Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Negotiating with a Sociopath: The Submission Principle

“Death doesn’t come until the end of my guests’ visits here, after I’ve grown weary of them. It’s always so fascinating to see their disappointment.” “Disappointment?” “Exactly. Disappointment. They imagine that if they please me, they’ll live. They adapt to my rules. They start to trust me and develop a certain camaraderie with me, hoping to the very end that this camaraderie means something. The disappointment comes when it finally dawns on them that they’ve been well and truly screwed....”

 “You see. You’ve already started to adapt to the submission principle. I hold your life in my hands….You pleaded with me to improve your quality of life, and you did so by using reason and a little good manners. And you were rewarded.”1(p.449-450)
I took a semester off from college to care for my newborn daughter; Peter continued classes. One girl from Peter’s honeymoon confessions was in an evening class. I was dealing with hormones, exhaustion, isolation and my newly deformed post-pregnancy body at just 20. Peter decided to share his struggles with fantasizing about her and with that coerced me into having sex less than two weeks from a vaginal birth to an 8 pound baby. It was very painful and was likely the real reason I ended up back in the hospital. I lived to please him. I adapted without consideration of myself whatsoever.

My only outlet was church activities, where his father was pastor. If I started to connect, even at church, I was discouraged from that activity. Discouraged with silence and withholding. What is important to note is you can never please a sociopath, though I tried with all my might. The faux camaraderie is only evident with complete submission to their needs. I shudder thinking about his expectations and what I gave up for so long. Even a flinch of an attachment or connection outside of him was met with a dark empty coldness difficult to describe. I started to have nightmares and struggled with distinguishing between reality and dreams. My mind was not able to handle the constant strain of contradiction.  Peter suggested I see a therapist, recommended by his father. It was actually his father’s therapist and he thought she would be the best person to handle my mental illness; the whole family had become involved in “helping me.” I had become the “identified patient.” I had been selected to keep attention focused away from the real problem. I later learned this was a deep seeded family secret centered on sexual deviance and misogyny.
Larson, S. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. New York:  Random House; 2008.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Financial Abuse

When dealing with a sociopath, there will always be financial abuse.

I started my master's degree at 29. My X husband already had two. We paid full tuition for his two degrees and had, at that time, almost 100,000 dollars in school debt. I needed to find a job that paid for my tuition to prevent further debt. My father, a former Marine, did not believe in carrying debt. He raised me to live below my means. I had expected to live like this in married life and assumed my financial concerns/expectations would be considered.

I found full time work and had my tuition covered. I took a 3rd shift position so I could complete my homework at work and be home to care for my daughters during the day. There were several of us working this shift for the very same reasons; we were all tired constantly and not living well. I slept on average 4-5 hours a day and my abuser did not hesitate to wake me when he needed something. Sleep deprivation is so detrimental to the brain; it was difficult staying focused to take classes. When I began to perform poorly on tests, I actually had my IQ tested to see if I had a problem. I scored in the top 1% of the population. You must be wondering why a smart women would stay with a man that had such little to offer. [I ask myself that question every day]….Because I could fix it. I just needed to work harder, get a degree to earn more money, and on the treadmill I hopped. And he would say and do just enough to give me hope of change.

A little while into my degree, we learned that we could take out school loans for living expenses. My abuser quit his job and we took out our first living expense loan; just to get us though while he looked for another job. Another 150,000 dollars later I completed my doctorate. He never did find that job. I received a full scholarship for my doctorate and an additional $500 per semester for books. I had to get permission from the graduate school every semester to be allowed to work full time and go to school full time. We absolutely did not need those loans. We were paying his school loans with my school loans and he was a spender. He would spend up to 300 dollars a week just on groceries. He did not think ahead; he needed to feel good in the moment. He really didn't care about debt or even filing bankruptcy. I got paid monthly so things would be tight by the end of the month. A common conversation would be that we had $100 until pay day so please only spend $50. He would spend $250 without hesitation. We bounced checks every month. I finally opened my own bank account. I managed all the money, bills, worried about our future, put out fires; quite frankly he did not want to be bothered with any work. We agreed that we would operate using only cash and I would give him cash every week for groceries. I forgot about the cash and was out of town, I gave him my pin number to get money out. After, he would take my debit card and not give it back. The cycle continued. I would get physically ill over our debt and the future ahead. The spending would not stop!

I make 100,000 dollars a year and am still not feeling the benefits. I currently pay him about $600 a month in child support. During the divorce I paid $1,200 per month, which is part of the reason he did not want anything finalized. He worked a part time job and brought in more money than me. I worked the equivalent of two full time jobs. Expenses during the divorce were split 70(me)/30(him). And together with my attorney fees, I paid over $70,000 and still owe about $12,000.  I am greatly burdened by my debt.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Withholding. The Silent and Most Powerful Form of Abuse.

I lived 20 years in a loveless marriage: one without love, affection or intimacy. How do you “prove” you are being abused when you say he systematically ignored me? In childhood it is called neglect, in adulthood lack of intimacy. To me, it is abuse.
My Sociopath did not touch my face, kiss me, say loving or endearing things, or compliment me, for years at a time, and he did not ever look at me during sex. His face most often displayed disgust to me.
Disgust is the emotion that expresses a reaction to things that are considered dirty, revolting, contagious, contaminated, and inedible. It is divided into two categories: physical disgust and moral disgust. Disgust is associated with a distinct facial expression and a drop in heart rate.
Over the years I was conditioned to believe I was a disgusting person. I reacted to touch like a beaten horse. I recoiled if someone tried to hold my hand or hug me. I had trouble giving my children affection. I was disgusting, why would anyone want to even look at me? If he saw me naked, he looked disgusted. I covered myself, I was ashamed of myself. This may sound ridiculous, but remember I married at age 19 and he was my first boyfriend. I had nothing to compare with this relationship and actually believed what was being shown daily. I believed myself to be unlovable and he would tell me no one would ever tolerate, in me, all that he tolerated. I would be alone the rest of my life if not with him. I believed him.
Think about an experience where there was tension in a relationship whether it’s a co-worker, roommate, friend or neighbor. There is an unfortunate event and then awkward interactions. It brings stress into your body and you may dread impending interactions. I lived through a marriage where if I made a mistake, according to my Sociopath, I was punished by being ignored. It might last a few hours, few days, or a few weeks. For fear of being ignored I couldn’t relax. I changed myself to please my abuser so he would give me attention. It was like I stood in my marriage; I did not collapse into the safety and security of a loving partner. Friends and family did say things, at times, that stuck and called into question my quality of life. One statement stands out: “When my husband and I get up in the morning, he asks me what he can do to help me and make my day go smoother.” I could not even imagine someone wanting the best for me: A GIVER, NOT A TAKER.