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A holiday story for the 20-40 crowd

This week we received a letter from a concerned mother of a young adult. In anticipation of the winter holidays I put it up (with some editing) and ask all of you who are struggling with leaving a sociopath to leave now out of respect for your parents and other family members who love you. If you are thinking of going back consider this story and your own family.

A mother’s story

It was whirlwind intense romance, she dropped out of (school) to be with him. There is a huge physical attraction. He has had a very dysfunctional childhood, from a very successful family, has been on the streets since (his teens) (in and out of foster care), has been in prison for assault with a knife, has no friends, no connection at all with family, extended family or family friends…He is (considerably) older than our daughter, has been ‘everywhere’, done ‘everything’, knows ‘everything’, and lives what he calls a free life out of society. He has huge debts from fines and unpaid bills – $80,000 or so.

He lives under the radar, he is a violent drunk, he enrolls in courses just to get the fees then drops out, he gets a job for a few weeks then argues with someone and looses it – he knows best. He has very high and mighty ideals and dreams, expensive taste, is very charming, can talk and talk and talk, he doesn’t listen, he lectures, he is very bright and articulate.

He is engaging and charming. He lies, and avails himself of others generosity – my husband calls him a parasite (he can’t even buy a coffee), he has stolen from us and lived off us with no guilt (he put things on our credit card and didn’t even tell us and when my daughter informed us – she was so ashamed – he just shrugged), he throws her out, he abuses her, he calls her names, and he pulls her down.

When she applies for something he tells her she will not be accepted, when with him she dedicates her life to him, she joins nothing – no choirs, no music, no classes – nothing. He takes drugs. He really affects her self esteem.

He is manipulative, controlling, abusive, lies and has very, very grandiose schemes and plans – and she believes them. He is untouchable. She knows all this, she knows he is destructive but she loves him. She adores him. We have been on a roller coaster for two years, fixing, healing, rescuing, helping.

At first we thought we would try, so we welcomed him into the family, but it is very hard, he is so controlling, know it all and abusive. He can never leave unless we pay gas, our daughter has bought two cars and he has wrecked, swapped or abandoned both. We have gone to the ends of the earth for her. He throws he out, and we bring her home and she wails and cries with so much pain, at the loss of him.

It is horrific. It goes on for months. He wants to marry her! Our daughter is one of the brightest children in the country, she is astonishing, but she throws it all away for him. And she has lost her friends, they can’t abide him. She doesn’t follow any of her usual interests, singing, drama, piano, dance or study.

He is everything. When he throws her out, she wails to me how it is all her fault, if only she had tried harder, given more etc. She is constantly finding excuses for his bizarre behavior, and errors. There is always a reason and she swallows it.

She tells me that we don’t see what she sees. She understands why we and her friends don’t like him, but she says if we could understand him like she does that we would see a hurt small child, that he is so vulnerable. She loves him more than anything. We are a very warm, non punitive caring family, very tight. But this has destroyed us. My husband and I have ended up fighting, as we can’t cope with this person in our lives. So much drama. He has thrown our daughter out 3 times now, and each time she goes back. She lasts about 3 months. This very last time, she lasted longer about 5 months. He threw her out last spring and since being home she has earned enough to buy transportation…. the first thing she did was drive many hours to meet up with him. We were so horrified that we decided that is it, no more. So now she is estranged from her family, we feel used and abused. She is now living with him (but they do not have stable housing)”¦

We always helped. But no more. She is addicted to him, addicted to the danger and the drama. There has been a very nice young man here most of the time she has been home this year – he adores her – she really likes him and loves him like a brother – but she told me he is too nice, not dangerous enough, too tame.

This has destroyed our loving family, Christmas is coming and we just can’t even think about it – any dreams of family holidays or events, dinners and celebrations have all been on hold for two years. Ours is now a sad household… I cry a lot and rage at empty spaces, I am now trying to reestablish my life, a new life without my daughter. So hard, it is almost like a death. So much pain everywhere, we are in pain, and she is consumed with pain when he throws her out, this pattern of on again and off again. Exhausting for those on the edge, must be hell to be in there.

Here are her questions with my answers

1. What do we do in this situation as parents? There is going to be another train crash. She is so young, yet is an adult. She is now isolated from us, we will not have him here as he drags us all down”¦ This time we have said that she is on her own.

I applaud you for knowing your limits, setting your boundaries and sticking with them. No one of sound mind would say you are obligated to live with a sociopath and put up with abuse. Instead of using your support to better herself, she squanders it and does not grow. You have decided to stop enabling and consider that this situation seems similar to being the parent of an addict. That seems to me to be an excellent analogy. Perhaps you might visit an Alanon meeting. You might benefit from what other parents have to share.

2. Is this tough love aspect dangerous, what do you advise parents to do? Her friends have had enough of the drama, rescuing, and emotion. We are all exhausted. She is now lying to us. He is unfaithful, and at first his drove her mad, but now she says that he can’t hurt her anymore, she has come to terms with that aspect of their relationship. She will have him at any cost. I am most concerned about her self esteem, her emotional health and what she will stoop to have him. Also her future, she will have no future with him, lose her family, and all her hopes and dreams.

Yes the tough love approach carries with it considerable risk. However, each family has to balance for themselves this risk weighed against the harm being done to other family members and to your daughter by staying in the relationship. I usually advise parents to make it known the son or daughter will be accepted back warmly without judgment once there is a commitment to be free of the sociopath.

3. Will she grow out of it, will he hurt her, how can we support her without supporting him, what kind of support does she need, what are the signs that it is really over, how many times will she go back?

Like any addict she will consider sobriety once she has reached “rock bottom.” That is where the risk comes in, you don’t know what her lowest point will be.

4. Should we rescue her again when she calls, or does she need to solve this herself? How much contact should we have?

Don’t be her support so she can stay by chatting too much, that would be enabling. Generally that means not listening to her complaints about the relationship. Instead make it clear you are continuing with your successful prosocial lives and are keeping in touch with former girlfriends who are becoming educated and dating decent men. Without being direct draw her attention to how far she has fallen and what a “loser” she is becoming.

5. Have we pushed her closer to her by isolating her, yet we also need to protect ourselves. How long is this likely to last and what will be left with. How can we keep him away, if she comes home again?

The ideal situation would be for you to insist she get help and he stay away before you have her home again. Since he has stolen money from you, you may have grounds to contact the police if he refuses to stay away.

I invite others to give support, and comments to this loving mother.


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20 Comments on "A holiday story for the 20-40 crowd"

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I totally agree with the advise you have given Dr. Leedom. My heart goes out to the mother. I wish my parents had been like them. Mine made it clear that once I left I could never come back. I think letting her know that once she commits to being forever free of her addiction to him, and the drama and the excitement, that you will welcome her home is wonderful. There is an in hospital intensive treatment available now, that she may well need. Let her know that is available to her or at least an intensive retreat. Those are offered by Sandra Brown who wrote “Women Who Love Psychopaths” . He is exploiting her strengths. She won’t see or hear the truth until the pain becomes more than she can endure. If she does leave him, try to get her on to this website, to read the stories of others and to consider a retreat to heal or at least sessions with a therapist. You might make calls in your area to see if you can locate a therapist who understands this is an addiction, and let your daughter know that one thing you WILL do for her right now is pay for HER (and only her) to go see that therapist as often as she wants.

Bless you for being such wise parents who understand what is going on and I’m so sorry for how the toxic poison has spread to cause you and your your family such pain. Absolutely have no more contact with this guy.

I also 110% agree with Dr. Leedom’s advice to this mother.

I also recommend that YOU read two books, one is THE BETRAYAL BOND and the other is Bob Hare’s WITHOUT CONSCIENCE. I think you will find the answers to your questions in these two books. Your daughter is ADDICTED to this man by a chemical bond from the trauma he has inifilcted on her. It is just as if she was on crack. she knows it is bad for her but she at the same time MUST HAVE IT.

God bless you in your efforts to rescue your daughter from this monster. (((hugs)))))

Ditto OxDrover’s suggestion that two books, THE BETRAYAL BOND and WITHOUT CONSCIENCE, can help the parents and daughter gain perspective. Two other books I suggest are:
1) “How to Break Your Addiction to A Person,” by Howard M. Halpern, Ph.D. and
2) “Controlling People” by Patricia Evans.

“He has thrown our daughter out 3 times now, and each time she goes back. She lasts about 3 months. This very last time, she lasted longer about 5 months.”

I actually see a glimmer of hope in this situation, if she was able to stay away from him for 5 months this last time, instead of the usual 3.

This is probably going to sound cold and harsh, but he will throw her out again. He’s already done it 3 times. It’s a cycle. I was in the same cycle with a man when I was in my 20’s.
Hopefully, the next time she leaves him or he throws her out, she will come home and stay for 7 months, instead of 5. And the next time, hopefully she will stay for 9 months, etc.
I think she is going to have to wean herself off of him like that, because it sounds like she’s pretty hooked.

She’ll get sick of him. It’s just a matter of time. I know, as a family member, the waiting is the hardest part.
I wouldn’t worry about him marrying her. If this guy is anything like mine was, he has NO intentions of marrying her. He’s probably just saying that to keep her hooked.
Even if he is serious about marraige, men like this are incapable of making a marraige work.
It won’t last.

I would continue allowing her to come home everytime he throws her out. This is a young girl, and she’s going to need the love and support of her family to get over this man. My family also got impatient and disgusted with me during my own situation, but they still continued to offer love and support. I am grateful for that.
Sometimes, NO Contact requires many attempts before you can actually stick to it. Like a drug addiction, it’s not something that can easily be done “cold turkey”.

I doubt this girl even realizes how much she’s hurting her family. All she can think about is going back and getting another hit off of her “drug”, which is this guy.

I think this is a young girl who likes the “bad boys” right now, and she’s got one.
I believe this is a phase that most young women go through, and she will outgrow it eventually.
It doesn’t make it any easier on the family members who feel helpless in the situation, though.

I hope this family has some stamina, because this “relationship” could go on for a while.
Mine did. 🙁
It just depends on how headstrong this girl is about her toxic boyfriend.

Dr Leedom, I agree completely with you on your answers to this Mom. What stood out for me is that Mom was able to see this as the addiction it really is. Some never see it that way, but that’s what it really is. This man is toxic, absolute poison.
As one who is fairly new in recovery, much of this hit home. My family has been destroyed and is still in chaos over ONE person. I truly believe this young lady will wake up, it’s just a matter of “when”. It’s never too late to start your life over and I truly believe this young lady will.
I really liked your suggestion of bringing up her friends and how well they are doing. One of my eye-openers was when I finally got out and saw how much others had gained while I was busy losing. Ouch!
Thank you to Mom for sharing this. It’s a huge reminder of why we get away from them and why we have to keep staying away. I would suggest the books that Ox and recovery recommended. This site is a place of healing. You can share and you will always be understood. I know being here has helped me beyond measure already. I hope you keep coming back.
Sending prayers to all, Cat

Thanks, mom, for sharing your story. I also have a daughter that is living with a sociopath. I understand how hard it is to understand or deal with the situation and drama.

In my case, the sociopath married her and moved her out of state so she would be totally isolated from friends and family. I think, in your case, it seems very positive that she is away from him for long periods of time. My daughter is totally entranced by the fantasy and has never left him.

I have a young relative that was married to a sociopath at one time. She told me that she was totally supportive of the sociopath for 3 years until an incident happened that made her very suspicious and for 24 hours she search the house, mail, drawers, briefcase, text messages, etc. She had never gotten the mail before or looked in these places. After the 24 hours, and all the surprising things she found that she had NO idea about, bills, foreclosures, drugs, other women, etc. She left him and did not go back. So you never know, what will happen!

I am praying for a miracle and a similar thing (like my relative) will happen to my daughter and she will wake up!

Glad to hear from you, On a journey,

Mom, OAJ is right. My son was married to one for 7 almost 8 years and he hid the abuse she did to him, and his unhappiness from us as much as he could. It was one FINAL iincident though that broke him free, she tried to kill him, and he managed to get through to the cops. She went to jail, along with her BF and I am so glad, because my son took his marriage vows so seriously I think he would never have left her no matter what (he had just a few days before learned of teh affair and wanted to “work it out”) Her idea of “working it out was to set the scene to kill him and make it look like “self defense.” I thank God her plan did not work. Don’t give up hope for your daughter! I will keep you, her and your family in my prayers!

Mom,

In some ways you could have been my mom.
My mom had the strangest feelings about my X S/P, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Mine had no criminal back ground and was not outwardly abusive, as he was passive agressive.
This I was too ashamed to share with my mom.
We married mostly against my parents’ will, as they eventually gave in because all I could do was praise him and say what a hard life he had and how he had beat the odds.

THAT WAS HIS STORY AND I believed it. I repeated his story of abuse, abandonment and disability to everyone.

I pray for you “mom”, that your daughter comes out of this soon and without having bore his child.

I just wanted to add some notes that I had written to myself after my S/P left for the OW but was trying to convince me that he was “confused”. (About June)
-I just found these last night and was SOOO regreting not seeing my own notes as clearly as I do NOW.

This was BEFORE Lovefraud openned my eyes. I wish I read these notes even afterward, in August, when he was again trying to convince me he wasn’t a P (though I hadn’t told him what exactly I thought he was).

-What he says is not true.
-He is purposely hurting me.
-I have not hurt him. He has brought this upon himself.
-Everything I have done has been gracious.
-He is hurting himself.
-Don’t let him accuse you of hurting him.
-What have you done to hurt him?
-You have done nothing to hurt him.
-He is hurting himself.
-I would do nothing to hurt him!
-I am protecting myself.
-I am doing what’s best for me!

WOW. he was SO trying to convince me that he was hurting, and I was the “bad” person.
just WOW.

The biggest thing I think you can do for your daughter is to keep your relationship as a couple stable and healthy, so that she can see and remember what normal looks like. I agree with Dr. Leedom that you should not agree to let her go on and on about her troubles with him. I remember that it was when people finally stopped listening to my woes that I hit rock bottom, took a look around and saw what I was missing.

Another good thing to point out (without being obvious) is people in good relationships who are sick or have illnesses that are being cared for by a loving spouse. She may never say it, but in her head, she will be slowly realizing that if anything were to happen to her, she would not be cared for.

Educate yourself as much as possible about the characteristics of PS because when your daughter is ready to make the choice to be free from him, she might need to be pointed in the right direction so she isn’t burdened by blindness to what he is.

I’ll be praying for her!

Dear ChristyK,

Thanks for bringing this great article up from the archives. I think as long as there are psychopaths who prey on the vulnerable there will be those of us who want so much to help the vulnerable see how they are being abused, but it is so difficult to help, actually impossible to help the person who does not see a need or really want to be helped.

Drawing that live between “helping” and “enabling” has been a difficult task for me and I am assuming for others as well since it seems to come up here as a subject so often on this blog.

I’ve had to reach that line with my oldest biological son who is not a psychopath but he doesn’t behave in responsible ways and I realize I have bailed him out way too many times. I also realize that he has no insight into his problems and will continue them. I hope he will gain insight into his problems but if he doesn’t, he doesn’t….I can’t do it for him any more than I could for his P brother.

Thanks for bringing up this great old article. I used to have a sign in my office, and I regret giving it away. it said “I feel so much better since I gave up hope” That malignant hope that we will be able to rescue them if we can just figure out exactly HOW…it keeps us hanging on when we should let go…give it to God and go on with our own lives.

Oh my God! I think about this daily as I have a son whom I adore who is dating a sociopath. He is on full scholarship to the 4th ranked technical university in the nation. He is at risk of flunking out as is so busily giving her the massive attention she requires rather than committing to his education. Finals week? Not a problem, she fakes terminal illness and the list goes on and on.

WHAT CAN A PARENT DO?? SAY?? to snap their kid back into reality. I am up for any tactics or techniques anybody has to offer.

They are currently dating “secretly”. His reasons pertain to his addiction to her and hers pertaining to seeing others behind his back. He has lost friends and we too are at odds with each other at home as the stress is too much and we differ in how to handle this.

To the poster – if he throws her out again have you thought of getting her some housing away from you as a symbolic show of wanting no further complaining about him and how she has become distant to her family by her own actions? Of course required for this housing would be regular counseling which she would have to verify attending. Contacting him? I would require her to keep a journal of simply the statement “I am an addict” every time she calls him or takes a call from him. I would verify the journal against the phone bill.

Fortunately we are not as far down the road as they are not living together and they are both still young but it’s like I can see a train wreck coming!! WHAT CAN I DO? WHAT MONKEY WRENCH CAN I THROW IN THIS SOCIOPATH”S PATH?

And to the commenter who told of her son’s attempted murder…that just chills me to the bone!

Thanks for this post mom and excellent replies. I was feeling weak this morning but read this post and got strong. My mum has said she will not speak to me if I go back to him. Reading your post has brought it home to me how much he has also hurt my family.

I hope your daughter wakes up. I did the last time I was there I almost packed up all my stuff because I was on so much pain and couldn’t take anymore. I was at rock bottom and have been free of him three weeks today.

I feel much better and feel loved by my family.

Good luck xxxxxx

PS: direct her to this site. It helped me loads xx

missmellyuk – You are sounding strong and focused. I’m pleased your family are supporting you – get all the help you can.
My son was targeted by a spath – it has taken him years to ‘get over’ his ordeal but finally he’s moving on and one day you will too:)

Dear Melly,

The advice in this article is good…because we (parents) cannot help an adult child who is addicted to drugs or to a psychopath, they must help themselves.

Congratulations on being free of him for 3 weeks. It is a wonderful start, and maintaining NO CONTACT 100% is the only way to STAY away from him…it is like drugs…you can’t just “taper off” you must go “cold turkey” and STAY cold turkey—NO CONTACT!!! And I know you can do it! (((hugs))) and God bless.

Thank you ladies. The phycaratrist report came today, I mentioned my ex may be a phycopayh and he states in the report that the relationship was turbulent and had many separations and both parties questioned each others personality. What the f***!!! I and he questioned my anxiety disorder over and over again. Ive taken all the blame for everyyhing it was only the last few weeks of it that u started to question him. he also said I was suffering from adjustment disorder due to the end of relationship!!

I’ve read a bit online and I’m not sure.

xxx

missy – with the greatest respect – bullshite – your therapist does not ‘get it’. The last few weeks was when the mask fell. And your ‘disorder’ was CAUSED by spath.

Thank you Candy :-). The dr was 29 mins late for appointment and only spoke to me for 30 mins.

I wasn’t like that in my previous relationship that lasted nine yrs and we are great mate still.

So I’m thinking now F*** it, f*** em all!!!

xxx

missy – these are not ‘normal’ relationships. May I suggest you ‘self-medicate’ here unless you can find a therapist that specialises in spaths.

Melly, “adjustment disorder” is normal right now…you would NOT BE NORMAL IF YOU WERE “ADJUSTED” PERFECTLY at this point in the end of the relationship. LOL Sheesh, but I don’t think that your counselor shows much empathy or compassion for your adjustment disorder, but seems to be be “labeling” you.

I would look for another therapist or physician rather than try to continue with the relationship with this one.

A therapist’s job is not to agree with everything you say, but to make an assessment of what might help you, but it sounds like this guy doesn’t “get it” about why you are suffering “adjustment disorder” (which is NORMAL IN THIS KIND OF SITUATION) so…keep looking, there are those therapists and physicians who DO get it. (((hugs))) Stay NC that will be your best and biggest weapon for a while! God bless.

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