Covert Narcissists and Aggressors
When the mask comes off a covert narcissist or aggressor, it’s usually too late. Too late for what? Too late to recoup your emotional, and sometimes, material losses. Of course, you can’t reclaim lost time, either. But it’s never too late reclaim a more vital life. To do that, however, you must first reclaim yourself. Covert narcissists and aggressors know how to gaslight. And years of that can have you losing a sense of who you really are. So, for all you may have lost, there’s much to be gained once the mask comes off. You don’t just see them for who they truly are. You begin to know yourself again.
Covert narcissists and aggressors can be quite charming at first. (See: How Charming Narcissists Fool You.) (See also: Narcissistic Charm Can Easily Blindside.) They know just what to say and how to act to curry your interest and favor. Their aim is simple: to get something they want and to look good doing it. But there’s a really big difference between looking good and being good. It’s a matter of character. Nowadays, we have to be a lot more careful in vetting a potential relationship partner’s character. That’s why I wrote In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance.
Many have debated just how aware covert narcissists and aggressors are. The longstanding theory was that we all wear masks. And we’ve long believed everyone was unaware of both the masks and the reasons for them. But some folks are intentional with the masks they wear. Their life script is one of impression management. They know very well that they could not manipulate if they didn’t first deceive. If they were known for who they really are they might not even be liked, let alone invited into a relationship.
When the Mask Comes Finally Comes Off
Most generally, the mask comes off a covert narcissist or aggressor when there’s no more need to keep it. Once they think they have you where they have always wanted you, manipulators have no more need for pretense. But by then in a relationship, it’s too late to undo the damage done. So the only thing left is to cut your losses. This is difficult. It’s painful to realize what a character-impaired relationship has cost you. And it’s even more painful to reckon with what it will likely take to put your life back together.
Sometimes it’s a complete shock when the mask comes of a skilled covert character. But at other times it can be a real relief. Knowing and facing the truth can put an end to the gaslighting effect. Under the gaslight, you stop trusting your gut. But once the mask comes off you realize your gut was right all along. So, you’re free to start trusting yourself and your instincts once again. This is something to be truly grateful for. But sometimes manipulation victims just blame themselves for not waking up sooner. That’s not only sad but also pointless. And it often keeps manipulation victims from embracing lessons learned and moving on.
As mentioned earlier, my interview with Anne Nelson posts on the online Marriage Mastery Summit March 19. Also, look for an announcement on the resumption of Character Matters in podcast form in just a few weeks.
45 thoughts on “When the Mask Comes Off a Covert Character”
Thanks for this article.
It’s been four years since mask came off and I still have little faith in myself in choosing a future potential mate. I’m happy being with myself and re-learning who I actually am while not having to compromise myself to be a “couple”.
I’m finding more and more I’m less tolerant of nonsense, of bad characters, of people with bad intentions, bad morals, I just want nothing to do with them.
I’ve broken up long-time friendships, which I don’t miss a bit. The toxicity was worse than the joy.
I hope at some point I’ll be able to be a fully devoted partner, but I just don’t see or want that right now. It’s going to take more time to myself. I like who I am.
Omg Lucy….me too! I thought something was wrong with me…my tolerance for bad behavior and intentions is zero. I purposely ended 2 life long relationships because I realized that love doesn’t require the sacrifice of myself. I am now taking time for myself.
It’s called DETOX, get rid of all the dead weight. It’s truly wonderful. God will bring us our new tribe as we heal and relearn our true selves.
Yeah this is all so shocking to me I had no idea it was people like this but this one was broke and homeless I fell in love with it but now I see I’m so shook Thank you Dr but could this all be real
Same here, dear. I have absolutely zero tolerance for BS after my relationship with a covert narcissist. Doesn’t matter where it comes from.
The fake kindness is better to go away sooner. And one can see real kindness and good characters easier this way.
Some will adjust their behavior once you point out at their bullshits. Some will run away and some you have to push away. 😉
I pushed and can’t seem to quit blaming myself. Can’t seem to understand why on that day of pushing it I couldn’t hear a word she said all I could do is unload with my mouth ?? I struggle daily for my actions and can’t seem to forgive myself. Can’t seem to bring to mind what took me to that place.??
It sounds to me like you were at your wit’s end, had been holding much inside, and at this moment you were triggered, and bam, there you went. It happens. You were angry and probably meant every word you said. Go easy on yourself.
Sometime when I’d go off like that in anger I truly don’t remember everything I’d said. Whatever it was, though, was true to me and how I felt.
Be kind to yourself. You’ve probably dealt with more than you should have had to deal with for quite a while.
Hi Lucy I just read your comment and totally agree with it. Iv been split from my ex who I was with for 6 years, for nearly half year. I feel the same as you, and I think its gonna be a long recovery process for me as well. My ex moved on this week and it knocked me for 6. She took no responsibility for any of her actions, never apologised for anything over the 6 years and always disagreed with anything that I said. It was only after we had finished that I had looked into narcissism especially (covert narcissist ) still though reading up on it makes me feel better. I hope you find true happiness one day and I’m sure I will one-day too. Thank you.
Yes it’s this is very disturbing and to no it’s all truth about that narcissist mfs
My husband has had a mask on for 37 of our 39 years of marriage. He did deceive me before marriage and manipulate me into marriage and I didn’t listen to my gut that told me something wasn’t right…I have my journal from back then to prove this! I’m so thankful for this. True if I knew he had gone from woman to woman for sex before me and profess to be a Christ follower I would not have married him…I was looking at his character, but I listened to his deceitful and vague words and his lies if omission… we’ve been separated over a year and I am just waiting for him to get worse and end this msrry
My X got much worse during the divorce. That’s when he took out after me, for two and a half years of divorce pending.
When the divorce is over, you’ll be able to start healing. It’s hard to heal while fighting through it.
I was in survival mode big time.
Life goes on, it has to. I figured that if I gave up, I would be giving up on myself.
Take every day as it comes, moving ever forward ?
Hi Dr Simon, What is the path to stop being extremely pissed off about the shitty settlement I wound up with after my divorce from a guy who spent years cheating on me with anyone willing on work trips, stripper/hooker types he picked up while hanging about in strip clubs, plus some coworkers?
Not sure if he’s character disordered or just a plain old asshole, but he is a pilot and engineer who can come across as being very normal. He had me and my family snowed for over a decade of “marriage.” All the while I invested in the house, paid with cash for all sorts of things I never should have paid for, plus raised two kids. Ugh they are Elementary age and I’ve got a decade left of the “coparenting” nightmare.
Anyhow, to end the divorce (which took 11 months because I really tried to get primary custody) I basically took some retirement money and $3k in cash. I rent an apartment now after spending all that time investing in a stupid life with him. It’s all relative but he wound up with the house, valued @ $350k, plus half of his retirement, 2 vehicles, at least one airplane, etc. Plus he pays me no alimony, the judge basically told me since I have a job I can take care of myself.
He does have to pay child support, but in my state the payee has to pay for every single direct expense you can imagine. Yes, I’ve had to reimburse that jerk for a child’s haircut .
Money isn’t everything, but after all that disrespect it sure would have helped me move on and rebuild. I really hate him for letting me invest all my time and money in that house (which he got in the divorce) all the while cheating and being such a turd to me. I esp hate myself for ever taking shit off him. There were some opportunities I could have divorced him years earlier and I did not and I hate myself for that.
I probably should have went to a trial over the assets, but I was so ready to move on and not have lawyer bills anymore that I finally just took what was offered (which was shitty).
Did I mention, on top of it all, I have to live in this same town where he lives in my old house because I have to do coparenting? This is another humiliating slap.
I often imagine just picking up and leaving the kids with him so I don’t continue suffering this humiliation of living in his orbit. The courts would never allow them to move away with me (that was what I tried to get in the divorce and what was so expensive).
How do I move on from the self hatred? I feel I have no control over anything except how I feel, and my circumstances keep me feeling humiliated. I hate that he conned me. Why not just divorce me? It’s been 10 mos since the divorce was final, and for me I hate him probably more than I ever did. Plus hate myself for taking his shit.
Anger is our most misunderstood emotion. Nature gave it to us to prompt us to respond to an injustice or harmful action. The problem is we often lack the skills and discipline necessary to let our anger propel us in the right directions and take the right actions to make things better. We tend to focus so much on the person, place, or thing that gave rise to our anger that we forget the power we have inherent in our own decision making. We tend to stay stuck on what someone did or said and the consequences to us (which breeds depression) instead of keeping our focus on where we have power (which fuels empowerment and joy). Ad you say, you have power over how you process your feelings. And you have power over your behavior. Wallowing in hate is a perverted way of hanging onto something – even though toxic – while nature is demanding of you to let go so that you can live again – and even better than before. Contact me through the contact feature if you’re looking for more counsel on this. And be sure to re-read the relevant parts of In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and How Did We End Up Here?. Interestingly enough, this week’s post, coming later today, is going to be on the topic of avoiding self-blame in the aftermath of a covert, toxic relationship. You might find the article particularly helpful.
I hate him. I really really hate him. I would describe what I feel as internal fury like a sun of rage. A rage that could explode my head if rage could do that. Every time I try to move forward financially, my “coparenting” ties to him hold me back. The expensive town and school district I have to live in (due to the insanity of “coparenting” with a divorced dude who left 2 young children to date sex workers and live the single life) has low housing inventory that’s in an affordable range for single girls with kids. For example, I put in an offer on a house here last week since I could (somewhat) afford it and it was already gone in less than a day. I could just move one school district over, tons of affordable houses there, but alas, the transportation problems, which will lead to poor outcomes for the kids, leads to him taking me back to court for custody so he pays me less child support while Wife 2.0 raises my damn kids. I fucking hate him!!!!
So I will have to keep renting, not moving forward with my life, etc. Stuck hating him. Stuck hating the system, stuck forever because of my own stupidity in ever marrying in the first place.
I’ll tell you one thing. I’m not raising my daughter to get married. And if she ever just really wants kids, my battle cry is “Don’t put his name on he birth certificate.”
If I could just take these kids and get away I wouldn’t ask him for money. My family is 2 hours away. I made so many mistakes. I was raised by country bumpkins who did not teach me the street smarts needed to deal with divorce.
Maybe I need some therapy on this. The only thing I think I do have control over is giving him these kids and getting away so I can move forward. It is so humiliating renting this apartment with these kids after building up a life like that! I wake up to his shit every day. This is why women leave their kids.
Skip the therapy. It’s hostile to women and makes bank off of convincing women they are mental patients. It’s BS. Get a copy of Radical Feminist Therapy: Working in the Context of Violence by Bonnie Burstow. You’ll likely find yourself and your situation on those pages. You’ll also see how and why you don’t want to enter the rabbit hole of the ‘mental health care’ system. Most therapists are extremely inept. Many therapists are raging narc abusers themselves.
Therapy is patriarchal. It isn’t scientifically backed. They love to pathologize women. It’s literally what they do. It’s their bread and butter. It’s some horsesh*t. Save your mind and your dollars.
Stop calling yourself a girl. You are a woman.
Read “Loving to Survive”. Become a radical feminist to whichever degree suits you.
Stop calling prostituted and exploited women “sex workers”. I know that is what the pimp lobby wishes for you to call them, but purchasing sexual access to a prostituted (and almost all of them are invariably pimped out, someone is controlling them) woman’s body is commercial rape, not ‘sex work’. They are sex trafficked. They are slaves. They are the prostituted. The exploited. The commercially raped.
Is wife 2.0 decent? Would she actually care for your children and love them and protect them from their abuser father? Are you on decent terms with her? What kind of visitation can you work out? What if you did move away and then took the kids in the summer time? Dad gets the kids with him for the school-year, but you get the summers. With technology you can still be super connected to them, assuming dad or wife 2.0 doesn’t take away their access to technology. Maybe they are still too young yet to be able to use technology.
He doesn’t care about the kids. He cares about looking good and controlling you and having leverage over you via the kids. He also cares about money. Those are my assumptions. Most abusers don’t care about their kids, they only fight the woman for custody in court to scare her into accepting unfair financial settlements. They also use custody to force the woman to remain in contact with them and be never able to escape the control. Harassment and abuse during handoffs, the whole works. If he wants the kids for impression management purposes (to offer the façade of a good guy, a good father) then you are stuck.
Also, I offer you an alternative way of thinking about the inequality you face. Most people spend their lives being good consumers, wanting beautiful lives of lavish homes and excellent standards of living. Scorn such excesses. It’s environmentally wasteful. Most of all, it’s shameful because there are so many women and children who are homeless. There are slums all over the world. Shanty towns. There are so many better things we can put money towards instead of having the status object of a nice house with beautiful furnishings, etc.
Perhaps, try and reframe your apartment living in a sense that you should were involuntarily downscaled, but now you have a chance to reevaluate the beautiful $350k house lifestyle. Nobody really needs that nice of a house. Not while there are starving children the world over who don’t even make it to 5 years of age before dying. Their entire existence is lived in abject poverty and total destitution.
Perhaps focus on quality of life in terms of experiences shared with your kids, rather than Crate and Barrel furnishings in some upscale fab house. Or whatever it is that used to surround you. Restoration Hardware. Whatever.
Scorn such excesses. Develop contempt for such. Or pity. Or both. Pity the people who value pretty things and status over doing what they can for others. I’d rather live poor with true quality relationships than live upscale in a world of excess and hubris.
Turn the humiliation feelings around by having a reframing of your thoughts and values. You were raised by country bumpkins? And thought you married up and had this beautiful life which you threw yourself into creating? But it was a cruel illusion, a lie, a deception. Any man who is into commercial rape (“sex workers” as you called them) is scum. A predator. No amount of money is worth being connected to scum like that. It’s too bad you were.
Country bumpkins might not be street smart but many of them are quality people in terms of their value systems.
Forgo the glitz, the status items, all that stuff. Scorn it. Perhaps reframing it will lessen your feelings of humiliation.
You are doing well enough to be able to make an offer on a house, which is saying something. There are plenty of mothers who live in homeless shelters.
Being forever connected to an abuser via kids is truly a horrible fate for so many women. Abusers know it, too. You were duped. Abusers are master manipulators.
Raise your daughter to be well educated about abuse and what men will do to her and the ways of this misogynist world. Raise her to know where the domestic violence shelters are. Raise her to know what unhealthy dating looks like. Make sure she isn’t unaware of the red flags. Give her all the information you know now. Start early. And do it often. Regularly, all throughout her childhood, do age-appropriate, ongoing, regular discussions and role-playing setups about boundaries, detecting deception and manipulation, knowing about men’s violence against women. All sorts of things. It’s not about if there is a name on the birth certificate. It’s about not having that baby with an abuser in the first place. But many women are raped into becoming mothers, so there’s that entrapment, too.
I have a real problem with stepparents. Why do they do it? I wouldn’t do it. I avoid men my age who have minor children for dating because I do not want to be a stepparent. I have energy for my life and my kids and that’s it.
Plus I don’t want my kids normalizing stepparents, Exwife who “coparents” with stepmom while dad plays???? What in the ever loving hell?! Why do people do that? I have a son who will think that’s okay, and raise my daughter in that muck?? I don’t think so! I can’t stand my ex, but I’ll be damned if I “coparent” with one of his dumb girlfriends.
So that situation would infuriate me more than the current one.
You’re the one who mentioned leaving the kids behind.
I might suggest becoming more of a radical feminist, for both your sake and your daughter’s sake.
And cease with the contempt for other women with less options than you. Perhaps you might see those “dumb girlfriends” as the new targets. Perhaps you might cease with the insults regarding intelligence, or the lack of it. Not everyone is gifted and yet still those with less intelligence are fully human and of as much value as another.
Why do they do it? A myriad of possibilities. Perhaps you might consider how you were exploited into bearing three children, working to make a house even better – did you remodel it, etc? Did you help him with his career or his family relations? Did you not carry three children, birth three children, and rear three children for a schmuck who is a serial adulterer and commercial rapist? And so, now you are looking down on a woman in his life, but if she has been prostituted out, it’s likely he’s dangling wife-hood around and she is led to believe by playing wife and stepparent might lead into permanency of a life with him. Perhaps she has been duped into believing they both are in love. Perhaps she likes children but cannot bear her own. Perhaps they’ll have a child, although unlikely. He is using her like he used you, although he is exploiting her even more due to the even greater power imbalance. Perhaps it’s the means by which she gets to escape being prostituted. Play stepmom to this pervert’s three kids and only have one john versus being prostituted out to 10 or more men on a given day. Escaping prostitution is incredibly hard as poverty is almost always present as well as homelessness and such is the baseline coercion in so many. Pervert pilot offers her a play to stay. Perhaps has her believing it’s a love story and they are going to marry and have a child of their own. You once believed he loved you, too. You bore three of his children!
So keep your contempt and hatred for pervert pilot. Stepmoms are indeed exploited. As were you. Women are exploited all the time and in a multitude of ways. Some women have less options than you. I’d bet his girlfriends have almost no options whatsoever, despite what you may believe. Almost nobody grows up dreaming of being prostituted out. For the one or two that do, they are brainwashed early on, groomed, and fed the lie that it’ll work out in great success and make them famous and whatever else. Doesn’t happen in reality. And most prostituted have had horrible lives. Almost every dancer has been sexually abused in childhood. Almost all of them are living in poverty. The inherent trauma further entrenches them in the exploitation. So, perhaps instead of speaking of them with great contempt and insulting them, you might turn it back to where it belongs, your rapist john of an ex-husband.
Sounds like you’ve indeed chosen to stay where you are and not move back.
Of all the things your kids are having normalized by their pervert rapist-john father, you focus on the girlfriends’ supposed dumbness? You believe stepparenting to be the great evil you don’t want your children normalizing? Seriously? Look at what underpins it all. It goes back to patriarchy, men having all the wealth, power, and options in life, sexism, misogyny, exploitation, and evil. Takes real evil to be a pervert rapist-john. And yet you focus your insults and contempt for the exploited girlfriends?
Stepparents typically care about the children. Just like foster parents. Why do they do it? Most of them care about the children. A desire to help others. Are you a Christian? Do you love God? Perhaps then you might see such a service as being a part of being a good Christian.
Perhaps those “dumb girlfriends” had horrific childhoods and when they encounter your children they treat them extra well because they feel pity toward kids in general and especially those of a rapist-john.
Your fight ought to remain against him and the male supremacy system we live under. Leads to all sorts of oppression and subjugation. Lots of exploitation. Perhaps you might become educated on how women become sex trafficked. Learn how poverty, trauma, and desperation (like homelessness) coerces them into such and keeps them there.
Finally, if those girlfriends are good to your kids, you ought to be grateful and full of kindness towards the stepmom. After all, she could have otherwise been like you and snubbed her nose at the idea of expending her time, efforts, and love on someone else’s children. But she didn’t. And your kids are better off because of that.
Wow. that’s some real misogyny there.
My FEMALE covert did the same, I feel the same but therapy was excellent for me- which I guess feeds the argument here.
my situation is very much mirrored by original commentor.
Don’t leave your kids- until they are adults, the best thing you can do is make sure his influence is minimized.
My adult kids and one HS age are finally seeing the behavior from their mother for what it was…
I encourage all women to live in solidarity with other women.
Almost all of the power, wealth, and resources in this world is male-controlled. Women are universally oppressed and subjugated, albeit to varying degrees depending on class, etc. Men rule and women are oppressed.
The last thing women need to do is to further things by assisting men in dividing and conquering each other. Support other women. Even when women have been total sh#ts to you. Why? Because if women united and acted as a class, in solidarity, against men and their oppression, violence, sexism, etc., we’d all be better off.
Just as with labor, without acting as a unit, a unionized workforce, there is no bargaining power to be had, no way to force negotiations. So women of the world, support other women. Stand with other women. If one woman is not free, none of us are free. And none of us are free, only to varying degrees, always a fraction of the freedoms experienced by men.
If woman refused to compete against one another, and we acted in solidarity, we’d be a force to reckon with and wouldn’t be so easily and readily exploited (and worse) by men.
Sorry but my experience was with a decades long BFFF – NOT (gas lighting, passive aggressive, childish bully, evil criminal covert narcissist female and many of her flying monkeys are also part of gang that have had her drama seeking, oxygen sucking, ego mania back forever…as a woman I do not see personality disorders being gender related at all. My goal is to keep loving myself, part of the healing, keep my beautiful circle small and pay close attention to my instincts from now on.
wow. i was so blind to what he was doing. for 7 yra i wanted to believe it was him being a drunk. molested by a priest. that his wife cheated on him. well one i found out 6yrs to late that he was the one who cheated on his wife the others were probably lies too. im struggling with my sanity. i cant believe i trusted him. he ssid he was catholic and come to find out he isnt. he told me he could introduce me to his mother
because she didnt speak english he assyrian arabic whatever tge fuck he is an asshole who blamed me. when i questions why i could only see him once aweek. i know im a good christian. yes did i fall in Love with him. yes I had sex with him after being married foe 15 yrs and my ex kicking me to the curb with my kids. and meeting him 7mths after getting divorced. he used me for sex and abused me. he knew my religion and how dedicated as was to never leave anyone. he emotional traumatized me i dont know how to get him out of my mi d. and he keep coming back and than does it all over again.
You did not ask me, and this is not my blog, but I find hatred to be acceptable and right. Why should a person not hate evil? It is good and right to hate evil.
I don’t buy into this – you must not be angry or have hatred notion. It’s illogical. It’s dangerous.
When you are feeling self-hate, please redirect it away from you and back on him. You entered into the marriage in good faith. He did not. He lured you, deceived you, exploited you, and abused you. Nothing but him and his predation. You should hate him even more for being such a wicked person.
Think of him as Satan. You want to live in Satan’s home? Absolutely not. You’d rather burn it down than live in Satan’s home. Shun it as though it is a garbage dump. Satan breathes there. Yech!
Feel your feelings. But I’d encourage you to feel more anger than humiliation and shame, although I know being disrespected, abused, neglected, duped, deceived, exploited, used, and so forth NATURALLY produces feelings of humiliation and shame. Get angry. Get so angry that you’d not even spit or piss on him if he was on fire. Because ultimately he is a child of Satan and if you are a Christian, you’ll be shaking the dust off your sandals and despising Satan and his child, whatever pilot’s name is.
Because of the children, you are stuck. And your kids will be used as pawns and the means to further hurt you. He is an abuser. He is a rapist. And you may counter, but I didn’t say he was a rapist, but all men who purchase prostituted women are rapists. No woman is a toilet. Especially since almost every woman prostituted is basically a slave, victims of sex trafficking and all. So, when you see PP (well call him Pervert Pilot, or PP for short, also conveniently implies piss, which I find suitable as well) you look at PP and despise him with everything you have.
I also would encourage you to be very honest with your children. Don’t gaslight them. Tell them what PP is and why that is bad and toxic and evil. If you have a son, do you really want him emulating PP? No, you want better for your son than to become the next round of commercial rapist creep adulterer sleezeballs to be hitting the stripclubs, driving the track looking to rape yet another trafficking victim (slave). Same goes for your daughter. Tell her what scum her father is and explain why and how such should be hated and despised. Tell her it’s not normal nor acceptable for a man to treat women like that and encourage her to despise her father for who he is and how he is. You want her to be a daddy’s girl of PP? PP? No.
I find hatred of evildoers to be overwhelmingly healthy. It’s a surefire sign of good mental health. I want you to nourish contempt for PP. The more you despise the scumbucket rapist sleezeball, the less you’ll feel humiliated. Mentally spit in his direction. Defy him. Thank God you are not with PP yet today! Thank Almighty God you’re no longer married to PP. This divorce is but a deliverance. Guard over your children’s mental health as PP, being the creep he is, will assuredly manipulate them and deceive them and gaslight them. Use PP as a case study example for your children to be acquainted with evil and how deceptive it is and what your son should not grow up to be like and your daughter should not grow up to marry.
That’s my two cents, Babs. Glad you’re out and not wasting another day of your finite life with scum like PP.
little tired here, PP the dick. (right, that’s young child-speak for penis, no?) Piss, dick. It’s all the same.
Also, it might be helpful to think about another woman, and you’re listening to her tell her story (your story) and ask yourself if you’d be all, ‘oh, you’re so dumb for having been deceived and made all these good faith efforts to build a life, a home, and a future with this man, you vowed to love’. You would not. So please try to reason it out. See how you’d not be victim-blaming and victim-shaming another woman for being duped, exploited, etc.
And if nothing else, I want to remind you that you’re still employed, you have income, you have housing, and you have functioning yet. You could have suffered much worse. I don’t dismiss or downplay any of what you have suffered. But you could be crippled because PP decided to maim you or shoot you or douse you with flammable liquids and set you on fire. You could have lost all custody and visitation with your children — as abusers do this a lot. You could have been so badly abused and beaten down that you no longer are employable nor are you able to care for your children. There are mothers whose children have been murdered. There are worse things in life. Not to dismiss or downplay your situation, your pain. I think it sucks. Sucks big time. But you do still have some things going for you and from that you are more able to springboard ahead in your life.
Hope you and your children stay healthy and safe with the pandemic and all.
That’s really helpful, to detach and hear my story as though it were someone else’s.
I know exactly how you feel, had some similar circumstances, and I had such hatred towards him that I was making myself miserable. I did not know how to stop it, how to let it go. The anger inside made every day miserable.
The hate simmered a bit when I consciously resolved myself to the fact that I’d been wronged by him, by my lawyer, and by the court system (of which I work). I just accepted the fact that I got the raw end in the whole deal.
I still feel anger, but not that high level that makes me miserable.
To this day I cannot talk about my divorce without getting a tight chest, very anxious, up, angry, and I have to tell whoever asks whatever question about the divorce that I have to stop talking about it. I can’t handle it. It upsets me too much. don’t know if that will ever change.
How long ago was that?
I do remind myself there are much worse injustices. Mine are first world problems. That helps some.
I left him in 2014, it took 2 l/2 years to divorce through the court system because I was fighting for what I deserved, i went into debt to pay lawyer fees, which were never-ending, and I wound up settling for much less than I rightly deserved, because i could not let the lawsuit keep running. If I did, and “won”, he would have appealed it, which would cost app. $10,000 to fight, plus would add another two to three years of court process, and if he’d won an appeal, the whole case would start over.
I was losing assets to pay attorney during the process.
I had to bend over and take it — settle for much less than what was fair.
So I would say the hate started in 2014 (when I found out some things he’d done) then divorced in 2016, and that’s when the anger peaked. An unjust settlement. So from 2016 to about 2019 I was wraught with HATE. Didn’t talk to him for four years. If any, it was very minimal.
So I went a long time with self destructive hate. it’s a miserable way to feel.
It came down to acceptance. Accepted he’s an ass, the lawyers were greedy asses, the court system failed me. I got robbed. Had to settle or theyre would be nothing left . The lawyer would get it all.
So I’ve lost half my pension so I keep working. I have a good salary and am back on my feet. But I fought hard. He won’t get a dime till a retire, and I figure he’ll die before that day. If he dies before I retire, it all goes to me. That’s how my state pension works. If I die while I’m still employed, he gets nothing. So I keep working. But I don’t feel the searing hate anymore.
It’s a topic I still cannot discuss today without getting physically distraught. chest gets tight. I just can’t go there Am I healed? I’ll never be fully healed. But I don’t live with that all-consuming hatred any longer.
Good for you for hating! Hating evil is healthy. If you don’t hate evil, you’re allied with evil. A person cannot serve two masters. Love good, hate evil. And abusers are evil. No need to tone down with mere “asshole” or “greedy” as abusers and lawyers are evil scum.
There is no healthy or good to come out of lessening one’s hatred of evil. A person mistakes apathy for acceptance. Same with despondency and resignation.
The only acceptance that I find tolerable and healthy is to rest in the knowledge that God saw what the abusers did. He knows and will repay them for their evil come Judgment Day.
I encourage all victims to hate more. Seriously, hate the evildoers more. Way too much of society allies with evil by not loathing and hating the wicked. Apathy is not a good thing, nor is resignation.
Just think if all the ‘forgiveness is for you, it’s necessary to move on!’ ‘mercy, grace!’ messages were applied to Hilter and the Nazis. We all agree they were evil, yes? And they should be opposed and hated until they breathe their last breath. Thankfully, most all are dead by now.
I hate lawyers and the court system. There is no justice for victims. Only bending them over and further harming them. Damn them for that. Lawyers are so contemptible. They are criminals and abusers, too. Wicked, evil, scum.
Good for you, Lucy, for fighting. The court system is for the powerful, by the powerful. Whoever is more wicked and deviant is the one who wins.
A man who survived the Natzi concentration camps was having a conversation with his Rabbi.
The man proceeded to tell his story of the atrocities he had suffered at the hands of his abusers. The man then told the Rabbi how he intended to get even, he would hunt down each individual and inflict pain and suffering on his abusers far worse than he had suffered.
The man looked at the Rabbi and asked him what he thought of that?
The Rabbi looked at the man and responded
“I see, you have become one of them.”
God loves the sinner but hates the sin.
Don’t become one of them, give it over to God and let go, as it will only destroy you. This does not mean you have to accept any further abuse, it means you can use these experiences to rise up and be a better person.
Hate only eats at us and destroys the joy we otherwise can experience.
These are dangerous teachings you espouse. They are common, too, which makes them all the worse.
With the Holocaust survivor story, the key part is that the survivor was supposedly going to inflict even greater pain and suffering than what he experienced. Justice would have been an eye for an eye. Murder someone and you go to the chair. To go beyond that is where justice ends and abuse begins. To repay a murderer with execution plus rape, plus torture, plus the forced watching of his family members be raped and murdered in front of him prior to his execution. That would not be even-handed, now would it? That would not be justice, but rather crimes and evildoing as well.
Hunting the Nazis and bringing them to justice, where they’ll likely be sentenced to prison or death, depending on their crimes and the quality of prosecution and justice delivered by the court system is a good and healthy and beautiful thing.
Where in the Bible does it say that “God loves the sinner but hates the sin”? I don’t think it is in the Bible. And yet so many espouse it as though truth. It’s not biblical.
What I do know and believe is that God hates the sinner and hates sin.
Here is why I say and believe that:
When Jesus became our sin, God’s wrath was upon Him.
We, as children of God, must be born again, and must walk in the light. Do we sin at times? Yes. But we repent, we hate that we sinned against God and go before Him with a heavy heart and ask Him to forgive us.
We are not to be habitual sinners, with our lives marked by continual sin. We are not to be walking in unrighteousness, but righteousness and becoming more like God throughout our life.
God doesn’t refer to His children as sinners after the rebirth. Being born again, by baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, allows us to become His children.
Unrepentant sinners are not loved by God. They aren’t.
And God doesn’t look past the sins of His children, when they come in repentance and ask for His forgiveness. He looks at Jesus’ perfect atonement. We go to heaven, by faith in our Savior, Jesus, with His white cloaking us.
Remember when Jesus suffered and was then crucified? God’s wrath was upon Him because Jesus, the perfect, Holy Lamb, became our sin to pay it in full, to atone for it fully, until He completed it, and said “it is finished” and gave up His spirit to God.
God hates sinners. God is Holy. God is a just God. Jesus’ precious body and blood paid for the sins of God’s children. Body and Blood were paid. That is the only way His children can go before Him and ask for forgiveness. Jesus atoned. So, God sees Jesus’ perfection, not overlooks our sins in some indulgence, but every sin of His children was atoned for by Jesus’ precious body and blood.
God hates sin. God hates the wicked. God hates children of the devil. God hates in His perfect righteousness. We are to be like God. It is good to hate evildoers. Hatred of evil is very, very positive.
I will say that it is a dangerous line to walk.
For a time, due to very bad advice given to me and in my desperation, I did actively try and become like the abuser, in hopes of not being victimized more.
He used such to make it look like I was indeed the victimizer and he was the innocent victim. Nobody cared to see I was being setup and encouraged to be more like him and become verbally aggressive and hateful with my words. Whereas his criminality and abuse encompassed it all, I was only verbally hateful.
I thought perhaps it would make me stronger, tougher, and less of a target. I felt so vulnerable and desperate. And it made his smear campaign that much more easy.
But now, due to trauma, injuries, and lasting damage, but also having had practice being verbally hateful, due to bad advice encouraging victims to become like their abusers and fight back, it comes out that much more readily.
24 “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways
and get yourself ensnared.”
It infects you. Damn the devil and his evil children and all their wickedness.
Hate evil all you want but refrain from being verbally abusive. Speak truth, but leave it at that. Speak of evil’s evil. But don’t go further. Otherwise you may become like them.
Oh how painful to be reminded of how there is so much injustice on this Earth. Babes, there is so much I could share here . The details are different but there are so many similarities with these people that I bet you may think I was married to yours and or you were married to mine. After the initial shock and when the Trauma response settled after learning the whole truth I was miraculously relieved to have it revealed. It explained a lot for me. The Disclosure explained so many situations in my married life and the sheer reveal of all the gaslighting was immensely satisfying. I knew what I knew but I could never put my finger on it! Anyway, that gave me peace so I focused on that peace a lot. I also knew what he did or was doing had nothing to do with me so that helped ( It helped to have worked all my adult life in marriage on “growing up “, facing all my own weaknesses and wounds, etc…). It also helped to be a great sinner myself . By this I mean I knew God’s Love Mercy and Forgiveness in a life transforming way and I knew that life that I made for myself and my children was real and I could not let his choices, brokenness take that from me . I knew if I wanted to keep the Mercy I knew I had to find a way to give it to him. And I did and it took a long time for it to be sustainable … 4,5 years long . Anyway, I can only be in the place today because of God’s Grace . Believe me when I tell you I could have murdered him initially but I knew that was a dead end . Even the money thing …it stinks but I am old enough to care less about that . I have three young children who grew into young adults over the 9 year period from disclosure to present day . I feared telling them about him and his character etc… but in the end they told me . It may be hard to even grasp all this is possible but it is . This kind of betrayal and pathology is hard to process . You will . It is clear you will be successful because remember mostly, they target the extraordinary ones . Godspeed Babes you are extraordinary.
God is a God of justice. This grace, mercy, and forgiveness on steroids is so harmful, damaging, and dangerous. Same with the ‘we are all sinners’ mixed in.
How do Christians obtain God’s forgiveness? They wholeheartedly repent of their sins, have remorse, regret sinning, and hate their sins, and ask God for forgiveness. They hate that they sinned. Their hate the sin. They hate themselves for having sinned.
No abuser deserves forgiveness without repentance (and actions in keeping with repentance, to evidence that it is real). No abuser is losing sleep over what he does. They sleep just fine. They sleep like babies.
No abuser deserves grace. Don’t cheapen grace with blanket grace doled out to unrepentant sinners, and worse yet, abusers who are wicked children of the devil.
Consider this: does God forgive Satan? Does God dole out massive amounts of grace, mercy, and forgiveness on Satan? Or is Satan bound to burn in hell for eternity?
Get wise, become discerning. The cheap grace, mercy, forgiveness, let’s all hold hands messaging is not correct nor biblical.
Abusers don’t deserve mercy. They are unrepentant. Consider the two criminals hanging on crosses at the same time as Christ was crucified. One of them mocked Jesus. The other said (badly paraphrasing here), ‘he’s innocent, and we are rightly hanging here’ and more or less I read it as a ‘knock it off’ to the other guy who went to hell, and he recognized his sinfulness, his need for Jesus, asked His Savior to remember Him and Jesus was merciful and said, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise”. (I hope I remember that correctly.)
I have yet to see and know of an abuser who genuinely repented of his wicked evil self and did a complete turn-around and all. What I do know and have seen is many abusers pretend to be sorry, liars that they are, which is why you must look for actions in keeping with repentance to detect the manipulation game for what it is. Other abusers intimidate and demand forgiveness from their victims. And sadly, much of society colluded with abusers and shames victims for not forgiving.
God is a God of justice. There is no love without justice. But in this wretched world, there almost never is any real justice for victims. Thus, most victims must wait on God to deliver justice. And He will. Just might have to wait until Judgment Day before you see it.
Babs’ ex-husband isn’t misguided. He is a professional, grown adult man, a father of children. He’s a pilot. He isn’t some wayward 20 year old making stupid decisions. He is a competent, professional, father, and (was a husband) who went prowling strip clubs and wherever else, seeking out powerless, trafficked, prostituted women to abuse. Not once. Not due to a lapse in judgment. Not due to coercion or peer pressure or duress. But repeatedly.
And another indicator of a true measure of a man, a father, is also what he does in the divorce. Does he seek to impoverish her? Does he use the mother’s love for her children as leverage (threatening to seek full custody to scare her into giving up financial rights) to coerce a less equitable financial settlement? Does he let his kids live in poverty while he lives in luxury (350k house versus a cramped apartment in a bad neighborhood, for example)? A pilot living in a 350k house who forces his ex-wife to reimburse him for a child’s haircut? He doesn’t have $10 for his own child’s haircut? A pilot with the financial means to secure a $350k house won’t pay the $10 for his child’s haircut but seeks reimbursement? I bet he spent plenty on lawyers’ fees.
He did, his lawyer was $375 an hour (the highest in my town money can buy). He also set up some conflicts of interest so I had a hard time finding one. He put a lot of energy into screwing me over.
They always do. And conflicting out the other lawyers in town is standard fare, too. They’d rather spend all their money on lawyers than you and the kids, but when he talks to the kids he’ll make you into the greedy, litigious one.
Men exploit women to provide them with offspring. You bore him children and now you’re reimbursing him for haircuts.
Was reading a book from the 1970s and the divorce tactics and unfairness of the system is same old, same old. Nothing has really changed in 50 years.
At least you get child support and maintains that. Hopefully it’s through the clerk of the court or automated so you don’t have to interact with him each month, with him getting out the checkbook, making you feel like you’re to be grateful your getting an allowance and all.
It’s income withholding, so his employer is bound by a court order to pay it from his check. If I could get away and live near my family I would go without the money. The child support money really isn’t enough to make it worth all this emotional toll, plus lack of abilities to move on financially and recover.
Believe it or not, if I left the kids full time with him, I would have to pay him child support that amounts to around 25% of my take home pay. That’s without putting money into a retirement account. So, living around him and renting Vs. pay him and get to leave, but deal with the emotional toll of not being around my kids.
All my choices suck. My life is always a choice between the lesser of two sucky choices. It’s disheartening.
Disheartening indeed. They trap you with kids. You wreck your body bearing children. Spend your life rearing them and making a home. And abusers get all the more control over you. Having kids with abusers has to be one of the top, most-heart wrenching things for women. They are stuck for life with their abuser. Even if they leave the abuser, the kids forever tie them to the abuser. Even when the kids are no longer minors, there will be family events where abuser and his new victim will be.
Sons, in particular, grow into being like their abuser fathers. Some do not, but most do. That’s heart-wrenching for mothers. And the fathers encourage their sons to be just like them. Abuser dads breed abuser sons.
The money never is. Barely helps to cover bills. Doesn’t actually cover them. Glad the child support is automatic, though. And yes, you’ll have to pay to leave, too.
Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t an acceptable option for women, for a time. To leave and be away from the kids in order to recover from what the abuser did. But our society hates women and mothers are blamed for everything and if a woman leaves her kids for any period of time, the judgments and fangs really come out. Men leave their kids behind all the time to be selfish, abandoning ‘bachelors’. Yet if an abused mom needs to create a break for herself, then it’s out with the admonishments and shaming her for not fulfilling her all-important maternal role.
It’s not for nothing that, for a woman, the biggest determinant of poverty is whether or not she has kids. Pregnancy and kids greatly and permanently increase her dependency and likelihood for abuse, abandonment, and lifelong poverty.
Yes, women and their forced ‘choices’. Sucky ‘choice’ A or slightly less sucky ‘choice’ B. And they say we are free women with all sorts of agency. Not so.
Family support and a clean break would be so healthy for you, I’d think. But you are kind of trapped.
To encourage you, and all others who hate the abusers in their lives, it’s biblical. Not only is it healthy, but it is biblical. Some people like to skip over the imprecatory Psalms, but there are there and God is a God of justice.
A man who uses women, exploits them, engages in commercial rape, is an enemy of God. He is not 20 years old and doing stupid, misguided, wilding kind of regrettable things. No, this is about male supremacy. It’s not mere sin, it’s habitual, and persistent. It’s safe to say this guy is not a Christian. He did not honor his vows. He does not care to ensure his kids and the mother of his children is taken care of, despite it being well within his means to do so.
So, abusers are always enemies of God. Anyone can be abusive and we all have been abusive at one point or another but abusers are a different breed, they are not merely temporarily abusive, but rather systemically abusive and they are happy with themselves and okay with being defined by their abusiveness.
So, instead of doing the grace, mercy, peace route concerning enemies of God, please see the imprecatory Psalms and know that it is a good, healthy response to be mad and hateful. We are to hate the wicked.
“Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.”
Anger is a beautiful thing. Don’t let any therapist, counselor, or psychologist talk you out of your healthy anger. Especially women, they are shamed, gaslighted, and pathologized for their righteous anger. Chalk it up to sexism and misogyny.
Yikes, I’m out! In my prayers Babs and by the way Dr Simon is so helpful one on one.
Babs, my heart breaks for you. But may I please beg of you to not leave your children. My mom left me with my cheating dad and his new wife. Then my dad cheated on the new wife and she left him/me. As a child, to experience those feelings of abandonment and betrayal create a life-long battle with childhood trauma. Then I ended up marrying a guy just like my dad, a betraying cheater and abandoner, because it was a trauma bond – that was what was familiar to me. NO MORE. God is ending the generational shitline with ME. I am not abandoning my children like my mother left me and my brother. My kids are now teens (were 9 & 10 when their dad left) and they fully see their dad for who he is. But please be careful with your young children who still identify themselves as being “part mommy, party daddy.” Do not talk bad about their dad, you do not need to be dishonest or inauthentic, but protect them from feeling like they are “part bad daddy.” As they naturally individuate during puberty, they will gain observation skills, relational skills, and unfortunately, your asshole ex will likely do what they all do and put the new wife/girlfriends/sports cars/etc before them and they will unfortunately feel it, see it, and make their own conclusions about their dad…at which point you can apologize about that reality but assure them that they are LOVED, they are CHOSEN by you, they are WORTHY and that God used your pain and suffering to bring about THEM and you can be so grateful for that! I pray for your heart’s healing and that you can find a love so deep for your children that it overrides all your pain and suffering!
Dr Simon, have you ever seen a casa of a covert that could keep the mask for 20 years and only let it slip after the divorce? Is that possible?
Absolutely! Have seen this many times. And there are many possible reasons for it, although irrelevant to the damage done. If you want to discuss this further, use the “contact” feature on the Contact page.
no offense, but leave religious reasoning behind- all interpretative and allegory.
stick with what works
know that you need to forgive eventually because it will eat you alive, period.
but that does not mean saying anything to the abuser.
you can never forget the abuse
because they will never be “fixed”