Everything about the toxic relationship was guided and directed by the sociopath’s perpetual gaslighting, shaming and blaming. According to him, he was always MY victim, and I never loved him and never appreciated him…ever.
Unfortunately, I played into the mind games and subtle abuse that slowly and insidiously chipped away at my confidence and my core beliefs. By the end of the relationship, I was a bundle of nerves and chaos. I didn’t know if I was good or evil. I questioned everything and every idea I had about who I was and how I ended up where I ended up. If you believe that life gives us what we ask for, I guess I was nothing but a pathetic masochist. But truly, who asks for this and perpetuates it willingly?
I’ll give an example of his subtle mental and emotional abuse techniques. The scenario that follows illustrates how quickly, ruthlessly and seamlessly the sociopath moves between the roles of savior, persecutor and victim.
(The following may be triggering for many who experienced similar crazy-making.)
I am certified and trained to teach English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) and to tutor individuals studying to take their GED. After searching, researching and finally deciding on volunteering for a local non-profit in need of tutors, I called the sociopath to discuss my decision and determine which evenings worked best. Immediately, he lashed out at me.
Sociopath: “How could you make such a decision without consulting me first?”
Me: [confused] “I am consulting you. I haven’t confirmed anything with the organization.”
Sociopath: “You’re lying! You did all of that research without asking me first.”
Me: [more confused] “I’m not sure what you mean. I mentioned to you my desire to tutor and you thought it was very generous of me to volunteer.”
Sociopath: [avoiding my factual statement] “You are putting us at risk by working with THOSE people. You’re putting your child at risk. These people are drug dealers and users. What kind of mother puts her child at risk on purpose? You’re being careless and stupid.”
Me: [confused because I hadn’t even mentioned to him the profile of the students I would be assisting] “That’s not true. You don’t know that.”
Sociopath: [elevated and angry voice] “YOU TOLD ME THESE PEOPLE YOU HELP ARE AT-RISK.”
Me: [realizing he had misunderstood what I meant by at-risk, I attempted to clarify] “I’m sorry. At-risk doesn’t mean they’ve done something bad, specifically. It means…”
Sociopath: [interrupting with elevated and angry and breathless voice] “Don’t tell me I’m stupid! Don’t lie to me now. You are such a liar! You are so selfish! How could you do this to me? I love you so much and you choose to waste your evening helping THOSE people!?”
Me: [confused and wishing I could explain to him that my choice to help these people isn’t to take away time from US] “That’s just silly. Helping and volunteering makes me happy. I want to see these people succeed. I can show you the statistics that support…”
Sociopath: [interrupting me again with more anger and vile in his language] “You fucking ungrateful bitch! You’re going to choose THOSE people over me? Because if you choose THOSE people, I’m gone.”
This conversation occurred 2 years into the 3-year relationship. Luckily, this conversation happened over the phone; I still had my own place and was not living with the sociopath. I was able to stand my ground…at first.
I told him that if he was forcing me to make such a ridiculous choice, I’d gladly choose helping THOSE people over being subjected to his childish and unfair attacks.
(I was still very much under the impression that he simply needed to learn more about the volunteer work I was doing and that he’d eventually come to terms with it and welcome my decision.)
Instead, the sociopath just began to cry wildly on the other side of the phone…wailing into the receiver.
“I can’t believe you’d do this to me! I love you so much!!! So Muuuuch! Sooooo muuuuuuch!”
All I could hear for several minutes was him crying and sobbing through the phone. It was so loud and so prolonged, I was unable to console him or attempt to interject. I felt incredible responsible and guilty.
It was MY FAULT he was in so much pain. I wanted his pain to stop. I gave up tutoring.
(Image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/96334879500566143/)