Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following email from a reader who uses the name “DamselflyNOTdistressed.”
OCTOBER 24, 2012 – Today is the one-year anniversary of my breakup from a SPath and the “nervous breakdown” that followed. My body and life at that moment felt viscerally like the total collapse of everything I thought I knew about myself. It was undoubtedly one of the worst moments of my life. And I am grateful.
It had only been five months, and what a grand rollercoaster ride! We were fellow bohemians, and we met as nude models in a grand tableau vivant performance by an emerging and prolifically talented artist. Though my third time participating in such an exquisite spectacle, it was still a peak experience, and I was stimulated to the max by my NYC life full of performance and activism. I was fulfilled and happy, but unknowingly vulnerable to his charming overtures because of the undercurrent of loneliness that haunted me.
He was 12 years my senior, had a firm and chiseled body, extremely intelligent and charming, was a martial arts master, and had stories for days about his exciting “past life” as a triple PhD and special forces agent. I immediately found him strange, but then again as an eccentric, I always joked about finding my own “weirdo” [be careful what you ask for]. My own grandmother called me peculiar, so who was I to judge? He attributed his strangeness to “childhood autism” that he claims he overcame. He had a curious name, which I found the definition of to mean “to deceive.” I should have done more serious research to find out who he really was, but the name alone proved prophetic enough. I explored his strangeness with superficial fascination and I was eventually entranced and seduced.
We went from epic chats and phone calls, to cross-continental dating, unexpected and generous gifts, and the possibilities of the most lascivious sex life I ever imagined. I thought the latter would excite me but I found myself unexpectedly reserved. Hindsight tells me that this was the seed of my subconscious mind saying “NO. This is NOT right, so REIN IT IN.” We were going to go into business together, he had everything we needed to start my dream of having a production company, and on paper it all looked PERFECT. Yet I had a nagging feeling that I could not depend on him to build anything and that there was no real plan.
After five intense months of life together filled with nude modeling, motorcycle rides, gypsy travel [together and apart], and marriage plans, the final last weeks turned suddenly sour. After seven consecutive weeks together followed by ten days alone and away from him in NYC, something within me shifted significantly. Not that there wasn’t trouble in paradise in the beginning. Our fights from his gaslighting and paranoia were scarlet-colored flags that I dismissed as residual baggage from his complicated past “traumas,” which included an “abusive childhood,” “injury as a special forces POW,” a first wife whose family abducted his children and molested them, and a second ex-wife who “tried to kill him.” As a lifelong loner, I felt suffocated whenever he would protest or question whenever I wanted to be to myself or my own thoughts. By the time month five rolled around, much had gotten under my skin but I couldn’t put words on it.
We had a horrendous week together in NYC full of bittersweet good-byes to all my friends and palpable tension between us. The arguments had become daily. He had become so overbearingly opinionated that any idea of mine that was contrary to his led to ugly and condescending disagreements, which made me increasingly irritable and distant. I had already had a previous engagement to a Malignant Narcissist five years prior, and many of the fights felt like past triggers. I began feeling trapped and marooned.
When we landed back down south to my home and exploded into yet another argument based on his strange insinuations, I blurted “Sometimes I just CAN’T STAND YOU!” When he jumped toward his bag and yelled, “Well, then I’m leaving!” I immediately panicked since my conscious mind and all the circumstances we’d created had me convinced that I was SUPPOSED to be with him. After all, he always said that HE was the ONLY ONE who would understand and LOVE me. So I rushed to his bag and grabbed it, preventing him from leaving.
We tussled for it, and I ran with it to my bedroom, trying to eat the words I’d just vomited and make him either stay or take me with him, even though I was utterly repulsed by him at the same time. But my final escalation of disgust and distraught came after he punched me in the stomach. It wasn’t as hard as he could have but was enough to stun me momentarily. After I got my breath and realized what had happened, I went to a place darker and redder than I’d ever been before. I became primal rage.
I screamed for my mother to call the police, and that he had punched me in the stomach, since she wasn’t in the room to witness. He stammered for a quick second then denied it had happened. I glared directly into the devil’s eyes, unafraid, and proceeded to jump on him, kick him, scratch him, smack him on the back of the head, bust his lip, and bite him on the face until he escaped from me out the back door.
And in those two seconds in the middle of the night — between his truck jerking backwards out of my mother’s driveway and screeching off down the road and physically out of my life for good — I couldn’t decide whether to scream, “COME BACK!” or “FUCK YOU!” So I said nothing.
The following days and weeks, I could not stand myself. I could not eat. I could not get out of bed. I could not bathe. I could not understand what had just happened. And instead of zero contact, I did not know better and allowed him to keep tormenting my mind and spirit from 500 miles away. He’d say he forgave me, then he didn’t. Maybe we could work it out. Then he’d “remind” me that I’d “attacked him viciously and unprovoked.” The punch to my stomach never came up but he swore I’d “scarred him for life.” He said he wanted me to feel better; then he would tell me that I was crazy and had Borderline Personality Disorder. Between my own guilt and his sick mind games, I was feeling worthless in stereo and took myself to the emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation.
Fight for sanity
The four weeks that followed the brawl was a fight to save my sanity and life, and I made it a full-time job. I vociferously researched online for all the counseling resources I could afford. I had the love and support of my family, especially my mother. I spent a week away at a zen center to learn to meditate and nurse my soul. I was at times afraid and ashamed, but I ploughed through my pain and bureaucracies until I ended up with the dean of a major medical institution as my psychiatrist. Quickly brushing past the incident that triggered my depression, my doctor and I both agreed that the issue at hand to deal with was NOT HIM and his rude and unqualified diagnosis, but my own mental health and the judgment that has left me prey to such a situation in the first place.
On Thanksgiving, exactly a month later, I had the wisdom, strength, and courage to declare it completely over, changing my status on Facebook after everyone assumed we were moving in together and making wedding plans. He called shortly thereafter and left a nauseating message on my mother’s answering machine about how I did it the “wrong” way and he had planned to announce our break-up the “right” way. Whatever. But still riddled with guilt, I wrote a fateful letter of apology to a friend of his [let's call him "Charles"] whom I truly liked and appreciated as a person, and was led to believe by my ex-nutjob that my behavior had also caused disruption and drama into his life as well. Charles called me shortly thereafter, confused as to why I was apologizing to him. Our conversation led to an ongoing watershed of information that revealed and confirmed why the SPath had gotten to my heart and mind so quickly yet under my skin so deeply.
“Haven’t you heard of a charming psychopath? Look it up on Google. I’m not joking. He charms the socks off of people, like a cult, and lies about EVERYTHING. But he ain’t right in the head. There’s no one there. And when I saw the scratch on his face, I knew you’d figured it out. And I can’t say anything, but you might want to go to the doctor and get yourself checked out. A lot went on when you weren’t around. That’s all I can say because I am scared of him and don’t want any trouble.”
My curiosity overwhelmed me and my recovery took a turn into discovery. I finally did the due diligence that I failed to pursue at the beginning. I simultaneously researched “charming sociopath” and his past. I ran into a dear friend and jokingly mentioned I might have dated an SPath, with utter seriousness she said, “Me too,” then discussed her divorce and showed me her online research about SPaths. I felt like my life almost became a Lifetime Network movie.
I spoke to people from his past who spoke only under the promise of anonymity and confided that they have severed all contact with him and the reasons why. I discovered LOVEFRAUD.com, which explained why his background check proved zero college and military service, why I was showered with so many unsolicited gifts, why he made such serious claims against the people who saw behind his mask, and why he wanted me to believe he was the only man good for me. The more I learned via LOVEFRAUD about the SPath, the more my stomach churned. Of course I should have known that normal people don’t go around claiming they want to kill their family, ex-wives, and IRS agent on a regular basis. I realized I had slept with a stranger, an enemy. And then came the liberation of realizing that the man I THOUGHT I was in love with actually doesn’t exist.
I knew he had already moved on to a woman younger than all his children, not even old enough to drink. She would be easier for him to manipulate without a full sense of self, and for a brief while I was intent on trying to contact and save this young woman, under the legitimate guise of getting back my things in his possession that he spitefully refused to surrender. It was a waste of time, as I knew she was even more vulnerable, quickly under the same spell and too far gone. I had already been devalued and discarded, and she had probably been convinced to want to kill me the same way he made me hate all the women from his past who had “wronged” him. The rare thing he said about himself that proved true was his marriage to a family of pedophiles and their rape of his children. I can only imagine how much of them rubbed off onto him after ten years of marriage in his 20′s. SPath and I were more age-appropriate, but then again I still get carded trying to buy almost anything requiring an ID. I believe that was part of his attraction to me, but I don’t want or need a daddy.
It took about three to four months for the bulk of the psychic trauma of my SPath to subside, and a few more months for the residual ickiness of it all the rinse away. Seeing his picture or name no longer triggers me. Thanks to my doctor and self-care, I resurrected myself from depression back to joy, with stronger awareness and clearer boundaries for myself and potential relationships. I acknowledge how lucky I am to have made my discovery before we actually moved, got married, and potentially conceived a child. My irritability and rage were my subconscious mind and spirit protecting me from what my conscious mind did not yet comprehend. I looked the devil directly in its eyes and know now that I am a warrior spirit surrounded by light. I am grateful for the support of family, friends and professionals who buoyed me until I came to my own solid ground, intact, with greater wisdom, peace, and the best present I could ever have: MYSELF.
Happy anniversary to ME!