As I asked myself these things, another realization came to me.
I was born with severe astigmatism. We know now, that I hadn’t been able to see much of anything for the first years of my life. But back then, nothing was out of the ordinary. I thought I was perfectly normal and so did the people around me. It wasn’t until I started reading, writing, and watching TV. My parents noticed how I would sit right up to the screen, and burry my nose in the paper to read or write. Still, I was completely oblivious. My world was the blur that it had always been. Then, one day, my mom picked me up early from school and said we were going to the doctors. On the way, she asked me if I could see. I told her that of course I could. She stopped by a red octagonal sign and asked me to read what it said. I told her it didn’t have any words on it.
I got glasses a week later and I’ve been wearing them ever since.
The point was that I didn’t know what my mother meant when she asked me if I could see before I got to wear glasses and truly see the world for the first time. I didn’t think that the world could be anything other than what my eyes had always told me it was. Nothing could have suggested otherwise because I had no idea what the word “see” really meant.
Which is what I think happened with the word “sociopath.” How could I have connected the dots and seen such a thing in me if the word had no meaning for me? Only now, years later, do I look back and laugh at all the times I would get into social pitfalls and awkward situations because I had no clue what was wrong with the people around me. I see now it was me. I would focus, like you, on all those little moments when I had convinced myself I was normal. Back then it was the world that was different and full of crazies.
Reading your book was like a revelation. That mask of normalcy you speak of, only now do I realize how hard, how draining it had been to keep up pretenses for so long! But because I had never really considered it a mask at all, having it fall now became this boulder crashing off my shoulders. Every smile, every forced emotion, was like I was trying to pick up that boulder and toss it back on me.
Granted, I’ve been slowly getting my game face back on. It’s been getting easier to regress into the comfortable routine I had so mindlessly gone through for years, but I know I can never be the same. Just like seeing the world through glasses for the first time, clear and definite, I have now seen behind the curtain of my own self-deception.
Whether an actual doctor will diagnose me as a sociopath I don’t think I will ever know. I have no intention of going to a therapist or talking to someone about this and, even if I am ever forced to, I’ll lie my way out of it with a clean bill of health.
The only person that will probably ever hear this story, or know what I have gone through for the last few months, is you. I had to tell someone, and you were the only one I knew I could tell. I don’t need confirmation from you about what I am, although your opinion would be much valued. Like I said in the first paragraph, just a reply would be nice so I know you are real and not just a book and a website.
It's interesting how similar this story is to my own story and others that I have heard. The first time I really thought about what the word sociopath meant, I was in my early twenties. I was doing a summer internship with someone who became a fast friend. It was very similar to the class about Evil -- she was very interested in theology and Mormonism, so I told her all of my opinions on morality and she told me I really should consider the likelihood that I was a sociopath. When I looked up what the word meant, I immediately recognized certain aspects about me, but there were other things that didn't seem to quite fit. I didn't really identify with the label right away, or at least I had my doubts. In the five years or so after that informal diagnosis and before my official diagnosis, however, I became better able to assess not just my own behavior, but to better understand the behavior and motivations of empaths. There were many things I shared in common with empaths, particularly superficial similarities. But I slowly started to realize that even though I often had similar behaviors to empaths, my motives were very sociopathic. And seeing things in that way was very similar to having my vision of myself and others suddenly coming into focus.
Does anyone else have a similar story?