Finding value in all things is an integral component of healing after an encounter with a sociopath. When I look for what is good in being freed from him, I create opportunities to be surprised by the unexpected. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “to expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.”
Expecting the unexpected is not a license to let go of rational thinking. It means staying connected to intellect and allowing my intuition to guide me –- especially where people are concerned.
New encounters can lead to wonder…or not
When we first meet someone, we do not know who they truly are, just as they don’t know who we are. New people in our lives can be the best thing that ever happened to us -– or the worst. They can contribute joy, laughter, friendship, fun and shared experiences, or they can contribute pain and turmoil. When I met the sociopath, the intensity and velocity of his attentions were unexpected -– and not unwelcome. Wow, such a talented and successful man was interested in me? Cool!
And thus I fell. I took his unexpected, and sudden, attentions and turned them into the expectation that he would be true to his word and never hurt me. In his railroading me, I got bowled over by the weight of his convictions that he knew what was best and right for me. I took my intellect off what he was — hurting me — and kept my mind on what he’d told me he would do — never hurt me — even while he was. I fell in love with the prince of my dreams and ignored the ogre prancing before my eyes. In my embracing of the unexpected ‘gift’ of his romance, I made a decision to let him into my life, and the lives of my daughters, too quickly.
Quick access paves the way for deceit
Quick access was important to him -– he needed to ensure I didn’t see who he truly was until he had me under his spell. I obliged. It was easy. I didn’t want him to see how needy I was. So while he seemed like an unexpected gift from a benevolent dating god smiling down on me, he wasn’t really all that unexpected. He was part of a pattern I’d indulged in most of my life: find my value in someone else’s presence in my life and don’t look for my value in me, in who I am, what I do, what I believe in, what I value.
Author and security expert, Gavin de Becker, aptly describes the series of tactics con men employ as thus:
- Forced teaming
- Charm and niceness
- Too many details
- The unsolicited promise
- Discounting the word “No”
(Source: Protecting the Gift. Survival Signals)
In those first heady days of that relationship, the sociopath used every single tactic to perfection. He told me my ‘exceptional’ talents as a communications professional were critical in his efforts to take his company public. (Building market-awareness for junior companies going public was my expertise. He hired me to help his firm list their stock on an exchange.) “This won’t happen without you. It’s you and me against the world of high finance. Together we can make this happen.” (Forced teaming)
He used his considerable charm to snow me -– his very first statement to me when I suggested we had met before was a seductive invitation to step into his web, “If we’d met before I’d never have let you go.” I swooned and fell. One Saturday, we had a meeting at his office (did I mention he was really, really busy and simply could not make a meeting during the week). I brought coffee and muffins. His old-world charm was seductive. He met me at my car. Held my door open. Complimented me on my outfit (I wore shorts and t-shirt, nothing special.) Insisted he pay for the coffees and muffins. Enthused about the coffee (it was regular old Starbucks) and the muffins as if he’d never had such great tasting muffins before. (Charm and niceness)
During one of our first meetings, I sat on a chair on the other side of his desk feeling somewhat uncomfortable and exposed as he described, with sensual explicitness, the joy of washing a car, his hands caressing the air in seductive curves. He asked me about my color preferences for car interior leathers and explained why as a woman, my choices were so incredibly relevant to their efforts to build the ‘perfect car’. He also mentioned how his former wife didn’t have any interest in what he did… (Too many details mixed with charm and niceness)
Typecasting was easy for him. He constantly stated I was naïve, lacked awareness of ‘evil’, and hadn’t really experienced true love in my life.
His early gift-giving was overwhelming –- creating an aura of gratitude. Look at all I’ve done for you. You owe me. (Loan sharking)
I remember wondering about his promise to ‘never hurt me’. I never suggested he would. Why did he think it was important to reassure me? (The unsolicited promise)
And, finally, discounting my No. I refused his invitation for a date, insisting I was not interested in dating; I’d just left a longterm relationship. I needed time to soothe my aching heart. He pressured and pressured me until I acquiesced and said Yes. My No became an unheard voice in the wilderness of his lies.
In the end, it was easy for him to dupe me. I wasn’t expecting the unexpected -– his duplicity –- I was expecting his adoration. In my expectation that he was the man of my dreams, I kept my eye on what I was looking for, not on what he was doing.
Create value in all things
In healing, I have found the value in that experience and used it to build the foundation of my beautiful life today. I didn’t live my truth back then; didn’t keep myself free of my victim’s thinking. Today I know better, and I do better.
Today, I still expect the unexpected. Life is too filled with wonder not to. Instead of accepting the unacceptable in unexpected surprises, however, I am willing to stand up and be counted on by me when someone crosses my boundaries. Recently, after two dates a man sent flowers to my office. I sent him packing. That gesture, combined with a couple of other unexpected items, showed me very quickly that he did not respect my boundaries. “I think you’re spectacular and only wanted to put a smile on your face,” he exclaimed when I challenged him on the appropriateness of sending a woman flowers to her office after a coffee date and a dinner. “You barely know me,” I replied. “And sending a woman flowers at her office after only meeting her twice presumes a familiarity that does not exist.” The flowers raised questions with my co-workers that I had no desire to answer. It was not acceptable.
On the other side of the darkness is light
Standing on the other side of the divide between the sociopathic experience and my life today, I’m not bowled over by the unexpected. I’m judicious and conscious of my responses. I don’t get taken by surprise when the unexpected turns into something I don’t want. Instead, I stand up for myself without fear that someone will think I’m wrong for how I feel. I know that when I stay true to myself, my values, principles and beliefs, I am powerful beyond my imagination. I am free.