Cognitive Dissonance - Part One

Cognitive Dissonance is a form of Trauma Bonding. This is a difficult concept to explain and has been quite difficult for me to understand.

In general, it is the existence of two opposing thoughts held at the same time. It promotes a sense of confusion and keeps one stuck in a toxic relationship.

Here is what I said to myself over and over in this past relationship:

Thought 1
This relationship is abusive and unbearable. I need to get out.

Thought 2
He really is a great guy. It's ME with all the problems.

Most people would leave a relationship when it gets unbearable or when their boundaries get crossed. Unfortunately, I stayed around — and for many reason.

Self-esteem was one.

I was hooked. I was hooked by all the good things he did for me.

Bill idealized me at first. What girl would NOT want what he gave me? I spent 2 long years hurting and waiting for Matt to come home. Two years without a date. Two years without a man in my life who kissed me, complimented me, treated me like I meant something to him. I realize this is a short time to be without someone. I know that. At the same time, those years were spent feeling rejected and sad, trying to find the power within myself to take care of myself and my son. I spent those years writing, taking care of myself, hanging out with healthy friends and doing fun things with my son.

It's no wonder when Bill came around (and I did date a few other men too) that I fell carelessly into his arms. Here's what I wrote about Bill when I first met him:

my heart skips a beat when he calls. when he writes. when he texts. when he says he's thinking of me. my heart leaps when he says he's on his way. when he shows up. when he opens the door for me. when he pulls me close and looks into my eyes. when he lightly, softly kisses me. when he walks up behind me, brushes my hair away and melodiously kisses my neck.... his breath tingling my back. i get butterflies when he compliments me. when he notices all the little things about me that have always gone unnoticed, unappreciated. my heart skips a beat when he holds me tightly, pulls me closer to him. when he makes me wait. and wait. and wait. he's patient. much more patient than i am. and he's a gentleman. he only kisses me the way i want to be kissed when we are alone. and he wont go any further than is appropriate. he lets me enter a room first, holding the door for me. he will tell me i look great. that i smell good. that i'm attractive. that he likes the scarf i'm wearing; that he loves the hat i have fashioned on. and then my shoes, oh how he adores my sexy shoes! he notices it all. he misses nothing. and remembers every detail. 
he appreciates everything i say and do. he writes lists of things he loves about me, but most important (he says) on his list is that i am confident and strong. he thinks i am smart and strong. and my age... he is not interested in younger women, like the young cute gals who work at alterra (coffee shop). he wants a woman like me, with life experience. and... he believes in me! it's as if he really knows me, and for the first time in my life i feel as if there is a person who completely gets me! i can't control him, not one bit. but i can make his knees buckle when he looks into my eyes and he makes me weak in the knees. 
he's a man. he's sweet. kind. gentle. light. strong. thoughtful. confident. secure. not possessive. encouraging. cute. tall. talented. spiritual. exciting. adventurous. human. loves the outdoors. loves to read. loves to talk. loves to listen. loves that i love my job. finds everything about me acceptable. i feel good with him. i feel normal. i feel understood. i feel there's no roller coaster of emotions.

i have, finally, a small semblance of a personal life again, and it is so refreshing.

he might have the power to hurt my feelings but he has the humility to apologize and make things right. he's warm, gentle and kind.
he lets me be me. i do what i need. he wants me to be independent and not be clingy. he doesn't need me, but enjoys his time with me. he has a life, friends, passions, interests. everything makes sense. he has a healthy outlook, is educated, spiritual. he talks about my son as if he'd like to be a part of his life someday. he says he never wanted a child but it would be nice perhaps. he thinks i am an amazing mother raising a great child. and that gives me hope that we could be together as a family some day! and he even writes me one-line love poems and 4-line sonnets (technically not a sonnet). we have long, long kisses, the kind a woman dreams about, the kind that make me cry sometimes. he holds me tight in his arms, wraps himself around me like no man ever has. i fit right into his shoulder; my protector, my sweet lover, my friend and confident. he says he hears music when we are together. and i hear music when he's gone. he greets me with a text good morning every day, and each and every night without fail he wishes me sweet dreams. without fail!! without fail!!
i could not ask for more! i'm so happy!

After 2 years of feeling rejected, not beautiful, unloved, here comes a guy who tells me all the things I longed to hear from my ex-husband! He was Prince Charming at his best! I was lifted up and adored! He not only adored me, but thought I was smart, beautiful, kind, sweet. He told me I was strong. Capable. Unappreciated by my ex. That my ex didn't deserve me, that I deserved better! That I married "beneath" me (his words).

Add on to that 3 years of adoration. Ups and downs. Oh there's more to the story. Lots more and I don't want this post to be about that today. However, a portion of that "love" I described above was shown to me even on the very last days, and after, of our relationship. Imagine my absolute horror when I found out all of the above was a lie.


A lie used to lure me into his world, a world of abuse and control like no other. I was strong but I was oh-so-vulnerable.

He wore that mask the entire relationship; he wore the mask so well that I truly truly believed it. It was only when he removed that mask and began to do the most horrible and cruel things to me that I began to see who (and what) this man really was.

Stay tuned. I will write a part two of this story tomorrow.


  1. OMG Andrea! That man sounds amazing. Too good to be true. Isn't that what love is supposed to be like tho? I would have a hard time not falling in love, especially if I had gone through what you did. Please don't beat yourself up. Not saying you are. But he does sound dreamy. I will tune in tomorrow to hear more. Thank you for sharing. I'm so sorry you're still struggling with this. You are in my prayers.

  2. This is a completely convoluted interpretation of cognitive dissonance. Mental health illnesses and conditions are extremely complex. I caution you against associating situational circumstances to a diagnosis, especially not from information gained from a website. By stating that someone is a psychopath because they fit some of the diagnostic criteria is a huge problem in our modern culture. By this standard it is then by the same logic to say that anyone who keeps to a schedule has OCD, or anyone with selfish tendencies who places blame of person failure on others has borderline personality disorder. I am truly sorry for what you have endured, and hope you can get to a place where you are happy. Searching for answers on a bias site without a clinical behavioral health background will do more harm than good. Good luck on your path.

    1. The interpretation makes complete sense to me and unless you walked in my shoes or others', then you don't really have a right to caution me. I am finally putting the pieces of my life back together. I was violated more times that I can count and if there was a law again rape in the way I was repeatedly by this man, then he would be in jail for a long time.

      While I think it's great that people read this blog and comment, and for that reason alone I would not delete your comment, but to be honest, it goes against much of what I have found to be helpful. Obviously I cannot tell all online. Personal details simply cannot be shared here. This person is self-admitted freak, someone who does not follow societal rules. Perhaps if I or my son died in my garage fire you'd have something different to say.

      The real problem is that there are 100's of 1000's of these types of people walking the streets UNDIAGNOSED. Women such as myself need to be educated as to the characteristics of these predators. I fell victim to this particular one and my son almost lost his mother while this man would have never lifted a finger to show loss, to reach out to my son,... in fact I can bet he would have laughed or shook his head in disgust... disgust of ME... not his actions by any means.

      Searching for answers on several sites confirm my experience. I have not mentioned his last name here on RP in order to protect his anonymity. Trust me, I have photos and evidence of his insane nature. And I have every right to use the word psychopath. It is only by bonding iwth others that women such as myself can recover.

      I'm a small fish. Perhaps you could go to and set them straight. Or Or any of the 100's of other sites that help women like me. I can tell you my site gets about 30 visitors a day, probably 1/2 of which are spam. There are much bigger fish out there for you to caution.

      I appreciate your empathy for what I have experienced, but I don't find your comment helpful to my recovery.

      This man is a psychopath and a narcissist, straight up. No doubt in my mind. Most days unless I'm in CD.

  3. But what does that say about your judgment, Andrea? Why did you allow someone so disturbed and freakish near your own son? Most adults have a gut feeling, know when something is off, you even mentioned when you started dating him that he is unbalanced. Why did you continue to see him? He might be the complete shithead that you are describing but perhaps, just perhaps Andrea, you have to start looking why you fall for these kind of man. You seem needy, you need to be complimented, told that you are pretty all the time. There is a problem with that. Perhaps that is why you are attracting men like him.

    1. I digress. Introspective study will lead to growth and future evaluation of who a young child should not be exposed to.

    2. Well, I'm glad you replied again.

      On some sites you'd be called a troll.

      One thing I will not tolerate on my little site is victim blaming or perpetrator sympathizing. That is what you are doing. I'd rather you didn't preach to me.

      As this I begin to shed light on narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths, it is only natural that trolls start joining me every now and then. I am on the lookout for behavior such as:

      Inflammatory comments
      Condescending attitude
      Sharing an apologist viewpoint of psychopaths (victim blaming, arguing that psychopaths are themselves victims)
      Mocking others for (rightfully) being offended by their BS
      Professing to have higher knowledge than others
      Frequently the center of arguments and flame wars
      Hijacking topics with comments that have nothing to do with the original post
      Bossing others around. That know-it-all attitude is not allowed here.

      These types of people rant and rave. They insult me, but ironically return under different usernames for more. I am very aware this, and I keep a close eye on them.

      Here at RP I have a zero tolerance policy for this kind of behavior. Call me a nazi communist fascist dictator, I don't give a crap. I am very well versed to the methods of manipulators who shift blame, minimize feelings, and mock others.

      If you read most of my blog you'd see why I fell for such a creep. He was a master of disguise. We had many fun times as well. Many psychopaths walk among us, completely unnoticed. He found ways to abuse, brainwash and manipulate me. And I am not a stupid woman. I run my own business. I am a successful mother with many women friends who respect me and would do anything (have done anything) for me. I am educated, smart, kind, creative and talented. I negotiated a beautiful car deal, which I paid cash for because I have the money to buy a car outright. I have money in the bank. I help many other women who suffer from the family disease of alcoholism. I'm respected in my community and in my church. Yes, even the most successful people have their weaknesses.

      I did not let my son meet this man until I had dated him for 8 months. At that time he had gained my trust. Little did I know he was a master of disguise and was willing to act a part for however long it would take. My son adored him as well. And he was not allowed to be with my son alone for the first year.

      As far as introspection goes, I think if you read the pages of my blog you'd see that I am working very hard at these questions you posed. I have been for quite some time.

      As far as needy and wanting to be told I was pretty? My husband never told me I was beautiful — not even once. Then I met Bill who told me constantly I was beautiful.

      And then he stopped.

      And I mentioned that I missed that time when he treated me like a princess. I was being courted (in N and P circles, it's called Love Bombing). Read this article:

      With your big fancy words... I would say that perhaps future study in the area of narcissism and psychopathy will reveal the answers to the questions you posed to me, and you'd gain a greater understanding of the topic of which you truly know very little.

      Have a wonderful evening.

  4. You go Andrea! I was going to bash him/her but so much better that you are standing up for yourself!

  5. Bravo, Andrea. You know who your supporters are and that we've got your back. You're getting through this. Keep up the good work!
    xo Elle


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