The Essential Relationship Threesome and The L-word
Peaceful Readers, I hope that you and your loved ones enjoyed a peaceful Christmas this year. If you experienced Christmas Chaos because of a sociopath (or a relative with another personality disorder), now is the perfect time to start putting healthy boundaries in place so your next Christmas is peaceful, and the one after that, and the one after that….
The fall-out from The Projector
Yes, when you draw firm, healthy boundaries, your sociopath will call you cruel, unfeeling and a whole lot more (to anyone who’ll listen), in hopes that you’ll feel guilty and take it all back or in hopes that you’ll get into an argument with the sociopath to defend yourself. Can you say power play? In fact, those adjectives (cruel, unfeeling…) describe your sociopath to a T, don’t they. Psychologists refer to this behavior as projection. Sociopaths will project their own behaviors onto their victims (1) to deflect the truth of their evil away from themselves and (2) to confuse and manipulate their victims.
Like we discussed in the “Truth-phobes” section in an earlier post, sociopaths hate the truth. They also hate natural consequences and healthy boundaries because they operate outside those “unfair constraints.”
Sociopaths and criminals
Think of sociopaths like criminals. They’re both truth-phobes, natural consequence-phobes and boundary-phobes. Criminals hate laws (i.e., truth) and they hate the enforcement of those laws (i.e., consequences). If they want something, they’re entitled to take it, even if it belongs to someone else (i.e., no boundaries), right?
The essential relationship threesome
In a similar way, sociopaths are relationship criminals. If they want to lie to you, hurt you or use you, no one and nothing should stand in their way, right? Wrong. Who answered that question with such authority, in unison? Our answer came from The Essential Relationship Threesome—Truth, Natural Consequences and Healthy Boundaries.
We’ve already gone over this one, so I’ll keep it short. Speak the truth in love. In other words, say the right things for the right reasons, whether or not you anticipate that your words will make the other person feel good. Truth isn’t about feelings. It’s about what’s right.
2. Natural consequences
How about a few common examples. When someone overeats and under-exercises, that person gains weight. When children are raised by the TV or their video game consoles, they become addicts. In a similar way, when a sociopath abuses people for sport, the natural consequence is for the victims to walk away, hopefully sooner than later.
When there are no consequences for bad behavior, the bad behavior gets worse, until—eventually—the world imposes the consequences. The overweight person can’t fit in a chair anymore. The addict goes to jail and Mommy and Daddy don’t have any money left to bail him out. The sociopath has to find a new victim.
The first natural consequence for a sociopath or any abusive person is for the victims, when they’re strong and safe enough, to complain. “This isn’t right.” It’s common for victims to complain to their abusers about what’s going on, in hopes that the abuser will recognize and acknowledge the problems and make some changes. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with a sociopath, your sociopath isn’t the least bit interested in your feelings, and is not giving up the position of control (i.e., abuser) in the relationship. Sorry. That’s just the way they roll…. like a steamroller, flattening down their victims.
Changes? No way
For the last 12 years, my husband Brandon has talked at length with his parents about the problems in their parenting and their ongoing behavior. He even asked them to read The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman. Shockingly, they did. After they read it, they each asked—independently—what the point was. If you ask someone to read a Love Languages book and that person doesn’t know what to do with the information, you’re probably dealing with a sociopath.
Did his parents make any changes? Nope. Why not? Sociopaths don’t see anything wrong with themselves. They don’t make changes because they like themselves and their abusive relationships just the way they are. They’re getting everything they want—victims to control and abuse; a life with no empathy, remorse or accountability; and a position of superiority and power.
3. Healthy boundaries
Boundaries are where you draw the line between yourself and other people, including what is and isn’t acceptable behavior and what is and isn’t your responsibility. You are not responsible for another capable adult’s happiness. You are not responsible for maintaining the status quo.
The manipulative question
In response to natural consequences and newly-established boundaries, sociopaths try to manipulate us and draw pity by asking questions that begin with “How would you feel if….?” I find this really interesting, considering the fact that sociopaths don’t have feelings, other than their sadistic enjoyment of hurting others. Tricksters Extraordinaire.
During my father-in-law’s recent sneak attack (i.e., surprise visit), he asked Brandon, “How will you feel when Logan turns on you?” As if Andrew, the Southern Sociopath, can rightfully compare his parenting with Brandon’s. As if our Friendly Neighborhood Sociopath actually has any feelings to hurt. Not. Andrew just doesn’t want to look bad to the good citizens of Sociopathville. Good grief. Brandon’s reply? “I actually have a relationship with my son.”
The boundary battlefield handbook
Remember to read Cloud and Townsend’s masterpiece book, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, to prepare and strengthen yourself for the battles ahead. It’ll be your essential Boundary Battlefield Handbook. And you’ll need it, whether or not you plan to maintain any contact with a sociopath.
A sociopath’s lies, evil plans and manipulation epitomize the opposite of The Essential Relationship Threesome: Truth, Natural Consequences and Healthy Boundaries.
Speaking of opposites, evil choices are the opposite of loving, life-giving choices. Did you realize that evil spelled backwards is the word live? Hmmm. Now that’s a concept worth thinking about.
Drama and power
Even though sociopaths are anti-love, they will profess to love you—with a great deal of theatrics—because they know the power of the word love to control people, especially their victims.
The disturbing memory
The other day, Brandon remembered a disturbing scene from his childhood, when he was 14 years old. The whole family—two sociopaths, one violent sister with HPD, the Passive Princess and Brandon—were riding in their car. His mom (Sociopath #1) yelled “I love you!” at Brandon to get him to do something she wanted. He replied: “I just want someone to care about me and to think about what’s good for me.” Did anyone in his family ever care about him or think about what was good for him? No. Sick puppies. Seriously sick puppies.
Her Majesty’s top three
Earlier this year, Brandon told his sociopathic mom that he’s no longer available to hear The L-word from her. In fact, he told her not to say any of these phrases to him ever again: “I love you,” “I miss you” or “I’m afraid of losing you.” No more of her favorite go-to Mantras of Manipulation.
Will she respect this new boundary? No way. Nobody tells a sociopath what to do. The push-back or the test will come soon enough. The next time Delia says one of these off-limits phrases, she must be confronted immediately. “Mom, this is what we talked about on the phone, and it’s not okay.” (Matt, our counselor, advised us to say those words when Brandon’s parents disregard our boundaries.) Nothing short of an apology is acceptable from Her Majesty, the Sadistic Control Freak (i.e., my mother-in-law, Delia). If she fails to apologize, the contact is ended. “Over and out,” as they say in military movies.
Coming next: As we wrap up this stroll down Boundaries Boulevard, we’ll visit a place called The Home.
Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.
Truth from The Word: Matthew 11:28-30
Song for Healing: “Long Black Train” by Josh Turner