The Quiz of Truth and a simple answer
In this series, we’ve been traveling down Boundaries Boulevard. Before we turn onto the next street, let’s check out Oppositeville, and then we’ll move on to some basic questions and answers about sociopaths. Why? It’s easier to set appropriate boundaries when we’re embracing the truth because truth helps us to set realistic expectations. Not all people think and behave logically or reasonably. That’s for sure. And some people, like sociopaths, are downright dangerous.
Let’s take a brief look at Oppositeville. It’s not a place you want to stay. As a matter of fact, if you’re living in Oppositeville right now, it’s time to move.
When you make yourself unavailable to your Friendly Neighborhood Sociopath, as we’ve done, your sociopath will begin a new game or hunt. My mother-in-law, Delia, is after our son Logan now. Historically, she’d left him alone and played this well-practiced tune for him: “Granny Has All the Time in the World to Buy Worthless Junk for You But Is Too Busy to Come to Your Birthday Party or Grandparents Day at Your School.” Why? Because the narcissistic sociopath can’t be the center of attention at those events. Besides, nobody there is in her social circle that she needs to impress with her Persistently-Practiced and Perfected Public Persona. Why would a sociopath bother spending time trying to impress those people: (1) her well-chosen victims or (2) no-namers that she’ll never see again.
Her new tune
Now that we’re staying away from Sociopathville, Delia’s playing a new tune: “I’m Showing Up (Uninvited) to My Grandson’s Sporting Events Because I’m All About Doing the Opposite of What My Victims Want Me To Do.” (And, unfortunately, she knows how to look up his sporting event calendar on his school’s website. Most inconvenient for us.)
Here’s the chorus…. “You want time with me? No. You can’t have it. You don’t want time with me? Here I am!”
Life in Oppositeville
I’ve realized that another good name for Sociopathville is Oppositeville. Here’s how Delia would describe Life in Oppositeville. “You want me to spend time with my grandson? Sorry. I’m busy. When you come to our house to visit, I’m busy painting or shopping. When we go camping together, I bring my canvas and painting supplies, because I’m too busy for you. When you stop spending time with me, I’ll start calling you, texting you, showing up uninvited, etc. Why? Because I live in Oppositeville, you ding-a-ling! Besides, you aren’t allowed to leave Sociopathville (i.e., Oppositeville) unless I say so.”
Same ol’ same ol’
Some things never change. Devoted Granny (i.e., sociopathic Delia) doesn’t actually talk to her grandson at said sporting events. She waves, marks the checkbox on her I’m A Great Granny Checklist and leaves before Logan can walk over to see her. Remember when I wrote about how sociopaths don’t have interactions? Yep. They don’t actually have interactions, conversations or relationships. They have transactions and power plays.
Delia recently left a message for Brandon, asking for our 14-year-old’s phone number so she can “encourage him in his sports.” Right…. Do sociopaths encourage? No. They manipulate. Did we believe her smoke screen (i.e., lie) for one second? Absolutely not. Remember who we’re dealing with. Let’s say it together, Peaceful Readers… Her Majesty, the Sadistic Control Freak. And this Mama Bear will not tolerate any sociopathic garbage toward our son. No sirree.
To ensure our son’s safety, I told Logan that his grandmother is trying to get his phone number. Even before we knew Delia was a sociopath, we discussed this phone boundary, and Logan said he didn’t want her to have his phone number. Smart boy. If she gets it from someone else and calls or texts him, her number will be blacklisted on his phone like it is on mine.
After we learned from our counselor Matt that Brandon’s parents are sociopaths, I did some digging online for information, found some great articles and blogs, and printed them out. The next day—the day before my birthday, no less—I shared them with Brandon. I also shared my favorite blog (by Lisa Wolcott) with our son Logan. He needs to know the truth.
To see if he was grasping the concepts, I gave Logan a little verbal quiz in the car the day after he read the blog about sociopaths. I told him that I received my first birthday card from his grandpa in the 18 years since his dad and I got married.
The quiz of truth
Me: “Did Grandpa send me a birthday card because he loves me?”
Me: “Did Grandpa send me a birthday card because he likes me?”
Me: “Did Grandpa send me a birthday card because he cares about me?
Me: “Why did Grandpa send me the first birthday card in 18 years?”
Logan: Silence. [Logan wasn’t sure.]
Me: Pause. “What did he want?”
Logan: “He wants you to like him.”
Me: “Yes. And he wants me to change your dad’s mind (about us making nice-nice with sociopaths and spending time with them).”
A simple answer: No
Let me answer these questions very simply.
Can you fix your sociopath? No.
Can you experience a healthy, peaceful, mutually-gratifying relationship with a sociopath? No.
Can you be emotionally safe while maintaining contact with a sociopath? No.
What do these answers mean? My advice and the advice of other professionals, including our counselor Matt, is to terminate contact. Get away. Pronto. And stay away.
Now I know that some of you aren’t ready or willing to do that. Maybe you aren’t ready to be an orphan. Maybe you aren’t ready to get a divorce. Maybe you aren’t ready to stop seeing your child. I understand the difficulty here.
But I also understand the truth. Sociopaths are dangerous people. You must protect yourself, your non-sociopathic spouse (if, indeed, you have one of those) and your non-sociopathic children (ditto).
Brandon has said a number of times: “I’m not ready to be an orphan yet.” My spontaneous reply the other day? “You’ve been an orphan your whole life.”
He thought about that for a while. A few days later, I told Brandon that his childhood reminds me of the three girls in Miss Hattie’s Home for Girls in the movie Despicable Me. One of the girls is a preschooler. These three sisters have to earn their keep by selling cookies door-to-door all across town. Uh…, hello? That is seriously dangerous, Miss Hattie Sociopath. (“Reckless disregard for safety” + No Empathy = Little Miss Sociopath.) The girls’ successes (i.e., cookie sales) are never good enough. And when the girls make Miss Hattie look bad, she humiliates them by putting them in the Box of Shame in the lobby, where everyone can see them.
I think Brandon’s still chewing on that concept: You’ve been an orphan your whole life….
Fixed and very broken
That reminds me of a sad reality from Brandon’s childhood. The only time his parents protected him from his violent sister Shelly was when he was fixing something important on the farm. “The tractor’s fixed? All bets are off. Shelly, go do your thing (i.e., attack your brother). We don’t need his services any more today.”
Sounds like Miss Hattie, doesn’t it? Uh-huh. “Reckless disregard for safety” + No Empathy = Our Friendly Neighborhood Sociopaths.
If you plan, at this time, to maintain some contact with a sociopath, proceed with extreme caution and with a great professional counselor available for advice and support. We discussed the value of counseling in depth in this post.
Our Christmas Cancellation Scenario embodies why it takes many of us so long—years—to pull out of this type of relationship. We were taught the “right” way to treat people. We were taught to be kind and respectful. We were taught to be polite. We weren’t taught how to deal with evil. We weren’t taught how to say no. We weren’t taught discernment. We were told to be nice. We were told “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.”
And those well-meaning teachings crippled us, leaving us totally unprotected from abuse and evil. We weren’t taught the truth—that there are evil people in the world and that we must avoid evil. Period. We must learn how to see it, how to avoid it, and how to leave it behind. We’ve got to practice saying no and standing firmly beside that complete sentence: No.
If you’re interested in reading more about the subject of human evil, I recommend Scott Peck’s book, People of the Lie.
Peaceful Reader, have you been dealing with a sociopath? I’d be honored to hear your story. Fill out my Comment box at the bottom of any post or feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming next: This next two-part series, Escaping from The War Zone, is near and dear to my heart. It tells about the events that led me to begin writing this blog.
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: Psalm 57
Song for Healing: Feeling low? This beautiful bluegrass song is very encouraging.
“O the Love of My Redeemer” by Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers