You always overreact! You’re unstable! You have a problem with anger! You’re… CRAZY!
Chances are good that you were accused of at least a few of these things if you were involved with a manipulator.
A psychopath will say such things after intentionally causing you to have an emotional meltdown. The purpose is to create a confusing and emotional scene that will distract you from an issue you confronted him or her about. The issue instead becomes your apparent emotional instability. This tactic also allows the manipulator to gain more power and control.
When you’re backed into an emotional corner, acting out does not mean you’re crazy, and it does not make you the abuser. It means you’re a normal person pushed to your limits by a manipulator. But when you had the reaction the manipulator intentionally provoked, you were told you had a problem.
Your emotional reactions to abuse weren’t the problem — the abuse was the problem. But within the confusion the psychopath created, he was able to distract you from the real issues and make it appear that you were at fault.
What does it mean to be backed into an emotional corner? Let’s look at how it happens.
The manipulator did something that hurt you or aroused your suspicions, that made you question his or her trustworthiness or character. When you tried to talk to him about it, he craftily shifted the focus from himself to you. Instead of addressing the issue at hand, he changed the subject of the conversation to some flaw that you supposedly had. He told you that you were insecure or jealous or had trust issues or just had an over-active imagination. He acted incredulous and offended when something he did caused you to doubt his trustworthiness or his love for you, even though you had good reason to. But he turned the tables and made it into your problem.
You were thrown on the defensive by this false accusation and an argument ensued. Meanwhile, whatever your concern was — which was supposed to be the point of the conversation — was successfully evaded.
You felt angry and frustrated and misunderstood, and became emotionally upset. You may have had an emotional meltdown. Because of that, you were told you were unstable or crazy or had anger management problems.
“Psychologically, frustration leads to hostility and aggression just as surely as night follows day,” says Harriet B. Braiker, PhD., author of ‘Who’s Pulling Your Strings.’ And hostility and aggression can lead to some intense displays of emotion. If we instead direct that frustration back onto ourselves, Dr. Braiker says it will produce guilt, self-blame, and depression. If sustained, the stress can cause physical illness. We lose either way.
Your emotional eruption was followed by his or her withdrawal, in the form of the silent treatment or perhaps a threat that he or she would leave. His withdrawal of attention and affection made it clear that your behavior was not acceptable. It’s a tactic known as ‘negative reinforcement,’ which is punishment that will only stop when you comply and act the way the manipulator wants you to act.
The emotional pain and fear his withdrawal caused made you feel guilty and ashamed of the things you said and the way you behaved. You vowed to yourself to stop acting so crazy, so insecure, so whatever, because you believed if you kept it up you would destroy the relationship.
You tried. You stuffed your feelings and kept your thoughts silent, but those things don’t just disappear. Your unspoken concerns and frustrations, and your unmet needs, built up inside. When your needs aren’t met and your frustration isn’t resolved, they become magnified, not minimized.
Pressure builds to dangerous levels when communication is restricted. That buildup of pressure must be relieved, and you had another emotional eruption. Oops, you did it again — and even worse this time! — even though you vowed not to. And once again the problem was made out to be your emotional reaction, while the real problem was ignored. You were accused once again of being mentally unstable or having anger issues or even of being abusive. Punishment was meted out again by way of the silent treatment or threats he or she would leave if you kept up it up. Once again, you felt guilty and ashamed, and wondered what the hell was wrong with you. Your doubt about them was turned into self-doubt, so you vowed to yourself once more that you would change. You suppressed your thoughts and feelings. You erupted. He accused and withdrew. The cycle repeated itself, over and over again.
“I love him so so much… I can’t imagine my life without him… I just want him to see that I matter… Want him to know I do have feelings… Want him to know I have my own thoughts on our relationship… but I have anger issues… I have been trying to not let him get to me.. But he knows how to get me so angry I yell, cry, and ask myself what I did wrong… “~
Comment from a reader
You were put into a pressure cooker with the heat turned up high, and you never even knew it was happening.
How could that be?
There’s an analogy that explains it. It is said that if you want to cook a frog, don’t drop it into a pot of boiling water because it will just jump out. Instead, put the frog into a pot of cool water, and turn the heat up very slowly. The frog will just sit there and cook, and never even know it. Please don’t try this at home.
“Manipulation is an evolving process over time,” according to Dr. Braiker.”Victims are controlled through a series of promised gains and threatened losses covertly executed through a variety of manipulation tactics.”
In other words, the manipulation builds gradually. The abuser creates uncertainty and doubt (by lying and gaslighting and other manipulation tactics), and by going back and forth from giving you what you desire to taking it away (this is the strategy of intermittent reinforcement, which is the cause of addictive behavior).
“Manipulators want what they want and fight hard to attain their goals. But the tactics they use can make it appear like they’re doing almost anything but simply trying to get the better of you. The tactics are also very effective weapons of power and control. That’s because even though they’re hard to recognize as aggressive moves at a conscious level, at an unconscious level others feel backed into a corner and are thrown on the defensive. This makes it more likely that they’ll back down or give in to their manipulator.”
Psychopaths punish the people they victimize for their normal human behavior. If you reacted from being backed into an emotional corner, there was nothing wrong with you. If you internalized your frustration and the manipulator’s accusations, and as a result are experiencing self-blame and depression, please work toward resolving these beliefs and emotions. They’re based on the abuser’s lies, not on facts.
“The first therapist I went to for depression (before I realised that my partner was a psychopath) tried to ‘train’ me not to react to the psychopath’s insults. He agreed that I was overreacting to the degrading insults, and was teaching me to recognise when I was going to explode and to stop it! Lol. Great for my self esteem… not! So I found a psychologist who specialised in trauma and abuse, and she was great…”
Comment from a reader
What kind of mental health expert would try to train someone to accept degrading insults? As a psychology professional, he should have known her reaction wasn’t the problem. The real problems were the insults and the abuser making them. Please take this reader’s advice and find a therapist who specializes in trauma and abuse.
♥ Thank you for reading!
Comments are closed.
“Psych RN Rates phenomenal read. In metropolitan practice seeing lots of psychopathology for two plus decades. But I needed this refresher for MY life! Clear, concise, to the point and on target. Everything one needs to identify the behavior in a concrete way and hopefully extricate oneself from toxic relationships, not limited to intimate ones. Fellow readers, if you identify with this book, do seek emotional and/or spiritual counseling and do not allow yourself to be victimized. Bravo to the author.”
66 thoughts on “Backed Into an Emotional Corner”
Of course I was accused! At first being jealous of my stepson, then being impulsive, spoiled brat who always runs to mummy! I could go on and on and write a novel (which I plan to do one day), but here is a simple example: I needed a new laptop for my postgraduate study, so he bought one for me. It was an exquisite gift in Christmas season, I got to choose the colour and everything. I was so happy. Just as he was happy taking this new toy away from me a couple of months later! He didn’t let me use it, right then when I needed it the most and then he said he paid for it anyway and it was his to take. The next day, I bought my own laptop (because I didn’t want to confront him), and he went mad, that I made another rush and impulsive decision, just spoiled as I am… It’s so funny now, how all his moves were so easy to foresee, but at the time I believed him and felt awful. It’s so refreshing to let go of all those emotions because I know who I am and I had a life lesson – I will stand my ground forever! :)
I will stand my ground forever, too! Here’s to us (clink) Cheers, Brightie!
I started dating I guy last April that I had dated long time ago when we were in our early twenties. The relationship just ended after I educated myself on sociopath/psychopath/ narcissistic. Well he fit all meaning of these words. Well in the beginning of the relationship he started telling me right away that he loved me constantly all the time. He was so charming, smelled good, dressed nice, had the right words to manipulate me in every way he could. What made me feel sorry for him was he had a disability, some years back he feel and almost was paralyzed from the waist down. He had a spinal fusion surgery that should have been taken care of in his younger years. But anyway after all his smooth talks, he manipulated me out of my money, sex, and time. I even started to be there for him in every way I could. Recently, about a week ago June 3, 2015 we had a big fight about the way he had been treating me lately. He showed signs of not wanting to be bothered. He would not answer my phone calls, text message at times or nothing. The relationship ship started to go down hill more because he know I started to find out about what he was really doing to me. Manipulation, deceitful, evil, and was trying to destroy my life. Well, that day we encountered we each other, and I brought up some things that he was doing that I didn’t like. Well he went into a rage and started yelling at me so I started yelling back at him…then I became physical with him, out of anger. Well, the altercation was over he decided to apologize for treating me the way that he did. He basically admitted to manipulating me and conning me out of things and me believing that he loved me. Well I have walked away from the abuse, but I’m having a lot of trouble about the choice I made, after been giving hints from him that he really didn’t want the relationship when the money and sex ran dry, he was ready to split. Well the way that I heard sometimes sociopaths/psychopaths comes back, but I’m not gonna give him a chance. I will be putting a restraining order on him. This is how I stand my grounds and protect myself from evil.
I’m very sorry that happened to you! Relationships should bring out the best in us, not drive us to the brink and drain us dry. Stay strong, Irene.
I absolutely can relate and validate those relentless, impossible, and insurmountable challenges – demanded of me for 25 years-by my now ex husband. I am thankful I began counseling five years before we divorced; otherwise I am not sure I would have escaped-survived with the TINY shred of emotional, mental, and physical strength I am left & only now (1.5 years later) just starting to apply to the complete rebuilding of my life. I have heard of the “frog analogy”; I am impressed and thankful for the writer’s wisdom and ability to spectacularly correlate it to a victim’s struggle to explain how the nightmare could have happened. Not many people can understand the total destruction an intentioned person can wield against reasonable trusting partner. THANK YOU!
You’re welcome, Kay. Thank you for your kind words.
I understand the destruction all too well. He almost did me in, and it didn’t even last a year! I hope you realize what an incredibly strong person you are to have survived 25. As you rebuild your life that strength will continue to help you, along with your bravery and resilience. Please come back and let me know how you’re doing. I wish you all the best of everything.
PS I was just thinking that someone should give you a medal, so that someone may as well be me ~
What a beautiful exchange of human kindness. Love is the answer.
Love is the answer.
I went through the elaborate good to the devalue and then the disregard so many times. If I spoke up About bad behavior or my feelings about it, I was the one that caused our problems with my anger. I’d get the silent treatment. So, I’d send text. I was the abuser according to him. His cheating was not made the issue and if I continued to stand on the original reason for the argument he was leaving. I finally told him that he was the emotionally unstable, unfaithful partner and I have every right to stand up against that and express his abuse for what it was. If he can’t be the man he states he is in the beginning of our cycle, leave and never come back. Through therapy and reading about the topic here I have become stronger and healthier. Thank you for this site.
Good for you, kt — you came to see him for what he really was, instead of what he said he was. This is one of the most important things we learn from this experience, and it’s important to keep it in mind in future relationships. You know what? If another manipulator comes along, they’re going to have a hell of a time. They’ll probably run before we show them to the door. That’s too bad, because we wouldn’t get to give them a swift kick on their way out.
So glad you’re feeling stronger and healthier!
I dumped a counselor that I saw off/on for five years or so. She was out of line…lied, denied, ridiculed (told me I made faces…) and said outrageous things…for instance: she said she knew my husband better than I did (she never met him)…and called me a coward for ‘normal’ behaviour in abnormal situations…
Really bad therapist. Do not go to a bad therapist (anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself is a bad therapist). It may be that you have to travel further to see a good one (this one was in my town but I would not recommend her).
That’s terrible, Babs! I’m so sorry you went through that. The last thing you needed was another person abusing you, especially someone in a position of trust and authority, who was supposed to be helping you. Her license should be taken, at the very least. Mine told me psychopaths didn’t exist; I guess she got them mixed up with Santa Claus.
I think you’ve given excellent advice that’s very straightforward — if a therapist makes you feel bad about yourself, you’ve got a bad therapist.
Best wishes to you.
She denied psychopaths’ existence? No joke? OMG. You had it bad too.
There were several other bad therapists. One that got my parents going in to see him behind my back (after saying he would never do that). What a breach of confidence…he should have been held liable, but who would believe me? Took advantage of my vulnerability and KNEW that I was not going to be believed.
Holy Smokes. Who can we trust out there?
And anyone who proves themselves to be consistently trustworthy. It’s important to note that once we trust someone, we hold an image of them as being ‘trustworthy’ that is hard to shake, despite the things they do. In reality, trust is something that’s earned on an ongoing basis.
Can We Ever Trust Again?
I’m in the middle of one of these situations. I dated him for 15 years, leaving whenever things got crazy. Then coming back when I’d regained strength, crazy I know. I had a really intensive job and didn’t see the cycle so clearly. Now I’m semi-retired and I see the cycle and it’s exactly the same: wonderful; getting colder, colder, more withdrawn, withdrawing from projects we planned together, to finding a woman to flirt/play with; to being insulting, unkind; to my telling him to go away. And now his blaming me for ruining his world and taking away his wife, who he’d planned to spend the rest of his life with. Only married a year and a half, after 4 years of what I thought was wonderful times. He took a lie detector test and failed, he referred the counselor and I to Wikipedia site that criticizes the polygraph test. I sent a polygraph association validity study but he discounts as part of the organization, even though it was scientifically done. I’ve joined a Zen Buddhist Meditation group, doing Tai Chi, and reading a lot of supportive materials; including, books on narcissists/psychopaths and letting go. It’s like there’s a tangled web inside of me I’m trying to get out. How to move on? He’s not let go yet, never has in 15 years of me leaving for months at a time. I guess that might also be negative enforcement. I can’t go back, I’ve been made so physically ill, hospitalized with heart issues 4 times and once for out of control vaginal bleeding. I want to live, how to stay away and stay strong as I move through to safety? Thank you so much for your blog. I’m passing on to other people who need help as well. Thank you!
Congratulations for leaving. You know what he is and what he does, and you know that you’ll just get more of the same if you go back. You fear you might return because of the good times, but you know they won’t last. They’re overshadowed by the bad times, which are so bad that you’ve become physically ill to the point of being hospitalized five times. He’s killing you, but in slow motion. That’s good — it means you have a chance to escape before he finishes the job. I think you’ll succeed. You see him and the patterns of the relationship clearly, and you’re capable of taking action in your own best interest. Don’t worry about how to move on. You’ll figure it out as you go. Have faith in yourself. You’re saving your own life. You said you left because you want to live, and that’s a strong statement about your intact sense of self worth and about how bad he is for you. All signs point to you breaking free permanently from this detrimental and unfulfilling relationship. Good luck to you, Roxanne!
My ex would accuse me of being possessive and jealous. How ridiculous is that! The betrayer calling the victim possessive.HA! Once, after I exploded (too much pent up frustration), he accused me of being violent. He also said he couldn’t deal with my trust issues. He said his many female ‘friends” were part of his life and if I couldn’t accept it, then we were going to have problems. Every single time I had a normal reaction to his abusive and manipulative behavior, it was always my fault. My “defects” of character were always to blame. Then, I would be punished with the silent treatment or abandonment. The only way to break this punishment would be if I apologized. So, that’s what I did, over and over again, until I couldn’t any more.
One day I discovered ( through keen detective work) his secret life. This life was much worse than I could have ever imagined. Not only were all those women more then “friends,” he was also hooking up with strangers (men and some).
I was recently reading a psychopaths blog called psychogendered.com. I was shocked to read how psychopaths are fully aware of what they do to us. They manipulate and con us to alleviate their boredom. The writer describes a psychopath’s life to be sort of a living hell where absolutely nothing matters and every situation and person is manipulated to serve as amusement. I almost fell pangs of empathy, but then changed my mind because they know exactly what they are doing and then accuse of behaving badly. It’s insanity.
It is insanity. They draw us into it and then start turning everything upside down, imperceptibly. Not until we’re right side up again (or on our way there) do we see the lunatic world they created and trapped us in. It hurts to see it, to realize the truth of what happened.
Their world may be what we consider a living hell, but they’re at home there. It’s the only world they know. They don’t feel the angst and despair a neurotypical person would experience. They do experience ‘boredom’ and it is very different from our definition, so much so that another word is needed to describe it. But there is a reason psychopathy is called “the most pleasant mental disorder” — they don’t consider there to be anything wrong with them, and they don’t want to change. The only problem they have is their boredom, and the solution is to relieve it by having some ‘fun’ with us, at our expense. They are the sick ones, but we are the ones who suffer due to their disorder.
The Nemesis of the Psychopath: BOREDOM
How horrid. Admin – That was a fantastic description of the inner workings of a psychopath. So then, if nothing bothers them and if wreaking havoc is entertainment, when does karma catch up, or does it ever? It seems they will never suffer any consequence for they actions because they just don’t care. Is it possible that age may aversely affect them because as the psychopath ages s/he is less able to attract targets to victimize, to alleviate boredom?
Actually, as they age they get better at what they do. Practice makes perfect. I was 47 when the 65-year-old psychopath got hold of me. He leveraged his age for all it was worth, and then some. He was just the forlorn little old guy who never thought he’d fall in love again… until I came along, that is. I now refer to him as ‘Grandaddy Psychopath.’ Sort of a ‘King of the Vampires’ type of thing. The woman he victimized next was ten years younger than me. He is very, very good at the very, very terrible things he does.
I think the only thing that can stop them is senility or death. Psychopaths don’t have karma, because as predators they are not subject to any moral laws of the universe. OK, I just made that up, but it sounds plausible to me.
Perhaps there are no karmic repercussions in the present, but I can’t help but imagine there’s a special place in hell for them. I am still in my angry phase and I would love to see some poetic justice. However, since NOTHING phases them, I suppose I am wishing for something that will never happen. Meanwhile, I am feeling stronger everyday, so grateful that I got out of that entanglement ( wouldn’t dignify it by calling it a relationship) alive. xo
I hope you’re right; who knows what will happen? Being free of it, and getting stronger each day, is the most important thing xo
Another really wonderful article. Thank you so much. I don’t have a medal to give you but I do have a terrific affirmation I would like to share: I deserve the best and I accept it now. Thank you for your generous and illuminating work.
And thank you, Sandra, for that wonderful affirmation. I will treasure it.
I agree Sandra. Admin’s work has been so helpful to me as well. Thanks to the writings hear, I have really turned a corner. : ))
Thanks, Dee. I am elated when I find out the writings help someone.
Hi Admin. I haven’t read a better description of this bizarre experience. Thank you for expressing it so eloquently. Its like being twisted inside out and not knowing up from down. Your sense of what is real is completely corrupted. That slow and insidious process that happens slowly and so imperceptibly you doubt yourself very early on is so clear a memory for me looking back on my experience (I was only with mine for less than six months but the damage was incredibly toxic). Its like a form of brainwashing or something. It was a slow process of working my way out of the crazy maze in my head to get to the truth of our interactions and the hurtful and strange observations he made.
I had a few illnesses prior to meeting mine (I often wonder in retrospect if that made me a better ‘target’), and very soon after we got together I again got really sick with a further unanticipated health problem. I think my body was already trying to tell me something at that point that I wasn’t ready to hear. I felt like the life was slowly being drained out of me. My sense of life force, joy, positivity etc reduced day by day. I couldn’t get out of bed. I was sick with ‘formal’ illnesses I was getting treatment for, but my head and soul were even more dis-eased. I remember after a surgical procedure returning from hospital and having had a few girlfriends visit to help with preparing some food and doing household chores I couldn’t. He was so pleasant and attentive while they were visiting,, but when they left he was furious and actually told me with some venom ‘you don’t need a boyfriend, you need a nurse!’. I was so hurt, but at the same time that good old cognitive dissonance and distorted hypnotic brain-mess I had become accustomed to whilst being slowly ‘groomed’ by him to expect less kicked in. And I felt bad for being so needy and weak. And I’d just come out of hospital!
I understand a lot more now that many of the personality traits he accused me of were merely projections of his own twisted mind, but it took a while to get there and really ‘get’ it and now I am actually able to laugh about it. I never thought I would be able to say that.
thanks again for all that you do – your work is so important for so many of us and gives much comfort and peace of mind.
Thanks, Aurora. I like to break it down to find out how it works. In doing so, I think it makes it easier to recognize if it happens again. I’ve had some success with it already. Manipulation (at least the strategies I’m now aware of) stands out like a sore thumb. It can be strangely entertaining to lay it bare for them and then listen as they try to weasel their way out, and then say, deadpan, “That doesn’t work with me.” If it’s someone who manipulates unconsciously and without malice, like my mother, I handle it differently, in a way that encourages honest dialogue.
Illness definitely makes someone a great target. I had just recovered enough from a year-long disability to get out again when he struck. I was so excited about attending that dance class. It seemed like a small miracle. Instead, my FIRST excursion back into the world turned out to be the night he targeted me. He saw me coming from a mile away. When he discarded me, he told me he chose me because I was so obviously vulnerable. He said that was why he was able to bond with me so quickly and so deeply.
How terrible, that he told you that you needed a nurse and not a boyfriend. Mine told me that I should “just forget about it” (the problem I was having). Callous is what they are.
I hope you’re well again, or at least doing better.
You’re not the only one who laughs about it. Of course I don’t think the whole debacle was in any way humorous, but there are small details that make me chuckle. Some of those are in the post titled “Spaceship Moments.” I could split my sides at a few of those. I would handle those bizarre statements he made very differently now.
Thanks Admin and yes I am doing much better. Its taken a lot of time, and the emotional healing has taken longer than the physical – but the strength has come back and I can see clearly now what happened to me. I distinctly remembered after the initial stages of complete emotional paralysis and then pain and shock and all the early acute stuff, having periods of immense peace. Only in small bursts, until one day, slowly moving forward, I started feeling hopeful about life again, and my joy and spontaneity returned. It was wonderful to feel human again, after living through such an experience. And that’s the benefit of the work you do – in assisting us to share our crazy experiences in a safe space where we are believed and supported. Some of what we’ve experienced goes beyond the bounds of reality and you can then be made to feel even more crazy. Kind wishes to you and all your readers. xx
It does go beyond the bounds of reality! Or at least what is commonly known as reality. I didn’t have that safe place where I was believed and supported, and I’m very happy that’s what this site has become! It ended up helping me as much as it has anyone else. Thanks, Aurora xo
Thank you so much for your wisdom and the ability to express clearly how a victim of this type of manipulation/ abuse feels. You also make it very easy to understand the psychopaths motives as well. Cheers to recovery!! Please keep writing, every time i read a blog post, I understand more. Thank you so much!!!
I’m so glad to hear it helps! I will keep writing as long as the ideas keep coming. I have four new posts in progress right now. Cheers to recovery!
Thank you for such a comprehensive relatable article. I can feel your compassion and understanding with every word you’ve written.
If I had a dollar for every time I was I told I had anger management issues, I could take a two week vacation. If I had a dollar for every time I was told he was compassionate, generous, and my protector, I could take a first class six week vacation. Every time the monster got caught on dating websites his excuse was that he had nobody in this world and “they” didn’t matter. He was telling the truth, only he left out the part that NOBODY mattered, only him and his desires. I was subjected to the silent treatment so many times, by the end, I didn’t even care where he was. The first time I caught him cheating I was devastated. He was asleep on my couch and I read his text messages. I was sobbing and my heart was broken. I remember saying, How could you, of all people, knowing my issues with abandonment, do this to me. Get out of my house! He shook the cobwebs off, got up and walked out with zero affect. Of course it was all my fault for invading his privacy, not his predatory behavior.
He went to the crematorium and watched as his mother’s coffin was put through incineration. Afterward he had a hamburger to, “Honor her”. He used his mother’s mental illness to gain sympathy. He delighted in sharing how he was the devoted son and, “dropped everything”, to be by her side when she was critically ill, yet he never visited her when she was somewhat stable. It was an excuse to walk out of his life in NY and move to Texas.
Recently I saw a picture of Anthony Hopkins’ character, Hanibal Lector. My ex monster has the exact same look in his eyes, at times. I stared in the face of evil, laid beside it and had no idea he was a Malignant Narcissistic Sociopath. Of course he accused me of instability, anger management issues, insecurity, and said I was the Sociopath. After he raped me, he said I was the abuser. That was so outrageous, even I could see how insane and manipulative he was. It was time for me to take back control and get real.
I have had no contact since the beginning of the year. I have filed criminal charges, and civil charges are in the works, as well as an additional criminal charge for cyber bullying. He posted my picture and made a profile for me, without my knowledge, on a dating website. I will see him in court and though no pleasant, I am ready. He no longer has the ability to toy with my emotions, therefore, regardless of the outcome, I am in control now. I will expose him for who he is. I will devote time and effort to educating young women on Eroticized Dominance and Grooming.
I’m going to blog, and perhaps find an author to tell my story. He helped me find my calling, and if I can help one woman or man, I have gratitude for surviving the predatory beast. My blog is in the works and I’ve titled it, The Lion Slayer. (He identified strongly with lions because they assemble a Pride, and are predatory creatures.) It is a poetic description because he is a creature and not a human being.
Thank you again for your wonderful, insightful contribution. I will gladly post on Twitter frequently.
Peace and love,
Thank you, Annie!
Every time I think I’ve heard it all, I find out I haven’t. He had a hamburger to honor her?!
“It was time for me to take back control and get real. I have had no contact since the beginning of the year.” “He no longer has the ability to toy with my emotions, therefore, regardless of the outcome, I am in control now.”
Your words are wonderfully strong and energized. I wish you all the best with your blog and with educating young people. Please send me a link when your blog is online! I think you’ll find it very rewarding.
Here’s a pic I thought of while reading your comment:
Woman With a Lion
It is getting close to the time to tell my older sister off, and I think she knows it because suddenly she isn’t there. She feigns interest and concern, but it is really all about her. And that eyeball…that serpent look in the eyes that I saw in my father and in a younger brother.
She came over in haste to my house to talk about my husband’s (ours) money concerns since I had left a job. It really was a concern about herself and HER money concerns. She was pushing the panic button because she was afraid that if we lost our house she would have to either take us in or reach into HER coffers.
Selfish. Selfish. Selfish. She takes care of my younger brother but there is NO WAY…even if we were homeless…that we would allow her into our lives. I know her. And I know how she operates. She always made my skin crawl.
It all started with his talks of how much he despised liars and dishonesty. We were in the blissful beginnings of what seemed like a promising, beautiful relationship. A point came where I felt like he didn’t trust me, he always seemed suspicious of me, he followed me home once and always seemed to be second guessing me. He told me how his last few girlfriends had all been caught in lies but he would never elaborate. (Projection) It felt pretty bad to not be trusted by someone I was so in love with. Finally one day without completely thinking it through, I confronted him about his trust issues. He was instantly very defensive and claimed to just be playing it safe because of all his previous heartbreaking experiences. I pressed on to say that it was unfortunate that his past was now tainting the present with me. Right then the tried ending us. He accused me of being too critical of his sense of humor, claiming that he really was just kidding all along about being suspicious of me. It was all turned around on me. I was so shocked and heartbroken that someone who showed me an insane amount of love could just break it off like it never even happened. He accused me of rushing a serious relationship with him and stated that we weren’t there yet, that a serious thing would take time. I remember my jaw hitting the floor. All along I was simply going with the flow, I never asked him to put a label on us, I never pressured him to tell me exactly how he felt for me. I wasn’t saying I love you yet. (gaslighting) HE was the one who seemed to be moving incredibly fast, the loving intimacy he showed me was straight out of the movie The Notebook. He had suggested he rent out my house and he alluded to loving me and how hard it was for him to tell me how much he truly felt. I was following his lead. This all occured 1 month into seeing each other. He seemed very intensely in love, but as soon as I called him out on his projection it was as if I was speaking to another person.
After a few days of barely speaking to me, I got him to see me. He said he had given it a lot of thought but that he didn’t want a girlfriend after all. I felt like I ruined the most precious situation. I was so shocked that he could seem so head over heels for me but then end it so easily. I called him Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde that day, not knowing anything of psychopaths then, it’s very telling to me now that I picked up on that trait so early on. In our meeting he basically told me there was no hope for us and that it was over. Maybe one day we could get back together but no time soon. I felt like I was going to die from a broken heart. We worked together so I would have the displeasure of still seeing him often… The next day he decided to come talk to me under the guise of wanting us to still be friendly, he was acting like he cared about my well being. Well the talk never happened because he initiated cuddling, sex and more cuddling. He slept over and when he left that morning he said we would do things my way. This is the same man that told me the day before that there was absolutely no way we would be together in any way, not now and not for a long time. (Contradiction) I didn’t know what to make of him changing his mind so fast, all I figured was that he must really love me, he was scared and that I almost pushed him away by calling him out on his insecurities. From that point on I went out of my way to make sure I never said or did anything that would make him leave me again. I was the most perfect, charming, funniest, prettiest girl possible who loved to pleasure my psychopath whenever he wished. I wasn’t being myself at all. He continued to seem very into me and us whilst occasionally throwing in some odd behavior, unkind statements, and endless contradictions.(devaluing) I know he must have picked up on me being on to his lying and cheating and so he discarded me with no warning, after a night of fun and so much love. Of course we did reunite very briefly which gave me the opportunity to catch him with the woman he left me for. That was actually a gift from god. Had I not been given real proof of his lying and cruel ways I might still be holding out hope and being strung along. What followed was months of agony and the most incredible confusion, a state of mind that I didn’t know was possible. I’ve been so tormented. But I am certainly starting to feel like myself again, finally!!!
Admin, you know my story, but I wanted to share anyway. :)
Great post, well done!!!
After it was over, I felt like a tornado had ripped through my head. It takes a while to sort through the rubble and rebuild. You’re getting there — give yourself time. Something this serious takes time.
Wow! Once again its like you have seen into my life! I can relate to everything in this post, unfortunately. We’re still not divorced after a 10 year marriage (its been 9 months since I filed!) but your site has been very helpful in my healing…every day I get stronger. Thanks so much!
All of us have had experiences that are remarkably similar. I know if I base my writing on what happened to me, others will be able to relate. It’s as if psychopaths work from a script. The details may differ, but the theme and the strategies are the same. I’m glad my writing helps you. Thank you for letting me know.
Admin, I’ve read some about psychopaths having little to no startle response in high risk situations. Do you agree that that is a typical trait of psychopaths?
I remembered back to our first date when I was driving us back to his house on a road I was unfamiliar with. It was dark and I almost went through a 4 way stop. We would have gone through it if not for him alerting me quickly. He seemed a little fearful or on edge at that moment.
I’ve read the same thing, and the psychopath I knew was unflappable, so I think it’s probably correct. But psychopathy exists on a spectrum, so a person can be psychopathic enough to make a real connection with another human impossible, yet not have every characteristic. It’s these little details we can analyze endlessly that keep us confused. His reaction at the stop sign isn’t important. The big things are, did he have a conscience? Did he have empathy? Did he care about your feelings? Were you satisfied in the relationship, or driven to your wit’s end and left miserable? What matters is how all of it affected you. My advice is to take the word “psychopath” out of the equation. If you do, you’ll find it doesn’t change anything that happened, or how you reacted to it. He is what he is, whatever that may be, and it seems it wasn’t good for you. You know what I mean?
I know you’re right. I guess I just am really thinking and hoping that he is a true psychopath. It hurts less believing that he is disordered, it gives me no hope in us and that’s a good thing. If he were just being young and selfish it would mean those moments were real but he wasn’t ready to commit. I don’t want to hold out any hope for us. It didn’t seem like he had empathy or a conscience at the end, not to mention he had the predator stare down pat from the beginning to the end.
It sounds as if you’re going through the classic back-and-forth thinking that happens after it ends. If you were to make two lists they might be the same length, but which one carries more weight?
From what you’ve told me, it seems like he was much more than young and selfish. When someone believes you’re his soul mate, he doesn’t suddenly take up with someone else. And when you confronted him, he was enraged about it as if your doing so was the problem, instead of his cheating, which he never addressed (and he followed up with a barrage of insulting, profanity-laced texts, if I remember correctly). He never apologized, never took into consideration how hurt you must have been. That’s not a description of someone immature and not ready to commit, and it’s not a description of someone who believes he’s met his ‘soul mate.’ It’s a description of a man with a serious character deficiency, one that leaves him cruel and unfeeling and duplicitous and without care for anyone but himself. I’m truly sorry a person like that came into your life, Asheley.
Admin, I owe you a big check for all the therapy you’ve provided.
I’m really going to work on ignoring the little details that make me question what I already know to be true and that is regardless of whatever he did that was good in the relationship he was a liar from the very beginning about who he was and what he believed in. He is a predator that conditioned me to believe his lies.
It might not seem like it, but I am lightyears better nowadays.
Thanks for your help.
You’re welcome, Asheley. Knowing that you’re lightyears better is all the payment I could ever need. Remember, it takes time. It’s only been a few months, and thoughts like these are bound to come up. They stem from his duplicity and all the contradiction you experienced.
You’re a doll Admin :)
I think my biggest problem is that we had so many more good times together than bad (even if they weren’t real). Which makes sense why it hurts so much more to have it all end the way it did, out of nowhere.
I understand. I had a better time with mine than I’d ever had with anyone. They sure know how to show someone a good time. The only thing they do better is to show them a bad one. The hardest thing I ever had to do was to give up that magic he created. To find out none of it was real was devastating, not to mention the shock of my life. Boy, did he have me fooled. They take you to the highest heights so they can do the most damage when they shove you off the edge. It’s a long, long way down.
The more I read in regards do psychopaths and their tactics of control and manipulation and just overall emotional abuse the more I realize and unravel all the games that the psychopath I was with played on me. I have been asked by family and friends if I feel sorry for him. Somehow they feel sorry for him. Reading this blog on covert emotional abuse I can’t help but say no I don’t feel sorry for him not one bit. Feel sorry for someone that is going to continue to victimize other innocent people.? No, I do not. Absolutely do not. Although I understand he came from an emotionally abusive background with his father. He still has a choice a choice to make just like the rest of us. A choice to heal and become a better human being for the world. He chooses not to. I always felt backed up in a corner just as this blog speaks about. I felt something was wrong with me. I began feeling depressed and just overall a useless human being. While he achieved his goal of breaking me down and destroying my inner self. I have read somewhere that I may have lost numerous battles with him however I am for sure certain I won the war. As Dr. Martin Luther King once said: ” Do not let a man pull you as low as to hate him.”I can say I have disappointed Dr. Martin Luther King in that I came to hate this individual. However, one thing is for sure I know now how a psychopath looks and I will never allow a person like that in my life again. An individual once told me tell me that she choose to forgive the person that must hurt her for her not for him I can understand what she meant. I forgive the psychopath that was once in my life for me not for him.
Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you found it helpful in unraveling the games. In my own experience, I remember feeling the psychopath was some kind of magician to have manipulated me to the extent he did. But as I figured out how he did it, it took away his power. It also makes it easier to spot if it should happen again. I agree that it’s hard to have pity for them. They’re happy with how they are — we’re the ones who suffer from their disorder.
I admire Dr. King greatly, but don’t even let him tell you if an emotion is acceptable or not. Your emotions belong to you; you have a right to feel what you’re feeling, and a reason for it. Pay attention, because they give you important information. Anger is always in response to a boundary being crossed, such as someone mistreating or invalidating us. Best wishes to you.
Oh my this is coming at just the right time. I have been researching what was causing issues we were having because all of us know, the treatment we receive from these devils are mind boggling to say the least. But as all of you know they can turn the charm on and if you choose to ignore the signs like I have for years, because you hold out hope they are not soulless jerks, you will pay for it dearly. Just last weekend I found out that he had another girl that I had never heard of because I am not allowed around a group of his friends, well anyone he is associated with besides my friends. I blew up because I am a single mother and was cheated on for years and any form of indiscretion with infidelity causes me to go insane. Well he showed up at my house and asked if I was over it she was just a friend going through tough times and needed his help. I blew up, majorly. He tried to hold me down and I ended up punching him 3 times. I am not a violent person in the least and it scared me that I could loose control of myself to that degree. I was totally out of control with anger. He even wanted to continue our relationship after that stating I just need to be nice and he would be better!!! When I told him to kick rocks he had the nerve to say I would never make him shed another tear for me again. The blame shift tactic. I refuse to share a man!! I am still bitter but getting better and these articles are very helpful in helping me not feel like a raving lunatic that I let this jerk push me that far.
When we act in ways that are “out of character,” we need to examine what the cause is. You found it. Kick rocks, indeed. You deserve a good man — don’t settle for less. I’m glad the articles help you. Best wishes to you.
Thank you so much for your wisdom! I have been forwarding these posts to my dad. it has helped h understand what I am going through. I was reading some other posts & it just confirms even more to me that I am not alone. I had a bad week this past week. My daughter goes to counseling & hercountselor just told me she won’t see my daughter anymore because I questioned her. She has taken my ex’s side & said I was unstable all because I questioned her. She said that my ex can do whatever he wants and I expect too much from him because he is a very busy man. I also can’t control what he does with his toime with my daughter. All I want is him to spend time with her instead of ignoring her on his visits. I guess I expect too much . She even called my counselor as a “duty to warn’ afraid I would hurt my daughter & ex. I have an amazing counselor who just laughed and said no way. Unfortunately I have to find a new counselor because she doesn’t take Medicaid. Thank you again for all your insights! I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t found your website.
I’m sorry to hear you had a bad week, D. I got the feeling from a previous comment that your daughter’s therapist had been “won over” by your ex. For her to label you as “unstable” because you questioned her is ludicrous and a perpetuation of his abuse. You wanting your ex to stop hurting your daughter by ignoring her isn’t abnormal! Your daughter will be better off without this counselor who has been invalidating her feelings and experience (and yours). I’m relieved to hear your therapist understands, and it’s too bad you have to find a new one. You’ll find another good one, though, because you have the ability to identify a bad one and to be assertive and speak up about it.
I’m so glad this site is helping you, and I’m happy to hear you’ve been forwarding the posts to your dad and that they’re helping him understand! Thank you for letting me know. I hope next week is a much better one.
Wow! Thank you Admin for recommending this article, yes I can relate so much to this.
I remember booking myself into an Anger Management course because of my angry outbursts, I had never experienced these outbursts before I had met him, yet at that stage of our relationship I was seeing the big picture that I now see.
I also remember an incident when we were out walking one day and he started his normal antagonising way, I knew it was because a period of separation was coming as that is how it normally started. Any how this day he told me during one of my outburst that I was abusive and that he was scared to talk to me about anything. I remember feeling that I had had enough, never would anyone accuse me of being abusive and just the thought of being so tore me up inside. I started to walk away to which he asked where I was going, I told him that if I was abusive then I do not wish to be around people because it would destroy me to think that I could possibly abuse anyone. I went home, half hour later he knocked on my door crying and profoundly apologising (had never seen this before) and of course I forgave. But sadly the thought had been planted by him in my mind, another nail in the coffin, because I began to believe perhaps I was.
Thankfully during my recovery I came to my senses and know that I’m far far from abusive. he would have made a saint abusive!! Lol
I couldn’t understand what was making me act so out of character. I actually thought this ‘great love’ was uncovering unresolved wounds or something, but that wasn’t the case. That article describes an experience that’s universal to most anyone who’s been with a psychopath. We all became prime candidates for Anger Management Training, even though most of us never were before. They certainly know how to work people up. Yes, they could make a saint abusive! It’s a Red Flag. I cherish the peace of mind I have now, and I’m protective of it. I notice right away if someone disrupts it, and I take a closer look.
Yes your so right, I thought there was unresolved issues of my childhood.
It’s so nice now not to feel anger, I do at times feel a sadness, a sadness that I can’t explain even to myself, I suppose it’s for what could have been, Or maybe even …. I don’t really know, sometimes I think if I could work that bit out it would be the last piece of the jigsaw, does that make sense
That was the last piece of the puzzle for me. It was the last to go, and it hung on for a LONG time. It would have been great if it were real, I still sometimes think that — but I don’t feel sad about it any more. I think time takes care of that one. After being that much in love with someone, we have suffered a serious loss. It doesn’t make it easier that they never loved us — it makes it a thousand times worse. Such incredible betrayal from the one we loved most, who led us to feel that way in the first place. We have no frame of reference for that experience, and it takes a long time to make sense of it, or, rather, to stop trying to make sense of it. While it makes sense in my head, it never will in my heart. I’m OK with that now. I think those feelings need to be acknowledged. Grieving is normal when you lose someone, whether he was hit by a bus or he turned out to be a psychopath.
I’m sorry for your loss, Debbie.
Feelings of loss and grief after the psychopath is gone
(I’m sorry for your loss Debbie)
Thank you, your the only person who has ever said that to me and I never even realised how much I needed to hear that.
Thank you for this safe place and helping so many of us in finding a path to free our minds and heal our hearts x
You’re welcome, Debbie. And thank you so much for your kind words; they mean a lot to me.
When it was over, no one could understand what I was feeling, and “just forget about him!” was the best they could do. I was seeing a therapist at that time, and she was struggling to understand my feelings of loss and grief. She was trying, but was having trouble wrapping her head around the idea that I was heartbroken over losing the man the abuser pretended to be.
One day I went in for my session and she took her seat across from me, looked me in the eye, and said “I’m sorry for your loss.” I was speechless. She understood. Someone understood. I knew it was important to me that someone understand and offer support and empathy, but didn’t realize just how important it was until that moment.
When others can’t understand our feelings and then judge and invalidate them, we feel isolated and can experience it as a continuation of the lack of empathy we got from the psychopath.
Empathy heals the wounds caused by the lack of empathy.
I can see the ‘tells’ so clearly now, I now understand psychobabble :)
This is taken from a letter psycho wrote to me after a court maintenance order, (he didn’t pay it, ) he’s been told by his solicitor to contact me.
‘I am writing to you in relation to on going difficulties that have arisen since the demise of the Relationship and Family.
I have at all time afforded you respect, dignity and peace of mind because after all you are the Mother of our Children.
I would also appreciate if you will acknowledge that I am their Father.
Since you vacated the home of your own wishes it is hard to maintain the home and as happened recently the order to pay maintenance payments to you for the benefit of our children.’
It displays exactly what he is, of course ye all know it’s all opposites, at no time did he afford me respect etc but the peace of mind sent shivers through me. Nobody can bestow peace of mind on another, but psychos know they disturb our minds and our thinking, that’s the only way they can control another, that was the scariest bit. I told him to check the birth certificate if he needed acknowledgment :)
And of course we all had to leave cos his perverse behaviour became worse, he never did anything around the house!
He didn’t like my response and so he summonsed me to court, again, for the same things!
Their abuse of us is totally insidious. Their sole intent is to destroy us, us human beings, and their different methods are
just that, once we are not living the life we were born to live, they win. We could be physically dead, emotionally withdrawn, too scared and anxious to do normal everyday tasks. All the time distorting our reality of ourselves. We have to learn what we are dealing with, and armed with this knowledge,
Go forth and conquer
Shine the light on them, wherever and whenever we can, they hate the spotlight on them. Just like the vampires of old hate sunlight.
Love and light to all affected and infected by them, we can rid ourselves of them, it just takes time and very hard work :) xxx
Psychobabble… it sounds just like regular language, except that it makes no sense and has no real meaning behind it; confusion and deceit are its only purposes.
‘Respect, dignity and peace’ — such nice words, but his actions don’t support them (Repeatedly dragging you back to court and refusing to make payments for the benefit of the children, along with wanting “acknowledgement” from you that he is their father). I sense smugness, and see the contradiction. This man is a crazymaker of the worse kind.
Nearlybel, you are so right when you say no one can bestow peace of mind on another, but they can take it away. I just told someone yesterday that I cherish my peace of mind now and am very protective of it, and when someone disturbs it, I see it right away and consider it a red flag.
Love and light to you too, Nearlybel, as you fight this ongoing battle.
The attorney who represented me in divorce told me that unless I’d been in emergency within the past 2 months, the judge in the LA courts does not recognize abuse and in fact, if it were brought up would be held against me. This is a contrast from online reports and literature from the domestic abuse centers. Ex controlled all our finances which amounted to close to $170,000 annual, yet I became homeless. He paid with our joint income the best/most expensive law office in LA while I had someone who was incompetent and lazy. This resulted in my homelessness = looking not very credible/crazy. Ex’s attorney had a doctorate in Psychology (I learned online research) which she used to destroy me. Her method was much the same as my ex, except this happened for 2 years of divorce. I lived in horror and terror and had no place to go other than try to cope. I was starved, slept on a cot in a spare room, had a dead opposom placed under the floorboards of the room I slept, had worms put into a water bottle I drank from, had my car repeatedly vandalized and ex got even more power with the support of this attorney to never stop putting me down. DV desparately needs people (perhaps retired attorneys?) who can help legally. There should be laws that don’t let people get degrees in psychology to do harm. Isn’t that what they did in WWII? One thing good that resulted from this is I have protected status but I still have triggers, my memory sucks, I’m still in anxiety, I had no health coverage for almost 2 years – and few if any psychologists will work for nothing. Public health in my area reached capacity when National Health Coverage started. I read online about marvelous psychologists who might help me but that’s only for women who have NOT had the abuse I went through. – “No soup for you!” Great article.
Helen, I’m terribly sorry to hear of this nightmare you’ve been through. My heart goes out to you.
It’s very disturbing to hear that the judge there doesn’t recognize abuse, and in fact would penalize you for it! And it’s also disturbing to hear of this lawyer with a psychology degree using it to destroy you. Of course you’re dealing with psychological fallout. I wish there was a way for you to see a counselor who specializes in trauma and abuse. Are you on a waiting list for someone in public health? There are also therapists who work on a sliding scale depending on what the client is able to pay, if that’s an option. You may want to give some serious consideration to a domestic violence support group run by your local DV organization. I’ve heard several people say very positive things about the groups they were in.
Don’t give up on finding the help and support you need. No one should have to go through this alone. Many hugs to you, Helen, now and as you move forward through this very difficult time. Please come back and let me know how you’re doing. xo
We run our own business but I m not allowed an opinion about anything because I m always wrong. My partner continuously belittle s me in front of male colleagues normally sexual comments. always tells me I m thick / stupid. he won’t do a thing in the house complains the house is dirty and my house is spotless. complains about his meals. our daughter’s do dancing he has complained by saying it interfears with his life even tho he comes and goes as he pleases and never takes them to practice never does anything with them it s me always says I ve got anger issues and I’m selfish. at this point I’ve got no confidence. I feel worthless and I’ve never really been out the house for 3 weeks at the min I m second guessing everything and everyone
Michele, you need to save yourself (and your daughters) from this highly toxic man who will only give you more degradation, torment, and psychological damage. Your first responsibility is to yourself and your daughters. You will find it hard to leave for all sorts of valid reasons. Leave anyway. You’ll need help doing this. You need to prepare, because this man is the type who will attempt to leave you penniless and battle you for custody. Get legal advice from someone who understands and has dealt with pathological narcissists. Get the help you need, and get away from him. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
A list of attorneys who are well versed in narcissistic personality disorder
A woman who has been where you are: Divorcing a Narcissist (One Mom’s Battle)
NO ONE should have to live with this kind of soul-killing, mind-warping abuse. You have NO OBLIGATION to spend your life with an abuser. That is not the oath you took, or would have taken if you’d known. Best of luck to you, Michele.
This post showed up in my Facebook feed at exactly the right time! I recently was in this exact scenario with an employer. She was textbook, and so was I, she prevented/ blocked any sort of healthy communication, told me I was defensive, menopausal, used my own words against me when I was empathizing with her. I was “just” an employee, even though she used me as a personal emotional sounding board and support many times. I internalized everything, just tried to work harder and ignore things until the last straw when she accused me of doing something I didn’t do…something finally rose up in me and said enough to her emotional and verbal manipulation. I quit the exact same time she let me go…it was a simple job made unbearable by this tension. As I was leaving she launched into more things that she had decided were wrong with me, even though I’d only worked for her for 2 months. I turned, looked at her and calmly said, “and do you know what’s wrong with you? You refuse to see the good in people.” – and I walked out.
This just happened three days ago, and the timing of this post is amazing, (thank you, God!)-
Your knowledgeable and sound advice has been such a soothing balm to my self recrimination, guilt and depressed feelings. I am vindicated, and so grateful.
What a terrible experience with your boss! I’m thrilled to hear you’ve been vindicated by what you’ve read here. Thank you for letting me know, Rhiannon. You made my day!
I was in a relationship like this for 23 years. Always being made to believe I was the one with the problem. I’ve been free for 2 years now and finally I am feeling like the person I was before! I don’t feel ready to embark on another relationship yet and I’m not sure I ever will… The emotional scarring is still quite raw! But I’m happy and free!
So glad to hear you’re happy and free now, Sam!
Comments are closed.