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Normal behavior and the sociopath

Last week I did something that I really didn’t want to do. Thursday evening, I went out in the cold and rain to sit through a “customer appreciation” dinner at the dealership where we leased our car. My husband, Terry, wanted to go, but he couldn’t, because he just had knee surgery and was supposed to stay off his feet. So he put on his best smile and cajoled me into going. The event included a drawing for a big, flat-screen TV, and to win, all we had to do was show up. There wouldn’t be many people there, so our chances were good.

I knew I wouldn’t win the TV. I’m not the lucky one—he is. Plus, we don’t need a TV. The one we have is fine. But Terry, like most men, is a gadget guy. He really wanted to try to win the latest in TV technology. So to make him happy, I went to the dinner.

This is what we do when we’re in love—we try to please our beloved. We’re cooperative. We acquiesce to their requests. It is normal behavior in an intimate relationship—behavior that gets perverted when the other person in the relationship is a sociopath.

Giving in to requests

I remember the requests from the sociopath in my life, James Montgomery. They all came after he proclaimed his love to me:

• He needed money to cover expenses until his big business ventures, which would benefit us both, were funded. Could I help out?

• He wanted to take me to Australia to show me off to his family and do some business. Could I put the trip on my credit cards?

• He wanted to get married quickly. We were in love, we were adults, what were we waiting for?

• He really needed a new computer—it was important that he work with the latest technology. Did I believe in him? Would I buy it for him?

Although I had trepidation about many of the requests—especially as my savings diminished and my credit card balances grew—he cajoled. He proclaimed his love. He talked about our future together. I acquiesced. I gave in. I caved.

My behavior was normal for an intimate relationship. When two people are together, we cooperate with our beloved. We try to make him or her happy.

That’s the problem with sociopaths. They appear to be normal, but they are not. Consequently, we respond in normal ways, and get ourselves in trouble.

We weren’t stupid. We were deceived.

Sometimes sociopaths can keep up the façade of normalcy for a long time. In my case, my ex-husband never deviated from the “I love you, we’re in this together” script. That’s what kept me behaving as a normal wife would, accommodating his requests, even to my own financial detriment. It was only after I found outside evidence of his treachery that the whole charade fell apart.

Most people are normal

So now what? How do we keep ourselves from repeating the miserable experience of the sociopath?

First of all, we know they exist. We know there are people who look normal, just like us, but are missing the parts that make us truly human. They have no conscience, no empathy, no emotional connection to others, and no remorse.

Secondly, we must learn to trust our instincts. When someone generates an atypical feeling within us—nervousness in the gut, prickling on the back of the neck, doubt in our minds—we must pay attention. An abnormal reaction to another person may be our only clue that someone who appears to be normal is not.

The good news is that most people are normal. Most people are capable of love, human connection and supportiveness. Yes, we all have our flaws, but when we are with a normal person in a loving relationship, we can safely do as they ask.

So I went to the dinner at the car dealership. I didn’t win the TV. But by going, I made my husband happy, which made me happy. That’s what happens in a normal relationship.



189 Comments on "Normal behavior and the sociopath"

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  1. geminigirl says:

    Dearest EB, Just wanted to say, I really really feel for you, I have been through similar, but mainly with my Narc and chauvinistic brothers, but my Mum ,[whom I adored,} was VERY manipulative. I dont honestly say she was as cruel and nasty and vindictive as your awful family, but I can quite see how we are set up as kids to be “Spath -bait” as adults. Youve been thru holy hell, and youve emerged as very strong woman. Good on you, as they say here in Australia! You rock, Erin Brock! Just want to send you the BIGGEST bear Hug, and let you know what a terrific person you are!! Love and {{HUGS!!} Gem/Maia XXXX



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  2. henry says:

    A big bear hug for EB and for anybody who needs one…darn- it life just sucks some times – Hugs help….



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  3. OxDrover says:

    Dear EB,

    Reading your long post above made me A) FEEL FOR YOU, and B) remember something my egg donor did to me that absolutely BROKE MY heart and ;made me feel totally LEFT out, but she trivalized it—and she finally talked me into thinking she “didn’t mean anything bad, she was actually trying to protect me! (yea, right!)

    My beloved step dad’s sister was really close to me, she was the reason I wanted to be a nurse in the first place—she was, I admit “differnt” and never married (I actually think she was gay) but I adored her. At the end of her life, the last say 10 years, she was FRANKLY NUTS, but she died and wanted to be cremated and her ashes buried with her parents, and she wanted only family there and she wanted my step dad to “say something.” her three niecess and her sister were her only biological relatives besides my dad, but I was ALWAY TREATED as a family member, not “adopted”—\\
    But anyway, when they had this memorial service for her a month or two after her death, I was NOT TOLD ABOUT IT FOR A MONTH AFTERWARDS, was not invited, not even given the OPTION TO GO OR NOT. When I was DEVESTATEd because I wasn’t ‘”invited” my egg donor came back with “Oh, I know how you are about funerals and I was only trying to protect your feelings.”

    This was another episode of her MIND READING and “knowing” what I thought or wanted or didn’t want.

    EB, I don’t think there is an “excuse” in the world that would “hold water better than a screen door” for either YOUR egg donor or mine about how they CARE ABOUT US! You are not alone in this at all! You are in “excellent” company here because I think there are a bunch of us here that like Gem says were made Spath-bait by the lack of consideration we had to our feelings and welfare as children by controlling parents. In lots of ways, I think it is almost a “qualification’ for LoveFraud Club membership. LOL and another BIG BEAR (((HUG)))) Love Oxy

    ys



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  4. one_step_at_a_time says:

    Dear EB,

    YOUR PARENTS SUCK!!!

    Best, and a calm caring look to help ya ground afta writing all dat crap out,

    one step



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  5. Stargazer says:

    Thanks for filling in the details, EB. This sparked my memory of reading about this before. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I may have been a little callous in my response, because they are your parents, and they really let you down and betrayed you in the worst way. It’s really tough to deal with family members in denial. In my case, I stopped trying and walked away. I don’t recall whether you are actually living with them now? If so, you may need to move out to get some space from the situation. If not, I think you may have a better outcome distancing yourself from them, at least for a while. It really sucks if you have to do that, but based on my limited experience with narcissistic parents in denial, they cannot be changed. It took me 48 years to “get” that my mother will never change. It was actually very freeing for me because I could let go of some of the anger, start to grieve, and just let her be who she is. It was always a battle before that to try to get her to empathize with me (which she never really did). The anger and resentment ate away at me. Now when I have anger come up toward her, I scream and yell and throw pillows in a safe place where no one can hear me.

    Of all the heartbreaks I’ve dealt with in life NOTHING is quite as painful as when your parents break your heart. NOTHING. I’m so sorry and sending a big hug your way.



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  6. Stargazer says:

    Witsend,
    I could not find the original post of your latest situation with your son, but I am also send you a cyberhug and keeping you in my thoughts.



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  7. ErinBrock says:

    Thanks guys…..
    For the hugs, love and support!
    AND YES….MY PARENTS SUCK!!!!
    Oxy….I feel the same…..as a parent….there is NO excuse to abandon your kids…..and support a S. I just can’t see it…..but it’s smacking me in the face!!!! In disguise! that’s what is confusing in my brain. It ‘should be’….but it’s not…
    Reality….it’s walken like a duck here EB!!!!!!
    This is the cold hard facts that I wrestle with…..just like I did with the S…..WHY…..WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?
    The answer is nothing…..just like Oxy and gem and Wits didnt’ raise their kids to be the persons they are…..we sought out better…..
    Why can’t I have a ‘normal’ relationship with my parents…..was it because I was adopted at birth and they are disconnected with me? I never felt the ‘odd one out’ being adopted…..we were raised with my mothers twin, her 3 kids also…..there were 6 kids…..4 of us adopted….always knew it, never a secret and I never felt I didn’t belong…..or wasn’t wanted….very contrary…..Even through my teens I played along with I came from a Middle class good upbringing…..but disecting my childhood…..I was always the embarrasment of the family….never like the rest…..I beated to my own drum….I was always the strong willed, outspoken, outgoing, tomboy…..firefly as my grandfather called me.
    Now I realize it was my adaptation….my ability to take what I was dished…….
    I had an outer shell, but very sensative…..so I had to hide the sensative side and cry alone. I have always been seen as strong……hence needing little nuturing……and I do need nurturing……ALL humans do. I never pushed away nurturing……and when offered people always were shocked at how lovingly I responded.
    I’m sure the parents resent me for not following along with their PORTRAYAL of the perfect family….I remember when I was young, and my mother came in with the wooden spoon….I was about 13 or so…..THE WOODEN SPOON at that age???? So I grabbed it from her as she waved it in my face and I snapped it over my knee and said……Which end do you want? She was mortified… When my father came home, my window was open and they shut my window so the neighbors couldn’t hear them yell……I went over and opened it right back up…..and I said, if your not proud of your screaming, then lower the tone, father shut the window, I opened it, he shut it…..I THREW A BOOK THROUGH IT…..to say…okay, now it will stay open…..what was it we were saying?????…..that pissed them off…….they didn’t want the neihbors to hear the IMPERFECT family…..to ‘find out’ we were not perfect. It was that situation that made me realize….HEY we are NOT perfect….I have a brother that is molesting me…, your denying it ..and your worried about WHAT the F the neighbors think?????
    This portrayal has always been their MO……and by my ‘causing’ my brother to molest me for 3 years and NOT keep it to myslef, and then doing drugs for a brief time late teens, and marrying my high school boyfriend (at 23) they encouraged and then tried to stop 6 years in…. (way too late)….and having it end this way 28 years later……DAMN…what an embarrasment to the family…….I’m the only divorced one in the family! I take the honor!!!
    I see when I am pushed in a hole of disgrace….one I don’t desrve…..I REBEL……and do exactly what I know they would be embarrased by…..Like sending out the Christmas letter of what has gone on ……with my health, my parents and the ex S.
    I won’t….dont’ worry…..BUT….I’ll certainly have a chapter or two in my book…..that I will send out to all for Christmas maybe NEXT year…….I will hold way more creedance if published…..not in letter form! Hmmmmmmm…….REBEL EB!!!
    (I watched the movie the other night…..GOD I LOVE HER!!!)

    Funny, I just got a x-mas card addressed to S and us…all individually named……I don’t think they even told some of the ‘outside’ family we divorced…..how weird is this…..Sorry I embarrased you……would it be more embarrasing if I stuck around and was murdered with the kids???? At least it woulnd’t have been a divorce…..just a ‘hardship’ they could gather pity for.

    They have always been able to control my oldest molester brother, he needs someone to tell him when to shit and wipe……..he’s military…or was…but got kicked out…..BUT no one knows he got kicked out as he was ready to retire after 20 years……mother still does his caretaking….all his banking, pays his rent, stores his shit and still has a bedroom at ‘home’ at 45…..but oh, he’s americas hero……that’s what others see…….they don’t see the drunken, sex psycho, wacked out weirdo, can’t keep a gf, childmolesting, dishonorable discharged disgrace……that’s all on the down low……and let’s keep it that way…..
    I’m too vocal. I don’t keep the bad shit secret….I WON”T OWN IT!!!!

    I don’t feel alone with these feelings….and I know they need to come out……AND I think when I feel fear when the S is ‘around’, I get more and more angry at parents…..for their participation……
    It does make me angry I can’t get through to them. It would offer some help to me knowing when anyone talks to S and what he says……but I can’t control what others want to share with me……it pisses me off ……and then digs up all the feelings of how I got HERE.
    Here with no trust for my so called family……It’s like I’m in the beginning phase of leaving the s……the feeling are similar…..I want it to be different, but I know I can’t change it……only one choice…..DESTROY THEM…no I’m kidding!
    NC would be fine! They have destroyed themselves…..they are old and not long for this world…..AND THEY CAN TAKE THIS TO THEIR GRAVE!!!!! WITHOUT ME!!!!
    It kills me to see how my kids have been affected and they are the only gkids to my parents…..I thought they would be the great trip taking, disneyland adventures, beach going, hey come spend the summers with us type of G. parents……BUT NO.
    Now the kids don’t call……and they don’t call the kids…..and I know it’s for the best as it stands……less vulnerability for all of us…..but to see how the kids view ‘us’ and how it’s just ‘us’ hurts. No holidays at grammas for my kids…..and the reality was……it was NEVER like that anyways……it was just a fantasy….
    I wanted for my kids, what I thought I had with my family……
    BUT I DON”T and they don’t either. But we have each other……we have love, support and loyalty and traditions…..with each other…..so I guess it’s a situation of make the best of what you got and learn from the past.
    We all certainly have. We all just deserved better!!!!

    Wow…..sorry…..I guess the phone call yesterday with the footprints set me off huh?

    Thanks again for the love and hugs and validation……
    I think that is what I seek……becasue I strive to be the best I can……and not having validation of my situation from the ones who hurt me is a hurdle I must get past.

    XXOO
    EB



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  8. ErinBrock says:

    Star….
    No, THANK GOD….i don’t live with them….they are 550 miles away….another state….
    I do think I need to do the yell and cry and shout at the pillow thing……that’s all I can do!
    I also know….it’s not healthy to keep this anger….
    Holy crap……the stress almost killed me…..before.
    Literally!
    It builds up…..they are traveling the world, cruising and enjoying life across contiinents……as they offer to send me airline miles to get to Houston for the cancer checkup I need…..AIRLINE MILES…..I have no fucking health ins….so how about the dr’s bills…..I have clients offering airline miles …..and car rentals there…..CLIENTS….but the parents can only spew out a few hundred miles AND SHE SAID I WOULD HAVE TO SLEEP IN THE HOSPITAL LOBBY!!!!
    She asked how much my apt would cost….I estimated about 13-1500.oo….and she offers airline miles and the hospital lobby.
    FUCK OFF!!!!
    What about the house in foreclosure……what about the 140K in CC debt for paying for us as he abandoned all financial obligations and I PAID HIS BILLS……
    What about the frigging $42.00 they sent me in October for my birthday!!!?????
    What about the NO HEAT we can’t use in the house……

    Oh…..can I help you plan your 3 rd trip to europe this year…..or would you prefer to end the year in Hawaii with your favorite SIL THE S?

    I sound ungrateful…..and I also wrestle with this…..too! But….I am so far buried…..and others that are NOT family have sent me checks for 1K etc…..because they SEE the situation we have been in……AND I WILL PAY IT BACK ONE DAY…..they know my honor…..and my parents could spare a bit of help over here…..but will not…..
    And get angry that I don’t inquire on how their vacations and trips were…..

    She knitted me an afgan for x-mas…..and I’m supposed to be gleeful! She said….it will keep you warm and cozy this winter….Gee thanks….so would some financial help over here….maybe a gas bill paid to keep the heat on!

    She says….your’e doing okay….I said….yes were still breathing….
    She says…..oh, I know your managing……
    Yes mother….I’m managing……Always have, always will……

    The shitty thing is…..I distanced myself for 2 plus years…..and Have spoken with her maybe 4 times since easter, since the S robbed them and they called me to see what I knew about it……(as if I had somehting to do with it)….and the reality is…..distance is the best…for me….
    But recently, it doesn’t matter…..I just hate them either way!

    I don’t even think if they did everything perfectly (according to me) It would make a difference now……
    I WANT THEM TO GO BACKWORDS AND MAKE UP FOR ALL THE SHIT THEY PULLED my whole life……and they won’t and I can’t make them…..
    It’s a good thing…..I’m NOT reliant on them……eeesshhh!
    I think they would LOVE that!!!! I’d live under a bridge with the kids before I ever went there…….

    Okay….for reals…..sorry for the looong rants….kinda like the S’s looong negative messages……YIKES!!!!



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  9. ErinBrock says:

    Wits:
    I’m sorry….I have ‘dominated’ this thread with my rants…..
    I want you to know that I am thinking of you….I know your concerned about the ‘birthday’ coming up……and I’m not sure if there is something ‘knew’ that is arising….
    BUT remember……we can only do what we can do and your a wonderufl-caring mother……
    If the kids want to have life teach them…..well…..it’s thier choice!
    We have given them every opportunity to succeed…..but hey…..what do we know….were only the dumb moms!!!!

    Take care of YOU!!!!
    XXOO
    EB



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