Editor’s note: The following essay was submitted by a Lovefraud reader.
In our lifetime, we hope to capture the best moments of our lives in pictures. We keep albums of our family events, weddings, births, first dates, proposals, holidays, vacations, and so on. There is another kind of snapshot that keeps many of us longing for our sociopaths. These are the “snapshots” we hold in our minds. They are the ideal moments, the perfect words, the heightened romance that so many of us felt when we were being seduced by a sociopath.
Browsing through my mental album, I see a snapshot of myself and the Bad Man, as I call him, passionately kissing in Safeway next to the tortilla chips. It was romantic, it was silly, and I felt so in love. Never before had I done a thing like that! It was just a kiss but it was so ideal, so out of the movies. I recall during our first kiss, he embraced me as if he were Fabio on the cover of a Harlequin Romance novel. Who wouldn’t swoon for that?
Here’s another snapshot. This time, I am at Home Depot. Why all the retail?! On the radio, Dan Fogelberg’s Longer Than is playing and I start to weep tears of joy. Suddenly, I felt as if I had a deeper understanding of this song about lovers. I know, it’s c-o-r-n-y! This happened during a time that I have referred to as “the happiest two weeks of my life,” or like I said before, “Relationship Crack.”
Another snapshot I have in my mind is spending an hour choosing just the right birthday card for my budding new romance (and more weeping over drippy love songs being piped in over the sound system). God, I was a sap! I ended up with two cards. I saw this as “the first card I would ever give the love of my life” and it had to be perfect. So what’s more perfect than two?
Yet another. This time I am sitting next to my Captain as he skillfully pilots the craft and gives an enlightening spiel about the marine life over his microphone. The guests were rapt with attention as was I, goo-goo eyes and all. I always had a thing for islands, the water, the whales, which were out in full force that day, and of course, the Captain of the ship. Isn’t it perfect?!
I remember looking at the Bad Man with his tanned skin and his Indiana Jones hat. He looked exactly like Harrison Ford back when Harrison Ford still looked good. It was all too perfect. I was living in Hawaii, I had a hunk of a man for my new boyfriend and of course, he had already told me what a “quality woman” I was, asked me to be his exclusive girlfriend and told me he was “seriously considering” me as a “potential life partner” after only a few short weeks! Considering that my move to Hawaii was my idea of an “alternate” life plan since, at 35 years old, my marital dreams had not come true, you can imagine how ecstatic I was to have such a lucky break in love. I had only been on the island 10 days when I met the “man of my dreams.” It appeared to me that my dreams were coming true after all. I looked at him and thought to myself, “We are going to be one of those couples that everyone wants to be like!” and I was on top of the world. I thought I had beat the system by letting go of the quest-for-love and reaching for my dreams on my own… and BINGO! My prayers were answered.
Sadly, the signs of danger were already present but my ideal moments, my perfect “snapshots” were clouding my ability, or perhaps, my willingness, to see them. The Bad Man had already mentioned that he had been called a “cult leader” in the newspapers back in Seattle during his days as a Pastor for Assemblies of God. He had been “sort-of excommunicated” because he was an “out of the box thinker” and he had “thrown off the templates” of the traditional hard line thinking of his former Church. He was a “rebel” and a “hero.” He had a “permanent restraining order” against him and all women’s health clinics in the Seattle area. He was “honest” about the “B.S. restraining order” his ex-wife had against him. He told me mournfully that his ex “stole the children” (escaped under extreme duress, I am sure) and that the court would issue a restraining order to any woman that said she was afraid. “The court wouldn’t even question it” he told me, with indignation in his voice. He called her a “gossip” and talked at length about how couples should be able to work out their problems in private or go “up the food chain” for advice and not down. Now in my defense, this was confusing. That seemed like good advice coming from a former Minister. Perhaps his ex was a gossip. I mean I was keeping all our problems private, just like he told me to. Why couldn’t she? I know as I write this that it all sounds ridiculous but alas, the kiss… the kiss! Now, I say, “Alas… the red flags, the RED FLAGS!!!”
Never before had I been so taken in by someone, so consumed by a man. I thought this was the big love that I had been waiting for. I thought it was finally my time. These were the things I was telling myself in those brief moments of heightened romance. As I write this, I realize that my snapshots were just my thoughts. In fact, in some of the snapshots I describe, the Bad Man isn’t even present… just me and my thoughts of LOVE. I was in denial of what was really happening and I let a few highly romantic moments, snapshots, overpower the truth. My own thoughts about what this relationship was going to mean for my formerly-empty-before-him-life were seductive enough for me to all but ignore the truth before me.
In my mind, I have burned up these snapshots. I recognize them for what they are now. They are my own fantasies, and my own dreams that I pinned on someone else. Why are all my dreams riding on someone else? Now when I am asked, “What are your hopes and dreams?” I feel sad and empty. For some reason, I keep getting asked this question lately. I can’t think of anything. I have plans that are solid and based on reality. I am working toward some goals. I have named the steps to achieve my goals and I am ticking them off as I go. But there are no dreams.
When someone loves you, they don’t set out to destroy you. They consider your wellbeing and they consider how their actions affect others. This is what is normal. They don’t terrorize you until you feel like you are worthless. I knew this but I sort of forgot. I forgot because he said the magic words”¦“I am seriously considering you as a potential life partner.” I became a slave to those words and would do anything, endure anything, ignore anything, because of them. It’s like I was on Survivor. I formed an alliance with him! I bought in to his strategy to destroy me and I joined in the plan. Hey, in the end, I even voted myself off the island! I guess you could say, I escaped the Bad Man by leaving while he was at work, kind of like the way he described the day his ex left him with her 5 children in tow. God Bless her.
If it seems that I make light of my encounter with a sociopath, I do not. My story is lit up with red flags, more than I would like to admit. My lessons from the Bad Man cost me some money, some time, many tears, a few friendships, and maybe one thing that needed to go, like a baby tooth needs to go to make room for the emerging adult one. Perhaps my fantasies of love, and being in love, and what that would mean for my life, were a bit girlish. Now, I have a plan for my life beyond loving and devoting my life to someone else. Where was I in all that, anyway?
I have a real snapshot of myself from my time on Maui. It was taken by the Bad Man. When I saved it on my computer, I gave it the file name, “pretending to be happy.” It looks like I am having the time of my life but the truth is, I was sleepless, anxious, afraid, and miserable. I was being emotionally battered, manipulated, terrorized and stalked. I had been called a long list of names your Mother wouldn’t want to hear you say. I was never good enough, never knew what he wanted or didn’t want, could never guess how to make him happy, because it changed minute by minute, nor could I keep up with his ever changing relationship rules that always applied to me but never to him. I was crumbling under the stress of it all.
I guess it’s never too late to be truthful with yourself.
Author’s note: The concept for “Snapshots” was introduced to me by my friend, Susan Bradley, RN. Susan is a Relationship Coach, and author of “Irresistible Prescriptions for Love.” For more information, visit her website www.lovinguniversity.com.
Tami-I have mentioned in another section that he is the greatest manipulator of his family. They excuse his behavior, they believe his lies and he gets more practice for his ways through them. He is a sociopath so he has been doing this all of his life. He has been thrown out of a prep school, college, arrested, moved around, no job, sucked money out of his family & others, the list goes on. But they see all of this as someone elses fault…oh her poor baby son. His mother thinks he just needs to find the perfect woman. Hes not going to. It may be for a little while but he will use her and get bored, cheat on her and treat her like S**T. She will put up with it for as long as she can, and if she doesn’t leave him, he’ll go. Either, physically, mentally, sexually to yet another.
I have said this before, “I am sick of smelling like garbage because I have been treated like trash.” Of course I still wonder, dwell and get urges to call, see him and await for my phone to ring. But I keep trying and working on keeping my head afloat. In time, as others write it will get better. We will get better and they will just be a blurred vision in the rear view mirror. Can’t wait!
At one time – and one time only – I had developed enough hope and enough trust, and after years of back and forth, I let the Tiger, who I KNEW was incapable of changing his spots, come live with his son and I.
He was living with us for 6-months or so at the time. He only had male friends come over to the house, his brother, but not his sister (whom I did not much care for) and for some reason, one day, I ended up on the phone with his sister. During this conversation she explained to me that I needed mental help, that I was delusional…that her brother was off living his own life. That he had told her that I was crazy and he would have nothing to do with me. I was like ‘huh? He lives here, with me and his son…” She said, “he said you would say that, that you have spun way out of control.” Here I was, on the phone, having to ‘defend’ myself over cohabitation? Since I didn’t like her anyway, I hung up on her….This started a big argument between me and S of course, and he left for a few weeks. Interestingly, this situation he created, in the long run, played right into his hands. Even though I knew better, he ‘made me look crazy and delusional.’ However, the sister found out from his daughters mother (because the sister and her have a good relationship, and the daughters mother and I have a good relationship) that he was IN FACT living there. But regardless the sister refused to believe that I was sane or normal. She still thinks I am ‘crazy’. Fine. What the hell do I care what she thinks? Who is she? My son’s aunt from my son’s defective paternal family that have never done anything for him anyway? Don’t see how there is a loss in that set of facts.
When my son was little, my father used to tell people, within my son’s ear shot, but not directly to my son, stories…that I was crazy and out of control and such. We have had little to nothing to do with his dad for 3-years now. As time passed, and the healing began..my son confessed to me that he had been made privy to my ‘mental instability’ from his dad and the family…and used to believe it was true. But now with no dad around, and life being very peaceful, my son not seeing ANY drama, where-as with his father, there was drama constantly, my son sees fully that it was never me, my fault, or my ‘mental instability’. I am perfectly rational and peaceful.
Like any person who has been convicted on the testimony of a liar, my oh so natural desire is to go out of my way to prove I am SANE. But ultimately, I just opt to not interact with anyone from the S family. For the past 5 years, at least, if a request has been made for my son’s presence, I refer that family member to his father to arrange that. The result, is my son does not see his paternal family. This year I was asked for copies of my sons very expensive senior pictures. My son’s father was supposed to contribute towards their purchase. He picked a fight with me – over nothing, and he missed the appointment to select the pictures, so I bought a package that would satisfy my needs only, and never asked, or received, one red cent from the S. Now I am being asked for copies from his family. I politely replied that I had no extras, but that I had supplied the S with the website to purchase whatever THEIR family may want. That was the last I heard about it. Through the grapevine I heard I was selfish and greedy and that he had helped purchase them, and this was how I was trying to control him, that he was being robbed and taken advantage of – blah blah blah…..You know…who cares???? It is sick and twisted. You know, I have seen it all over this site. The Sociopath only wants to win. I am so done with his games.
Snapshots, wow that story sounds like my life for the three and a half years of sorrow that I endured and still enduring because of custody battle for my son. I was utterly consumed by this woman. I was invited to take a shower with her the first time at her house. She told me all about her exhusband and how horrible of a person he was. I was sucked into helping her despise and hate this man. Later in court she would tell the magistrate that her relationship with her ex was so bad because of me. She said the same thing about her mother, the same woman that physically attacked me at the front door of our house. Like mother, like daughter. I still have a hard time getting this woman out of my head and I hear things like how useless I am, I am only good for sex, I am a bad parent, mean, I am a pussy of a man, at least my cooking is good because I am not good for anything else. I have lived in constant chaos and always on edge, I unfortunately began to drink heavily as this was the only time it seemed that we were able to get along, when we drank together. I gave up jobs and military service for this woman, which I thought was for the better of our family but that was not good enough. Nothing was period. I have lied for this woman over and over again to protect her and her side. Now I am paying dearly for helping her and making her look good while everyone else was wrong. The kids were all made to think that I was the bad man and a mean daddy and she would tell them that in front of me and others. She would put restraining orders against me and then send me nude pictures of herself and tell me how horny she was. I would fall right back in and make everything ok for her. That’s right the SP only wants to win and I have been weakened to the point that I have no fight left. Thank You God for my friends and family that hold me up.
When I wrote earlier – I was kind of adding a situation I had to the previous writer…But I have a snapshot:
I was 16, he was 20. We had been seeing each other a few weeks. He was in the neighborhood I lived in everyday, hanging out with his cousin at a friends apartment one block down. When I got out of school, he would come up to my house and spend hours with me…talking, laughing, sharing experiences, watching TV – we even played a one on one ‘game’ of tag that brought me great joy…and let me not leave out kissing. Lots of kissing. It didn’t matter to me, at 16, that the 20 year old did not have a job, he said he was going to junior college…and he was done by the time I got out of classes. It didn’t bother me that he did not have a car…I didn’t have a car..lots of people I knew didn’t have cars….He may have been 20, but we were both kids in my minds eye.
On one visit, it was getting late, and it started to sprinkle, the precursor for rain. We were in my front yard, hanging out again. He decided to go and gave me this great big kiss, even today, 23-years later, I can still feel one hand on my back, the other touching the back of my neck and fingers going up into my hair, and his lips on mine. It was a really good kiss….and he knew he had to go, the rain was coming down faster…and he stopped kissing me, and started spinning in circles as he ‘walked’ away…he was spinning, and spinning and spinning..he was about 20 feet away and he stopped and ran back up to me and swooped me up in his arms, twirled me around in a spin and just passionately kissed me!! That was the moment that I fell in love.
A few weeks later we had sex for the first time, I was young, naive and idealistically in love. Turned out that the ‘friend’ in the apartment was a woman that he had met at a local nightclub. I met my ex through his cousin that I was friends with. He brought me down to the apartment..and we were watching some TV…My new boyfriend…the guy I was in love with, was in the next room having sex with this woman. I tried to get out without raising any kind of a fuss, but my body language went hay-wire…and when I walked out, she followed me, we talked…
A few months later he was calling me…couldn’t get me out of his head (and vice versa) he had dumped her, she had a drug problem – etc etc etc….we reconciled. And the story continued for years.
I was the child of a narcissistic alcoholic man…at first I went with the old saying that “I had found my father”. And I naively, instinctively, attempted to fix the S, fix me, go along to get along with the S. I didn’t even realize what I was doing to myself. CO-dependent stupidity…that I was RAISED to do. (I bet a lot of us were raised to do it).
I had many snapshots, many times when I felt so amazingly loved…because I wanted more of the snapshots…the stuff I tolerated was incredible..the stuff I participated in is now embarrassing…I was driven mad by his manipulations, and then he pointed his finger at me and said – “see, you are crazy..” Turns out, he calls all his victims crazy. The victim he has now, he had sex with other women in the house they share, had sex with women in HER CAR and she didn’t kick him out, she is living in total paranoia, he says she is crazy, when I talked to her, she said she didn’t want to kick him out because he is “Such a nice guy…” She is living in her snapshots. Now that I am older, wiser, and eyes wide open, I see the pattern.
To be honest, this is all I ever knew of love. I tried dating in between episodes with him, and I must have wreaked of mistrust..I actually dated someone who worked in criminal justice and has a degree psychology, upon discussion of where my sons father was I volunteered that he was a sociopath, and we have kind of cut him out, to which he replied “If your ex was a sociopath, so must have you been, you gravitate towards what you are…” Well, that was the end of that little get-to-know-ya and turned me off of dating for a while. In the end I felt like I ran, just like a sociopath would if someone had their number.
I wish I could end this on a strong, positive note, but after writing it, I feel like a sucker..and it was 23-years ago…and I was a kid. Alohatraveler, and everyone else that shared their snapshot…I know EXACTLY how you felt.
It’s too bad that your “date” said you must be a Sociopath to have been with one. How sad and not true. Don’t take that on for a minute. I am sure that was confusing as you were probably already being run in circles with word games with your S. That makes me mad that someone would tell you that!
The point of Snapshots is that they aren’t real. Or what we were telling ourselves was happening in those moments… well… what we were thinking that they were thinking.. they weren’t. Do you follow me?
Burn up those snapshots. Burn up those ideal moments that weren’t real.
The hardest part of thinking about the snapshots is that throughout the entire relationship (which only lasted 2 years) I suspected/knew something was not quite right…but, I didn’t want to listen to my intuition/quickly went into denial, and escaped INTO the snapshot to hang onto every bit of hope, false promises, and just felt that if he would just “get help” — he might actually live up to the idea, fantasy of the various snapshots I had of him…and of our lives together.
I still find myself thinking about the moments where I was convinced he had the compassion, sensitivity and honesty of those snapshot moments. And, its getting easier to deal with his lies, and the lies I told myself.
Yes, they were not real…except in my mind, hopes, dreams and fantasies. And, you can bet he was counting on that…that’s why I was one of the chosen ones…LOL.
I get to face him in court on March 12–and this site has given me the strength to look beyond the snapshots, to gather all my resources and friends to face him down. The man hates exposure, and I know he won’t be happy when I bring in a half dozen of my friends to support me…but, fortunately, I have friends like this who have been happy to become educated about this…FOR ME. I don’t know what I would do wilthout them. I still might be living in the SNAPSHOT moments…going crazy…and giving up my life, my energy to someone who clearly has no conscience, and doesn’t care who he hurts…as long as he gets what he wants.
I know I have a tendency to get carried away sometimes when I post…but, I hope I AM clear about how grateful I am for this site…and for the time, love and honesty of all the posters…dealing with a sociopath…I WOULD NOT wish this on anyone!
And, thanks Alohatraveler for this wonderful topc…and thereinforcement of reality that I MUST focus on sometimes to make sure I keep my eyes open…
I really like the symbol of the ‘snapshot’–because realzing it was ALL A LIE…helps me to stay grounded in my recovery TODAY…to focus on the truth of the here and now.
I am so glad I don’t have to face the Bad Man in court.
Good luck to you and thank God that you have friends to surround you with TRUTH.
LoveFraud has explained to me every single second of my relationship with the Bad Man… especially the Snapshots… the most ideal and seductive moments, words, glances. I feel like I was a puppet and I just reacted to everything that was happening. Have you seen that movie with Jim Carey called “The Trueman Show.” That is EXACTLY how it is being with a Sociopath until one day you notice there is nothing behind the backdrop of the man. Everything you love about your life is a lie. How many times have we seen people on LoveFraud say that their S said something like, “I should win an academy award for my performance.”
I can tie every moment and every word from Bad Man’s mouth to a Sociopathic tactic. It’s as if no man exists, only a diseased mind. How sad. How scary!!!
This revelation has helped me to turn the corner. I don’t miss the Bad Man at all. I do not long for those over the top moments. In fact, if I were ever to be in a relationship again, I would seek something much more earthly. I would feel unsafe if I noticed myself being whipped up into a frenzy of “LOVE.”
There were some very bizarre moments I had with that man. One that really strikes me was when I called a friend to talk to her about him. The Bad Man and I had already had several ups and downs and we were on an upswing. I called my friend early one morning after car camping in a remote area of the island. I was talking to my friend back home about it and I was talking SO FAST that I was gasping for air, my heart was pounding and I kept having to stop in the middle of a sentence to catch my breath. All the while, I was running around in circles as I told her about my man and our fabulous camping adventure. It was like I was having a MANIC attack. I am not Manic depressive but even my friend told me after I moved home that she remembers that call. She was afraid for me and she thought I was going Manic. She also told me she was afriad to come visit me because of this man. After I hung up, I stood there for a moment trying to catch my breathe and noticing how strange I felt. I felt out of my mind. This is the only time in my life I have ever had something like this occur.
Anyway! The point is, the massive amount of manipulation and stress I was under plus the hours and hours of trying to sort out lies and double talk nearly had me coming undone.
Does anyone relate to this?
A friend of mine is divorced from someone she now realizes was a Narcissist. Her therapist told her this but she never fully grasped what that meant until my Bad Man experience. (She was my housemate in Maui… thank God for her. She kept me from going over the edge! I love you, M!) She told me she always cried when she was intimate with this man. She thought it was because she loved him so much but I think it was because of his ability to stir up her emotions the way only a Narcissist, or a Sociopath or a Borderline can. I remember having strong feelings like this as well.
I do hope one day that I will love someone deeply but that it will be real. Not some drama designed to bring me to the brink of mental collapse.
Aloha & To All- Without question the stress endured by trying to figure them out becomes an overload and takes a major toll on you. I very much can relate to your “manic” episode. I too would feel I was trying to find the air. It reminds me of a song and I think the lyrics go well for a S. They go something like this:
I know what you’re doing,
I see it all to clear
I only taste the saline when I kiss away your tears
You really had me going, wishing on a star
But the black holes that surround you are heavier by far and
I believed in your confusion
Well it must have been that yesterday was the day that I was born
There’s not much to examine, there’s nothing left to hide
Everyone keeps asking, what’s it all about?
I used to be so certain and now I can’t figure it out
What is this attraction? I only feel the pain!
There’s nothing left to reason and only you to blame
Will it ever change?
I’ve come to find
I many never know
Your changing mind
Is it friend or foe?
I rise above
Or sink below
With every time
You come and go
I am barely breathing
and I can’t find the air
I dont know who I’m kidding
Imagining you care
And I can stand here waiting
a fool for another day
But I dont suppose its worth
the price that I would pay
I guess on one hand I should be glad that he walked away, I wasn’t going to. (At least not then) And I need to realize it wasn’t worth the price I would pay—which was ALL OF ME!
Thanks for sharing these song lyrics. It’s funny but once you have gone through a Sociopathic encounter, it seems like all the jilted lover songs are about Sociopaths.
that song explains a lot of the things i felt with my ex s path. thing is i cant believe that so much happened in such a short time i was only with him a year. and it s like so many things happened, that doesnt normally happen in a relationship. i heard a song by missy higgins the other day i dont remember the word exactly. but it went like this; you said life is just peachy without me, stupid me i thought you might miss me, of course you dont of course you wont. that was the chorus and i thought that just is him to a tee. he wont miss me he wont let himslef miss me or anyone else for that matter they dontknow how to. something i have noticed about the s path is he has this ideal image of his perfect woman i mean its very specific physically in his mind. and if he sees someone who looks like or fits this description in his mind, he is so desperate to know them and intereact with that person he swoops on them right off. there is different variations of his image of the perfect woman but by knowing him and his behaviour for a while now i know exactly what this image is. and when i see him with different woman i can see just what it is that attract him physically, in fact if a woman doesnt have these attributes he wont go for them. does anyone else have this experience with the s path in there lifes. its just i wanted to mention it cause its so very obvious to me with him. love to hear some comments on this . thanks for helping me.