Cheaters and Impression Management

Dr. George Simon

In a podcast interview with psychologist Dr. George Simon, we talk with him about impression management. How cheaters and other character disordered people try to malign the people they harm and bend narratives.

Sarah and I talk with long-time blog friend, Dr. Simon, who I like to think of as the Godfather of Decoding Mindfuckery. You want to do some skein untangling? He’s your guy.

Look at behavior first.

When I first found his book, In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, it was revelatory. Here was a psychologist who wasn’t blaming me for my ex’s cheating. Nor was he going into deep, subterranean reasons why FWs were FWs. Did my ex feel toxic shame? No, argued Simon.  The good doctor looked at BEHAVIOR.

Narcissists (or “character disturbed” people, the term Simon prefers) are actually operating out of self interest and feelings of entitlement. What you see is what you get.

This idea, which now seems second nature, was quite radical at the time: I had a different operating system. I was looking at the world through my own moral lens. Moreover, because I was mistakenly thinking the jerk and I were on the same team, and that jerk had an insight problem (I’ll just explain again why this hurts me!), I was setting myself up for MORE PAIN. My ability to feel shame, to reflect on my behavior, to shoulder burdens, while useful in many ways, in this situation just set me up to be further manipulated.

You can’t manipulate someone without shame.

Think about it. You cannot easily manipulate someone who doesn’t feel shame. There are no levers. It only works on people who want to please you, or feel bonded to you, or who don’t want to hurt you.

Dr. Simon gave us the great saying: “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”

Of course they know they’re hurting you. They don’t care! They disagree that they should change their behavior.

Dr. Simon argues it’s not just chumps who struggle with this insight vs. behavior issue — shrinks have the same problem! Listen to the podcast to hear more on the therapy models that gave us the “I’m okay, you’re okay” nonsense of dual accountability in All Things.

We also take a call from listener “J” whose family have sided with her ex — a cheater who cheated on her with prostitutes, during high risk pregnancies. Can you imagine? If you have Switzerland friends in your life you probably can, but her own mother.

J, I’m sorry your mother has utterly failed you on this. Please consider CN your grizzly bear tribe. We would fight your ex off and crush him with our grizzly bear teeth should he be foolish enough to approach. God, what is WRONG with people?

Character. Some people lack it. Have a listen.

****

Oh, and in other podcast news — please check out the new Tell Me How You’re Mighty website. There’s all sorts of links to our guests, show notes, and the latest episodes uploaded weekly. You can subscribe to get every episode sent to your mailbox. And if you want to be extra wonderful, become a patron at Patreon — where you get the podcast early, ad-free, and you help me pay the sound engineer. Thanks!

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Orlando
Orlando
7 months ago

A friend told me how she was chumped “but I’m a therapist & should’ve know that he was up to fuckery!” I said, “you’re job literally is to untangle the skein with your clients & to hang in there with the clients”…so you were the perfect dupe for his fuckery! Apply that to other similar occupations & that’s one reason why so many of us hang in there & attempt to “untangle the skein”. I do thank Dr. Simon for his book, this blog & so many other resources that helped me shore up boundaries by separating the duties from my work life from my personal life. I look forward to listening to the podcast & I am a patron of this blog (a wee one but I do what I can).

Formerchumpnowbride
Formerchumpnowbride
7 months ago
Reply to  Orlando

It is human nature to think that somehow, if you were educated enough, smart enough, etc. you wouldn’t fall for this crap. Unfortunately, since they don’t play by the same rules as chumps, there really isn’t anyone who is immune. People were flabbergasted that I had been so very financially and emotionally abused over so many years, because to them, I was the epitome of strong woman. Yes, even strong women who seem to have it together can be chumped, and abused. The shame many of us feel as if we “should have seen this coming” or whatever crap, needs to be dumped. We should never be the ones ashamed. They should be ashamed for their lies and deceit.

There is no shame in trusting the person you love and think has your back. That is normal. That is how non-disordered people approach relationships.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago

Quote from Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd: “Bathsheba loved Troy in the way that only self-reliant women love when they abandon their self-reliance. When a strong woman recklessly throws away her strength she is worse than a weak woman who has never had any strength to throw away. One source of her inadequacy is the novelty of the occasion. She had never had practice in making the best of such a condition. Weakness is doubly weak by being new.”

Hardy died almost a century ago but seemed to have great affection for the plight of strong, independent women. Another issue that would have been too far before Hardy’s time is the extra dose of psychobabble bullshit that highly educated women are especially subjected to. Back when I was in college, my mother gave me a book by Gloria Steinem which included research arguing that women and minorities who start college immediately after high school are especially susceptible to depression because most of what they’re learning is taught from a perspective that negates their existences and experiences. In short, patriarchal bs is pretty depressing and misleading if you don’t happen to be in the same club as the sources. Apparently starting college a little later has better outcomes for women and minorities because they will likely have amassed enough life experience to see through the bull.

Amiisfree
Amiisfree
7 months ago

The therapist-as-hopium-smoker angle is so right-there, that it feels deeply surprising I never noticed it in that way before. What a great revelation. Wow. Kaboom.

Convenient, in that role, to view clientele as if all things are possible in all people. Makes space for taking money from everyone whether the sessions are fruitful or not, and for continuing ad nauseam when no true progress is being made.

Convenient, in fact, in so many power-balance scenarios. Especially those which are less regulated than others. The list goes on.

Thanks to y’all for that. This framing has just pulled another layer back from my chump onion. ❤️

Nut Cluster Free Zone
Nut Cluster Free Zone
7 months ago
Reply to  Amiisfree

Yup. The old “hold everybody in positive regard” nonsense. Some people need to be avoided like the plague.

NotAnymore
NotAnymore
7 months ago

I used to pride myself at “seeing the best in people,” and “not judging books by their cover.” I used to side-eye my girlfriends who dumped guys over some small perceived slight, they must have been “shallow” and unable to appreciate people who were multi-faceted…

Now I realize that those attitudes left me vulnerable to dangerous people. Those “shallow” girlfriends actually didn’t have “high-standards” – they simply understood that when people show you their true colors there is no need to hang around.

It’s still hard for me… I recently had a friend who revealed himself through his actions to be an awful person, but I still felt “mean” when I unfriended him and blocked his profiles. I was somehow more concerned about hurting a jerk’s feelings than protecting myself. I’m working on it.

loch
loch
7 months ago
Reply to  Amiisfree

Yes. A trusted therapist I used for some childhood trauma work was harmful to me when dealing with the personality disordered. She knew nothing of it. What a mind fuck.

Nemo
Nemo
7 months ago
Reply to  loch

Most therapists are kind, sincere people. They have to be specially trained to detect — to even be aware of the existence of — cruel liars.

Nemo
Nemo
7 months ago
Reply to  Nemo

I didn’t get that quite right. Most clients go into therapy voluntarily. Why spend time and money if you’re just gonna lie? A therapist with any experience should be wary of the court-ordered or spouse-ordered.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago
Reply to  Nemo

I agree. Recognizing the damage that can be done to an abused spouse should be the very first level of training for anyone who will be working with those in abuse ravaged marriages.

exofanaddict
exofanaddict
7 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

I tried 4 different therapists “trained in trauma” and none of them were helpful. I gave up
and found this blog and some podcasts that saved my sanity and possibly my life.

SortOfOverIt
SortOfOverIt
7 months ago
Reply to  exofanaddict

I’m glad you found some supports that worked for you. I do think that finding a good therapist could be like looking for a needle in a haystack and can see why a person would give up. I found mine quickly and they have been a huge help, but I feel like that was very lucky.

SortOfOverIt
SortOfOverIt
7 months ago
Reply to  loch

Yikes. I found a good therapist that is very aware of the personality disordered and they have been a huge help. But I recognize I was lucky to find them. I still think that finding CL was the bigger “get” for me though. I found CL first, and then very shortly after, I found the therapist. The combo has made all the difference.

I don’t think anything could ever replace the wisdom of CL combined with the shared experiences of fellow chumps. I saw a lot of people express their tanks yesterday for her birthday, and I just don’t know if it can be overstated how amazing her site is. It’s supportive, which everyone needs. But for me, it caused a nearly immediate change in perspective that was very needed.

Obviously, we are not all the same. But for me, and I see it with other chumps for sure, the early days just after DDay were so confusing. My head was just constantly spinning full of a bunch of thoughts that were not good or helpful. I was so upset that I could barely think straight and I couldn’t weed through what I needed to consider (like how to get out) vs what was just unhelpful noise.(like constantly thinking about how in the future he could be taking vacations with AP and my kid and I would have to just suck it up) And he was blaming me for the affair, and I was falling for that. As if having my life upended wasn’t bad enough, now I was kicking myself for causing it. God forgive me, but I definitely went to sleep many nights hoping I wouldn’t wake up the next day.

But then CL said “don’t untangle the skein”, “if it feels good, don’t do it” and “trust that they suck”. And those concepts took root quick, and then I read story after story of FWs and the depths they would go to, and how they all said and did the same damn things to my fellow chumps that I heard from my FW. And it just felt so much better to find a version of order and logic in the midst of this shit pile cyclone.

Something as simple as “but it must be my fault, why would he be so insistent that it is if he doesn’t believe that?” Cue in 50 other chumps who heard the same crap. Cue in the “muffin top that launched 1000 affairs” and “bagged salad” and suddenly it did make some sort of sense. I don’t give too many details here as I still worry he’ll find me on this site. But trust me when I say, my story is wacky. And yet, as wacky as my story is, there are at least 10 chumps I can think of off the top of my head with an even wackier story. The takeaway? There is no limit to the fuckery of a FW. And being able to truly believe that helps a lot in those early days. (or anytime that a chump is feeling unsure, really)

MightyWarrior
MightyWarrior
7 months ago
Reply to  SortOfOverIt

Just read this comment, SortOf, and it really resonates with me. I was paired with an amazing therapist who has helped me in so many ways. My FOO was very unstable (although to the outside world – except the neighbours who heard my parents’ violent fights – it looked good). I married a character and personality exactly like my very difficult mother. The same sulky facial expression and tone every single time they did not get precisely everything that they wanted. My life has revolved around people-pleasing in order to stay ‘safe’. I’m a litigation lawyer who avoids confrontation in my personal life until I get so furious that I explode (exactly like my dad). My therapist rightly resists my attempts to untangle the skein and gently directs me towards examining the source of my emotions and how I can recognise them and treat them with a bit more compassion rather than giving myself a telling off which I am prone to do. I was desperate for quick and easy answers and emotionally shut down when I started seeing her. It was a weird combination. But logical because I needed everything to be ‘fine’ in order to survive. My desperation was compounded by the fact that exgfOW was some sort of life coach. The ex, without ever admitting what would have been a deal-breaking affair, lectured me using language drawn from therapy and what he said seemed entirely feasible to me. So I took all blame onto myself. Therapy gives me a very safe place to explore and I have been very lucky to find that.

SortOfOverIt
SortOfOverIt
7 months ago
Reply to  MightyWarrior

It’s really interesting how much FOO can dictate how we navigate the world as adults. And yeah, count me in on the “to the outside world things looked ok”. My upbringing could have been much worse, I was more or less ok, but it still left me with coping mechanisms that aren’t ideal for me as an adult.

My FW isn’t just a cheater, he’s just a very difficult and angry person. CL helped me see why I needed to get OUT, and my therapist helps me see why I stayed IN for so long in the first place. All that tip toeing around to try to keep him calm was familiar and comfortable for me because of my FOO. And it’s not like we grow up, get told “hey, that thing you are doing that isn’t good for you (like suffering a mean cheater)? It’s FOO-related” and it just stops. These behaviors are hardwired. And YES, my therapist also helped me see that it’s not a failure to have these behaviors. I was often hard on myself because to look at the big picture now, I put up with that FW’s horrible treatment for a long, long time and ultimately, he went off and cheated and blamed me. There were so many non-cheating things he did that should have been deal breakers years ago. And I felt like an utter fool for staying. It’s not like I didn’t see his actions as wrong. But I just took it. Therapy has helped me see how the FOO issues
play a role in that, and how to re-wire my brain.

We no longer live together, but still have a long way to a finalized divorce. And I still find myself falling into old patterns. I’m still tip-toeing. I’m doing less of it, but it’s clear that my “go to” strategy is to try to mitigate his anger. Sometimes, just recognizing that you are tip-toeing will stop you from doing it. I sort of pause and think “wait… why am I explaining myself to him?” or “who cares if he doesn’t want me to do xyz?”

Turned.A.Corner
Turned.A.Corner
7 months ago
Reply to  SortOfOverIt

So beautifully said!

This Shit is NOT My Story
This Shit is NOT My Story
7 months ago

The timing on this podcast is perfect and I cannot wait to listen in.
I also hope that more chumps will chime in if you have had a similar experience. My parents have sided with the fuckwit and homewrecker after I refused to get onboard with my mother’s attempts to character assassinate my brother. Has anyone else here had their family side with the fuckwit? If so, how did you shoulder the pain of this betrayal?

It often feels as if everyone believes there is something wrong with me because the fuckwit and homewrecker are together, and I remain single. My singleness has somehow confirmed that I am the problem. With my family now turned against me, it further confirms the belief and lately I have been struggling with self-doubt (Am I the problem? Did I cause my family and ex to abandon me? etc.).

Thank you for anyone else’s insight!

PrincipledLife
PrincipledLife
7 months ago

I understand you TSINMS. I grew up in a disordered family as well, and it was not until after I got involved with a narcissist that I was even able to fully see that my mother was a narcissist as well and the entire family shaped by that dynamic. I believe that my family experiences enhanced the chumpiness I was born with, and prepared me to be a chump as an adult.

You mentioned that your mother tried to character assassinate your brother and you refused. Her behavior is not normal maternal behavior, as you know. It sounds like she is character disordered as well. Kudos to you for your integrity and refusal to degrade another family member. That you are the odd man out in such a family speaks well of your heart.

Sometimes we have to distance ourselves from our families of origin when they are cruel and unable or unwilling to treat us and others with decency and kindness. You deserve to be around people whose faces light up when they see you, who ask how you are doing and listen with interest and caring, who feel joy at your triumphs and sadness at your sorrows, and who demonstrate integrity in their relationships. It sucks that you did not get this as your birthright, but you are NOT the problem. You are the unexpected, beautiful rose who blossomed in a patch of stinkweed. Of course they would prefer you to be like them. But your character and decency won’t allow it. I hope one day you see past the pain to the beauty in that, and know it is to be celebrated.

NotANiceChump
NotANiceChump
7 months ago

Interesting. I got back into a relationship pretty soon after my cheating ex and I split, and I felt embarrassment and shame for it. Like…what a needy person I must be to not be able to wait longer to be with someone?! I hid the relationship for a long while from everyone by my sister, which felt appropriate at the time. And private. I wanted privacy, which IMO is underrated in these here social media days. I waited three years into the relationship to introduce him to my daughter as just an old friend (which was true, he was an old friend, also a new boyfriend) and almost four years as someone who is “more than just a friend.” All this to say that I guess us chumps just can’t help feeling bad about ourselves, no matter our choices. There is no right answer. There is no one right path. I suggest doing some personal work to try and flip the script on your singleness–it’s a superpower to be single and work on yourself and your life, especially if you have kids. You are doing the Lord’s work out there, improving society one person at a time, starting with yourself! Take pride in your choice. And F your parents and their toxic selves. Be free of it. And, if you let them back into your life one day, never forget what they’re capable of and always keep your boundaries strong.

Little Wing
Little Wing
7 months ago

“Has anyone else here had their family side with the fuckwit? If so, how did you shoulder the pain of this betrayal?”

I feel that THIS ^^^^^^^ would make a GREAT Friday topic.

Thank you, TSiNMS, for saying this. Lotsa hugs and muchas smooches!

marissachump
marissachump
7 months ago

It sounds like you have an abusive family which may have contributed to choosing an abusive partner as an adult. Abuse feels like home. Red flags feel like butterflies. None of this is your fault. But you will need to set some serious boundaries and go no contact to heal and move forward with your life.

MermaidLady
MermaidLady
7 months ago

It’s not you – it’s them. Family members who do this are similarly disordered to the FW, or they are invested in maintaining the perception they can do no wrong, and it’s select family members who aren’t measuring up & messing up their lives & the family dynamic for everyone else. The family narrative becomes about them being sane, stable etc and those they scapegoat being “difficult and unreasonable”. Character assasinations etc are all about controling the family narrative to the advantage of a select few, & yes it happened to me and it’s why I stopped all contact with my father & siblings. It’s gaslighting and another layer of hurt ontop of what you’re experiencing. I realised I’d never change them and the only solution was to cut ties and live my life well.Do not remain in their cycle of mindfuckery – go live your life well

Chumpy VonChumpster
Chumpy VonChumpster
7 months ago

This shit is NOT My Story, I am so sorry that your family has sided with the FW. I cant imagine what that feels like, but just know that every day that you are FW free and toxic family free is huge step in the right direction to finding peace. Keep being you, living the truth and holding your head high. And being single is being independent and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Its better to be alone then in bad company.

ChumpedAndDumped
ChumpedAndDumped
7 months ago

I struggle with the same feelings of self-doubt as my ex found a new partner (not the AP) quickly after dumping me, and I’m still single after three years of separation. I cannot imagine my own family turning against me, and I’m truly sorry you have to experience that pain on top of the betrayal of your FW. Just remember that being single is still better than being with a FW.

As ChumpLady said, we’re your surrogate family and will be there for you, always. Always remember that you’re worthy of having good things and people in your life.

MovingForward
MovingForward
7 months ago

I spent years complaining and confiding in my mother while still married to the FW that things were not right in my marriage. That I was convinced my husband was lying to me, that I felt like he was gaslighting and duping me, that he was up to no good with our finances, all of this was happening while I was trying to raise a baby and toddler two years apart. It turned out everything I suspected was true and I uncovered all of the evidence in the form of finding his secret social media handles under fake names, finding secret credit cards where he had racked up almost 100K in debt, uncovering that he was taking vacation days when he said he was at work, but was really out doing god knows what with god knows who, the list goes on. I presented all of this to my mother as proof and filed for divorce, her response was to say, I guess if you found that stuff, then maybe it’s true, but he’s the father of my grandchildren so I’m going to continue having a relationship with him. She did not support me at all, and left me to twist in the wind while my entire life was a dumpster. I’ve been divorced for 7 years. They call each other on their birthdays and every Christmas, wtf!! I cut all ties with my mom and haven’t spoken to her in years. It took a long time for me to realize my mother, and my two sisters are exactly like my Ex FW. No morals, ethics, they are master manipulators , gaslighters and compulsive liars, so of course they all get along like peas in a pod, and have repeatedly told me I am The Problem. Meanwhile my brother, father (my parents are divorced) have no time for those three and zero relationship with my Ex. I am single and am raising my two kids, while sharing partial custody with the Ex, I don’t speak to him, only email/text communication. He just got engaged, this girlfriend is the one he found after the shmoopie he was having the affair with dumped him. The only advice I can give is to know your self worth, know that you did nothing wrong, you are not the problem. People with horrible character, and zero ethics and morals are the problem. It is sad to lose family members when you realize how awful they are, but would you rather have those people in your life on a daily basis. The toxicity they ooze is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. Be mighty and remember your self worth!!! Hugs.

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago
Reply to  MovingForward

Your mother is a disgrace! A traitor! A bloody Judas! As are all family of chumps who side with FWs and abusers! Fair play to you for cutting them off, they don’t deserve you and I’m glad you have your father and brother!

Little Wing
Little Wing
7 months ago
Reply to  MovingForward

I am so sorry that you went through this. In my estimation, your mother is as much of a POS as your ex-FW was (and still is, I bet). She is completely unworthy of you.

lulutoo
lulutoo
7 months ago
Reply to  MovingForward

Good for you! As you said, “People with horrible character and zero ethics and morals are the problem.” And it is beyond horrible when those people include your own mother! I see mothers of murderers, etc, on tv crying, “But he is still my child!” while other decent people (like me, like you) have mothers who abandon them at the drop of a hat. Go figure.

WalkawayWoman
WalkawayWoman
7 months ago

I see that scenario (a couple breaks up, one repartners and one remains single) and come to the opposite conclusion.

The person who stays single, does their work, finds their footing, becomes intentional about their path forward, is less likely to be “the problem.”

The one who jumps right into a new relationship is unhealed, their life and choices unexamined, their issues externalized, and they are self-medicating with a new partner.

I’m generalizing here (and to a degree, projecting) so don’t come for me, CN. I celebrate healthy, reciprocal love in all its forms.

But as a society, I believe we stigmatize singlehood and idealize couplehood to an unhealthy degree.

And from a woman’s perspective, I can’t help but see it as a means to perpetuate patriarchy.

TSINMS, it’s not you. You’re a truth teller. Truth tellers are uncomfortable to those who want to rugsweep and maintain the status quo.

I bet if you look around, there’s a handful of people who truly care about you that you can pour time and energy into, and they will reciprocate.

At least, that’s been my experience.

Let the flying monkeys fly away.

20th Century Chump
20th Century Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  WalkawayWoman

“The one who jumps right into a new relationship is unhealed, their life and choices unexamined, their issues externalized, and they are self-medicating with a new partner.” That describes my ex to a T. He went on to two subsequent marriages (neither was to the two APs I knew about). He told me his current relationship of 5 years is “running on fumes.” He has some fine qualities, but if you told me he’d never cheat again, I still can’t imagine wanting to be with him because (among many, many other reasons) he still displays some of the shallow thoughts and behaviors he had decades ago and that makes him unacceptable as a partner in my book. As far as I know, he has never been in therapy.

My dear ex MIL, who basically told her son that he was an idiot for betraying me, told him after the failure of his third marriage that he should just “avoid entanglements.” LOL. He loves being partnered (he told me when he was marrying wife #2 or perhaps wife #3 that “he still believes in marriage”) but clearly not enough to do the hard work of examining himself and addressing his deficits.

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago

He “believes” in marriage, or rather wants it, for what he gets out of it, or what he thinks he OUGHT to get out of the women he marries, but not for what HE should be giving to marriage nor to his wives!
I bet he’s a nearly-all-take-next-to-no-give sort of person , is he? Sure, aren’t all FWs that sort!

SortOfOverIt
SortOfOverIt
7 months ago
Reply to  WalkawayWoman

Walkaway,
Yes. Perfectly stated. I’d like to add that I know for me, I was rather embarrassed to be chumped. My friend asked why I was embarrassed when the FW was the one who did rotten things, and I was trying to put it into words, and the best I could come up with was “I guess I am worried that people will see that he left me for someone else and think I must be awful”. She then asked “have you ever seen a situation like this and come to that conclusion?” And I just started laughing, because no. I definitely have not.

I also think, and it has been explored here before, that when a chump’s friends or family side with the FW and thinks the chump must be to blame, it’s them looking for protection from cheating. If they believe that the chump is to blame, then they feel they are safe from the same thin happening to them. No one wants to think that they too can be blindsided by an affair that upends their life unless they do things to cause it. It’s much like asking what a person was wearing if they were assaulted. “If I wear parkas and overalls 24/7, I will remain safe from assaults.” It’s dumb, but it is common.

Also, This Shit is not my story”? Remaining single is a perfectly reasonable reaction to being chumped. It says noting about your worthiness as a partner. Walkway already said that best.

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago
Reply to  SortOfOverIt

You hit the nail on the head here SortOfOverIt, great insight!

Anna
Anna
7 months ago
Reply to  WalkawayWoman

I agree with you completely that the single one is often more likely the one who is healing while the one who couples up quickly is medicating. I don’t agree with the idea it is related to perpetuating patriarchy. This happens to both men and women and on the women’s end the poor new guy is not only pairing up with a less than complete love but ends up financially loosing as well since the medicating women still seek out men that earn more than they do. So true on single being stigmatized and I have seen this pairing up for the sake of pairing up more times than I care to count since I started paying attention!

TheDivineMissChump
TheDivineMissChump
7 months ago

Dr. Simon is spot on in his analysis. Easy to see why the RIC would summarily dismiss the notion that absence of character is the root issue. Not alot of profit to be made when we Chumps have nothing to work with when it comes to the FW.
Great episode! Thank you!!

Elsie
Elsie
7 months ago

Thankfully, I remained on the edge of the RIC and didn’t waste any money, but I got pretty early on in separation that they believed that all marriages could be saved. Of course, that means more money in their pockets.

My truth was that some marriages shouldn’t be saved.

Rebecca
Rebecca
7 months ago

Post DDay I was at a horribly low, almost desperate point. Had already been hospitalized so I knew it wasn’t a dangerous time but had to hide somewhere.

I went to an trusted friend’s home across the country and took Dr. Simon’s book with me.

I remember that day, hiding in my bed, under the covers when I cam to the page about how they get away with their lies (paraphrasing). It was at the bottom on one page and had to turn the page to find out how. I turned the page and read about how they get you to feel sorry for them!
😳
It was like the world stopped turning and everything made sense. Clarity occurred and I felt like time stood still as I viewed my entire past with him through a new lens. I will never forget that moment.

Even to this day, years later with contact maybe twice a year for the grandkids, that is still his method. The only difference is I now see it for what it is and laugh. BTW, the laughter only came after much therapy, proper medication and 10+ years!

Dr. Simon and CL are two things I can honestly say saved my life.

For newbies, please know that the previous sentence leaves out many, many tough years. The image above my name shows two feet on a bed of hot coals. I chose that for the very reason that this process is like walking v e r y slowly over hot coals. So painful, so hard and the only path though is straight ahead.

Marcus
Marcus
7 months ago

Thanks Tracy. Dr Simon comes over very well – his book is a little harder to find in the UK but I have ordered a copy. The neurotic / character disorder dualism he mentions is something I remember from reading M.Scott Peck’s ‘Road Less Travelled’ a long time ago – I found it helpful then, and it was helpful when I used to deal with even engineering students (who were generally the former and help-able, but sometimes the latter and much harder to help!). That book might well be regarded as corny now, I don’t know, but I found it striking in my 20s (so 30 years ago, more or less!).

Elsie
Elsie
7 months ago

I found George Simon during separation before Chump Lady, and it blew me away. I made columns of my assumptions about marriage and my then-husband’s assumptions about marriage. Decades together, and we were miles apart.

Probably the biggest was that I assumed it was a lifetime commitment and that any problems would be addressed diligently and collaboratively. My husband did not view it as a lifetime commitment and talked periodically about divorce for over half of the marriage. When we had issues, his approach was to stonewall and then demand “my way or the highway.”

I understood that counseling would never change such deep, destructive issues. Sometime after those revelations, he demanded that I show up alone where he was living to go through a bizarre reconciliation procedure that he had come up with. Nope. I refused any further relationship discussions with my character-disordered husband.

During the last phone call about the divorce, my husband related how weak-minded I was and how I would never make it without him. He encouraged me to continue to call him with major decisions because I was so incapable. So that’s how he perceived me? Interesting. I shared that with my attorney during the intake appointment when he asked how my husband viewed me. However, I knew otherwise. There I was in front of one of the best attorneys in the metropolitan area, someone his attorney uniquely liked and respected. I was capable.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago
Reply to  Elsie

“During the last phone call about the divorce, my husband related how weak-minded I was and how I would never make it without him. ”

Same here. Upon my hiring my own lawyer he said to me: “Your problem is you can’t think for yourself” He wanted me to use his lawyer, whom he hired, but I guess that was different.

Nut Cluster Free Zone
Nut Cluster Free Zone
7 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

There is no “our lawyer” in divorce. There is “my lawyer” and “your lawyer”. Such fuckwits. The mere idea of trusting somebody after being effed over. 😆

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

Weak minded is what he needed you to be to suit his agenda. Cheaters are ever the fantasists. What he needed you to be eclipsed the reality of who you were. While you were still close to him, his delusions might have been mesmerizing but those delusions clearly lost their power once you got a little distance.

Rebecca
Rebecca
7 months ago
Reply to  Elsie

“I was capable”

That must have been the best feeling. I understand everything else was crap but for that one second, you felt your power.
Good for you!

Elsie
Elsie
7 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Thanks. Looking back, it was crazy for him even to imagine me incapable. In the scheme of things, I knew way more than he did about money and taxes and pulled out all the stops becoming financially self-sufficient and finding healing. My attorney and his team were certainly the best of the best.

I think he probably was shocked at the fight I put up during the divorce. He continued to blame me for everything during closeout, which I ignored. And finally, he went his own way.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  Elsie

I don’t know why but your last line, “And finally, he went his own way” made me laugh. He went his own way like a bad smell? Or like a cinematic fade-out? Some funny image came to mind.

Involuntary Georgian
Involuntary Georgian
7 months ago

I’m having an ongoing “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree” argument with XW.

XW often travels, generally to further her career (all optional: she’s a tenured university professor, so she doesn’t need to do anything). When this travel conflicts with her custody she asks to swap days. I almost always say “I’ll take the kids but I don’t want to swap”. XW maintains that this (my offering to take the kids to allow her to travel, but declining to give her my custody time in return) takes away her “right to choose”. We finally had an actual discussion about this where I said “If I refused to take the kids, that would prevent you from traveling: that would be taking away your right to choose. My offering to take them actually gives you the right to choose.” XW’s position is that because I could swap but don’t, that I am forcing her hand.

My position is that if I agree to the swap she does not have to choose (because she gets both travel and custody); if I refuse to take the kids she doesn’t have the option to choose (because she wouldn’t be able to travel due to custody obligations); by offering to take the kids but not give her back missed time I am letting her (she would say forcing her) to actually choose between kids and work. This is now an established pattern, and XW has said (repeatedly) that since she will always choose the kids (which, by the way, is not remotely true: she travels several times per month as it is) it’s not a real choice.

It is a truly unresolvable problem. We agree on all the facts but have 180º opposite interpretations: my “I am offering you a choice” is her “you are taking my choice away”. XW has been angry with me for years about the swaps issue, but I only recently understood that this is not a misunderstanding or a miscommunication, but rather us seeing the same situation in opposite ways.

Long story short: I willingly take the kids whenever XW needs me to, in order to free up her schedule. In her worldview this makes me the bad guy.

End of vent.

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago

Plus, f she gives up time with her own children for work she doesn’t even need to do, it shows her up for the bad mother and bad person she really is, and she doesn’t want that, does she? She wants everyone else to think she’s only WONDERFUL because here she is working AND having her own kids! What a great mother she must be! Whereas the truth is, she just wants to swan around the place having her arse kissed AND do just enough mothering to stop everyone from realising she’s the selfish, character disordered twunt you KNOW her to be!
Feck her anyway, keep doing what you’re doing, you don’t need her to be happy about it!

NotANiceChump
NotANiceChump
7 months ago

This made me laugh out loud. I too have a cheating ex tenured professor. Don’t bother debating with those insufferable word salad windbags. They are always “right.” You are offering her a choice, by the plain definition of that term. She knows it. It’s just not the choice she wants. Keep on keeping on and make sure that you document each and every time you take the kids for one of her optional trips, in case you ever need to show a judge how much more time you spend with the children than her. Regularly swapping time is a major pain. For a while, I tried to be accommodating with my ex with time swaps upon his many requests, but at some point was like “happy to take the kid, I can always work out watching my own child, ALWAYS, but I’m done rearranging my schedule on the back end so you can get your 2.3 days back. Take the L buddy, or rearrange your schedule to accommodate parenting on your time.” As someone with a very demanding job who moves heaven and earth to maximize my time with my child, I can tell you it’s possible.

Involuntary Georgian
Involuntary Georgian
7 months ago
Reply to  NotANiceChump

I’ve lost track of how many time XW has said “I absolutely must go to this conference and if you don’t agree to a swap the kids won’t see me for three weeks which will damage them”; I say “I’ll take the kids so you can go to your conference but I won’t swap”; somehow – despite its being absolutely impossible – it XW can rearrange her travel so she’s not gone the entire time and the kids don’t go three weeks without seeing her.

Actually, the only objection the kids have ever made is that they find it confusing when the schedule keeps changed. As far as “for the best interests of the children” is concerned, as best I can tell the fewer alterations to the established schedule the better. I’ve pointed this out, but again: XW doesn’t dispute the facts but disagrees with the conclusion… because it doesn’t align with her best interests.

UXworld
UXworld
7 months ago

IG — I always did the same during the immediate aftermath, 10 months of co-habitating hell, and the first couple of years post divorce. Mine didn’t travel for work much, but constantly wanted to take time for herself and her new guy/life (whatever that was) so when the requests came in, I always said “I’ll take the girls; no need to reciprocate.”

On the odd occasion when I did need to make a schedule change, you can be sure she reminded me that I “owed her” flexibility for her next request(s).

I never once viewed it as inconvenient and always considered it to be a long-term investment in the relationship I have with my daughters. And don’t think they didn’t notice — they’re still attached to their mother, but they grew up knowing who really put them first 100% of the time.

Keep doing what you’re doing. She’s trying to image manage.

Mehitable
Mehitable
7 months ago

Your ex has made a choice. She’s made the choice that unnecessary traveling in her career, is more important than seeing her kids. That’s her real choice. She’s trying to force you to go along with it to eliminate YOUR choice. When it comes down to root decisions, she still wants it all. Stand firm.

Anna
Anna
7 months ago

I know this is immature, but your cheating ex-wife is an ass! What a piece of work. Be very grateful you are free of her. The mental gymnastics aren’t worth it.

WalkawayWoman
WalkawayWoman
7 months ago

The stories that FWs make up about who they are never cease to amaze me.
Your ex makes up that she is someone who “always chooses the kids” when, demonstrably, she always chooses herself.
My ex, the Lying Cheating Loser, used to say he has “the loyalty of a dog” which of course couldn’t be further from the truth.
IG, I love how pragmatic and unflappable you are!

Involuntary Georgian
Involuntary Georgian
7 months ago
Reply to  WalkawayWoman

We actually have very few conflicts over the kids. All our conflicts are whether, or to what extent, I am legally and morally obligated to support my XW’s career and/or personal life.

My position is that it’s not my job any more. She disagrees.

NotANiceChump
NotANiceChump
7 months ago

Yea, you left the job of “supportive spouse” to her…because she sucks. I doubt your legally obligated, you certainly aren’t morally obligated. To the contrary, she’s morally obligated to honor her parenting commitments and provide a predictable schedule for her children…which she regularly does not do. Kids of divorce are already in a perma-state of flux. She’s making it worse.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago

This may not apply to you at all, al circumstances are different.

When my grandson was three, my DIL left my son (she was “dating”). Anyway they D’d and she got custody thought he wanted custody. I was getting ready to move south because of my job, and before leaving I was keeping my grandson whenever my dil asked me to. I wanted to suck up all the grandson time I could before leaving.

In the mean time my sons lawyer had told him to refuse her when she called to see if that would force her to reconsider custody. He did pre warn her that he would not be able to take GS randomly like I did as he planned his work around GS visitations schedule.

Long story short the week I moved south she called my son and said if you will meet me in the judges chambers I will turn over custody. But, I do think that deep down she knew that GS was better off with his dad, who was by then in a stable marriage. I do give her credit for realizing that.

It worked in GS case, and he stayed with his dad and was raised with his half sister. He did fine and just a year ago graduated from IU.

I get that may not work in your situation. In GS’s case my son worked with ex to share events, and even co lead his Boy Scout group.

Having said that, I think you are totally in the right. There is no need for you to change your schedule/plans to suit hers. That is on her. Maybe she could schedule most of her travel on your regular visitation days. If not, that is on her.

Involuntary Georgian
Involuntary Georgian
7 months ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

Yes, we have right of first refusal, and I love my kids and want to spend time with them so the issue is never whether I will take the kids, but only whether I am obliged to give back the extra custody time in exchange.

XW also refuses to use a coparenting app for these swap negotiations because the app has a simple yes/no response button. XW doesn’t like that I can say “no” without supplying a reason (which she will then try to debate with me) so she refuses to use it. My therapist pointed out the ability to say a simple “no” is a feature – not a bug – of high-conflict relationship management, but of course XW isn’t actually interested in reducing conflict so she perceives it as a flaw.

SortOfOverIt
SortOfOverIt
7 months ago

IG,
I’m sorry but that just made me laugh out loud. The software was created in a very specific way to address some very specific things, hence the FEATURE of a way to simply say “no” and of course a FW is going to decide that is a BUG. We can’t make this stuff up!

ICanSeeTheMehComing!
ICanSeeTheMehComing!
7 months ago

Imagine being lucky enough to find the marriage counselor who after one session says to the CHUMP…”You have
nothing to work with here. The cheater will not change. Here’s the name of an excellent divorce attorney.”

The time, tears, pain, and money I could’ve saved.

After the discard (and multiple attempts at RIC ‘save the marrige and eat the shit sandwich’)… I found CL and CN. (I also found some other great online resources by googling NPD.) Still – it took me almost twelve months and working with an amazing therapist who understands narcissism until I found the courage to file and go grey rock (no contact came about about another 12 months later).

There is freedom in acceptance that you can’t change a cheater. Embrace it.

Finally Free Chump
Finally Free Chump
7 months ago

I did have a therapist maybe 3 sessions in with FW tell me, you have the right to say no, to not continue these sessions. Then she asked if I wanted to continue and I said no. It was the first day I felt hope after all the D-days

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
7 months ago

Our joint therapist/marriage counselor told me during the sessions my FW didn’t attend that I should drop him and find someone better, more emotionally mature. During the final session, she didn’t hesitate to send him out of the room for yelling at me, then said, “That was abusive. That was abuse. Do you really want to fight to save that?”

She was telling me almost from the beginning to walk away, but I wasn’t listening. Honey Badgers don’t quit. We don’t lose.

On the positive side, when the time comes to do battle…we don’t quit and we don’t lose. And we definitely protect our children.

I wish I had listened to that therapist right away. I also wish all marriage counselors were brave enough to say to someone, “There’s nothing here to work with.”

Rebecca
Rebecca
7 months ago

Not my therapist but at my first court date, the judge (in her chambers, not in front of ex) told me he was a sociopath and there was nothing to work with.

Didn’t really make anything easier or faster or cheaper. It helped but wasn’t a miracle

HunnyBadger
HunnyBadger
7 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

I attended a single session with my FW with his psychologist, and after listening to me for a few minutes, the psychologist said to me — in front of FW — “You have terrible taste in men.”

It stung, it hurt. FW never even flinched.

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago
Reply to  HunnyBadger

Well it did have a bit of victim-blaming about it, so I’m not surprised it stung and I think he should have aimed his criticism solely at the FW! It was sort of kicking you whilst you were down IMO and not very professional of the psychologist either!

Chumpasaurus45
Chumpasaurus45
7 months ago

That was an amazing podcast, I agree the best yet, and that’s saying plenty because they are all great. I listened to it twice back to back last night and will probably play it again.
So incite full, Dr. Simon really gets this!!
We don’t have to spend endless hours on figuring out how we contributed to the demise of our marriages. The “ we all make mistakes” or the “ I’m okay, you’re okay” excuses that do not fit these disordered people don’t have to be pushed on us any longer. They are NOT okay!
The part that hits me the hardest is knowing that “ of course they know they are hurting you, they just don’t care”.
I think this is incredibly accurate.
I contemplate of all the countless times and energy I spent trying to talk to him about how his actions were affecting me, or try and fix something that must be wrong with me.
From my mind, I thought, well if he REALLY could understand how his actions were literally destroying me as a person, there is no way in hell he would allow that to happen! He would have a divine revelatory moment one of these days and be able to SEE MY PAIN clearly and be devastated by it. Of course he would, he loves me as much as I love him, right?! Right?
But I know with full belief now that day was never going to show up. He DOES know the pain he is causing me and he gets his rocks off on that part too!
He always told me he could communicate with anyone on the planet but me and he knew that made me so sad and it was only going to make me jump higher and higher to fix myself because I deeply wanted that connection and couldn’t imagine why we couldn’t get there.
It wasn’t my lack of trying or an incompatibility in our coupling that made it impossible.
“It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.” That sentence is the full answer I need. He doesn’t want us to connect, if he can point to problems with that, it helps him justify his actions to himself. “We just don’t get along.” It’s a simple solution for him.
I really feel for you folks out there who have families that embrace your abusers, like “J” who phoned in on the podcast. My God, that’s too much to deal with!! It seems incomprehensible.
I have a close couple friend that are my only Switzerland friends left now and it hurts me deeply that they don’t just get it.
But your own mother?!? Hell no, that’s ridiculous!
Why wouldn’t they want to keep you safe?! It does completely invalidate your reality and make it so much harder to heal. That’s so unjust.
But I’m hoping all the “J’s” out there ( and there are too many!) will listen to Dr Simon and CL and nation and know that there are ppl that DO validate them. From direct personal experience with these abusers or from listening so intently to clients, as Dr. Simon has, they managed to get through the black hole and see the truth of it all.
Some ppl don’t want to see the whole of it for some reason, maybe it’s self protective? Fear? Don’t want to know the structure of everything they believed about ppl is not what they imagined? They aren’t willing to admit to themselves that there are ppl in this world that mean harm to others and you could actually be sleeping with them. No one wants to know that.
Your families are making it so much harder for you to heal, but you can still get there. Hold firm your own truth about it and stop looking inward for your own faults and fixes as related to this issue, because you didn’t cause this FW to be disordered or contribute to it.
They. just. are!
The ppl that refuse to see it, are consciously choosing not to see it. I think there is fear about releasing a hold on their own culturally assimilated belief systems. ( “everybody needs a second chance” or “forgiveness is the higher ground to stand on”)
Protecting a loved one from abuse trumps every bit of that.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago
Reply to  Chumpasaurus45

“The part that hits me the hardest is knowing that “ of course they know they are hurting you, they just don’t care”.

Yes, this is why I wish his original quote had been “it isn’t that they don’t see, it is that they don’t care” “it’s that they disagree.” They don’t really disagree, they know they are hurting you, they just don’t care.

2xchump🚫again
2xchump🚫again
7 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

The word Disagree sounds so mild to me considering the topic. What feels more like it to me is they do not care if you are in pain or crying your eyes out or begging. It is a high, they get off on your pain. That is a sadist right? Tracy says it so well over and over. It does NOT hurt them to hurt you.

Mehitable
Mehitable
7 months ago

On other forums I’ve been on, the instant advice after discovering an affair is therapy for everyone. It’s rote. And sometimes it can help, especially for children who are so hurt by this and need to figure out how to navigate two parents, two households. But therapy usually seems to seek to excuse behavior by getting us to “understand” it….and the reality is we may well understand it….but it doesn’t change how bad it is or how damaging the impact is.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

“.and the reality is we may well understand it….but it doesn’t change how bad it is or how damaging the impact is.”

👍

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Exactly! I very much do understand why X is the way he is and has done the things he’s done, but there’s no excuse and I still get angry because I’m still stuck here for now, isolated and lonely and bored and clearing up the mess he’s made of my life! I’m still suffering as a result of his monstrous selfishness and treachery, so it doesn’t really bloody well matter WHY he did it and understanding it doesn’t solve the problems he’s left me with! Feck’s sake!!!

Mehitable
Mehitable
7 months ago
Reply to  Shadow

It’s so true – whether it’s a cheater or a criminal (why do they steal – because they want money, LOLOL) it’s sometimes easy to understand why they do bad things…..because they want to and they can. Once in a blue moon you can find someone who wants to change, but that’s usually a superficial thing just to smooth the waters. Once the spouse quiets down….it’s back to the old behavior. We DO understand frequently, it just doesn’t make any difference. Most marital therapy is about re-chumping…..getting us to accept our chumpery and take pride in it because nothing is better than martyrdom!

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago
Reply to  Mehitable

There’s a sort of laziness in it too, because chumps are the sort of people who do examine their consciences, are humble enough to know they’re imperfect and not always right and love sleflessly enough to know the world doesn’t revolve around us and that others matter too, or we’ve been trained from infancy to erroneously belive others matter MORE than us! It easy to make us think WE’RE the ones who should change!

Chumped mom
Chumped mom
7 months ago

This podcast episode was so great. Exactly what I needed to hear today as my mind goes back and forth from “FW is an abusive narcissist who will never change” to “how can someone who supposedly loved me treat me SO badly and move on as if absolutely nothing happened.” Head and heart. I’m so lucky I have a really great therapist who understands narcissism and steers me to put the focus on myself in every session. I’m also lucky that while FW and I did a couple marriage therapist sessions last year, the therapist we saw told me privately that was exhibiting extreme narcissistic tendencies. It truly is a mindfuck though and takes a lot of work to get through it.

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago
Reply to  Chumped mom

Yes, I have been going back and forth as well, between being determined that X is a hopeless case who does not love me and is not learning from the bollix he’s now making of his own life, and then missing the man he used to be, or at least seemed to be! For many years, I did feel loved by him. I thought his occasional going off the rails were because of being scapegoated by his FOO and not out of selfishness and definitely not oout of any malice! I do know he;s suffered a serious childhood trauma now and it’s hard not to feel compassion for that, because I’m not hard-hearted. However, I also have begun to realise that though he probably did love me, it was not to the depth I love those I love and also was probably what I call “cupboard love” which is love for what you do for them or for what you give them. It’s a very immature, childish sort of love that takes that bit more than it gives and can be shallow and is conditional. It’s not love for who we are as people, the way that we chumps love!
Also, we love them for whom they seem to be or have the potential to be rather than for who they really are as well, because they so often put on an act.
I think I mostly just miss the sense of being loved by a man whom I loved, but it wasn’t the deep, mature and personal love I thought it was, so in a way, I’m missing a fiction, a make-believe! Then I get very vexed, lol!
It’s very tiring isn’t it? That’s probably why I’ve felt drained and in bad form the last few days! Please God it’ll pass soon!

Chumped Mom Getting to Meh
Chumped Mom Getting to Meh
7 months ago
Reply to  Shadow

It is truly so exhausting and I can 100% relate to that. I think that’s why, during the course of our marriage, I suffered so much. He took every bit of energy I had, and it still wasn’t enough for him; he moved on to someone else who would endlessly stroke his ego, and he discarded me, while pregnant. I remind myself, that he is actually incapable of true love. It is a really ugly truth, but a truth nonetheless. I am thankful that I am out, now, but it doesn’t ease the grief that I still feel. I know how you feel. Time will help.

SortOfOverIt
SortOfOverIt
7 months ago

Aside from the pregnant part, I could have written this. And my therapist suggested that my FW might not be capable of an honest relationship. At first, I wasn’t sure I agreed. But then I looked at the facts, decades with me that resulted in a thoughtless discard. There is certainly no evidence that supports the idea that he IS capable of a real honest love.

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago

My X took every bit of my energy near the end too! I was barely functioning, wouldn’t wash myself nor brush my teeth for up to 4 days at a time because I was so exhausted and couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I now look back and see that I had become seriously clinically depressed because I was getting what’s called passive suicidal ideation! The thought that, if it weren’t for my son I’d be better off dead keep popping into my head. Then one day that thought was “If it weren’t for Son, I’d RATHER be dead!” This should have scared me but I was also emotionally numb, another sign of clinical depression apart from occasional outbursts of anger!
Once I’d made him leave, I said to my son “I feel like I’ve been vampirised!”. I thought he’d say “What are you on about?” or “That’s mad Mam, don’t be saying things like that!” but he just nodded and said “Yeah!”. This was confirmation that my X and his carry-on had indeed been sucking the life out of me!
It’s horrifying that someone who says they love you could do such a malevolent thing to you!

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago

Dr. Simon is very wise and insightful. Listening to him just now has helped me enormously to accept that my X is character disordered, maybe always was to a degree even before the cocaine, that it’s not my job to “fix” him and it never was.
Once someone’s grown up, a partner or spouse can’t undo the damage nor clean up the mess made of them by the bad rearing they had from their parents. My X’s parents I now suspect were/are also character disordered, his late father malignantly so! I sense his entire extended family is infested with character disorders as I always felt so ill-at-ease and on edge at his family gatherings!
I wish I’d learnt all this decades ago, but better late than never!
Thank you Tracy and thank you Dr. Simon!

2xchump🚫again
2xchump🚫again
7 months ago

Still on the Happy Birthday note🥳 for CL which today’s topic highlights for me…Tracy does surgical strikes on behaviors that take me months If not years to figure out. It’s like someone who throws a diamond ring into a giant dumpster. I jump in and start by taking out one candy wrapper, one empty milk container, shake all the cans..Tracy uses a Lazer beam with a camera, gets the diamond in her sights and grabs it with a 30 foot long robotic arm. The words she craft together are exactly what I would say if I had that kind of a brain. I laugh so hard when she says things and nod my head yes and laugh to myself. Today for example…how you cannot easily manipulate someone who has No Shame!!! Bam!! I tried to change my abuser and he did get ” nice” for awhile so it seemed to work. That was all his manipulation and Tracy gave me a look behind the mask( scream here). And Dr. Simon, thank you for your cutting through the mind of someone I loved. Now that my Mr.X2x is safely married off, I think of how he used to help me when I was sick. Help me with so many things. Now I understand more clearly that this was not love, he could not love. It was all to manipulate me. So if I am in need, it is not him I miss, it is the mirage of him. I was never truly loved, but I was of use. This pod cast and all of the work at CN keeps me sober and alert to manipulators and users. I realize it was not good for my Xhusband to get away with using me and it was terrible for me to enable this evil part of him. Never again.As for Switzerland family or friends, it is character and behavior, not their label of mom, dad, aunt or uncle..best friend or not, ITS BEHAVIOR!!! Let them go and save yourself. Great day today CN..let’s not allow these people back into our kind and feeling hearts. It helps no one. Stay mighty!

Chumpasaurus45
Chumpasaurus45
7 months ago

2xchump🚫again:
Enjoyed your analog of the dumpster and the 30 foot robotic arm, lol! I agree with you completely.
I feel like I’ve finally privy on the inside scoop to these character disordered lying cheaters.
But CL is in the deep dungeons of the pentagon with the highest security clearance allowed, plotting how to take out dictatorships. She’s got it locked down and taking no prisoners.
The exact approach necessary when dealing with this.

J
J
7 months ago

This is “J” who placed the phone call.

Tracy, thank you so much for playing my message on your podcast. Feeling heard and validated after experiencing this type of double betrayal means the world to me. You and CN have been my rock throughout this ordeal, truly saving my sanity. I’ve moved forward in so many areas of my life since D-Day in 2017 (divorcing the fuckwit, therapy for children and myself, graduating from nursing school and starting a 2nd career as a nurse, rebuilding finances), but often experience emotional setbacks due to constant reminders of my family’s betrayal. My ex has essentially replaced me at family functions. My children know the reason for the divorce (in age-appropriate terms), but helping them understand my estrangement from my family has been difficult.

Dr. Simon’s advice is greatly appreciated. I remain no contact with my siblings and enforce boundaries in my relationship with my mother.

NotANiceChump
NotANiceChump
7 months ago
Reply to  J

Your family sucks. Sorry you have to go through that. I hope your kids spend as little time as possible with those morally bankrupt, disloyal arseholes.

❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
7 months ago

My marriage was a mirage and it was over whenever it was he decided lying and cheating was an option, no other actions necessary. This means it may have been over with him from the very start.

I have my issues and my faults, but doing things I know are wrong and will hurt people is not one of them.

Cheating and lying has nothing to do the partner or the relationship and is only about the character of the cheater and the side pieces.

It has taken me a very long time to internalize this.

I’ve found enough valuables at garage sales and thrift stores to know that I am.not worthless just because I have been discarded. Not everyone is going to like me or value me. It doesn’t matter if you’re the ripest juiciest peach in the world. Some people don’t like peaches.

What’s most important is that I love and care for myself and stop looking for someone else too, and teaching/modeling that to my daughter.

I think if I was better at loving and caring for myself and about myself, I would not have stayed as long as I did.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago

“This means it may have been over with him from the very start.”

This is something I will never know. I have no way of knowing if my first marriage was ever real. He may never have committed, or he may have for a short while, who knows. I assume he was just a wire monkey.

Ms. Done With Him
Ms. Done With Him
7 months ago

“Dr. Simon gave us the great saying: “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”

Of course they know they’re hurting you. They don’t care! They disagree that they should change their behavior.”

I left FW 6/19, after 2.5 years of pick me dancing / indescribable anguish as I broke free of the trauma bond. Since I left, so many days are Tuesday’s for me, but for some reason, D18 (who is ASD) going on vacation with her dad this week triggered many unwanted feelings: loneliness, jealousy, sadness for what my mind thinks was lost.

FW took her to the beach – same beach / resort we’d gone as a family for over 10 years (how original). She’s been sending me pictures (my request) and it’s bringing back good memories. Nothing was ever perfect and I was always extending myself / walking on eggshells to make sure everything was as-perfect as it could be, because if he was in a bad mood, or something went wrong, the day was ruined. But there were many good / peaceful times too.

So I needed this reminder today. He watched / heard me sobbing hundreds of times over 30 years. Hell, the last 2.5 years I’m sure I cried 100+ times, and it did nothing to dissuade his behavior. Many times he would tell me to “grow up” and that I was manipulating him. It was soul crushing. He saw me, he saw the pain, but he didn’t care. Then you juxtapose that against the guy who’d spend 6 hours building magnificent sand castles with the kids, or boogie boarding with them in the ocean. It’s such a bitter pill to swallow, but I know in my heart and head that he couldn’t change.

SortOfOverIt
SortOfOverIt
7 months ago

Ms Done With Him,
This IS a really tough one. I struggle with it too. If I sat down I could fill a notebook with the shitty things he did, but I could also fill another notebook with the good. That can be so confusing for a chump.

CL’s birthday post was full of chumps talking about the really bad or nonexistent birthday gifts they received from their FWs. I can’t say that, mine would do nice things for me. Semi-frequently, but for sure on my birthday. But he would also make a random day suck for no reason other than him being in a bad mood or pissed off over some perceived slight. And he did that VERY frequently.

It leaves a person off balance to live like that. There is such a lack of PEACE. And he just did not care. (Sometimes I think it went beyond not caring and into actively enjoying it in some sadistic way) He is unhappy to his core, and he wanted to take everyone else along for the ride. No amount of flashy gifts can make up for that. I had a really hard time trying to sort out the confusion of how he could be kind and giving one day, and so wretched the next.

Stepbystep
Stepbystep
7 months ago

I was a returning adult student and psychology major in the 1980’s. The field was still very much influenced by the “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” approach which was very beneficial for the (mostly male) spouse who found themselves in couples counseling with a (mostly female) spouse who was now pulling double duty at home and work.

I find George Simon’s most valuable contribution to be the emphasis on “actions”. It helps me to push away those still lingering sympathies for my Timid Forest Creature who seemed so overwhelmed by self-inquiry and so adept at leading a double life. He also came of age in the late 1960s which probably undid any early Catholic teachings.

2xchump🚫again
2xchump🚫again
7 months ago

Just listened to the interview with Dr. Simon. He must be one in a million but he is and has changed thr narrative. It shocks me to hear how intentional these dark manipulators can be. How they evolved ( from numerous avenues) and how their entitlement drives the bus. It is frightening how my X2x ran our marriage into the ground and blamed me. That he did not have a good core and was never ever sorry. How can that be a human being. What Dr Simon knows, I experienced. It blew me away that there is not a cure really. My X2x manipulated almost all 32 years. I see it now. I was of worth at one time. Then I no longer met his need quotient and I was out. Others were in. He pretender to be good but his core was him. It shocks me completely. Looking back.
Thank you for your honesty, research and writing. I can see clearly now.

Shann
Shann
7 months ago

Thank you and God bless you, Dr. Simon, Ms CL and the whole group. Podcast. I shared with my daughter and I’m just glad that you’re all here.

DrDr
DrDr
7 months ago

I stayed with FW for about 15 years longer than I should have. He went from being loving to spewing contempt and finally became violent. Why do we stay with these terrible people? In my case, married 28 years with three kids: 24, 21, 18.

thelongrun
thelongrun
7 months ago

Tracy, just wanted to say happy belated birthday. Sorry I’m late to the party. Hope you had a great day!😁

Gossamer
Gossamer
7 months ago

J’s story inspired me to listen to the podcast for the first time – it is excellent and I’m looking forward to listening to more.

My mother and sister sided with FW who is secretly gay (still in the closet many years later), was cheating with random men, and was emotionally and financially abusive. My mother told me to forgive him and was angry at me for divorcing him. My sister was secretly texting and calling him to support him and pass along things I told her in confidence during separation.

Chumpasaurus45
Chumpasaurus45
7 months ago
Reply to  Gossamer

Hopefully they are no longer in your life either. That’s abusive and you deserved better. If they don’t value your life and health, you need to put up some Great Wall of China boundaries on them in the least.

Persephone
Persephone
7 months ago

I have to protest. “I’m okay, you’re okay” nonsense of dual accountability in All Things’, (one of the tenets of Transactional analysis) isn’t at all about accountability. It’s about general life orientation and not specific people and. or situations. I also encourage everybody to look at the Drama Triangle, very enlightening.

luckychump
luckychump
7 months ago

The field of neuroscience is evolving rapidly. We can now see definitive differences in the NPD brain.
If you are wondering if your FW changed, or how you could have missed certain clues, you should realize that recent changes in technology have enabled us to see changes in the structure of a NPD person’s brain. From Tracy’s post, “You cannot easily manipulate someone who doesn’t feel shame.” Actually, I think it is closer to the concept that you can’t manipulate someone who can’t feel empathy or compassion. Chances are, they were always “impaired” or “disordered”. Any perception we have of them having empathy or compassion is based on how they learned to pattern their behavior and language as they manipulated the people around them. Once their vested self-interests change, they lose interest in feigning empathy or modifying their behavior to control us.
Most narcissists’ ability to respond emotionally and empathize is significantly impaired or non-existent. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, narcissists lack empathy. They’re unwilling or unable “to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.” (APA, 2013) Research shows that they have structural abnormalities equating to reduced frontal cortex thickness in the specific brain regions associated with emotional empathy. According to research, people with narcissistic personality disorder have reduced gray matter volume in areas of the brain related to empathy and increased activity on baseline images in brain regions associated with self-directed and self-absorbed thinking. We can now see structural differences in the brain scans of people with NPD. They found that patients with NPD have less brain matter in areas overlapping with the areas associated with empathy (i.e., rostral and median cingulate cortex, left anterior insula, and dorsolateral and medial parts of the prefrontal cortex).
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8170532/