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Bi-Polar Disorder — 41 Comments

  1. Joyce, my mother was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the last year and 1/2 of her life, which explained her alcoholism AND her subsequent behaviors after she stopped drinking. Interestingly, my mother had conscience, empathy, and remorse for her decisions, but she was never able to shed herself of her own issues even though she engaged in years of counseling. My brother (her bio offspring) exhibits the same patterns of risky behaviors and uncontrollable drinking – if it weren’t alcohol, it would be something else. And, my brother has no ability to feel empathy. The words, “I love you,” never escaped his mouth, even towards his own offspring – he does not, and cannot, “feel” love for whatever reason.

    Bipolar disorder, as far as I understand it, is typically NOT the only issue present. It is my unprofessional and layman’s understanding that the majority of bipolar patients aren’t simply “bipolar,” and that’s it. I know someone who was diagnosed bipolar, was medicated, and was as abusive and manipulative as ANY OTHER human predator. This man not only stole prescribed medications from his girlfriend, but he also stole money from his girlfriend’s son without permission or knowledge AND he asked for prescribed medications from his g/f’s friends and neighbors insisting that they not “tell her” about it. Bipolar + borderline + NPD = bad, bad, bad man.

    The exspath once asked me, “Do you think I’m bipolar?” This was before I discovered what he was, but I could see him setting up an armchair diagnosis to EXCUSE his behaviors and choices. I answered, “I’m not qualified to make an assessment. What do YOU think? You know what the symptoms are…..” I wasn’t going to feed that monkey, EVER.

    And, yes, your final paragraph sums up what I’ve noticed about predatory people, bipolar or NOT: “If you suspect that someone you love is experiencing episodes of mania and/or depression, early treatment is much more beneficial than when they have already broken the law. Unfortunately, too, many people with bi-polar are resistant to treatment, and it is suspected even like the “manic” stage in which they feel that they can accomplish anything, no matter how hair-brained the scheme which might easily land them in jail or prison.”

    Every spath that has ever crossed my path met the criteria for bipolar disorder, and yet they didn’t have one micro gram of empathy, remorse, or conscience for the choices that they made. They ALL engaged in illegal activities, from stealing prescribed medications to forging checks. They just didn’t have the ability to feel anything other than righteous about their choices and decisions, no matter HOW hair-brained or illegal they were!

    Good topic, Joyce – one that demands thorough consideration when choosing friends, allies, or partners is concerned. For me, bipolar is an absolute deal-breaker.

  2. The man my son sent to kill me was professionally diagnosed as Bi-polar, ADHD and Antisocial personality disordered, he was also a substance abuser as well. He was heartless and had no empathy and displayed “duping delight” in his illegal activities.

    I have known some people who were bi-polar and not diagnosed and recognized until they ended up being hospitalized during a manic episode. With treatment some of these people were successfully managed and lead healthy and productive lives.

    I have frequently seen people who were ADHD also Bi-polar.

    Empathy, according to Dr. Simon Baron-cohen is like IQ, you can measure it in groups on a “bell curve” with a few people at the two ends, ones with little or no empathy, and a few with too much, and the most of us somewhere in the middle. Bi-polar ALONE does’nt take away someone’s empathy, or lack of empathy doesn’t CAUSE bi-polar, but they can go together in the same person.

    Your mother being an alcoholic AND bi-polar doesn’t surprise me at all, many people with depression “self medicate” with alcohol. During manic episodes however, depending on how severe (again there are different LEVELS of mania from just a little (hypo-mania) to full out psychosis where they do not know up from down, or right from wrong, or actually hear voices or hallucinate.

    In inmates, there is a higher level of people with bi-polar than in the general population, just as there is also a higher level of antisocial/psychopathic in the inmate population.

    Substance abuse (alcohol is a “substance”) is common in inmates and in people with bi-polar or psychopathy. Since alcohol is a disinhibitor of judgment, people who already h ave problems and drink or drug are much more likely to do things that land them in serious prison sentences. And are less likely to comply with a treatment plan, or to have limited access to medical or psychological treatment when released.

    As for bi-polar being a “deal breaker”–it isn’t totally one for me with people who comply with treatment and live a healthy life, and I know some, but in general, you are right, it is something that raises a red flag for me to not give undue trust to that person until I observe their behavior, but that’s a good thing anyway…not giving away our trust, but having people earn that trust, bi-polar or not. A person with a diagnosis of bi-polar who is not receiving treatment, NOW THAT’S A DEAL BREAKER.

      • Joyce, the reason that it’s a “deal-breaker” for me is that I was raised in that environment and the likelihood of a bipolar person adhering to the treatment and healthy lifestyle is very, very slim.

        And, the blog works WONDERFULLY, now!!! I can finally reply to specific posts! 😀 YAY!!!!!

  3. Were you experiencing problems with the blog? If you ever do, please notify me so I can get my IT guy to work on them. We’ve been having some problems with the blog…it won’t let ME post! LOL and the edit button seems to be the thing causing the big problem so until my IT person can figure out what wordpress changed if you want to edit a post, you’ll have to get in touch with me and I’ll have to make the changes for you. Sorry about all that.

    I’m lost on the “information path” where it comes to electronics, etc. and without my IT person I would not be here with a blog.

    • Anytime there’s ever a “problem,” I just figure it’s the site server making changes and NOT informing blog owners about the problems. LOLOLOL One of the weird aspects of technology, right? 😉

  4. In the future though, if you have ANY problems at all, please let us know ASAP. We’re trying to narrow it down…and the problems are intermittent which makes it even harder to pin down what is doing it.

  5. Since we had been discussing bi-polar disorder, I thought I would bring this article back up. On a professional and personal level I have dealt with people with this disorder. some people who take medication, and therapy, function VERY well with this, and others are in chronic drama-ramas, and live chaotic lives with many marriages and relationship failures. Some have difficulty holding a job or going to school.

    I do feel great compassion for individuals with ANY mental health disorders or symptoms, but I am no longer willing to take on these people as “projects” or allow them to disrupt MY PEACE…it is sort of like an alcoholic, it is genetic, BUT still that does not give them a “pass” to drink and/or behave badly. Bi polar IS treatable but the person must be VERY willing and DETERMINED to adhere to a program of treatment and behavior modification. It is not easy I know, but just like diabetes can be usually controlled with life style modifications, and medication so can bi-polar. And I know that there are SOME cases of it that control is almost impossible even with the best of care and compliance. But for those people who disrupt my life with their mental health issues that they are not willing to even try to control, I don’t need them in my life. I can’t fix them and I refuse to tolerate them.

    That may sound harsh but you know, I have learned through experience that there are some people I don’t need in my life. Not only psychopaths but others who for what EVER reason cause chaos.

    • Joyce, you wrote, “I do feel great compassion for individuals with ANY mental health disorders or symptoms, but I am no longer willing to take on these people as “projects” or allow them to disrupt MY PEACE…,” and, “But for those people who disrupt my life with their mental health issues that they are not willing to even try to control, I don’t need them in my life. I can’t fix them and I refuse to tolerate them.”

      It “may” sound harsh to someone who hasn’t experienced an involvement with a psychopath or very, very toxic individual – how that can be, I don’t know, but there are those people out there who are literally clueless about human predators. It’s only ***harsh*** to the uninitiated.

      I am ALL for keeping toxic people out of my life. I have no problem with it, anymore. In my previous life, all nutbags and psychopaths were welcome because I believed that I was responsible for “helping” them. That belief was based upon false assertions and expectations, and I try to be diligent and vigilant about maintaining my boundaries and NOT taking anything personally when I choose the option to walk away.

    • The two statements that Zen pointed out reminds me of another one.

      “Just because it is YOUR emergency, doesn’t necessarily make it MINE or my priority.”

      Attitude is everything. If someone is trying to do better by themselves and others, I’m willing to step in and help out as best I can. But if they expect everything to be done for them while they whine, cry and throw the victim card? Sorry babe. You’re on your own. I’m out.

  6. Back when I worked in mental health or in physical medicine, we had to learn to treat patients, no matter how difficult it was, but at the same time, we had to keep a “professional distance” and sometimes that is not an easy thing to do and we would become attached to a patient and end up in the bathroom sobbing when things went “south” for the patient. But I always said if I spent ALL my time at work sobbing in the bathroom over a patient, OR spent NONE of my time in the bathroom sobbing over a patient, I would quit nursing.

    I still remember with fondness several patients that I became attached to over the years, I guess sort of like a teacher might become attached to a student,or might sob in the bathroom of a school over a student she couldn’t help…

    Applying this to our LIVES outside work is also important I believe. The people who used/abused me, some of them I had memorable GOOD times with, and I can now remember those good times without allowing the BAD times and the anger about the betrayal of those folks make me sad-mad etc.

    Sure it really hurts when someone we LOVE betrays us, the more we love them, the more and the longer it hurts, but as we become more healthy in our thinking, we are able to overcome that kind of hurt and betrayal more easily than in the past when the betrayals squashed us to the dirt like a stepped-on-bug.

    • Joyce, that’s a terrific example to relate to this issue. I think that I’ve learned how to govern my empathy a little better. It used to be that I would burst into tears ALL of the time for the injuries and hurts of the world, or I would feel outrage on BEHALF of someone else who had been taken advantage of. Craziness, eh?

      I thoroughly agree that it is dreadfully painful when we’re betrayed by a loved one. It does, indeed, take longer to recover from that kind of betrayal. Each experience is one that I can learn something from, I have discovered. Even though it might be painful or uncomfortable, there’s something that I can apply to myself and my boundaries.

  7. Phoenix, your last 2 posts didn’t go to the blog, I had to “approve” them first which is probably due to who ever is trying to hack the blog lately…I agree that if someone is TRYING to help themselves I will be more tolerant, but at the same time, HOW MICH I will tolerate is pretty limited. I realize mental illness also has different LEVELS of dysfunction and that some people have a “light” case of X, but at the same time, if even that, and if even them taking their medication, becomes TOO disruptive of MY “circus” then like you said, NOT MY MONKEY, NOT MY CIRCUS, AND NOT MY EMERGENCY. And completely, NOT MINE TO FIX.

    • Joyce, I’m pretty much in that same frame of mind, these days.

      In my previous life, I would try to ***fix*** things for anyone who was in trouble. And, I mean ANYONE. Even at work, I would try to be everyone’s helper and fixer. Not anymore.

      I listen much, much more than I ever have, before. I listen, watch, observe and listen and watch and observe some more. I know that the “love bomb” is something that I am very susceptible to, as well, and I have to be very, very cautious when my hackles go up. Again, my previous life sort of shut down my gut – my gut would tell me, “Pay attention! There’s something amiss, here!” and I would actively choose to ignore this warning. I would feel “guilty” for NOT taking action on behalf of another person who may (or, may not) have been in trouble! Not anymore. And, I say each syllable with gusto – NOT…………….ANY…………….MORE.

      I’m not “mean” or “unfeeling” if I don’t try to rescue or fix someone else’s issues. I’m not. It doesn’t make me a “bad person,” either. Some of the WORST people are the ones who exploit the pity and empathy of others to suit their own needs. That’s where the watching, waiting, observing, and doing it all over again, and again, until I’m satisfied, one way or the other.

      “Not mine to fix,” is what you typed, Joyce, and I have to say that I will borrow that phrase for future reference. I have my own issues to “fix” or, at least, work on. I can’t “fix” anyone else’s issues and there’s no passage in the “Book Of Life” that obligates me to.

  8. No worries on the approval process. I totally understand.

    I also undertand about keeping a healthy distance, not getting too close, but then also not being a careless, unfeeling hack who’s just going thru the motions. It is a balance. Sometimes things get a little out of balance and we fall down. It’s part of life and part of being human. We learn, we catch ourselves when we wobble or we fall down, pick ouselves up and try again.

  9. Phoenix, it isn’t at all being an “unfeeling hack” it is simply deciding what you will and will NOT tolerate in the way of SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEMS and drama. I know some folks who have adopted a VERY disabled child (in fact these people are my cousins) they adopted this child knowing he had severe fetal alcohol syndrome and would probably require a life time of care…special schools, etc. but they KNEW THAT GOING IN and they also had the financial resources to pay for whatever that kid and now young man needs. I admire them for that very much. But at the same time, I do not look down on folks who want to adopt a child that is “whole” either. It doesn’t mean that the people who want a “whole” child are unfeeling, i t is just that (for whatever reason-emotional or financial) they are not able to cope with a severely disabled child. It doesn’t mean that the second set of would be parents are not “okay” Adopting any child today is risky in terms of getting a child that is EMOTIONALLY whole. Back before they realized that DNA plays a big role in our behaviors and mental illnesses they notice that more adopted children were behaviorally problematic, but didn’t realize that it is DNA coming out.

    Unfortunately, most kids that are given up for adoption are not from emotionally healthy parents. Back in the days when I fostered children, some of whom I kept in contact with into adulthood I saw this. Sometimes 2 brothers taken from their family by the courts, one would turn out OK and the other would be a criminal. So DNA is NOT destiny, but it does play a big part in what we become.

    I have a great deal of empathy for people who have inherited chaotic mental health issues, and also for those with personality disorders, many end up in prison and/or homeless and that’s a great shame.But at the same time, I realize I can NOT fix all the ills of the world, and I can not tolerate the chaos that goes with associating closely with those so cursed by nature and environment that they are emotionally and/or physically dangerous to others.

    I just read in the local newspaper that a son of some friends of mine is back in court with theft, drug, and gun charges. He’s been in and out of prison since he was a teenager. It makes me sad, sad for him, and sad for his parents who hold on to the malignant hope that he will “reform” and blame the drugs he uses as the problem. Drugs are the SYMPTOM –not the problem. They can’t fix him because he doesn’t want to be fixed any more than my son Patrick wants to be fixed. Yet he keeps his parents on an emotional string trying to “help” him when he has no intention of being helped.

    Several kids that grew up in the neighborhood that I have known their entire lives have turned out criminal, and kids that grew up with my own sons, and you know it is a shame that they turned out like they did, but the combination of DNA and environment doomed them to be what they are and I can’t fix them, and I’m not going to waste my own life trying to.

    • The comment about being a careless, unfeeling hack, may have been misunderstood. It happens a lot on the internet. What I was refering to was your previous comment above ^^^

      “But I always said if I spent ALL my time at work sobbing in the bathroom over a patient, OR spent NONE of my time in the bathroom sobbing over a patient, I would quit nursing.”

      If you spent NONE of your time in the bathroom sobbing over a patient, this would be what I meant about the “careless unfeeling hack, just going thru the motions” If you had gotten to this point in nursing, yes, I agee it would be time to call it in and walk away. You would be doing your patients a disservice, ‘caring’ for them, without truly Caring for them. Peoplewho hav eached this point, to me, are dangerous. They are so jaded, that they don’t care. They show up, do the job, collect a check and bail out for the weekend.

      As I said before, it’s a balance. How to be caring and sympathetic, but also not a bawling, blubbering idiot… Yet at the same time, not be snubbing everyone and not caring at all, cold, unfeeling and a jerk to the public.

  10. Phoenix, you are right, a BALANCE is what we need in caring/compassion and self preservation. The job Ii got so “close” to patients (because we would have them 6 months to a year in the rehab hospital for head injury and spinal cord injury) I knew I had to keep that balance and keep a professional level of caring, and I did spend some time in the bathroom crying when a young patient would end up going to a nursing home, or other poor outcomes.

    And another time when I was working in a psych hospital for adolescents, most of which were not “mentally ill” but in fact were extreme bi-polars, borderlines, and psychopaths, kids for the most part that needed to be in JAIL not in a hospital. Because a hospital is not really equipped to handle these kids, and one night I almost got stabbed by one of them, and I decided right there that I needed to get a job where the patients were not trying to kill me (that was not the ONLY incident where a patient attacked me, but that one was when I was alone without any other staff to help me. (Also, about that time another nurse was KILLED by a psychotic patient in another hospital in Little Rock) so after the attempted stabbing incident I decided that self preservation trumped staying in that job. Fortunately, as a nurse I never had any problem finding another job within a couple of days.

    The job with the adolescents in the psych unit did help me in many ways, though. First I realized that I was not the ONLY parent devastated by the behavior of their offspring. Up untiil that time (patrick was in prison for his first aggriivated robbery charge) I had felt so ALONE and like I was the ONLY person in the world with a criminal or violent child.

    I also learned a lot about the personality disorders, how to spot them etc. What I did NOT learn though was to apply what I saw to my own life and my own interactions with Patrick. I realized then that he was personality disordered, but I still thought I could “fix” him.

    I applied the BALANCE to my professional life, but not to my personal one. So, I was OUT OF BALANCE in my LIFE. So what I am trying to do these last eight years since I became aware of what Patrick REALLY is and that I can’t “fix” it, is to FIX MYSELF and get my own life in a balance between compassion and self preservation. I don’t want to be so empathetic that I give all to others and keep nothing for myself, but at the same time I don’t want to be so devoid of empathy that I can’t have compassion for anyone else, even those people that I don’t want in my life. I can have compassion for them without allowing them to destroy me.

    Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen who wrote a wonderful book on EMPATHY, and who has done his life’s work in Autism research and on empathy, taught me that we CAN control the amount of empathy that we experience. Of course a psychopath has little or no empathy, and a severely autistic person has little or none, but the difference between them is that the autistic person is not TRYING to hurt others whereas the psychopath gets off on hurting others, manipulating them etc.

    Every day that we drive by a homeless person and observe the state they are in, we don’t stop and give them our car and the keys to our house and our bank book, yet we may feel empathy for this person’s state.

    The same thing goes with a person who is dysfunctional because of mental illness or personality disorder…we can feel empathy for them without giving them everything we own including ourselves. We can feel empathy for the problems they have and yet protect ourselves from their dysfunction.

    It doesn’t take me very far in my own neighborhood to observe parents with criminal children who have allowed (as I did for so many years) that now-adult child to rule their lives and disrupt their family. Parents who continually hope that “Junior” will quit stealing and drugging and hurting others. Sometimes those parents who are deeply religious think that “God can do miracles” and “heal” anyone, but they don’t seem to understand that the person must WANT to reform, to see a BENEFIT in reforming before God or anyone else can “heal” them from their dysfunction.

    Having myself fallen into that dysfunction of trying to “fix” a psychopathic offspring for so many years, I can have GREAT empathy for these parents and family members, because I was THERE myself. But I thank God every day that I finally saw the light and realized the problem in my own life was MY OWN BEHAVIOR, my own thinking, my own dysfunction, and have come to grips with it. Accepting that was I admit very PAINFUL to me, but by reining in my own thinking I have preserved my own life, when it was impossible to save someone else.

  11. That makes sense about controlling how much empathy we feel for others. I don’t hate the spath, but in reality I think what he is, what he has done and how his family supports/enables him-> It’s just sad.

    Any way you slice it, it’s just sad that at 50+ years of age, he hasn’t stepped up to take charge of anything in his life. He can’t support himself, can’t manage his own affairs (other than the sexual ones) and is therefore still a dependent of his parents.

    It’s sad that they feel the need to support him, coddle him and will continue to throw money at the problem until the day they die, declare bankruptcy or both. They won’t allow him to fall, to face the consequences of his actions and to pay for the mistakes he’s made. By not allowing him to fail, they have themselves, failed him.

    It’s clear that there was an issue with him early on. One he seems to boast about often. His parents recognized it, but put band-aid on it to cover it up. Out of sight, out of mind. With 2 previously failed marriages, alcoholism, depression and a mentality where everyone else is to blame… surely they see something going on there.

    But like a lot of parents do, they are hoping to fix him. Hoping to silence everything and keep their own status within the community intact. They’re ‘good people’. How could they possibly have a son like that??? They’re in denial. Have been and probably will be for a long time. Judging from his parents behavior in all of this? Well the apple didn’t fall far from the tree…

    • Phoenix, the “good people” who enable parasitic adult children may likely have some deep, dark family issues, themselves. Otherwise, they would be emotionally healthy enough and confident enough to say to their adult son, “Look, grow up and deal with it,” without any fear.

      When I’ve taken the time to sit back and truly observe interactions, I work like a fiend to keep objective because the Me in my previous life was hyper-empathetic to the point where it was a disabling pathology. I made other people’s issues into my own and I did this with the misconception that I could somehow “change” things for them. For THEM, first, but never for myself. This was the result of the family dysfunction and ongoing traumas.

      With both exspaths, they came from abusive environments. The first exspath’s father was horribly violent and it seemed that he had been a very troubled child, himself. So, what Victor could remember about his childhood was that his father was a war hero that “deserved respect,” simply because he was a war hero. His mother, on the other hand, was viewed as a cowering and hysterical bitch. Well, she was cowering because she’d been beaten, but Victor never considered this.

      With Chuckie, the females in his family were abusive, manipulative, and 100% in control of making everyone else feel insignificant, unworthy, and quite literally unloved. This, in objective retrospect, explains a great deal about his interest in extreme b-ondage and s-exual torture as most psychologists agree that this interest is rooted in mother-issues. The father was publicly humiliated for everything from his medical conditions (the prescribed meds caused drowsiness) to his interest in model railroading – that man could do NOTHING right. And, it was painful to watch this behavior. This was another lesson that I learned about relationships and that is: OBSERVE THE FAMILY before EVER getting engaged or marrying. I didn’t do this with either exspath, and it’s a very, very important factor in whether I might be entering into a very disordered situation or an emotionally healthy one.

      So, what the exspath that was involved in your life came from might be something completely different that what was presented. Pretense is a HUGE factor in enabling. The pretense that everything is “normal” or “okay” while the addict or criminal digs themselves deeper, and deeper, and deeper is quite common. Bailing the criminals out, time and time, again, involves a huge amount of misinformation and pretense. Just something to consider when his parents appear to be “good people.”

      • VeryZen- I truly believe the parents are as disordered as the spath. Hence the apple not falling far from the tree. Sure they put on a good show, now trying to save face and all of that… but the writing is on the wall. They might **WANT** everyone to think they are ‘good people’ but we don’t always get what we want, do we?

        I have seen in black and white, where his parents have blatantly, flat out LIED, trying to ‘cover up’ what he’s done. I see where he gets it from, lying when the truth would better serve you. There’s other things I have seen, heard and otherwise noted, that makes me wonder what else was going on in his childhood. What kind of parents he really had then compared to how they are now?

        I wondered, but not for long, because at this point…. I don’t much care. I no longer have to be around them, spend the holidays with them or ‘answer to them’ for anything. They’re ‘dead’ to me.

        • Phoenix, you know you brought up an excellent point, once we DISCONNECT from these people (any disordered person) no matter how much we DID love them, there comes a point of INDIFFERENCE to them.

          Hate is not the opposite of love, INDIFFERENCE is the opposite of love because we truly care nothing about what happens to them. We don’t gloat over their troubles or feel sorry for them, or any other emotion, they ARE just “dead” to us and we have finished the grieving process for what we THOUGHT we had with them.

          It is true though that at the TIME of the discovery of the betrayal we are devastated and hurt, but over time and WITH WORK and learning, we can truly become INDIFFERENT TO THEM.

  12. Zen, that “pretense” in the family perfectly describes my own family…keep the dirt under the rug and pretend it isn’t there. However, if you have a pile of dog doo in the middle of the living room, and instead of cleaning it up, you put something over it to cover it up, it STILL stinks, and if the dog keeps on carping in the floor and you keep covering it up and pretending it isn’t there, the stink becomes unbearable for some folks and they clean it up, but others just keep on denying the stink and above all HOPING THAT NO ONE ELSE SMELLS IT.

    Look at that Duggar family covering up that their son was a molester, and they had help from the law and others to keep it covered up for YEARS…but the dog didn’t change and kept on pooping until eventually the cause of the “stink” couldn’t be denied any more. Then after “repenting” and pretending to change, he got caught in that sting where the “extramarital sex” site got hacked and he was exposed again. And AGAIN his family, and now his wife, are pretending he has “reformed”

    We all make choices to do things that are not aboveboard, knowing they are wrong. I don’t know a single person who has never done anything that they knew was wrong. But to repeatedly do something that is morally or legally “wrong” shows that we have little or no “moral compass.”

    Making a poor CHOICE is not a “MISTAKE” it is a choice to do something…whatever that something is. I hear people say “Oh, he made a mistake and robbed a bank (or whatever bad choice he has made) NO! He made a CHOICE to rob a bank, not a mistake. A mistake is something we do that causes a problem but we did not CHOOSE to do it. Adding 2+2 and getting 5 is a MISTAKE and that mistake may cause us to bounce a check because our bank balance wasn’t what we thought it was, but writing a check KNOWING it is not going to be covered because we closed the account is a CHOICE not a mistake.

    Accepting that fact about choices versus mistakes helps me to see the actions of others in an entirely different light than I did in the past. We all make choices and sometimes those choices impact others for good or not…but we have to decide about our choices, and the consequences to ourselves and to others…are they honorable choices? Are the consequences reasonable for us and for the others.

    We have a responsibility to take care of our children…so if we CHOOSE to do something that is detrimental to those children, we are NOT living up to our responsibility. We may love an elderly or disabled person who is no longer independent, and wish we could quit our job and take care of them, but sometimes the only choice that we CAN make is to put them in a nursing home, but we don’t have to abandon them there.

    Sometimes it is like “Sophie’s Choice” and no matter what we choose to do we may fail in our responsibility to one person because we accomplish our responsibility to another.

    But life is made up of CHOICEs every day…starting with “get up or stay in bed”…LOL so we just have to point our moral compass in the direction of association or withdrawal from one individual or another, and set reasonable boundaries and stick to them. I wish I had known this decades ago. But it is never too late to learn and change if we WANT to learn and change. We are unable to change anyone else,, but we can change ourselves and make our lives more peaceful and fulfilling.

    • Joyce, it’s so odd that I could clearly see the ultra-disorders and dysfunctions in everyone else AND their family structures, but I did not connect the proverbial dots within my OWN behaviors. And, it’s not as if I ***couldn’t*** connect the dots – it was that I ***wouldn’t.***

      I simply WON’T abide pretenses, anymore. No, not all of Life’s Options are pleasant or happily-ever-after. Absolutely, most of our options deal with challenging choices – painful choices. Do we keep the family homestead and keep pouring money into the property to replace windows, upgrade the well system, and so forth? Or, do we put the property on the market and let someone else deal with the headache of rehabilitating the property? On the one hand, it’s where we may have been raised and spent our entire lives. On the other hand, we don’t have the +100K in finances to just get the place up to code. So……….what to do? Take out a loan, or call it a day?

      Life can be peaceful, fulfilling, and balanced with lots of work and practice. It can. It doesn’t mean that we’ll NEVER experience spaths, again, or that every decision we make is going to be the “right” one. But, what it does, indeed, mean is that we can make choices (good, bad, neutral) and not jump down the rabbit hole over any of the outcomes.

      What a different world it is, these days.

  13. Yea, Zen, the differences between IN sight and OUT sight are very interesting, I’ve had that problem myself for a long time, but I am finally developing some IN sight, but it has been a long and painful learning curve.

  14. This is where I may differ from others. The part about being devastated by the betrayal? Yeah, Not so much! roflmao

    Because of everything that has happened, I just don’t let myself get that close to people, at least not quickly. I may care deeply for them, but when I see things starting to turn south, I start to back off. I watch as it either rights itself or gets worse.

    If it gets worse? Well by the time everything falls apart- I’m only an observer at that point and don’t so much care. I am waaaay off in the distance already. This applied to the spath and his family as well. I have learned to spot the “baiting game” when they spout off in hopes I will engage in the fight. I used to, but it’s pointless and I learned to walk away. I don’t have to deal with them and they can’t hurt me anymore.

    And when so many others have mentioned the kids and I being hurt, angry, confused, embarrassed and a host of feelings others ***may*** have felt, we really don’t have much of this going on. The kids don’t really know what he did and certainly aren’t embarrassed by it. I’m not either because it’s all on him. It’s what he’s done and his cross to bear.

    I’m a visual person and dealing with this, I came up with something that painted a very real picture of what was happening. I had thought about all of the hurtful things the spath has said and done over the years. I viewed each comment, each snide remark, every backhanded compliment as a stone. Some of the stones were big, some small, depending on how much hurt they caused, but they were each stones he had cast in my direction. What do you do with all of those stones??? They were laying everywhere around me and made quite the mess.

    I put them to use and built a wall between us. Not around myself, not around my heart, just between us, the spath and I. The more insults he threw, the taller, wider and longer the wall became.

    One day I realized something. Not once did he ever try to take down the wall, build a door in it, climb over it or go around it. He never apologized or offered any way to make things right between us. Instead he just kept throwing stones and adding to the wall.

    The wall was pretty high and it’s tough to love someone you can no longer ‘see’ on the other side of it. When it came time for me to leave, he was still casting stones. But there was nobody on the other side for I was already gone.

  15. Phoenix, I totally GET what you are saying…I was devastated but like you, there is a WALL built of the stones thrown at me.

    When we love someone if they throw a stone at us it hurts, but eventually we are no longer surprised, but back out of “range” of their stones.

    If I am in a store and a total stranger comes up to me and says something “nasty” to me, calls me names etc. I may be surprised but I am not emotionally “hurt” because I don’t care what this stranger thinks about me. His opinion is of NO consequence to me.

    Sort of like that woman who “went off on me” about how I handled the “dog” thing at one of our living history events. Her husband is a close friend, but I hardly know the woman as she generally doesn’t come to our events. Her opinion of how I handled the situation is of NO CONSEQUENCE to me, I don’t care whether she likes me or not so her remarks didn’t “hurt” me, the stones she threw didn’t hit anything but my ear drums and because of that there was no emotional pain. The ONLY thing I regretted about her was that her husband was I am sure embarrassed by her rage at me. But after she left he told me, “You did the right thing” If HE had gone off on me it would have hurt, but not her.

    So I am CAREFUL of how I choose my friends now, much more so. I pick folks that are loyal, trustworthy, etc.and if it turns out that I have trusted someone who isn’t trustworthy, I’m like you, I back away.

    I dont’ want to live my life as an emotional hermit, unable to love or trust anyone, but I am prepared to back away if the situation shows up that I’ve been wrong in my assessment of someone. Also, I try to look at the WHOLE person…looking back on my BFF that I finally went NC from, I saw that I had almost ignored, or glossed over REPEATED outbursts from her, repeated INSULTS….and the decision to go NC was not as painful as many others though I had loved this woman like a sister. Her last comment to me was “That’s what BFFs are for, we hurt each other then we make up” and my reply to her was “NO that is NOT what BFFs are for, we don’t repeatedly hurt each other” So I wasn’t devastated by her behavior as I would have been if it was the FIRST time she had “thrown a rock” at me. I remembered the other rocks and I picked them up and INSTANTLY built the wall.

    In days of “old” I would have picked up the rocks that she threw and bashed myself over the head with them. LOL I don’t feel bitter against this woman, I realize she is playing the role her family assigned her and her abusive husband assigns her, I feel compassion (but not pity) for her because I realize she will spend her life in a painful drama, She is trauma bonded to the husband as well as financially dependent upon him. She isn’t even going to pull against her chains much less break them.

  16. Back in the day, I would have picked up the stones and returned fire. Someone wanted a fight? I was more than happy to return the effort. Anymore I move out of the line of fire and wait it out.

    I can analyze it later for myself and decide if I need to apologize for anything, if this person is now on my ‘watch list’ or if this person is plain toxic and needs to be written off altogether.

    • What an interesting discussion – the disconnect from the disordered is truly one of the most liberating experiences I’ve ever had. And, this disconnect went through the entire family, not just poor, meek Chuck! LMAO!!!!!! The whole stinking family was (and, remains) wholly dysfunctional and disconnecting from each one of them is like escaping a prison camp.

      And, I would also be firing back – at one point in my previous life, the NEED to have the final word had become a behavioral pathology for me, quite literally. I could NOT just walk away and let go.

      Once I learned how my childhood scuplted these behavioral issues for me, I realized that I didn’t have to continue moving in that same skin. I had the option of rewiring my beliefs, my perceptions, and my own responses, and I took that option more seriously than I’d ever taken anything else, in my life. I could never understand how other people could just walk away from situations and not “finish” them, as I was compelled to do. Then, I learned why I was like that.

      Changing all of these things is an ongoing challenge, and I learn something EVERY day about my own behaviors. And, it was my own behaviors (reactions, interactions, etc.) that made me appear to be SUCH an easy and gullible target for the worst kinds of people. NO more! 🙂

  17. I can relate to both of your positions…the picking up the stones and firing back, as well because as ENABLER I used multiple “positions”–victim (beating myself on the head with the stones someone else threw) or picking them up and throwing them back (persecutor) and I can really relate to Zen’s comment about having to get the last word in in a fight (persecutor)

    And while it is “natural” to want to be vindicated when we have been accused of something or had our honor slighted, and to want people to respect us, you know, Phoenix’s “back up and observe” is a good thing.

    I have donkeys (asses) and horses both. If you scare or upset a horse it will charge off in “all directions” maybe running through a fence or hurting itself. But if you scare an Ass it will run maybe a short way, but then it will STOP, and ASSESS the situation and decide: 1) does it need to run and if so, what direction? 2) does it need to fight or 3) is there no real danger at all.

    And you know, those donkeys aren’t going to allow something to hurt them if they can prevent it, and they are not going to engage in a losing fight, or run off blindly scared like a horse might. They will stand and FIGHT if they must, and if some predator comes along and won’t leave then they will fight it, and I’ve seen photos of donkeys killing cougars and coyotes which is one reason that I like having them as they protect my other livestock.

    So I’m going to try to always be an A.S.S. (assertive survivor of sociopathy)

  18. Zen & Joyce, I can relate to trying to have the last word. Many times it was just explaining myself one more time so they would ‘get it’. They weren’t listening and didn’t care, but I was dead set on making them understand, proving MY point and validating my actions.

    Once I realized it was wasted time, effort and breath to do so, because they didn’t care, things changed. MY position in the argument went from being engaged and enraged, to more passive and indifferent. If I explained things once or maybe twice and they pushed me for a third? Tuff luck. I didn’t stutter and I didn’t whisper. If you didn’t hear me or listen to me, not my problem. Figure it out yourself. I’m done

    • JOYCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am absolutely an A.S.S., as well! What an excellent analogy!!!

      I’ve been really working on altering the “last word” issue, personally. And, I’m delving into this with as much focus as I can because, as you wrote, it’s the idea of being “vindicated” that sparks the “last word,” but it’s the CORE of needing validation that sort of feeds that idea. As per my childhood dysfunctions, validation simply never existed – not on any level. If my feelings were hurt, then it was, “S-uck it up, buttercup!” If I was afraid, “There’s nothing to be afraid of!” There was everything to be afraid of because I was alone, hungry, dirty, frightened, and terrorized because of my mother’s alcoholism.

      Phoenix……….absolutely, they do not care. And, this was a concept that I had a very difficult time accepting. If I cared, then so must someone that was important to me, be it a supervisor, coworker, family member, friend, or spouse. Once I was able to accept the fact that some people simply don’t care, having the “last word” and that desperate need for validation was sort of relieved – there would be no closure with some people, and I had to provide my own validation and move along.

  19. Zen, finding the confidence in ourselves and VINDICATING ourselves is a difficult thing for many of us, not just you and me. Of course a psychopath wants the last word, but so do we. Until, that is, that we can learn that having the last word doesn’t vindicate us, but we can VINDICATE ourselves.

    Looking back a few weeks at the woman who went off on me about how I handled the “dog” situation and the man whose dog it was, I VINDICATED MYSELF. I did the right thing under the circumstances, and I know I did because I prevented a bigger situation that could have caused massive damage to both dogs and maybe the man who had the dog running loose.

    I don’t think that man had any “evil intentions” but he didn’t care that we were asking him to restrain the dog. I don’t think he cared much for the dog or the problems it could have caused. I’m not sure WHY he didn’t care, but it doesn’t matter. I handled it. And what anyone else thought about the way I handled it was NOT IMPORTANT. The woman’s rant did not pierce my ear drums and go to my heart.

    In the past if someone accused me of something “wrong” I was mortified and humiliated, though I may nor may not have “shown” it….in fact I got pretty good about cloaking these feelings of shame and/or anxiety. I learned that “faking it” at my mother’s knee.

    It’s funny though, my son Michael can “read my mind” and he knows when I am upset and faking it even if I put it “over” on others. I have to laugh about that but it is simply that he knows me so well.

    • Joyce, the pretense can only go so far, particularly because my anxiety levels were SO off the hook that I would give mySELF away! LOL

      But, it’s what I learned to do: pretend. I don’t do that as much anymore. I’m still working on speaking plainly – not hurtfully or with malice, but speaking PLAINLY and honestly. It’s quite a challenge after working up such in-depth pretenses for nearly my entire life. I try to work on it, every day, because I’m having more and more opportunities, every day, to practice plain speaking.

  20. Zen, we must to some extent have “manners” and know when and where and how to speak up for ourselves. But having “manners” does not mean that we become DOOR MATS.

    I have finally learned that I don’t have to put up with people behaving badly at my house just because they are “guests” and I don’t do so. Several times in the past few years I’ve had “guests” (that are no longer guests) act out in my home and I asked them to STOP…some of them kept on, and I finally had to become PRETTY PLAIN that their behavior was not appropriate and that they could STOP immediately or LEAVE.

    It is very plain to me now that this is MY HOUSE, MY RULES and if you don’t like the rules you can find the door. My home is MY sanctuary and I do not tolerate bad behavior from anyone who comes here. Fortunately it has been a long time since that bad behavior has happened here. I’ve weeded out the bad actors completely so now only those people who are appropriate in their behavior come here. Which is fine with me.

    • Joyce, for me it has been learning the difference between “aggression” and “assertiveness.” I had heard the term, “assertive,” tossed around for years and years. I had also heard the term, “aggression,” tossed around. I truly did not understand the definition of EITHER of these terms, as it applied to me. Of course (snort), I could sort of observe these terms in reference to others, but I was utterly blind to their applications to me, myself.

      I think that “manners” are rooted in assertiveness. “This is this, and there’s no other discussion.” It’s not mean. It’s not aggressive. It’s not in-yo-face. It’s just simply a fact without malicious intent.

      And, this assertiveness can carry over to every aspect of my life. In dealing with others, my own reactions/responses, and even in my discussion with “God,” assertiveness can be POSITIVE.

      Bob is learning what assertiveness is – the BiPolar disorder is one of many things he has to deal with. The BiPolar is organic, but the other behaviors are likely 100% “learned.” The anxiety has to do with his feeling inadequate – well, I absolutely know where that came from! His abandonment issues……..got it – know where they’re rooted. Other issues have clear roots, while others may not. But, the one good thing is that Bob is willing to take control of his disorder and behaviors, as well as joke about them so that it doesn’t become an excuse, “Hey, I’m BiPolar, so I can’t help it.” He has made himself very clear in that he does NOT want to indulge in that. I love his joke, “I HATE being BiPolar! It’s wonderful!” LMAO

  21. Zen, Bi-polar is like many other inherited mental illnesses or personality disorders, it is on various degrees of severity. In addition to the level of severity, there is the thing about is the person willing to TREAT this problem and learn to function in spite of it?

    I know several folks who have pretty severe bi-polar and they are ACTIVE in treating it and for the most part do very well in life and function in high level and very responsible jobs. They are very self aware and recognize when the problem is starting to escalate and their medication needs to be upped or changed.

    Then there are those who deny they have the problem, or they actually ENJOY the manias which I have had described to me as being almost like a drug high. Also how rapidly the person “cycles” is another variable, and not only how rapidly the cycle is but how deep the depression and how high the manias. Sometimes with some people their mania will actually lead to “hearing voices” and psychotic breaks.

    Bi polar is quite difficult to diagnose, especially if the only time they seek treatment is when they are very depressed and giving a person with bi-polar ONLY antidepressants can actually lead them into a manic episode, at which time of course the person doesn’t see the need for treatment and will stop the antidepressant medication which will eventually let the cycle back into deep depression at which time they go back to the doctor. If this is a family physician who sees them ONLY when they are depressed they may not pick up on the manic episodes so the treatment failure will continue.

    Back when I was in family practice clinics, when a patient would come to me depressed, I would not put them on antidepressants unless they would go to therapy as well. That way if there was an aspect of bi-polar in it, the therapist could pick up on it and I could avoid that up and down cycling. Because of me working in inpatient psych facilities though, I had more psych experience than many physicians who are more focused on physical ailments and problems.

    I laughed at your son’s Joke! Yea, about some things all we can do is to look at it from an aspect of humor and that’s a good thing. We can’t get rid of the problem completely even with treatment or therapy, but we can accept it for what it is, treat it the best we can and learn to live with it. Good for him!!!

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