Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday—gifts from sociopaths
Welcome back, Peaceful Readers. In this post, we’ll continue walking through some of my journal entries—through the chain of events that prepared us for Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter in September. In part 1, we walked through the highlights of The Tearing Down, six months of big events—from January through June—that prepared us for The Rebuilding that began in July. These journal entries begin right after the drama-filled family reunion.
Tuesday, July 19:
Matt, our counselor, encouraged Brandon about how he handled his parents at the family reunion—with honesty and self-control.
Wednesday, July 20:
Andrew (my sociopathic father-in-law) left Brandon a phone message saying they’d like to take us out for dinner. We didn’t respond. I told Brandon, “No way. We’re not for sale.”
Thursday, July 21:
Delia (my sociopathic mother-in-law) sent Brandon and me a very dramatic, 600-word, pity-seeking, manipulative email. We didn’t reply.
Friday, July 22:
Brandon blocked Delia from my email. I had told Brandon that it’s his responsibility to protect me from his sociopathic parents.
Saturday, July 23:
Andrew called Brandon. They talked for a long time.
Week of July 17 to July 23:
I unplugged our home phone’s answering machine after Andrew left a message on it this week. I told Brandon that I’m not willing to hear his parents’ voices in our home.
Monday, August 1/Happy Anniversary to Us:
Brandon received a bulging envelope from his parents, filled with sociopathic letters, printed emails, notes, photos and a buy-off (i.e., his birthday money—three months late and against Brandon’s request).
Tuesday, August 2:
During our counseling session with Matt, we discussed the family wedding we were planning to attend in October and our Exit Plan for that event. At what point and in response to what behavior will we walk out the door?
Sunday, August 7:
Brandon said we need to take his mother’s paintings down from our home, so I did.
Same day: Andrew left Brandon a message. They want to come to our house to talk. No. When I asked Brandon about this request the following Tuesday, he hadn’t replied. Brandon commented, “What is there to say, other than ‘Leave me alone’?”
Saturday, August 13:
Brandon received an epiphany that his Love Language is Quality Time. During his childhood, the only time when someone wasn’t attacking him was when he was alone, which felt miserable, or when they were all working on a project together. The moment Shelly—his violent older sister—finished her part, she’d start attacking him. The only time his parents protected him from Shelly was when Brandon was fixing something important. I told him that we left The War Zone, and that his mom is The Sniper.
Sunday, August 14:
Brandon called his parents and laid down the law—a review of recent events, boundaries, etc. No remorse, of course. They’re sociopaths. At the end, his mom asked: “Are you done yelling at me yet?” In other words, “I’m ignoring everything you just said because I’m right, you’re wrong and I own you.”
Tuesday, August 16:
Our time with Matt was great. When Brandon’s parents are inappropriate/disrespectful, etc., Brandon needs to say: ‘This is what we talked about on the phone and it’s not okay.’ Nothing short of an acknowledgement and apology are acceptable in response. We decided to proceed on The Healing Journey on our own for now, and we’ll see Matt on an as-needed basis going forward. Brandon realized that his aversion to vacations comes from his fear of peaceful quality time. Peace and Quality Time never coexisted while he was growing up.
Friday, August 19:
I laid down my anger and embraced the truth that the Lord will fight for me.
For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.”
Romans 12:19b, New Heart English Bible
I started sleeping like a baby.
Sunday, August 21:
I shared my epiphany about Brandon with him. He escaped from violent interactive play by choosing emotionally-safer parallel play (riding motorcycles and flying RC airplanes). I told him it’s time for interactive play again—nothing competitive. We’re looking at sailboats, something he’s always wanted to do.
Same week: Brandon mailed our “yes” RSVP for the family wedding in October.
Thursday, September 1:
Brandon admitted that he’s afraid to grieve. He’s afraid that if he starts crying, he’ll never stop. I encouraged him that he will stop and that he’ll feel a lot better afterwards. I’m still waiting on that. When he’s ready….
Friday, September 2:
Brandon brought our first sailboat home. (I didn’t mention to him that today is his mother’s birthday.)
Monday, September 5/Labor Day:
Uncle Henry—Delia’s brother—called my phone (which I’d unintentionally left at home). He left a message for Brandon to call him. Brandon said, “My mom has sunk to a new low.”
Tuesday, September 6:
Uncle Henry sent Brandon an email, asking Brandon to call him. Brandon’s reply: “Topic?” Uncle Henry’s response: “Family.” Brandon didn’t call.
Wednesday, September 7:
I awoke at 2:30 in the morning. The still, small voice gave me these words: “Those who do evil and call it good are not to be trifled with.” Later in the day, I texted Brandon: “We’ve walked away from The War Zone and have escaped to The Land of Silence, a place of peace that others won’t understand.”
Friday, September 9:
I read Proverbs 6 in my morning reading, and noted that verses 16-19 (the things detestable to the Lord) sound just like my mother-in-law—thought-provoking and very encouraging.
Saturday, September 10:
After Brandon and Logan went to bed, the still, small voice told me to get out of my chair, go to my computer and research sociopaths. I must gather information now. I sought (i.e., Googled), I found, I printed. Very successful.
Uncle Henry wrote The Manifesto—I mean his sneak attack letter—today, unbeknownst to me (but fully known by God).
Sunday, September 11 (the day before my birthday):
Brandon told me he received an email attack from Uncle Henry. I handed him the information about sociopaths that I’d printed out the night before. He started reading…. We talked for a long time that afternoon, and the Lord gave me this expression: “You play, you lose.” It became our mantra for this time. Brandon realized that we can’t attend any of the three upcoming family weddings. They’ll simply be opportunities for sociopaths to attack us.
We told Logan that Granny is a sociopath, and we gave him a copy of Lisa Wolcott’s blog to read: “How to Spot—and Handle—a Sociopath.”
I went for a planned sleepover to my friend Isobel’s house for my birthday. I gave her a set of the printouts about sociopaths. She realized that they describe—to a T—her first husband, Ice Man.
Monday, September 12/Happy Birthday to Me:
I awoke feeling peaceful at Isobel’s house. This is part of what I journaled: “The Lord has freed us. I feel an overwhelming sense of relief. I feel like we’ve escaped from captivity—from a prisoner of war camp. We sang “I Surrender” yesterday at church. That song is sweetly in my head today.”
While I was driving Logan home from school, I told him that his grandpa is a sociopath too—like Granny—and I explained how we know this.
In the evening, Brandon and I reflected on Uncle Henry’s letter in light of the sociopathic tactics described in the printed blog (by Lisa Wolcott). He used almost every tactic.
It’s been interesting to walk through this chain of events while the memories are still fresh, but the emotions are less raw, less intense. It’s like a strange dream that hasn’t ended quite yet. Thankfully, there’s a feeling of distance from the mayhem. We’ve left The War Zone, but my in-laws continue to launch their long-range missiles from time to time…. Remember, sociopaths have to win.
We’re not interested in winning or even in playing. We keep reminding ourselves of our mantra: You play, you lose.
We’re choosing peace.
Coming next: In part 3 of this post, we’ll look at this chain of events in a different way. How did God prepare us for Uncle Henry’s sneak attack/letter—The Manifesto—and more…?
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 57:14-21
Song for Healing: “Touch the Sky” by Hillsong UNITED