Have you ever watched a “psychopathic interaction” taking place and wished you were able to approach the non-psychopath and offer her (or him) all of the knowledge you already have on the subject? I have.
Even if you are in the initial phases of learning, the fact that you are here indicates that you have an idea of what is occurring. In the interaction I will highlight, the non-psychopath was, sadly, without a clue. At first, I could not believe what I was seeing. Although, retrospectively, I fail to see what made it unbelievable to me, since I had lived it. Nonetheless, the goings on made me uneasy. I knew just enough about the situation to suspect that psychopathy was at play in the relationship, but had never seen both parties interact prior to the incident. My relationship with one of the members of the duo was new and I did not know the other much either, so I did not want to pass judgment or assess a situation with which I was only vaguely familiar. However, I found things all too recognizable. I knew what I was seeing.
I knew the non-psychopath in the exchange had no idea what was happening to her, as she reacted to each of his words in a manner that unknowingly escalated things. She was not wrong and her methods would have been successful with someone void of a large number of psychopathic features. The individual in this pair with the history of abuse, infidelity, questionable judgment, and a host of other psychopathic traits, played the non-psychopath like a fiddle. I also recall thinking how the topic seemed inappropriate for the location. Regardless, he persisted. The more irritated and upset she became, the calmer and more in control he was. He had all of the answers and delivered them smoothly. He arrogantly belittled her, but just loud enough for those around to hear, hoping that we would see her “crazy” or unfit. Perhaps others gave pause, but I knew better.
Finally, through tears and a face filled with immense pain, she scooped up her youngest children, now also in tears, and headed for her car. He called out to her as she walked away, asking if she was glad that she had managed to “scare” the little ones. He then shook his head and looked around, feigning embarrassment, but I recognized his satisfaction. A short time later, I overheard him speaking on the phone, in a gentle and loving tone, indicating to whomever was on the other end that the coast was now clear and that it was “safe” for them to meet later at a distant location.
Of course, I thought. He intentionally initiated the fight with his wife in order to find an excuse to leave. Had she not been “yelling” or “screaming,” at him, or “making” the kids cry, he would not have been forced to go. Had she been a better wife or mother, he would be heading home, rather than out. He knew he was setting his unsuspecting, caring, wife up for failure and he did so in such a way that ultimately, even she would blame herself for his departure.
As time passed, I heard that the discord within the home escalated and that he is no longer in the picture much. I wanted to reach out to her, but found it hard, being mere acquaintances. I also suspected that she was not yet ready to receive what we either already know or are learning about. While I found that frustrating, I was there once, in the not too distant past, as were probably many of us. Acceptance is a process. However, I did leave information in trusted hands.
In a perfect world
Regardless, I empathize with her and wish she did not have to experience what lies ahead, as I am reasonably certain I know what her immediate future holds. I wish I could move time forward, to a place where her understanding reigns, eliminating the pain. I would like to tell her that her perfect, beautiful self is not flawed and have her believe it. I would like to spare her children the manipulation they will further encounter, whether for a time or for good. I would like to help her march “double time” to the place where she is able to forgive him for her sake, leaving behind the anger and fear that tend to accompany the attacks and aggression.
However, I cannot. In fact, I suppose this process really should not be rushed. I think that taking the time to feel and honor every feeling is important. But it would be nice if we could move it along for those we see suffering as we did. Now that I recognize these psychopathic interactions, I imagine I’ll always feel this way, upon witnessing such events. My hopes for her are eventual success along her journey and success for all of us along ours.