By March 16, 2017 10 Comments Read More →

Sociopaths Play “Whack-A-Mole”– With You!

Husband Liar SociopathEvery week, a chapter of 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) will be published here on Lovefraud. To read prior chapters, please see the links at the bottom of the post.

Chapter 41B:

The mountain I had chosen to climb—that of my own emotional recovery in the context of an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship that I recognized as complicated and imperfect but not as “abusive”—was steep and high. Not only did I not have a cheerleader, I had the opposite—“crazy making,” deceitful unraveling of any attempt to regain emotional strength. Still, day-by-day and week-by-week, I elevated myself in my mind as someone who deserved happiness and had independent needs that deserved to be met. After a year of weekly sessions with Dr. Davis, I felt ready to lay the foundation for a different future. I needed a life that was not defined totally by being Paul’s wife and Jessica and Daniel’s mother.

I started looking into possible future career scenarios, such as getting the necessary credentials to teach at a private school or getting my resume together to work at a public relations and advertising company in the area. Not surprisingly, in private or at home, Paul was less than enthusiastic about my moves toward strength and independence.

“Why are you even bothering? I make more than enough money. You’ll never get a teaching position; it’s too competitive. And besides, the pay’s horrible. Why are you volunteering at the local arts council? You’ll never be appreciated.”

A metaphor broke into my conscious mind. Life with Paul was like an ongoing game of “Whack-A-Mole.” I had become accustomed to living in the darkness. On those rare occasions when I needed to come up for air, Paul was waiting to whack me back down into my hole before I could feel the sun on my skin or fill my lungs with fresh air. This is a technique many controlling, abusive men use to keep their partners so eroded that it is all but impossible for them to escape the abuser’s control. Paul wielded the technique with skill, constantly making me attribute my negative feelings to a character flaw of mine, such as being too sensitive, competitive, controlling, or impatient, because he was just being honest and respectfully realistic.

Keeping me off-balance and depleted was key, for if I regained my life, I would be less dependent on Paul. His power over me would wane, and I might have less time to be the stagehand for his show. I might even attempt to leave, and for him that would be both inconvenient and expensive.

This time, however, I would not allow Paul’s putdowns and lack of support to derail me. They were all the more reason to get back into a world that, prior to Paul, had been a source of happiness, positive feedback, and purpose. It was time to do something nice for myself, something I had not done for ten years—get a new car. My old reliable minivan had more than 110,000 miles on it and had outlived its role in our family. I wanted something smaller, more reliable, and with better gas mileage—a small Toyota. Paul tried to talk me out of it. He wanted me to want a BMW.

We test-drove a Toyota. Paul did not like it. He convinced me to go with him to the BMW dealership, to stay open-minded. That was the car Paul wanted me to get. He was unrelenting, selling me on how incredibly reliable it was, how maintenance-free it would be, how much safer. The list went on and on. Even if I did not care about buying such an expensive car, I did care about reliability, because I was in the car with the kids constantly. I had checked out the literature. The BMW was not among the top picks on the criteria I valued, and the Toyota was. I wanted the Toyota. With my heart pounding, my voice tight, and both Paul and the BMW salesperson trying to convince me that they knew best what car I wanted to drive for the next ten years, I stood my ground and did not buy the BMW. Paul was incredulous.

Start from the beginning:

Chapter 1

Go to previous chapter:

Chapter 41A


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 "Sociopaths Play “Whack-A-Mole”– With You!"

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  1. slimone says:

    I actually cracked up at the fact that Paul was incredulous that you decided to buy the car you wanted, that fit your criteria, for yourself.

    Such a small thing. And such a normal thing for any person to do. Like getting cheese or no cheese on your burger.

    But these sorts are so frustrated at not having complete control over every detail.

    Standing up for our lives is exemplified by these ‘small’ choices, that in the context of an abusive relationship can feel huge to us, and be totally unacceptable to the abuser.

    I decided to leave the bathroom door open and get ready for work. Before this I closed it, since he didn’t ‘believe’ in grooming that involved any ‘products’. Mr. au naturel. He ran into the bathroom and exclaimed, ‘I didn’t know you blow dried your hair…why are you doing that?!’. Then, over the next few weeks he started making side comments insinuating that truly beautiful women use no grooming products, and he began ogling lots of women who he considered natural looking.

    Really hurt at the time, even though I was approaching the point of leaving him. Still, I didn’t want him to continue to belittle me, and purposefully hurt me.

    Now I know that he was well aware that I was beginning to ‘check out’ and he amp up his ridicule and disdain.

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    • regretfullymine says:

      I too know about this; mine always seemed to know, when I had reached my limit of patience and was mentally, emotionally ‘running away’ from him. He’d back off and turn sweet, or at least shut his mouth about what HE had been ranting about. And when it came to ME making choices; if I wanted A..he’d talk me into wanting B..if I agreed to B..he’d come back and re-talk me into C..or sometimes back to A..a never ending battle of wits (which I know now was just HIM trying to rachet up the controlling going on)..this would be over such things as Me hiring (or not) a cleaning lady, buying (or not buying) groceries, having a meal in a restaurant (or not)..sometimes I did win and when I did win a go-round, there was ‘hell to pay’ somewhere down the road. This is why, after 29 years, I left him when he was gone from home, for a weekend temporary job far away. I could never have stood up to him, his verbal attacks and the ‘whack-amole” that went on.

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    • TigerKim says:

      I have to laugh at your comment; I have a controlling mother. She actually told me I couldn’t buy cheese at Costco once…and I was about 40 years old then. And I pay for the membership fee every year. She is so ridiculous now, she’s morphed into a chronic liar to try to control me from 3,000 miles away. I was going to go see her this Fall, but her scheming has reached a breaking point for me. I have little to no desire to talk to her now. Over the last 13 years, she’s just become too bizarre to expand energy on communicating. I’ve had Fibromyalgia for 5 years now and it has clarified my boundaries greatly. I simply do not have the energy for these kinds of people.

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  2. FleeingDeer says:

    In 2009 I almost left. I was working with my pastor. I was going to ask him to leave. Same thing in 2011. But each time, he could tell when I was standing up for myself in my mind and in myheart. He could read my body language. After 2009 I tried harder to hide it when I was coming up for air and starting to think – but the silent treatment, or emotional and verbal abuse increased to keep me back in line. That’s why when I DID leave – it was a mere 9 days between my decision and when I actually drove away. I coudln’t have kept up the pretense any longer – they can smell your “betrayal”

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    • sdub says:

      Hello FleeingDeer, I am a born again Christian and have just become aware that my wife of 13 years is a “sociopath”. We are going to seek spiritual counceling as I belive this is a spritual battle for her. How did speaking with your Pastor help? Did your ex ever try to change? If so was it temporary? I believe the Sprit of God can change anyone! Thank you!

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  3. Redwald says:

    QUOTE: “I actually cracked up at the fact that Paul was incredulous that you decided to buy the car you wanted… […]

    But these sorts are so frustrated at not having complete control over every detail.”

    Well, I’d say this instance wasn’t so much an issue of “control” per se as one of $TATU$!!! It’s what I call “$tatu$ $hit,” since I tend to be contemptuous of the kinds of nitwits who are obsessed with it.

    In Paul’s case this is Narcissism 101, straight out of the DSM: “Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions.” He couldn’t afford to have HIS wife driving a Toyota, because ordinary people drive Toyotas! Whatever are people going to think of him? Wouldn’t they see him as “ordinary” too–instead of “superior” and “unique” the way he wanted to be seen?

    This is about Paul’s narcissistic side, a subset of his (presumably psychopathic) personality. And to the narcissist, “the WHOLE WORLD is about me, me, ME!” Or if it isn’t, they think it jolly well OUGHT to be, so there!

    One aspect of this is the narcissist’s incredible hypersensitivity to how something just might POSSIBLY reflect on THEM personally, or affect other people’s perception of them, in a negative way. Even if that possibility is wholly chimerical to ordinary people like you and me. Seriously, if we saw a woman driving a Toyota, or any car that looked well maintained, especially a newish one, would we think to ourselves “her husband must be poor if he can’t afford to buy her a luxury car”? What nonsense! I live within ten minutes’ walk of a private school that’s among the most expensive here in Phoenix at $15,000 a year, and when I walk my dog in the evening (who loves to go there because she’s so friendly with people) I see all kinds of cars belonging to parents driving in and out of there. Only a few of them are Lexuses, Beemers and Mercedes. There are plenty of Toyotas, Hondas, Chevys, Jeeps, Fords and everything else. However much money these people have to send their kids to this first-class school, none of them are ashamed to drive an “ordinary” car.

    As for me, I drive a 23-year-old Ford Probe GT. Mind you, it does have very low mileage for its age, for reasons I won’t go into here. But I’ve had it from new, I’ve always LIKED it, and it’s fun to drive! It also doesn’t have a whole load of modern high-tech crap that can so easily go wrong, especially those wireless electronic locks that can be hacked! So who cares if it’s old? It looks good, it runs great, and it’s a good old friend.

    The mind of the narcissist is different. I’ve never forgotten a textbook narcissist calling herself “Dahlia” who caused turmoil on a Web site dealing with abuse way back in 2003. She took some people in (as narcissists do), but in the end she got booted off the site, and good riddance. It’s a long story I ought to tell some time. But never mind that; the essential point I wanted to make is how this poisonous female launched a vicious and irrational attack on another woman, solely because this other woman—who had been a loyal friend and supporter of hers, to the point of getting banned from the site along with “Dahlia”—had done something “naughty” that Dahlia was afraid she might be blamed for. To Dahlia the narcissist it made no difference that this woman had been such a friend and supporter to her in adversity. The value of loyalty or of reciprocity meant nothing to Dahlia. Nor did it matter that there was no reason why anyone should think Dahlia was responsible for what this other woman had done, which wasn’t very bad anyway. All that mattered to the narcissist Dahlia was that people might just possibly accuse HER of something she hadn’t done! That was sufficient reason for her to unleash all her fury on the luckless woman who had been “taken in” by her.

    That’s a very different example from what Paul was doing, but the obsessive thinking behind it is the same. “How might this reflect on me, me, ME in other people’s minds”—if other people suspect ME of doing what this other woman did—or if people see MY wife driving an ordinary Toyota? Will they think we can’t afford a BMW?”

    I’m not surprised you cracked up, slimone! What made me crack up even more came right out of my own imagination. What if Mrs. Ward had decided to buy, not a brand-new Toyota, but (for instance) a used Chevy pickup? Paul might have had a heart attack on the spot! 😀

    (And that might have solved a lot of problems!)

    If Mrs. Ward is reading this, I would be curious to know which model of Toyota she liked so much, and bought. This is personal, because my wife bought a Celica that she drove for twelve years from new, and it was a good car. I went for the test drive with her, and it was fun—partly because we liked the saleswoman who (unlike a salesman at another dealership) didn’t object to my “enthusiastic” driving. It was only because we lived in Massachusetts at the time, with all that snow and salt on the roads so corrosive to car bodies, that she had to swap it for a new car eventually. Otherwise she might have driven it forever, who knows?

    That also highlights one of many reasons not to live with a narcissist, psychopath, or whatever. Who wants to live in a relationship that isn’t any fun?

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    • Bev says:

      I particularly love your last sentence in your post. Lol…it is so true.

      Relationships with spaths of any variety, are simply never fun. There is always that underlying oddness in every aspect of the so called relationship.

      I have not thought of that before. Good one Redwald.

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    • regretfullymine says:

      It wouldn’t have mattered which model of what make of car that SHE wanted, if it didn’t suit HIM and HIS tastes (whatever that means)..her choice would be BAD. I went through this over an engagement ring (of all things). We had looked at several sets of engagement/wedding rings at several different jewelers’ stores and he never said a word. Several days later, on my birthday, at his grandparents’ farm, was a box at my breakfast plate. It was an engagement ring, and I had never seen this one before, anywhere. I didn’t ask questions (should have given it back to him, it wasn’t what I wanted at all). A few days later, I heard him bragging to a friend (with me listening) that he sneaked back to a jeweler’s store, and bought the bands/setting/diamond separately and had the stone set and mounted on a band..He was BRAGGING to his friend how much money he had saved US..I should have taken it off my finger and threw it at him..I was angry..did nothing about it. My ideas and choices for rings were totally ignored.

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  4. Flying Free says:

    To me it does not matter if you chose a motor cycle with a side car, or a donkey cart. It’s the importance of having free will, and not having to feel your pulse rate increase for negative reasons when making your decision. Freedom is bliss. That continual control and mind #uck is soul destroying. Power to you for standing up for yourself. *finger* to the SP !

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