Editor’s note: The following story was sent to Lovefraud by a man whom we’ll call “Anthony.” He believes his ex-wife is a sociopath. This is part 4 of 4. The story refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.
Trying to make sense of the insanity:
How could someone behave this way?
At this point I was totally bewildered and completely devastated. Nothing at all made sense to me. I remembered all of the strange events that happened throughout our “relationship,” and I knew that they all tied together somehow, but even the events themselves were so bizarre, that my mind just could not make sense of them. I knew that she was a very sick woman, that’s all.
When I talked to a neighbor a few days after she left, I even told them that there was something very different about this “breakup.” It was nothing like a normal breakup, but it was so much more painful than anything I had ever experienced before. I could not figure out why, so I just thought that it was because I loved her so much. It was not until months later when I began to learn about narcissism, psychopathy, and covert abuse that I learned why I was in such incredible pain. I had been in an abusive relationship for 3 years, and did not even realize it. I was so hooked on her, emotionally addicted, and determined to show her how much I loved her, so that when she left, there was so much more there above and beyond the loss of a relationship, which actually never existed in the first place. It was this addiction and the emotional abuse of the past 3 years that caused the much deeper pain during the breakup. It’s not an easy concept to accept and to truly understand, but it is what happens, and it was the reason for very difficult time that I had at this point.
Trying to make sense of the insanity:
Discovery of Narcissism
It was several months after she left, and I was still clueless to what had happened to me, and still knew nothing about why it happened. I was visiting a friend, and we were talking about this. When I explained to her that I finally got hard evidence that my wife was cheating in her office during the workday, and when I lovingly (well, as lovingly as possible under those circumstances) confronted her, she turned it around on me, called me crazy, and still denied it. My friend’s response was, “She will never admit it. She’s a narcissist!” I remembered that this was the very thing that my attorney said when we talked months earlier, but I dismissed it then, because I had the wrong impression of what a narcissist really is.
I thought I knew what a narcissist was, but when I began to really read about it, I was shocked to find that it explained much of what I had experienced. I thought I had finally found it! I learned about the defense mechanisms like projection, then understood exactly why she accused me of the very things that I suspected she might be doing, and I learned that she actually told me many things about her own thoughts and actions when she accused me of these things. So much about my strange experience suddenly wasn’t totally strange! I went from total confusion, to a point where things actually began to make sense. What an incredible day that was for me. I cannot begin to explain how it felt to finally be able to make sense of the hell that I had experienced in this, and to start to resolve the cognitive dissonance that I had been carrying around for years.
Although much of this disorder fit my wife’s behavior, there were some things about Narcissism that did not fit her at all. This is sometimes normal because these disorders are not black and white, all or nothing, but the traits fall on a continuum. Some are more pronounced in some people, and not in others. Actually, there is a grouping of disorders that are similar, called cluster b disorders, including Anti Social Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Histrionic Personality Disorder. This is the official grouping by the American Psychological Association. These disorders share similar traits, and the disordered share similar coping mechanisms.
I had heard about this cluster in the past, but like most people, knew little about it. While much of my problem was explained through narcissism, there were some basic things about narcissism that did not fit my wife at all. Mostly, narcissists are totally focused on their image, so they want the very best of anything that will make them look good. This could be cars, houses, clothes, or other things. They often brag about accomplishment and\or events that never really existed, or about credentials that they do not actually have. They want to be seen with powerful and successful people to make them look good. None of this fit my wife. She drove an old van, and while she was very attractive and spent money on her hair and nails at times, she did not put much importance on having nice new clothes, or the best of anything, really. I had trouble with this, because it showed that she may not actually be a narcissist, or at least not to such a degree, but still, most of the strange events were clearly explained by this disorder, including the bizarre projections, the covert abuse, the mind games, and relationship phases of idealization, devaluing, and finally discarding. Narcissists are also known for coldly smearing their victim’s names and reputations in the end, in an attempt to shift the focus and blame off of themselves.
Trying to make sense of the insanity:
Discovery of Psychopathy
So while I studied Narcissism, and was learning a great deal about what happened to me, I came across the website Lovefraud.com. This site was created by Donna Andersen, who was victimized by a man that she believes is a sociopath. As I read the stories, so much of them mirrored my own story, and the traits of a sociopath matched my wife’s perfectly. Sociopaths are also known as psychopaths, and the disorder is in the cluster b disorders, but now the APA calls them Anti-Social Personality Disorder. They are clustered together with NPD (narcissistic Personality Disorder). They are all closely related, and as far as I’m concerned (and so many others who have been victimized and nearly destroyed by these sick predators), it’s pure evil.
Now I finally knew exactly what happened to me. I began to learn why it happened to me, also. These people target their victims because of weaknesses that they quickly find in the potential target. They have spent their entire lives putting on facades and preying upon others, so they become very skilled at manipulation, and at quickly evaluating a potential target, to determine where their weaknesses are. They then exploit those weaknesses as they put on whatever facade is needed to gain whatever they seek from the victim. They are masters of this game, because they have had to be in order to survive, and because they have perfected this game over their entire lifetime.
I began reading everything that I could find on the subject, and before it was over, I probably owned and read a dozen of the top rated books about psychopathy, by authors like Dr. Robert Hare, Harvey Cleckly, Sandra Brown, and Thomas Sheridan. In addition, I found some excellent websites, and probably spent hundreds of hours studying over the 18 months that I spent learning about this disorder. It was such a liberating thing to gain understanding after being in a total fog for so long. I finally knew, I clearly understood, and I have learned things that are truly priceless. Yes, I was pretty beat up, and yes, I went through absolute hell, but I finally see it. I will never have to go back to that ugly place again. I know what they are, I know how they operate, and I know how many of them are actually out there, everywhere. I’m no longer easy prey, and I hope to educate as many others as possible about this. The only way to fight this is to shine the light of truth on it, and expose it.
Understanding the Bizarre Behaviors:
Projection is a defense mechanism that is used by the disordered to give relief on a sub conscience level for bad feelings that are the result of their own thoughts and actions. To relieve themselves of those bad or uncomfortable feelings, they project their own defects onto others. The result is that they blame others for exactly what they themselves are thinking and doing. Being on the receiving end of these projections is truly a bizarre thing to experience.
I’m still a little unclear about this, because the disordered person has no conscience or empathy at all. They do not care at all about others. How then do they feel uncomfortable feelings about what they are thinking and doing? I am not sure, but I know that I experienced this with my disordered person on probably 5 or 6 different occasions. These occasions were times when we were having emotional discussions about our relationship, she was therefore under stress, and she would accuse me of things that I felt that she must actually be thinking or may have done herself. I had good reason to think that she may be thinking or feeling these things, yet she accused me of those very things, and completely without merit. It was baffling to me.
I saw her complete lack of empathy, and her actions clearly showed that she did not care about how her behavior would crush me. She actually enjoyed getting over on me, and doing what she was behind my back. Why then would she need to use projection in those moments when discussions were heating up about things between us not being “right?” I do not understand this, but there is no doubt that, when we were arguing about the things that I felt were very wrong with our “relationship,” and she was under stress, she projected onto me on many occasions. Not understanding what was happening, but definitely understanding that something very odd was taking place, I could only make mental notes, and try to make sense of something so bizarre.
One of the first times that I can remember that projection was used by my wife was when we were having a heated discussion about her daughter and how I thought that our family was out of order, and she said something like, “you never loved me. I think you wanted to love me, but you don’t know how.” And she also said, “You only married me to prove something to your ex-wife,” and “This whole marriage is a lie.”
I remember stopping and trying to figure how something like this could come out of her mouth when I constantly made every effort to show her how much she meant to me. I deeply loved her, and I made a conscience effort to show her, almost on a daily basis. I knew that her accusations were completely base-less, and even absurd considering how I treated her. I knew that there was something significant about these exchanges, but I just could not make sense of them. I figured that she must have been thinking and feeling these exact things, but was completely puzzled as to what was really happening. If she were thinking and feeling these things, why in the world would she accuse me of them? It just made no sense!
These exchanges were the oddest things for me. I am a very logical person, with a background in computer science, so I tried to make sense of this, but from a logical point of view. Not having a clue about what I was dealing with, I just could not understand what was happening. The truth is, this disorder and everything about it, is anything but logical. It is completely illogical, and we are dealing with people who are actually insane. They are not out of touch with reality (a psychotic), but they absolutely are insane. You can never figure out what is happening while you are trying to figure it out from a normal person’s perspective. Not until you understand that you are actually dealing with insanity, will you even begin to get your mind around what is happening. It is truly bizarre.
Understanding the Bizarre Behaviors:
This was one of the most hurtful aspects of my “relationship” with this sick woman, and until a few months ago, I had not yet learned of the term to describe it. I suspected throughout our “relationship” that I knew what was happening, and as time went on, more cracks in her pot became visible, and I began to slowly put it all together. I became more and more convinced that things were not at all as they seemed. If that was not enough to deal with, there were many times that I felt that she was actually covertly rubbing it in my face that she was getting over on me, carrying on an illicit and disgusting sexual affair, and I was clueless (or at least she thought that I was). These instances clearly demonstrate how these people think, how they view life as nothing more than a game, and how they enjoy destroying others in their quest for dominance, power, and control. These instances are clear proof to me that what I was dealing with was a very sick and a very evil woman, and it is hard to even get my mind around the fact that this woman is this way. Had I not experienced it for myself, I would probably not believe it. This is a very beautiful woman on the outside, but a rotting soul on the inside.
Duping delight is the term to describe one of the tools used by these sick people, and I believe that this tool alone shows that what we are dealing with is actually pure evil. There is no poor judgment, or bad choices here. When someone is such a cold and sick person to manipulate and deceive someone, then to make a sport of it for their own sense of power, control, and amusement, they clearly demonstrate purely evil behavior. Nothing anybody can say will ever change my mind about this.
One of the first instances of this that I can remember is around several conversations that we had about fitness. She was never an active woman when I knew her, and a typical evening for her was to sit in front of the TV and watch any of her 15 favorite TV shows. She was very close to a couch potato, and I wanted us to be a little healthier. I explained that I wanted to grow old with her, and I framed the discussions as positively as possible, hoping to encourage her to be more active with me. Most of the time, we sat on the couch and watched TV, hardly ever walked around the neighborhood, and only rode our brand new bikes once or twice.
During one of these conversations when I was gently nudging her to do something like take a walk to get us a little exercise, she told me that she got exercise during the day at her office. She said that she closed the door in the middle of the day, and exercised. Now this was towards the end, when I was pretty sure that she was seriously deceiving me, and may be having sex in her office during the day (I had eliminated all other possibilities). I played along, though, laughing at the thought of her doing push-ups in her office, saying something to the effect that I’d love to be a fly on the wall to see something so funny. I thought about what she said, and I could not believe that she’d think that I would believe that she’d close her door and exercise in her office during the work day, when she was a total couch potato for the entire time that I was around her, and all the way back since I met her. It’s just ludicrous that someone would even think that story was even close to plausible.
Just weeks later, I found out, without a shred of doubt, that the exercise that she was getting was mostly from behind as she let her boss use her like a piece of trash. The fact that she was doing it was not enough power and excitement for her, she had to take her sick games to the next level. She had to covertly rub it in my face that she was screwing in her office, and getting away with it, while her loving, faithful, and clueless husband was being made the idiot, or at least she thought so.
One trait of a psychopath is that they are easily bored, and this is a large part of why they are ALL sexually promiscuous: the need for excitement. I think it is also worth pointing out that they carry out their “duping delight” games not only as an exhibit of dominance and control, but also as simple entertainment for themselves. I bet she almost wet her paints when I made the comment about being a fly on the wall while she “got her exercise,” but I know she wasn’t laughing when I exposed her for the cheating, lying, deceitful woman that she is.
Another good example of duping delight happened one evening while we were being couch potatoes, and watching Jeopardy. This episode was about the game of golf. Now to our knowledge, she had never played the game. None of her past (known) boyfriends were golfers, nor were her husbands. Still, as the questions were read, she answered many of them correctly, and with smugness, as she played her game, and toyed with me. She knew all about the game of golf, the swings, the different clubs, when to use them, scoring, and so on. I played along, asking her how she knew all of this, and she just explained it away as luck or something. Again, this was towards the end, so I knew what she was likely doing with me, and figured that she had cheated with at least one man who was a golfer. Low and behold, when I busted her, the married trash that had been doing her in her office for years was, you guessed it, and avid golfer. Gee, what a coincidence. I think not.
These two examples show clearly how very sick and depraved these people really are. It’s not enough to do what they do to innocent, loving, and trusting people. They have to take it up a few notches with their sick and twisted games.
How anybody can say that this is not absolute evil is beyond me. Sam Vaknin (Malignant Self Love) says that narcissist are not evil. Tornados and tigers hurt people, just like narcissists, and they are not evil. They are only doing what tornados and tigers do. It only stands to reason, then, that narcissists, just doing what narcissists do, like tigers or tornados, are not evil either. I guess we could apply this very logic to someone else, lets say, Adolf Hitler. Hitler just did want anyone like Hitler would do. He wasn’t evil, he was just doing what he does. It’s a ridiculous argument.
These people know exactly what they are doing. They know very well that they are destroying families, and innocent lives, but it never bothers them one bit, because they lack the very things that make us human to begin with: empathy and the ability to love. Just because they do not care (it does not bother them in the slightest), does not make what they do any less evil. Furthermore, considering how they ACTUALLY ENJOY what they are doing, which is clearly demonstrated in their “duping delight,” when someone tries to call this anything less than absolute evil, it almost makes me furious!
If this experience has taught me one thing, it is that evil exists in this world, not only in things that are blatantly obvious, like someone flying an airplane into a building full of innocent people, but even more so, in people and places that most would never expect to find it.
Understanding the Bizarre Behaviors:
Idealization, Devaluing, and Discarding
Another common theme with many of the cluster b disordered individuals (NPD, ASPD, HPD, BPD), is that relationships with these people all follow the same progression. There are three phases that make up this relational progression: idealization, devaluing, and discarding.
During the idealization phase, the disordered is treating their partner as if they are the best thing that they have ever known. This is at least partly because they are in the process of hooking the victim. They are very skilled at sizing up a victim, quickly learning what the person wants and needs, and then becoming exactly what is needed to ensure that the victim is hooked. This is important, because it is this bond to the disordered that will ensure that the victim remains once the abuse starts in the next phases of the relationship, the devaluing phase.
Immediately after the victim is hooked, the disordered will begin to devalue the victim. This may be a gradual process, and it will likely begin with little comments at opportune times, when the victim is made to feel less-then in some way, or made to feel not quite good enough. Other ways that the disordered may devalue the victim is through the use of other abusive tools of the trade used by the disordered. These tools include manipulation, projection, gaslighting (making the victim think that they are crazy, and that the problems are because of them), duping delight, dishonesty (lies, some of them for no other reason that it is entertaining to them), subtle put downs, deception, and deceit.
For someone who has not been through this, one might think, “I’d pack my bags as soon as someone began to treat me this way!” I would think that very same thing. What needs to be understood is that these tactics are never overtly used, in blatant, obvious ways. Disordered people are very skilled at this game, so they know how to be very subtle in what they are doing, and they are able to blend enough good in the mix so that the victim usually does not even notice what is happening to them. What ends up happening in the “relationship”, is that the victim begins trying to compensate and correct, to restore the “relationship” to what “it was” in the beginning. The only problem is that, the victim does not yet know that their entire “relationship” was never real to begin with, and therefore can never be “restored” to its original state. Still, the victim begins buying into the lies, and jumping through hoops, trying to appease the disordered in some way. This is all in an effort to resurrect the perfect person and “relationship” that they once had.
The final stage of relationships with the disordered is brought about in one of two cases. The first case is when the victim no longer of any use to the predator, usually because they have either gotten what they wanted, or because whatever they wanted has been all used up. The other case is when the predator is found out, the mask is removed, and the game is up. Either way, the victim is callously discarded like yesterday’s trash. This is a very difficult thing to experience, and it often drives the victim to the point of suicide.
This relational progression took place in my “relationship” in the same way that it did in all of the other cases that I have read about. It is amazing how similar all of our stories are. The details may be different, but the stories are almost identical, and there are hundreds of them, probably many times more, but most are not talked about.
The discarding was the most incredibly painful experience. I honestly thought we loved and cared for each other. When I discovered the hard evidence of what she was doing, and when I still offered mercy, forgiveness, and a chance to make it all right, but instead, got it all turned around on me, more lies and deceit to shift the blame, and coldly discarded, it was emotional pain like nothing I have ever experienced.
It is only by God’s grace that I made it through alive. Had I not had Him, and the key people that He put in my path, I am certain that I would have at least taken my own life, possibly much more. When I hear of any of the very common tragedies in the news today, I understand exactly why these things are taking place. The world is not a nice place, but is full of evil, much of it well hidden in places that one would never suspect, and it is going to continue to get worse. It is this evil that is destroying so much good in the world, and these sick people are a huge part of the problem.
Understanding the Bizarre Behaviors:
The Smear Campaign
When one of these people is either found out, or when they have completely used up the victim, and thus have discarded them, the smear campaign is sure to follow. This is because they must maintain cover for what they are, out of the basic need for survival. In order to do this, blame must be shifted. For the victim, this is like the final nails in their coffin.
Try to imagine going through a “relationship” with one of these sick people, being covertly abused, having been idealized, then slowly devalued for years, and finally discarded like a worthless piece of trash once you prove that this person, whom you genuinely and deeply loved, had been doing something like screwing their boss the entire time. Imagine the depth of pain and confusion that you’d feel at that time (believe me, it is more painful than you can imaging).
Now try to imagine how you would feel, if you were in this state, and you also had to deal with this person, whom you loved and cherished, and whom you thought loved you, begin to spread lies about you to your friends, family, and neighbors, to explain the breakup. These people are ruthless, and they lie as easily as they breathe, so they will not hesitate to do this, because it serves their purpose. That is the only thing that ever matters to them. It is completely devastating to the victim.
God only knows what this woman told people to explain what happened, but I could see that she told them something. I did not understand what was happening until months later, when I learned about psychopathy, and read the many other stories of this very thing happening. Still, I knew that she was spreading these lies, and completely denying the truth. My neighbors would no longer let their daughters have sleep-overs with my daughters at our house, and when we were in mediation for property division, the mediator came back in from her room saying that she’s getting 2 completely different stories about what happened. I did not even ask the mediator what she was being told.
It really doesn’t matter what she had been saying. It’s all a pack of lies from a severely disordered woman. I know that she is going to pay for what she did to me and my children. God is not mocked, and she mocked Him throughout this entire “relationship” and marriage, and throughout the process to end it. I know that I did my part to try to help her, and I deeply and genuinely loved her. I showed unconditional love and mercy, and I know that God was pleased with that. I was so very good to her, but she repaid my good with evil, all the way to the very end. It may be a game to her now, but it won’t be forever. If these people even have a soul, when their number is up, they will be reminded of the lives that they destroyed while they played their games.