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Recovering from trauma — 27 Comments

  1. Joyce, SPOT-ON!!!!!!! I always believed that I was a “strong” and resilient person – that I could handle ANYthing that came along. Well, that just wasn’t true.

    Without strong counseling therapy and in-depth discussion with others who have had similar experiences, I would surely have lost my mind, given up (entirely), and likely ended my own life, either by my own hand, or by proxy.

    I’ve typed it numerous times, but healing from a sociopathic entanglement is unlike ANY other trauma that a person can be faced with. We’re simply not prepared or equipped to deal with it – whether it’s a family member who is a convicted criminal, or surviving domestic violence and abuse, trauma is something that can create severe issues.

    VERY good article!!!

  2. Truthy, I don’t think it is just recovering from a run in with a psychopath that is the problem, but any SEVERE trauma is going to give you the same problem with healing. It’s like a paper cut versus a broken leg. The paper cut heals more quickly than the broken leg.

    Dealing with people who lack conscience, who like a moral compass, who cannot feel remorse, all the while blaming ourselves for not being able to fix them…well…yea, it takes a long time and lots of work to fix the problem and heal ourselves.

  3. Truthy,
    Amen! to everything you wrote. I agree that the spath trauma has a very unique impact that is nothing like anything else.

    It’s like being attacked and beaten but without any scars or evidence. So you can’t even prove it happened. You know it happened, but the covert nature of it and the way the spath turns it around to make the victim seem guilty, the way the shame gets slimed on the innocent — it’s mind boggling.

  4. I too had that fantasy Truthy that I was “strong and resilient” and most people perceived me that way…but I wasn’t as bullet proof as I thought I was. There’s evidence now that being dissociative is somewhat at least genetic and boy am I able to dissociate with the best of them. So that may have contributed to my dissociative state most of my life.Without being able to ignore evidence in front of my eyes and hold two conflicting ideas at the same time I could not have survived at all….not the way I did, enduring trauma over and over.

    Just as “abused wives” stay with their abusers and are bonded to them, I stayed with my abusive relatives and didn’t really even seriously TRY to get away, though there were episodes of push-pull and even NC, but I never believed even when I was NC that it would be “forever” but now that I am NC and know that it IS forever, that I WANT it to be forever, I actually don’t even miss them or the “closeness” I felt for them. Time and DISTANCE alone are the two things that are absolutely BASIC to healing.

  5. I always had it in my mind that I should be able to survive anything. That’s not the case for anyone. When you experience deep trauma, you are wounded, feeling the pain within. By talking about these wounded places, we can get better. For me, I feel like I have been beaten, unfairly so, throughout life, experiencing abuse from different people along the way. This morning my daughter, K., walked up to me and just hugged me for a while, then, she said, “I love you mom.” It’s the loving, caring people in our lives who remind us that we are valuable, that we are loved (despite how past abusers may have treated us). My other two children, my sons T and J., will occasionally say, out-of-the-blue, “I love you mom.” Their words comfort me, treasuring their words, realizing that I’m doing something right. So far, my kids are not disordered, just being very nice, caring, lovely people. May they stay this way.

    • Bluejay, I’m so glad that you have positive experiences with your kids – it’s comforting, at the very least.

      One of the interesting things that I have learned on this trauma-recovery-journey is how childhood dysfunction/trauma literally sculpts a human being into either a victim or perpetrator. From our personal beliefs about the world around us (and, those we have of ourselves), to the very language that we use in reference to ourselves and the world around us, it’s all formed by those deep traumas.

      You typed, “Their words comfort me, treasuring their words, realizing that I’m doing something right….” Where our survival and recovery goes, there’s no “right” or seriously “wrong,” especially when we are examining the ways that we tried to raise our children. We did the very best that we were given to work with – and, that’s it. We’re not responsible if they do, or don’t, develop into disordered people, once they’ve reached adulthood.

      There’s a phenomenal trauma guru with a website http://www.brenebrown.com that most trauma specialists are aware of, and many use her techniques of affirmation and validation in their therapy concepts. My counselor is one of those who is familiar with the concepts, and, so far, they are proving to be a positive assist in my own recovery and healing processes.

      We’ve “known” each other for quite some time, online, Bluejay – it’s okay, and it gets better, every day. HUGS!!!

      • The one objection I have for this site is that it is ONE person attempting through the sale of her techniques via books to “certify” others.

        Do you guys remember the “legal advocates” that were “certified” to stand by people going through court/custody/ etc and to facilitate your progress through this process, FOR A VERY LARGE FEE OF COURSE…after hearing about this “advocate” group and reading various things written about them by one of the “certified” people who was herself offering to “certify” others I checked on the “certification” process and it was a complete SHAM! A CON and nothing else.

        I am not sure about this woman’s process, but it seems more a “guru” type thing than a truly professional “certification”

        I am not in favor of following “gurus” as a general rule, be they the pastor of some huge mega-church or like the guy with the sweat lodges who killed several of his followers by dehydration and heat stroke….following ONE person can lead to things like “James Town” and that “prophet” who is in jail in Texas for “marrying” 70 + preteens as part of his religious experience.

        That doesn’t mean though that some people don’t have great ideas for healing, but I think we need to keep in mind that we should have a WIDE range of learning from different people and never “follow” one person as a “guru” If that makes any sense at all.

        While I have bought many books from various people such as Gavin DeBecker (the Gift of Fear) and Patrick Carnes (several books) and Dr. Robert Hare, I don’t take any ONE person as having all the answers. I don’t have a problem with someone writing books and making money off them, but too many web sites are ONLY about making money….”Dr.” Sam Vaknin, a self admitted psychopath/narcissist is a perfect example of someone who developed a “following” on the internet and made a pretty good living off his books.

        I’ve also seen blogs and websites that started out to “help” people who have been traumatized by psychopaths and others, and over time they became about SELLING their books and programs, and the owners seemed to think that they were “gurus”

        I do like the fact that this woman does not enroll the general public in her “certification” courses, which I think is very good. The people who are “Life coaches” are essentially therapists without a license and I highly advise people to steer clear of these people.

        • Joyce, I completely understand any reservations that you (or, anyone else) might have about any “healer,” especially after our own experiences with those who have touted themselves as “experts,” but were untrained and unlicensed to practice.

          Brene Brown’s approach is pretty much limited to survivors of trauma and rewiring the thinking processes of survivors via neuroplasticity. For me, personally, I lived a lifetime of negative beliefs about MYSELF, what I was, and what I was worthy of. Even down to language that I used in description of the most benign and mundane thing, it was negative and deprecating. SO….what Brene Brown does is to alter that line of thinking via deep trauma work (processing the traumas) and replacing those experiences with positive affirmations.

          For those who were raised within traumatic dysfunction, we either end up being groomed as “perfect victims,” or “perfect perpetrators.” There’s no in-between, and anyone who was raised in that environment and claims to be “just fine” and able to manage Life, in general, is probably in denial. The negativity that is so deeply ingrained in childhood actually develops into a quasi-automatic presumption of truth. I was told, over and over, that I was never (yes, NEVER) going to amount to anything good, and I altered my behaviors, beliefs, and choices to reflect that expectation. Well……….what a burden for any child to carry, right?

          So, although Brene Brown is making a very good living off of her approach, it’s solid and sound (IMHO). And, I used to wonder HOW anyone could charge money for being a counseling therapist, but I “get it,” now. There are some jobs in life that require tremendous education and ongoing updates and practice, and counseling therapy is in a constant state of flux and fine-tuning. It will never be a “perfect” profession, but it’s one that deserves solid income. LOL!!!

          And, as “they” say in any 12-Step support program, “…take what you want, and leave the rest….” I’m all about that. 😉

          • To clarify about survivors of childhood traumas………it is my own personal belief that we cannot become emotionally healthy unless (and, UNTIL) we process those experiences.

            As a result of my childhood experiences, I spent a lifetime of making fear-based choices, and I could never have sorted out the “whys” and “hows” of pulling myself out of that stinking, slimy cesspool of trauma.

        • Truthy,
          I absolutely love Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability. She is a therapist and a researcher who specializes in shame and vulnerability, which go hand in hand. There are very few people who are wiling and able to explore those subjects because they are too close to the heart of humanity.

          I also like the way she does research. Like Rene Girard, she uses stories, AKA qualitative research, in addition to quantitative research.

          Yes, there are many “gurus” out there who seem like they have great wisdom and then it turns out that they have no heart. That’s almost the definition of a psychopath (or the devil). But the way you can differentiate the good from the bad, is by observing them for humility. It’s not easy, my ex-psychopath did try to wear a mask of humility and he did it very well, but he never showed his VULNERABILITIES. That was key. Brene Brown does show her vulnerabilities and humility as part of her teachings.

  6. Thanks for that link, Truthy, I will go check it out.

    Blue, I’m so glad that you are able to find such comfort in the “little” things in life (that are really BIG things) such as a kid hugging you or saying “I love you Mom” because in fact I think those are the things that make our lives worthwhile. The affirmations that we are loved and appreciated. Sometimes though, there are people who don’t have any of those affirmations or love from others, who have been totally deprived of caring individuals. I am acquainted with a woman whose entire family has turned their backs on her after she spent 16 years taking care of her infirmed parents. she has no children or spouse, she’s spent her entire adult life taking care of others who are now passed away. The worst part of it is that she realizes that she was abused as a child and that her parents didn’t care for her either.

    My own list of “friends” is very small, because many of those I considered “friends” even of long standing, were not “friends” in any sense of the word but parasites, and that includes many of my blood family. It hurts to “lose” those feelings that these people were real and to accept that they were false. But I find comfort in the teachings of the Bible and the fact that even among the 12 apostles, Jesus was betrayed to his death by one, and denied by another, even after all the had seen and heard. Fortunately Peter repented and spent the rest of his life affirming the teachings of Jesus and paid for it with his own life.

    Comparing the true friends and true love with the false shows us that those REAL feelings are precious beyond price.

    The mother of a friend of my sons divorced her abusive psychopathic husband 4 years ago and she has grown and realizes just what she escaped. She has 8 lovely children, most of whom are grown now and realize just what their father is and h ave NC with him. the 2 younger ones are forced by the court, but I think even they are seeing what Dad is all about.

    The above lady, like you, was ashamed that the community knew what a POS her ex was, but she has finally realized that SHE bears NO shame for what he is and if others try to place it on her back or her kids, she lets it flow off like water off a duck’s back…as of no importance. She recently posted on FB (which kind of surprised me) that “I”m now 4 years FREE of ABUSE and RAPE in my home”

    I remember when she could hardly hold her head up for the “shame” she felt at her husband’s actions.

    We’ve all come a long way and it is very heartening to us all when we see one of our “sisters” or “brothers” climb out of the abyss of pain and despair and soar into a life of freedom and peace. It never happens “over night” but takes time and work to accomplish. With support we can do it much easier I think.

    The pain of “losing” a son or daughter is the same for us all when a child we bore and loved becomes an abuser. Milo felt it, Truthy has and many others…having an abusive spouse is also painful and the “loss” of the dreams we had for the marriage painful, but we have a choice to turn our faces to the wall and remain victims, to become bitter, or to become victors and to overcome the past and make a new future for ourselves and the rest of our families who are not abusers.

  7. Truthy,. I agree that anyone in the healing profession deserves an income from that…I derived my income for decades from being a “healer” (in many different roles within the healing professions)

    Even Sam Vaknin’s blogs when I first discovered them were beneficial to me because they got me thinking and studying the psychopath and how that applied to my life….as well as the childhood traumas as well. I didn’t have it as bad as many children that’s for sure, but I did have emotional and some physical abuse, and the lack of nurturing from some members of the family who were responsible for nurturing me as I grew.

    So I wasn’t criticizing EVERYTHING she proposed, not at all, but like you said, we have both seen and known of “healers” who offered unlicensed and untrained advice FOR A PRICE…

    Even Dr. Patrick Carnes who has written so well about trauma, sexual trauma, etc. is associated with a “high end” mental health program that charges HUGE fees for “treatment”—-I was somewhat disappointed that he was associated with that group. In fact, that kid who got off on the drunken driving murderous hit and run whose attorney used his parents’ AFFLUENCE as an EXCUSE for the kid’s bad behavior went there instead of to jail where I think he belonged.. BTW his father was just arrested too for some bad behavior. LOL That apple did not fall far from that tree I suspect. To me personally, the affluence or poverty of anyone does not exempt them from the consequences of their behavior. Even those who were abused as children don’t get a skate from me for their behaviors.

    But you are totally right I think that we must examine ourselves I think it was Socrates who said “the unexamined life is not worth living.” and I totally agree with that. If we don’t examine ourselves and make corrections where needed, we fail to grow and mature and eventually achieve some sort of wisdom in our actions.

    Personally, I wish I had examined my life at a much earlier age, and maybe I would have avoided much of the pain I have experienced as a result of RE-acting rather than ACTING.

    Of course there are many things in this life we have no control over, and much of it is our DNA which effects not only how we look, how smart we are, but into what situation we are born and it is, it seems at least, a “carp shoot” I look around at the news in the world right now and I see so many people who are in horrible straits because of when and where they were born. They don’t have the advantage of “examining” their lives and making them better because they don’t have food security, or housing, or education, and many of the things we are usually able to take for granted in this country.

    The apostle Paul gave some good advice though, when he told the early Christians to ACCEPT what they could not change, even if it meant that they were born or sold into slavery and there was no way for them to change that. He advised them to be CONTENT with what they couldn’t change. I think that is something that we all should do is to accept what we cannot change and live the best we can in those conditions that are not in our power to change or fix.

    Dr. Viktor Frankl examined his life and the lives of others while he was in a Nazi prison camp under starvation and torture as a daily happening. Frankl observed that there were three main types of action taken by his fellow captives. Some turned their faces to the wall and voluntarily gave up their lives in despair and died. Some became abusers themselves, or bitter, feeling like the world owed them something because they had been in the prison camps, and others FOUND MEANING in the things that they had been through, and grew from this experience, as horrible as it was.

    I think we have those same three choices, and I do NOT want to give up, turn my face to the wall and die in depression, and I sure don’t want to be bitter because of what happened to me, so that only leaves one thing, and that is to find meaning in what I have suffered personally (through the fault of others or through my own fault) and learn from this, find meaning in my life, validate myself and live by the three precepts that I think give meaning to life….GRATITUDE for what I have, ACCEPTANCE of what is, and an ALTRUISTIC spirit, giving back to others where I can.

    I don’t know if you saw 20/20 last night, but they were talking with a woman who does research on people over 90 years old to find out medically and psychologically why these people have lived longer than the average person. They tested these people in every way possible, and then at the end of the lives of these people they had followed for years, they autopsied the brains to see how these people were different or alike others. It was an interesting study, but most of these people, though some had suffered in WWII prison camps, etc., had active, interesting lives with mental stimulation etc. It was an interesting research and a program but I think the thing I saw the most in those that they interviewed was MEANING in their lives even at such an advanced age. So maybe those people who got lucky in the DNA department also added years and meaning to their lives by their attitudes.

    • Joyce, the topic of this excellent article is recovery from the trauma, and it IS possible – I’ve learned that it’s a possibility, personally. But, it is only possible (IMHO) if (and, only IF) the individual is willing to do the work to set their feet upon their own, personal path of recovery and healing. Recovery doesn’t “just happen” spontaneously. Sure, time passes, and some of the bitterness, hurt, etc., might dissipate, but “processing” might be more of a challenge than we’re up to meeting, on our own.

      One of the gals who’s involved in our group therapy keeps reading certain writings and beliefs that are suggesting (to her, at least) that she needs to FORGIVE a man who left her for some trophy wife after 35 years, and she is so focused on this perceived obligation/requirement that she is currently unable to move forward on her personal path of recovery, much less closer to healing.

      THEN, there’s the gal that I know, personally, that has experienced the family dysfunction of alcoholism and ended up with three toxic partners……..she constantly reads her religious/spiritual teachings and has actually said, “God will give me the answers,” and has (to this date) spun her wheels in the muck and will likely never experience that indescribable freedom from the trauma, the abuse, the neglect, the fear, etc……..because she wants someone else to wave their magic wand and make it all “BE GONE!” Well………recovery just doesn’t happen like that.

      Recovering from any type of trauma doesn’t “just happen.” It doesn’t. Recovery is a process that requires personal participation. It’s just the same as if someone sustained a compound fracture. The doctors and surgeons can do everything within their skill to put the injury back together and prevent infection. BUT, the patient is the one that has to stand up on that atrophied limb, work those muscles, and get their mobility back for themselves. It requires WORK……..it requires commitment, and it requires courage and strength, as well.

      Some techniques are appropriate at different times. For me, I’m at a point where I’m trading positive personal affirmations for the extremely negative and self-defeating false beliefs that I learned, as a child. I’m unworthy – not good enough – not going to amount to anything worthwhile – a failure – unruly – unappreciative – etc. I am not those things, and I never HAD to live up to them. I just never knew that this was an option, until now.

      So………it’s a long journey, but it can be begun at ANY point in our lives. I’m grateful, today, that the second marriage collapsed because I would still be the doormat and codependent had I not experienced that dreadful series of events.

    • Joyce,
      Your words: Acceptance, Gratitude and Altruism, were exactly what I needed reminding of today. I’ve been helping someone who has recently suffered abuse from a severely disordered psychopath. As I’ve had the opportunity to observe them, it seems to me that that this victim also suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. There is a tendency to solve problems by lying, and to live in a fantasy world where the stories and alliances change. I’ve been wondering what this person could do to help themselves become more grounded. Practicing acceptance and gratitude is what I’ve been advising them, but I forgot about altruism. Altruism is something that is done physically. This is important, IMO, because physical acts are something concrete, they can be observed. They are evidence of a reality in which we feel abundance and wealth. Maybe this is why Jesus said, “If a man takes your cloak, give them your tunic as well.”

      This idea is similar to what I read in the book, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. Just as we justify hurtful acts, we also justify our altruism. The more good we do, the more we believe that we should do good.

      Thanks for the reminder, Joyce.

      • Sky, yeah……….the three endeavors are vital to personal recovery, IMHO. But, I have been the sort that literally USED “altruism” as a means to avoid. If I were “helping” or “giving” to someone else, I didn’t have to “help” or “give” to myself. It felt more comfortable to help and give to others and DENY helping myself, or giving to myself as per my personal family dysfunctions. I wasn’t worthy or deserving of “help” or “receiving” anything from anyone.

        So, for me (strictly personal and in my recovery processes, ONLY), I have learned that any efforts that I make to enact true altruism must be entirely free of motive. For instance, if I worked overtime and went above/beyond my job descriptions, I would make myself valuable and cause my position to be SAFE and SECURE. This is what I honestly believed – seriously. And, as I’ve covered a few steps on this path of recovery, I’ve come to understand how and why my behaviors were the way that they were, and what I need to do in order to protect my precious vulnerabilities and myself from harming myself by going about business-as-usual-in-my-previous-life. I am completely different than I was a year ago, and it’s not a long, long way, but the difference is noticeable, now.

        Helping someone is a form of altruism, but it ceases being altruistic when we FEED whatever disorder the person-in-need has by attempting to pull them out of their situations. I have a dear friend that exhibited NPD traits, and I was letting her pull me into her drama/trauma with regard to her own situation and personal experiences. I allowed this because I hadn’t yet learned how to render support and encouragement WITHOUT taking on someone else’s tragedies as my own. I’ve finally turned the corner on this, and it has been helpful to me in ways that I cannot even describe, BUT……..it has been helpful to her in that she is beginning to take her very own steps under her own power to get her feet onto her personal path of recovery.

        “Acceptance, Gratitude, and Altruism,” must (again, IMHO) occur in exactly that order. Without “acceptance,” we are literally unable to recognize anything for which we should be grateful. Without “gratitude,” we cannot recognize that our vulnerabilities are priceless, beautiful qualities and NOT weaknesses so that we can “give” without danger of being used, abused, or set up for a con. Without “altruism,” the previous have no genuine meaning. ANYONE can give to others………money, sex, attention, assistance, etc……..but, without having learned personal lessons, the giving becomes a rote act that makes ME feel better and that feeling isn’t based upon growth or healing.

        Very important consideration, here. Absolutely, thank you for the reminder of all of these things.

      • Sky, I want to make this very clear because “online interactions” lack vocal inflections or any visible emotional feedback – they’re typically just “words” on a screen and I know that I can OFTEN misinterpret the intent or meaning because of the lack of human interaction. I have one question that is not meant to come across as harsh or ridiculing – it’s simply a question to ponder. When you have been in your deepest, darkest moments (in the past, and recently), how did the person that you’re referring to help you in any way? What I mean is: did that person contact you to check on your well-being? Did that person support you in your own efforts to survive and exit your very, very dangerous relationship?

        It’s something to ponder – there were a great many people that “helped” me when the exspath left, but it was superficial help. There was always an offer of money, which I truly needed at that time, but refused to accept – what I needed was emotional support and encouragement, and I received NONE of that. What I got was, “You need to just get over this.”

        So, that’s the reason that I ask that question. Please, don’t take it as criticism or anything negative – it’s just something to ponder.

        • I don’t have an “edit” option, so I’ll just add it to the post, above, but there’s no need to respond to the question that I posed, above. It’s just something to consider and contemplate.

  8. I have worked quite a bit, finally having two days off. Relief. Plenty to do at my house, though (housework). Truthy, I will check out the “guru” that you mentioned, her website. Thanks for your words, good counsel. I want to use my days off to do things that are productive, that make me happy. Hugs to all of you.

    • Bluejay, I find Brene Brown’s approaches to be very sensible with individuals recovering from long-term trauma. That’s her area of expertise – trauma and recovery/healing FROM trauma.

      In my individual counseling and group sessions, the approach of personal positive affirmations has made a visible difference in the ways that I have been thinking throughout my entire life, and how the other group participants views and perceptions of themselves have been able to alter horribly ingrained beliefs into perceptions that are based upon FACTS and observations, rather than someone else’s demeaning, abusive treatment of them. Skeery because it’s out of the zone of familiarity. Kind of breathtaking because it’s like falling off of a cliff or bridge attached to a bungee cord while eating a delicious ice cream cone.


  9. Truthy your comment has so many good points I will try to mention them all. Your “friend” who has the problem with “forgiving” may be like I was, MISUNDERSTANDING the definiton of “forgiveness” it does NOT mean you give them a pass for their behavior or have a “squishy” feeling for them, to me it means you GET THE BITTERNESS OUT OF YOUR HEART== FOR YOUR SAKE, NOT THEIRS. It does NOT rectify the relationship or make you “friends” (or lovers) again. Truthy you are soooo right when you talk about us having to do our OWN THERAPY WORK and all the best therapists in the world won’t be able to DO it for us, only help guide us.

    Skylar, you talking about the person who was victimized by a “bad arse” psychopath being narcissistic herself is interesting, and what I have realized for quite some time. Many times the psychopath will hook up with a serious narcissistic person or another psychopath and the “loser” when the battle is over may be “down and out:” but they are still TOXIC themselves and are looking for someone else to RESCUE THEM. They may actually BE in a pitiful, financially broken state after the fight to the “death” with the psychopath who was stronger than them and more cunning and malignant, but this is where our wisdom must come in and WE MUST DISTINGUISH BETWEEN A “REAL” VICTIM and one that is simply a beaten down narcissistic or psychopathic PSEUDO-VICTIM.

    I know that we have all been BEATEN DOWN, financially broken or ruined, mentally traumatized, fearful and upset, and the PSEUDO-VICTIM may also be in that shape, and if we did not know the P-victim BEFORE they were traumatized we might not realize what they are, a faux victim who wants someone else to rescue them. Fix their life for them.

    Truthy’s point above that we have to do the work ourselves to recover, to learn from past mistakes etc and become independent functioning people is very important, AND DIFFICULT. Because WE have been “down and out” we DO feel ALTRUISTIC toward these people…but then as we start to try to “help” them we realize that they are standing on the side lines letting US do all the work to put their lives back on track….like we are their servants or personal assistants.

    If you knew the person BEFORE they were victimized, and they were narcissistic or ungrateful then, you can bet your bippy as we used to say in the 1960s that as soon as life is good again for him or her that they will chunk you to the side as quickly as they can, you will have served their purpose.

    I had that very situation with my oldest biological son, he isn’t a Psychopath, but he is not grateful for what help he has received from me to help him recover from the traumas in life and as soon as he no longer “needs” me he is off and running into his next adventure in life (which usually turns out badly and then he comes back to mama LOL) NO longer.

    I’ve also had people I have tried to “help” who were styling themselves as victims of psychopaths and yet, it soon became apparent that they didn’t want help, they wanted a HAND OUT and were unwilling to lift their hands to DO anything for themselves. Once I realized this, I informed them I wasn’t able to continue taking care of them and that they needed to move on to the next stage of their lives by helping themselves somewhere ELSE besides here. It took me MANY tries to get this lesson and quit trying to “save” people who presented themselves as “victims”

    I still will HELP someone but that is a big difference between HELP and SAVE…as a therapist told me once about being a rescuer “the ONLY legitimate RESCUE is where you drag an UNCONSCIOUS person from a burning house” I have to keep that in mind and if they are not UNconscious, they need to at least TRY to walk some themselves.

    • Joyce, spot-the-hayell-ON……………if they weren’t “like that” before their trauma event, then the perception of NPD is just that: a misperception. When I was down at the bottom of the cesspool of despair, I DID behave in a narcissistic fashion. Not so much lying, or the other things, but I wanted (I’m screaming this: WANTED) someone to not only rescue me, but to feel sorry for what I had experienced. I wanted PITY. But, that’s not what I needed, by any stretch of the imagination.

      When people who were NOT previously displaying NPD behaviors suddenly appear to be narcissistic after experiencing trauma, it is a “normal” human response to tragedy or trauma. BUT……..when that person begins sorting it out and working on their OWN recovery under their OWN steam, then they fall back into non-toxic behaviors. This is just a simple behavioral fact.

      When people presented NPD behaviors BEFORE the tragedy or trauma occurred, then they are STILL toxic, on every level. Just because “Life Happened” to them doesn’t give them a f*cking Hall Pass for deceptive and manipulative behaviors!

    • Joyce,
      I understand the concept of the “faux victim”. Yes, this person was selfish and NPD before the spath came in to their life BUT they became much worse afterwards. And Yes, they do have remorse but NO, they won’t confess and they are making up stories so that they don’t have to.

      On the other hand, it is narcissism that the spath loves to eat for breakfast. Spaths look for OUR narcissism in order to victimize us and there are very few people who don’t have some narcissistic tendencies. So this is a case of “judge not lest ye be judged”, yet it is also a case of keeping my eyes open.

      This person is working very hard to recover. They are in shock. IMO, this is an opportunity for them to grow. I’m just wondering how much growth is possible and how much is DNA which keeps them in NPD mode. I feel that as long as they continue to tell stories and make excuses, it will be very difficult to make progress. Shame often makes confession very difficult, so I tried to explain humility to them, but I’m not sure they get it.

      • Sky, I completely understand the desire to believe that someone who has presented prior “bad behaviors” is actually “trying” to better themselves, but I learned the very hard way that those types of people might appear to have remorse and be working on their own issues, but they really aren’t.

        Sure, any catastrophe that happens is going to put anyone into shock, even someone who is wholly toxic. For the toxic, it’s not (NOT) an opportunity for personal growth, but an opportunity to generate an even more pitiable story for themselves that will excuse and explain their bad behaviors. They are what they are, and nothing is going to alter that but them, on their own. Any “help” that they accept is soon twisted to their own use, no matter how much of a sacrifice someone else has made to facilitate that help, assistance, or support.

        I type about this with firm conviction in relation to my experiences with literally dozens of toxic and disordered individuals that I have known throughout my lifetime. They do not change. They…………..do…………not………….change. They never see any opportunity to grow because they don’t believe that they are in any need of personal growth. They don’t care about personal growth because they care about nothing other than themselves, their own “grief,” their own conditions, and their own traumas. Period.

        There’s no other way to negotiate or bargain a better set of facts. Very sad and frustrating, but it’s very true.

        • To clarify the “opportunity” for the toxic to change, I’ll offer this true example that clearly demonstrates that “These Types Of People” never, change.

          ***True story and any use of CAPS is strictly for emphasis, only***

          The second exspath’s sister married a very abusive man. He was verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually, and financially abusive, and I witnessed many of these abuses, first-hand. He was also abusive to their children – he adopted HER children by HER previous spouse, which further legally bound her to him in addition to the binding contract of marriage. I witnessed his abuses and I couldn’t stand being around any of them.

          The abusive brother-in-law developed a tumor in his jaw and underwent complicated surgery and recovery. He had a brush with Death, to be sure, and everyone that was remotely associated with the family looked forward to his transformation towards being a “good” person after having such a close call.

          Well, that never happened. The abusive b-i-l didn’t view his successful surgery and recovery as an opportunity to re-examine his life’s choices and alter his behaviors to reflect his gratitude for being spared. Oh, no. Oh……………no, he surely did NOT.

          What this man viewed his recovery as was having had BEATEN DEATH, ITSELF. He became even MORE abusive and MORE intolerable the further away he got from his surgical experience. He…….like every other toxic individual…..NEVER cared whether or not his behaviors were harmful, deceitful, or any type of betrayal. He didn’t care. And, his “opportunity” at being spared to seek personal enlightenment never was realized because that brush with Death was just another indication that he was IMPERVIOUS to mortal injury, consequences, etc. It gave him a springboard into even greater abuses and that’s the way it was.

          That’s the way it IS with people who are that toxic. People who lie, cheat, steal, betray, and deceive will never, ever, EVER view ANYTHING as an opportunity to change their behaviors. Not ever. They are what they are. Period.

      • Sky, Narcissism itself is a symptom of psychopathy, the self centered mode and the absolute failure to apologize in a MEANINGFUL WAY…and the PITY PLOY of being a “helpless victim” of this (much worse) psychopath and then waiting for the rescue are all SYMPTOMS of psychopathic personality disorder. They may not be as HIGH as the one who messed them over, but they are still high in P traits, and getting them to understand HUMILITY of all things is a lost cause I am afraid. Their narcissism makes them unconcerned with the opinions of others because they already “KNOW: that they are superior to others.

        I can use the example of my own oldest biological son as an example. when he was “needy” (either from being beaten down by a psychopathic friend or himself and his poor choices or when his now ex wife tried to kill him) I was a “prophet” and a “savior” but then when things were going well for him again, I was not worth the truth and he lied (again) to my face. That was enough….and so I finally realized though he is not a “full on” psychopath, he is not someone I can trust or who truly appreciates my “help” (rescuing) and that no matter what crack he gets himself into from here on in, I will not make any attempt to “help” except maybe I would drive him to the salvation army homeless shelter rather than making him walk 40 miles.

        I have heard you describe the rampant narcissism of this person in years past, and yes, probably living with the psychopathic husband DID make it “worse” but you CAN’T MAKE A SILK PURSE OUT OF A SOW’S EAR, and YOU CAN’T CHANGE A TIGER’S STRIPES…I sincerely think this person is using you with a big PITY PLOY and because you love them and they are blood, that you are in deep deep DEEP cog/dis about this person hoping to save them from themselves.But at the same time, I realize what a good person you are, and how big your heart is and how you want so badly to help this person after they too have been run over the hot coals by the psychopath and left emotionally bleeding and financially devastated by the psychopath. It would be DIFFICULT for anyone to not have PITY on such a person who is left in debt, broke and homeless by a psychopath…but, time will tell how much appreciation this person is able to muster, or how much they are willing to DO to help themselves. Time ALWAYS does show the P-traits up in their behaviors, sometimes it takes a WHILE but it always surfaces clearly. God bless.

  10. Truthy and Joyce,
    I certainly appreciate everything I’ve learned from both of you regarding the faux victim. And I still have more to learn IMO. But responding to each bullet point would be overwhelming to me right now. What I’d really love to do is to write an article about it.

    What I will say is that this person was selfish but not evil before the spath. They never hurt people. I like to joke by saying that this was because they were so selfish that they couldn’t be bothered to waste their time hurting others. LOL! In other words, hurting others does nothing for them. But then the spath came along and they decided to play that game in order to please him.

    Because I’m overly generous, almost pathologically so, it’s hard for me to judge what “normal” selfishness is. Maybe she is more normal than I am in that regard.

    This is an opportunity to see how different victims react after the discard. I’ve met many victims who end up being envious and evil but it’s hard for me to judge why, since I didn’t know them BEFORE the discard. With this victim, I have the opportunity to see what is cause and effect. Also, I do see genuine remorse. There is a lot of denial going on, and I can see that it is the result of shame — it’s simply very difficult to admit to ourselves that we’ve done some horrible things and that we had evil thoughts.

    I’ve been working on helping this person see that they are vulnerable but not flawed. I want them to know that there is nothing wrong with being human and being taken in by the devil. The truth is, it was because of my ex-spath that they ended up in this situation so I do have an interest in excising this cancerous tumor from my family.

  11. Skylar I fully understand your wish to exorcise this evil influence from your family, to restore a familial bond if possible.

    My own experience with this, in dealing with people who are dysfunctional within my family (if not psychopathic) with people who are so selfish they don’t even realize they are hurting you, it isn’t on purpose just collateral damage. It has been my unfortunate experience that when they no longer need you, when their lives are “back on course” they drop you like a hot potato, only to resurface when they get themselves in another fix…either by hooking up with another psychopath, or through their own lack of foresight.

    My eldest bio son is the perfect example of this. I had, unfortunately, began to trust him and think he had CHANGED but alas, it was back to basics. Because I had begun to trust him, though, when he betrayed me yet again, I was crushed. I GAVE my trust, so all I can advise you i s to go ahead and do your best to help her, but do not give her your trust at this point in time. My son was “trustworthy” for almost 18 months before the lies started again, but I will be VERY cautious with ANY one in the future that has a history of bad behavior, narcissism, etc. Good luck and God bless.

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