The morning after
The day after we read Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter, I awoke at my friend Isobel’s house feeling peaceful. It was my birthday.
We’d been seriously attacked the day before by a relative who repeatedly used seven out of the eight warning signs for violence—the tactics used by sociopaths. And he wielded his weapon—his 559 words—skillfully. Very skillfully.
We, not he
Why do I say that we were attacked, when the letter was written only to Brandon? Because we’re a team—A Family United. If someone attacks one of us, that person has attacked our family—all three of us. My mother-in-law’s New Recruit (i.e., ally) launched an explosive bomb at our home. It impacted all of us.
How did I wake up the very next day feeling peaceful? How did that happen?
I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t afraid of what Uncle Henry or anyone else thought about us. I wasn’t afraid of walking away from that whole side of “the family.” I wasn’t afraid. I felt relieved actually. I’d always felt like an outsider, like an observer and not a participant, like someone who was tolerated and not wanted. So I felt totally relieved—like I was finally off the hook. No more obligations to smile and pretend.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31b, New Heart English Bible
The chain of events that culminated in Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter broke the chains of lies and abuse—the chains of the sociopaths.
The sneak attack letter taught us that the abuse wasn’t just isolated in the Delia and Andrew Smythe household—Brandon’s nightmarish childhood. The abuse was bigger than that. We already knew that on one level, even though no one talked about it. But now we knew it undeniably. We knew the truth. We read it. We saw it. We felt it. We acknowledged it. We understood it. We believed it. We knew it.
Now that we knew the truth (sociopaths) and the size/scale of the truth (multiple family groups), we had ongoing changes to make—decisions, boundaries, etc.
Three days after we read Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter, Brandon sent a very gracious email to his sister Shelly’s husband/widower; I’ll call him Rick. Brandon changed our RSVP for his October wedding from yes to no. Rick responded likewise—graciously.
That same day, Brandon left work early—feeling the heavy, painful weight of his history. He talked about how hard it is—all of it—to be born the wrong gender in the wrong family. More about that in a future post.
Sharing the truth
During dinner with my friend Charlene that week, she asked me to email her the information I’d gathered about sociopaths. So did my friend Meagan at church that Sunday. I sent the information right away. I’d already given a set of printouts to Isobel. Truly caring means sharing truths.
Six days after Uncle Henry’s sneak attack, I asked Brandon to take down the large stained glass window that had been mounted in our kitchen window for as long as I could remember. My sociopathic in-laws made it for us. Delia designed it and Andrew built it. They liked to mention how challenging it was to make, how well-made it was, and how valuable it was.
I asked Brandon to put it in our front yard for someone to take away. I put a little sign on it that said Free; and the next day, it was gone. Hot diggity. Some people might ask Why didn’t you sell it? I wanted it gone. Immediately. Hopefully someone else is enjoying it now, and their family doesn’t know anything about the sociopaths who made it.
We had already taken down my mother-in-law’s paintings from all around our home. It was time for the big stained glass window to go. It was just another step in removing The Sociopathic Presence from our home and family. And it was a very good thing.
The price tag and a Top 10 sociopathic song
It felt like removing part of the loan sharking—the “you owe us” that sociopaths are so fond of. Remember, sociopaths never give gifts freely. Their “gifts” always come with a very high price tag attached. The heavy price tag reminds me of “The Debt You Can Never Repay”—that Top 10 song from “The Sociopaths Greatest Hits” CD. Here’s the chorus:
We’ll remind you of it all the time.
The gift we gave was oh-so-fine.
You owe us, you owe us, and don’t you forget.
For the rest of your life, you’ll be in our debt.
Yep. That’s the way they roll.
Out with the old, in with the new
I wrote about the stained glass window in my journal. “Removing it is an analogy. The past clouded our vision (visibility). Now we can see so clearly and our kitchen is bright!”
Every time I look out my new, unobstructed kitchen window—enjoying our colorful ornamental tree, the grass, the squirrels, the birds, our neighbors and their yards—I feel new. I feel connected. I feel free.
Last fall, I gave away four lightweight jackets that were gifted to me by—say it with me, Peaceful Readers—Her Majesty, the Sadistic Control Freak. I didn’t want to see remembrances of my sociopathic mother-in-law every time I opened our coat closet. And I certainly didn’t want to continue wearing those jackets. When I’m cold, my comfort needs to come from something comforting, not from something weighed down with a heavy loan-sharking price tag, not to mention—memories of a sociopath.
Are there things in your home, maybe in your closet or jewelry box, that keep The Sociopathic Presence in your daily life? Think about letting those things go, one thing at a time, or maybe one honkin’-big pile at a time. You’ll feel a lightness and a new freedom…. Instead of thinking about the sociopath when you open your closet or your jewelry box (or—in my case—when you walk into your kitchen), you’ll think about something better—a new beginning.
We talked about sociopaths and their transactions in an earlier post. They don’t actually give gifts. Sociopaths use loan sharking to create transactions and power plays. That’s why they wig-out when you decline something they offer you. It’s a power-play shut-down. And it seriously chaps a sociopath. Believe you me.
The true gifts
In contrast, let’s look at true gifts—the kind that are given freely with no chains (or strings) attached. The chain of events that prepared us for Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter was a gift from God. It was hard and sometimes painful, kind of like the counseling and braces I wrote about in an earlier post. But it was so worth it.
Prepared for battle
God didn’t cause the sociopaths to act badly, but he knew what was coming. He prepared us for the battles he knew we would face. We didn’t know they were coming, but he did.
We know that all things work together
for good for those who love God,
to those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28, New Heart English Bible
Freed by the sneak attack
It seems really strange that a vicious attack from someone who doesn’t even know us actually freed us instead of ensnaring us. But that’s what it did, because we lived our new mantra: You play, you lose. And we heeded the warning: Those who do evil and call it good are not to be trifled with.
Many, many gifts
The mantra was a gift from God. The warning was a gift from God. Think about all the truths, revelations and epiphanies God gave us. Think about the list of all the times we were able to practice (1) seeing, receiving and speaking important truths; (2) recognizing sociopathic tactics; and (3) establishing healthy boundaries. Think about The Tearing Down that united us as a family. Think about all of the encouragement—from our counselor, from friends, from reading.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights….
James 1:17a, New Heart English Bible
God did a mighty work in our family—the Brandon and Frankie Ann Smythe family. The verse above, written by Jesus’ brother James, is one of the foundational verses in my life. I think it and say it frequently. It was the verse I chose for Logan’s birth announcement.
Taking the time to see the many good things in our lives and thanking God for every good gift is our way of saying to him: “I see you.” “I acknowledge you.” “I thank you.” “I praise you.” “I love you.”
Coming next: I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t have the foggiest idea what I’ll be writing in the next post because I haven’t written it yet. This post surprised me a little. I didn’t end up writing what I thought I would, but I’m really happy about the way it turned out. So let’s just say that I love happy surprises. I hope you do too. We’ll wait patiently and with anticipation for a happy surprise in the next installment of Choosing Peace by Frankie Ann.
God bless you and those who are good to you….
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: This scripture may surprise you a little, but here’s the beautiful truth. When I started writing this blog, I didn’t know all the things I’ve written about. The Lord taught me along the way. That’s one of the reasons why I cherish Jeremiah 33:2-3. I hope you’ll find it to be true in your life as you draw near to him—learning not only about him, but directly from him.
Song for Healing: I can’t think of enough kind words to express about this beautiful version of “He Leadeth Me” by Sara Watkins. It gives me a great sense of peace, rest and safety. I hope it brings the same warmth and goodness to you.