The list and isolation
As we wrap up this mini-series, it’s time to tie together—to connect—the painful feelings and the social isolation brought into victims’ lives by sociopaths and their chaotic, abusive ways.
My husband Brandon and I talked about the negative feelings we’ve experienced before, during and/or after one of our typical encounters with his sociopathic parents and their gang of accomplices. Peaceful Readers, you’ve waited very patiently for this list. Here it is.
List of sociopath-induced feelings
Unwanted, yet required
Do some of these emotions feel all-too-familiar?
Two of the core emotions we’ve experienced in dealing with Brandon’s sociopathic parents, accomplices and other relatives with personality disorders are confusion (“What in the world just happened?”) and anxiousness (“What’s coming next?”). These two emotions are closely related. One comes before Sociopathic Storms. One comes after.
Storms bring isolation. Abuse leaves you feeling broken, different, unwanted.
In multiple seasons of my life, I have to avoid certain situations of small-talk and socializing because I simply can’t deal with it. Every bit of my energy is required to try to cope with the horrific emotional abuse and chaos surrounding me—the sociopathic dust storms, tornados and ice storms.
During those intense times, I know that I come across as unfriendly, quiet, aloof and more. I didn’t buy a T-shirt that says “My in-laws are sociopaths. Don’t bug me, please. I’m just trying to get through this social event without crying.”
Off in the distance
Depending on the setting and where we are in the cycle of Sociopathic Storms, Brandon and I frequently sit way off by ourselves, not because we’re unfriendly or because we don’t like people. It’s because we have such heavy things pressing against us. We just have to hunker down in our own space and try to regroup. It can take a long time sometimes, depending on the nature, intensity and frequency of the Sociopathic Storms.
The emotional violence of sociopaths impacts every aspect of our lives: relationships, health, decision-making, thoughts, feelings, life.
Until it doesn’t….
Casual observers and isolation
One of the most disturbing aspects of being a sociopath’s chosen victim revolves around the reality that other people don’t see it. Because the casual observers don’t see the behavior as abuse (for a variety of reasons) or because they don’t see it at all—due to your sociopath’s Persistently-Practiced and Perfected Public Persona—victims feel this massive disconnect with the casual observers and sometimes with people in general to some degree.
A horror movie and a hunt
It feels like you’re stuck in a horror movie while everyone else is glibly walking by, not seeing the blood flowing out of you. They don’t see it; they’re not experiencing it. They think your sociopath is a great person. That’s part of the confusion and despair of it all. It reinforces this feeling of being invisible.
Speaking of invisible, one of the major coping mechanisms of an abuse victim is to try to be invisible. People who are invisible—who can’t be seen—can’t be hurt, or at least that’s the desperate hope. “If I’m quiet enough, if I’m good enough, if I keep my distance enough, if I’m busy enough, if I’m distracted enough… the abuse will stop.” Nope.
The sociopath hunts the victim for sport.
We try to hide from sociopaths, like a child hiding under the bed; but sociopaths have night vision, don’t they. Mm-hmmm. My mind’s going back to some scenes from Schindler’s List where German soldiers were searching for Jews who were hiding. Very scary.
Fake to the third power
Casual observers and accomplices don’t have the foggiest idea what you’ve experienced. Their “truth” is based on lies—a sociopath’s lies—including the fake smiles, the fake image, the fake everything, not to mention… plenty of lies about you (e.g., how you’re crazy, unstable, mean, needy, a liar, etc.).
Living where it’s safe
We’ve stayed extremely detached from the relatives in Brandon’s entire extended family due to the severe abuse dished out by his parents and his sister, Shelly, plus all the gossip and accomplices involved. Since we didn’t know who believed what, we protected ourselves by not getting close to anyone. We were cordial, but we weren’t friends. Everyone seemed to adore the abusive sociopaths, so we built our lives and our friendships far away from family, where we knew we’d be safe.
No cheerleaders/no popularity
The casual observers and accomplices won’t morph into your personal cheerleaders, saying: “Go for it,” “You can do it!” when you decide to hold up your hand and say no to the sociopaths in your life. You won’t win any popularity contests. In fact, your sociopath will put on a very dramatic, convincing show about how abusive you are for abandoning or “turning your back on your devoted mother [or other relation] out of the blue, for no reason at all!” Ahhh, yes. Yet another Academy Award-worthy performance by… (say it with me, Peaceful Readers) Her Majesty, the Sadistic Control Freak, my sociopathic mother-in-law.
Truth and boundaries
But, Peaceful Readers, we know the truth, even when others don’t see it or don’t want to see it. And we have to make our decisions based on the truth.
Heavy sigh. We’ve made some tough decisions. We’ll have to keep making them.
Healthy boundaries. Most definitely. Speaking of boundaries, have you read Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend? It’s a must-read masterpiece. I gave away my copy to someone who really needed it. I think I’ll buy it again. It’s one of those books that needs to live in our home. The full title is Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. I like to describe this book as “essential reading for healthy living.”
Brandon and I have learned the importance of spending our time with the people who are good to us—not because they want something from us—but because they’re good people who genuinely like us. We’ve been blessed with wonderful friends in our Safe Zone. Some of them escaped from Sociopathville too.
I’ll share some surprising things that we’ve learned about boundaries in upcoming posts.
Wrapping it up
When I started writing on this subject, I thought it would be one post. Ha! I had a lot more to say about feelings than I expected, that’s for sure.
Sad, but true—I’ve learned some things on this journey in Sociopathville that I never wanted to know. I imagine that you have too. But in the end, being able to share it with you all and letting you know that you’re not alone makes it all worth it.
Coming next: Processing the painful emotions, part 1
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: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
Song for Healing: “Help Me Find It” by Sidewalk Prophets