Escaping from the war zone, part 2 of 2

A response to evil

Peaceful Readers, in this two-part post, I’ll be using some new nicknames that go along with the analogy of war.

♦ The Dictator/The Sniper = My sociopathic mother-in-law, Delia
(usually known as Her Majesty, the Sadistic Control Freak)
♦ The General = My violent sister-in-law, Shelly
♦ The Other General = My sociopathic father-in-law, Andrew

Things changed for The Dictator after The General died. (For a couple scenes from The General’s funeral, click here.) The Dictator had to start doing more of her own dirty work. She’d trained her army well (i.e., her grandchildren, her daughters and their spice), so she didn’t have to do all the dirty work. But no one lived up to the stellar level of attack that The General could muster.

The sniper
Sadly, for The Dictator, since she’s getting older, she isn’t as sharp as she used to be. Her expert role in the past had been as The Sniper. She’d sock it to you when no one else could hear anything she was saying… by phone, the minute other people stepped out of the room, etc. And she was good at it. Really good.

This past summer, she got sloppy. The Dictator/Sniper launched a verbal attack on Brandon during the family reunion with me sitting right beside him. Big mistake. Game-changing mistake. The Dictator—The Sniper—stepped out of hiding.

The sneak attack
Check out this sneak attack. The Dictator/Sniper saw us sitting on a picnic bench, looking at the beautiful, peaceful creek at Uncle Henry’s ranch. Another relative was sitting and talking with us. Let’s call her Claire. We all had our backs to the house. The Dictator/Sniper walked past the picnic bench, a number of feet away, and didn’t look at us. She approached the edge of the water and started taking photos so she looked like she was doing something normal, unrelated to us. Then, the moment Claire walked away, up walks The Dictator/Sniper to launch her attack. (Click on these text links for more on special event/holiday attacks—macro storms, and sneak attacks—micro storms. This scenario is a literal sneak attack—sneaking up on us—during a macro storm or big, annual event.)

Sloppy execution
The Dictator/Sniper made up complaints to fuss at Brandon about. “I’m upset that you’re upset about your niece Jessica’s plan to move out to the farm.” Then, when Brandon told his mother that she was totally mistaken, that he’s very happy about this plan, and that he’d already discussed his happiness with Jessica, The Dictator/Sniper switched to the opposite accusation and started yelling about that. “Why aren’t you upset that Jessica’s planning to move out to the farm. Don’t you want the farm for yourself and your family instead of letting her have it?” What a psycho. Oops. I mean sociopath.

“But, wait! There’s more….” Just kidding. I won’t bore you with Round 2 and Round 3 of her attacks or the hour-long attack by The Dictator’s husband—let’s call him The Other General—right before we left the reunion to drive home. Good grief.

Needless to say, we were livid and the discussion was lively during our 200-mile drive home from the annual family reunion.

Tactics and roadblocks
Three days after we got home, The Dictator and The Other General tried to buy us off (or lure us for another attack) by leaving a message that they wanted to take us out to dinner. Brandon didn’t respond. Attempted buy-off denied. The day after that, The Dictator sent us a dramatic email. Two days after that, Brandon blocked his mother from being able to email me. (Her emails go directly into my Deleted folder where I never see them.) After The Other General left a message on our home answering machine, I unplugged it. And so on, and so on.

New boundaries
After ignoring his parents during The Week of Drama, Brandon picked up his phone on Saturday when his dad called for the umpteenth time and he chewed out both of his parents, with details and at length. He told them “no more gifts between adults.” Period. That was the conversation when Brandon told his mother to never again say “I love you,” “I miss you” or “I’m afraid of losing you.” The Dictator’s reaction at the end of this phone call? “Are you done yelling at me yet?” Translation: “I’m a sociopath, so I just ignored everything you said.”

Attack vectors in letters
A week later, on our 18th anniversary, Brandon received a bulging envelope filled with bizarre letters, email printouts, notes, photos and money from his parents—The Dictator and The Other General—four pages from her and four pages from him. Suffice it to say that both The Dictator and The Other General went to great lengths to elicit pity from us—pity for sociopaths, the ultimate abusers. Crazy stuff. I didn’t read any of it until many weeks later. It seemed at the time to be a really inappropriate anniversary gift, full of disregard for Brandon’s recently-stated boundaries, which were totally ignored. Say it with me, Peaceful Readers, just like Gomer Pyle: “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

Their ploys demonstrated a thorough barrage of attack vectors from Sociopathville—The War Zone: drawing pity, lying, failure to acknowledge anything that they’d done wrong (The Dictator launched six different attacks during the family reunion that Brandon discussed with them on the phone), a buy-off (enclosing money), and—last but not least—dramatically and repeatedly declaring their undying love for us. Where’s the trash can? I need to throw up now.

Orders from the dictator and the other general
Here’s the ending from one of The Dictator’s printed-out emails: “If this weekend is not good, just call your dad back. I can’t stand to see him so sad—especially if it is my fault.” The key sociopathic word in that tear-jerker ending is in the last phrase—the word if. Controlling, dramatic, no empathy, no remorse. Sociopaths 101—summarized in 25 words from The Dictator.

My favorite paragraph from my sociopathic father-in-law? Here you go. “We are your parents and love you, Frankie Ann and Mr. L. Sometimes parents may seem to step over the line at times. That’s parents’ privilege!” Translation: “We are sociopaths who will use The L-word to control you, and we’re entitled to do whatever we want whenever we want because we own you.” Guess what. Devoted Grandpa, who has a master’s degree, misspelled his grandson’s name when he chose to write it out. Hmmm.

Brandon’s response to the craziness? The best weapon of all: Silence.

The safe zone
What happened in July after the family reunion? We left The War Zone. The attackers’ bombs couldn’t even shake the ground around us anymore. It felt like we’d been in a prisoner of war camp for years, and the victorious liberators (i.e., Truth and Courage) opened the doors and said poignantly: “You can go home now.” We left our virtual prisoner of war camp with just the clothes on our backs and journeyed to our Safe Zone—life without sociopaths.

Our refusal to participate—our silence—broke the chains from our necks, our hands and our feet.

The dictator’s new ally
What then? When The Dictator realized that she couldn’t attack or manipulate us, she put on a dramatic performance for her brother, Uncle Henry, to bring him into the conflict. The Dictator’s plan? “A new ally who could bomb The Enemy (i.e., us) in their new Safe Zone…. Jackpot!”

Coming next: Stay tuned for Uncle Henry’s sneak attack. I’m thinking that you’ll do some serious head-shaking on this one. I sure did. It was the strangest birthday present I ever received. But in the end, one of the best….

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 92:11

Song for Healing: Today’s song played an amazing role in a miracle God did for me last year, on October 30, 2015. It was a rainy morning. I’d just filled up my vehicle with gas, and I was turning left out of the gas station. I slammed on my brakes and then realized that a car was coming straight toward me. I turned on the CD player. I’d finished listening to the song “Whom Shall I Fear” before I pumped the gas. The CD player jumped backwards one phrase (which it can’t do; it goes back by entire songs) and played the last line of that song, “The God of angel armies is always by my side.”

Actually, it was a Double Miracle Morning. I slammed on the brakes before I saw the oncoming car. I don’t know how that happened. My foot did it. But it wasn’t my idea. And then, just to make sure I didn’t blow that miracle off, God sent my CD player back one phrase as an exclamation mark. Wow.

Here’s the song.

“Whom Shall I Fear” by Chris Tomlin

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