gets more into the parts each of us play in the relationship as well as the ways to respond. She’s very frank and I love it! She calls things by their name. It’s written with a Biblical reference, but not too heavy that it would likely put off anyone who is not religious. I’m about 3/4 of the way through so far and am getting a lot from it.

      I need it to stay strong and not give into the guilt. Boxed up her stuff in her old room today, it felt good. Enough is enough.

      1. Mindful
        I’d like to read the book you mentioned The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. I need help relating to my daughter. She’s very difficult and emotionally quite a mess
        I really want peace in my life. I’ve got to find a way to have it.

        1. Lucy,

          I’d be interested in what you think about it. I understand that difficulty relating to your daughter. It makes sense. Trying to sort through what’s yours and what’s not as well as how each of you trigger the other. It’s not easy to navigate.

          That’s so understandable. I’m learning that my desire for peace, and my healthy (and unhealthy) fear of their reaction to my boundaries, is often what created issues for me in actually obtaining peace. And of course, my trying to get them to understand (care) how much they were hurting me. Conditioning, it’s a bitch and I allowed it to control me.

  22. Lucy,

    I really feel for you and your daughter, this must be hard on you. The CDN causes damage to so many people and sad to say their own children and they could care less who they hurt and damage.

    I read all of Patricia Evans books and they really opened my eyes to realize how bad the situation was. I would suggest the ones on verbal abuse to start.

    The Verbally Abusive Relati… The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond
    by Patricia Evans

    Controlling People: How to … Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand, and Deal With People Who Try to Control You
    by Patricia Evans

    The Verbally Abusive Man – … The Verbally Abusive Man – Can He Change?: A Woman’s Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go
    by Patricia Evans

    Victory Over Verbal Abuse: … Victory Over Verbal Abuse: A Healing Guide to Renewing Your Spirit and Reclaiming Your Life
    by Patricia Evans

    Verbal Abuse: Survivors Spe… Verbal Abuse: Survivors Speak Out on Relationship and Recovery
    by Patricia Evans

    Teen Torment: Overcoming Ve… Teen Torment: Overcoming Verbal Abuse at Home and at School
    by Patricia Evans

    The Verbally Abusive Relati… The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Expanded Third Edition: How to Recognize It and How to Respond
    by Patricia Evans

    1. ALL,

      Another good read which is an easy clear read is:
      Who’s Pulling your Strings by Harriet Breiker
      I highly recommend this book as you begin to read and investigate into this subject of the Charactered Disordered.

      There are many textbooks on the studies of the disordered by well know Psychologist and Psychiatrists. I think it best to stay on the direct easy reads that the books I have suggested are. All of Dr. Simons work is to the point and written in simplify that makes understanding the DC crystal clear.

      If any of you would like me to recommend more reading material please ask, as I have read a voluminous amount of material and still end up here.

      None of this is easy at all, though working through all of what has happened to us, in time we can heal. Knowledge is Power.

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