From a reader:
I’m not a sociopath, but I’m sure the sentiments expressed here can be appreciated by those who are. Somewhat recently, I came to a point of reflection in my life, and what I saw in the mirror wasn't at all what I'd thought it to be when I was younger. I'd always believed myself to be a good person--honest to a fault, and happily willing to help others in need. But after a few years of struggle, I came to realize that I was lying to myself so I could lie to others without feeling guilty. I helped others to help myself maintain my own sense of self worth through the false image I'd created.
This realization was sparked by a significant breakup that left me feeling betrayed and vulnerable, which caused my true colors to surface. I sabotaged my ex's new relationship with half-truths spoken in a heart-felt manner to her boyfriend, and I worked tirelessly to position myself in a spot where he couldn't be rid of me without coming off as an unreasonable asshole. After nearly two years of that delicate balancing act, I reached a point where I had my ex doing household chores for me at no cost, more or less whenever I requested it. I did it for the sense of power it gave me, and I relished the thought of the pain it must be causing the father of her child. Every time she came over, a large fight between them would, and still does, break out, and I loved every minute of it. After a while, he refused to hang out with me, saying that being around me made him nauseous. After further probing my ex, I found out he was having nightmares about me. It was enthralling, but even while I was caught up in the intoxication of revenge, I went through a difficult internal struggle trying to make sense of the conflict between who I believed myself to be and how much I enjoyed what I was doing.
In the end, I was forced to accept the facts. I liked hurting him. I liked controlling her. I loved the thought of her staying in a dead-end relationship, never finding satisfaction. I liked having my things done for me for free. It wasn't about righting wrongs, nor was it about friendship. The glee I felt at the thought of it all wasn't something I could just sweep under the rug. But acceptance wasn't easy to come by, because I'd always believed very strongly in the ideas of right and wrong. It was the basis of the hatred I came to realize that I felt for my ex and her boyfriend, and without those very morals which would call my actions into question, I had no way to justify what I was doing. Freedom from that conflict required a paradigm shift in my perceptions of me and the world at large.
But accepting these parts of me, and realizing that they needed no justification, caused a dramatic shift in my life. I'm calmer, more laid back, and I'm easier to get along with. I'm more prone to compromise, and little things don't bother me so much. It's hard to believe that acceptance of such dark aspects of my personality could bring me so much peace, but with it has come such a great release of anger, toward both myself and others, that I'm left feeling like I'm on a permanent vacation. When I cause pain to those who have harmed me, or symbolically trade nic-nacs for bars of solid gold, I no longer feel a sense of glee, nor am I wracked with guilt about it. I simply look at the world, and the phrase which best describes what I feel is, "All is as it should be." That feeling has brought with it many significant benefits in nearly every aspect of my life, from career all the way to romance. And to this day, my chores are still done for me by the woman who inadvertently freed me from myself. I can't imagine going back to that life of self-delusion. I only wish that everyone could learn to shed their false skins, so they could find out what lies inside and learn to truly love it. The world would be a much happier place.