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Undoing the riddle of the sociopath

A while ago, I heard a riddle on the radio I hadn’t heard since I was a young girl.

Three men go to a hotel and book a room together. The room costs $30, so they each pay $10. After they’ve gone upstairs the desk clerk realizes the room only cost $25. He gives the bellhop $5 and tells him to return the money to the men. The bellhop figures he can’t split $5 evenly, so he pockets $2 and gives them each $1 back. That means they each paid $9 for the room. Which means they paid, $27 total. But, if you add the bellhops $2, it means there’s only $29 — Where did the extra $1 go?

Ultimately, the answer is, it’s not a math question — it’s a case of misdirection. The riddle asks us to follow the money trail based on the monies returned, not the monies paid. It mixes money paid with money received and money returned – and takes our focus off of what’s really going on. There never was an extra $1. It’s just a case of misdirection.

When I was in relationship with the sociopath, I lived a riddle. I followed his misdirection. I focused on what he was saying ‘would happen’, not what was actually happening. He continually asked me to ignore the facts, and focus on his lies. And I did. Not because I’m stupid. I’m not. My attention was diverted into the lies, into believing his truth was what he was speaking, because what he was doing because he kept masking what he was really doing. And, whenever I thought about what he was actually doing, it didn’t add up. Because I couldn’t make sense of his misdirection, I focused on what he was telling me was true, not reality.

It is a common trait amongst those of devious intent. Like a husker shifting the cards rapidly before your eyes, you try to follow the action of his hands and never see the trick unfolding. Mislead into believing the truth is waiting for you under the card you think you’ve been following, you lose sight of what he’s really doing with his hands. You focus on the cards, not the player, and lose sight of what’s happening before your eyes.

Life is filled with riddles. Today, I recognize riddles as what they are, thought-provokers, interesting games – but not my life. I still like riddles, I just don’t get caught up in the need of having to figure them out so badly that I lose focus on who I am and where I’m at in my life today.

My life is not a riddle waiting to be discerned. Life is what I make it. There’s no mystery, no sleight of hand, no riddle to be figured out in order for me to live my best day yet. It’s up to me to make this my best day yet so that I can live the life of my dreams. No one else can tell me my dreams. No one else can make my dreams come true.

Since leaving the riddle of that relationship with the sociopath, I have figured out my truth. I know who I am, what I want in my life, and I take responsibility to live my life with integrity, grace and honesty. To stay out of someone else’s riddle, I must always stay true to my values, moral, principles — not the truth someone else tells me or wants me to believe is my reality.

My truth is, this is my one and only life. It’s up to me to live it, breathe it, experience it — no holds barred. It’s up to me to be the best me I can be so that I can fearlessly live the life of my dreams.

The question is: Are you living the life of your dreams, or are you following someone else’s misdirection in the hope they will lead you to the truth of who you are?



15 Comments on "Undoing the riddle of the sociopath"

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  1. jofary says:

    Stunned: You need to step outside of yourself and look at the situation as if you were a stranger – things become so much clearer that way. I suggest you reread your post in another six months because you’ll probably see some things much more clearly.

    When I read your post, I saw that you were successful after you left him the first time, leading a full, productive and probably satisfying life. You obviously have the ability to take care of yourself and you did it gloriously. And you can do it again if you don’t let your experiences with your ex continue to destroy you.

    You are clearly a compassionate, patient and responsible person – you stood by him and did what you could to make the relationship work. You were genuine in your intentions. He was not. He chose you because he knew he could manipulate those qualities to his advantage.

    He is a classic sociopath and this is evident from your description of your life with him. Once you accept this fully and completely, and stop trying to “figure him out” and analying what you did “wrong”, you will be well on your way to healing.

    That said, work at putting the confusion behind you. Work at understanding you weren’t expecting too much (no way!). In fact, you expected too little and he trained you to be that way.

    And that’s the way it is with a sociopath. They train you to accept the unacceptable. It begins in small doses and it accumulates like raindrops in a bucket. They continually push your boundaries outwards and they do it so gradually you don’t even know it’s happening. Battered women are examples of this; if their man hit them on the first date, they’d undoubtedly run away (and probably call the police). But over time they get trained to accept derogatory remarks, then verbal abuse and, finally, getting hit.

    You are a battered woman except it’s your spirit that has been battered. But I think that’s probably the worst kind of abuse. Bruises, at least, go away without effort. Healing your spirit requires you to start loving yourself again.

    Now I just have to follow my own advice! 🙂



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  2. ritad says:

    M.L. Gallagher – this article is ART! You succinctly explained to me a baffling puzzle…and validated an intelligent woman who still cannot believe how easy it is to mislead a good person. Thank you – I feel SO MUCH BETTER! But more than that, I will not let it change who I am or my sincerity and openess to a next possibly significant person I hope to meet in my life.



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  3. Thank you everyone for your powerful comments — and for sharing your truth.

    I have been moving and have not had a chance to respond to your words filled with such insight.

    Everytime I log on here, I am in awe of the awesome truth of the women and men who post.

    Thank you for sharing so generously.

    As Jofary says — Healing your spirit requires you to start loving yourself again.

    Loving yourself means turning up for yourself with tender loving care and embracing all that you are in love — warts and all.

    May everyone enjoy a day of healing, joy and laughter.

    ML



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  4. LouiseGolem says:

    Just wanted to post on this article to bring it back into the mainstream. It’s really quite excellent. There are many great lines and observations in it, but here is my favorite right now:

    “There’s no mystery, no sleight of hand, no riddle to be figured out in order for me to live my best day yet. It’s up to me to make this my best day yet so that I can live the life of my dreams.”

    For the last four to six months of my two and half years with a man who has to be a psycopath, I spent every day trying to figure out the riddle of his words, his actions, and where I fit into them. As if fitting into them could give my life meaning. I lost total sight of the fact that, prior to meeting him, my life was absolutely full of a meaning that I alone had constructed, based on my morals, my education, my goals. . .

    I’ve been working for two months now to reclaim that base, and it’s hard work. I keep slipping and sliding. I really believe I’ll succeed, though.

    And every person who reads this needs to believe he or she can succeed, too. I”m guessing you and I both were finally smart enough to listen that voice in our guts saying “something’s wrong here; get out get out!” Now listen with me to that same voice for advice on what to do next. I have absolute faith that it will tell me.

    Thanks, M.L.



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  5. style1 says:

    Yes.. this was a good post to read.. the slight of hand is how they con and infiltrate.. don’t look at what is real.. look at what is going to be.. promises… promises…I never totally bought it.. I kept him on his toes for a year.. and I protected myself..

    I know had I given into him.. that he would’ve brought me down in everyway possible.. then blame it on me..

    and they use compliments and love and all things good to get you hooked..

    By the end.. this con.. who didn’t have a house or a bed or anything but a paycheck that went mostly to his ex..

    Criticised me by stating that one or my pair of sheets didn’t come up as far as they should on the bed.. that sheets should come up further.. we are talking a few inches here and about a set of sheets!
    and this arrogant man didn’t even own a bed.
    He began picking me apart on stupid little things that matter little…

    it’s CRAZY!



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  6. Spirit40 says:

    Misdirection: I am in a program…”yeah an outpatient program” and living with a man who says… he is in love with you…. using the cell phone under my bill to call other women and when it gets turned off saying that “she made a mistake” and have the cell co. call me to check if I made a mistake… No mistake….. misleading… half truths are still lies are they not? how is that relavent he would say ? its relavent to me if your lieing to me ? thats how …. misdirect … have me beleive that nothing happened between you and a man who is clearly gay , while I have emails that say other wise… misdirection to make us look and feel crazy … Yeah I am stupid for falling before but not falling again for the BS and lies and misleading information….



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