The dream and September’s second sneak attack
September was a hoppin’, happenin’ month—lots of family birthdays, two sneak attacks, a warning dream and a shocking apology.
We carefully examined Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter in the six-part post called The Sneak Attack. Today, we’ll take another look at my father-in-law’s sneak attack—his surprise visit to our house on a Sunday afternoon.
But first, we’ll look at the dream.
Nine days after I read Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter, I woke up around 3:00 in the morning. After I fell back asleep, I had this dream. Not an ordinary dream. A warning dream. We were visiting Uncle Henry at his house, but it was a different house than he actually lives in. He was being nice to us and we were feeling comfortable around him. I remember thinking during my dream that we must have made up after the sneak attack letter. Uncle Henry talked about his daughter Serena’s impending death from some illness. We felt sorry for him. Then he talked about how he was planning to take her four children away from their dad because he doesn’t like him. (In real life, Serena has two children.)
Pity siphoning, followed by an attack
Immediately after I felt pity for Uncle Henry in my dream—pity for a man who skillfully wields sociopathic weapons—he matter-of-factly revealed his plan to viciously and catastrophically attack five people—four children and their dad. He was scheming about how to turn their trauma into his gain. That is seriously sick.
I shared my dream with Brandon. He thought it was a warning about both Uncle Henry and Delia, my mother-in-law—better known as Her Majesty, the Sadistic Control Freak.
The dream makes me think about one of our core truths—another warning:
Those who do evil and call it good
are not to be trifled with.
The birth of Choosing Peace
Three days after the dream, I wrote this in my journal: “It’s time for me to write a blog.”
My father-in-law’s sneak attack, part 2
Two days later, my father-in-law Andrew drove 80 miles to our house for his Sunday afternoon sneak attack. I wrote about some of the highlights in this post: How a Sociopath’s Victim Feels, part 5. Remember the section about The First Hug Request? After I journaled about that disturbing scenario, I wrote this: “It’s all hollow—like a large tree limb that looks normal on the outside, but has been totally eaten up by bugs and disease. And then suddenly it comes crashing down one day, and people marvel at all the unseen damage inside that was happening for years and years.”
The big lies
Yes, it’s all hollow. It’s all a show—the Persistently-Practiced and Perfected Public Persona. And it’s a lie.
So many lies. Non-stop lies. The smiles are lies that hide the evil.
Big lie #1: “We love you!”
Big lie #2: “We’re a normal, happy family.”
Big lie #3: “We’re wonderful and you’re the one who’s afflicted.”
Truthtime from Brandon
During Andrew’s sneak attack, Brandon told his dad some important truths:
“I’ve spent a lot of money and time to stop being an angry man.”
“This isn’t about forgiveness or vengeance.”
“I don’t feel safe around Mom.”
“I won’t pass the abuse on to Logan.”
“You don’t have my permission to abuse me.”
The gaslighting machine
We’re not being combative. We’ve simply decided not to play the sick, sociopathic game anymore. It was good on one level for Brandon to tell his dad the truth; but—let’s face it—sociopaths don’t pay attention to most of what their victims have to say. When they don’t like or agree with what they’re hearing, they just turn up the knobs on The Gaslighting Machine to full-blast for an immediate rewrite of what’s happening right in front of their sociopathic noses. (It goes like this: “You never said that.” “I didn’t hear that.” “I didn’t say that.” “You’re lying.” “We never talked about that.” Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.)
Truthtime from Frankie Ann
I stayed inside the house for 99% of the sneak attack. Brandon sat in his dad’s truck in our driveway for several hours. Good grief. Toward the end, I stepped outside and said to Andrew: “We don’t have any reason to believe that your wife can be kind to us.” After I stepped back inside the house, Andrew said to Brandon: “That was harsh.” Buddy roe, if you think that was harsh, you’re living in Sociopathville. Wait a minute. He is.
Speaking of Sociopathville, before he left, Andrew came inside our house to say hi to Logan. As my father-in-law was leaving, Brandon mentioned how well Logan was doing in school. Andrew told us that he made D’s in school and chuckled about it… yet another sociopathic characteristic. What an interesting comment to make to his grandson. Brandon told me later that Delia did Andrew’s English papers in college. Good grief, people.
Pushing back on The Name Game
Brandon also told his dad about Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter—the insults (typecasting), The Name Game (forced teaming), and how totally inappropriate it was, given that we have no relationship with him. Remember this Stellar Sociopathic Sentiment from dear old Uncle Henry—“you are forever a part of a community of the Douglas clan.” Brandon told his dad, “I’m a Smythe, not a Douglas.” They talked about being treated like The Slave Class in the “family” system….
Because of Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter (which was solicited by Delia, my mother-in-law/Uncle Henry’s sister), we won’t be attending extended family events—weddings, showers, reunions, etc. Too many attacks. Too much hostility. Too many control addicts. Brandon explained this to his dad while they sat in the driveway, and Andrew actually paid attention to this shocking, unexpected development.
Coming and going
Andrew showed up unexpectedly at our house (i.e., launched a sneak attack) to badger Brandon into returning to the status quo—making nice-nice with sociopaths, going to their Sociopath-Sanctioned Soirees and gratefully serving as the designated victim/emotional punching bag for the sociopaths and their accomplices. Brandon said no. He said no to all of it. Andrew, my sociopathic father-in-law, drove away flabbergasted. Why? Because sociopaths win. They live to win. They always win. Until they don’t. Until we say no and mean it.
That night, Delia called Brandon twice at 10:30. The second time, she left this dramatic, blubbering, hyperventilating message about how Andrew couldn’t stop crying and that Brandon had to “fix this!” Right. Translation: “Come back to The War Zone or else! Don’t you know who I am? I. Am. The. Dictator.” I’m envisioning my mother-in-law doing some feisty foot-stomping to add a nice dramatic emphasis to her shrieking. There’s something else. Did you hear it? She pulled out and fired up her Blame Thrower. Let’s put on our Gomer Pyle accent for another rendition of his favorite saying: “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”
Crocodile tears are a favorite method. They are masterful at evoking pity and have incredible acting skills. In fact, sociopaths have an especially strong fondness for evoking pity.
Pity is carte blanche. Good people will let pathetic individuals get away with, sometimes literally, murder.
And when we pity, we are emotionally defenseless, emotionally vulnerable….
Although sociopaths are great actors, and can feign hurt feelings, know that they have no feelings to hurt – they are manipulating you.
Strategic planning and execution
Delia—The Dictator—called in an ally (Uncle Henry)—her New Recruit. And she didn’t choose just anybody. She chose her brother, the retired doctor—the rich one, the handsome one, the powerful one—the one who gets what he wants. Until he doesn’t. The New Recruit did exactly what The Dictator wanted—took aim and fired. And he didn’t just fire some flimsy, cheap preschooler’s bow and arrow. He fired his favorite bazooka—The Manifesto. We responded to Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter with our secret weapon: Silence.
Then Delia—The Dictator—sent in her husband Andrew for a follow-up sneak attack, just to make sure everything was taken care of with the uppity victims who’d forgotten their rightful place—under her shoe, getting stomped on.
Surprise, surprise, surprise!
But it all backfired.
Whoa! Stop the press. Listen to The Dictator’s shock: It didn’t work? It didn’t work?! Not possible. Sociopaths always win. Not winning is not possible!
Brandon called his mom’s drama “emotional extortion.” Well-stated. I said, “They’re the ones who broke it and now they’re ordering us to fix it. No.”
Let’s wrap up Andrew’s sneak attack. After we listened to my mother-in-law’s Boohoo-Central Drama-fest—her Academy Award-worthy performance—I mean voice mail, Brandon asked me, “Do they just live to make me miserable?” My reply? “Yes, they do. When you’re addicted to control and the person you’ve chosen to control walks away, you are seriously jacked up.”
Recently, Brandon and I talked about his reluctance to end contact with his parents because it will make him look bad to other people. I gave him this analogy. “Brandon, you’re the heroin and they [your parents] are the heroin addicts. They have to own someone to abuse, and you’re it. No healthy person would say that it’s mean to remove heroin from a heroin addict; but the addict will flip out hysterically. The addict’s reaction doesn’t indicate that the decision is wrong.” Obviously, removing heroin from a heroin addict is the healthy thing to do.
The way they look
The difficulty here is that very few people, if any, recognize the sociopaths as being the heroin addicts. The sociopaths look good. Remember from Portrait of a Sociopath, part 1: “The ones I know dress well, speak well, smile well, are well-educated, participate actively in their church, do good things in the community, and are quite skilled in the chatty/friendly/magnetic personality department.” Yep. They look really good to the casual observers.
It’s okay if we don’t look good to the casual observers. We don’t live to impress. We’re making a better choice. We’re choosing peace.
The sneak attacks
You’ve read about my mother-in-law’s sneak attacks—a photo, a phone call and a fiasco—and her more recent sneak attack at the family reunion. We all know about Uncle Henry’s sneak attack letter—The Manifesto. Then there’s my father-in-law’s sneak attack visit to our home that we dug into a little more today.
Coming next: Please have a seat, Peaceful Readers, because this next sentence is a shocker. Brandon received an apology from one of them. Which one of these three colorful characters texted Brandon an apology? Stay tuned for the next installment of Choosing Peace, and you’ll find out the answer.
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: Hebrews 12:1-3
Song for Healing: I hope you enjoy one of my favorite songs: “My Savior My God” by Aaron Shust.