Every week, a chapter of my book, “Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned” (available via Amazon.com, just click on the title or book cover) will be published here on Lovefraud. To read prior chapters, please see the links at the bottom of the post.
Chapter 47B: Divorcing A Sociopath—Round II
In that moment, I understood why, throughout our marriage, Paul had criticized me so often for being controlling. It had always seemed odd, and I had stupidly responded by bending over backwards to make sure he would not view me that way. I caved in to what he wanted to prove that I did not need to be in control. Fool! Most people consider me flexible. One of the most common criticisms of me at work was that I was too nice, never that I was too controlling. But Paul is not a normal person. He is a sociopath. Not being in total control was so anathema to him that even having ninety-nine percent control must have felt out of control. Nothing but 100 percent would do. Sociopath math, remember?
It was clear to me now. The give and take of any normal relationship would be stifling to a sociopath like Paul. The only give-and-take equation that feels right to a sociopath is take-take-take-take-take. Sociopaths are the black holes of the human universe—they suck in all surrounding matter and energy and give nothing back.
Snapping back to the here and now, I knew I needed to push through the self-doubt and fear and regain some control, and I needed to do it fast. But how? I had always been an honest, nonmanipulative, “cards-on-the-table” type of person. I was brand-new at this game. Paul had decades of experience. This was hardly a fair fight, but that was the point.
“Paul,” I said, “go ahead and move back in. In fact, the house is huge and a lot of work. We both know you will be able to afford it, and I will not.”
I truly did not want to be stuck with the house, because I knew we would need to sell it if Paul did not want it, and I knew how much work selling the house would be. I had just gone through that grueling process not even a year earlier, and that was not how I wanted to spend my time again.
“So, that’s fine. But before you take the time to move back, I want you to know that I will move out as soon as possible. There are tons of rentals available, even some that allow dogs. I’ve already checked. So go ahead, but the kids and I will be gone within a week. Then we’ll have a mortgage and two rents to drain our assets.”
“I’ll be back tonight after dinner with the kids,” he said, his voice calm and steady, not a hint of anger or agitation. “And I expect you to have Daniel and Jessica at my place this afternoon, as you agreed yesterday. Four-thirty sharp!”
This was another one of Paul’s manipulation techniques. Knowing that I took honoring my commitments seriously (as do many nonsociopaths), he tried to hold me accountable for something to which I had agreed previously, even when the commitment I had made was based on a foundation of falsehoods, partial information, and invalid assumptions. Who had poured that false foundation? Paul, of course.
In his rulebook, no promise he made was ever worth keeping the moment it became inconvenient. (“I never agreed to that.” “You must have misunderstood.” “That no longer works for me.” “I didn’t understand correctly.” “That is not how I meant it.”)
Yet, he tried to make me feel irresponsible, guilty, or dishonest for not honoring a commitment of any kind or size no matter the outright deceit involved on his part when obtaining the commitment from me in the first place or the radical change in circumstances after the commitment was made.
For example, after we divorced, Paul got Jessica an expensive car. He sent me a bill for half of it—involving his lawyer and mine. Paul insisted that because, when we were married and living in Connecticut, we had promised to get Jessica a car when she got her license, I was legally obligated to reimburse Paul for half of the cost of the high-end car that he unilaterally selected for her. Sociopath math!
When I learned not to feel obligated by surreptitiously obtained promises, Paul’s shifted tactics to assault my character, accusing me of being dishonest, a liar, or irresponsible. By doing so, he hoped that, to prove I was none of those things, I would live up to the original obligation.
Because I was not yet aware of this manipulative technique, I foolishly agreed to honor my commitment to get the kids to Paul’s condo later that afternoon, all the while trying not to show how deflated I felt by Paul calling my bluff.
“Fine,” I said. “Just let me know when you’re out of the house so I can come back and you won’t be there.”
“I’ll be gone in five minutes,” he said.
I let a half-hour pass. When I got there, the front door was unlocked. I opened it and stepped inside. My laptop was still at my desk, and it looked undisturbed. Flooded with relief, mixed with a sense of profound personal violation, I slumped to the floor and wept. When the tears finally stopped and I thought I could talk without crying, I called my lawyer. In all her days practicing divorce law, she had never known someone to do what Paul had just done.
Afterwards, I continued to look around the house. Why had he broken in? Simply to scare me and prove he could do it? Was there another reason? Only one thing looked disturbed. A picture had been tipped over that was normally on a desk in front of a drawer where we kept small, expensive things, like season passes to the theater and concerts that we had bought for the upcoming year. Combined, they were worth over $500. I opened the drawer. They were gone.
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Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.