We’ve walked away from The War Zone
& have escaped to The Land of Silence,
a place of peace that others won’t understand.
Text to my husband Brandon on September 7, 2016
Peaceful Readers, in this two-part post, I’ll be using some new nicknames that go along with the analogy of war.
♦ The Dictator = My sociopathic mother-in-law, Delia
(usually known as Her Majesty, the Sadistic Control Freak)
♦ The General = My violent sister-in-law, Shelly
(background info on Shelly: my first post, Date Night for Sociopaths or my anger letter)
How to spot evil
We’re learning what to look for (i.e., how to spot evil) and what to do now, so we don’t wind up ensnared by another sociopath (or someone with a different personality disorder) in the future. Now is a good time to re-read Lisa Wolcott’s article, “How to Spot—and Handle—a Sociopath,” especially the section on the red flags that tell you that you’re dealing with a dangerous person.
Digging and analyzing
Peaceful Readers, we’ve talked about this before, but it deserves repeating. Sociopaths look really good to the casual observer. We have to become skilled at digging below the surface, paying very close attention, especially to our feelings. If someone leaves you feeling confused and unsettled, step back and analyze—carefully—what was said and done (and what wasn’t said and wasn’t done). Compare what you remember to the red flags listed in Lisa Wolcott’s article.
Diagnosis for evil
Remember this description of my mother-in-law from my first post:
Delia isn’t just a sociopath, as if that weren’t enough. She’s also a narcissist, clearly earning a dual diagnosis of APD and NPD—a particularly dangerous combination. If there was ever a formula for evil, it’s the APD/NPD combo: A control addict with no empathy for others who (1) lies, confuses and manipulates people for sport (or personal gain), (2) experiences no remorse, and (3) is obsessed with crafting and maintaining a well-respected, enthusiastically-worshiped persona.
(APD stands for Antisocial Personality Disorder. People with APD are more casually known as sociopaths.)
Hunter and prey
If you’ve been dealing with a sociopath or two, you’ve been entangled with people whose instincts are frighteningly anti-human, very slick and amazingly successful at getting exactly what they want, with absolutely no emotional investment whatsoever. It’s a one-way deal. It’s a sick game. And they play to win.
Remember, don’t blame yourself for being snared by a professional hunter. That’s what a sociopath is—a very skilled, experienced hunter… of people to control.
A good read
C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, describes this control obsession through several characters in his wonderful book, The Great Divorce, especially in chapter 10 when a woman complains that she’s miserable because she doesn’t have anyone to toy with. The Great Divorce isn’t about people getting divorced. It’s a thought-provoking allegory about a bus ride from hell to heaven. You’ll recognize many of the people involved. C.S. Lewis understood people and the lies that control them. He writes with beautiful clarity. I just finished reading this book, and I highly recommend it.
The war zone
Dealing with a sociopath feels like you’re in The War Zone. Attacks come suddenly from various directions. Relatives who used to treat you well have been seduced by the abuse and become a willing part of Her Majesty’s Gang (i.e., The Dictator’s army).
Living in The War Zone requires special preparations. You build your protective emotional walls up very high so you’re always ready for the attacks that will invariably come. You hear bombs dropping nearby. They shake your house. Sometimes they hit your house and you spend months trying to rebuild or fix the damage.
Sometimes you feel like you’re in a prisoner of war camp. Some of the guards are less sadistic than others; some inmates are more kind than others. You know where your cell is—the cell built by a sociopath to confine you. Your cell is the role chosen for you by The Dictator (i.e., Sociopath #1).
The dictator and the general
In our extended family, The Dictator (my mother-in-law, Delia) runs the show and is a card-carrying sociopath. She’s married to another sociopath, Andrew. Interestingly enough, you’d think that my in-laws, the sociopaths, would’ve wreaked the most havoc in our lives overall. Actually, for us, it was my sister-in-law Shelly—Miss HPD (Histrionic Personality Disorder)—resplendent with a crown, sash, two-dozen red roses, adoring fans, cameras flashing and emotional music…. Wait a minute. That was her wildest dream. I digress. Where was I?
Ahhh, yes. People with personality disorders.
Shelly was The General. She did most of the dirty work for The Dictator, and she did it with gusto. Oh, my. Violence, chaos and drama on steroids.
Here’s an example. During his childhood, Brandon’s parents routinely told him to go play with his older sister Shelly. On snowy days, they were told to go play outside. Shelly would promptly take Brandon’s coat and gloves away from him and she’d shove his bare hands into the snow or some ice-cold water until he couldn’t feel his hands anymore. Didn’t Brandon’s sociopathic parents know that his sister Shelly was dangerous? You bet they did. (Check out Date Night for Sociopaths.) Did they care? Nope. Not one bit. Remember, “Reckless disregard for safety” + No Empathy = Sociopath.
Who were the additional generals in The Dictator’s army, always willing and able to administer a physical attack on The Enemy (i.e., Brandon, the victim)? Brandon’s dad and The Dictator’s dad (Brandon’s grandfather who lived next door). Sickos.
In adult life, Sadistic Shelly/The General didn’t have the continued thrill of attacking her brother physically, so she had to downgrade her attacks to social and emotional arenas. At Thanksgiving one year, she decided to attack Brandon in front of a room full of people for not friending her on Facebook. His response? His hand held up, accompanied by my favorite one-word sentence: “No.” He turned around and walked away (and shut down his Facebook account).
Another holiday, it was filled with The General’s dramatic crying because she couldn’t understand why her brother didn’t spend time with her. “I just can’t understand why….!” Again, of course, her performance/attack was staged in front of an audience to exert additional pressure on The Enemy to give The General what she wanted—attention and pity. “Our childhood fighting was totally normal.” Right, Sadistic Shelly; I mean The General. That’s some amazing creative writing… your rewrite of history.
Basic training and more
Can you hear the gaslighting? The General learned all her emotional tactics from her mom, The Dictator, and all her physical tactics from her dad and her grandpa. Talk about Basic Training at home, followed by Advanced Tactics, Special Ops and more.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. To hear about some of my experiences with Sadistic Shelly/The General, read this post—my anger letter.
Casualties of war
War creates casualties—death. Psychological war, the kind launched and maintained by sociopaths, results in its own kind of casualties—victims who walk away, bringing about the death of abusive relationships. This kind of death is actually a rebirth for the victims. The death of something extremely harmful and full of chaos creates the birth of something new for a sociopath’s victims—something safe and full of peace.
Coming next: Stay tuned for the next installment, with an amazing finale—our move from The War Zone to our Safe Zone. And make sure you read about the miracle that goes along with the song at the end.
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: Isaiah 42:16
Song for Healing: Listen to my favorite song from this life-changing chapter of my life.
“All Power” by Zak & Amy