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It's been awhile, I know. School has me tied up a bit. I hope everyone is well.

I know that I could leave this fool at any time and I know I am strong enough to do so. That said, I have to ask: When I catch him having a pretend conversation on the phone that is purely for the purpose of deception and manipulation, should I confront him? It makes me angry that he does it but I find myself holding back laughter. I am not that stupid! When I catch him, it makes me want to push the "find" button on the phone base or use my cell phone to dial the number and make it blow out his ear drum (not literally, I'm not that mean either). I use to question if he really knew and understood that he was lying about things or if he believed these things himself. I think now that that was just an attempt to justify his behavior. He knows he is lying and he still gets upset with me for telling the truth about something he has lied about. Even though, most of the time, the person I am telling the truth to knew he was lying before I told them what the truth was. No one who knows him believes anything he says yet he continues to try to lie. That's the part I don't understand and try to justify. Why would someone continue with lies that they have already been caught in? No real consequences, maybe? Is it a game to him? I don't know but I really think that I am going to confront him eventually and I'd just like to know what I might be in for if I do so.

Any suggestions or input would be appreciated.

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Hi there! Welcome back!

I think the question comes back to you – and your feelings of anger – and what do you want to do about/with them?

As you probably know, anger is a response to unmet expectations. It is reasonable (in general) to expect a family member (and you’re living with him and you have a son together so it’s reasonable that would seem like family) to be honest with you.

But you know that he’s lying! So – can you rid yourself of the expectation that he will be truthful? Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable without that expectation? Just in the case of the man you are living with, not with other family or yourself.

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DD I suggested that very thing to him. In the spirit of keeping peace, if he did not expect me to lie than I would not expect him to tell the truth. Somehow it's not really working out that way. I used the word "angry", perhaps in error, it's more like insulted. I feel that his lies and attempts at deception are insulting. Not only to me but to himself as well. I know that he is not as unintelligent or inept as his actions would indicate. I don't know if this could be fixed with dropping expectations. The positive aspect of expectation (as in expecting something and not getting it or getting something different), it is difficult NOT to expect some honesty. Honesty equates to respect, trust and security. In the negative aspect (having no expectations of a situation especially when it does not involve you in any way), it is difficult to deal with truths that are withheld and more difficult to cope with lies that are told for no reason whatsoever. To me these equate to a slap in the face.

I remind myself that he has problems but I still have difficulty managing MY problems that are cause by these as living in a home filled with negatives and trying to maintain a positive attitude and some self respect is all but impossible. If not for my positive and supportive friends and family (including those on this forum), I would not do him the kindness of acting as his buffer/liasson/mediator to the rest of the world. Even his own father, who unwittingly enables his behavior, calls him a vampire because he sucks the life out of everyone he comes in contact with.

Anyway, this pretending to talk on the phone thing bugs me. The only thing that my anger makes me want to do is find out why. What purpose does it serve? And if I confront him, will he stop trying to blow smoke up my ass?

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DD People have genuinely wanted to kill this man. Even his Mother and Father have at some point or a few wanted him out of their life. He has no one but our son. I don't know how to behave as a good influence or role model for my son if I can't even stick up for his father. To me, he is simply socially retarded. And that is difficult with perception and memory problems. Eventually, I would expect him to be institutionalized. Until then... I don't know.

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"I don't know how to behave as a good influence or role model for my son if I can't even stick up for his father."

But it seems likely that your son also sees his father's behavior. And he sees your behavior about the behavior. If your "sticking up" for the man includes pretending the behavior doesn't happen or that you don't mind (neither one being true), what do you think your son will conclude?

That said, I faced the exact same dilemma in my marriage (principal difference being that he wasn't my biological son, so maybe I had less ... "say" in the matter?) I can't say I handled it well. About all I took away from the attempt is my belief that there can't be any "sides" in a family. If there start to be, perhaps the "family" is doing more harm than good ...

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Malign, I see your point but let me offer this... When does a behavior warrant condemnation of the person performing the behavior? At what point, when the risk of physical harm is low or non existent, do we say that it is okay to abandon someone with a mental illness or deficiency for our own betterment?

It isn't that I excuse his behavior, nor does our son, it is more a matter of accepting the man despite the flaws. We all behave in less than appropriate or acceptable ways at times, just some of us more frequently than others. For his age, my son is exceptionally intelligent. He knows that his father's thinking and behavior is flawed but he has become adaptive to this fact. He is respectful while maintaining his own perspective and preferring advice from a source he deems more reliable.

As for me, I kind of dance on the fence between what I believe to be right and just and what I think is wrong, unfair and selfish. I know that psychological damage is often longer lasting than physical. I may not be so psychologically strong as the boy because I was not born into this situation and I do not have a contrasting personality so readily available as he. I do, however, have a tight and supportive group of family and friends that I can lean on when I feel like he is taking my sanity down with him. Perhaps, that is the best I can hope for (it's more than some have). I could leave, I can leave but what is it solving? Even if I no longer liked the man at all, I would have to deal with him because of our son and likely have more problems-keep your friends close...I don't see him as an enemy but with friends like that, who needs enemies?

Anyway, I guess it's a situation that just is what it is. The good, the bad and the whatever.

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Honestly, I don't think the word "condemn" really enters into this. I think people retain value without regard to actions.

Though if it does, I'd turn the question around on you: to what are you condemning yourself? Another way to ask it is, at what point did you become responsible for him in his illness? Ill or not, isn't he responsible for himself?

Now, I don't have a line I can point out that'll make this decision easy. In my case, with my ex-wife, the decision was made for me when she took out a protective order and effectively evicted me. Though it was over long before that, still I couldn't tear myself away, mostly because of my own mistaken ideas about responsibility and identity. So, I can't make any recommendation either way, except "to thine own self be true".

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I think that is where my real problem lies, Malign. What is true to me or truest to me? If my idea of decency is x, that is x=what I expect from myself and accept as decency, even if I get y from someone else then x is still equal to what I hold myself to. If I see a crime committed or if I am the victim of a crime it does not excuse criminal behavior on my part. While I am not going to beat myself up over a slip, it is being true to myself to stick to my personal values. At the same time, how can I refuse to beat myself up over a slip yet, throw another under the bus for theirs? I am not responsible for him or his behavior. I am, however, responsible for my decision to co-habitate and rear a child with him. First of all, there are too many throw away relationships rolling around out there. Second, if this man were my brother (and in the sense that mankind is a brotherhood, he is), I would try to get him help. If that didn't work, I would take him in, in an attempt to help him myself. I would not consider it self-condemnation as setting a moral standard for yourself and trying to maintain a sense of discipline to adhere to this standard is not condemning. Would it not actually be the opposite?

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I am sorry if I made you feel discounted DD.That was never my intention. I do appreciate all comments and advice on this matter. I was just thinking that malign has had similar problems that I am aware of and how he handled it relates directly to the matter. Not that that discredits anyone else's input. I am truly sorry that I made you feel that way (((((DD)))))

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Thank you so much, Frazzled. One of the reasons I posted was my newly learned ability to feel hurt. I wanted to “practice” expressing it. (The story is pretty much in my recent blog entries.)

Another reason, though, was that if I didn’t post it then you couldn’t know your words had that effect. And what if you are saying things that have that effect on your partner? And he’s feeling hurt or insulted himself and then does those (stupid) things that are so annoying to you?

Could you express some of your feelings to him and see what happens? For me, if/when I own my feelings, then nobody can take them away. I really appreciate your reply but if you had never said anything more on this thread, I would still be OK. That is, I didn’t feel like you had to acknowledge my hurt feelings because I had acknowledged them myself. But if we’re on the same page on this . . . well, we can then be together. . . which is nice, to have a friend. :)

Just before I checked back here I was reading Susan Anderson's Taming Your Outer Child and she points out that in any kind of feeling insulted or angry like you described, first comes hurt. It just hurts so much to feel hurt!!! But when you can, then. . . well, I've found it works out better. You just have to accept that you may be abandoned if you express it. (No easy task, that's why they have therapy.)

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I am glad you how this new found skill DD. I may say some things that cause hurt or upset to him as well. Things I may not mean to come out the way that it does, however, if he lies and I call him on the lie then he attacks me for calling him out that is not coming from a place of (for want of a better word) functional hurt. That is coming from a childish, "You caught me and now I'm mad!" place. If he lies to me and I refuse to pass on the lie, he says I have "thrown him under the bus", what else can I say except, "Stop standing in front of the bus!" He lies and I try to avoid it. I can accept that he lies (though not necessarily the lies themselves), but he cannot accept that I tell the truth (as much as I succeed in doing so). How do you fix what neither sees as broken?

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Not every pair of humans belong together.

I'd suggest that that's particularly true of pairs who both feel like something's broken, only it's the other person.

And it sucks to feel like I'm only recommending what I couldn't do.

One thought about trying what DD suggests: even if he doesn't hear you, saying what you need might help you feel better, just for being said. And it might put a sharper point on what you need, and on what he may not provide.

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I guess it is something like sadness but more like a lack. I lack understanding of him and his behavior and that he most definitely will never provide. He, just in the past week spent money intended to buy our son's school clothes and supplies. On what I can only guess at (but I think I know). And he used our foodstamp card for collateral to borrow money to get our son's school clothes and supplies, and told me he lost it. I don't understand and I truly want to.

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I'm so sorry, frazzled. :( That does sound so hard.

The lack to me, though, sounds more like what he isn't giving to you -- and to the son you have together. That seems like a "hurt" to me. We're here to support you, though, and maybe help you find some ways to get what you need?

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Thank you DD. I really do need all the support I can get. I guess the need to know why, the need to understand is a defense mechanism. I think that forgiveness with continued contact requires these answers. I have forgiven people the most heinous of acts but they were either 1 time acts or 1 time people (meaning I did not keep them in my life). My divorce was due to the fact that I could not continue to forgive the man for the same repeated behavior toward me and still live with him. It might seem that this is a similar situation but 1 my ex husband was physically abusive and 2 my ex had no mental disorder (although, I am beginning to think that being human is somewhat of a mental disorder).

I kind of think too that this one (like a good sociopath), begs my sympathy. He knows how to push the right buttons and make me feel bad about chiding him for something. He is also well adept at changing the subject, shifting blame, twisting logic, twisting the words of others and talking in general. He reminds me of a stereotypical used car salesman. Only he is selling me my own mind with his re-write!

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DD, I'd like to say that I protect myself against the re-write but everyone causes them to some degree. Exchanging information is supposed to help you gain a new perspective. I do however listen carefully for words that trigger a forceful re-write such as always, never, all, only, and of course the many "you" statements that he makes. I know me and don't need a blow by blow report of my past thoughts feelings and behaviors. I guess I kinda quit listening at these points. I have tried to look at the situation professionally but he says I am psychologizing him and he's not gonna have it! :P

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Maybe you have thought of this, or maybe they don't have any in your area, but have you thought of CODA? Or if your partner has any addiction issues -- even a little bit -- Al-Anon or Narc-Anon? I have found my in-person support group (for general emotional issues) very helpful.

Or -- have you tried 12-steps already and found it didn't help?

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He won't stick to anything. As far as counseling for me for the frustration of living with him, there are no services that are not a battered women's thing and I have been there done that (only for my previous relationship). He does have addiction issues but you can't get someone help who won't admit that they have a problem-the lies or the drugs.

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