Editor’s note: This story was contributed by the Lovefraud reader who posts under the name “Getting There.”
I am guessing my story has many similarities to other victims of a sociopath. I fell in love with a façade. Charming, witty, so attentive, madly in love, a whirlwind intense romance followed by a long slow cruel erosion of my personality. By the time I plucked up the courage to finish the relationship some 13 years later, we had 2 children, a daughter and a son. I was convinced that everything was my fault, I was mad and a terrible human being. For months and months, I chanted a mantra, ‘ This is not all my fault. There were 2 people in our relationship. Life will get better!’ This helped.
It was only after we split up, when I did some research, I realised I had been living with a sociopath.
This happened 20 years ago and it has been a roller coaster. At the beginning the children stayed with me and we seemed to have settled into a routine of them spending time at their Dads regularly. However, a systematic, insidious process of alienation by their father towards me lead them both to eventually move to their father’s house. For a period of 10 years I saw them a handful of times. When I look back on this, the bleakest time of my life, it’s a blur of pain and tears. Waking every morning with a stomach clenching realisation, no it’s not a bad dream, they were no longer in my life and I cannot keep them safe.
I tried everything I could think of to gain access to see them. I engaged the British court system to no avail. He ignored the family court reports that stated the long term damage it was having on the children not seeing their Mum and broke every visit agreement. I paid for us both to go to mediation to try and find an agreement. Again he would agree to arrange for me to see them and then inevitably they would not turn up. Nothing worked. I realised that me wanting to see my children was being twisted by him as me threatening them. So, I made the most difficult decision of my life. I chose to stand back and wait. I continued to send birthday and Christmas presents hoping they would see there was always an open door back to see me though I never knew if they were received.
With the help of my new husband I discovered an unknown well of hope inside me. I kept thinking, they will come back someday and when they do I must be a well person who can be their Mum for them again. From the day we split up I vowed I would never say a bad thing about their father to them. No matter how hurt I have been or how much he has hurt them 50% of them is his DNA and for me to be negative about him is the same as me saying 50% of them is worthless.
When my daughter was 16 she made contact. Torn between euphoric elation on my behalf and caution on both sides we re-established a relationship. For a while this went well, but she was used to being in an environment she referred to as Team Hate. She told me how her, father, his girlfriend and sometimes her brother would have long chats about how awful I was and how I was to blame for everything bad that was happening in their lives. She wanted me to do the same about him but I stuck to my vow and eventually she turned away in frustration. What ensued was years of a cycle of her pulling me towards her then verbally hitting out at me followed by months of silence and refusal to have contact, finally ending in her ringing me to tell me she never wanted to see or talk to me. That was over 2 years ago. I have not given up hope. When we were together I told her again and again I will always be her Mum and here for her when she needs me. She has now ended contact with both her father, his girlfriend and her brother. I hear she is in counseling, so my fingers are crossed she can find some peace which I hope will lead her to see me.
Despite all my fears of never seeing my son again he moved in with us a few years ago. He was in a terrible state. Underweight, paranoid and hearing voices. At last, I thought I can help my son. It was not easy he was very wary of me and we developed a new relationship. One based on a mother and son estranged for so long. He stopped smoking skunk which had exacerbated his mental health problems, spent time with an excellent counselor, put on weight and slowly he has healed. He is aware he will always have to monitor his mental state and is learning to recognize the signals of him spiraling back down. He has started building up his own business and is still with me.
We only talk about his father if he brings up the subject and I stay neutral. He tells me his Dad has been diagnosed with leukemia and has refused to see him in the last 7 months because he has been having chemotherapy. He has told him how hurt this has made him feel that he denied him contact. His father’s response was to tell him he would come over in the next few weeks to spend time with him. I hope the prediction in my head is wrong that his father will, once again let him down but I have come to realise I cannot protect my children from this man but I can be there for them when they need a loving parent in their lives. To help them to see they are both wonderful people who can overcome the pain that life can bring.
Parents out there who have been in a similar situation, don’t give up hope. Keep on with your lives despite the gaping hole of the loss of your children. Look after yourselves so you can be the parent they will so desperately need when they finally remove themselves from the horrible mindset known as sociopathy.