by Quinn Pierce
Some days, the sunlight seems just a little brighter than usual as I let its comforting rays blanket my skin with warmth. And for that moment, I can taste the precious peace I so desperately want to give permanent residence in my life.
Until, like a sudden rain cloud, a shadow creeps across my heart as a memory sparks to life. And, in an instant, I’m shifted off balance, struggling to maintain my footing, refusing to fall down.
Another day, it seems, on the path to recovery after sharing my life for so long with someone whose every emotion was a lie.
It’s an exhausting paradox for me. I would love nothing more than to erase him from my life entirely, but the reason he is still an invading presence coincides with my two greatest treasures in this world- both a result of this toxic relationship.
I’ve long since stopped berating myself for my choices, because I would not change any decision that gave me my children. However, this complicated connection often wreaks havoc on everyone I love the most.
I’ve spent years trying to create and maintain healthy boundaries with my ex-husband. It’s a daily task requiring me to stay on guard at all times. I have to carefully edit and dissect every email or text that I send him to make sure that I am not being too friendly, engaging him in any way, or inviting further interaction. I avoid all face-to-face interaction in order to prevent him from trying to intimidate or manipulate me.
This is quite draining, since it is an unnatural way of communicating with another human being. But, communication with a sociopath is not anything like communication with a normal person.
He will look for ”˜hidden meanings’ that are not there, he will use words and phrases that push my emotional buttons, or he will talk in riddles that imply a message that he won’t ever say explicitly. This is his way of setting up a possible scenario where he can twist the truth, change his meaning, accuse, blame, ridicule, you name it.
This is a favorite game of his, and I sense the trap so often that I actually begin to feel paranoid, until I talk to a ”˜normal’ person. It doesn’t take long to reinforce what a healthy relationship sounds and feels like. But, a sociopath has the uncanny ability to manipulate us into questioning the one thing that is the very essence of our survival: instinct.
For years, I ignored that little voice of reason that waved red flags in my face over and over. When I started to look back over certain events in my life, I realized that I hardly ever made a bad decision when I trusted my instinct. So, what is it about these individuals that we are willing to ignore our most basic component of being human, the one thing that has kept us alive and helped us survive as a species for thousands of years?
I can only speak from my own experience, but I tend to think my need for and belief in love’s strength overpowered everything else. I didn’t understand that love could be so easily professed by someone who had no ability to actually feel the emotion.
Learning To Heal Together
But, knowing and accepting the truth does not come without consequences. After my separation, I wasn’t sure if I was grieving over a love that never existed or the part of me that I misplaced along the way. And while I was trying to recover from these devastating effects, I had no idea how I was going to help my children do the same. For them, learning the truth about their father was a shattering of their very foundation. There are moments I wish I could just lie to them and say he can change and that his love is real. But, they have endured enough harm, and pretending he is something that he isn’t will only cause more trauma in their lives.
So, instead, I just hold them while they cry. I help them navigate around his lies and manipulation. I empower them with real love. I give them knowledge. I find them resources to help them on their journey of healing. And most important, I show them that it doesn’t count as falling if you get back up.
I totally know what you are talking about. Today one of my neighbors and friend intended to give me some advise in dealing with my divorce from a narcissistic sociopath. In her words she said ” what if you and your son are just nice to him and talk to him, maybe he will let you have the house, pay your sons college tuition and just have peace with him?” Normal people just don’t get it. You cannot “deal” with a sociopath. They don’t understand that the “no contact at all” is the only way we can go on with our lives. Honestly it took me about 4 months after my husband discarded me to realize this. I wish people would understand how manipulative and vicious these sociopayhs are. My only hope is that soon this 20 plus years nightmare will come to an end, I know I took the first step by filing for divorce and I truly believe that I can overcome whatever comes ahead of me. In my faith and as a Chrisyian I know I will prevail. At the end god is so much stronger than those evil spirits. Because he is a loving god.
Quinn: I am so confused by his behaviour…but I worry that I’m being too hard on him because of what I’ve been through. but then I think NO, I’m not. I would never do that to someone so why should someone do that to me…especially someone I love.
A little history – we went out for a year, I almost had a nervous breakdown due to the ex and 4 court cases I had against him. I was living with the bf at the time. I wasn’t sleeping, even with sleeping pills and was barely making it through the days. One night the bf’s family was having dinner at his parents and I said I didn’t want to go because it was hard for me to pretend things were ok when they weren’t. He got angry and kicked me and my son out. I went without a fight. I was emotionally drained at that point. He never had anything to do with my ex in this year.
Over the next 3 months he went to counselling. He said he learned why he did the things he did (mostly ex-wife baggage) and begged me to give him another chance. 11 of 12 months of our first year were great until he bailed on me when I needed him most. so we took it slow, I see he has changed – he isn’t as sarcastic and I feel more comfortable when we disagree on something, and he offers to be the go-between for me and the ex so that I don’t have to take the spath’s abuse anymore. I am so thankful he did that…and he’s done a great job with it. He says he will put my name on his house to prove he is serious and to give me security. He’s been renovating my house for me and asks nothing in return. So I see the good and it’s bigger than the small amount that made me scratch my head…until last weekend. and it’s totally thrown me for a loop. He has a great job that he’s been at for over 20 years, he’s super responsible with his things and his money, he’s close to his family and he’s generally good to me and my son…and he’s fun to be around most of the time. I guess I kind of figure he’s sane and that’s a plus too. LOL
I think I’m going to suggest counselling because at this point, I don’t trust him when he says he ‘gets it’. I don’t trust that he won’t bail on me again if the going gets tough for me….know what I mean? and I don’t trust myself to make this decision right now. I don’t know what to do.
I think you answered your own question in this one chickie, “I don’t trust him” speaks volumes. There is never a situation that those words should be in a relationship. the fact that you are starting to not trust yourself to make decisions is just as significant.
I have to tell you that the second paragraph was all I needed to read to know his behavior is abusive and not only to you but your son. As for the progress he has made, that is great, however, my ex was able to ‘change’ many things about himself when it meant keeping me with him.
I would suggest a couple of things right now: 1. counseling for you alone if you aren’t already and for both of you if that’s what you feel is needed and 2. practice a meditation of some type even if you just go for a walk or sit quietly in a room alone, once you feel like there aren’t any other things trying to make their way through your thoughts, really pay attention to your ‘gut feeling’.
In the very least, he has a lot to work on, and he is not in a healthy place.
I’ll admit that as a writer, I am hyper-aware of word choice, but I have to point out a few from your comments that give me anxiety:
“I went without a fight”- there shouldn’t have been a fight, because you do not EVER kick someone you love (and her child!) out of your house like that.
“until he bailed on me when I needed him most”
‘isn’t AS sarcastic’- sarcasm is abuse
‘feel more comfortable when we disagree’- that tells me you don’t or didn’t always feel safe when you disagree
‘to prove he is serious and give you security’- neither of those things come from being named on someone’s property, they come from within the relationship
‘asks nothing in return’- just interesting that it’s something you added in, fyi- if he’s ever said ‘I’ve never asked for anything from you in return’ or something like it, that’s manipulation
‘generally good with me and my son’- not good enough, sweetie, you deserve a consistent and genuine love that shines far above ‘generally good’
‘fun to be around most of the time’- think about the other times, not everyone is fun to be around all the time, I can barely stand to be around myself so much, but how does he act those ‘not fun’ times, honestly think about that, is there unease, abuse, confusion, fear, etc.
‘I don’t trust him’–trust is the essence of the relationship. First- you need to get trust of yourself back, you’re right, you can’t make decisions when you are off-balance, which is why I stayed married 13 years longer than I should have.
Find some one you do trust, preferably someone trained to help, and start sorting through, you must be exhausted and drained, and you have to take care of yourself and your son. Please take care of yourself, eat well, get rest, etc and find someone to help you sort through this.
You are exactly right. Just before I saw this I was looking up resources for ME to talk to at work – someone impartial since I don’t trust my own judgement yet. I have also decided that I will talk to him about this tonight and see how it goes. There are too many red flags for me to get deeper into this relationship as it is, if at all. I can overlook a lot of things but his not believing me and belittling me isn’t included.
Thank goodness for this site. I haven’t talked to anyone else about this because I worry so much that I’m blowing things out of proportion in my head. But when you add it all up like you just did, it puts it in perspective. He has done a lot of wonderful things for me, but the bad things negate it all somehow.
Thanks Quinn. I think I just needed to validate my feelings of uneasiness with the relationship.
You are so very welcome, and remember that you are not alone and we have all felt the way you do now. Keep checking in with people you trust and listen to those feelings you get. You will be ok, trust your strength.
It’s comforting to hear how well you understand these situations. Your response resonates with me. I’m in the divorce process and throughout our relationship he gave me small comforts to keep me hanging on and to give me hope. But I never really felt safe.I never fully trusted him. I never felt at ease. It’s nice to be reminded of how things should or could be in a healthy relationship. Thank you
Too smart ,
I absolutely agree with you. I could have never found the strength to go on after my husband discarded me without the help of god. My faith is the biggest support I have. One interesting fact is that everything went downhill with my husband after my son and I were baptized last year. I truly believe that by us accepting Jesus as our savior and lord, the evil spirit of my husband was defeated. He left about 8 months later and I think it was that my son and I were too strong in our faith. Today I know that god took him out of our life because he wanted us to have peace. Stay strong in your faith, god is a lobing god and he is able.
The apt is in my name only.Once I got my husband into the nursing home (he wouldn’t agree to it until all alone-so it was a couple of weeks after I left him),I cleaned up the other apt and packed and looked for somewhere to move.I was very fortunate to find this place.The manager is aware of the DV and when staff at the nursing home asked her if he could move in this building,in a separate apt when he got out of the nursing home,she told them “Absolutely not!Not only would I have his wife upset with me,but the people in the building would hate him because of what he did to her!”They were surprised. Because when he first went into the nursing home,I visited twice,but he evidently lied and made it seem the visits were ongoing.I went No Contact with him 11/7/12.It will soon be a year!
I just remembered that some years ago (in the 90’s) my mother had my husband hospitalized long enough to be evaluated.When the woman set down at a table to talk to me(I can’t remember everything she said),she said he wasn’t mentally ill,that he bordered more on ‘criminal’.I wonder if the hospital would still have those records?!