Toxic Relationship Recovery – Comfort in Lessons Learned

Recovering from an involvement with a disturbed or disordered character is almost always a substantially unpleasant experience.  But much good can come from the ordeal if one is both self-forgiving and affiming enough to be open to the learning to be had.  It’s largely for this reason (and the fact that so many have written me asking for more on this very issue) that I thought the topic of toxic relationship recovery well worth revisiting (see also the prior articles in the current series: Toxic Relationship Recovery – Revisited and Toxic Relationship Recovery – Revisited: Part 2).

It’s not uncommon for folks who’ve wrested themselves from a toxic relationship to have many mixed feelings, including feelings of personal defeat, obsessive self-questioning and doubt, anger, mistrust, and even some paranoia (for more on these subjects see the articles (Toxic Relationship Aftermath: Doubt, Mistrust, and Paranoia?, Moving on After an Abusive Relationship, Aftermath of a Toxic Relationship – Part Two, Toxic Relationship Aftermath: A Wrap-Up, When Your Character-Disordered Ex Defames and Makes Trouble for You). Sorting through these feelings can itself be quite the excruciating ordeal. But with the right amount of self-affirmation and acceptance, and the courage to face the hard realities of what happened and the likely reasons why, there are some potentially valuable take-aways that can make all the difference between remaining relatively vulnerable to falling into a similar trap again and emerging a stronger, more aware, and confident character. The vignette that follows (again, as always, details have been altered to preserve anonymity) will hopefully illustrate this point.

Susan could tell you the very day she was finally done – really done – with Kevin. It wasn’t just after she’d left him. She was certainly fed-up at that point. But she wasn’t really through with the relationship on an emotional level, and for a lot of reasons. Many of the reasons had to do with the incessant manipulations, games of get-back and control, and other distasteful things Kevin kept engaging in after she dared to finally break free. But, as she’d come to realize over the many months of honest self-reflection, there were other reasons, too, some of which were connected to her own fears about genuinely and permanently letting go.

Susan had always had someone in her life. In fact, she couldn’t remember a time longer that a few weeks or months between relationships before she’d gotten involved again. And she had recently gained the insight that part of the reason for this was the dread she’d long carried with her about being alone in the world – emotionally abandoned as she’d been in her younger days. What she didn’t know before, but had recently come to realize is that being on her own didn’t have to mean being alone in life. She could be truly independent, especially on an an emotional level, and still be intimately connected to others. She knew that now, but she didn’t always know it. Instead, in her fear of being alone and in her relative lack of self-confidence, she inevitably gravitated toward those who seemed strong, confident and capable. And if they seemed kind enough, were attractive enough, and were really interested in her, well, that was the ultimate aphrodisiac! But she’d come to realize that in he bids to feel secure she had made herself to vulnerable to characters who in addition to their obvious strengths were also of a nature that made them prone to exploit her neediness.  And now that she had finally come to know both her own strength and her true worth, she more clearly saw the emotional abuse she unnecessarily endured on so many occasions. That would be different now. She didn’t really need to have anyone in her life, although she might want the right kind of person again someday. Not only was she confident she could make it on her own (her recent business success had finally demonstrated that in spades!), she also had no fear of being “unattached,” and she was ready to be far more choosy than she’d been in the past. She was also really enjoying her new-found freedom. So her next relationship – if there were to be one –  would have to be an equal partnership between two people who didn’t really need each other per se but rather clearly knew and valued each other and simply wanted to walk through life together. While a small part of her did lament that it took what it did to get her where she was, the bigger and healthier part of her knew that for her – given all her circumstances and experiences – there was probably no other way.  Knowing, and more importantly, accepting that, gave her peace.

Next week will see the inauguration of a new series.  And Character Matters on Sunday, November 1st at 7 pm EST will again be a live program, so I can take your calls.

67 thoughts on “Toxic Relationship Recovery – Comfort in Lessons Learned

  1. Boom!
    This hits home, but I’m still early on in my struggle with all this. Thank you for your books and articles. They have been my lifeline. Trying to find reality after over 40 years of manipulation, cruelty and lies.

  2. My choice of words make a big difference in framing my thoughts and thinking pattern. Two biggies for me was the word “need’ and the word “want”.

    1. Reminds me of NLP.

      Read somewhere it’s been discredited. My memory’s foggy on this, though. Isn’t NLP supposed to be about what kinds of images and words we use more?

      1. I don’t know anything about NLP.

        But it’s not the first time that my poor and lazy language skills have tricked me. My misuse of one word can throw off an entire thought process.

        Another example; I was talking to someone about using a tough love approach and how it made me feel so mean. He said: “it’s not mean, it’s stern”.

        I had confused the word “mean” and the word “stern”. Again a big difference.

        With that difference I was able to shift my perception and understanding towards a different direction. Proper understanding helps me reframe a situation. Reframing calms down my over active conscience thus allowing myself some comfort with my healing process.

  3. Why is it that when you begin to hold your ground with covert manipulative people, they then become more overtly manipulative and aggressive?
    After 40 years I’m beginning to realize he probably never loved or cared for me, but on the surface he acted like it – as long as I wasn’t rocking the boat.
    He just “loved” to take care of me if I was sad or depressed (in fact, I think he liked it when I was) as long as I wasn’t sad or depressed by something he had said or done. Then I only got anger or silence from him.
    After years of therapy I began to calmly try to get him to discuss issues with me, he became very aggressive. Never physically – just mean. Why is that? I’m having trouble wrapping my hands around all this. I feel like my entire life has been a lie.

    1. Something to do with cost, I will say. Some manipulative tactics are more costly to use.

      When a bit of sadness can get all the sympathies that I want, I do not need to threaten or pretend to commit suicide.
      When a bit of responsibility guilt trip gets what I want, I do not need to elaborately setup others to fail.
      When a bit of anger in my eyes gets me what I want, I do not need to shout at top of my lungs.

      Just like everyone else, a manipulative person wants everything expanding as low effort as possible. Only when target offers resistance, manipulator needs to switch gears to employ more costly tactics.

      1. Whoa man, whoa. I don’t care who you are, that’s deep stuff right there. All joking aside, I’d like to know who sits around and thinks about the stuff you just wrote. I mean, who sits around and actually plots to intentionally cause headtrips for the sake of entertaining amusement? I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a very good human being. I have done some pretty horrible things to people who were very close to me. But not once did I formulate a plan to intentionally mess with anyone’s mental state. Maybe the things I’ve done caused some mental anguish, but mental anguish was not my sole intention. My goal was some form of monetary or emotional gain, but I’m sure some of the side effects carried mental anguish. Does that make me better than someone who intentionally messes with other people heads? I don’t know. You be the judge. I don’t think about planning or the outcome of my transgressions. I just do bad stuff on impulse. I always have. But evil doing with a plan, well, is not my plan. Good day sir.

        1. BTW, I didn’t intend to rude when I said “I don’t care who are”. I was just trying to make a point

        2. Rightly pointed out MetallicA>AC/DC.

          It did not made much sense to me too, after I read the posted message. I intended to say that just pointing out small faults to a careful person is enough to get what I want, then I do not need to waste my energy in setting up my target to fail in some big way.

          “Maybe the things I’ve done caused some mental anguish, but mental anguish was not my sole intention… Does that make me better than someone who intentionally messes with other people heads?”
          I think so. Some people people carry strong sadistic traits, and I am sure they could be lot worse. Whereas you seems to be quite intelligent person, who has strong preference for short-term gains at expense of long-term gains.

        3. Hi Metallica,

          The most difficult part of the aftermath and the piece of the puzzle most of us try so hard to find, is trying to figure out “why?” And the biggest part of the why involves the intent of the wounding individual.

          I would say that you are probably typical in your self serving nature. It’s not designed to be malicious or hurt, but ends up doing so.

          Still, if I not mistaken here, you admit to using people for monetary or emotional reward.

          My question to you is this. Most of your targets then, are effectively steamrolled. However, if they become non- compliant, even belligerent and become wise to you, obstructing you in some way, would you not expend some energy and effort to “take them down?”

          I think this is a typical pattern as well. Target has something the self serving individual wants, doesn’t get it, after just assuming it was ‘his,’ or ‘hers’ and is apoplectic with rage.

          Then the cool composed cat, comes a little unglued and starts to develop strategies to destroy the target.

          The degree of malicious retaliatory action is directly proportional to how much time and effort they had invested in target.

          Do you agree? Interested in getting your thoughts on this.

          1. “My question to you is this. Most of your targets then, are effectively steamrolled.” – That’s just the thing though, I don’t look at people as “targets”. I’m just a selfish person and I take things that make me feel better about myself, with no thought of the hurt that it will cause. Most of the “things” I take are emotional support that is not offered to make me feel better about myself. Guilt trips, depression, anxiety and a host of other emotions are VERY real for me and I do anything I can to not feel like that (like abusing otc sleeping pills so I can shut down my brain in order to not have to think about what I’ve done.) Do I fake those emotions to get what I want? No. Do I use those emotions to get what I want? No. When those emotions are overwhelming I reach out for emotional support that I desperately need. That support soothes me and helps bring me back to level. Ironically, (and sadly) the support that I desperately seek is from some of those same people to whom I owe substantially, without regarding their emotions about how I treated them, and how they truly feel about me. And I get that support because I have been forgiven by them. Unfortunately though, I cannot forgive myself. That’s the meat and potatoes of this whole life experience. I’m tired from working 48 hours in 4 days. I am going to bed. But when I wake up I will address the rest of your questions.

    2. Jean, I was married for 45 years and had dated 4 years before that. When I found out about my husband’s affair, he said “How can I feel sorry for you when you are mad at me!” He had absolutely no empathy.

      Any discussion we had about issues we had always ended up in an argument. His viewpoint was that he should be allowed to do any thing he wanted with no consideration of my feelings.

    3. Needs versus wants right? I guess I just don’t know how someone “needs” or “wants” to cause mental torment on someone. That’s all I’m saying. Good day sir.

      1. Metallica,

        Thanks for your response to my previous posts. As far as referring to how you have described your behavior, sorry I used the word ‘targeting.’

        I am trying to get a fix on your description of ‘using’ others, emotionally and where and why remorse enters into it.

        Is it because you wouldn’t do the same for them, if they were in the same head space as you?

        If that is the case, is it due to selfishness or being so overwhelmed by your own anxiety, depression etc.. that you can’t give back?
        As long as you are not contemptuous for those who struggle with similar issues as you, you’re likely not a totally pathological weirdo! LOL.

        If you are a young guy, not yet past thirty or thirty five, I would say your pattern of using people (women?) is, by and large, kind of normal. Definitely needs work and you should try your best to live up to your potential as a good caring giving person.

        1. “I am trying to get a fix on your description of ‘using’ others, emotionally and where and why remorse enters into it.”- The emotional support that I seek is from my parents to whom I owe a great deal of money. Therefore, the guilt trips, depression, shame, and anxiety I have is directly related to that. I also pester my brother and sister for emotional support as well. My “situation” is very unique in nature. The things that I perceive on a daily basis is enough to make even the most emotionally and mentally strong person doubt their own sanity, and even more unsettling, their personal safety. So what I’m saying is that I have used manipulation to get what I want (emotional support most of the time, but also material things a few times) but I’ve never manipulated in cold blood. Every action and reaction I have to emotional, mental, and physical distress is done with a fiery heart and on impulse, it’s pretty much instinctual. I think that if people were to just let me be and not push my buttons they would find that I’m quite an agreeable person. Unfortunately, I meet all adversity with boiling blood. I always have. So when people know this about me and they want to get under my skin, they know exactly how to do it with very minimal effort on their part. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m hypersensitive. I’ve conditioned myself to be this way for as long as I can remember in order to try and hide my sexual orientation. It’s not easy growing up and entering adulthood hiding who you truly are inside. In fact, it’s brutal, but I did it, and I fought like hell to maintain my status as hetero, even when some of those people closest to me (friends, girlfriends) knew better. So now, as a 36 year old man, I still struggle with it. At least now I can admit to people that I’m a homosexual, but inside I’m still very ashamed of it. To this day I still try and deny it to myself. It’s miserable. I have zero social life. And when I do try and reach out to a fellow gay person that I work with, he also uses that to mess with my head. So, even if I wanted to go out to the gay social scene (bars, clubs) I will receive the same negative attention there as I do here. They all already know my name and what I look like, and I would be summarily dismissed and denied by their community. So what’s the point? Why try when I can’t win?

          Whoa! So I just went wayyyy out there in left field. Sorry about that. I just got sidetracked. So, back to it.

          No, I do not specifically target women for manipulation. It’s funny you mention the age of 35 being typical of men who routinely manipulate. I just turned 36 last month.

          Ever since I’ve become more responsible with money over the past few years I have helped people who needed it. I have no problem helping people who need help. After all, help was given to me time and time again when I needed it. I even helped people who I KNEW were involved with those who were making me miserable. I helped in spite of that. I have NOT paid back those debts owed to my parents. I know that I should, but I have conflicts about doing so after things that happened when I was a kid, emotional abuse, feelings of abandonment, witnessing horrible things that they did to each other. They can justify the emotional abuse as “tough love” all they want, but we all know that you can dress a turd in a tuxedo, but ultimately it’s really just a turd, in a tuxedo. I have issues with them giving up on me and sending me to live with my grandparents so they wouldn’t have to “deal” with me any longer, especially after growing up without ever knowing, seeing, or remembering my biological father. One parent was a drug addict that couldn’t care for his kids, and the other was a neurotic mess who resented us two boys because we reminded her of our father. So there are many, many dynamics at play here. The child blames the parents for emotional inadequacies, the parents claim the child is just irresponsible and selfish. Both thought processes are self reinforcing cycles for the parent and the child. And now, there is nothing but anxiety and tension within our immediately family when we try and interact with each other. It is a sad, sad situation. I wish things could be better. I wish we could all interact with love and admiration, not with blame, anxiety, and shame. But I guess these types of dysfunction are commonplace within many families today and I think that is terrible.

          I have no contempt for anyone seeking community support and answers on a blog website. Why would I have contempt for someone I don’t know?

          I am totally pathological, pathologically hopeless. Some might even say that I’m a pathological liar who would make up anything to get responses from people, to “gain position” or “manage impressions”. Or that is just the portrait of me that they are trying to frame. I think most human beings have a pretty good gut instinct when it comes to sniffing out hidden agendas and ulterior motives. I’m not a religious person, but I am fairly spiritual, and there is definitely an inner guide or light that comforts me for truly knowing what I know about certain people I deal with in my day to day life.

          If someone else was in the same “head space” as me and sought my advice or some sort of comforting words, I would wholeheartedly oblige them. After all, I know all too well exactly what obstacles they face and how insurmountable those obstacles seem. I would try and give advice on coping skills, but I don’t think that would be successful due to my own gross lack of coping skills. Fortunately for me, this website has been instrumental in teaching me what little positive coping skills I do have now, and they continue to get better every day. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, who knew?

          “The degree of malicious retaliatory action is directly proportional to how much time and effort they had invested in target.”- Do you mean revenge? Like a manipulator trying to get revenge on the “target” because the “target” was immune to the manipulation? Or do you mean that since the manipulator felt obliged or pressured to invest time and effort in their target that they (the manipulator) felt that they (the manipulator) were “owed” something in return, and took steps to ensure that what they (the manipulator) were “owed” was indeed collected? I think it all stinks. Revenge is revenge, it’s a temporary solution to a chronic, persisting problem. Revenge doesn’t eradicate ones own fears and insecurities, it just makes them worse. Unfortunately, I know this first hand, I have caused a similar situation in my recent past, and I am still reminded of it constantly.

          “Then the cool composed cat, comes a little unglued and starts to develop strategies to destroy the target.”- Not real sure about what you mean here. Can you elaborate a little further please? I’m interested in what this actually means. Thanks.

          I guess what I’m trying to express here is that we all have our hats to wear, our roles to fill, boats to rock, teeth to bare, and lessons to learn. But those lessons are much harder to learn when the truly evil people enter our lives to cause anger, despair, hatred, and disbelief. When they enter the playing field it all becomes about locking down tight and playing defense for the sake of a personal wearing sanity and self preservation. And it is getting more and more difficult to distinguish between the cleverly disguised malicious people, and the true “lesson givers”. It’s enough to send one spiraling into the land of insanity.

          Looking forward to seeing some of your responses.

          1. What do other professionals say…..?

            Quotes for “Life Before Birth”

            “Life Before Birth is a thrilling journey of discovery, a real joy to read. Janov writes like no one else on the human mind—engaging, brilliant, passionate, and honest. He is the best writer today on what makes us human—he shows us how the mind works, how it goes wrong, and how to put it right . . . He presents a brand-new approach to dealing with depression, emotional pain, anxiety, and addiction.”

            Paul Thompson, PhD, Professor of Neurology, UCLA School of Medicine

            Art Janov, one of the pioneers of fetal and early infant experiences and future mental health issues, offers a robust vision of how the earliest traumas of life can percolate through the brains, minds and lives of individuals. He focuses on both the shifting tides of brain emotional systems and the life-long consequences that can result, as well as the novel interventions, and clinical understanding, that need to be implemented in order to bring about the brain-mind changes that can restore affective equanimity. The transitions from feelings of persistent affective turmoil to psychological wholeness, requires both an understanding of the brain changes and a therapist that can work with the affective mind at primary-process levels. Life Before Birth, is a manifesto that provides a robust argument for increasing attention to the neuro-mental lives of fetuses and infants, and the widespread ramifications on mental health if we do not. Without an accurate developmental history of troubled minds, coordinated with a recognition of the primal emotional powers of the lowest ancestral regions of the human brain, therapists will be lost in their attempt to restore psychological balance.

            Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D.
            Bailey Endowed Chair of Animal Well Being Science
            Washington State University

            Dr. Janov’s essential insight—that our earliest experiences strongly influence later well being—is no longer in doubt. Thanks to advances in neuroscience, immunology, and epigenetics, we can now see some of the mechanisms of action at the heart of these developmental processes. His long-held belief that the brain, human development, and psychological well being need to studied in the context of evolution—from the brainstem up—now lies at the heart of the integration of neuroscience and psychotherapy. Grounded in these two principles, Dr. Janov continues to explore the lifelong impact of prenatal, birth, and early experiences on our brains and minds. Simultaneously “old school” and revolutionary, he synthesizes traditional psychodynamic theories with cutting-edge science while consistently highlighting the limitations of a strict, “top-down” talking cure. Whether or not you agree with his philosophical assumptions, therapeutic practices, or theoretical conclusions, I promise you an interesting and thought-provoking journey.

            Lou Cozolino, PsyD, Professor of Psychology, Pepperdine University.

            In Life Before Birth Dr. Arthur Janov illuminates the sources of much that happens during life after birth. Lucidly, the pioneer of primal therapy provides the scientific rationale for treatments that take us through our original, non-verbal memories—to essential depths of experience that the superficial cognitive-behavioral modalities currently in fashion cannot possibly touch, let alone transform.

            Gabor Maté MD, author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

            An expansive analysis! This book attempts to explain the impact of critical developmental windows in the past, implores us to improve the lives of pregnant women in the present, and has implications for understanding our children, ourselves, and our collective future. I’m not sure whether primal therapy works or not, but it certainly deserves systematic testing in well-designed, assessor-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trials.

            K.J.S. Anand, MBBS, D. Phil, FAACP, FCCM, FRCPCH, Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, Senior Scholar, Center for Excellence in Faith and Health, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System

            A baby’s brain grows more while in the womb than at any time in a child’s life. Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script That Rules Our Lives is a valuable guide to creating healthier babies and offers insight into healing our early primal wounds. Dr. Janov integrates the most recent scientific research about prenatal development with the psychobiological reality that these early experiences do cast a long shadow over our entire lifespan. With a wealth of experience and a history of successful psychotherapeutic treatment, Dr. Janov is well positioned to speak with clarity and precision on a topic that remains critically important.

            Paula Thomson, PsyD, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge & Professor Emeritus, York University

            “I am enthralled. Dr. Janov has crafted a compelling and prophetic opus that could rightly dictate PhD thesis topics for decades to come. Devoid of any “New Age” pseudoscience, this work never strays from scientific orthodoxy and yet is perfectly accessible and downright fascinating to any lay person interested in the mysteries of the human psyche.”

            Dr. Bernard Park, MD, MPH

            His new book “Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” shows that primal therapy, the lower-brain therapeutic method popularized in the 1970’s international bestseller “Primal Scream” and his early work with John Lennon, may help alleviate depression and anxiety disorders, normalize blood pressure and serotonin levels, and improve the functioning of the immune system.
            One of the book’s most intriguing theories is that fetal imprinting, an evolutionary strategy to prepare children to cope with life, establishes a permanent set-point in a child’s physiology. Baby’s born to mothers highly anxious during pregnancy, whether from war, natural disasters, failed marriages, or other stressful life conditions, may thus be prone to mental illness and brain dysfunction later in life. Early traumatic events such as low oxygen at birth, painkillers and antidepressants administered to the mother during pregnancy, poor maternal nutrition, and a lack of parental affection in the first years of life may compound the effect.

            In making the case for a brand-new, unified field theory of psychotherapy, Dr. Janov weaves together the evolutionary theories of Jean Baptiste Larmarck, the fetal development studies of Vivette Glover and K.J.S. Anand, and fascinating new research by the psychiatrist Elissa Epel suggesting that telomeres—a region of repetitive DNA critical in predicting life expectancy—may be significantly altered during pregnancy.

            After explaining how hormonal and neurologic processes in the womb provide a blueprint for later mental illness and disease, Dr. Janov charts a revolutionary new course for psychotherapy. He provides a sharp critique of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, and other popular “talk therapy” models for treating addiction and mental illness, which he argues do not reach the limbic system and brainstem, where the effects of early trauma are registered in the nervous system.

            “Life Before Birth: The Hidden Script that Rules Our Lives” is scheduled to be published by NTI Upstream in October 2011, and has tremendous implications for the future of modern psychology, pediatrics, pregnancy, and women’s health.

          2. Metallica,

            It sounds like it’s too easy to believe one is ” totally pathological” and “pathologically hopeless” in a situation like that. Aptly said, self-reinforcing cycles, that must describe them very well. I really hope understanding helps move forward. I hope you get rid of self-loathing and it’s great that your coping skills are improving.

            You obviously have a lot to say, as this contribution shows. It’s very important to get your thoughts gathered and out here.

            One thing you just said: ” it is getting more and more difficult to distinguish between the cleverly disguised malicious people, and the true “lesson givers”. ” Oh hell, that’s so unsettling! Aggression, the devious factor that was born in us before we were even human… Perhaps in another world with entirely different laws of the universe beings were born and developed so that no possibility of any being ever harming or endangering another one existed, but this is unfortunately just fantasizing and wishing.

          3. Hi Metalica,

            My reference to retaliation was framed as a question, I think. I am trying to get a feel for your self admitted ‘lack of remorse.’ Do you think if you paid your parents back, you would feel more at ease? I don’t think I would feel particularly guilty stiffing somebody like your mother, step father, either. Just speaking for myself, here, I think I would feel uneasy about it because, at least, subconsciously it would be at odds with my image of myself. I pay back financial debts — and if I don’t I am no better, in some respects than the person who abused me. Even though there was abuse in childhood, the loan, in adulthood, was made in good faith.

            If it is a huge amount of money and there is difficulty paying it back, maybe work something out where you pay them a small sum every month — something you can manage.

            At least this represents effort on your part. They may or may not ‘deserve’ honesty, but I am thinking about your own system of values and the underlying emotional turmoil this can cause YOU, if you don’t meet the problem head on.

            Will reply more to the rest of your post later, Metalica.

            Best wishes for now, Metalica. You have been through Hell — but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Trust me. If you knew my whole story you would understand that this is from my heart, not a cheap pat panacea. I am so happy that you have a spiritual affinity. Lean on it. You are loved.

  4. This article is me to a T. I’m 8 months out from D-day, and although I didn’t have serial relationships, like Susan I had this dread of being alone and emotionally abandoned. It’s been almost 6 months since my divorce from my sociopath ex-wife who cheated and abandoned and I’ve taken this time to reflect on a lot of things. Like mentioned in this article, I’ve come to realize that being independent doesn’t mean being alone in life and I can still have intimate relationships with others. Like Susan, it took a traumatic experience to open my eyes but now the game has definitely changed. I will certainly be more careful next time choosing a partner. And I know I don’t need one. Rather, I’ll be looking for a partner who values me and wants to do life together.

    Dr Simon, your books and blog have been a tremendous aid in my recovery. I just want to say Thank YOU!

    1. Hi Michael,

      Usually emotional abandonment precedes actual abandonment. Did you experience this long before the relationship actually ended?

      The loneliest place to be is when you are surrounded by people or with a significant other who really doesn’t care. What makes it doubly worse is when they all pretend to.

      1. Well stated Lisa. I was with a CD husband for 30 + years and felt lonely much of the time. It was not until recently that I discovered his secrets and deception. Now that I’m away from him physically and emotionally that awful lonely feeling is gone. Wish I’d known so long before what I know now.

        1. Linda, how long did it take for you to reach that place – not feeling lonely? I am in the middle of a divorce after a 40 year marriage. 9 months separated and the feelings of loneliness and guilt are still overwhelming. The guilt comes from my husband feeling (and telling people) that I abandoned him because it was me that moved out.

          1. Jean,

            While I was not married nearly as long as you, my ex husband did the same thing to me. We have been divorced 10 years now and he still makes attempts to pull my guilt strings. Only recently did I decide to open up my ‘repression closet’, clean it out, and start addressing MY issues, MY feelings, MY stories and MY role in my relationships. It was hard and still is BUT things started to feel better and I was able to forgive myself which was so helpful. “Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is” That somebody MUST start with you :) It helps, I promise.

          2. Jean,

            I only took a few months to come out of the depression and shock and I no longer felt lonely. I did receive lots of therapy/counseling sessions.

  5. History has taught us that people do not easily accept new discoveries and advances in knowledge about the human condition, unless it is some esoteric bull, either religious or quasi-religious, e.g. the many different belief systems, mantras and meditations, or “quick fixes” such as lobotomies or electro convulsive shocks, because facing and accepting reality means facing your own fears, anxieties, shortcomings and suppressed traumas. Also, it is so easy to visit a therapist for 20 years or more, undergoing talk therapy, because the pain that actually caused the damage is never touched on. Same with being on medication. More suppression.

    If we are going to grow as humans, and if we wish to PREVENT little girls from growing up into adults who become victims of destructive men, then we need to start at the beginning. Neurotic parents will produce neurotic children. It does not matter how well intentioned the parents are, if they have not connected with and felt their own pains from their own past, because they will be unaware and unconscious. All the parenting “how to” books in the world will not prevent that. Because if the baby cries a lot, and later on starts to show stronger feelings, it will trigger the fears and anxieties in the parents, who will then feel the need to suppress the child, continuing the vicious circle.

    As humans, we have all these very wrong and very neurotic clichés about babies and children, such as the “terrible twos”, and old wives’ tales about not picking up the baby when it cries, lest you spoil it. A rigid mother and a stoic father will not be able to impart a message to their offspring, of being a loved child. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” …..???? Still practised today by the majority of parents. “Break the child’s spirit”…??? Still quite common.

    The word “discipline” should be banned for ever. It should be replaced by the sentence “Unconditional love and let the babies cry and let toddlers, young kids and teenagers show and express their feelings unhindered while a loving caretaker sits with them and listens”. A school should be a place where children can run free, cry shout, swear, play, not have to wash their faces or sit still, and not be indoctrinated with any religious bullshit, that has nothing to do with how the child feels.

    That is how you prevent a new baby from turning out as a psychopath or drug addict, rapist, criminal or murderer, and not by preaching or “disciplining”.

    We evolve from birth to adulthood. We have to acknowledge evolution. Evolution dictates that certain things should happen at certain stages in our growth. You cannot replace the loss or undo the pain of a ten year old who was never hugged, by hugging him now. Too late. But we can traverse down the chain of evolution, to remove the traumatic imprints of neglect and lack of love. That is the greatest news of this century. It is a fact. A scientific fact that is undisputable.

  6. Read here, the latest article from Dr. Arthur Janov.

    Study after study has shown that a carrying mother’s stress can have long- lasting effects on how the genes unravel and are expressed in the offspring, which is the essence of epigenetics. Those brought up in abusive and unloving homes – under condition of famine, violence, war, divorce, etc. – had lifelong changes in their development, including chronically high levels of cortisol. Women who were abused by their husbands had children with excessive methylation of their gene. And this alteration was passed on to the baby just as if it were inherited. In this way, and in many others, the anxiety and depression of the carrying mother get translated into the baby. In short, he is born stressed. Later on, he will over-react to tense events with higher stress levels.

    This is the definition of post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. And the point is that many of us carry around this latent high stress level for a lifetime. (We tested many of our entering patients for cortisol levels, and they were universally high to begin with, but dropped significantly after one year of therapy.) If we later add an unloving home and other stress factors, the latent levels become inordinately elevated. So then, a man enters combat and later suffers PTSD; we think that combat did it. Combat only exacerbated the reaction and made it manifest; it became an overt symptom. He was already PTSD, only latent. There is a recent study that proves the point, showing that those who had combat fatigue generally had more trauma growing up (Berntsen et al., 2012).

    In that study, a team of Danish and American researchers interviewed a group of 746 Danish soldiers before, during and after their deployment to Afghanistan. The investigators, led by Dorthe Berntsen of Denmark’s Aarhus University, wanted to trace the causes of PTSD and find out why some soldiers developed the disorder while others did not. They found that the vast majority of subject soldiers handled the war experience with little or no psychological harm. Surprisingly, for those men who did develop serious stress symptoms, the cause was not found to be connected to battlefield trauma. Instead, the strongest predictor of PTSD was extreme childhood abuse, not combat experience. Researchers found that the PTSD sufferers were more likely to have been victims of severe beatings, burns and broken bones, or to have witnessed family violence as children. **** I want to add, also abuse from spouses = Patrick)
    In addition, these soldiers had past experiences that they were unable, or unwilling, to talk about with the investigators.

    However, in an unexpected twist on conventional wisdom, researchers found that some of the already stressed soldiers, about 13 percent, actually felt better after being sent to the battlefield. These were men who exhibited stress symptoms, such as major anxiety and frequent nightmares, before their deployment. But once in the war zone, their stress temporarily improved, only to reappear once they were safely back home. The question is: Why would they feel better when suddenly plunged into an unfamiliar and threatening situation? The answer, as this study suggests, is that being sent away to war allowed them to briefly escape their own private battlefield – the family.

    “In other words, they showed improvement as soldiers only because they were in such poor psychological condition in civilian life,” concludes an article about the research published in Scientific American. “Army life – even combat— offered them more in the way of social support and life satisfaction than they had ever had at home. These soldiers were probably benefiting emotionally from being valued as individuals for the first time ever and from their first authentic camaraderie – mental health benefits that diminished after they once again returned to civilian life.”(11)

    To cure the affliction of PTSD we need to deal with the trauma of combat and also the adversity from childhood that set the stage for it. In other words, there were antecedents for this affliction. Cure occurs when all the current and antecedent factors are addressed and relived. So a soldier can be aware of his combat trauma and unconscious of the traumas underlying it. It is what we can’t see that does so much damage. Moreover, the most deleterious traumas are those that occurred during the early critical period, when need is greatest and pain is at its asymptote. It means that the sealed-in imprint is almost irreversible in its effects (excluding Primal Therapy). War is such a powerful force that its effects can be engraved just as during a critical period in childhood, when the brain is so vulnerable. There is, therefore, a confluence of two traumas: one that is obvious and the other that we cannot see. We must not only treat what is obvious if we want to make sure that the PTSD does not linger on and on. To leave the basic primeval imprint intact and untouched means always that we must do something each day to handle the symptoms which never seem to go away.

    That is why we must always include the concept of the imprint in any attempt to understand human behavior, whether it be PTSD or ADD or any number of ailments. It may seem like one abuse cannot be that bad as to cause such lasting damage; but it is one abuse among many, a series of traumas that are encapsulated and imprinted with a force that lasts a lifetime. A mother who fights with her spouse over time is setting up future behavior in the offspring. It not only upsets the mother but it also upsets the baby for life by changing his genetic inheritance. We have treated such cases and they are often punctuated by frequent trips to the emergency room for allergy and asthma attacks.

    When a baby or fetus is traumatized he is more sensitive to later stress. His immune system is affected and he is more vulnerable to such things as Epstein-Barr disease or the herpes virus. In other words, when there is a virus around he will be more likely to fall ill, especially if he were unloved even in the womb (i.e. did not have his basic needs fulfilled) (Fagundes, Glaser, Malarkey & Kiecolt-Glaser, 2013). These afflictions are not considered mental illness, but they are often due to the same imprints involved in serious mental ailments. Here there is dysregulation of immune function, but it can have other effects, as well. Do we want to alleviate that immune problem or cure it? To cure it, we must find the imprints. They are there and when the patient is given access he will get there. Memories will come to greet him. Yes, we must treat the allergies, etc., but that only deals with manifestations, not cure.

    In order to suffer “mental illness” we need a “mental” component, the cognitive apparatus that allows for mental deviation. Until that evolutionary step in brain development, we will suffer physically from that same imprint. Sometimes it is not different diseases we are dealing with, but different evolutionary stages of our growing up; our ontology. It is not possible to develop an “attention deficit” until we develop the cognitive capacity to pay attention and concentrate. And then it is the impact of multiple imprints or one very strong imprint that sends constant messages to the top level brain, the neo-cortex, trying to inform it of the problems on deeper levels, and thus interrupting normal thought. Those messages are importuning and unrelenting, and keep us from any long-term focus. They are trying to inform us of priorities; what is urgently in need of being dealt with.

  7. Great articles Dr Simon that really come from an understanding and positive viewpoint despite the painful content therein. We can overcome these relationships and it takes time… a long time of painful growth. Time to appreciate what it is like to be you, who you are, where you are going and learn to love your own company. There is such a freedom in learning these things and right at the beginning you’d never think for one moment you’ll ever get there. One minute you think Yep I am here and then bang slip right back down again. Slowly the pain lessens til one day you find yourself laughing, smiling, not remembering daily, and the world around you is yours. Life is fun again. It’s a fantastic feeling and I do hope that all who come here for help will one day have that feeling. Nearly exactly two years for me and boy how my life has changed but no regrets for the time I lost just a hop skip and jump into a future that’s all mine and the choices I alone make. Wouldn’t trade it for the world!

    1. Hi Tori,

      What a great post. So glad to hear that you are caring for yourself. It is a hard task to start over and learn to care for ourselves. I am still learning to be me and finding who I really am after having been defined and told how to think. I wake up many mornings and talk with God and then plan my day. Its very quiet, but peaceful. I can make all the mistakes I want and then I can get angry, cry, stomp my feet or just plain old laugh at myself. There are times when I still feel guilty but that is getting better.

      I am so glad your happy, it gives me hope that I too can be more content and at peace. Its been almost 5 years and I am laughing more. These can be the best years of our lives. Be safe and happy, I love hearing your happiness.

      1. Hi BTOV, was just reading Dr Simon’s latest post and saw your response. I know you will be happy in the future…you are taking the right steps. So glad you are laughing more. I think finding the fun in everyday things is the way to go. I have been scarred but those scars remind me of my learning…without them I would never have known what I know now. Dr Simon’s words, professional support, support I received from posters on this site and other readings opened everything up and enabled me to be brave enough to face myself, my issues and all the CD’s problems. It’s the best thing that happened for me finding this place. Reminds me of that song I can see clearly now the rain has gone or whatever it is… ha ha! I hope you find yourself Btov and you know the best part there are things that you never know, we are all mysteries even to ourselves. Once you take life on, strengths, loves of different kinds, and happiness just seem to come on in. Anyone spits a thorn just pick the invisible vibes out and flick it away and move forward. I know you will get there, when you can laugh that’s when you know you are heading in the right direction. It’s a long painful journey going through the healing of having lived with a CD but it can be done. Keep going strong BTOV…I know you are… ((hugs)) :)

  8. Metalica,

    I want to refer back to Dr. Simon’s post here. One day, Emma just knew she ‘was done’ with Kevin. I can only refer to my own experience here, which might be different than yours. My parents abandoned me, like truly abandoned me, when I was in my late teens. I barely avoided prostituting myself to get by. This was right after an attempted suicide attempt. I was dropped on a street corner, my arms all bandaged up, with 200.00 in my pocket. Try to imagine being almost forced to turn tricks with your wrists freshly slashed. I don’t mean to be so graphic, but I am trying to drive home how very very hard it was.

    They had their reasons, for abandoning me; my constant crying from depression and anxiety and my inability to ‘get along’ with my father, disrupted the household to an alarming degree. I’ll give them that.

    But…I have learned after years of therapy, that I don’t have to feel love for them. They crossed a line that no parent should ever cross with their child. They threw me out like trash and I carried the shame and embarrassment of being a totally disposable person for decades. I didn’t feel the full impact of the abandonment until a psychopath embraced me, loved me, helped me to slowly crawl out of my shell, built up my confidence.

    And what was the consequence? He knew that feeling disposable was my worst fear, so he made sure he did this in the most malicious unsuspecting way he could. I think I would have died if my other life circumstances had been lousy, too.

    Thank God I was working with a wonderful therapist, at the time. I recovered finally, from all of it; my past, my near past, all of it. I consider her my version of Mrs. Sullivan and me a somewhat emotionally blind and dumbstruck Helen Keller.

    I am determined to take these experiences and make them work for me and others, if it is at all possible.

    Do not feel guilty about ambiguous feelings about your parents. You may not even be able to ‘talk it out’ with them. Don’t force it. Honor your confusion. It’s a terribly confusing experience having poor parenting. The very best we can do, sometimes, is to just not feel anything for those who have hurt us, while drawing on as much strength as we can muster to feel compassion and love for others.

    We do NOT have to forgive. We should try not to hate though, because that is draining.

    1. LisaO, Thank you, for sharing, its hard to find words to tell another how sorry we feel they had to experience such horror and vice versa our horror story. I am glad you have made it here with such strength and resolve. You have shared so much of yourself, just know that you are truly admired and respected by so many on this blog including myself. A dear Kindred Spirit. Blessings

  9. “Throughout the greatest portion of man’s evolutionary history, only the very strongest among us were able to overcome not only the threats we faced from other species but also from various tribes of our own kind competing for limited resources in the daily fight for survival. With the dawn of civilization, the need for aggression as a necessary instrument of human survival lessened considerably. But as mankind’s long history of warfare illustrates, this basic human instinct is still very much with us and is likely to be for some time to come. Therefore, if we are to successfully advance in our social evolution, we will need to fashion cultural and environmental mechanisms that will aid us in the task of more effectively harnessing and managing our aggressive instincts.” Pg 162 in sheep clothing

    This information of yours, seems to me as a belife in biological evolution… Of life on earth. If you were a psychologist who didn’t profess to be a Christian…. I won’t bring this up. But considering that you have, I have to address that biological evolution isnt real… It is a hypothesis, with no factual evidence. The idea that men evolued as Darwin supposed is unverified… And can not be because it is impossible.

    The book evolution Achilles heels by 9 PH.D. scientist will show the major flows in biological evolution.

    1. I’m not writing this to cause an argument. I won’t write anything else about it either, but this needs to be said.

      I cannot understand the illogical reasoning of some fanatical “religious” people. Especially when they unfairly judge and admonish people for believing whatever it is they want to believe, then right afterwards say something like “Jesus taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves”. Admonishing people for believing in evolution is not “loving your neighbor as yourself”. It is hypocrisy, and it is one of the reasons why the world is becoming less “religious”. The theory of gravity is also just a “theory” but we feel it during our entire existence. Religious people need to look up the definitions of “theory” and “hypothesis” again in the dictionary. Scientific theories are not published or given any sort of serious attention without a very substantial amount of evidence that supports said theory.

      Stop pushing your agenda. Love your neighbor. Good day to you.

    2. While I’m always happy to have anyone mindfully and caringly try to lend their own brand of support to the may folks coming to this blog for that very thing, I have to insist that no one pass unreasonable judgment or repeatedly push their own agendas. And while, in the the fashion classic to aggressive modes of behavior, in the past there have been attempts on your part to circumvent my efforts to remove posts that do not observe the limits I seek to enforce, I urge you to exercise the self-restraint I have asked for so many times before. Otherwise, I will continue to remove posts and block efforts on your part to post no matter how many incarnations under which you try to appear or email addresses you may use to register. Others have welcomed you back, and again, I have no objection to you posting within the established limits. But this blog is not your property to do with as you please, and you have no right to (i.e. you’re not “entitled” to) continually violate my rules and limits. You can question the soundness of my faith all you wish. And while I will not judge you, I can rightfully call out your actions which all-too often have been self-evidently both overtly and covertly aggressive and reflect a disturbing attitude of entitlement. Sometimes, I’ve let posts remain simply to provide an example of these things. So, again I ask, observe the rules, or I will remove posts and block you again. And, if in aggressive fashion you persist in trying to circcumvent, I will pursue legal action. I hope I’ve been abundantly clear. It pains me greatly to have to be in this position. But if I were to renege on such an important principle I would not only jeopardize this blog but also not be able to live with myself.

      To the readers, my apologies. I know that many of you have had the experience of a relationship where you did your best to hold the line and enforce limits amid persistent attempts by an aggressor (whether overt or covert) to undermine and circumvent, so I may have more to say on this matter later.

  10. Only GOD can save from sins…. Be it psychological manipulation, which entail alot of sins, to adultery, fornication, lust, theft, and all sins which break these two saying, to love GOD supremely and love thy neighbour as thy self.

    Jesus Christ, came to this fallen world which rebelled against Him in the days of its making,so that the lost may be found and be reconciled back unto their Creator… It is the goodness of God that leads man to repentance. If any truly seeks peace and life… Then seek God for it is He who “only” that can save you from your sins, and sins is death.

    1. So ummm…Lord of hosts, the emphasis should be on loving your neighbours as yourself. (unless they are insufferable dirt bags, in which case you can ignore them or maybe egg their house on Halloween.) This subsumes all other considerations.

  11. Hi Btov,

    Great to see you back! Thanks for your kind words. How have you been feeling lately, pain levels and all?

    This all happened to me so long ago that it seems like it happened to another person! I don’t know if I was stronger than anybody else, but I had strong confidence in the idea that there is something beyond this life; that as awful as things seem, at any given time, everything is subject to change.

    Life is a transient series of images impressions and sensations that we are not permanently bound to. Through loneliness, sadness, sickness these ideas comforted me. I don’t know why I carried these ideas with such a sense of certainty. It’s a mystery to me! But I feel so very very lucky that I was blesses, for lack of better words, with this view of life.

    I want to help as many people as I can before I die, in as many ways as I can. And not on forums, with all of my ‘advice’ but those who I come into contact with in the real world. I feel I have my recently deceased husband’s help, wherever he is. Since he died, my resolve has doubled. I am working for both of us now.

    1. LisaO, what a wrenching and inspiring story your life is! Your empathy and insights are always welcome and I learn so much from your posts. You are truly helping others – I’m one of them. I’m on an inner journey of sorts, dealing with inner child stuff, finding out what works for me and what I’ll decide to discard.

      I too feel like I’m a different person from only a year ago. First Dr. Simon’s cogent explanations of what CD and CA behaviors are, coming to the realization that my best qualities were what was being used against me, and now delving deeper to find out how to “parent” myself, stand up for myself and not let manipulation and narcissism knock me over any longer. And of course, your and others’ comments and support here.
      Hugs to you!

      1. GG,
        I love what you said, “finding out what works for me and what I’ll decide to discard.”
        That is my goal – to believe in myself enough to discard the things in my life that aren’t healthy for me.
        Your words give me new inspiration – thank you.

        1. Jean, we can choose to discard coping mechanisms that don’t work for us, and People who are covert aggressives, character disturbed, and also those who bring nothing to the table. I find as I age (58) that I want to spend my time learning/healing/helping/laughing/sharing on a reciprocal basis with people and I will no longer use my free time to simply be someone’s sounding board or just a movie/coffee partner with no depth of conversation, etc. Life is too short and is whizzing by and I now am learning to honor myself and my time and use it and my energy in the most engaged and uplifting way possible.

          So not only have I gone No Contact with my (ex)brother and his partner, but I am becoming more selective with those people who leave me feeling rather empty in our interactions. They’re not mean or disturbed, but I want to share my limited time in more genuine interactions.

      2. GG,

        I am so happy that you are doing so much better. Your posts too, have helped me a great deal! If you would like to email me personally so we can dialogue more, please let me know and we can commiserate more at length.

        Thank you for the lovely compliments and support!

        And, I feel kind of awkward revealing this much about my life but it’s so long ago now. I want people to understand that it really is always darkest before the dawn. Corny cliche, but true. It was a terrible time but the worst of it only lasted a few years. By the time it was over I felt like I had been living in a war zone, but all alone. Beyond bleak.

        I don’t think I could have survived, let alone eventually thrived without ‘invisible means of support’ and I don’t mean pantyhose!

        And, I agree with you that you are never too old to embrace your inner child!
        Great that work you are doing is helping so much.

        1. LisaO I would love to email you but how do we go about exchanging emails on a public forum? Maybe I’m a techno-dinosaur and there’s an easy way? Do we contact the webmaster?

          1. Hi GG, we can contact Dr.Simon directly and he can send me your email address or vice versa. But we have to both contact him about it. I will do that tomorrow, okay?

            I so get what you are saying about wanting authentic real dialogue with people rather than sitting with a self inv

          2. Accidentally sent that one off too soon! In other words, I won’t let people who are self focused use me as the instrument to help them become more so. Dialogue– yes. Monologues–no. And God forbid anybody flaps their gums non stop about a big pile of self and it’s an empty kind of self. I just won’t do it anymore. Different if someone us self focused because they are having a very hard time. But too many people’s main hobby is themselves…SO boring.

          3. GG, if you look on home page, you will see ‘contact’ Just click on that and then fill in the form and send. Dr. Simon will then contact both of us with each other’s email addresses. Look forward to hearing from you!

  12. Forthcoming book: “Beyond Belief!” by Dr. Arthur Janov. (Nov/Dec 2015)

    This book examines what forces in us drive us to believe in mystics, healers and gurus, what unconscious impulses lead us to join cults, and reveals how feelings become beliefs in the brain. Dr. Janov discusses all of this through the autobiographies of patients who have lived it. He also examines how the government functions as a cult with the same dynamics as any cult leader from Jim Jones to Rajneesh and to Bin Laden.

    There is a chapter on the born again, conversion experience and why that happens. Another on what makes a leader or healer and what makes a follower. He cites many research studies on how thinking that something will kill pain actually does, and why that happens. He analyzes belief systems and how they function to keep us comfortable. That the brain doesn’t care if it is Islam, the Republican Party or “the secret,” it all works the same in the brain. What he points out is that intense feelings become unshakable beliefs which then are impervious to argument. Even though we think that a deity has saved us, it is actually the thought of a deity saving us that finally saves us.

    This is the first thorough account of how beliefs work in the brain to bring us comfort and calm. But it is a spurious calm since there is a seething caldron of pain that lies below beliefs that will make us sick and shorten our liv

    1. “Patrick,” I know that you have posted under at least one other name as well. And while I appreciate the nature of some of your contributions, I must ask you to avoid posts that amount merely to a promotion of Dr. Janov, his perspective, his work, and his books. Thanks. Some of the posts appear to rise to the level of SPAM and raise the suspicion of the webmaster that they are in fact purely advertising SPAM as opposed to a genuine contribution from a caring and concerned commentator. You’re welcome to contribute your genuine thoughts and sentiments that you sincerely believe will provide helpful information and support to the readers, including other resources. But I would ask you not to be too strong an advocate for only one perspective and to avoid the intensity of advocacy that makes your contribution appear more as an advertisement as opposed to a helpful contribution. Again, thanks.

      1. Hi Dr. Simon,

        Thank you for your direct response to me. I have taken note of what you said, and I will obey your wishes. Thank you for having started a website that deals with, and educates people about mental health issues.

        Perhaps I have stressed the works of Dr. Janov too much. My intention was never to advertise Janov, but to tell people who are suffering about the fact that we are victims from a very early age, and a remarkable therapy that really works.

        I want to add that since the age of 15, as a terribly broken and pre-psychotic teenager, I started reading, eventually coming across the works of several authors who seemed to tie in with the works of Alexander Lowen, Alice Miller, Jean Liedloff, A.S. Neill from Summerhill, all of which led me to Dr. Janov. I started Primal therapy in 1980. It was a life-changing and life-saving experience for me.

        Janov claims that his therapy cures people in the full sense of the word. I am proof of that. Prior to that, I ran the gamut of psychology and psychiatry, complete with psychoanalysis, medicine and various forms of “talk” therapy, that never even came close to touching on the deep seated pain that I was a prisoner of.

        Prior to therapy, I also got involved with “crazy” woman who hurt me badly. It was because my needs as a baby onwards, were never met. I was also severely beaten throughout my childhood. I was desperately craving love from anyone. I was just a fool out there searching for love.

        In a nutshell, my point of origin is that all the sympathising and empathising on a weblog, will not cure anyone of a deep seated neurosis
        that could have very well started in the womb, as the science of epigenetics has bourne out over the last ten years. Unmet needs as a baby and toddler and teenager has compounding effects.

        However, as you wish, and if this is the intended status quo of this blog, I agree to not promote the works of any author.

        Just btw, my life has since changed completely and I am in love with an emotionally healthy woman.

        Btw, there are valid reasons for changing the name I posted under. I will spare you the details.

        Dr. Simon, thank you and continue the good work you are doing by having set up this weblog.


        1. Thank you, Patrick for your sharing, your thoughfulness, and your cooperativeness. It sound like you have lots to share that can be of help here. And the points you’re making here are more in line with what I’d like to see more of (perhaps others would, also!). Again, thanks.

  13. I got through a tough week of “firsts” (anniversary, remembering past traditions and the way things used to be) without contact. One time I almost picked up the phone thinking “Maybe if I try and explain why I had to move out one more time. Maybe this time I will get through to him.”
    I didn’t contact him – and I’m so thankful for that because those conversations always leave me confused and hurting even more.
    It wasn’t easy. It is very hard for me to accept that I will never have closure – he will never validate my reasons for moving out. I think I am slowly getting to where I am doing better with that knowledge.
    I did it this week and feel good about myself for it. To get myself through, I pulled out my journal and re read what I had written about some for the hurtful things he has said and done.

    I know those feelings will come over me again. Could some of you share how you get (or got) over your weak moments? I would like to have a stockpile of ideas for strength next time – just in case.
    Big hugs to all!

    1. Jean,

      I’ve journaled since a very young age. As soon I learned to write I started and continue to this day. Except I have always shredded my writings for privacy reasons. Sometimes I wish I had done what you are doing and saved it to read latter.

      Now I am old and my memory lets me down a lot of times. I’m usually do Ok at remembering the power points, but not the complete details. Although I don’t get to upset about my poor memory because perhaps it is saving my sanity. I figure I don’t need to remember it all, what I remember is plenty enough.

      On a last note for all – I want to add one more thought. In general nasty, abusive people do not get better. With age many worsen. Get out and/or detach as soon as you can and while you still have time enjoy life. Life is good and the world is wide open. Don’t wait for your senior years, in many cases it can be too late and senior abuse is dangerously terrifying.

      These character disordered are at their worst when it comes to the needy and helpless. Children, chronically ill, disabled and seniors generally don’t have any way out.

      1. Suzie,

        Such wise words. The character disordered become worse over time. They may not relish ‘the fight’ as much, as energy diminishes with age but they become more selfish

        Even people who fall within the normal range, on the psychological bell curve often become more selfish, as age brings with it a number of problems that we can’t ‘overcome,’ not by force, not through will power. Those who have only a superficial understanding if themselves and life itself become very frightened and often self centered, as a direct consequence.

        For you, Linda and Jean, the very worst is behind you. Nothing in your future will ever be insurmountable. You have been given the gifts if insight and the strength to endure just about anything. And you will do it with grace and love.

        1. LisaO,

          Oh there is no stopping this character disordered senior. Even with the decrease in physical and mental functioning he can still come up with doozies.

          I thought I’d get some peace. He had a total knee transplant. I was thinking he’d be in severe pain the first couple of weeks and would stay in front of the TV and focused on his misery. Well three days after surgery he tried to kill me with his walker. That was one day and then constant drama and chaos all the other days.

          For peace and safety, perhaps even comfort, I locked myself and my pets in the cellar. A deadbolt.

          If he passes first, I’m sure he’ll sit up in his coffin and pull something on me when no one else is looking.

          You said: “And you will do it with grace and love.”
          Ok, if you say so. I’m going to hold your to your word!

          I just keep telling myself: ‘I’m not being mean, I’m being stern’.

          1. Suzi,

            Did you see the movie, ‘Throw Mama from the Train?’ For some reason, your cd senior reminds me of the mother in that movie. I guess, at the very least, you don’t have to be confused with stealthy subtleties!

            He tried to kill you with his walker? Too bad there isn’t some kind of Purple Heart for Pitiful! He’d win! Honorable ‘mention for mean,’ too. LOL!

            It must be so so draining and depressing being around him! Sorry you are having to go through this!

    2. Jean,

      While I was not married nearly as long as you, my ex husband did the same thing to me. We have been divorced 10 years now and he still makes attempts to pull my guilt strings. Only recently did I decide to open up my ‘repression closet’, clean it out, and start addressing MY issues, MY feelings, MY stories and MY role in my relationships. It was hard and still is BUT things started to feel better and I was able to forgive myself which was so helpful. “Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is” That somebody MUST start with you :) It helps, I promise.

  14. Hi again, Metallica!

    Thanks for sharing so much about yourself. You have had a very rough ride.

    And, as far as being gay goes — you have not now, or ever, had anything to feel guilty about.

    Just a thought and I don’t know if it applies to your situation or not. Feelings of shame or guilt, transmitted through body language arouse feelings of empathy, in most individuals. But in the most extreme character disordered, any kind of vulnerability can be manipulated.

    Sometimes it is done in the spirit of ‘fun.’ Other times the CD has somehow been obstructed and lies in wait, waiting to ‘make you pay’It can be over something you or I would consider a trivial, minor disagreement.

    To the seriously CD, who is largely egocentric, simply appealing to rationale is enough to set them off. The more calm and reasonable you are, the more annoyed they become.

    So, unbeknownst to you, merely seeking the loosest of consensus with a ‘friend,’ you are perceived as being meddling and needling.

    If you need help in determining who is malicious, watch their body language very carefully. If you express disagreement and they stiffen, this is normal. But as dialogue proceeds and the other party is made aware that you are open and aiming for consensus, gauge the body tension. Is the person relaxing, truly? If, after a few minutes, the individual is making conciliatory comments, appears to be respecting you but you sense some muscular tension, be careful. It may just be their way, wound too tight. But they could be building a case against you, in their minds, while smiling and agreeing with you.

    But the truly psychopathic extreme? I still don’t know how one can tell, exactly. People are married for years to these monsters and don’t realize for decades that they’ve been sleeping with the enemy.

  15. I’m the victim of a violent. agressive narcisissist. He used emotional, psycological, financial and physical abuse to control.
    I got out. He served 6 months in jail for beating me to a pulp (was sentenced to 8 months, but got out in 6 for “good behavior”).

    I got out and am putting the pieces back together. I’m normally a very bright, confident person who looks on the Sunnyside of things. Not anymore.
    Can anyone tell me when or if I will ever feel like myself again? And is there any advise for the intense fear I feel of what he’ll do next. Even though we have no contact I know he’s going to try to do things to ruin my life? He harassed his ex wife and daughter for 10 years after they were divorced. He never served jail time until my incident. Any advise?

    1. Betty,

      I’m so sorry for what has happened to you. I would document every time he calls you, save the texts, emails, etc. I would hope there is a provision that he can’t come so many feet from you. You could go to the State’s Attorney’s office and speak with someone and ask for a Stay Away order. That way, if you do end up seeing him and feeling threatened the police department will have on record that you have a Court Order.
      I wish I had words of advice about the fear. You have a reason, though, to fear. You could do a couple things to protect yourself, such as conceal and carry, keep a gun at the house and take some intensive self defense classes (hands-on) so you would at least know you have a few moves to use in case he does this again.
      I can’t imagine the sick fear feeling. I’d probably have to medicate myself.
      If the man takes an inch – abuse-wise – keep reporting him.
      Hopefully the jail time did him good, knowing he can’t get away with it anymore.
      You may need counseling to help overcome some issues. I wish you the Best of Days to Come.

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