Editor’s Note: Lovefraud received the following email from a reader whom we’ll call “Adelade.”
Since the collapse of my second marriage, I have learned more than I would ever have wanted to know about sociopathy and their source targets – better known as, “victims.” At one point, I had believed that my second marriage was stable, trust-based, and supportive, but I have recounted the years and the stunning discoveries that I made about my ex, and the symptoms (or, Red Flags) were all there, though they were more subtle and the absence of physical abuse, helped to frame the ex’s facade.
Through some very strong counseling, I was able to identify that “inner child” that I’d heard so much talk about. I had always believed that the “inner child” was that core of us that was joyous, innocent, and so forth – a positive aspect of our lives. This is not so. The “inner child” is that part of my development that had been so neglected, so criticized, and so damaged that I developed into a perfect co-dependent victim. Nearly all of my choices throughout my lifetime were based upon the damages that were sustained by that child in development.
Depths of betrayal
When I discovered the depths of betrayal that my second ex had perpetrated, I had enough backbone and common sense to realize that there would be no salvaging of this union. I was able to recognize that he had compartmentalized very disturbing and alarming aspects of his personality to such a degree that nobody (including me) could have pegged him for being the ultra-deviant that he is.
Further investigation of my finances uncovered extensive draining of my personal and individual investments down to zero, and this information only resulted AFTER he left. My suspicions had always been aroused, but his manipulations and deceptions were so subtle and effective that I was simply shocked to learn the truth of what had happened to my investments. While we were married, the ex would assure me that my assets were “safe” and “tied up in real estate,” and he would become exceedingly defensive if I ever questioned him about where my money had disappeared to. He would vociferously throw my queries back into my face by responding, “I’m NOT your EX!”
Okay, he wasn’t my ex. I trusted him, on every level. Yet, there was always something lacking, even though I believed our relationship to be honest, supportive, and “healthy.” He didn’t beat me. He didn’t tell me that I was worthless. He didn’t threaten me at gunpoint. He was just seemed relatively introverted and suspicious of other people, including his own family members. In my mind, no abuse meant no problems. But there were problems. He did not demonstrate support of my accomplishments and achievements. He didn’t attend my graduation. He didn’t attend my Honors Ceremony. My triumphs were downplayed and he always had a plausible excuse for not being there to share in my bright moments.
He openly disdained women, which was something that I didn’t understand at the time. When I once asked him if he had ever read any female authors, he replied (and, I quote), “I just don’t think that women have much to say.” Later, when he read “To Kill A Mockingbird” upon my suggestion, he asked me if Harper Lee had written any other books because “he” had written such a great story. I had remembered his view of female authors, and I took great relish in saying, “Well, SHE won a Pulitzer Prize for that work and it was the only thing that she ever needed to write.” He was floored, to say the least, that Harper Lee had been a female author with her one and only work earning a Pulitzer. In retrospect, I can pinpoint various “red flags” that directly substantiated his intense hatred of women, especially accomplished women. The imagery that he found to be sexually stimulating demeaned women through rape, torture, genital mutilation, murder, and necrophilia.
I stopped blaming myself
Hindsight is always, 20/20, and I tried beating myself up about missing the clues. I’ve stopped blaming and shaming myself for his betrayals because he was one of these types that would be defined as a Case Study in the psychological world. He made deliberate choices to deceive and compartmentalize what he truly is. My physician, counselor, family, and friends, have all mentioned that they thought that these types of situations were only found on CSI or other crime shows – my situation is something that just blew their minds because it was so warped and they each knew the victim of something that couldn’t possibly exist outside of a scripted crime drama.
There’s a lot of discussion about shame and blame, and I think it’s a moral and emotional imperative that those of us who have been victimized by a sociopath need to be kinder to ourselves. “Should have…” is a game that begins with the deliberate, calculating, and malicious machinations of the sociopath. To let go of that shame and blame takes a lot of hard work, self-talk, and strong counseling (IMHO). No matter how much we read and absorb about sociopathy, our personal experiences forego all of the literature and we must soothe our damaged souls in order for those horrific wounds to begin closing up. Those wounds will always be visible, but they will heal over and be a reminder to us of what we survived, and what we need to look out for in every relationship, whether platonic, romantic, work-related, etc.
The “love” that the sociopath took from me and ground into the dirt is now devoted to my own self, my family, and my friends. I have made a conscious decision that I will not ever entertain another partnership for the rest of my life. Sure, I’ll have men who are friends and mentors – I do not have a beef with men. I know that women can be sociopaths just as easily as men can, and nearly all of my relationships have to remain superficial for the foreseeable future. My energies must be devoted to me and my healing, before I open up that door of trust again. And, as for sex … the fact that I had lived with, made love to, and slept beside an individual for almost 15 years that finds violence, torture, and murder of women to be of sexual interest has shaken my own views of my personal sexuality down to its core.
This is my time. This is time for me to learn who I am, who I was meant to be, and take steps to become the person that I want to be and to not base my emergence upon what I think that others want me to be. Whatever the ex did is not my concern, with the exception of the financial resources that he took from me. I am the keeper of my own boundaries and healing. “Understanding” what makes a sociopath behave the way that they choose will not – will not – ever change what’s been done, nor will it prevent someone else from being victimized by my ex. I must simply recognize and accept is that there are some very bad people in the world and that they typically follow a generalized pattern of behaviors. What I must now learn to do effectively is identify the signs of sociopathy and run like hell from anyone who fits the profile, no matter whom they might be.