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By February 11, 2016 10 Comments Read More →

Warning: Sociopath Ahead!

Warning Sign

A friend of mine feared her daughter was involved with a sociopath who was pressuring her to have children with him. Knowing I’d had my life derailed by my own husband (now ex-husband), who I now believe is a sociopath, my friend asked me to tell her daughter some of my story.

As one never knows if a seed of information will later blossom into insight, I wrote her daughter a letter.  The entry below is based on that letter.

Wonderful Qualities Become Profound Vulnerabilities

I believe my ex-husband and the father of my children has a personality disorder—narcissistic personality disorder—some refer to such individuals as sociopaths or psychopaths.

Such people are more common that most of us ever imagined—perhaps up to one out of every twenty-five people. I didn’t know that, and I didn’t know that women likely to have their lives derailed by a relationship with a well-camouflaged sociopath are women with some wonderful qualities—those who are empathetic and selfless, who invest in relationships, who don’t see the world in black and white, who give others the benefit of the doubt, and who don’t run away from problems.

I have those qualities.  From what your mom tells me, you have those qualities. With like-minded men, these can be the building blocks of a loving, long-term relationship. Yet, with certain people, these are profound vulnerabilities that can put your life and the lives of your children at risk.

Sociopath–Mask And Motivation

At first, a relationship with a sociopath can seem ideal. Then, things change for the worse, but they keep you in the relationship by weakening you and by tapping your empathy and desire to make things right.

Among the ways they do this is to make you feel like all the problems in the relationship are due to your failings.  (If only you would compromise more….If only you would not make them angry… If only you were not so sensitive…If only you would quit your job…If only you didn’t see your family so much…If only you were a better lover… Etc.)

They also weaken you by chronic, often subtle, devaluation.  When I’d walk or hike with my husband, he would walk ahead of me, not with me.  If he were just walking at a faster rate, he’d keep getting farther and farther ahead.  But, he didn’t. He’d just end up about 15 feet ahead of me the entire time.  Even when I’d catch up or ask him to walk with me, in no time, he’d end up ahead.

So what was going on?

He was sending a clear message – “I don’t value our relationship enough to even walk with you.  You are inferior, your place is behind me, not at my side.” The few times I’d try to talk to him about this, he’d accuse me of being oversensitive.  (Hence, my feelings were wrong too.)  Any one “incident” like this is no big deal.  But what about things like this hour after hour, day after day, year after year especially when you are isolated from other people like family, colleagues and friends?  (Sociopaths often isolate their targets emotionally if not physically from support systems.) This type of behavior will wear down your self-esteem and identity like sand paper on balsa wood. It will deplete you.

Their Corrosive Behavior Is Purposeful

You don’t realize it, but this is being done on purpose to erode you so you are even easier to manipulate. What you do realize is that you start to feel that you can no longer do anything right, which seems so odd, as you have always thought of yourself as a kind, capable person.

Why do sociopaths do this?  They erode you because they are motivated by power and control, and grinding you down and hurting and manipulating you are ways of feeling the power and control they crave. Turning you to dust, destroying a formerly strong person gives testament to their power.

Love Is Not Enough

Not knowing about sociopaths, I kept believing that my husband’s anger, lack of support, often ignoring me, etc. was a result of past pain and difficulties and that I might be able to help him by my loving relationship.  Simply put, I was wrong. He is sociopathic. It was that simple.

Under their carefully crafted veneer, sociopaths are devoid of ethics and empathy.  As a result, sociopaths cannot change for the better—their “hard wiring” is simply different.  I am not speaking figuratively.  Brain scans show these differences. Were they born this way?  It doesn’t matter (unless you are a scientist studying this).  All that matters for making decisions about your life now is who they are now. They are dangerous. They derail lives, deplete finances, alienate people you love. Often, a long-term relationship with a sociopath is described as soul destroying.  I hardly knew who I was anymore—I hardly cared if I lived or died, as there was almost nothing left of me.

To A Sociopath, Children Are Merely A Means Of Control

Experts recommend that you have no contact with someone sociopathic.  But once they are the father of your children, the laws typically mandate contact. Even physical abuse or neglect is not enough, in many states, to keep a father from his child.  It seems unimaginable, but it is true.

You should know that this personality disorder is believed to have a strong genetic component, so having children with someone sociopathic increases the odds that your own children may never develop empathy or ethics.

If your children become sociopathic, your love for them will never be returned and may be used as leverage to manipulate and drain you for their benefit.

Even if your children are not sociopathic, there is no better way to hurt and manipulate a loving mother than by harming a child she loves or harming her relationship with that child.  I’ve experienced both.  It is excruciating, and there is no natural end, as being a mother is forever.

For the sake of the children you hope to have someday, isn’t it best to choose a father who will love them, not love the power the law gives him to possess and psychologically terrorize his own children, and not love the power those children give him to hurt and terrorize you?  If it will help control you and cause you distress, such people will hurt their own children—your children—as easily as they breath.

Some wounds cut so deep; they elude the ability of time to heal.

Listen To Your Body and Your Intuition

Listen to your intuition. Pay attention to the stress your body is likely signaling. Do you feel something is always “off?” Are you often walking on egg shells? Do you struggle to sleep? Do you fight against admitting it, but are you afraid? Agitated? Looking back, most people in these situations knew that “something” was wrong.

Yet, not knowing how prevalent sociopaths are, our own empathy betrayed us.  It encouraged us to heal someone who could not heal, love someone who could not love, and abdicate control to someone who wanted control in order to hurt and abuse.

If not for your sake, for the sake of the children you one day hope to have, please pay attention to your inner voice.  Choosing the father of your children may be the most important choice you ever make.

Notes

My own cautionary tale of unwittingly investing almost twenty years of my life into a relationship with a sociopath and sometimes diverting from the best path, is chronicled in my book Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned (available via Amazon.com, just click on title above). As I don’t get a “do over,” hopefully some of my painful lessons can help others impacted by these toxic people.

Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.



10 Comments on "Warning: Sociopath Ahead!"

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  1. Manya S says:

    OMG! I wish I had known about the walking ahead thing. The start is SO subtle. At the end you look back and wonder, how could i have allowed all this to happen? At the end of my marriage I made all the money, primary care giver to my kids, and to an aging parent. My husband snored and i accommodated him by sleeping in a storage room in my own home while he kept the master. I found out at discovery during the divorce that he had been online dating through charges at the bank. I looked up those accounts and found he’d been doing that for at least 6 years! On my dime!
    Ladies! Please! Take note of these really subtle cues that build, but start from an amazingly charming person.



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  2. Bev says:

    This is a marvelous post.

    Like Manya S says…it starts out so subtle. Little things that I saw in my son that I just attributed to the past. You think if you just love them enough, or in the right way, that they will finally accept you and be happy.

    That NEVER happens. Things only get worse.

    Because we are empathetic, we keep trying to see the beginning…where the SP was such a great person. We can never seem to get back there again, back to the beginning, when the new relationship was so good and held so much promise. Or so we thought.

    Then, you add children into the mix. That is when you realize that the SP does not even love them…can’t love them. They cannot escape from the SP like you can. They are sadly tied to the SP for as long as they are minors.

    So tragic.



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  3. becomingstrong says:

    Thank you once again for your insight. So much of what you said resonates with me. The walking ahead (both my Spath and son do this). I used to love going for walks with him in the ‘beginning’. As time went on I always trying to “keep up”. I took my son hiking recently and I was absolutely furious by the end. I kept calling out to him, couldn’t see him, I kept calling out for him. Yes when we spawn with these types you either get a “mini me” sociopath or a child who will be used against you, if you let them, for the ages. I received an email from my spath this week. In it, amongst other vile disgusting accusations, he takes great pleasure in telling me how the children who live with him hate me (who takes pleasure in a child hating their mother-A spath does). There are few inroads left to the Spath. There is one, my daughter who lives with me. He is honing in. Hopefully I have found a lawyer who is going to cut the Spath off at his knees.



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  4. becomingstrong says:

    Also, your walking illustration also applies to driving. When we drive in tandem he would leave me in the dust. I would ask him repeatedly to wait for me. Once, we were ‘tandem” driving, me with three kids in the car (two were babies). I specifically asked him to wait for me at the mouth of the road leading into the Hoover Dam. He knew this road scarred me. I had become afraid of driving in prior years (an activity I used to live in my predate years) due to years of being subjected to his reckless driving. I digress. I was on that road, sweating, trying to control my anger that he was nowhere to be found. “Where is he, he knows I’m panicking”. The anxiety kept getting worse and worse. I tried not to look down into the ranging Colorado river hundred of feet below the winding narrow road. When I finally got to the dam and could pull into the tourist area. I broke down in tears. A family saw me and approached me. There were two men, a father and son. The father said that I must be afraid and his wife couldn’t drive that road. He said his son would drive me. Only problem was they were going in the opposite direction, the direction from where I came. I jumped at the offer. I was so relieved. The son got into the drivers seat and back we went. The father was in the car ahead never more than ten feet in front. At the end if the road I got back into the drivers seat. I parted ways with that wonderful family who had come to my rescue. I drove to a motel and checked in. I was beyond rattled. The trip was ruined. Later I called the spath at the designated hotel ‘we’ we’re supposed to stay in. He hadn’t checked in. I left a message that I had turned back.



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  5. becomingstrong says:

    pls excuse the typos.



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  6. new_day says:

    Great post! How do we make this article mandatory reading for high school girls?



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    • KeepingOn says:

      Agreed, new_day!

      The walking ahead thing always bothered me. To my core. Interesting it’s struck a cord with several here. For me it was like, in a grocery store, he’s on a mission…I know what I want, how are you so slow! In the airport, keep up, you’re pathetic, maybe people think I’m traveling alone! Traveling to a busy city, you just don’t how how to walk in a crowded city! And then would make it a joke in front of my closest friends knowing it caused me pain. See…she just doesn’t know how to walk! She doesn’t understand how other people walk! And they’d all laugh.

      The small details we endure (that are actually huge as we know). We were trusting. Sure, they’re walking ahead of us, but so great to us in so many ways at first. So why am I overreacting about walking?

      At first there are signs, but walking ahead? Sure enough, it’s these little signs, so many little signs as first that trigger us but appear so insignificant to those who have never endured a spath. What comes to follow is tremendous and often still goes unrecognized… If only we had listened to ourselves, even over a walk ahead…



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      • Getoutofmyyard says:

        I almost spit out my chocolate at that one! Indeed! A good ten feet ahead….and I thought – oh, that’s just Bob. After a few years, I’d make a little gun out of my thumb and index finger and just take him out when he did that. How bizarre, how blatantly rude – how – in the name of God did I get in this place?? The funky bits and pieces of rude, the walking ahead is one — on vacations in a strange city, he practically ditched me. I’m 60. Really? I’ve just found this site – and I’m sure there are many stories that will resonate with me. I’ll sure try and have some fun sharing the whack-a-doodle experiences, and some horrific ones – I’m just in the beginning stages of divorce and learning soooo much. Glad I found this and glad I didn’t spit out my chocolate, too!!



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        • Bev says:

          Welcome here…this site is a godsend.

          It’s always too bad that there is another person who joins, who has had or does have a SP in their lives…but thank goodness there is a place for us.

          Don’t know where I’d be without it.

          I’ve almost spit out my chocolate on more than one occasion, reading some of the posts, too…lol. They are all so spot on, and sometimes pathetically humorously so.

          🙂



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  7. missymooz says:

    Its amazing how many of these stories are exactly like mine!!! Its like someone writes my story. I also cannot believe how that was a sign!!! Of course i realize it now!!! But mine was the same, I even asked him once if I embarrassed him? Then I would beat myself up that I was fat & of course he didnt want to be seen with me ( I was pregnant to him at that stage!! And still a very thin frame apart from baby bump!) He of course said dont be so sensitive. AAMMMMAAAAZZZZIIIINNNNGGG I will definitely keep my wits about me for this one as a sign. thank you so much for your articles.



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