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 35A: The Weeds Always Win
When Paul and Anne-Marie found themselves with some available time, they hung out a shingle for their own consulting company—A-M-P Consulting Solutions. About this time we discovered that, although Daniel was an exceptionally bright child, he had some severe learning challenges and developmental delays that would mean years of work with specialists, daily therapy at home, and bi-weekly professional help. I orchestrated all of his diagnoses, care, and therapy. Paul never got involved and never seemed all that concerned. I assumed Paul was just too busy starting his own company, that he completely trusted me to take care of Daniel’s needs, and that he was calm in the face of adversity. Not knowing that Paul was and is a sociopath, how would I have ever attributed his behavior to total indifference regarding the welfare of his own son?
It would have been nearly impossible to do justice to Daniel’s issues if I had been working full time. I felt grateful that Paul and Anne-Marie’s time together seemed professional now and that their new company was making money, allowing me to focus on Daniel’s substantial short- and long-term needs. Yet, just beneath my feelings of gratitude, a sea of melancholy and irritability was growing that could not be denied.
Comment by apparently innocuous comment, to which I was obviously just “too sensitive,” Paul’s critical, dismissive behavior returned. As a result of habituating to slowly elevating levels of toxicity, it took increasingly extreme behavior from Paul before my situation registered once again as problematic. Albeit below any cause-and-effect level of awareness, his poisonous behavior wore me thin once again. I felt increasingly blue, struggling to make even the most basic decisions, felt unsure of my abilities (even in areas of great former expertise), snapped at the kids, felt like I was walking on eggshells around Paul, and asking “What just happened?” following interactions with my husband.
Ironically, I was complicit in allowing the weeds to invade my life again. Like so many other people sociopaths tend to target, I take great satisfaction in being helpful to others. Being empathetic, caring, and willing to invest in relationships are qualities that I like in myself. However, they are also characteristics of women who get trapped in long-term relationships with sociopaths, because we try so hard to make other people happy and to make our marriages work! At first, when Paul was under so much pressure from the legal proceedings, I was happy to help out more, because Paul seemed so tired, stressed, and overworked. Harvard and Yale graduate or not, I never felt that doing the dishes, cleaning the house, raking the leaves, shoveling snow, or being a taxi for the kids was beneath me. It was just part of life. There was work to do, and I was glad to do it.
Judging from Paul’s behavior, however, routine household work was beneath him. He consistently neglected to clear his own dishes from the table, toss away envelopes from letters he opened, put his dirty socks in the hamper, or remove a used glass from the family room.
If I asked that he take care of these things, he would suggest I was nagging and being petty. After all, he was working around the clock to provide for our family, and what was I really doing? Each plate I cleared for Paul and each envelope of his I tossed in the trash did not seem like a big deal at the time. Taken together though, it suffocated and corroded; especially because a “thank you” was rarely forthcoming. Inherent in his now chronic and consistent refusal to take accountability for his mess was a subtext of entitlement for himself and contempt for me—not a good recipe for a healthy relationship or a healthy “me.”
During the lawsuit and while starting his consulting company, Paul’s sizeble home office was quickly overrun with unfiled papers, boxes, office supplies, dirty coffee cups, and miscellaneous clutter. Instead of organizing the space, he simply abandoned it and took over an infrequently used but highly visible space in our house—the dining room. It only took a few weeks for the dining room to become so congested with Paul’s unfiled materials, papers, and correspondence that there was no place to set his laptop. Instead of cleaning up the dining room area or his office, he found another area of the house that suited him—the kitchen table.
Soon, Daniel, Jessica, Paul, and I had no place to eat our meals, and Paul conducted his business calls while sitting at the kitchen table or on the family room couch, where the kids played, did their homework, and watched TV. Paul’s clutter and phone calls were so distracting that the rest of us could hardly function.
When the kids came home from school, Paul reprimanded them to be quiet, because the noise from their normal activity in the kitchen or family room bothered him. Paul was working in the highest traffic areas of any normal house—the kitchen and family room—and blaming the kids for distracting him. If scolding them into silence did not work, he commandeered my tiny office, often interfering with my ability to get my work done. He had a sizable home office rendered useless by his refusal to clean up. It was all upside down and backwards, but from the perspective of sociopath math, it all made perfect sense. It was Paul’s world; the rest of us were just in it to forward his goals—business independence and success as well as a faÃ§ade of normalcy that, together, gave him the power, money, and a home base to do whatever he wanted. We should have been happy to be his janitors.
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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.