lf1

I Don’t Want to Live That Life

By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)

Recently I found a book in a “junk book store” that caught my eye. Its title was I Don’t Want to Live This Life, and it was written by Deborah Spungen. The book is about her family trying to raise a “difficult child,” her first daughter, Nancy. Nancy was murdered by her boyfriend, a “rock star” named Sid Vicious, in the 1970s.

Nancy’s birth was problematic with the cord around her neck, and a rare blood disorder caused her to need a total blood exchange transfusion immediately after birth. From the day that she was brought home from the hospital, she screamed and fought her caregivers. By the time she was 14 she was out of control. By the time she was 17, her parents helped her set up an apartment in New York just to get her out of the house so that there could be some sort of peace for themselves and their other children.

Deborah was at the point of suicide at several times, but with much willpower, stayed to fight for the rest of her family and to try to find some way to reach Nancy. She tried to help Nancy get off drugs and out of the sordid life of prostitution and intermittent homelessness.

Recognition

The book tore at my heart. Deborah and her family suffered terror, pain, confusion and guilt at Nancy’s self made hell-on-earth existence. I read with recognition the confusion Deborah felt in trying to decide how to both protect Nancy and her other children. I too have felt that tearing in trying to give something to one child by depriving the other child of what they also needed from me.

I also identified with Deborah’s frustration that nothing she did seemed to work, so she tried harder to do the same thing. A wise man once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Deborah and her husband Frank turned to the “experts” in medicine from the time that Nancy was a baby. They prescribed Phenobarbital to quite her screams as an infant. Did that drug as an infant set her up later to require drugs to “self medicate” her pain?

They put Nancy into a mental hospital at one point, and got her into methadone treatment multiple times. Gave her food, but not money, paid her rent, but didn’t give her cash. They did the best they knew how to protect their daughter from herself. It still didn’t help, and she stayed with a man who was as disordered as she was, and who was more violent, even after he had beaten her.

After the murder

After Nancy’s murder, and getting out on bail, Sid Vicious overdosed and died. Either accidentally or on purpose, who knows which? Before he died, he wrote letters and called Nancy’s mother vowing his love for Nancy and wanting to see the family and have them validate his love for Nancy, and to receive solace for her loss from them. I can’t even imagine how Deborah must have felt receiving these letters and calls.

The press hounded the family and after Vicious’ death, his mother even had the gall to call Deborah and want to bury him next to Nancy. The press hounded the family even more. The press vilified Nancy, one headline reading, “Nancy was a Witch!”

Deborah and her family eventually got into therapy and also saw a television show with Bob and Charlotte Hullinger, who were the founders of Parents of Murdered Children, to support other parents who had lost a child through murder. At last, Deborah and Frank and their two surviving children were no longer “alone” in their grief. Deborah and Frank became advocates of the group, forming a chapter in their hometown, and becoming very active in comforting others. No longer feeling the shame of their daughter’s life and her death, but finding new purpose in their own.

Grieving the loss

Anyone who has lived with a person who is disruptive, disorderly, and disordered can relate to Deborah and Frank’s pain in trying to deal with that person. When the person is no longer there, either through death or through no contact, there is a loss there that somehow must be filled.

We grieve over the loss of a person who is part of our “family” no matter what the relationship is, mother, daughter, father, son, lover, spouse, or how we lost them, either through death or no contact. What kind of relationship we had with that disruptive person, the person we cannot please, that we cannot save from themselves doesn’t matter. We grieve. We feel the different stages of grief; the denial, the anger, the bargaining, the sadness, and if we grieve appropriately, we eventually come to a state of acceptance of the loss of the person or the relationship. The deeper the love, the deeper the grief.

Shame about the situation

Sometimes, we also feel like Deborah did, the shame that comes when people in our community learn about the disordered behavior of the one we loved. In Deborah’s case, it was nationally public for her and her family. There was even a sketch on Saturday Night Live about Sid Vicious and Nasty Nancy that popped up when their son David was watching TV with friends. And when their daughter’s professor was doing roll call in class and he got to her name he said “Spurgen, no kin to that nasty Nancy Spungen who was murdered.” Their daughter left the class in shame and tears.

Sometimes, we are involved with the justice system, either the criminal justice system, or the “family courts” where we may be raked over the coals by a system we believed would protect us. Or, others who are closer to us do not believe that the disordered person is the one at fault, but instead blame us, shame us, or desert us, leaving us to feel even more betrayed.

In my own case, for nearly twenty years I felt the shame of my son’s crimes, hid them from my extended family and friends, essentially lied to them when they would ask about where Patrick was living. “Oh, he lives in Texas and works for the State of Texas, and doesn’t get to Arkansas much.” While that is “technically true,” it is deceptive and essentially a lie to cover up my own shame at my son’s failure to be the kind of man he was raised to be.

Some kind of peace

I’m glad that Nancy’s family has finally come to some peace, and that her parents have found a cause that they can focus on to help other families who have violently lost children. For those of us on the “other side of the coin,” though, who are the parents of the murderers, we also have “lost” sons and daughters by the crimes they have committed. While Nancy was indeed a troubled soul, she did not deserve to die violently at the hands of her lover. Her parents suffered in a futile effort, trying to save her from herself, and they suffered again because of her murder.

Like Deborah, I too, do not want to live that life. I do not want to live in self doubt about why my son became what he is, or why he killed Jessica Witt. Though my son still breathes, he is as dead to me as Nancy is to Deborah and her family. As I work on protesting the next parole hearing for Patrick, I have reached out to the group Parents of Murdered Children to assist me with that protest. They have warmly received my request and have put me into contact with people who do understand even my position as the parent of the murderer, and are willing to help me.

While Deborah never gave up on her daughter Nancy, and spent 20 years in trying to deal with a person who was unable to attach normally to a family’s love, now that Nancy is gone, Deborah can move on.

We must disengage

Many former victims of people who are unable to attach normally, such as psychopaths, also spend decades trying to save that person from themselves, and to save themselves from more abuse. There comes a time, though, when we must disengage from those people in order to save ourselves and to save our children from those disordered persons. It isn’t easy. I’m not sure what would have become of Nancy’s family if she had not died that day, but in the end, Nancy’s death may actually have been the salvation of the rest of Nancy’s family because her disruptive presence was removed from the home. Though her family did not want to lose her, they couldn’t save her, but after her loss they were able to save themselves.

I didn’t want to “lose” Patrick either, and I held on to him with denial for many, many years even after Jessica’s murder. It was only his attempt to have me killed that shook me loose from that denial and made me face the truth that he is truly, as my attorney said, “a baaaad man.”



35 Comments on "I Don’t Want to Live That Life"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ox Drover says:

    Eralyn, I had a cat once, the most beautiful cat I ever owned. His name was Chairman Meow! He was awesome, but he NEVER EVER EVEN ONCE shat in the cat box, even as a kitten when I kept him in the bathhroom with the box…his chosen place was behind my upright piano….sooooo, outside with you boy-o! Well he would wait until one of thhe kids opened the door and he would scoot iin under their feet from outside, go directly to the paino, go behind it and shiat!

    This went on and on and on and finally I told the kids “the next time you let Chairman in YOU clean it up..

    Well there came a day when the kids and I decided that Chairman HAD TO GO and I told them that I would put him down that afternoon when I got in from work. Not a tear from these kids who buried every bug they had that died with tears and gnashing of teeth.

    Well, that afternoon I came home and Chairman must have known his hours were numbered, because he had committed suicide by car in front of the house. NOT A TEAR from the kids, and not a tear from me. Problem solved.



    Report this comment

  2. Back_from_the_edge says:

    I thought the heading on your post Joyce, to be quite the
    appropriate place to share my immense gratification in
    announcing that six months today was the last word I
    ever uttered to “IT”.

    HALLELJUAH! The saga is just about over.
    The stalking didn’t ‘officially’ cease
    until 1Aug and there were a couple ‘sightings’
    in the area, however, things have been pretty
    much quiet and I keep waiting for the other shoe
    to drop, like skylar says.

    Hopefully there won’t be any other shoe dropping.
    My x ppath used to murder peoples cats for punishment.
    Because he couldn’t control his 12 year old ADHD temper.
    He found it amusing. Yes, I said: AMUSING.
    He loved telling me about how he strangled the
    life out of them and then would place them in a
    prominent place and wait for the owner to find it.

    What a better way to hurt someone ??
    Take something that you love; right?
    It’s easier than taking YOU: less trouble.

    If they will murder a cat, they will murder anything.
    I do NOT trust a person twice, NOT EVER AGAIN,
    who has already threatened to murder me, in very
    colorful ways, on a great many occasions.
    Endless proof of intent. Just endless.

    If I had done something to DESERVE this, that would be
    one thing, but I never have. It is a mental illness; a sickness.
    And, I AM sorry for “IT” but how much do you sacrifice?

    I have sacrificed enough.
    This is MY LIFE.

    Six months today since I have uttered a peep.
    And I have found comfort and healing and soothing
    in the peace and quiet. I am never going back to that.
    I would die first.



    Report this comment

  3. Eralyn says:

    OxD,

    It’s always the cute ones!

    Sounds like it was time and you got out of the actual act.

    I’m phasing her out a bit but it does seem she’s using the outdoor dirt. Yippee…. Found a dead kitten in my front yard today. Apparently it had been there a while. My daughter thought it was the landscape and said she saw it a week ago.

    Think if “IT” had to wait that long! HAHA.

    Psycho spath put dead cats in my front yard. They weren’t mine but I know it was him. He was dating a witchcraft practicing stripper so they probably did a little dance out there and some drugs.

    I was driving my daughter to daycare pulling out of the driveway and she said “Mommy kitty sleeping” and I see two with mouth and eyes wide open, cats in my yard. I didn’t want to come home after dropping her off. The city said they would charge me to get rid of them unless I dragged them to the road. hhmm what to do? The neighbor!

    I should probably spread some holy water or something around here.



    Report this comment

  4. Ox Drover says:

    Congratulations, Dupey! I didn’t realize that it has been 6 months now….my how time flies when you are having fun! LOL



    Report this comment

  5. Back_from_the_edge says:

    Thanks Ox!
    Yah, what a time it’s been, let me tell ya.

    So, I just start bragging a bit about how quiet it has been
    and such and bam! – cyber stalking began again on the six
    month anniversary date of my NC; imagine that. hahahaha

    ERALYN: during the full blown height of all this for me,
    I used to stop at the local Catholic Church and go in
    when nobody was there and literally SPLASH that
    Holy Water all over me as much as I possibly could.
    I have never FELT or EXPERIENCED SUCH EVILNESS.
    I do not exaggerate, not one bit.

    I used to chuckle to myself, being there on my knees,
    at the altar: “I would take a bath in it if I could…” The
    priest probably would have freaked out if he came into
    the church and there I was, bathing in HOLY WATER!!!!

    Yah, dead cats was “IT’s” thing….

    “I thought of you today…as I strangled that cat and
    watched it’s life slipping away until it’s little tongue
    stuck out… it felt good having my hands around its
    neck, choking it and choking it….”

    Yah, wonder how many poor and innocent cats he has killed like that in his lifetime? Hm?
    He hasn’t left a dead cat on my porch yet — he has left other CREEPY little ‘gifts’ on my doorstep,
    from time to time though. Just really weird. COMPLETELY psycho, I tell ya. A very dangerous type person.

    Of course there would be a cyber stalking on the anniversary
    date. hahahahaha “IT” is so predictable sometimes. I think
    part of the shock of all this is that I know he is very sick and
    I was just ignoring it because I was trying to ‘reach him’. In
    the process, he almost killed ME. I KNEW I should have just
    ignored him almost 13 years ago. No. Instead I had to try
    being the savior. Tried to be the nice person…the helping
    person. I don’t even really LIKE this being, actually…

    That won’t ever be allowed back into my life.
    Never again. I am sorry for him and his illness.
    I can’t save him. He has to save himself, just like I have to.
    Just like we all have to.

    Hope things are well Ox…
    Take care and thanks again.



    Report this comment

  6. Truthspeak says:

    Dupey, wonderful, dear heart!!!! Six months may not seem all that long, but it’s one HECK of an accomplishment! Congratulations and TOWANDA!!!

    What we “knew” and what we chose to do doesn’t really matter, once it’s in the past, right? Just like my desire to nurture, encourage, and support someone who had been neglected goes, the exspath did endure a very dysfunctional childhood, but I’m not responsible for “fixing” that. Nor am I responsible for “fixing” anyone’s issues.

    I believe that it’s “okay” to feel “pity” for someone who fits the profile of a sociopath – it’s a pitiful existence. Those people don’t really experience life, at all. They just exist. And, the only “feelings” that they DO experience are envy, greed, and the anticipation of end results.

    Congratulations, Dupey. And you DO have some pretty strong “sea legs.”

    Hugs and brightest blessings!



    Report this comment

  7. Truthspeak says:

    OxD, the exspath didn’t shed a tear when each of my parents passed. Whether I had known someone’s parent, or not, I would shed a tear for THEIR loss and the sadness that THEY must have felt – I still do get choked up when other people lose loved ones or their pets.

    But, exspath never shed a single tear for their passings, or for the grief of my family. Not one single tear. And, no expression of sadness, whatsoever. I guess he didn’t have any reason to feel sad when there was money in the future as a result of their deaths.

    Jeeeeeezuz, it’s so unseemly that people sit and rub their hands together and look about them to see who’s dying next and is leaving them money.



    Report this comment

  8. Back_from_the_edge says:

    Thanks Truthspeak for the shoulder pat! lol
    Well, the LAST and previous period of NC lasted
    almost 9 months. Like I have said before, this is the
    SIXTH TIME.

    It has been very difficult.
    Somewhere in between feeling bad
    and hating his fricking guts. Know what I mean?

    No, it all doesn’t really matter once you put it in the past.
    Once you are all finished grieving and you finally realize
    that all of your emotions, your soul, your life, has finally
    had enough. It took almost losing my life to figure out
    that I don’t want to live like that and I am not going to.

    Hey, the ‘dysfunctional childhood’ excuse can only be that
    for so long, the way I got it figured. “I” had an extremely
    dysfunctional childhood but I stood up to that and CHOSE
    something different for myself and my life. If anyone has
    THE PROPENSITY to be a psychopath, it would certainly be
    me after all of the abuse, trauma and nightmares I have seen.

    We can only blame our upbringing and our parents for so long
    and then at some point we must take responsibility for ourselves
    and our own choices and actions. I don’t buy it that they can’t
    change. If I were to believe that, I would have to give up
    believing in myself. Period.

    I do feel ‘pity’ for it. I think that is the one thing that
    has made this all so hard for me. I noticed the dysfunction,
    right in the beginning, and I was heartbroken right from the
    very beginning. I will be very heartbroken about this, the
    rest of my life, because I couldn’t save my friend. Or, what
    I THOUGHT was my friend.

    It still makes me sob and cry, sometimes.
    He won’t even TRY to save himself.

    No, they don’t really ‘experience’ life.
    They never will because they are too busy
    trying to scam someone out of something
    for some reason. They completely miss the
    whole big picture; don’t they? Plastic people,
    living their selfish, greedy, self-centered lives.

    Thanks, ((Truthspeak))
    aye, matey —- arrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!!

    Six YEARS sounds better than six months; don’t it?
    I was thinking today that I can’t wait to say THAT instead.

    😛



    Report this comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.