What Would a Psychopath Do? A Victim Tells
In response to Daca’s letter, “Dear Chump Lady, He apologized to the OW for not leaving me”:
Someone who wants to keep things secret – and who has successfully done so for so long – doesn’t just accidentally leave his email open one day when he goes out of town, leaving you unfettered access.
Until I went No Contact, I didn’t realize that many of my discoveries were orchestrated. He would “accidentally” leave his Facebook account open, his phone unlocked, etc. It was part of the mindfuck – always just enough information to make me feel crazy while allowing him to rage about my “trust issues” when confronted. He got to feel important in a very sick way for a very long time.
Your husband set this one up, Daca. That’s my theory.
I’m really sorry you’re going through this. I don’t have any advice to give you, since it took me a really long time to leave and it’s too fresh for me to make sense of yet. But I remember those days/nights of feeling sick to my stomach, so anxious I’d be shaking, knowing a huge blowout was coming if I confronted him on what new information I’d found. But I could never stay silent and he would be steadfast in his lies; I once had an email from one of many OW admitting to sex and he still called me crazy and denied it all. On top of it, he’d turn it all around, literally screaming about how awful I was and how much he hated me until I would relent to salvage my own shards of sanity for just that day. Then he’d punish me with distance I could never breach, no matter how much I begged. Your letter takes me back to those sad days and I’m really sorry that you had such a terrible Christmas, knowing what you faced. Just know you’re not alone.
I also 100% understand your paralysis. Leaving three years after Discovery Day was like chewing off my own arm – I didn’t want to do it (still don’t) and was desperate to find signs of change in his every action, even to the bitter end. It’s so counterintuitive to suddenly grow boundaries and standards after years of neglecting them, especially when we’ve been so isolated. I don’t know about you, but I spent a lot of time lying to other people about the marriage, since I knew I’d come off as unstable if they knew what I had put up with for so long. It’s too “heavy” for the good, normal people to see the inside of such a sick relationship so their typical reaction is to run. The average person doesn’t get the whole sociopath, narcissist thing – they dismiss cheating and the associated gaslighting as you being bitter, at fault, etc. You learn to stay silent and keep your distance.
So then you’re left with having to muster incredible, super-human strength at your lowest point with nowhere to turn anymore. You have to dust off the boundaries and self-worth you perhaps never even had in the first place in a really isolated place, giving up everything you know to leave someone you still love. You have to call lawyers, fight over assets, move, sell the house, explain to children and loved ones, all while struggling to keep a job and not simply roll over and die. Then you have to weather life alone and suddenly have to do everything you’d previously shared responsibility for, even it if was with a total asshole, alone – from carrying groceries and sharing bills to decorating the Christmas tree and planning for retirement. It’s fucking brutal and breathtaking in its pain. And as the final act of cruelty, you get to watch your former spouse, the person who had promised to love you forever, skip into the sunset with their true love while you contemplate spending life alone. You realize you probably never really meant anything to your X anyway and all your suffering was for nothing – they just picked up and soldiered on to their next target(s) with their laserbeam of sparkles in tow, like the past decade or two meant nothing.
I don’t have any answers for you but there are many people on Chumplady.com who have been through all of that and have come out the other side.Their mightiness and clarity is what keeps me coming back to Chump Nation. Today is six weeks of No Contact for me. It’s sick and counterproductive, but, I still check out his social media and am heartbroken with every stupid Instagram picture of him having fun in his new fabulous life, each eliciting dozens of “likes” from his followers. Yup, I’ll just eat my oatmeal alone this morning in my tiny apartment with nowhere to be and no one to see.
All that being said, one thing I think about on my better days, and it may help you, is that staying meant I would never have been OK – ever. As Chump Lady says, this pain is finite. I’d still be waking up at 3 a.m. in a panic, knowing I had to get out. The devil I knew was still the devil. I’d still be engaged in the battle for remorse and change, trying to extract love from someone who had none for me. I’d still be begging for affection (literally), trying to convince him I was worth loving through years of fruitless efforts – I think we saw four therapists in the past decade, maybe more.
Nothing worked – not therapy, or vacations, or new lingerie. I couldn’t love him out of it, I couldn’t hate him out of it, I couldn’t cry him out of it, or beg enough, or try hard enough, or pull another 360, or dye my hair a different colour, or lose weight, or get a better job, or find more friends, or wear better clothes, feign indifference, pretend it never happened, pretend to be cool with it, and on and on. I kept getting angrier and older, farther down the rabbit hole. And he was OK with it all. He was, frankly, very Meh about me, as long as I didn’t encroach too much on his space with my expectations. He was OK watching me slowly wither and die.
Eventually, I faced a decision. It was like that movie, 127 Hours: cut off my own arm [my husband] to save my life or die stuck. I definitely wish I didn’t have to make it. But I have my dignity and a second chance now. It’s up to me to make something of it.
Excerpt from a comment by Sad in Seattle on Chumplady.com “Dear Chump Lady, He apologized to the OW for not leaving me”