When in recovery from a relationship with an individual with psychopathic traits, we must plan for the fact that little will go according to any sort of reasonable plan. When dealing with these individuals, one of the most difficult things we must accept is our lack of ability to predict the timing of their surprise attacks. This does not mean that we must live in fear. However, it means that for our own emotional and physical security, we must be aware and ready for almost anything.
I learned fairly quickly that if I wanted to thrive, or merely just survive, it was what I had to do. I am not unique in that way. I had to learn to expect the police at my door for unnecessary wellness checks. I had to learn to take being served for things I did not do in stride. I had to learn to respond (or not) to aggressive, condescending, harassing, and threatening e-mail and verbal attacks. This is not easy, but it comes with the territory. There may be times when we feel overwhelmed by the barrage of rage such personalities inevitably sling at us, and we may not know exactly when their tantrums will occur. However, while disengaging from them, rest assured, they will. Thus, we can plan generally and prepare ourselves.
Just yesterday, someone with a high conflict ex said, “Everything has been too quiet. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Does that sound paranoid?” My response was that it did not. She went on to say that she feels as though her peace is merely temporary. Since she is still in the middle of the separation process, she is probably correct.
Her life has been riddled with threats and manipulations. He uses the children as pawns in an effort to get what he wants from her – control. He operates on fear in order to achieve compliance, both from the children and her. If she or her children do something he does not like, she is threatened with law suits. It’s a familiar story to most of us here.
To date, she has not endured much legal action from him. He has been more talk than action, but as I have warned her before, that means nothing. As a result, she waits with the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of her stomach that the storm is brewing somewhere out there, yet to reach landfall. She senses it. As many of us have learned, out intuition is frequently correct.
What do we do?
As difficult as this may seem, we try to live normally. We should do nothing but continue to better ourselves and live our lives as well as possible. The time we spend worrying, which is something those on the other side rarely do, can be much better spent improving ourselves. Then, if our thoughts and concerns do come to fruition, we are better prepared to handle things.
We should educate ourselves on some of the laws that may pertain to our particular cases. We may want to have an attorney ready, who is well versed in the area of law we anticipate needing. This way, we are not scrambling, or making poor choices at the last minute out of desperation. We may want to educate ourselves on how to interact with individuals who seem to enjoy engaging in conflict. As I have said before, I have learned that less is more and communicate accordingly. That was not always the case. Don’t play into their hands.
We should try not to become complacent. There comes a time when they do tire of us or simply move on to others, but depending on how deep seated their desire for revenge is, we should always maintain a certain level of alertness. This is good practice anyway. Proactive is better than reactive in most situations. At the same time, try to maintain as many freedoms as possible. We escaped from our proverbial dungeons. We have to try to find a comfortable balance.
There may be times when we feel as though we are not allowed adequate time to recover from one shot prior to being hit with the next. Sometimes, with these folks, that is true. This may be difficult. I recall being mid-litigation with one case, and then getting hit with another in a different state. After both were settled, another issue arose. By this time, I fully understood how these personalities operate, so I was neither shocked nor surprised when the next round hit a mere two months later. This phenomenon truly illustrates just how out of control their lives are. I am sure that this individual continues to blame me for all of the problems in every way. Unfortunate.
The difference now is that I get it and that I have learned all about the predictably unpredictable. We may not always know exactly what or when, but we come to know a pattern. When this happens, we single handedly shift the power from them to us, which is critical to our well being. That ability is within each of us, even if in the beginning, we are not sure how to find it.