As if being a first year law student isn’t hard enough, enter a new dating relationship. Under the best of circumstances, this would be a challenge, but when your gut is screaming at you, it’s even more interesting.
Let’s start with law school. I was slow to admit it, but yes, that is what I have been doing since last I wrote. Years ago, after my all consuming experience with psychopathy, I promised myself that I would rise from the ashes, turn the bad into good, and help others recover from abusive relationships with psychopaths or those high in psychopathic features. It is my turn to pay it forward.
This promise has evolved slowly and its shape has changed over the years, but thus far, I am holding true to my word. I wanted, and on some level, needed to make meaning from what I had lived and bring what I had learned regarding psychopathy to a place most in need: our court system. Thus, my adventure began. I am taking it day by day, working hard, and hoping for the best.
However, my greatest accomplishment this fall has been turning away from a new, unhealthy relationship. Before anyone is too impressed by my “strength,” there is no way I can take full credit. In fact, I am only marginally responsible. Why? He broke it off with me. I didn’t really have a choice. However, it is not that he broke it off with me, it is why. I thank my instincts. They acted when my head and heart refused.
From the top
I was happy again. Once again, the sun shone bright. Its brilliance was muted no more. My children’s laughter made me truly joyous. I rectified the trappings of my past and no longer cared what, if anything, became of that situation. The individual who had made my life a living hell since I was barely an adult, could not touch me anymore. Why? Because I understood. Regardless of residual shenanigans, his bag of tricks evaporated the day I figured him out.
I was ready to focus solely on just my family, school, and my future. Then it happened. I met “Mr. Wonderful.” He was “amazing.” However, something was wrong.
I had recently resigned myself to life without a relationship, sort of by choice, but I met someone I really liked. I was not looking for anyone to show interest in me. I was not looking to be interested. Then at a high school football game, our paths crossed in the crowded bleachers. Happenstance and open seats behind me brought us together, when all I wanted was to watch my daughter dance at half time.
We chatted here and there. It was nothing, really. My friend came to sit with me and they knew each other through work. Next home game, repeat performance. Then, the next day, the text appears. “Scott (we’ll call him Scott) wants your number. Can I give it to him?” And the rest, as they say, is history.
He was fine. He was pleasant. He did and said all of the things a boy is supposed to. Perhaps that was part of the problem.
The first thing that made my stomach turn was what he claimed his initial attraction to me was my eyes. That was familiar, but who could hold THAT over a guy? It did not sit well with me, but I assumed it had to do with the last time someone used that line, if you know what I mean. So, I moved on.
Next, we started getting to know each other. I felt intensely attracted to this man very early on, but reminded myself that feelings so intense are not necessarily normal. I have done enough research to know that immediate, intense connections do not really exist. Yet, I moved forward.
He consumed my days and nights. We talked on the phone as soon as the kids were in bed. We texted and sent messages throughout the day. I fell asleep in Crim Law for crying out loud. My Contracts professor cannot seem to get through a hypothetical without discussing his cat. New Guy knew my schedule, so one day during Contracts, he texted “Contracts!!! Cats!!!” Really…what more could a girl ask for? Especially a tired, legal, mother girl who was exhausted from her life, in spite of it being so amazingly blessed, and would have LOVED a companion and friend who was more than just a friend. In spite of my knowledge, I was vulnerable.
I told myself I did not need this distraction, but vowed that I could juggle it all. We talked for hours. In that time, he told me everything I longed to hear. He wanted to be a family. He could not wait to join our families. He could not wait to watch football with my son and take him to ball games. He told me that he hoped things would fall into place as he dreamed of. He said it first, so he was not mirroring me. Or did he know what I wanted? Regardless, I FREAKED OUT.
The problem was that we had only been talking for a few weeks. It was too fast. How could he want this so quickly? I began to think that it had less to do with me and more to do with his desires to create a scenario he had in mind for himself. Is that true? Who knows. Regardless, my red flags were at attention. It was too soon for the exchanges that were taking place, but I wanted this so badly. In my mind, I had a picture of what came next and it included “it all.”
A real white picket fence?
This man is a member of the same profession as the wife of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of my state. Two weeks prior, the justice spoke at my law school. While in conversation with the chief justice at dinner, “new guy,” raced through my mind. It seemed every successful lawyer needed a member of his profession at her side. It made sense. Under the influence of my new crush, I was off changing the world, while he shared knowledge with the next generation and cared for our collective families.
Enter the dates. For some reason, they were anti-climactic in relation to the phone conversations and texts. I sensed something wrong, in spite of the magic words. Things felt empty, but I pushed the thoughts away. I convinced myself that that things were fine, but sought validation. Ummm….no. Naturally, a big mistake. Anyone over 16 should know that.
Beginning of the end
How did this implode? My gut spoke for me, when my head and heart were otherwise occupied. I knew something was wrong. Ultimately, he ended it with me for “exhausting” him, moving too quickly (something about my Christian values, or apparent lack thereof) and “second guessing” his intentions when I asked questions regarding the words that did not make sense to me. I was experiencing such serious dissonance between what really was and what was said.
There is more, but not much more. The bottom line is that I was reacting to what I knew was wrong on the most primitive level and that saved me. I ended up with a slightly bruised ego and a few hurt feelings. But I also learned a lot about myself. Mainly, that I am healed and when such raw emotion comes out, it is NOT me, but rather, an unhealthy situation trying to rear its ugly head.
It was not my finest hour, by any stretch, but that is ok. It was clear to me that something was very wrong and I knew it. Yet, I had to dig for that knowledge, since it was not apparent on the surface. Initially, I thought I was merely a product of my past. Who could live through such monumental betrayal and subsequent years of exhaustion and come out unscathed?
While I admit that I did not leave the psychopathic experience issue free, it was definitely not just that. Rather, my reactions were based on our most primitive abilities to recognize when something’s amiss. While my head and heart were over the moon, my gut was busy adversely reacting to the discrepancies presented. My gut stepped in and handled what my head and heart could not.
What’s the take-away?
He motivated me to write again. Somewhere in between Contracts, Torts, Civil Procedure, and the plethora of other legal madness, I reconnected with the feelings that drove me to pursue my passion for law. For a time, I became so busy that I had forgotten. He also showed me that I can feel again, and strongly, at that. Something I thought was dead and gone is alive and well.
It is a lesson to all of us that we can be strong, even if we stumble after the fall. We must let our gut reactions guide us, because they know. We must take the steps, no matter how small, and embrace our new beginnings, as we remain true to ourselves and true to our causes.
Lastly, in no way, am I indicating that the individual I speak of is a sociopath. I am not making any assessment or drawing any conclusions regarding that matter. Similarly, I make no claims regarding why I feel the relationship was not healthy/could not have been healthy. Rather, for a number of reasons, this was a relationship that was not meant to be, which could have simply been about timing. Nonetheless, I felt it was worth addressing because it is very likely something many of us commonly experience as we put ourselves out there again.