Someone once asked about the chances of an abusive partner seeing the error of their ways, seeking help, being able to reform their behavior, and if it did happen, were they with their partner or separated?
As to seeing the error of their ways, I’ve yet to truly experience that or know of that with someone else.
I think they see something. I think there’s an awareness, or as Dr. George Simon phrased it, They see, they just don’t agree.
or… They’re aware, they just don’t care. Something like that.
Below is an excerpt of the article linked here: http://www.manipulative-people.com/people-with-character-disturbances-openness-vs-awareness/
There’s a big difference between being “aware” (at least on an intellectual level) and being “open” or receptive to someone else’s input or viewpoint. A person has to be in an admissive frame of mind and heart in order to process information at a level deep enough for it to have real meaning. But disturbed and disordered characters are often so married to their ways of seeing and doing things that they can’t give due consideration to other perspectives. They’re usually aware of how others want them to see and do things, but they’re also opposed to those ways. Naturally, this creates problems in their relationships.
The lack of openness in disturbed characters is rooted primarily in their arrogance (i.e. their “I understand your way but I think my way is superior” stance) as opposed to their ignorance (i.e. “I simply don’t know any other way”). Another reason for their lack of openness has to do with their preference. Most of the time, the ways they’ve come to look on things, think about things, and especially to conduct their affairs are compatible with various traits in their personality. They may have even tried out alternatives but found the ways they eventually adopted a more comfortable, easy “fit”, especially with respect to their self-image, and, therefore, preferable. And because they preferred these ways, they quickly became habitual and, in time, ingrained. Finally, the disturbed character’s lack of receptiveness has to do with their core beliefs and the values they hold. Now, many are quick to assert that disturbed, and especially disordered characters simply have no values. But this is untrue. They do indeed have values, as well as a hierarchy of importance they attach to those values. What you have to remember, however, is that the values they hold are often significantly different from the values most others might like them to embrace.
So, do I think that he ‘sees’?
Speaking only from personal experience, I would definitely say yes to this with a big HOWEVER. There are times that it seems that my husband sees, acknowledges, and attempts to make amends for wrong doing.
I mean, I’ve had apologies, and when I’ve asked for it, a few written apologies. Those are usually times when even Houdini couldn’t escape the evidence of bad behavior.
He will even occasionally say that he’s somewhat appalled, discouraged, and sometimes even express a feeling of hopelessness and fear that he’ll be able to change. At times, he’ll acknowledge disordered thinking is fueling the wrong behavior.
The problem is, that his moments of clarity don’t seem to last, at least not showing in LASTING behavioral changes. The problem for me is that this ‘change’ is something that takes a long committed amount of time, work, effort etc., and it feels like most of the commitment, time, work, and effort is draining from me. As have the years of my life…
When the rubber meets the road, when he is actually ‘in’ the midst of this kind of disordered thought and behavior, he doesn’t seem ‘see’ it. In that moment, he ‘sees’ himself more as a victim in one way or another. Like a frustrated child, he’ll sometimes catch himself, angry at himself, angry at me, just frustrated. Who said growing up is fun? One redeeming grace is that when he challenges his own thinking and behavior, he’ll often skewer himself with humor, and then go back at it, trying to get it right. But so far, lots of wash, rinse, repeat, year after year.
When I was twenty, I thought we’d grow up together. Now, I want to stop this crazy part of my life where I feel like the mother of my husband. Stopping that is easier said than done. I’ve done the disconnect thing, and then he lands us in more chaos that binds and enmeshes my life to his even more tightly. Now I’m trying to build stability, particularly in our precarious finances, and create more choices for myself.
I believe that he sees to some degree the plain ‘wrongness’ of it, but it can be like a light bulb whose connection is not firm and secure, and it flickers. I can’t secure the connection for him. Only he can do it, and only if he wants to do it, chooses to do it, and is willing to do the work himself. Will he? I don’t know.
I only know that when I’m trying to focus all my energy on changing me, I have my work cut out for me, one day at a time.