Now that my kids are adults, he’s shown up again, riding in like a hero on his “great guy” image, denying his actions and sewing confusion anew. Narcissists (NPD’s) and sociopaths are like that. It’s easy to be the great guy when time is limited to holiday photo ops and lunches. In their wake, however, these personality disordered individuals often leave people with the uneasy feeling that something isn’t quite right.
Most of us readily dismiss that feeling because of something called “cognitive dissonance”. The theory of cognitive dissonance is based on the assumption that we like our belief systems to match our reality. When confronted with information that conflicts with our beliefs, values, or ideas, we experience emotional discomfort; discomfort which we then seek to reduce – either by changing our beliefs (difficult) or by avoiding the new information (easier).
The greater the conflict, the greater the discomfort. The greater the discomfort, the greater the desire to avoid the new, disturbing information.
This explains why his version of the story – “I cheated once 15 years ago because my wife was such an angry crazy woman” – is much more palatable than the truth. Who wants a dad, or a son, or a brother (or a husband!) who is a sexually deviant serial cheater? They’ve never witnessed the deviancy, but have plenty of experience with his carefully crafted false image. Talk about cognitive dissonance!
I’m up against the fabrications of a habitual liar. Worse yet, a liar who actually believes his own lies. I won’t ever win by engaging in the war of words. He will continue to lie/deny and sew confusion wherever he goes, and I will be portrayed as crazy. He has to have it that way, just in case his worlds collide and I speak truth to his new prey.