Macro storms—the calendar of chaos
Welcome back, Peaceful Readers.
How about Bubba in part 2. What a sociopath—one man in public and quite another man with his family. Would he win any Father of the Year awards? The scary part is this: Yes, he would. Someone outside the family would nominate him and list all the great things he does with his children in public—at school, in the community, on the football field, at church. Bubba looks exceptionally good to everyone who’s familiar with his persona. Some call him a role model, even.
If they only knew the truth about how he terrorizes the victims in his family (while training up the next generation of abusive accomplices). If someone told Bubba’s adoring friends, colleagues and neighbors the truth, many of them wouldn’t believe it.
Truth is stranger than fiction. Much stranger.
Cycles—right and wrong
Let’s switch gears to the subject of cycles: the way they were made to be and the way a sociopath makes them.
Life contains some amazing cycles. I saw Flight of the Butterflies at an IMAX theater and sat in awe throughout the whole thing. Truly. Miracle upon miracles. Many would argue with me about that, but that’s where I sit, in the no-doubt-about-it Miracle Seat.
My favorite cycle in life is the daily cycle of light and life: the sunrise joined by our rising and giving thanks to God; the light shining while we live, breathe, impact each other, learn, grow; the dusk as we come together around our table and give thanks to God; the darkness as we wind down from the day, give thanks to God and drift, hopefully peacefully, to sleep.
The daily cycle and the life cycle are natural, good things, created by our maker. Other cycles, created by people, can fill the gamut, from wise to wicked, and everything in between. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve encountered “the evil that men do” and/or you’re curious about these things.
Sociopathic cycles and storms
The sociopath’s Family Cycles remind me of different types of storms: a long, never-ending dust storm, a tornado, and an ice storm. Those storms come with little to no warning sometimes. They’re long and dark, loud and scary, or suddenly cold and icy; and it’s hard to tell when they’ll end. Sometimes we have to hide during those storms. When the storm is over, the damage is obvious—sometimes severe—and the clean-up can take a very long time.
We experience two different aspects to these Family Cycles, a la sociopath: the macro and the micro. In today’s post, we’ll dig in to the macro, annually-recurring cycles.
Macro cycles and storms
In a sociopath’s grand scheme of life, big events are king. Unfortunately, for my husband Brandon and me, both of his parents are sociopaths. Yowza. Can you say holiday theatrics and oh-so-much more?
Sociopaths dictate certain annual times and places where we (i.e., their adult children and their spice—Brandon’s fun expression for the plural of spouse) will be present, so our Friendly Neighborhood Sociopath can maintain that essential public image: “I’m awesome and everyone I summon comes to my parties.” Remember Her Majesty’s summonses from that earlier post? (My mother-in-law’s nickname is Her Majesty, the Sadistic Control Freak, or Her Majesty, for short.)
The macro storm is like the never-ending dust storm—dark, blinding, choking and steadily sucking the life out of you.
Yours and ours
What’s the annual event-driven cycle in your extended family? What role have you been assigned in the family? What events are you expected to attend? How do they go? How do you feel before, during and after? How do those events impact your household—as a whole and each person individually?
I’m a big fan of journaling. Take some time to answer those questions as you journal, and add whatever additional thoughts come to your mind.
For Brandon and me, the storms associated with these holidays and big events (like reunions and weddings) include (1) the dread/anxiety we feel for months ahead of time, (2) the timing and manner of Her Majesty’s summons—usually last-minute, as an after-thought, (3) the dictated “What thou shalt bring or do for My Big, Fat Sociopathic Event,” (4) the abuse and/or neglect we encounter during the event, (5) the sociopaths’ and accomplices’ continued abuse afterwards (i.e., gossip, complaints, etc.), and (6) the painful detoxing period, which can take months.
These storms can cloud most of the year.
Fork it over
Here’s a recent example of #4 above. During my sociopathic father-in-law’s birthday party, my sister-in-law Hazel came up to Brandon and me, insisting that we pay $50 as our “contribution” to the cost of the catered food. Excuse me? Not our party. Not our food expense decision. Not appropriate. If Her Majesty (my sociopathic mother-in-law, Delia) planned a party and spent more money than she should have, that’s not our problem. If she couldn’t afford the catered food, she should’ve scheduled a potluck. We don’t pay for other people’s parties. We pay for the parties we host. Boundaries 101.
Our non-compliance with Hazel’s demand gave her yet another excuse, as part of Her Majesty’s Gang, to hate on us. Whatever.
That’s how sociopaths and their gang of accomplices operate. They say it; we’re supposed to do it. Can you say control freaks? Here’s my imaginary conversation with Hot-shot Hazel: “Gang Member Extraordinaire, we’re not the least bit interested in your approval. Hear me on that one. Hear me on this too. You’re not the boss of us. Most importantly, what you told us to do (not asked us, but told us) was totally inappropriate and none of your business, sassy pants.” Okay. I feel better now.
Stress and another option
Sociopathic macro cycles, which are usually annual cycles of holidays, birthdays and other customary events, create chronic stress for the victims in the family because of the anxiety before each event, the fear during the event, and the fallout (i.e., anger and sadness) after.
For the first time in our 18 years of marriage, we missed a family wedding we were invited to recently. We went sailing instead. We felt free. Nothing to stress about; no glares, insults, attacks, being ignored or hateful remarks to endure; no post-event detoxing and processing to do. We avoided all that misery simply by not going.
Don’t get me wrong. I love weddings and I’m fully aware of what a big deal they are. We like the bride and the groom. It wasn’t about them. Under normal circumstances, we would’ve gone to the wedding, celebrated with them and had a great time. But there’s nothing normal about family events with sociopaths, is there. Nothing normal at all.
In part 4, you’ll hear about some everyday chaos, or micro storms, tossed my way by my sociopathic mother-in-law, Delia, better known as Her Majesty, the Sadistic Control Freak. She’s a doozy. Always….
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: John 1:1-18
Song for Healing: “Light Up the Sky” by The Afters