Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day

My mother has a bunch of kids, and I think that's a nice thing. I certainly liked having a bunch of siblings, because there were just better odds that you would like some of them. Or maybe more accurately, what ended up happening is that I liked certain of them for certain reasons and others of them for other reasons. They each have their strengths and it's great to have so many people at the sibling level who you can reach out to for whatever you might encounter.

Today I was going through and texting my friends who are mothers in whatever ways and wishing them a happy mother's day. I also chose photos I had in my phone to include with the well wishes. In my faith tradition, every woman is a mother, either currently or latent, so every woman gets celebrated on mother's day. And of course many women fill a mother-type role in our lives.

Today I wondered what sort of daughter-like role I fill in my mother's life or the lives of other people who have had a mothering type relationship. I think on the one hand that I am a little bit of an unusual specimen. I don't care in the same ways that people classically care and I don't love in the ways that people classically love. But in choosing photos to send to my loved ones, I mostly tried to let them know that I understood their situation and their loves. For my friends who are animal lovers (maybe even as much lovers of their animals as their own children), I sent photos of them and their animals. I knew that most other people would be thinking of their mother role as humans, so I wanted to let them know that I understood that their mother role to their animals was just as important to them.

For my own mother, I sent her a photo that I had of her mother, taken during high school. Her mother is deceased and my mother had a difficult relationship with her. But the photo I sent shows my grandmother perhaps at the height of her beauty and potential. I could have chosen hundreds of other photos to send: photos of my mother with her and her grandchildren, with her and her children, or any number of other combinations. But I thought this photo of her mother was best because everyone (including my mother) would be thinking about her today in reference to her roles as mother and grandmother. I chose to reflect an aspect of her motherhood that was likely to be a little overlooked today especially now that her mother has been dead for quite some time and is mostly off everyone's radar -- my mother's role as a daughter and the love she maintained for her mother despite their many differences.

This is probably one of the most boring posts I have posted, but I often do think about how sociopaths are different in small but meaningful ways, one of which is their ability to see quite clearly things that are often overlooked in the people they encounter. It's almost like sociopaths are looking at an entirely different spectrum, like wearing infrared goggles. I was just thinking about what this might be like to experience on the flip side. Because in some ways I am one of the least sensitive of my mother's children, but I think in other ways I can be shockingly sensitive and insightful, seeing layers that her other children do not see. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Seeing things as they really are

I've recently been having to sort of explain sociopaths to normal people a little more frequently. It's funny because normal people are really quick to kind of want to know not just about sociopaths objectively, but also want to know how they should feel about sociopaths. Like is it woke to be pro-sociopath? Remove the stigma? Or is there danger? I feel like everyone wants to know what should be the overall take from sociopaths. And it keeps catching me off guard. Because especially in the past couple years all I've been doing is trying to meet and understand sociopaths, the same way I might watch and try to understand leopards as an animal researcher or something. I don't form judgments. I notice how they operate and their strengths and weaknesses, but I don't really think "what's the general take away about leopards?" Nor do I feel like I have to sort of justify their existence or have any sort of reaction (much less emotional) about the fact of their existence. They just are a fact, is sort of how I want to respond.

And I think even if you eventually wanted to come up with some normative suggestion or application of what you learn about sociopaths, it's probably good to spend at least some time just observing objectively, to really understand before you jump to any conclusions.

I felt like this reader did a good job of this:

This feels risky because I don't feel I can trust a sociopath now that I have met one.

I don't know your name, I don't suppose it really matters.

I just came out of a 15 month relationship with a sociopath. I had no idea that was what he was until after the relationship ended and I only really feel confirmed in my non-clinical diagnosis after reading your book.

I had to do digging after he initially, flippantly broke up with me over the phone after being so loving and kind for 15 months, and then called back a few days later and swore he wasn't seeing anyone else and wanted to re-visit the situation when he returned to town, and THEN proceeded to block my calls and texts. He had given me details of his mom's illness. And he had started a private Facebook account.

Through his mom's Facebook and one photo she had and tagged him in I found his "newish" relationship (started before he broke up with me) and the fact that his mom wasn't. Through his sister's Facebook I found the woman who was sick. I reached out to both. The new relationship was very new but I was quick to realize that every trip away during the time I was with him involved another relationship, some very short, some probably in search of a situation in Texas that would accommodate his need for a comfy home and a willing, gullible partner. And of course, he was seeing the woman who was sick the whole time (the illness was new though).

The woman who is sick had been in his life for the past 7 years and had known of his incessant lies, his incredible charisma, and his proclivity for multiple relationships during that whole time. She still was willing to shut her eyes to what was going on though and had not known about me. His mother confirmed to me herself that no, she was never ill.

The woman in another state had also been told his mother was sick. Whatever lies he told her about myself and the woman who really has is sickand the fact that his mom isn't sick, she is willing to believe him.

Looking back, of course, I can see clearly that when he left constantly to walk the dog, run to the bathroom, smoke, it was all a cover to make calls to other women. He called me almost every day during that 15 months so that is how he handled them as well. I can also tick of 100's of lies. The woman who is sick and I have met and compared notes - she can tick off 1,000's. It seems obvious to me in retrospect, but I had no context for the reality of a sociopath in my life, before this.

In reading your book I have come to realize that, though my reality is totally altered, I do not have the right to wish this person harm (even though I did at first). He is delusional. He writes the way you sometimes write - in contradictions. With you I mostly see it when you declare you have no fear of consequences, yet you lie. You lie to keep your cover. What do you need a cover for unless you fear consequences? I know that since that writing things have come out and there have been consequences and you seem to have survived them.

What hurt me the most was the lies. I wanted to stay friends with him. The lies made it impossible. And I have no idea, and never will, if he would even enjoy these multitude of relationships without the lies. He felt SO REAL to me. The woman who is sick describes him the same way, and because she's known him longer and he has been more honest with her than with anyone else he is probably more real with her than anyone else.

But I don't think he could ever have a relationship with anyone without the thrill of the lie.
He never showed his anger to me. Looking back I can see the times when he was hiding it. He does go into rages with the woman I have talked to.
I feel sorry for him. One time I told him that and it made him angry (in the very subdued way he would get angry with me). But then I was only feeling sorry for him because I thought he seemed to shut down his emotions. Now I feel sorry for him because reading your book makes him seem like a very lost, lonely soul.

I know you say it doesn't bother you, so I guess it shouldn't bother me because I guess it doesn't bother him. I know you are much smarter than him and much more high-functioning. He never physically harmed me and never stole from me. In fact he probably
gave more materially than I ever gave him. I think he probably takes pride in that (though I returned everything that could be returned when he was out of town).  

It just occurs to me that the lies aren't just for other people, they are also for the sociopath. The sociopath seems to constantly be trying to define who they are with no clear internal signal, "no clear path" is something he would always say. So the lie is the only direction they have, which is no direction at all (often doubling back even)..... which for me is the same as constantly being lost, and never truly being real.

Thank you for your book. It helped me understand.

My response:

It’s interesting what you say about contradictions because I’ve started seeing that more as I’ve hung around sociopaths. They’re not aware of the contradictions. Or sometimes part of them is. Their perspective is like that of cubists. It’s distorted in its own way like maps of the world— their reality is distorted in a particular way that suits them best but it ends up making Antarctica look huge. It’s part of the personality disorder just like the weak sense of self, which you described as being the reason for the lies. 
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