Sunday, October 28, 2012

I Wish my Story were Over: Living with PTSD

I have had my son on a full time basis, with thanks, for over 6 months and have continued to pay Peter child support. Part of my support is for day care services, and working over full time I need after school care; technically I have been paying double for the 6 months. I have learned that he is making at least $70,000 and gladly accepting my child support. Firstly….so he can make money and therefore chose not to do so while I was providing for the family. Secondly, it truly blows my mind that a grown man can accept money month after month knowing it likely affects his child. Where is his masculine innate drive to provide?  
Shannon Cook’s article, 8 Signs your Spouse may be a Psychopath, answers that question:“ 4. Consistent irresponsibility, which may result in a parasitic lifestyle. Your partner might exhibit this characteristic by not holding down a job, not paying bills on time, and exploiting or "mooching" off of others.*
1. A failure or refusal to go by "the rules." Your spouse might believe that the rules don 't really apply to him or her, and behave accordingly.*
2. Lack of a genuine guilt and remorse. Your partner doesn't feel the conscience prod that the rest of us do. Your partner might feel upset over being caught, but in truth, may feel as if the victim was asking for it for being weak anyway.*
In August I finally filed a motion to terminate my child support and to ask for at least day care help from Peter. I really didn’t want to ask for child support from him, I knew it would ignite his anger and renew threating and intimidating behavior, drawing out my fear more intensely again.
Three court dates later he wants a fourth. I think he sees this as an opportunity to tattle tale on me and I believe he thrives on the attention it brings him, not seeing that it’s negative. It was a simple math equation, but somehow he has made it into a circus again. And this is why it took me 6 months to take action; it was worth the money to have peace and less anxiety over what he might do. I’ve had to be creative, renting rooms in my home, which is not ideal, but necessary to make ends meet. Now, I’m on heightened alert. I may seem paranoid to you, but between court date one and two I learned Peter had my heat turned off. The gas company explained that though I was paying directly from my bank account, he was still on the account and therefore had the legal right to terminate the service. I paid for a service man to “fix” my heating unit to learn it had been turned off. It took the gas company a week to turn it back on. During that time the vent on the outside of the house had been broken and the gas company left a note, followed up by formal letter, saying it was a safety hazard and do not turn on the heat. The man hired to “fix” my heat came back and said it was not like that the week before; he was surprized when I called. These events came the week before court appearance three. Paranoid? Coincidental? I don’t know, perhaps….you know some of the story.
I was recently asked why I didn’t leave Peter earlier if I thought he might kill me. Let me answer by explaining my internal process during court date three. Remember I’ve only spoken to Peter once by phone in now two and a half years. My attorney represented me on court date two because I did not want to face Peter in court. For court date three the Judge called him in Canada. I was standing in front of the bench. Our income was being reviewed. Peter in a condescending tone said, “do you think rental income should be reported Ms. Walton [calling someone their formal name after having an intimate relationship, I’ve learned, is a form of intimidation and disparagement]?” My attorney jumped in and said that I had reported that income to her and she had forgotten to include and it was her fault; she quickly provided the information. He went on quickly “and what about your blog income…your Honor this blog is ruining my family…I hope Ms. Walton that you are reporting all this to the IRS…she is posting court related information in a closed case…you will be hearing from me about this blog...we will address this in court.” I turned to the Judge and said, “yes, I have a blog, but it is about a fictitious family that happen to have similar stories. The Judge asked how much I had made and said it did not need to be included. The Judge told Peter he could ask any question of me about the renters. Peter proceeded to ask me if I understood that rent money was income and if I’d thought to bring that up to the Judge [He had had time to subpoena records and me bring in utility bills etc., but he had not so he would need to take my word for it]. Peter went on to ask again if I understood taking money from people who are living with me is income and did I understand that it was devious to not report it [still no real question]. I said his questioning was didactic….after several more rounds, the Judge said to Peter that we were moving on…he tried one more time, and the Judge said, “are you still on the renters? We’ve resolved that and included the rent.” He did the calculation and Peter is now paying me child support. I nearly said to the Judge “no thank you.” There is no way that he will pay me this regularly without some sort of retaliation. The Walton’s are likely plotting. I’m afraid of what he/they may do. I was filled with panic for the entire weekend only feeling relief late Sunday.
The rapid fire didactic questioning is devastating to me in any setting, especially in court. This distracting chaotic confusing tactic is very familiar to me. He waits, forfeiting the chance to really prove his point with documentation; his stronger craving to knock me off balance and possibly bring out a reaction/emotion from me. I thought my legs might give out from under me, my body and voice trembling with every word he said and I said. My thoughts were to 1) shut down the blog and 2) say no to the money. My feeling was fear. I am a successful professional woman supporting myself since age 17, a baby at age 20. Why in the world would I have this irrational reaction?
I have post-traumatic stress disorder from Peter, which means that current events can trigger feelings from an old event, as in the example above, and not current reality so the feelings don’t necessarily match the situation. BUT my actions don’t have to match my triggered thoughts and feelings, so I will continue to blog and take the money. In time my thoughts and feelings will match current events without detouring through the time machine.
I met Peter when I was 15, of course I had a personality, but I had yet to be an individual in the adult world. So while I was developing into an adult emotionally, mentally and spiritually with the world a wide open field of opportunity….I had four walls SLAMMED down around me and my world became smaller and smaller. The voice I heard was Peter’s while all other voices got quieter and quieter. My dreams turned to daily practical life of how to feed a baby and simply survive all the while entangled with the Waltons. Extremely hard with a partner who loves and gives; with a sociopath the toll is the deterioration of the individuality of the victim. When Peter finally moved out I didn’t know my favorite color, what music I liked, what television programs or movies interested me, what clothes I liked, or my overall style, who my friends were, why I wasn’t talking to my family, what perfume I liked, what to do with free time, what food I liked, or who I was. I was 39 years old and for the first time in 20 years I was in charge of my time and being.
His voice it is still too loud and his manipulations still too effective, but now I can turn my back, walk away and find other voices so willing to build me up, walk with me and love me for who I am.
*Article Source:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Sociopath: I thought it was normal to wonder when husband would kill me

….and I would have thought I deserved it and that my family would be better off without me anyway. I know he wanted to kill me because we would talk about it. I know exactly how he wanted to do it: he would strangle me to feel his power over me and my life. Why in the world did I think that was normal? That desire in him has only increased; I’ve seen it in his eyes. His internal rage toward me ebbs and flows, unpredictably, and actually silences produce my greatest fears. I’m thankful he and his family are not able to save money because, for now, their credit seems to have dried up or I would still be in court. I avoid communicating with him as much as possible, but then every month or so I have some sort of interaction to gauge his current level of internal rage and understand my level of danger. I have learned to predict him somewhat by staying as emotionally distant and logical as possible; I’ll never understand his thinking or actions, but I do have enough of a history that I know what to look for and sometimes can stay a step ahead. I have had to train my brain to react differently than with anybody else. I  NEVER think that what I say or do has any influence over what he will say and do. I try NEVER to be influenced by an “act of kindness” or engage with cruel comments. This is difficult to do, but essential when dealing with a sociopath. I give him as little information as possible and try to NEVER antagonize him.

There is not nearly enough information about sociopaths who live among us, but what information I have found is so disturbingly consistent and similar to my experiences that when I read I become physically ill, my circulation decreases so that I’m very cold and my body starts to tremble. I am fearful simply reading and remembering painfully similar information; this fear has been instilled over decades and will be difficult to change. Others have said this same thing to me about my story. If you’ve had dealings with, and been affected by, a sociopath it’s difficult to not become afraid again. I still fear him and I can hardly believe I lived so intimately with such wickedness.

A friend and colleague, who follows my blog, mentioned a television show that reminded him of Peter. This show is a popular detective show and the suspect was being interrogated. To determine if he was lying, detectives set a plate of cookies on the table and left the room. They observed him eating a cooking through the two-way mirror. The detectives returned to the room and asked the man if he had eaten a cookie. He said no so they explained that they had watched him eat the cookie and he denied it again and again.

About a year before Peter finally left, I found web addresses on my work computer he wasn’t even trying to hide. One was “How to Catch a Cougar,” and other dating websites. I confronted him and he denied it, without flinching, over and over again. I showed him the websites, went to them and showed him the time and date he was on them (while I was at work during the day). Nothing mattered, he would not waver. During the year-long divorce, Peter had taken documents to Warren’s elementary school. I believe they were motions, but whatever they were I was completely cut off from Warren while he was at school, though I never lost joint custody. I was escorted off of the school grounds three times and not allowed to pick up Warren for therapy or medical appointments. I was told over and over that they needed documentation that countered what had already been filed at the school. The parent coordinator at that time sent documents and called, the GAL did as well and my attorney. Nothing mattered the school would not let me take Warren out of the building and I was not allowed into the building for most of that year. Finally, the parent coordinator sent the final divorce decree which stated joint custody. Peter not only repeatedly denied ever taking anything to the school or talking to anyone, he was infuriated that everyone would make such accusations against him. These were the circumstances under which the female parent coordinator resigned from our case. These are just a few examples.

I have two friends that, when they tried to get away from their sociopath husbands, without any means, lost their children. This was the Walton’s tactic as well, they were going to ruin me financially so I could not fight in court and they could take everything. In one case, the boy, now in his 20s has spent a decade fighting drug addiction. When he was court ordered rehab his sociopath father abandoned him. His mother, cut off from him for a decade, is the only person that he has now. My other friend lost her children at 6 and 7 to her sociopath husband. As soon as they turned 12 they asked to live with her, seeing their father for who he was. She picked them up at the airport horrified to hear their stories of the last 6 years. One is a stripper, the other a drag queen. Wonderful adults who are wounded from the 6 years they lost their mother. Another friend won the custody of her children, but the oldest female will not speak to her, as in my situation. Sociopaths require complete loyalty or they will reject even their own children.

I walk a fine line with my 8 year old Warren. I have to be very careful to offer him enough connection to his father to see for himself, but not so much that he is sucked down into the Walton family den. I made a mistake last week. Warren was on the phone with his dad and sitting next to me. He kept putting the phone on speaker and playing with it. I could hear his dad say more than five times to tell “his mother this and that.” He was attempting to find out if he would have excused absences from school for his recent illness. I don’t know what he’s up to, but he’s very concerned about Warren’s school and school activities hold a lot of weight in family court. And as I’ve just mentioned, who knows what he’s told the school about me and the divorce, they certainly don’t appreciate me at all. I finally had it and grabbed the phone and said to Peter, “If you have an adult matter that you need to discuss with me you can email me and copy our parent coordinator. Warren is a child and should not be involved in adult matters. Say goodnight, Warren needs to get to bed.”  I was rude and unprofessional…Warren was crying. Warren said to me, “You were mean to my dad.” I messed up. I looked him in the eye and said, “Yes, I was and that is your dad and I was wrong. I’m sorry I made you feel uncomfortable.” He stopped crying, but I need to be very careful to take the higher road and be the parent he feels comfortable expressing himself with, the parent he feels safe with and the parent he can attach to. He will need to figure this out on his own, even though, wow, it’s difficult to let him go for even a weekend.

Every day I wake up and think…I’m free…I’m safe right now..I’m lucky…my beautiful son is in the next room, most minutes in most days I am free. Yes, I am still afraid, but now, what I feel more than any other emotion is…JOY.