12 years ago my soul mate discharged parole, went on a week long dope run, stole a car and left our hometown in hopes that sobriety would find him in the state of Arkansas. It didn’t. He promised to return. 14 years passed, 5 of them he spent in prison, 2 of them in solitary confinement. Attempts were made to come home but they always ended with him back in prison and me terribly dissapointed. I have given up on him so many times. I even married once in defiance. Last year I gave up for good. I texted him saying that I accepted that I would never see him again. He reassured me that he would come home someday and not to give up hope. I didn’t believe him and I gave up hope, at least I thought I did. 6 days ago he texted me that he was home and checking himself into rehab. All the feelings came rushing back, I’m not as trusting and hopeful as I was in my youth but I have to admit that as soon as I saw him I wanted to crawl into lap and be held forever. As he left we embraced and he whispered “tell me that you still love me”. “I still love you” I replied. I’m quite certain that I always loved and needed him more than he needed me but at that moment he was at my mercy. I know that he will fuck this up somehow, I know that he will hurt me, but hope loves eternal and I hope that he will find sobriety and that in sobriety he will find a way to love me.
I have become increasingly aware of victim blaming in our society. Victim blaming isn’t a new concept nor is the debate new. I think that it boils down fear. Horrible events are going on among us. Terrible things are happening to people. Rapes, murders, and violence of all sorts litter that news daily. No one wants to believe that bad, scary things can happen to us or our loved ones. The easiest way the quell those fears is to blame the victim. If we tell ourselves that the victim engaged in conduct that made them deserve what happened to them then all we have to do is not repeat that conduct ourselves and we are instantly immune to the harm the person suffered. It makes sense. It’s simple. And it’s completely untrue. Innocent people get harmed, children die, women are raped, homes burn down, bad things often happen to undeserved individuals everyday. In fact, I would argue that very few victims have done anything to deserve anything.
When it comes to homelessness I feel that we engage in the same victim blaming. People who suffer homelessness are indeed victims. Most of us sit in our homes, enjoying central heating and air, cable TV, internet, running water, bathrooms. We see these things as necessities. We may pause with concern when we pass a homeless person on the street begging for change, we may worry that we too could face the same fate, but we are quick to calm this fear by saying “that person must have done something wrong in their life” or “they want to live that life instead of working hard like I do.” We rebuke the homeless person as lazy or drug addicted. We have contempt for that person and the choices that they have made to bring them to this point in their life, though we know nothing of what has brought them to this point. In essence, we blame the victim of homelessness so that we can assure ourselves that we will never be in their position.
I have conquered a psychopath!! Epic karmic justice is mine!!
As an attorney I run into many psychopaths, both as colleagues and clients. In fact, I feel that there are more psychopaths per capita in my profession than any other, save politicians. When I chose my profession I was completely unaware of what a psychopath was or that I was such an irresistible treat to these low-empathy individuals. Had I known I probably would have become a philosophy professor instead.
I didn’t know how to recognize these individuals until I met Mr. V. Mr. V is also an attorney and a self-admitted psychopath. Mr. V gave me insight into what psychopaths found attractive about me, what they wanted from me, and eventually how they were going to exploit me. I learned much from Mr. V, but the best lesson I learned was that no matter what, any psychopath, given enough time, will find a way to hurt whomever they are around. And the hurt will cut so deep and so close to ones heart that it will send them reeling into the depths despair. So deep in fact, that sometimes they’re not quite sure if they will ever climb their way out.
High functioning psychopaths are social chameleons. Dr. Hare refers to this as glib and superficial charm. They instinctively know how to tell you what you want to hear, how to build a facade of trust and then how to turn that trust against you in order to spin you out into a raving lunatic struggling to incorporate the reality you have always known with the reality the psychopath is projecting for you. They enjoy watching you in turmoil as they play the puppet master of cognitive dissidence.
Mr. V did exactly that to me, he found my weakness, which was my hope to escape the poverty that I live in by reinstating my license to practice law. He led me down a path of promises to help me restore my career. Many times he offered me financial help then failed to follow through. He said it in his owns words “I love it when a woman gets so upset that she is crying and begging me to come back while I walk out the door, disgusted with what she has become. Then a few days later I ask her to fuck me again and she always does it, no matter how badly I treated her.” (maniacal laugh follows)
The final straw was when Mr. V promised to pay for the probation that was required for me to get my license to practice law, and thus my career, back. My license has been on hold ever since my marriage and subsequent divorce form EX2 created within me a dynamic of drug addiction and despair that ended with 4 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs in a veiled attempt to commit suicide. I couldn’t afford the $350 per month that was required for the probation, but Mr. V said that if I started the process he would pay it for me. I still trusted him at that point and I turned myself into the bar in order to begin the expensive probation that was going to be required of me. I called him the day I found out that disciplinary proceedings had begun against me, his response was flatly “no, I’m not going to help you. I guess you will be disbarred permanently now.”
Wow…just wow! It hit me with a resounding thud. I had relied on his word that he would help me get my license back and he reneged. I figured my career was over but I was unwilling to accept it. I did some hustling and found someone that hates him almost as much as me, the man who used to share an office with Mr. V, or rather the man who Mr. V used to mooch free office space and toilet paper off of. Mr. V had a 20′ x 40′ foot sign on the outside of this office, advertising his services. This sign was up until today… today my sign went over his sign.
God it felt good. Not only did I manage not to follow the trajectory of failure as Mr. V had intended, but in a grand display of epic karmic justice my sign now hangs over his sign for him and all to see. I not only overcame his harm I supplanted his success.
So last week I went to my normal AA meeting on Sunday. Even if I miss meetings during the week I always, always make this meeting . He knows this. In fact his best friend gives me a ride. He is the most recent psychopath that I have removed from my life. He never goes to this meeting. I knew he would show up eventually. AA or not, I am his drug. He gets something from me that he can’t get anywhere else. Ever since I told him to get fucked I knew he would show up at this meeting at some point.
He walked in with a smirk that I desperately wanted to knock off of his face. He took a seat. After the meeting a group of us usually go out to breakfast. Of course, he went to breakfast also. Of the 12 fucking seats he could have sat in he chose the one right next to me. Pleasantries were exchanged and then I ignored him the rest of the meal. I handled it correctly, even though it feels like the weaker position. I know that he wants engagement, he seeks an emotional exchange that indicates that I need him back. He wants to “turn me inside out” as he so honestly puts it. His desires aren’t foreign to me, in fact, it’s just the opposite, it’s comfortable, normal and habitual. But it’s a habit I intend to break.
While I handled the situation correctly, I can’t help but fantasize about how I really wanted that meeting to go. So here is a snapshot of the fantasy using my “inside my head voice”…
She sat in her AA meeting when he walked in. She went there every Sunday and he never went to that meeting, no, not ever. It had been month since she had finally taken up for herself and told him to fuck off. She still held resentment for his repeated attacks on her sanity, his obvious mission to destroy her. I guess he couldn’t stand the distance, he had never lasted this long without her, without his perfect prey.
As her righteous anger rose so did she. Up and out of her seat and with a silent authority she stood, extended her arm and pointed right at him. As his eyes locked into recognition with her demand of attention she motioned her command that he follow her to the door.
Two steps out the door and out of the presence of any witnesses he opened his mouth to speak…
A left hook directly to his chin.
Whatever he had to say, whatever dispute he offered was shut down in a bloody second. All he could do was stand there, speechless…for the first time.
“I can’t keep you from coming here, but I can make it just as uncomfortable for you as it is for me.”
Today I feel a bit fractured and about 16 years old. Part of my mental illness includes periods of dissociation. It used to scare me at first but now I know it’s just a part of me. The feelings I have are what I call a mixed episode, which means that I am having both manic and depressive symptoms at the same time. Kinda fucked up huh? I’ve learned to adjust. I can work when I’m like this because the mania keeps my depression from forcing my body onto the couch while I watch re-run after re-run of House. I have all 8 seasons completely memorized!!
The best part of mixed episodes I can write the best dialog for the story I am currently writing. It’s like I get all the benefit of the creative depression with the actual energy to write it down. I hate when I am laying on the couch, depressed as hell and I can just see my characters interacting and talking and having the greatest experience, and I want to write it down, I really do, but the effort to get a pen and paper seem so overwhelming so I just lay there and forget.
So I’m learning to appreciate my mood disorder and use each mood for a useful purpose. However, feeling fragmented is hard. Right now the age thing is making dating this new guy particularly difficult. I sit with him on the couch feeling like a kid with an old man but I know logically that he is age appropriate. I like him but he’s going want sex eventually and unless I can get out of the dimension I’m not going to be able to. I feel like I should warn him about what he is getting into with me but that seems dramatic. I’m not like this all the time and I function fairly well. Maybe I just want to fall apart to see if he is the type of guy who will rescue me. Huh? I may have hit the nail square on the head. I have this deep, unhealthy need to be rescued, and I think maybe I am testing the waters to see if he is the one who will save me. I’ll have to spend some time exploring that because I think the key to me getting out of this fractured state of mind lies in resolving the reoccurring theme of my life of wanting to be saved.
I walked into a fellow attorney’s office one morning to drop off a file from a client I had just referred to him. He looked a little perplexed and plopped the front page of the local newspaper on his desk.
“Did you see the paper this morning? Your client is dead. Suicide by cop.”
I felt like I was sucked into a vacuum. Emotions were spinning around me but my soul felt empty. I didn’t know the proper response then and I still don’t now.
36 hours before that moment I had spent 3 hours helping this woman fill out paperwork to obtain a domestic violence restraining order. 12 hours later the restraining order was granted. She never picked it up from the court though. I often wonder if she even knew that it had been granted. Instead, that evening she loaded up her dogs into her SUV, loaded a .357 magnum, called her husband and said that she was bringing him the dogs. There must have been something strange about that conversation because by the time she made the 20 minute drive to his house there was a police barricade set up. She slammed her SUV into one of the parked police vehicles. When she got out of the car she was swinging the .357 around and speaking incoherently. I’m not usually a real supporter of how police handle these type of situations but it sounded like they really did all they could to try to talk her down but after a few minutes she leveled the gun at one of cops and they discharged 22 rounds hitting her 9 times, fatally wounding her. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Other than the 3 hours I spent with her completing paperwork, I didn’t know this woman. I knew she was smart, she was educated, she had a master’s degree and was an RN at the local hospital. She seemed like a bit of a train wreck at the time but nothing out of the ordinary considering the circumstances under which we were meeting. Nothing indicated to me that she was suicidal.
This happened almost 3 years ago and I still don’t know how to feel about it, but I think of her. I still feel stuck in that vacuum with emotions flying around but emptiness in my soul. I don’t feel guilty, it wasn’t my fault, I didn’t see anything to indicate she was suicidal or else I would have gotten her mental health treatment. I don’t feel loss since I didn’t know her for more than 3 hours. In addition to not knowing what to feel, it seems selfish for me to feel anything at all, it feels self-indulgent to have any emotion around the situation. I never felt the right to say, “I’m upset, I’m feeling grief.” To say those things makes me feel like I want to make her death about me and have a pity party for myself.
Yet I still think of her and wonder what I could have done differently. I think I need to allow myself to grieve. I’m learning through working my 4th step in AA that we all have unpleasant feelings and that its ok to experience them, that it’s not selfish to have them but that we do need to give up our sense of control about the emotions and go to our higher power (mine in Buddha) and ask that we be freed from the pain that we are carrying. We need to see our part in continuing the cycle of our pain, admit our part and let our higher power do the rest.
…which is reason #267 that I left EX2.
EX2 was an extremely narcissistic and psychopathic man. He needed to establish his dominance and to do that he needed the other male figure in my life, my father, to be out of my life.
It was all quite primal and base once you extract the righteous, emotional outrage and look at it rationally . Being a psychopath, EX2 had a very alpha male personality. Alpha males tend to be loners, sharing is not a quality they behold so they quickly establish their territory, isolated their chattel, and protect what is theirs from any threat, real or imagined. High anxiety, paranoia, adherence to the rules of “in group/out group” and gestures of dominance highlight their personality.
I was nothing more than a possession to EX2. I was chattel. He needed to consume me; to be the center of my universe; to own me. And own me he did. And during the time that he owned me he exploited every resource I had available and left me as an empty shell. Until I met EX2, my father was the only strong male figure that I had a bond with. This bond was a threat to EX2’s dominance because my father had the ability to influence me. A difference of opinion was a threat to EX2, sometimes he even elevated it to an intent to humiliate him. Ex2 allowed me into his group but he desperately needed me to sever ties with my group because he saw them as outsiders and they were not allowed.
I loved my father, I was dedicated to my father, I was attached to my father. EX2 picked up on my devotion to my father very early in our relationship. I ran interference between my narcissistic mother and my dear father. If he needed something I was there, if he had a problem I was there, if he was sick, I was there. Honestly, my father can be a bit needy, my whole family can be awful needy in general. It can be draining at times and EX2 capitalized on my periods of exhaustion to drive me away from my father.
It started out slow, like most abuse does. He began to commiserate with me about the overwhelming needs of my family. I admit, it felt good to have someone understand. His commiseration began to escalate into moral outrage, always on my behalf, and again, it felt good. I always harbored a certain resentment toward my family for needing so much. Most of the time I enjoyed being needed my family and I really loved my father.
The commiseration turned ugly. It became this evil game where Ex2 would complain about my father being too needy. He would demand that I understand how mad my father had made him. He would remind me of all the times that I had been mad at my dad. Somehow he got me to commiserate with him. Next he began to shame me any time I helped my father. He became hostile any time I spoke of my father. Then he launched a campaign against my father. Finally, he convinced me that my life would be easier without expending my energy on my father.
“You shouldn’t be spending your energy on your crazy father, you need to save your energy for me” he exclaimed.
Yep, that’s right, he plainly said that and I didn’t even object. I was broken by that time. People wonder why I would stay with such a man but as the saying goes, “if you boil a frog slow enough…” Well he boiled me just slow enough that by the end of our marriage I was barely speaking to my father and hadn’t seen him for years.
I hated my father for many reasons, yet for the years that followed my separation from EX2 I laid on my couch drugged and incoherent, and my father raised my son. My son graduates high school this year and he is an amazing kid and it because my father raised him well. My father has never asked for an apology or a show of gratitude in return. Somehow I think he just knows that I had fallen under that control of a man whose sole goal was to isolate me, posses me, and destroy me.
I don’t hate my father anymore, in fact I often worry about the reality of him dying and all the time I missed with him but I am grateful that I have been allowed to reconcile with my father and love him again.
…I used to live with a guy who thought that deodorant was only for when you go outside and he only left the house once every two weeks…but I loooved him.
February 14, 2012 I woke up sober. My sobriety wasn’t by intention or design and it certainly didn’t come from desire. Instead it was a combination of a special person and being broke. Being broke tends to sober a person up or launch them into a new career of theft and prostitution, neither of which seemed like something I could do or be very good at.
Before my broke-dom phase I don’t think I was ever sober longer than 5 days and that was always under duress by either an improperly motivated drug dealer taking his sweet time finding me what I needed or EX2 threatening to leave me if I didn’t quit using and I would always make some fervent but fleeting attempt to abstain.
I ran out of most of my money in July 2011 but I moved in with a guy, we call him the Bore, who was a complete recluse and a bit agoraphobic and he let me use his ATM card to buy groceries and pay bills so I was able to take some money out here and there to feed my habit. At first the Bore didn’t care as long as the bills were paid. After several months of babysitting me while I was in a soma coma, peeing the bed, passing out and drowning in the bathtub and watching his saving dwindle he told me to move out.
I wasn’t functional enough to get any type of real job and I had let my State Bar license lapse so I used my impressive looking credentials and lying lawyer skills to convince a church that was trying to start up an outreach program for people who suffer from homelessness to hire me to organize the project and in return they gave me $700 a month and let me live in the old nursery that was no longer being used. It took about 3 months before busting lines and popping pills in the church nursery was disfavored by the pastor and I was asked to leave.
I begged the Bore to let me come back home and he said yes under two conditions: (1)I didn’t have to stay sober but I couldn’t get high there and (2) none of his money could be used for drugs. These “rules” were the perfect motivators for me. I hated the thought of being away from him (I really did love him very much) and I hated the thought of telling him that I wouldn’t be home that night because I wanted to get high and I had no money without him. So I laid in bed all day, everyday, feeling sorry for myself and thinking of schemes to get money or drugs.
On February 14, 2011 the Bore asked me “When was the last time you got high? It seems like it’s been awhile.”
I though about it for a while and realized that it had been at least a week. He told me that he was really proud of me. My heart melted. No one ever told me that they were proud of me before. So from that point on, every Wednesday that I stayed sober he told me that he was proud of me and gave me a big hug. It was a special thing that I could count on each week and that belonged to only me.
I was willing to stay sober day after day because I looked forward to that feeling of him being proud of me and those few moments of attention and affection that belonged to only me.
And now on February 14, 2014 I celebrated 2 years of sobriety. This year instead of the Bore telling me he was proud of me, my father came to the meeting to watch me get my 2 year chip and told me that he was proud of me.
Often in my writing I may refer to a person as a psychopath. I feel it’s important to let everyone know what I mean by this. So many times people use the term psychopath in the colloquial sense to refer to anyone that displeases them, or acts like a selfish jerk. When I use the term psychopath I am not using it this way, instead I am referring to a person who shows a specific set of personality traits. While there is no consensus in the field of psychology about what a psychopath is or if it is even an appropriate diagnosis, the Psychopathy Checklist is widely used to evaluate individuals that may be psychopathic. The Psychopathy Checklist was developed by Dr. Hare who is considered one of the world’s foremost experts in the area of psychopathy.
The Psychopathy Checklist consists of 20 items. Each item is scored on a scale of 0-1-2, with 0 indicating that the trait is not present, and 2 indicating that the trait is very present. Special training is required to use this measure for diagnostic purposes, so don’t diagnose you husband as a psychopath during your next fight, run to the courthouse and file for divorce.
Having said all that here’s the checklist:
- glib and superficial charm
- need for stimulation
- pathological lying
- cunning and manipulating
- lack of remorse callousness
- poor behavior controls
- denial parasitic lifestyle
- sexual promiscuity
- early behavior problems
- early behavior problems
- lack of realistic long-term goals
- failure to accept responsibility for own actions
- many short-term marital relationships
- juvenile delinquencies
- revocation of conditional release
- criminal versatility
An estimated 1% of the United States population qualifies as a psychopath and not all of them are criminals. Remember all serial killers are psychopaths but not all psychopaths are serial killers. There are plenty of psychopaths in the workplace, in church, on the bus and even walking down the street.