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Husband, Liar, SOCIOPATH–How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned

 

Husband Liar SociopathBy O.N. Ward

For several months, I’ve posted an entry here every Thursday. Some entries have been edited excerpts from my book “Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned” (available via Amazon.com, just click on the title or book cover) while others have been inspired by things I’ve read both on the Lovefraud website and elsewhere.

From this point forward, I’ll be posting chapters from my book in order, one at a time.

Forward In Disguise

The book is a memoir about having my life entangled for about 20 years with someone I now believe is a sociopath. The experience was soul destroying and life altering. As my life and spirit became undone, what strength remained fueled me to understand how and why it had all happened. I had to write this book. I had to derive purpose from my pain. I had to share the knowledge that I paid such a high price to gain.

I wrote my story using a pseudonym and modified names, places, and specifics (both in the book and in all references to it), but not the dynamics. I wrote my story this way out of concern for my children and fear for my safety. My ex-husband’s mantra is “I’ll do whatever I want!” I believe him.  He scares me.

So, my name is not Onna, and my ex-husband’s name is not Paul. I do not have a daughter named Jessica or a son named Daniel. I am not from Vermont, and I do not have an undergraduate degree from Harvard or an MBA from Yale. Yet, just as I do have more than one child and I do have multiple degrees from top colleges and universities, the essence of everything in this story is true—based on actual events, including conversations and bizarre behavior as best as I remember them or, later on, recorded in my journal. Twenty years after marrying Paul, I stumbled through a train-wrecked life, tried to salvage what I could, abandoned what I couldn’t, and searched for understanding.

Someone who read my book wrote to me, “Your book represented clarity to my past life that I so desperately needed to find.”  I hope this book can also bring additional clarity and closure to anyone who is struggling to heal from the trauma inflicted by a sociopath. For me the struggle has been long and hard, but I am healing. I am moving onward.

Chapter 1–He Deserves Me

During my first few months in Yale’s MBA program, I hardly noticed Paul. Although we shared many courses, he rarely participated in class discussions, and our friends and study groups did not overlap.

That changed in January when Paul and I were assigned to the same team in a school-wide simulated business competition. When I learned who else was in my group, I felt both lucky and cursed. My team comprised some of the smartest but also the most egotistical students in the program—a potentially noxious combination if it led to head butting instead of problem-solving. If we could not figure out how to work together, I was in for two days of frustration and disaster rather than intellectual challenge and success. Ironically, Paul was not one of the students who concerned me. Like me, he was one of the older students in the program. Other than that, I knew little about him.

Each business school team was put in charge of a hypothetical company. We started with the same resources, but forty-eight hours later, after making a series of interdependent business decisions, only one would emerge the winner—the one with the most profit. After all, this was business school.

My fears about my team materialized immediately. After two hours, we had no assigned responsibilities or overall strategy. We were deadlocked, and the clock was ticking. While others postured like competing peacocks and engaged in unproductive discussions, Paul sat quietly, reviewing the materials provided and the interactions among our teammates. Then, in a moment of exasperation, he stood up and took control.

I don’t know how Paul did it, but it happened seamlessly, with everyone suddenly willing to take on the roles and responsibilities Paul suggested. We worked hard, long hours, laughed a lot, and ate way too much junk food. Other than returning home to grab a few hours’ sleep, the team spent most of the forty-eight hours together. With the clock down to zero, and with Paul still at the helm, we emerged victorious.

Over that weekend, I came to see Paul in a whole new light. In fact, I was smitten. When we were not crunching numbers or reviewing the moves our competition had made and how our pseudo company should respond, Paul and I opened up to each other. I told him that I was from Burlington, Vermont, where my dad was a professor of education at the university and my mom was a high school librarian. I had one brother, and my small family was athletic, shared a love of the outdoors, and was intellectually vibrant and emotionally close. I had considered an academic career in psychology, my undergraduate major, but I loved the immediacy and challenge of the business world.

Prior to returning to school to get an MBA, I had worked in the nonprofit sector and then, for about five years, in a small regional advertising company. It was more important for me to believe in what I was doing and to work with people I respected and enjoyed than to become wealthy. I still played squash, a sport in which I had competed nationally in my youth and as the top player at Harvard as an undergraduate. Hiking and cross-country skiing were other passions of mine. The outdoors, especially in winter, filled me with a sense of magic and wonder.

Paul seemed so modest that, at first, it was hard to get a lot out of him. Yet, after I opened up about myself, it seemed to break the ice, and he started telling me about himself. Paul joked about being picked last for teams throughout grade school and middle school and not even attempting to participate in organized sports in high school or college. As a late bloomer, he was now making up for lost time. Paul was an avid downhill skier and loved to work out and hike. He also enjoyed the outdoors, especially in winter. Like me, he said he was pursuing an MBA not because he wanted to pave a road to considerable financial and material wealth but because he valued having a challenging, rewarding career. Being intellectually alive was paramount to him. As Paul told me about himself, I felt an immediate connection. We were so much alike.

That weekend, Paul mentioned that he wanted to work hard for about ten years and then retire to a university town where he could teach and have an outdoors-oriented life, similar to the lifestyle I had known growing up and that my parents still enjoyed. From spending time skiing in Vermont, he adored the place and could see himself retiring there or to a similar location with mountains and snow. Paul also said he had volunteered with underprivileged kids prior to business school and could not wait to have more free time to do so again. I admired Paul for his leadership and for being helpful to others as well as for being unruffled in a high-powered academic environment that most people, including me, found taxing.

Like me, Paul had also been married before and had decided to go to business school as a fresh start after his divorce. His short marriage to Jenny, a fellow undergraduate at Stanford, ended when he discovered she was cheating. Paul was crushed. Trust and honesty were paramount to Paul, so he could not live with a wife who lied. He had made no attempt to mend the relationship.

Paul seemed shaken as he talked about Jenny’s betrayal—his eyes glassy, his words deliberate, and his voice tight. Sometimes he stopped to regain his composure so he could continue his story of deep love and devastating heartbreak. I warmed to Paul. How could such a nice person be so mistreated by the woman he loved? Paul deserved so much better—he deserved me.

Notes

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

Husband, Liar, Sociopath – How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & the Painful Lessons Learned, is available on Amazon.com.


Posted in: O.N. Ward

28 Comments on "Husband, Liar, SOCIOPATH–How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned"

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  1. stopbuggingme says:

    Thank you O N Ward! I look forward to reading more!



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  2. Bev says:

    Wow..as usual…riveting. I agree with stopbuggingme…

    I can’t wait for more.

    Obviously, ‘Paul’ played coy and reserved at first, not telling you too much about himself. He was letting you talk about yourself instead, so that he could later mimic what your desires and wants in life were and what you did in your past and what you liked and didn’t like.

    Very shrewd.



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  3. Bev says:

    Also…he got you to think that you could be the woman the you thought that he deserved…



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  4. Redwald says:

    An intriguing story! Three comments come to mind:

    1. Like Bev, I’m wondering how much of what “Paul” told you about himself (including such things as his adoration of Vermont) turned out to be true, and how much was part of a fake personality constructed to appeal to you. No doubt we’ll discover that in due course.

    2. It would be interesting to know the truth about his breakup with Jenny. Was “Paul” really (as I suspect) the one who did the cheating? Or did Jenny in fact cheat on him because she finally got fed up with the way he treated her? (Though possibly the truth will never be determined!)

    3. Paul’s remarkable skill, not just at pulling together that disparate team of headbutting egotists, but actually leading them to victory, demonstrates how the interpersonal talents and dynamism of certain psychopaths can, despite their grave personal flaws, be socially valuable in some contexts. Among other things it suggests why psychopaths evolved in the first place. Now if only those useful talents could be harnessed while all the OTHER evil traits of the psychopath could be monitored and kept in check, we’d be in business!



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  5. becomingstrong says:

    Thank you for sharing. I have two questions:
    1. Paul never intended to retire in ten years to some out of the way place after a career helping other, right?
    2. Do you think Paul, during your competition, sat quietly sizing everybody up, watching everyone tear everyone else up, while he goes unscathed, waited for his opportunity to take the helm knowing that his opportunity would prefer itself? Something tells me he did a lot, waiting for everyone else to voice an opinion before he ever utters a word. (How do I know this? My spath belonged to the board of his company and would fight feriously to be elected to it, only to go and never utter a word. After years of this I asked him why he sat silent and he said, “I wait for the 11th hour before I’ll say anything. Most of the time I don’t have to say anything.”



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    • O.N.Ward says:

      Hi becomingstrong:

      1. Of course, I’ll never know with certainly what he intended. However, his future behavior did not reflect his stated goal–not at all.

      2. I think you are right about point #2. It sounds like “Paul” and your spath have a lot in common. The more and more I read, the more I see how common the manipulative techniques are across sociopaths/psychopaths/etc.



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      • becomingstrong says:

        Hi O.N.Ward,

        Thank you for answering my questions. I assume Paul was mimicking your desires. Though we will never ever know full truth, we know that they have their own agendas. They do exactly what they want to do. So the fact that you didn’t move to some quaint New England village, you safely assume that it wasn’t his goal. I assure you, if it had been his goal, that is where you would have been. How do I know this. I expressed a deep desire once, to spend some time, a year, maybe more, in New Zealand. It never happened and why, not because he didn’t express a desire to me, mimicking my goals, but because he didn’t want to. And he didn’t want to because I wanted to do it.
        Their methods/tactics are not very savvy once you identity what you are dealing with. I would like to learn more about their methods. I figured out a few but not as many as I would like.



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  6. wiserfromit says:

    I work with many men who boast of how they “use” women and get away with it; but it is only for a time. Poverty is a great defense against the spath because when the women go on welfare and food stamps the state in which they reside will go after the man for restitution and the woman does not have to do any thing. Case in point is one man who was a meth head, thief, and braggart of how he got a girl pregnant when they were both nineteen and living in Boston and he just took off, abandoning her and their child; when he was forty and living in Arizona he got arrested for meth, they took his DNA and then the state of Massachusetts nailed him for 119k for the eighteen years his girlfriends and daughter were on public assistance. Ladies let the armies of state governments hunt down the spath for you and get the money out of them.



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    • NoLongerShocked says:

      Sadly that doesn’t work with genuine spaths. No money will be forthcoming.



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    • aintgonnatakeitnomore says:

      In NY foodies dont start a manhunt. Medicaid does but its all theatrical, a way to harass the mom more than anything; do you know where he is, do you have an address? Ok, now do you? Ok, now? Now? Every freakin time I have to go to family court and say no. Take time off work, usually lose HALF a DAY, pay a sitter evenso.
      Foodies nor medical do anything in OR.
      The only thing that halfway works is court mandated child support. If you’re getting state asisstance, they’ll go after him but you’ll only get half. When the general court mandate is about 1/10 of what you need to get from the babydaddy, half it is a worse joke.

      But being truly abandoned by the spath?
      P.R.I.C.E.L.E.S.S.

      and if spath-biodad just wants to show up & play sugardaddy once in awhile but is not paying the pittance of support that would satisfy the state, hey he must wanna go to jail huh. cuz this momma would call his ass in, in front of him so he’d leave the area pronto.
      but im dealing with a mentally ill/fairly dysfunctional spath.
      i hope i’d still be able to play hardball regardless but some spath-victim horror shows dont lend themselves to it.



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    • aintgonnatakeitnomore says:

      Plus being awarded a judgement and collecting the award are two hugely diff things.
      Most biodads, esp of this ilk, simply quit their jobs; hey gfs are plenty to leech off. Disability is untouchable for support also. Unemployment doesnt pay much so you get much each month. Mostly tho they just go work for a friend and use a fake SS# or are just paid under the table in many diff jobs. Or you could be a 1099 employee. No deductions and then you just dont file a return so no offset pymt to the govt before you get your refund, if you would have gotten one.
      Many ways to avoid paying out on an award.



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  7. WildFree says:

    i’ve read that one of the most common opening tactics of a spath is to elicit sympathy with sad tales of their history, and that certainly also occurred with mine; terrible childhood abuse, foster care system, etc. etc., the terrible ex-wife, the tragic death of his infant daughter. and he seemed so cool, funny, brave, talented, and sweet, if a bit childish; i thought, how could anyone have treated him so badly? and of course i was going to be the one who loved him and healed him and uplifted him.

    instead over the next couple of years he ripped me to shreds and cost me everything i had and i almost didn’t make it out alive.

    looking back on it, while i know now that his abuse story was true, i’m sure he simply capitalized on that, all based on mirroring. our first night together we talked for hours and hours and i told him everything about me. needless to say, i’m no longer an open book to strangers…



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    • Bev says:

      OMG, that is my SP son to a tee!

      Sympathy and sad tales of childhood neglect and abuse, foster care…yet he is so disarmingly charming, funny, brave, sweet…and a bit boyishly childlike (he is 35). All those nice traits…AT FIRST. Only until you really know him. By then, most people are driven away by his coldness and finger pointing everyone is to blame but me, true self.

      His abuse was true? Can you elaborate on that if it’s alright with you? How do you know that the abuse was true? Did he have much or anything to do with his abusers or the rest of his family?



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      • WildFree says:

        toward the end i had the opportunity to meet his foster mother and she confirmed in great detail most of what he had told me. he really did go through a very shattering experience at 3 months old, was taken away from very horrific abuse when it put him in the ER at that age, broken bones etc., was non-responsive to any interactions until he was almost a year old, and she started fostering him at around that time with her husband.

        i lived with her (and the spath) for the last 4 months of our relationship so i got to know her fairly well and believe she was honest with me. she was a very sincere christian lady who had no idea what she was getting into, and the foster system in this state at that time was not very helpful. he was adopted by another family at 10 and they kicked him right back into the system and he ended up back with her, although she flat out refused to adopt him, she did support him for a number of years.

        he does sound like your son from what you’ve said, he was 39 when i met him, looks 10 years younger, although i suspect his lifestyle is going to catch up with him.

        i’m sorry to hear you have a spath child. that has to be incredibly hard to cope with. my spath was very possessive of his foster mom and hated that we formed any positive relationship. she said to me she knew how he was, but still felt like she could handle him. i tried to warn her in our last conversation he was far more dangerous than she realized (i think he literally would have killed me eventually and i probably should have been hospitalized more than once). i think she still felt somehow responsible for him, i don’t know. she didn’t know the details of what he did to me before we arrived at her home, and i don’t think she really knew or wanted to know the depth of his depravities. i do know he’s left the state and hit the road again so he’s out of all our lives, thank god.



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        • Bev says:

          Thank you WildFree. I am so sorry that you had to deal with a SP. I know that they are incredibly difficult to even relate to on any normal level at all. They are TOO hard to cope with You said it, Even as babies and small children.

          I think you can believe that he was actually abused. I believe that my own son was also ‘abused’ in that there was a traumatic forceps birth (which lasted much longer than it should have…I really should have had a c-section after them pulling for far too long on his head)…he came out very angry and would not calm down for hours…and then, the nurses force feeding my son (having to, they told us), because after two days, he still would not eat…not thrive. The force feeding was horrible, holding his head firmly back while pushing the milk down his throat as he screamed, choked, gargled, and eventually swallowed because he had to. It did not work, though…he continued to not eat after that. Go figure. We were told to force feed him at home if necessary, exactly the same way. He would not eat once we got him home. We were 18 and 19. We force fed him…perhaps a bit less violently, but we did it. It was pure hell. We hated being new parents. He always was a terrible eater after that, as he still is today, 35 years later. No pleasure from food, as most of us get from eating. No enjoyment at all. Just a basic necessity of life, I am sure is how he views it.

          Of course I believe, because of this awful start to his life, we did not bond at all. He bonded to nobody. He was unresponsive to physical touching. Did not want to be held at all. Did not want to be around us or people at all, really. Things just went downhill. We had no idea that a SP was obviously forming.

          In think that SPs develop a non trust in people and with the world in general, which causes them to act/live the way that they do. Survival instinct. Perhaps even wanting a closeness with someone, but then pushing it away, sabotaging it, so to speak.

          The question is…do we keep feeling sorry for them? Are we supposed to keep trying to change them by loving them? That is too difficult to do. Even though they cannot seem to help how they are, some of what they do is deliberate. And if they keep using pity stories to justify their actions…how long is society supposed to accept that? How long are parents responsible for their ‘children’?

          This is tough. I have had to establish no contact now, and my son actually seems to be alright with it. He seems to understand why. I am far too emotional to watch what he does to his life, and to others. I hate that he becomes someone elses’ problem…but what can I do? He has ruined his marriage, screwed up his ex, and now he is messing two young children up. It is beyond tragic.

          Thank you so much for sharing. You helped me. I hope I helped you too.



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      • WildFree says:

        and yes… my spath is NEVER responsible for ANYTHING he does, it’s always someone else’s fault, his boss, his coworker, or (usually) me… no matter how illogical his reasoning is, or how patient i was in pointing it out, he just can’t/won’t grasp it. like he’d scream at me for waking him up for work, then he’d scream at me for losing his job when he didn’t get up. he is absolutely incapable and completely unwilling to reflect on anything like personal responsibility. i still haven’t figured out how much of that is simply entrenched, like a piece that’s just missing, and how much is by design. probably both.

        leading with sad story — run away
        lovebombing/excessive flattery — run away
        intense gaze — run away



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  8. becomingstrong says:

    Dear Wildfree,
    The question is do they know they are shirking personal responsibility are they simply unable to grasp what personal responsibility means. On one hand, they place all blame and responsibility for their bad acts on others, mainly their partners, but on the hand, they are impervious to any personal responsibility. Frustrating is not the word when dealing with particular component of their personality disorder. Do they know that they are completely unreasonable placing 100 percent of everything negative on others all the while accepting 0 percent of the blame; conversely, they get 100 percent of the credit for everything good while their partners get 0 percent of any credit. Personally, I find them such lowlifes.



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    • Bev says:

      And, that’s really it, isn’t it.

      They are damaged. They cannot be helped or ‘fixed’.

      That is perhaps how ‘lowlifes’ come to be.



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      • Bev says:

        Or, my son could have been born a P (apparently psychopaths are born, SPs are formed after)…and what happened at birth and in the first few months of his life, also formed a SP.

        He has so many overlapping traits, that I am really not positive what he actually ‘is’.



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        • WildFree says:

          Bev i personally believe some are born and some are created. i don’t think it’s possible to know for sure. maybe some are born with tendencies and then environment determines what path they take, and others are just born hard-wired. i certainly don’t know, but i do believe if environment has anything to do with it, what my ex-spath was put through would turn the trick. that doesn’t make him any the less a monster, in my mind; to me, understanding is not excusing. and obviously i cannot speak to your questions about your son. with mine, i don’t think ultimately it matters; if he can’t help himself, he needs to be shut down, put away from society. period. i never used to believe anyone is beyond help, but i truly believe now he is beyond healing or redemption. i know from things he’s said and done, he doesn’t question himself or want to change and i don’t believe he ever will. he loves living his life the way he does. he thoroughly enjoys his games. he used up his right to compassion long ago because he takes it and uses it against the compassionate person to destroy them. the ONLY way to respond to someone like that is to cut them off. it’s not only his self-pity that distinguishes him; it’s the way he tries to elicit pity to manipulate everyone around him, to their detriment. it’s not even enough to him to exploit; he must destroy in the process. it gives him pleasure. whatever he was born to be, my ex-spath is a monster.

          with that said, it’s possible to have “traits” and not be full-blown. at a certain point i think it’s important to step back and just evaluate the situation/prospective spath on the basis of their actions and not their “potential.” i tried so hard to believe he wasn’t a spath, that i could somehow reach him. in restrospect i just put myself through so much more damage and pain. it doesn’t really matter ultimately what his diagnosis is; the bottom line he was bad, bad news for me and i’m just grateful i escaped without, this time, any reservation.



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          • Bev says:

            How unbelievably wise you are, WildFree

            That is precisely what I am saying as well. He is who he is, no matter what the reason. My son, too, thinks that he is right about everything that he does and never takes on any blame. He hurts and destroys indiscriminately. Whether he can help it or not, does not matter.

            I firmly believe that my son was going to be born a P, no matter what else happened.

            Cheers to you and I do not know how old you are but you seem wise beyond your years. You have obviously researched these disorders. Thank you for helping us all out on the site.

    • becomingstrong says:

      Dear Bev,
      For me the only term that seems to apply is “psychopath”. Not having the benefit of any credible or reliable history of his childhood, anything is possible as to when he developed this malady. I used to think that he had frontal lobe injury from his car “accident”. But then recently I came to the conclusion that that was no accident so I nixed that theory. Though it is also possible that childhood abuse could have attributed but again no reliable info there. ThoughI will probably never know for sure what caused it I tend to believe that he was born this way. Bev, it is possible that a traumatic birth and the subsequent lack of binding contributed to yours sons personality disorder. However, my eldest sister, my mother’s first child, was born breach. It nearly killed both my mother and sister and was very traumatic and she does not suffer from a personality disorder. I understand your desire to make sense of your life and want to know why he is the way he is. I personally believe that these types are genetically wired. Just like we are genetically wired. Is there a genetic predisposition combined with a trigger, i.e.: traumatic birth? Maybe? If so how great or small does that trigger have to be and is it likened to walking through a land mine field?



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      • Bev says:

        You nailed it again. You know me so well…and we don’t even really know each other. Yes, I continually try to make sense of what has happened with my son. I am always looking for another answer, even though I likely already have and know the answer.

        I, like you, believe in my heart that my son was born a P. I just feel that to be a fact. It is my intuition. Not because I am not willing or wanting to accept any blame either. He was going to be born that way, no matter the traumatic birth, or the force feeding. The odd ‘things’ that happened immediately following his birth likely occurred BECAUSE he was disordered from the start. The old chicken and the egg thing again.

        The end is always the same, though. I know in my heart that I can have no contact and nothing to do with him, no matter why he is the way that he is.

        It is what it is. There is no changing him. No fixing him. No loving anything away. I am so far past that now and I am relieved about that. My aim now is to help others understand what seems incomprehensible.



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        • becomingstrong says:

          Yes Bev you were an unsuspecting victim of the worst kind of tragedy. Two normal parents producing a P. I married a P and quite possibly and tragically gave birth to more. Trying to make sense out of what is essentially a whirlwind nightmare is almost like trying to find your way out of a tornados vortex. There are so many questions and so few answers. Only once bitten by the serpent and given a deadly dose of the venom do you even realize that you been involved with a serpent. The anecdote seems to be as you say no contact and personal acceptance of how awful it was/is. Yes your son was destined to be a psychopath because he is a psychopath. My husband also had the same destiny and he embraced and made sure he ruined many lives just for the fun of it. I am glad for you that you are on the healing side of this horrible equation. Love to you.



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          • Bev says:

            Thank you becoimingstrong…thank you so much.

            I have accepted that my son was born a P, and that is why circumstances afterward, happened. I am certain that he is a true P and also had some SP tendencies, is that is possible, and after all of the research I’ve done, I think it is.

            Much love to you as well.

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