Co-parenting with a sociopath: An environment of distrust (The Headless Bear)

When I first became exposed to the term “co-parenting”, I remember having a visceral reaction.  I was sitting in the three hour court mandated co-parenting class, breaking into a sweat, and having what felt like a full on panic attack as the woman leading the class showed slides of “parenting schedules.”  ‘How in hell was I going to co-parent with a man who was capable of such terrible things,’ I thought as I tried to get myself under enough control to not look like a crazy woman.  At the beginning of the class, the leaders made a point to tell everyone to disregard most of what was being said if you were in a situation with abuse/domestic violence.

For some reason, this statement made me feel worse because I knew that somehow the courts were not going to treat my case the same as a cookie cutter domestic violence case (as if there ever is one).  I knew how good Luc was at playing in that “grey area” of criminality and how adept at making himself look like the victim he was.  That panic that I felt throughout the entire three hours of that class only seemed to get worse as the months passed.  While I don’t break out into sweats and actively panic every single time I drop my son off, I never feel at ease because I know his father is damaging.  The point of co-parenting is to allow the child to have a healthy relationship with both parents even if the parents are no longer together.  My motherly instincts will not allow me to trust that baby boy is ever going to be able to have a healthy relationship with his father because his father is not healthy.

One of my coworkers wrote on the white board at her desk the phrase, “Crazy people make sane people crazy.”  Most people who have never had the misfortune of co-parenting with a sociopath (if that is even what you would call this) might think that the below story sounds a little crazy.  Honestly, I feel a little crazy sometimes whenever I try and get in Luc’s head and proactively prepare for his next crazy stunt.  You tell me, is this crazy?  Or is this just a reaction to the insanity of being forced to co-parent with a sociopath?


The Headless Bear

When a person creates an environment of distrust, it makes you question everything.  Since the beginning of this nightmare (i.e. the existence of Luc in my life), I have been lied to on a regular basis by this man.  Many of the lies have put both me and my family in harms way.  Every time I think that things have calmed down, the man pulls another crazy move that I didn’t anticipate.

These crazy moves have left me attempting to anticipate the lies and deception before they happen.  Please note, this is not easy as sometimes it makes you feel like you are going down the rabbit hole of crazy.

For my son’s first birthday, Luc bought him a build-a-bear.  This was the very first thing that Luc had ever gotten the baby so as you can imagine I was a bit skeptical of this furry creature.  Part of me thought, ‘come on cappuccino queen, it’s just a bear’ but then the other voice (the skeptic) said, ‘wait a second…he never does anything just because he is trying to be nice.’

While my first instinct was to tear the bear apart with my teeth and throw it in the mall trashcan, I decided I would do the more sane thing and ask my mother and aunts (who were standing right next to me when I first saw it) what they thought.  This is when I realized how truly traumatized my entire family had been.  One of my aunts said (before I even told them how I was feeling), “you better check that and make sure he didn’t bug it.”  The other said, “It’s too risky, just throw it out – don’t even let it in the car.”  I shook my head, threw the bear back in the box and took my son home.

I thought about the stupid bear the whole ride home.  I also thought about how throwing it out wasn’t the answer as this could be the ONLY thing my son would ever get from his father (I suspect it was purchased in order to look good in front of the court ordered supervisor who would be testifying in court the next day).  That being said, I still didn’t trust the bear.  That night the bear spent the night in the garage.

The next morning, I walked downstairs (having dreamed about that stupid bear) and low and behold my mom was awake and didn’t waste any time to ask me what I had decided to do with the bear.  I told her that we were being paranoid and that there was nothing wrong with the bear.

On the drive to work, I couldn’t stop trying to figure out if there was more to this bear thing. This is a man who has been lying and terrorizing since he met me.  A bear couldn’t JUST be a bear.  Once I got to work, I brought up the bear to my coworkers.  Some of the more paranoid ones were all for the idea of cutting the bear open and making sure it wasn’t bugged.

Eventually, I allowed my mom to check for a bug.  She cut the bears head off and pulled out all the stuffing.  Of course, there was nothing there.  It was JUST a bear filled with stuffing and a fake heart.  (A lot like Luc himself actually)  I felt terrible – and a little crazy.  My mom told me I shouldn’t feel bad and that the bear was a “casualty of war.”

Yes, one could say it was JUST a bear – but it was more than that symbolically.  That bear became a symbol of the environment of distrust.  It also made it very obvious to me that co-parenting would be impossible.  I have a lot of work to do on myself to get to the point where the little things don’t bother me.  I also need to get to the point where I can safely stop anticipating his next crazy move.

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This is a wonderful story and example of what they do to us. I have attempted while married to co-parent with a man who had no desire to parent AT ALL. The only thing he would do for the children was an obligatory ride here and there if I or my parents were no around or large gift buying which he used as manipulation telling my children everything was purchased by him and that they didn’t have to listen to me. Ugh. It was so painful. Since the day I met this man, I have been terrorized by fear, games, manipulation, lies, deception, and threats. There are days that this made me so depressed. There are days that this made me confused, frustrated and finally in the end angry. I now have attempted to coparent with him for 3 1/2 years. EVERYTHING IS TURNED ON ME. I always live up to the agreement (except once recently for good reason which was medical.) Every holiday is destroyed as he will not return my son. He has hidden our son in the home of his lover before. Some days I would just wait and wait for hours with no return and then when I would finally just report to the police he would say I am “crazy”. Now he disparages me to oblivion in front of our youngest son who was only 5 at the onset of this. He tells our child to call me names and to hit me. He bribes him with gifts and other things. My son is now suffering from the nightmares I have suffered from my whole life with him. They just don’t end. He is a man that seeks mind control and he gets it. He is so convincing, charming, connected, deceptive, and loves to play with words. What I have been through for over years with this man has caused me so much emotional, mental, and physical pain to the point I think I have been driven to “crazy”. I have tried to get to truth. I have tried to believe. I have tried to get answers. The only thing I could have ever done to protect myself and my children from this man was “run” but he always promised he would be sure I never saw my children again. I was never about to leave these children with a man like this. I know we are supposed to trust. . . and I have tried. . . but I just can’t. I have tried to “co” everything with this man over the years but it is pure control. I had no access to finances. I had no access to bills. He hid mail. I had no access to truth. It turns out my husband has been having affairs with men for over 15 years. For my own safety, there were times I had to create a bubble around myself or numb myself from it all. There were times I would seek out truth and I was put right back in my place. Over the years, my body has continually broken down from it from joint pain, gastrointestional issues, weakness, weight issues, low immune system, etc. He was slowly killing me. I had to get out. I thought I could divorce him but he told me I would never be able to because of his connections. He has tortured me throughout this to the point of perpetual lies, no disclosures, and the continuation of manipulation of children and sadly the worst done to our youngest child. There are days I am afraid to speak. There are days I have become afraid to do anything. There are days my body just cannot move. There are days I cannot focus. All I try to do is get therapy for myself and my children and health care take care of to the best of my ability as he took me and the children off of the health insurance long before when he began his last affair. Does anyone ever see what they do to us? How can we heal? I am sick of living in fear. I am sick of being silenced.


Hi there my names candice I just found this sight our stories are almost identical except my nightmare has been going for 10+years and mine wouldn’t marry me I’m glad though once I realized what he was gosh isn’t it so draining u wonder and continually ask God why and how much longer do I have to deal with this are my kids going to be safe when I’m not there we can’t even get breaks as mom’s because we can’t trust their fathers mine is so manipulative he lies to everyone has no remorse no moral compass no regard gor the law he’s unpredictable n that’s scary I feel he could do anything to us and not blink an still dealing with this


Misslock, I am sorry to read of your experiences, and those of your children. Welcome to LoveFraud.

You asked, “How can we heal?” Here is the statement that brings it down to a pinpoint of clarity: “I know we are supposed to trust. . . and I have tried. . . but I just can’t.” The issue of trust (for me, personally) has been one of taught values and ideals. Like yourself, I held fast and firm to the faulty belief that “…we are supposed to trust…” and nothing could be further from the truth. We SHOULD trust those who have EARNED it, but I was never taught that simple truth and fact! I trusted everyone with everything and I was duly trampled because I held onto this faulty belief for about 50 years.

I identify with the fear, the defeat, the despair, and the feeling of hopelessness. I really do. The only reason that I did NOT remain with the second exspath after learning what he was is that I had been on this site for a couple of years prior to my discovery on a completely different matter.

We are not taught that there are “bad” people, Misslock. We are not taught that it’s OKAY if everyone in the world doesn’t “like” us, approve of us, accept us, or validate us. At least, I was never taught that priceless truth.

We can heal, and we do heal. You mentioned in another post that you’d been with the same counselor for 5 years and I might offer a gentle suggestion that it might be an option to seek a new counselor – it may be that the counselor that you have been working with isn’t challenging you enough, OR they could have reached the limits of their abilities. There could be a host of other reasons why you feel that you haven’t progressed, but counselors are not a “first-come-first-served” type of professional. Counseling is a deeply personal endeavor, and a good, strong counselor will begin asking hard questions and providing direct and specific options of managing, coping, and recovering.

I’m just going to assume that you divorced this man, and please correct me if I’m wrong. If he was supposed to provide health insurance for the children, then he still has to do it, whether it’s through his job OR private health insurance. Divorce settlements are not written in stone, contrary to popular belief, and can be amended even after the divorce has been granted (in most States).

Again, welcome, Misslock. Read, read, read, and post, post, post.

Brightest blessings

EDIT ADD: It also may help in counseling if you begin asking questions about “Shame-Core,” “Stockholm Syndrome,” cognitive dissonance, and other terms that you might see pop up in discussion, from time to time. A strong counselor isn’t going to wait 5 years to introduce a client to some things that could create a personal epiphany for them.

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