While preparing for the holiday season, my children and I like to play Christmas movies as we add our decorative touches throughout the house. This year, I caught a portion of the television movie Snow as we worked. Although I was not paying close attention, the premise is that Santa goes to California to rescue one of his reindeer that somehow ends up in a local zoo. This particular reindeer, Buddy, was not expected to ever be able to fly.
Of course, as the movie’s climax began, I stopped arranging the garland and candles on the fireplace and sat to watch. Naturally, I hoped that Buddy the reindeer would triumph. As Christmas movies go, he learned to fly just in time to escape the “bad guy’s” tranquilizer shot. Not only did Buddy successfully get away by forcing himself to fly, but Buck, the fraud of a man who was trying to bring him down, accidentally injected himself with the medication from the tranquilizer gun intended for the reindeer.
Well, there you have it. I could not help but think about the poetic justice. Even if Santa, his friends, and the reindeer had been in the fight of their lives to secure Buddy’s survival, eventually, good beat evil.
Cutting off their noses to spite their faces
Being who I am, I was unable to see this as just another fun, cute, feel-good, Christmas movie. Nope. This caused me to begin thinking about psychopaths. No matter what they do to try to bring good people down, they eventually do themselves in, just like the character Buck, who shot himself and fell unconscious in his efforts to destroy.
Psychopaths rarely come out ahead in the end. In no way am I suggesting that they do not damage others along the way; they can and do. However, frequently, they also harm themselves in the process. As we assess whatever situation we are dissecting, we tend to see how their poor choices, actions, and behaviors, also affect them.
This will not be apparent in the beginning of most conflicts. We will feel the turmoil and upset until we come to know how they operate. In fact, we often assume that they have the upper hand. But they don’t. They wage their wars with lies or twisted versions of truths. Often, others listen to those lies and we may find that hurtful or they may do obvious, overt harm. But they still are who they are – and that is not anything any of us would want to be.
Here is an example. Recently, someone told me about her life with her estranged father. Now that she is an adult and self sufficient, he attempted to make his way back into her life. After years of little or no support, financial or otherwise, he felt that she ought to help him now that he is older. She described the alternating neglect and abuse she suffered at his hands over time and noted that they never actually had any real relationship. He didn’t seem to remember things that way. She recounted how after years of only minimal, strained contact and then no contact, he invited her to a large family function. She did not want him in her life, but finally thought she would attempt to see his side of things one last time. Once the group gathered, the first thing he brought up was how much he hated her mother and how this woman’s mother “destroyed” his life.
She got up, walked out, and has not spoken to him since. As she told the story, I suggested that she take comfort in the events of that day. Why? They further illustrated his disorder. Her parents had been divorced for almost 25 years, and after all that time, this man still carried incredible amounts of hatred for a woman who he actually wronged and whose life he tried to destroy.
He left her mother penniless, struggling for food and clothing for the children, as he begrudgingly contributed only sporadic support. He seemed to enjoy watching her predicament as well. Yet, he always had a sad story to tell his enablers. He smeared this woman to others, telling them of all of the “wrongs” she had done to him. He often refused to work, even though he was more than able, citing questionable reasons why he could not. As a result, his debt accumulated and bill collectors called every number they could find for him. For what? So he did not have to pay, attempting to cause further harm.
However, she recalls her father always having alcohol for himself and buying expensive gifts for multiple girlfriends. She vividly recalls the boxes of candy that he purchased for his new female “friends.” From time to time, she would ask for some, since she was hungry, but he would angrily scowl that it was not for her. She would walk away defeated and hurt, disappointed that his sexual partners were getting expensive chocolates, while she ate potatoes for dinner, with no meat or vegetables and lived in a small apartment with her three siblings. When she questioned him, he became enraged. Things appeared unfair to her for much of her childhood. However, as she grew, she began to understand.
The psychopath’s reality
She grew to see a bitter, angry man, who was paying the price for his morally bankrupt life and horrible choices. Even as the years passed, he still blamed everyone else, unless he was feigning responsibility in attempt to regain control. But most saw through him now, as his years told the story. His life spoke for itself. Call it what you will; karma, hindsight, retrospect, he was broken due to his behaviors and lifestyle choices, not those of his ex-wife or anyone else.
In comparison, this woman’s mother had moved on. This took time, but 25 years later, she was not still talking about her ex husband, other than factually. She worked and sacrificed, and made a life for herself and her children. Perhaps things were not as they may have otherwise been, but who is to say what really would have otherwise been? Through it all, she was able to maintain what really mattered, in spite of him or possibly even because of him. That must be rough for a psychopath to witness.
So, much like Buck, in the holiday movie Snow, many “bad guys” ultimately harm themselves with their own “poison.” They destroy themselves in their efforts to destroy us, but don’t understand how or why. However, we should not hold our breath if we are waiting for them to admit it. They feel that we are evil and wrong and that won’t change.
Hopefully, we all eventually “fly” like Buddy the reindeer. Santa did not believe he ever would. Yet, when Buddy did, it saved his life.