It is cleansing for people to discuss their experiences with psychopathy. Some stories are unbelievable, mimicking the material that should only appear in movies. Others pack a less dramatic punch, but are, perhaps, even more devastating. That’s the nature of most brushes with psychopathy. When the stories are ours, however, it is not until we start to learn about the disorder, that we are able to begin making sense of the non-sense and heal. Without a working knowledge, success is rare. Our desire to identify and overcome is often how we end up here. Since I began sharing what I know, many have begun telling me of their struggles. Often, they have few words for the relief this brings. I am retelling one of those stories. The person who shared it hopes that her story will help others, by either facilitating prevention or lending validation.
One day, a women with whom I am acquainted, but do not know well, approached me at a function. She was from out of town, but through friends and family, had heard about the cause I hold dear, and the passion that I have for psychopathy education. When a mutual friend mentioned that I had begun contributing to a blog, she decided to check it out. Something within told her she should investigate. Unexpectedly, she learned something that had the potential to change her life.
She came up to me and quietly said, “You know, I have read everything you have written. I have read many of the other things that others have written. I think I know someone who is a psychopath and I think he kind of negatively impacted my life. I’m serious.” She went on to say that her story was slightly different than most she read about, but was, nonetheless, just as difficult. We sat and talked in our own little world for hours.
As the afternoon drew to a close and we had to part ways, she told me I could write her story. I asked if she was sure about that and she nodded in the affirmative, telling me that others had to know what she lived with for all those years. She went on to say that had she understood sooner, things may have been very different for her. She admitted that she did not think anything like this existed in seemingly “normal” people and added that she still might not have ever known. Luckily, the information she stumbled upon will hopefully help.
Most of us have probably been there. Young and in love. Perhaps we had a crush on the boy who sat across from us in Algebra or someone famous and unattainable. Regardless, the teenage years can be filled with new feelings, some of which we know what to do with, and others with which we do not. Jane fell head over heels for a local boy from town. He was good looking and always had something nice to say. They dated for a time. She loved him dearly, but always felt like something was “off.” After a few abusive incidents, at the age of 17, she chose to end the relationship. As high school drew to a close, so did they.
Life goes on
As kids do, they went their separate ways. Each met and married other people, but Jane says that her feelings for him really never died. She couldn’t quite put her finger on why she felt unable to release him. She now acknowledges that she experienced the “psychopathic addiction.” This is the same phenomenon that causes the victims of psychopaths to sometimes “stalk” the psychopath. It is difficult to go cold turkey from any addiction. The psychopathic bond, or betrayal bond, can be one of the hardest to break.
She did not stalk him, but rather, she tried to forget about him. Jane met the man who would eventually become her husband. She was committed to him, never wavering, but she could not help feeling this deep, emptiness that told her heart was elsewhere. As the years passed, she and her husband had two children, a boy and a girl. They did everything young couples were supposed to do. They worked, bought a home, vacationed, and had many close friends with which they shared many good times.
However, Jane lived in a close knit community. She encountered her first love from time to time. They had many mutual friends and were cordial with one another. In fact, her first love ended up marrying one of her close friends. She and herhusband were both in the wedding. Jane recalls choking back the tears that day, since she was filled with bits and pieces of sadness and envy. As relationships with psychopaths tend to go, that marriage did not last. In fact, between the ages of 20 and 60, three more of his marriages failed. Hers remained in tact…for a time.
But over the years, Jane and her husband grew apart. She said that they came to hate each other, but that no one had really done anything wrong, worthy of such loathing. There had not been any cheating or abuse on either of their parts. She explained that she felt as though a part of her was unavailable to give what a wife needed to, but did not know why. They watched their children grow and went about their daily activities, but clearly, both felt something was missing that could not be recovered.
As fate sometimes goes, Jane’s path crossed with her first love’s. She wondered if the stars and planets had finally aligned. Energetic and positive, she always saw the glass as half full. Both were single and decided to rekindle what once was. She thought that maybe maturity had changed him. He had been single for a time, and in recent years had held the same job. In fact, he became quite successful. After all, she felt that he really was a good guy. Most importantly, she had not been able to shake him from her thoughts for over forty years. It had to be right.
It was not. The relationship was fun, filled with excursions and tastes of the good life. Jane was showered with the attention that she remembered. It was the type of attention that her psychologically normal husband was never able to match, but that she measured his love by. Her husband had loved her, but he loved her normally. With her first love, she was in the process of being “lovebombed,” just as she had been as a young girl. Everything seemed perfect, at least until his mask cracked again. And crack it did, leaving her stranded, far from home.
Even prior to witnessing his failing facade, Jane felt inexplicably uncomfortable. Things were strange. Minor words or incidents left her uncomfortable or even slightly afraid of him. She minimized her feelings and told herself she was being ridiculous, but somehow, her gut knew better.
Unable to make sense of things, but longing for answers, she tried talking to him, but met with the silent treatment. He was done and he made that clear. It seemed that when the relationship began to turn “real,” he chose to run. She felt alone and longed for the man she “knew” and had so many good times with. In reality, however, that person never existed.
By happenstance, Jane came to realize that her first love was probably a psychopath. Shortly thereafter, she considered the possibility that her brush with psychopathy may have ruined her marriage. She feels that she never recovered from the stronghold of the psychopathic bond and somehow had created her idea of a normal relationship based on her dysfunctional one. Nothing normal could ever measure up. “I had no idea what I was dealing with,” she told me. “It wasn’t until I started reading, when I looked at the traits and behaviors, I realized that I had been trapped by a psychopath since childhood.”
Upon coming to terms with this, she began counseling. Her counselor agrees that her first love is a indeed a troubled soul. Although she asked me several times if I thought it really could be. She still questions herself and her experiences and fights the urges to seek understanding from him. I explained that it is, quite possibly, one of the toughest pills to swallow and to look to those who understand and care for answers and strength. No one wants this to be. But, sometimes, it just is.
So much work comes with recovery. One must soul search, come to terms with the things that we cannot change, and work to manage those we can. I have every confidence that Jane will fully recover and appropriately take on the demons she must face. None of us here thought this would be part of our futures or have consumed so much of our pasts. We can, however, control what comes next, at least to some degree. Thank you, Jane, for your bravery. Thank you for wanting to share your story. Once touched by psychopathy, our lives may never look as they would have otherwise. Sometimes, that’s not a bad thing. It can be especially rewarding if it allows us to come to terms with events that touched us profoundly and allow us to move forward happily.
Jane is a pseudonym. Some minor facts were altered to protect identity.