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Hurricanes, terror and sociopaths

Once again, I was terrified that my life was going to collapse.

Eleven years ago, my fear was caused by my sociopathic ex-husband, James Montgomery. Because of him, my savings had been wiped out, I was overloaded with credit card debt and my business was decimated. I was fighting him in court, and even when I won, it didn’t matter. The court ordered him to pay me, and he ignored the order. I got nothing.

I had been well and truly betrayed. I berated myself for my stupidity in believing his grandiose schemes. My relations with family members were strained—they also thought I was stupid. I was 44 years old, and facing the fact that I’d never have the only thing I thought that I wanted in life—a family.

My emotions were in turmoil. I was afraid of the future. I was on the edge of losing everything.

Last week, I felt that fear again. This time, however, it was Hurricane Irene.

I live with my husband at the Jersey Shore. Our home is on a barrier island. The bay is approximately 100 feet from my front porch. Forecasts for Irene predicted that the storm would either skirt the New Jersey coastline, or make a direct hit. Irene was being compared to the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944. During that storm, the ocean met the bay and homes collapsed. Emergency management officials warned that it could happen again.

We were ordered to evacuate. But first, my husband and I had to do something about our ground floor, which is about 12 inches below grade. We use the space extensively—it’s our recreation room, his office, and storage space for many, many possessions that we didn’t want ruined.

We spent about 16 hours prepping for the storm—moving as much as we could from the ground floor, taping windows shut, tying down porch furniture. Tension crept up on me with each new official warning. As I talked to neighbors who were also preparing to leave, my voice had this strange, tense quality that I hadn’t heard in myself in a long time.

Then we left to hunker down with my father, who lives about 35 miles inland. The rain bands passed through, dumping incredible amounts of water. The winds violently shook the trees. Local television networks aired nonstop coverage of the storm, which essentially meant that they kept saying the same thing, over and over.

Hurricane Irene made landfall near Little Egg Inlet, New Jersey, at approximately 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 28, 2011. Little Egg Inlet is about 12 miles from my house.

But there were a few miracles, at least for me and the area in which I lived. The storm had moved faster than predicted, so it came ashore during dead low tide. And the winds died off. With winds estimated at 75 mph, Irene was a Category 1 hurricane—barely stronger than a tropical storm.

When my husband and I arrived home Sunday afternoon, we found leaves and twigs in our yard. That was the extent of our damage from the storm. The ground floor did not get wet at all.

But I feel so badly for other people living in flood-ravaged areas of New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont and elsewhere. Their trauma could have been mine.

Read Hurricane Irene slams into New Jersey, shuts down NYC, on MSNBC.com. Be sure to look at the photos—about 150 images of storm damage.

So what’s the connection between Hurricane Irene and sociopaths? The emotions that they generate—stress, fear and terror.

Life has been relatively calm for me for quite a few years. I had forgotten the feelings of pounding apprehension, unbearable tension, adrenaline coursing through my body. Because of the sudden change, from calm to terror, it was very obvious to me that this stuff is bad for you. When it was over, I was totally worn out. Exhausted.

Situations with sociopaths, however, aren’t over in a matter of days. The negative emotions wrack our bodies for months, even years. This continuing fight-or-flight feeling is physically, emotionally and psychologically damaging.

If you’re in a situation in which a sociopath is causing you stress, fear and tension, please find a way to get out of it. Sociopaths rip up our lives just like hurricanes, and, unfortunately, I don’t have any pithy advice on how to escape. Maybe you need to let go of possessions or people that you thought you couldn’t release.  Maybe you need to hand the situation over to whatever higher power you trust.

But I have a strong suspicion that if you stay trapped in the storm, you’ll lose everything, including your life. The stress will kill you.


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13 Comments on "Hurricanes, terror and sociopaths"

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Dear Donna, A great analogy of how the “human storms” wreck our lives just as the weather-related ones.

It is unfortunate though, that sometimes those who are in greatest danger and are warned to evacuate choose to “ride out” the storm, and lose everything including their lives. I’m glad that you did choose to evacuate to safety–you are a wise woman.

My late husband’s kids live in Virginia and were told to evacuate but they CHOSE NOT TO, they had plenty of “beer and chips” so they thought they would be fine. As it turned out, they were fine, but had a NEAR MISS. They had a HUGE OAK tree in their front yard just steps away from the front door…the storm blew this huge tree down, smacking the home of their next door neighbors who fortunately HAD CHOSEN TO EVACUATE and no one was hurt.

Fortunately, my family was fine, but they did realize that they SHOULD HAVE EVACUATED and in the next case of a storm they WILL FLEE as far and as fast as they can.

I think it is the same with the human storms, we warn people to FLEE, but they seem to think that somehow they can “ride out the storm” and not be hurt. Sometimes they are able to ride out the storm without horrible injuries or death, but we (as people) need to learn to head the warnings, and to observe and HONOR the red flags of WARNING.

Recognizing the potential damage of a psychopath is not quite as easy I think for most people as seeing the potential damage from a hurricane.

Glad you and Terry and your house are safe. Thanks again, for a wonderful analogy and article!

Wow Donna. Great analogy.

I really look forward to forgetting what this feels like. I’m still in that “waiting for a hurricane” stage.

I also had no idea a hurricane had hit near where you are. It’s amazing that you managed to keep posting articles with so much else demanding your attention. Also, glad you’re okay.

I noticed newer articles have photos lately. I like that touch 🙂

Donna is right my friend is dead, and even though I knew it was not good I had no idea how bad her life had become. I did not see it coming in the way it did. When you are surviving in that bad zone you cannot really think straight. Denial is a terrible thing.

Dear Denise,

Denial, LONG TERM, is a terrible thing, but short term (only) denial helps us to cope with something so big we can’t even fathom it, it allows us to take that horror and eat it n small emotional bites that we CAN swallow. However, during denial we cannot take corrective actions, so long term, denial keeps us from taking actions that might save us from a hurricane.

Like I mentioned, my husband’s grandkids chose to DENY any danger and did not evacuate from their house in the path of the storm. However, a large tree in their yard fell on their neighbor’s house and crushed it. If the neighbors had been home (THEY EVACUATED) there is a good chance someone would have been injured or killed.

I do not think my grandkids will ever ignore an evacuation order again. They were “scared to death” and that SCARE I hope will keep them from being in DENIAL about the danger of the next storm. It could just as easily have fallen on THEIR house. Neither of them had ever been around a hurricane before, but they have now, so I am glad they didn’t die for their denial. Some people do.

Donna ~ I am so glad you, your hubby and property came through the hurricane unharmed.

The analogy was inspiring on both levels – pay attention to the warnings and the stress induced trauma. I found your statement “I had forgotten the feelings of pounding apprehension, unbearable tension, adrenaline coursing through my body”, right spot on – 100% stress. When we are in the middle of our own personal “hurricanes”, I think we become so accoustomed to the “white knuckle living” that it becomes our new norm, we don’t remember what life without stress even was. It is only when the “storm” passes, or at least calms that we realize what we have just put our minds and bodies through.

Thanks for the article.

Yes, Milo….yes….

Having seen someone get weak and die in the tender care of a psycho is truly awful. I was telling people she was in danger of being defrauded. They were oblivious, I was “exaggerating”, and “overreacting”. The kids probably thought everyone was overreacting to the hurricane too. Msde a note to myself to stay away from relationships from now on total, could not live with myself if I passes away with so psycho with a box of fake tissues drooling at my bedside just waiting for me to take my last breath. In the hurrican analogy they are the ill wind which blows nobody any good.

Milo,

“white knuckle living” ROTFLMAO GREAT!!!! GREAT!!!! If that doesn’t describe our lives during the storm I don’t know what does. White Knuckle living is sure it!

Thanks Girlfriend, you gave me my belly laugh for the day!

I live in NE. The area where I live was hard hit by the hurricane.
We were 1 1/2 weeks without power, cable, internet, & phone.
I went to my mother’s house on a daily basis to shower and read LF.

Well, Joanie, at least you had a place to read lovefraud—the most important things, a shower and LF! LOL Glad you are safe! Hope you continue to be safe and didn’t have too much damage.

Hi Joanie,
I live in NE too. We were not hit hard at all on this end. I’ve heard the horror stories of people without power for days on end. I’m glad you got to read LF and shower!

OxDrover: My brother-in-law had a big tree come down in their backyard too. It missed the house by inches but we “Yankees” will make use of it and chop it into firewood. LOL!!

Luckily we didn’t have any trees come down in our yard but I have a forest in back of my house. (knock wood)
We did have several live wires come down in the street and the next day after the hurricane the electric company was out there clearing away the debris.

Several telephone polls came down and had to be replaced.
My husband hooked up a generator & we had several extension cords running in and out of the house.

It cost me 30-40 dollars a day to run the damn generator.(the price of gasoline)
I was cooking outside on the grill every night. We could only keep the lights on in one room and I had the 2 fridges hooked up to keep the food from going bad. All my neighbors had generators going. When you went by their homes you could hear the motor’s going.
Every store was sold out of bread, milk, peanut butter, and tuna. Easy foods that you could prepare without cooking or refrigeration.
You couldn’t find flashlights or batteries and there was a run on generators. My husband knew someone so luckily he saved us one for purchase.
There’s a book out called 37 foods you should stock for emergencies. I think I’m going to get it. If there ever was a terrorist attack our infostructure could be shut down for days and the stores sold out of every necessity.

This was really scary and it was a small lesson that taught me to prepare for the worst. It’s better to be a prepper because when disaster strikes everyone is out looking for the same things known as necessities and common everyday things that we take for granted become a hard commodity to come by.

Dear Joanie,

It is always GOOD to be prepared with food in the house, and fuel and WATER as well. It is also a good idea I think to have an emergency escape pack that you can “grab and go” in the event like of the wildfires in Texas where you don’t have time to “think” about what you need to grab. I also have a small “fire proof” safe to keep important papers in as well. BE PREPARED!!!

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