At the Intersection of Truth and Lies: Self-Blame


“You saddled me with a lie I never deserved. I won’t forgive you for it… You led me to believe I was responsible.”

~ The Prize, Irving Wallace

Most people experience self-blame after involvement with a psychopath, for good reason. These master manipulators are skilled at creating extreme confusion and self-doubt, which are powerful ways to disguise  lies and camouflage truth. Doubt and confusion don’t spontaneously resolve after the manipulation ends — they are ongoing, and last until we can finally see the truth of what happened.

I received this comment from a reader:

“It is important to take full responsibility for what happened to ensure that such a thing never happens again. Taking responsibility is different than blaming yourself.  If you take responsibility,  you will feel empowered. Don’t give the power to the psychopath by blaming them – that’s irrational.”

On the contrary. If we’re talking about the abusive predators who used covert psychological manipulation as their weapon against us (and I think we are, since that’s what this blog is about), then blaming ourselves would be irrational, as well as dis-empowering. But putting the blame where it belongs — with the abuser — enables us to start taking our power back.

How can blaming yourself (or *taking responsibility) for something you were not responsible for be empowering? I fail to see how holding yourself responsible for something that wasn’t your fault can help. To me, it means there is still more understanding needed regarding the type of predator who victimized you and how they went about doing so.

(*It’s interesting to notice the knee-jerk response if you say you aren’t taking the blame because you were not to blame. You will most likely be told that you’re right, you shouldn’t blame yourself — you should take responsibility, because it’s different. ‘Taking responsibility’ is a term that sounds so upstanding and principled, but it means exactly the same thing as blame in this situation. It’s also much more effective when attempting to shame someone into blaming themselves. If one of your tasks after all of this is to recognize manipulation, this is a very good place to start.

If you refuse to blame yourself because you know you were not to blame, it’s a strong statement that says you know the truth and you trust your self and your perceptions. Don’t let others make you doubt yourself again by using guilt or shame or admonishments about what you should do. It’s just more of the same. Even if they “mean well.” Part of healing and growth is developing boundaries, trusting yourself, and refusing to be manipulated.

blame 2

While most people realize they weren’t responsible for what happened when the victimization began, they end up feeling at least partially responsible for letting things go on after events took a turn for the worse, as the reader I’m quoting illustrates:

“Nobody deserves what happened when a psychopath chose them for a victim, but as time went on I saw the signs – I just didn’t listen to myself. I should have known better.”

When someone claims they were a victim of psychological manipulation — yet at the same time, they blame themselves for ‘not listening to themselves’ or ‘not knowing better’ — there seems to be some fundamental disconnect from the very meaning of the term ‘psychological manipulation.’ No one who understands what psychological abuse is would feel responsible, when you consider the definition:

“At a psychological level, the art of manipulation primarily involves two things: concealing aggressive intentions and behaviors and knowing the psychological vulnerabilities of your opponent well enough to know what tactics are likely to be the most effective weapons against them.

Psychological manipulation is most often accomplished through covert-aggression or aggression that is so carefully veiled or so subtle that it’s not easily detected. 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.”

~ George Simon, PhD, “Psychological Manipulation, An Overview”


What could possible cause a victim of this destructive psychological abuse feel they are responsible in some way for what happened?

The manipulation itself.  In this kind of scenario, the victim is manipulated into being unable to see the manipulation. It creates doubt and confusion, and hides within it. And in the ultimate sleight of hand, it makes everything it does appear to be the victim’s doing, and the victim’s fault.

No wonder you blame yourself — the manipulation you experienced was designed to make you do so. When you were in the relationship, you were made to blame yourself for what appeared to be ‘things going wrong.’ Now, you blame yourself for not seeing the manipulation as it happened. You tell yourself you should have seen it. You even tell yourself you did see it, but ignored it. The truth is, every time you wondered what was going on, you were manipulated back into complacency. You were manipulated into doubting your perceptions, and found at fault for having perceptions in the first place. And so it went.

The relationship got off to an amazing start. Remember? He or she seemed like your perfect partner — your soul mate, probably — and the honeymoon phase was idyllic. Then, things took a turn. When that happened you were manipulated into blaming yourself for the problems, and you desperately tried to repair the damage you believed you were causing. Of course you did — this was the best thing that ever happened to you, and he or she was the love of your life. How can you say now that you should have just walked away? But as you tried so hard to save it, the manipulation only became more intense.

“Manipulation is an evolving process over time,” according to Harriet B. Braiker, PhD., author of “Who’s Pulling Your Strings.” 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 as the abuser creates uncertainty and doubt by going back and forth from hot to cold, by going back and forth from giving you what you desire to taking it away.

Back to the reader and her comment:

I saw the signs – I just didn’t listen to myself. I should have known better.”

I asked her why, if she saw the signs, did she not listen to herself? If it is so clear now that she should have, but ‘just didn’t,’ what was different when she was in the situation? Was it, perhaps, that she was so mentally manipulated that she couldn’t hear her own voice over the din of confusion, and that she doubted her own perceptions as a result of abuse that aimed to make her do just that?

I didn’t get an answer.

I blamed myself at first, until I learned how manipulation worked. Then I stopped, because I realized I was not responsible for his behavior, or for my own when I was under the influence of his manipulation. I had been manipulated to the point where I had formed a strong bond with the abuser, and to the point where I doubted myself and I couldn’t figure out what the truth was. It’s important to note that I didn’t know I was being manipulated, which is how — and why — manipulation works.

When I gave up my misguided (psychopath-guided) blame, and I assigned responsibility to the one who was actually accountable, my emotional state improved significantly. I had relief from the intrusive thoughts, from the maddening vacillation regarding who he really was, and from wondering whether or not I was to blame, and for what: Was I responsible somehow for wrecking a wonderful relationship, which is what he wanted me to believe, or was I responsible for sticking around through an abusive relationship, when I should have known better? It had to be one or the other, right?

Neither one was true, as it turned out. When I knew that, I began to make real progress.

Should I have known better? Should you have? How could we have known better when we didn’t know yet that anything like that was possible? How could we have known, when we thought something vastly different from what was really happening was going on? How could we have known what we didn’t know? How could we have known, when covert manipulation was used to made sure we didn’t know, and when we didn’t even know what covert manipulation was, let alone that it was being used on us?

It’s confusing, isn’t it? Confusion works wonders. Ask any psychopath. Better yet, ask yourself. You experienced it, and you know the power of confusion, especially when you’re too confused to know how confused you are.

To say ‘we should have known’ just doesn’t make sense. It means nothing. It’s crazy. In fact, it reeks of the confabulated, nonsensical bullsh*t of psychopath-crazy. Maybe that’s because a psychopath is the only one who could make anyone think something like that.

The psychopath is gone, but their magic is still at work.

Soon after my victimization ended, I read a comment in a forum that I thought was so significant that I copied it into my journal: The writer felt she was host to a “self-replicating thought spiral.” I understood. Another victim described that thought spiral as an infection. Still another said it was “a thorn in her brain.” If these things resonate with you, you are not alone. You’ve got the remains of a psychopath in your head, and it’s time to get it out of there.

The most powerful way is to finally realize you were not responsible. That burns down the psychopath, while you rise from the ashes like a Phoenix.



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69 thoughts on “At the Intersection of Truth and Lies: Self-Blame”

  1. Annette

    In addition to the psychopath, many others, most of whom are well meaning but don’t understand psychopathic abuse, add to the burden of blame on the victim.

    I found it helpful to consider specific situations, events, words and actions, that happened in the course of my experience with the psychopath, to discern what my part in it all was. It helps to keep in mind that I didn’t know what I know now, and not to hold myself responsible for what I didn’t know. Misplacing blame on the victim tends to be framed in generalities that don’t hold up when the specific facts and circumstances are examined.

    1. Admin

      That’s a good point; misplacing the blame is framed on generalities that would fall apart if the details were examined. Thanks for pointing out that distinction.

  2. The Plummer

    Great article, it helps me a lot.

    Two points. On self blame. As a man, when discussing my past Marriage, and the constant signs I ignored, other men do what men do, challenge and test each other. It’s how men bond and develop whether or not a fellow man is worthy of companionship.

    When I discuss my exes behavior, I always get questions like, “why didn’t you see the signs?” Or “and you still married her anyway?” So the self blame narrative is always picking at you, always being implied, because men should always know better, and maintain control, any time you don’t, you are responsible. Believe me when I say it’s tough to really get other men to understand just exactly how insideous and intoxicating the manipulation and deception is, especially when, as a man, you know that he will lose far more in the divorce than the manipulating female psychopath ever will.

    With this fear always running in the background, choices are made to stay at all costs, to save the children from her unbridled manipulation to the children (because you are no longer there), and the financial devastation (from what once amassed, as well as future earnings). Only to eventually be discarded by the psychopath, once you’ve created an impenatrable fortress (closing the “loopholes” (as she calls them)) in shoring up boundries, to the point that the manipulation no longer works. THEY DO EVENTUALLY GIVE UP. However, they still make sure you “lose”, and they are willing to lose also, because it only matters that YOU lose, that is a win for them.

    Second point, on manipulation. Manipulation is neither good or bad, it merely is a tool. Everyone uses manipulation in every form of communication imaginable. Manipulation can be inspirational, and helpful to the receiver of such, it can be mutually benificial (win-win), or can be detrimental to the manipulated and advantageous to the manipulator. These I feel are normal methods of manipulation that occur everyday.

    However, once you are in the crosshairs of a psychopath, and they decide to destroy you, they will make sure you bleed and bleed as much as possible, and they are willing to make themselves bleed in the process. They don’t care how destructive their behavior is to themselves, IF it is also destructive to the target.
    That to me, is the difference between someone merely possessing cluster B traits, and a full on psychopath.

    1. Admin

      Glad it helps.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective, from a male point of view. It sounds remarkably similar to the female’s experience. No one understands how insidious and intoxicating it is, if they haven’t experienced it. Most of us, male or female, have heard the same things from friends. We should have known better, how could we have not seen the signs, etc. etc. etc.

      While women may not be financially devastated in the same way men are (although I do hear from some who are), they are financially devastated all the same. For example, the ones lucky enough to get custody of the kids never see any help with the expenses, or they can’t buy out his half of the business or home (that they brought into the marriage) and are forced to sell and lose their livelihood or their home.

      Everyone ends up losing more than the psychopath ever will, because like you said, they seldom give up. They have to win, no matter what. They’re like suicide bombers. They’ll blow themselves up if that’s what it takes to blow you up. My heart goes out to you, and to everyone who is caught in it. It makes me feel very fortunate to have had a clean break.

      1. Annette

        I think the psychopath, whether the male or female partner, financially devastates the victim of either gender, because that’s what they do – exploit others. So the victim ends up financially, emotionally, spiritually, etc. exploited, regardless of gender.

    2. Annette

      I use the term “manipulation” for deceptive actions to get someone to do what the manipulator wants then to do without regard to the well being of the victim. This is bad, wrong, harmful, and against my ethics.

      I think of encouraging someone without deception to do something that’s good for him/her (like offering a reward to my teenage son to get a good grade in a math class) to be a management (in this example parenting) technique. It’s not evil nor good, merely a tool, and a matter of discernment what’s best for the person being encouraged.

    3. Babs

      We have witnessed this with my husband’s brothers. One of them actually died, and horribly. He poisoned himself (the malignant hate he sent out to those he envied actually destroyed the vessel that contained it…) which is badly worded, but you get the gist?
      His wrath/envy destroyed himself. And his brothers, one in particular, is living a self destructive existence.

  3. Hope

    Thanks for continuing to knock down the brick wall of confusion for us A. B. I feel like I’m finally becoming a little freer and taking back my power. I won’t be so easily victimized again. I now have some tools and knowledge at my defense.

    1. Admin

      Hi, Hope. I’m trying to chip-chip-chip away at that wall, since I don’t have a bulldozer. Every step closer to freedom is a step in the right direction. I’m glad to hear you’re headed that way!

  4. Dee

    I believe you have given us the most essential prescription to heal. We must not take responsibility and assume the blame for the horrendous pain caused by the most skilled manipulator. We all believed in the lie. We were all exploited because of our vulnerability. We did not know that we were being led into hell. We are not duplicitous, so we could not imagine that were being tricked. This man did not love us. Instead, he felt contempt, envy and hatred. If I had know this, I would NEVER have willingly handed over my heart. Not assuming blame and not taking responsibility has put me back on track to regain my sanity and self back. The cognitive dissonance is clearing up fast because I am no longer fighting a battle in my mind, spinning the question: Who Is This Man? The question is now answered and I am making him solely responsible for all of the destruction and pain he caused. I was duped and coned and now instead of spinning and pining, I am mad! I’d rather be mad than pining and confused. The wonderful memories and no longer wonderful because they are souvenirs of lies. The memories of the good times are evaporating. Thank you Admin. You have really helped me cross over to a better place of healing. xox : ))

    1. Admin

      Self-blame does seem to be one of the main things that keeps the whole thing going after it ends. It can’t exist without doubt, which is the other main thing, and doubt stems from the confusion the psychopath created. Once that battle in your mind is over, you’ve had a major victory. It’s no wonder you’re angry; once you clearly see the truth of it, anger is justified. I’m really glad I could help you move past that obstacle. It’s a big one. xoxo

      “souvenirs of lies” — that’s a powerful metaphor, and very poetic.

    2. Annette

      “Souvenirs of lies” is a helpful way to frame the memories. Thanks for sharing that thought.

  5. Sue

    Where does one go if one is stuck in this cycle of being hooked, and then when the emotional abuse becomes intolerable, trying to reclaim self-respect, insisting on respect and then being told “it’s your call”. Intermittent reinforcement is so powerful. Even though I am now aware of his modus operandi, I keep getting drawn back in. I am made to feel guilty for abandoning him, for allowing “something good to disappear”. Lies, manipulation, flattery, deceit, love-bombing, lack of honesty, I’ve had them all. This man is stuck in my head! He occupies my every waking thought. How can one individual be so powerful, have such a potent vibe that one cannot escape? Short of retreating to a cave, I can’t escape. Every time I terminate this relationship, I’m made to feel like I’m losing out, it’s my fault I can’t or won’t put up with the abuse/neglect. This is crazy-making stuff!

    1. Admin

      Seeing the truth of what’s going on is significant. It’s the beginning of the end. These things can’t survive in the light, at least not for long.

      You ask how he can be so powerful. He’s not powerful at all; he used some tricks to make it seem that he is. The only place his power exists is in your mind — so without you, he returns to being a parasite without a host, an abuser without a victim. It seems to me that you’re the powerful one here — you just don’t realize it.

      “I’m made to feel like… it’s my fault I can’t or won’t put up with the abuse/neglect.” Now THIS is the kind of blame you WANT to take! You said it yourself — you can’t and won’t put up with his abuse any longer.

      1. Sue

        Thank you thank you thank you for these insights. Break up number, um, I have lost count. But I finally recognised that the emotional abuse was part of a pattern – my ex used the same tactics. Ant then I got very angry. I am fortunate to have good friends who are very supportive, but I feel anxious that one day they will get fed up with picking up the pieces. Each break-up is shattering. And, yes, NO CONTACT is the only way. And “I can’t do this anymore” is an oft-repeated phrase in the relationship. Well, for my mental health, I WON’T do this anymore. I will not allow it. I deserve better than that. I feel strong right now. This is such an empowering, supportive blog. I’m so grateful for the insights revealed here. I don’t feel so alone, so foolish, so gullible. Knowledge is power, yes, but support enables. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart

        1. Admin

          You’re welcome, Sue. And thank you so much, your kind words are appreciated. I’m truly happy you find the blog empowering and supportive! The longer you have no contact with him, the easier it will get. It may take a while, but it will be well worth it, as you already know. Best of luck to you. Stay strong and determined!

          1. Sue

            3 days and counting! ‘The beautiful dream’ was a fantasy created by him, but it’s actually a waking nightmare. It’s not lost – it never existed! That was a close call… Just reading your posts firms my resolve. Only someone who has been through this kind of relationship can understand it so clearly. Your grasp on these issues is so clear, and so wonderfully expressed. I sometimes think that re-engaging with them keeps him alive in my mind. It does – the REAL him, not the phony one he presents. And that can only be good. There’s a book in there somewhere, waiting to emerge. The only trouble is, it would never be finished! Just so much.

            1. Admin

              The illusion they created — the soul mate — is extremely powerful. It’s what makes the whole miserable and crazy experience possible, so that tells you just how powerful that illusion is. It also speaks to how hard it is when the heart finally gets that, when all hope is lost. It’s understood in the head long before the heart finally grasps the painful reality. The beautiful illusion is and finally and truly understood to have been just an illusion, and that means the soul mate is dead and gone. This is the moment we take the Blue Pill and wake up completely from the dream. There can be intense feelings of grief and loss. But there’s also a clearer understanding of the horror we were caught in, and the pure, heartless predator that the psychopath is. And then comes the realization that we are now FREE.

              “You take the blue pill, the story ends… You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes.” The Matrix

              Sue, take the blue pill. Stay strong and out of the rabbit hole. xo

              1. Sue

                Blue Pill! Yes please. The irony of that is I was taking little blue pills for depression brought about by this relationship!

              2. Admin

                That is ironic, isn’t it. The blue pill’s a hard pill to swallow, but it is the cure.

              3. Sue

                When I first terminated the relationship, I cried for 2 days and had to take a sick day off work. Each time, the fallout is less dramatic. But the longing would always kick in after a couple of weeks. It IS the loss of a dream, the loss of the soul mate, the loss of the promise of a blissful partnership. None of which materialised. This time he honed in on my vulnerability of having no home, no security, a bleak future, of being lost and scared, and offered a ‘place in the sun’ at his farm. I even bought the air ticket, but felt so terrified I cancelled and broke it off again. For once I am listening to my gut instinct. I just need to keep reminding myself, though your blog, that this man feels nothing for me, or anyone else for that matter, and is more concerned about ‘losing’, than rejection.

              4. Admin

                Sue, I hope things are improving in your life! That’s a difficult situation to be in. The fact that you resisted him while under so much stress means you are a very strong person, and you know what his true nature is. You were able to protect yourself. They count on us being drawn back in when they pretend to be the soul mate again, and it’s a powerful draw, but once we’ve accepted the reality of who they really are and what’s really going on, there can be no going back. It sounds like you’ve gotten to that point. Accepting that reality is incredibly difficult and painful and heartbreaking, and we still have to deal with the trauma, but at least they’re out of our life.

              5. Sue

                I am not homeless, in that sense. But I left the marital home when I got divorced (not from him, that never materialised either) so have to rent granny cottages in ohter people’s back yards. It makes one feel incredibly vulnerable and insecure. He exploited that vulnerability

            2. Sue

              One cannot put a price on freedom and self-worth. I have lost a non-refundable air fare, and a dream, but walk away with my head held high

              1. Admin

                Freedom and self worth are priceless, and this experience makes us realize it. That’s one of the good things that comes of it. We will not easily give them up. I’m not saying we did — it had to happen slowly and it took plenty of manipulation, but we weren’t as sure of them and as clear about their value as we are now.

    2. Brightie

      Hang in there, open up your eyes, the time will also give you strength to do the right thing. I felt the same way – but it gets to the point where you do not want to feel that way ever again. And then you will gain the strength!! just be strong!

      1. Sue

        Thank you Brightie, this is it – the last time I torture myself with such pain. I am so in awe of all the strong women who respond to these blogs. It strengthens me

        1. Brightie

          Together we are stronger! :) if it eweren’t for you, powerful women here, and Admin, I would turn into an empty wreckage, soulless and depressed. But lucily, to every problem, there are solutions and people who have had similar situations. Good luck!

    3. Annette

      Their power comes from twisting what is ours – our good qualities, honesty, ability to bond, caring for others, moral code, generosity, into a weapon to harm us. Psychopaths don’t have anything in themselves – it’s all fakery taken from what others rightfully have.

      I found that No Contact with my psychopath was the best way to keep him from pushing my buttons, and to get out from the hold he had over me. Without his input, my thinking gradually cleared up. When I made the decision to end contact, I couldn’t put two thoughts together. I focused on only one thing – my commitment to no more contact no matter what. From that, everything got better and my life and myself gradually got back to a new normal. There are scars, and PTSD, but my life is overall good now.

      1. Sue

        You are right, Annette. NO CONTACT is the only way. Can you believe that he told me he was psychic, and that I believed him, and thought he knew my every thought, word and action?! This is where I assumed his power came from. The all-knowing, all-seeing, magical man. In retrospect it was insane to believe such garbage, but that is how ingenious he was! I will not take on that shame as well, though. He was good, very, very good at manipulation. When I told him that he had broken my heart over and over and over, he said ‘it was you who broke your own heart’! Go figure!

        1. Admin

          It was you who broke your own heart? Sue, that’s one of the worse and most distorted, convoluted, meanest and most callous things I’ve ever heard that a psychopath said. That’s awful. He’s awful, every heartless bit of him.

          1. Sue

            As I said, the most unbelievably distorted logic, which is crazy-making. EVERYTHING was turned around to be my fault. That comment was the beginning of the end. And, the most incredible fact of all, was this relationship was conducted largely electronically. So in a way it is easier to terminate. Well, not actually, but at least I am unlikely to ever run into him

            1. Admin

              They can conduct their entire convoluted crapfest electronically and do just as much damage as they can in person.
              You sound strong, and you’ll get stronger with time. You know too much of the truth to go back now.

        2. Annette

          I believe it. Psychopaths use hypnotic techniques to control and brainwash their victims. My ex P hypnotized me and I did and thought things that are now unbelievable to me from the perspective of my right mind.

          1. Sue

            This guy is a doctor and told me he uses hypnosis as one of his therapies. Alarm bells! How does someone hypnotise another when they’re not even present?!?

            1. Admin

              Hypnosis is basically just very focused attention that leaves you open to suggestion… From wikipedia:

              “Hypnosis is a state of human consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion.”

              Psychopaths are natural hypnotists. You don’t have to know you’re being hypnotized in order for it to work. There are actually many things that induce a “trance” state, such as prayer, dancing, sex, exercise, marijuana, chanting, drumming, music… even the sound of someone’s voice.

              “Benevolent, neutral and malevolent trances may be induced (intentionally, spontaneously and/or accidentally)”

            2. Annette

              My ex P used low lights, soft music (he played a sort of classical style of guitar music – repetitive, quiet, gentle type music), overly intense eye contact in a controlling way, and lots of suggestions buried in the things he said. For me, just the word salad sprinkled with his love bombing phrases, zoned me out without me knowing it.

              He would say different things to me, and if something didn’t ‘work,’ on me, he would drop it, and say other things. Most everything he was saying was a lie, so he could say whatever worked without regard to its veracity.

              He sent long emails and engaged me in long telephone conversations that kept my attention on him. It wasn’t until I got out and got my mind clearer, that I was able to dissect the content of his emails and recognize what the word salad was about – basically nothing but luring techniques, love bombing techniques, and controlling suggestions as to what he wanted me to think, do and say.

              Nothing to do with a real relationship between two people who enjoy each other’s company, care for one another, are honest, and are considerate of one another’s well being.

              1. Admin

                Same thing for me, Annette. Nothing but word salad interspersed with love-bombing statements at the right trance-y moments. One he used: “You and I have a strong emotional bond.” I mean, who actually says things like that? It sounded weird to me at the time, and that’s why I remember it. The ones that slipped by were the ones that worked.

              2. Annette

                My ex P reframed the circumstances of our meeting and certain events in the beginning of our relationship, such that God Himself ordained and brought about our relationship. Complete with miraculous signs, etc. This was one of the Psychopath’s tactics that didn’t work so well on me, so he dropped it and moved on to something else when he realized I wasn’t buying it. At the time I thought he was sweet but a bit over the top about our ‘relationship.’ Eventually, I concluded that the ‘god’ involved in our relationship was Satan, the god of this world according to 2 Corinthians 4:4 in the Bible.

              3. Admin

                Oh my, we had miraculous signs, too! A face-shaped cloud at sunset with two burning orange eyes, his ‘strong feeling’ we’d known each other in a past life… and that we’d know each other in future lives (shudder)

                Yes, that’s what I thought, too — he was sweet but WAY over the top! But that was so CHARMING… so endearing… the whole thing felt like a gift from god, and I’m not even a believer. I ended up referring to him as “lucifer” when it was over. The Light Bringer. At times he had an aura, a golden aura. I’d never seen one before. It was probably a glow coming from the burning fires of hell :-)

              4. Sue

                Do these people have a manual or something?!?! Mine told me “we are one” and “it is written”. There was never a real connection between 2 people. It was all smoke screens and mirrors. AND my nickname for him was Devil Eyes! I will not expand on that…

              5. Admin

                I’m convinced they do have a manual, one they’re born with. There are too many similarities, from the overall pattern to the strange little details.

              6. Annette

                What you describe is very very similar to the stuff my ex psychopath presented. The signs were shooting stars and some plant that ‘miraculously’ bloomed in the winter, and a ‘chance’ meeting due to a car breakdown, etc.
                I am a (Christian) believer, and in addition to calling my ex ‘Satan,’ I also quoted lots of appropriate Bible verses.
                My religious understanding, which is not mainstream Christianity, provided me an understanding of the context of his unbelievable motivations and behaviors, and how I believe God will solve the problem of evil in the world.

              7. Admin

                Shooting stars, yes, there were plenty of those, too! I sure hope god will solve the problem of evil in the world, and soon. I shudder to think of all the innocent people who are in prison, and of the people who are brutally tortured, raped, and/or murdered in the most horrific ways, especially the innocent children, and I think of how many thousands of years it’s been happening… I guess maybe when all these things happens to millions more, over a few more millennia, God will finally solve the problem, since he has the power to do that and he so loves the world and all that. Maybe he just hasn’t caught on yet, or he’s been busy. Seems a bit short on empathy to me.

              8. Annette

                Oh, yes, my ex was CHARMING in all caps. I used to tell him, “You don’t know how CHARMING you are” in the beginning. He wasn’t so charming after I ‘married’ him.

              9. Annette

                You make a valid, accurate, and important point. That is the big dilemma – how can an all powerful and loving God allow the magnitude of human suffering? That bothered me for a long time. I found an answer, but my beliefs are not mainstream. I don’t think that mainstream Christian theology makes complete sense in all the details. My theology is based on what the Bible really says as I understand it. The existence and activities of psychopaths fit in with my understanding, and it helped me in my recovery, and to find a measure of peace.

              10. Admin

                I’m glad it helped in your recovery, Annette.

                I believe we’re the ones who have to take the action. Even if there is a god, it (?) works through us. For example, if someone is starving, people can pray all they want, but someone has got to go and feed those people. Last week I bought dinner for a family in a grocery store parking lot, a couple with three kids. The father cried, and the kids ripped the bag apart getting to the food. In the winter, I go to the Goodwill and buy dollar hats and gloves, and keep them in my bag for when I run across someone homeless. God doesn’t have hats and gloves, but we do. We should all do whatever we can, no matter how small. Even if we don’t believe in god, we can believe in compassion and kindness. Those are powerful things too.

              11. Annette

                There are many Bible passages that explicitly corroborate, magnify and commend your point of view and your choices of action. One of the first that comes to mind is “True religion is to help orphans and widows….” James 1:27. I discern it would be getting off topic to list quote more…..

              12. Admin

                I hope it motivates others, but I don’t require any validation or agreement from ‘the bible.’ There are so many people who look sideways at atheists and think they can’t possibly be good people. I am an innately decent and compassionate person without the threat of eternal damnation and a list of rules and commandments. I’m an RN with certification in hospice and palliative care, along with the other things I do to try to make this world a better place, and my catholic mother still thinks I’m going straight to hell. She prays, while people like me actually get off our butts and do something. ‘God’ is not coming to save the world from ‘evil.’ Has it happened yet? Oh yeah, he sent his son… whom he let die a horrible death, and he lets the same happen to so many others, even though he has the power to stop it any time he wants… but he just doesn’t want to.

                He knows right from wrong, but just doesn’t care. Oh, wait a minute! I must be getting him mixed up with someone else ??

              13. Annette

                Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you by validating in a patronizing way. I hear your anger and sarcasm. I’m not angry at you because of your philosophy; know that I respect it and respect you, regardless of whether we share the same beliefs. You may be assuming that I hold certain beliefs which I don’t.

              14. Admin

                I probably am assuming that. My experience is that people who believe in the Invisible Guy in the Sky think they need to change or “save” those who don’t, and I assumed you were one of them. I’m not offended by anything you said, Annette.

    4. Salvation

      Let me tell you now – you are not “losing out”. Your words resonated very deeply with me, they tell my story, the exact cycle that rinsed and repeated. I would leave time and time again because I wasn’t receiving basic decency half the time, and while the other half was the time of my life…. it was just an illusion, a dream burned in my mind that im still struggling with. It wasn’t real. And no matter who the other/next women is – it always ends in her hell. That’s the cold hard truth you will come to see. Logic, go with your logic and if you are having to explain basic decency to a grown man, that’s enough to walk away. Don’t rationalise his bullshit for whatever reason. Because it only destroys you harder each time you return. I read somewhere recently – Dishonesty once could be a misunderstanding, twice could be a mistake, but a third time is indicative of the character you are REALLY dealing with. Take that and run. Xx

      1. Sue

        Yes, Salvation, the distorted ‘logic’ I was fed was incredible. You really start doubting your own sanity, and wondering if everything you once believed to be true was founded in unreality. Even so, a small still voice within (which I ignored) said “Huh?!?!” I am working on boundaries big time to prevent being conned ever again. And I AM running! As fast as I can

  6. Brightie

    I loved this post. You absolutely nailed it. It’s amazing to break free, rise again like the Phoenix – I used the same comparison when describing how I felt to my friend. I’ ve been reading your blog for months now and only now I can say I truly see that I am not to blame and I finally got the strength to file the divorce papers. We’ve been married for more than a year and we have a baby, and it’s time to stop the manipulation. Your words helped me a GREAT deal to go through this hell period, to recognize the manipulation, to take over control of my life, set boundaries and break free. The process wasn’t easy, but in the end I’m stronger than ever!

    1. Admin

      Thank you, Brightie, for letting me know. I’m very happy the blog has helped you, and to hear you’re stronger than ever. It’s huge when you have the realization that you were not to blame! I wish you and your baby all the best xoxo

    2. Diane P.

      I to can so relate to this post, the picture of the Phoenix is brilliant and reflects where I am right now, on top and back in control again. My journey of separation started last April. If someone would have told me 3 years ago I would become an empty shell being with this person, I would never have believed it. He was kind, generous, thoughtful. He sucked everyone around me in, that much so that I felt like I owed it to myself to be in such a ‘great’ relationship with a good man at long last. This mystery that comes with the confusion … I felt it on numerous occasions but what I experienced came wrapped up in niceness … A niceness that didn’t feel right to me but made me sound a little mad when trying to explain it in my head to myself. The confusion of wondering whether I was imagining what I was thinking followed by my berating myself for thinking unkind things about such ‘nice’ gestures… The gestures came over and over, over a period of two years yet the I between bits where the behaviours from him that were taking me further and further away from myself.
      Last April, we’ll all those doubts I had melted away as one action from him, (in the form of him trying to ‘help’ me, more like him trying to knock me off my ‘have to sort my life out and get back on my feet plan’, it was like a beam of light shining on that one moment …. That one moment where there was a clarity. A clarity which told me he was trying to knock me off my positive course and that this little action of ‘help’ … I looked at him differently from that very moment. I could see what he was trying to do and with that I ran for the hills. Anyone that would have preferred to see me in the gutter like that as opposed to the strong beautiful woman I once was, was not looking after my best interests. I quit him, I quit the drinking (this was adding to my confusing and allowing me to hide my thoughts fears and suspicions away). It’s been 10 months, 10 months of no drink, lots of research (thank you Admin for all your books and words), i am back in work, doing a job I love, I have an abundance of self respect, self compassion, a bag full of boundaries and real friends who have helped me rise, better than my former glory …. Just like that Phoenix xxx

      1. Admin

        So glad you liked the post, Diane, and the books. Thank you. It was one of the ways I made something positive from my experience.
        You’ve made incredible strides in ten months! You are definitely like the Phoenix. I wish you all the best.

  7. Nearlybel

    Another great insight, thank you. You have magnified the light on this subject like no other.
    Each of our psychos was tailor made for us, they zoned in on our worst fears and used our characteristics of kindness, generosity, compassion, tolerance, understanding (misunderstanding:) against us.
    But they are our strengths.
    ‘For the meek will inherit the earth’
    We have our part to play, each and everyone of us by exposing what they are, but only when and if we are fit for that challenge.
    As ‘they’ have no conscience, they cannot ( on their own) come to any solution to any problem without ensuring their needs are paramount, this is relevant to mine in that he’s needs have to be prioritised over the children’s never mind mine :) It use frustrate me that the courts saw all from his perspective, they believed him, and I challenged him ineffectually. Because I’m nearly better, free of his voice in my head ( enough wine knocked out all those brain cells he infected ) I have started to challenge this lack of intellect. That his ignorance is no excuse for not complying with court orders. He arrested my development, and retarded it because my whole focus ( unknown to me at the time) was to watch and he didn’t hurt me and the children, so I ensured I prioritised him over the children in order to keep us all safe, of course I couldn’t and he abused the children. How perverted is that, it is the truth, my terrible truth, my fear of being a no good mother, became my reality, I believed him. And to now know, after 23 years, is to now start living again, 23 years a zombie, 23 years playing host to a parasite.
    It’s not my fault he is what he is.
    Thank you admin xxx

    1. Admin

      Hi, Nearlybel. It’s certainly not your fault what he is, and I’m so glad you know that. And I’m glad he’s out of your head; I’ll bet it was a lot more than wine that did that. I know you’ve been hard at work.

      You did what you felt was necessary to protect your children, within that situation, while not knowing what you were really dealing with. That does not sound like a bad mother to me. I’m glad all of you are free now, free to be yourselves, free from the pressure cooker you were living in. Here’s to freedom :-)

  8. Depressedempath

    Thankyou Admin for more true words of wisdom. My psychologist told me that looking back to the past with “should haves” is very tough on yourself, you can’t change the past, so say to yourself instead that you “could have”.
    It can never be our fault that we met these sick, depraved and twisted psychos. We have to look on the positives: that we discovered about their existence, we learned from our experiences and we are now better people for it. I have no regrets having a relationship with a psycho. He changed me. I learnt to appreciate the simple things in life and the people who stood next to me and kept me strong. By experiencing the worst in life, I now appreciate everyone and everything in my life now, I feel reborn.
    There will always be the negative people who look down on you and question your actions. My daughter said to me the other day that she didn’t want to make mistakes in her life that she may regret later. I answered that we all make mistakes, but that is a part of life, our learning path and necessary to making our life better. Never have regrets, they are part of our journey.

    1. Admin

      Anything could turn into a mistake we later regret. Some things in life turn out well and some don’t, and unfortunately some turn out horribly. But as long as we’re still living, we can recover and learn/ grow from our experiences. This experience is a huge one that makes a lot of growth possible. The psychopath gave us lemons, but we can turn them into lemonade. No thanks to them, of course — it’s not what they intended. We do that because of the way we deal with it. You have obviously done a great job with it! It’s no easy feat, not at all, but that’s the task we’re left with when they’re out of our lives. People have overcome all kinds of great adversity. There is no limit to the resilience of the human spirit.

  9. How do I get past this self blame. I know in my head that what happened was wrong and that I am not to blame, but in my heart I still continue to blame myself and hear/see the words that my ex-husband said and did. I think what makes it harder is that when the other people around you don’t see him for who he is. I continually question myself, am I the one imagining this, was it my fault, he says it is, that I jumped to conclusions like I always did, says I am the one who is bitter (I guess I am). Yet he tells me he has moved on, happy, and wants me to find balance in my life. It is so frustrating. Sometimes I just want to yell and scream. My daughters counselor is a female and she told me that I expect too much from him, when all I thought was that he could have called my daughter on her birthday. He told the counselor he was busy, but thought of her all day long. The other day I was talking to my daughter’s counselor about another situation where my daughter had told the counselor that “daddy doesn’t play with me”, the counselor went and spoke with my ex, he said he does, and the counselor came back and corrected my daughter, saying he did play with you a little. I said something about this situation and the other situation, that she was supporting my husband, she said I was imagining and lying, that she had never said that to me. I stood up to her and told her that I had heard this kind of stuff from my ex for 25 years and that I wasn’t going to believe it, and not allow my daughter to be manipulated either. I started getting emotional, and felt like I was being the “bad person”, and a “B”. I just wish he would get out of my head. The picture you posted with the man pointing the finger, sent fear all through me when I saw it. I wish I could get past this! I want to move on. I want my freedom. And then at the same time, I miss my old life, being married, having a husband, being a family. I thought it was good, I know it wasn’t, but yet I miss it. I feel like I have exploded from the inside out and I can’t collect all the pieces, and I don’t know how to even start putting them together. It seems like some of the pieces are from different puzzles and some of the pieces are missing. I wish my heart would listen to my mind. I keep reading your posts, which help alot. I hope one day I can put the pieces I collect and create new pieces for the ones missing.

    1. Admin

      Hi, D. You’re dealing with a lot right now! I’m sorry your daughter didn’t get a call on her birthday; it makes me sad for her, as I’m sure she was very disappointed. I agree, it wasn’t appropriate for her therapist to say what she did. It’s good that you asserted yourself with her. That was strong.

      It’s normal to miss being married and being a family. But it doesn’t sound like you want to be married and be a family with him, in particular. If you did, you’d still be doing so.

      It’s much more difficult to stop blaming yourself when he’s still in your life, still telling you it’s your fault; and being surrounded by people who don’t see who he is makes it that much harder. If you don’t already have one, please find yourself a therapist who is an expert in psychologically abusive relationships, not just any therapist — many are not familiar enough with it, and they can do more harm than good. It’s very difficult when you don’t have support and everyone around you negates your experiences. You may never find anyone (beside those of us here) who ‘believes’ you, but you can still have confidence in your own assessment. You know what you experienced. Don’t doubt yourself, D. xoxo

    2. Carolyn

      Hello D
      I , too,am very sorry that your counselor spoke to you in the way she did! self doubt is something you certainly do NOT deserve to have festering WITHIN your kind and loving heart ! admin is correct in saying SO!! Not all counsellors are meant for every client! And as sad as it is THEY CAN BE MANIPULATED ! Be strong and courageous

  10. Anon

    Another terrific post on this subject Admin. Being responsible and accepting blame are often confused. Lots of food for thought.

    1. Admin

      Thanks, Anon!

  11. Nearlybel

    For D, it is so difficult with children, either you or the family therapist/courts wish your child to have contact with their father.
    He cares nothing for this child (apart from using for whatever he needs) He is demonstrating this, not ringing on their birthday, not playing, things that a child needs at that age, he’s devaluing, and so he will continue.
    He is delighted his behaviour is having the affect it is, especially as he has duped the therapist.
    It’s a minefield for you, the only way to be safe is no contact for you and the children.
    Inform yourself about exactly what he is. And what you are all about.
    I have been reading about the mothers that leave their psychos and then the psycho targets the children, gaining full custody, and so transferring his abuse to that child, always ensuring access is difficult if not impossible, eventually the child becomes zombified from the abuse and ‘says’ they don’t want to see the mother.
    The damage these characters cause, supported by individuals within the court system is immeasurable in terms of the hurt and misery they cause to us humans, because they care less.
    The best advice I received by a barrister ‘ set the agenda’
    I was always reacting to him, wondering what his next move was gonna be. After hearing those words, I took the initiative, of course there were always adverse consequences from him but I dealt with them.
    And I’m not finished yet with him, still in the courts but only for material assets. I have the children safe away from him.
    Know what you need D and go for it, good luck xxx

    1. Depressedempath

      Such excellent advise Nearlybel!
      In regards to therapists….some are not so informed about psychos…..
      The first one I went to for depression (before I realised that my partner was a psycho) tried to “train” me not to react to the psychos insults. He agreed with my psycho that I was over reacting to the degrading insults and was teaching me to recognise when I was going to explode and stop it! Lol. Great for my self esteem..not! Lol
      So I found a psychologist who specialised in trauma and abuse, she was great and knew all about psychos. Poisoned parrots she called them, lol
      Hang in there D

      1. Admin

        Wow, what kind of mental health expert would try to train you to deal with degrading insults? Didn’t he see your reaction wasn’t the problem — the problems were the insults and the person making them? Scary that a supposedly qualified therapist would imply such abuse was acceptable, and your reaction to it was unacceptable. But I’m not surprised. Too many of them seem unbelievably ignorant and do more harm than good. You were lucky you found a good one. It’s good advice to find one who specializes in trauma and abuse.

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