A reader's experience in a child custody fight with her sociopath ex (cont.):
He was not happy with the amount they ordered him to pay, so he asked for a continuance. However they established visitation in a gradual step-up fashion. I was not happy with this at all. He had never shown an interest in my daughter before, but now - all of a sudden - with a price tag on my daughter, he was adamant about "following the court order" (touching, isn't it?). But there was an edginess to it all. He seemed panicked and his energy was all off. His once unshakable and confident demeanor seemed a bit desperate, reflected in his threats, his attempt to drop his wife's name at every opportune moment. So obvious, for someone who is usually so smooth. It became apparent that the wife still knew nothing, though he kept saying she did (methinks he protested too much).
Finally, in one last act of desperation, he drove over four hours to "talk honestly" with me, prior to a meeting I had with an attorney. I was thinking this was going to be some revelatory moment. And yet, it turned out to be more of the same threats and ultimatums. This time, however he threw in a deal. He would agree to less money per month and no visitation if I left him alone.
This is when it is helpful to know who you are dealing with. Had I been dealing with anything other than a sociopath, I would have said "hell no." The cards were in my favor. He was bluffing and it was obvious. No way would he risk visiting my daughter every weekend with the wife wondering what he was up to. But with a sociopath, I've learned, you have to let them think that they're winning. It appeases some control thing they have an insatiable appetite for. And regardless of how little the child support would have been, he would have come up with another number, I'm sure. He just had to feel like he was dominating the outcome in all of this.
Thanks to this website, I've learned much about how to best deal with him, but even so this was also through trial and error. I have lost several battles dealing with my ex, much to my frustration. I became emotional when I shouldn't have. I let him push my buttons when he refused to call my daughter by name. I reacted in fear when it seemed obvious he had objectified her, reduced to simply an obstacle that needed to be removed from his life. After much consideration, I decided to accept his offer. Though very tempting, to call him bluff would have infuriated him, and I have no doubt he would have periodically made my life uncomfortable. Initially, I would have felt satisfied that I got his goat. But it would have been short-lived and a small victory for small battle in a much larger war that held higher stakes. His offer affords us peace. And it affords him the illusion that he won.
As m.e. wrote in response to one of my emails "it would be better for my daughter to live in poverty than to have this man a part of her life."
My daughter and I get to live in peace, in a healthy environment, with tons of people to love us both. And we get a monthly allowance from the biological (albeit sociopathic) sperm donor.
Battle lost. War won.