Cognitive Dissonance and How It Helps The Victim Of Abuse Stay

Wikipedia describes cognitive dissonance like this:

Cognitive dissonance

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort(psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefsideas, or values. The occurrence of cognitive dissonance is a consequence of a person’s performing an action that contradicts personal beliefs, ideals, and values; and also occurs when confronted with new information that contradicts said beliefs, ideals, and values.[1][2]

I always had pretty black and white views on what was right and wrong, legal and illegal, fair and unjust and I had no problem speaking my mind when I thought someone was wrong. I never lied, didn’t tolerate lying from anyone else and prided myself on being a very honest upstanding citizen. 

The first time I remember questioning my ex’s honesty was when he did a business deal. A neighbor had a motorcycle that had been in a flood, he was afraid to start it because it had been submerged. He offered it to my ex for $400. My ex is an amazing mechanic and can get anything working but he didn’t have $400 at the time and had just lost his job.

The deal was the bike would stay where it was until my ex finished paying for it. 

The next day my ex was going through the Buy and Sell; he was always wheeling and dealing and could do quite well at it sometimes. I heard him on the phone saying he owned a motorcycle he was willing to trade for a Mercedes. He was saying, “sure it was running, I just gotten home from riding it”. 

I didn’t think it was right to lie, he didn’t know for sure he could even get it running and besides; he hadn’t bought it yet!

Next thing I know he’s got the motorcycle in his shop and he has it running! Apparently he talked the owner into letting him take it home to work on, but he wouldn’t get the registration until it was paid for.

That same day I find him loading the bike onto his flat deck and he’s heading out to trade it for the Mercedes.  I argued that he couldn’t sell something that didn’t belong to him. I was told to mind my own business; that I had no idea how to wheel and deal. I had to admit he was probably right, I was not a wheeler dealer.

He traded the motorcycle for the car but the owner of the car wouldn’t hand over the registration until he got the reggy for the bike. Now what was my ex going to do??!! 

When we got home the owner of the bike came over spitting mad at my ex. The neighbours had told him his bike left in my ex’s flat deck. Where was his bike??? The whole neighbourhood was up in arms. 

But my ex didn’t miss a beat. He took the wheels off the Mercedes and sold them for $600, took four hundred over to the guy who owned the motorcycle, got the registration, called the owner of the Mercedes and delivered the motorcycle reggie. Everyone was happy. Except me. It was wrong, wasn’t it? He sold something that didn’t belong to him but in the end everyone was happy.

I decided to mind my own business when it came to his business dealings. I told myself that how he did business was no reflection on my standards. 

But he was always being accused of stealing, got fired from every job he had for stealing and people were NOT happy. It got harder and harder to ignore how he did business and was I not just as guilty for staying with a man who stole from people? How could I respect someone who operated opposite to my values.

Then there was the infidelity. But was it infidelity? Was a personal ad actually cheating?  I was sure he wasn’t meeting any women, we were together almost 24/7 and he wasn’t likely to hook up with a Russian Bride. I told myself he was just checking to see if he could still attract women if he wanted to.

Him staying up all night looking at porn and joining dating sites wold have ordinarily been enough for me to walk. But he kept insisting he loved me. I would lay it all out. It’s OK to look at porn, hey, it’s OK to date lots of different women and there are women out there that would be OK with it but I expect fidelity. He would call me paranoid storm, out of the house and I would cry all day. Then he would call, use his “soft” voice, call me Baby and ask how I was. He’d ask if I’d eaten and take me out for dinner. We would be like we were in the beginning. Him staring into my eyes, our hands brushing against each other’s.  Him pulling me close and whispering I love you. Him knowing exactly what to do to drive me insane and then the fantastic sex!!

The next day I would be giddy with love. Certain that he had thought about what I had said and decided he would be faithful. 

After awhile of course I would discover more ads, and eventually he did physically cheat. By that time I was so far into denial I couldn’t face the truth. We had split so many times it had become “just the way we are”. We had such a deep connection and love that neither one of us could deny, we would always end up back together. 

My ex did some really alarming things that in retrospect I should have seen as threats to my safety but I had been denying my gut instincts and basic boundaries for so long I couldn’t recognize the obvious signs my life was in danger.

If his sister had not come to live with us I doubt I ever would have left on my own; my thought processes had become so unhealthy. 

I hear it on the blog all the time; a victim thinks she has control of the situation, the kids aren’t affected, she is “on to him” or the woman he’s screwing around on is a stupid bitch for not believing her when she called the new woman and told her all about him. 

The victim knows that if they accept the truth or stand by their boundaries they would have to leave the narcissist. They will have to face the fact that their fairytale romance was a lie. The love of their life is a fake. It is often times easier to lie to yourself than face the truth. 

The narcissist knows that, that is why he creates the most romantic, movie worthy romance, you are perfect, he is your knight in shining armor rescuing you from all the ugliness of the world, the boredom of marriage, the drudgery of motherhood, whatever it is that is pulling you down. He makes you feel alive, beautiful, safe, exciting, loved just the way you are. This is what meeting your soul mate feels like. This is love, being in his arms becomes like oxygen to the victim so she must somehow rationalize the facts to match her fantasy. 

It becomes so ingrained by her in her own mind that it is very difficult for her to separate the truth from fantasy when she finally leaves the narcissist.

She will go back time after time refusing to fully accept the truth because she has cognitive dissonance and isn’t seeing things with clear eye glasses. It takes months away from the narcissist and the fog that follows them before the victim can think clearly and rationally.

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9 Replies to “Cognitive Dissonance and How It Helps The Victim Of Abuse Stay”

  1. This is what I needed right now. It’s so weird to know you’re experiencing horrific things, but minimizing them. A few days ago my Narc did something that was so frightening and I felt very much in danger, but it happened so quick that when it was over I kept thinking to myself “this thing happened. but it was really awful. he couldn’t have done that. I’m just exagerrating in my mind. maybe it didn’t happen because he wouldn’t do what he just did.” This has happened several times, but now I know what it was. I was disassociating it from my mind.

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  2. Wow. I could have written this. My ex was the master of wheeling and dealing. Always making deals with people and when I would ask, he would basically tell me that I didn’t need to get involved – this was his area and I was not to interfere. I shudder to think of all the people he screwed over. And like you, my ex and I broke up several times but like magnets, we always got back together. NOT THIS TIME. I am divorced from him and I’m reading all I can about narcissism and personality disorders because wow, is my ex ever a narc!

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  3. Yes, making deals is definitely what he does. He still from work all the time and never gets caught, he even got a promotion loll he got fired from one of his old job because he was stealing but they couldn’t prove it… gift cards and furniture at ridiculous prices. Lying that he will do something and embellishing everything to make you feel in a warm bubble of comfort is his specialty. Then bang you just realized you got screwed over. But it keeps happening… exept everytime you confront him about it you get punished and he makes sure your weak and tired to the poit where you just agree. That’s where he wants you at all times. If you try to leave or post or talk to anyone about what you are living, expect that he will check your phone and even call YOUR friends to say your crazy. I had a blow out 6 months ago and was trying to discover if he cheated but you know what lolll i keep looking for evidences but i just know. Now im at the point where im not looking and i dont care. He brought me to a work event and it was beautiful but you know you never get the full experience with a narc. You know at some point that you will be put down for something because you said you didn’t like something and now its all your fault. Drinking to relief stress is not an option either. Getting drunk even less, they love it because they can say that the blow out was your fault and tell everyone your an alcoholic outta control when its them drinking every day. So to come back to this trip, work friends or even work friends of friends made comments about drinking 2 bottles of wine every day. His family comments about whiskey. His mom saying that “one aunt” is a looser and was drunk every day at 10 am but you know thats not true and she’s referring to you. What i am experiencing right now is him telling how awful i was and a drunk to minimize the fact that some probably know he cheated. I get comments from his family, friends and friends of friends. Im the bitch and hes the poor good guy. It keeps happening and he knows it too and of course he lovessssss it. On the way back close to home i was crying, i played dumb the whole time again but i knew what was happening. Now that the word got out of how horrible i was. I even got called a shithead and told that some people dont know where a family member is, lolll also references to porn that he watches 24/7 because he always masturbates like 10 times a day but im the freak lolll one of his friend that i confind in the day before, whitch was obviously a way to see what i would say loll we went out the night before, she got really drunk and started hitting on a table full of men. I know exactly what she was doing and also that it was all a trap. She has a boyfriend but was hitting and touching all the men there. I just sat at the end of the table and conversed with the other dudes. She ask me like ten times which one i liked better so i finally pointed to one of them and made it seem like i was interested… i even gave a fake name. She was having fun and would bring all the details back to my boyfriend of course. Im not saying im perfect but i did talk and wanted to dance with people, i do it with women and it’s definitely not because i am a lesbian. That also came up lolll yeah… Anyways, the next day was the event and like i said, i got asked questions on my lige like a million times but you know when people are kidda piss off at you, you feel it. And then during the event 2 of his coworkers where all over him you know in front of everyone lolll But i guess everyone that was there knew how much of a drunk, lesbian, cheater, lying bitchy and bad person i was that it was ok to do it. I was not happy of course so i told him i wanted to leave and that he could stay, you know after the 40 th person that makes comments and you can definitely feel the vibe you just want to leave of course. He gets really mad and starts yelling at me in front of the bar, someone comes and talks to him and he says let’s go we are leaving. I am not drunk at this point and haven’t been the whole trip loll So of course now i look like i forced him to leave and he wanted to stay. He always does and tells me he goes to bed at 10 pm lmao So now we get to the hotel and i get the silent treatment because i ruined the night. Like wow seriously but he knows that, he planted his seeds with the help of his friend. It was a perfect night for him because everything that got out online, this was payback like see your wrong, you are all this things i said you were and everyone believes me not you because i am a good guy. Same with that new couple of friends we meet for them i am a, what was that word again oh yeah a looser and a dead beat because im not working and i am on unemployment because my old boss was a jerk but thts not the story he told of course, the story is that i got unemployment because i lied and use gouvernement resources to extort money that working people pay and that i was waiting for my 1000 hours to do it. Of course lolll that is definitely it. Its easy to believe that. Dead beat that drinks lie and watever else he can come up with when it’s convenient. The reality is i was fed up of my asswhole boss and i didn’t like my job at all… now i see that because i really wanted to be in sales and they only hire stupid petite blonds to do it. Second, drinking maybe i did it for a while and close family didn’t like it either but i was fed up of working, cleaning the house, having no acess to my own money and getting yelled at constantly because i cant do anything right. Between family members acting up because some of them were getting abused as well, my work and him i didn’t have anything really. I couldn’t talk to anyone because i would get it back 10 times and he made sure i always did. I had a diary and he got into it, i would write frustration and stuff he did because he lies and cheats all the time and sometimes means stuff. I would write it on purpose, the meaner it was the more repercussions i got. His whole family hurd about it too and made comments about it. It was great. I jad to eventually erase it because thats what he wanted and he would not stop bullying me himself and with the help of his family because those members are narcs themselves and know the game. All 3 of them were pushing hard because you know what its all about money and he makes a lot of it right now lying to people all day. Thats what he does best, its business loll so to go back, i was crying in the way back home because all of that happened and then of course i knew i was gonna get it back home. You know, im tired and its the best time to step on me and really put me down after the “nice vacation ” i had loll. 1 min into the car and it starts and im crying again of course. He asked me why are you crying, there is something more. At that moment i knew he was just savoring his victory. Like see stupid i win again and he did. I didn’t know all that stuff would happen because you never think narcs are ever tht evil and mean but they never stop suprising you. The only difference between now and 6 months ago is that now i actually know what’s happening and i am not as naive as before. I see him for what he really is a cheating lying evil person that will stop at nothing to win. All im doing now is looking out for myself and this whole thing will stop soon or hes going to kill me, he already did with my reputation and everyone i know. Good job love. Xoxo

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  4. Sorry for the orthograph again, anyways did i say that my dead beat ass that cant take the pressure of being with a powerful men has a job interview soon. He offered to drive me there. I refused because i would like to be in a good mood and not dryed up of my self esteem when i get there so i can actually show that i would be a good employee. Maybe this time i can keep some of my paycheck and it wouldn’t be my fault for LETTING him do all these horrible things to me. Thats what ive been told. Yes, really. He was all anxious this morning asking me like 10 times if i loved him and probably wondering if i actually knew what happened on the trip. What i was doing today and that i would probably leave when he was going to work that there was something up with me. It was hard to write the first paragraph too because he checked up on me like 20 times and if he things im doing something “wrong” watch out.

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  5. I’ve been with my narc/sociopath almost five years now. My intuition was never at rest from about three weeks after we got together. He had an affair while I was pregnant a year ago I found out and it was like when I found out he got bolder and more disrespectful. Kept seeing the woman told me he was in love with her, didn’t use protection and said she was someone he was involved with during high school. I begged for him to go to counseling and he told me he was giving me an out. I stayed around for three weeks while he kept running around and when I found out he got a second phone just to speak to her I snapped. I left and he kept asking me to come back. And when I did he was still being secretive still going out not an ounce of remorse. He hated when I brought it up etc. we can never talk he always calls it arguing when it something regarding the relationship. He is very selfish. Fast forward and some girls I knew from high school sent me video and pics of him with the same girl from a year ago at a bar very close to our house. (The affair must’ve never ended) now I’m trying to get myself together to leave him and it’s has been very hard. We have a home two car notes with both names and a 1yo and 5month old. Every time he’s nice things just go back to normal. Reading all of this I know I need to run. And I want to. It’s just super hard.

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  6. I left a tumultuous relationship 3 years ago from what I believe to be a narcissist confirmed by his ex wife and ex girlfriend. Get this, he’s now telling everyone I am the narcissist. I hate writing but this subject definitely immobilizes me most I don’t know if anyone else thinks so but this is very hard to talk about. Even down to chronological order of events or what I was thinking or feeling at the time because you can still feel the wreckage. But getting back to it I know he still hoovers not because he cares about me he’s just checking on me to make sure I look bat shit crazy & he looks like he has recovered from me. Social media definitely instrumental for him to get my name out there. I’m not sure how he does it but I know in my gut he does all the while acting as if I never existed. He is completely emotionless and anything he shows was/is by choice because it serves him in someway. I had him arrested after he finally graduated to domestic battery after 2 years of emotional abuse towards me and my children. This, alone has exposed him for the second time because he also battered his ex. wife who soon after divorced him. If there is one thing I have learned about these kind of people is that they will never stop, like robots. And, My feelings still have not fully caught up with my decision to leave him a few summers ago. If anyone is doubting themselves and instead believing the lies he/she was fed about being crazy. Know that you have been rocked to your core by a con who has spent their entire life conning other people just like you. You are not match for that and you should be proud to say that. If you can’t leave him/her & you know in your gut that you need to: call the police whenever possible, expose the individual in court & get a restraining order. The single most valuable part of their existence their image. Once that person walks away from you,… every woe.. all the world is going to coming crashing down around you. EMBRACE IT. None of it was real. RUN TOWARDS IT not away from it. It is going to hurt like hell for a long time.Your heart will, but your body & mind will begin to heal again. Get some true help online is great but you need professionally trained AND very empathetic compassionate people to guide you back & most of the time to a better place where you started so you don’t attract another one into your life. Then your heart will follow. At this point in my life, I am single mother of two amazing sons. The memories of him are fond & some down still hard to accept. But It’s the past now. And though even now I get confused or doubt -which is totally normal. I don’t regret my decision to leave. It altered my reality as I knew it for a life time. I have been enlightened.

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  7. I have been reading your blog since 2015, I think, I cannot remember when I found you but I am so glad that I did. I came across your blog while googling narcissism. My ex-husband woke up one day in early 2014 and stated, I don’t love you anymore but maybe Jesus loves you”. Within 3 months of the conversation, he had filed for divorce, turned into the worst human being and moved to Alaska in June of 2014. He left me with 3 small children, a 20 year old car that barely ran and no money. I was a stay at home but was able to find a job pretty quickly. At that time, I had no idea what was going on or who he really was but these last 3 years have been an education.
    I have been meaning to write a reply but had so much to say and didn’t want to leave a marathon comment. I am 3 years out of that hell but find myself dealing with single parenthood, working full-time and still having to deal with him a new form of hell. I love my kids and they are the only reason I keep going. I moved away from family in 2006 to marry him and “live my happily ever after”. I am still in the same house and the same area since he left in 2014. I am alone though and have zero support to help with my kids. The main reason I am writing this is to just vent I guess. I am tired of hearing people say, “find a support system, go to counseling, find friends”….I have tried that and I think it must be me as I have been unable to make friends and feel ostracized socially . I haven’t been able to establish any kind of support system and I literally am up at 5:30am every morning and don’t get home until 6:30pm at night. I am exhausted and cranky. I feel like a failure as a mother. I just can’t do it all. I am not super woman. My little boy is struggling in school and just got suspended. He is being bullied and they suspended him for running up and down the hallway and yelling at a girl who is mean to him. I had to put my other child in private school so she would stop being bullied. That worked but I have no money to do anything.
    Their father is a nightmare. It has been the worst hell to have to continually deal with him. I finally had the State of Alaska intervene to force him to pay child support. I was able, financially, to make it these past 3 years but I can’t do itanymore. He still does not pay anything toward medical. I found out he was collecting the medical payments and pocketing that money instead of paying their medical bills. Anything medical, I have paid out of my pocket. That is separate process to take him to court to make him pay. I don’t have the time.
    I could go on and on. I have dozens of examples of his sociopathic and narcissistic behaviors. It’s uncanny how eerily similar these people are. He is a charmer though. The woman he left me for in 2014, gave him $6,000 for his divorce and is still shoveling out money to him. She pitied him I am sure …the poor man with 3 small children and the “psychob***h” wife. Unbelievable what these people are capable of. Like I said, though…what an education these 3 years have been and I am so thankful I am not longer naive to their behavior. Sorry for the long comment. I would love to correspond with anyone on here. Not necessarily looking for advice, but more to discuss. I am a great listener too!
    CARRIE, WE ALL LOVE YOU…and you mean so much to me!!! Sometimes I just come to read what you have written to calm down. I mean it. This site has helped me so much. LOVE YOU!!!!

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