Reply To: Mother is dying, he’s killing me.

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beautifulmonkey, I’m sorry you’re having so much difficulty coping with this man’s callousness. I dare say you’ve accepted at an intellectual level the brutal reality that he’s never going to care, that all he does is rage if you ask him for the simplest things—a little help around the house while you’re so overburdened, sympathy and emotional support, or whatever. Yet I’m sure you’re having a hard time coming to terms with that reality on an emotional level. He is in a very real sense “inhuman,” being devoid of all empathy. In the poignant words of Our Savior: “What man is there among you, who if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?” Yet that’s exactly what this guy does: gives you a stone. The immense frustration it’s causing you makes it hard to dismiss his uncaring attitude with the cool contempt he deserves.

I really don’t know what to say that might help, except that you need to vent your very natural anger and frustration somewhere away from him, whether it’s to others (like your friends) who can sympathize, or even on your own. Donna has talked in the past about the value of “punching a pillow” for instance. It’s just important to “get those feelings out” somehow so that you can face him with whatever degree of equanimity you can muster, and not let him “push your buttons.” That’s his excuse for calling you a “crazy bitch.” Don’t let him manipulate you into a reaction if you can possibly help it. Think of it as a victory over his hostility if you can succeed in keeping your calm in front of him.

Don’t forget, you’re not helpless to counter his devious ploys to manufacture or maintain the false image of himself as a “good guy” in front of your aunt and uncle, or others who might be “taken in.” Incidentally, I very much appreciate the good advice “flowerchild” has given here, but—a minor detail—your partner may not necessarily be the kind of abuser she’s described who is what he is due to damage from abuse in childhood. There certainly are abusers like that, but your mention of his false “image maintenance” leads me to suspect, along with Donna, that he’s a straightforward psychopath who was born that way for the most part, couldn’t give a damn for anyone except himself, and is coldly instrumental in manipulating others to believe in his fake persona.

That doesn’t make any difference to the good advice you’ve been given about coping with him, other than highlighting the fact that unlike some people who became abusive after being treated badly themselves, you have no reason ever to “feel sorry” for him!—as you said you do on occasion. His rage is mostly a tool to intimidate you and get his own way.

All this “image maintenance” in front of your aunt and uncle is purely for his own benefit. But if he finds cause to use it against you, he can and will. It’s up to you to defend yourself against that. If everyone in your mother’s house has “no clue” he has not spoken to you all day, why is that? If it’s just because you haven’t had the chance to touch base with them yet, fair enough; but if it’s because you’ve never told them what this jerk is really like, then you need to! Your mother (may she find peace!) knew the kind of guy he was, and may have shared her wisdom with your uncle and aunt; so they may be primed already. But if not, it’s up to you to make it clear to them and counteract this man’s false image of beneficence.

If they find it hard to believe what he’s really like, there’s much to be said for recording events as they happen. You can always use a cellphone—or one of those little digital recorders you can easily hide in a pocket or purse—to record audio when he’s in one of his rages. Why let him gain an advantage over you by “pushing your buttons” until you react, so he can call you a “crazy bitch,” when you could do the same to him? Just ask him for something reasonable, let him blow up into one of his insane rages—and hey, presto! you have a recording you can play back to your disbelieving friends and family to show them “here’s what he’s really like!”

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