One of the tactics of addicts or sociopaths is that they time their harshest manipulations around major life events: big trips, funerals, weddings, birthday parties. Any gathering or otherwise stressful social interaction will suffice for them. Their anger at you festers. They bide their time, bite their tongues. And wait.
Your wish to get through the happy day increases your stress level. Addicts and sociopaths secretly wish for your suffering. They lay the groundwork, seeding insecurity. If you’re normal, you won’t understand how much pleasure and joy sociopaths can derive from the suffering of others. There are more of them in the world than you’d think.
Near the day in question, they’ll unleash a fresh hell upon you.
You’ll flounder and attempt to deal with the symptoms, rather than the disease.
If you’re looking back at your shared trajectory with someone you believe might be a sociopath, examine how many outbursts coincided with life events. It’s another sign.
My mother was an absolute tyrant in this regard. Another close family member followed her lead into adult life. He/she became blind to the fact his/her life slowly devolved into a miserable cycle of anger and control. As people fled in hurt, their departure should have signaled that something was wrong. Sociopaths, though, paint themselves as victims to other people’s search for normalcy. One thing they cannot abide is for another person to demand control and freedom from them. Departure is the ultimate treason.
The sociopath is the disease. Excising it is the only viable option, one we should run to with greater velocity.
We all make the same mistake: we attempt to navigate their well-placed mines instead of simply walking the other way.
You have to learn to cut ties more quickly. If you can develop this skill when you’re younger, you’ll be able to live a much happier life.
A lot of my adult life was diminished by my own stupidity. I tried to continue relationships with sociopaths and addicts. Some of it is because of family loyalty; we need a primer to teach us to demand change (or silence) especially from those closest to us. Family affiliation does not grant either access or proximity. It is one of the sociopath’s worst tools. They say things such as “We’re family.” Or, “You only have one family.” Worst: “You only have one sister/brother/mother/father.”
If you’re otherwise a good person, trust your instincts. If someone’s presence, words, or behavior triggers feelings of insecurity, something’s wrong. Figure out if the rupture lies within or without. Ask yourself if your life is better or worse by the other person’s involvement. Do you tolerate such behavior from strangers? If not, use it as a signal that something’s wrong.
Don’t open their emails, don’t answer their phone calls, and certainly don’t show up in the same place they’ll be. If it is your occasion, forbid their presence. As they recruit people to their cause through manipulation, ignore those impassioned and angry pleas. It’s a short-term gain. Take the long view.
Use a display of outward calm to communicate your dedication to taking back control of your own life. Don’t veer into the unwinnable territory of explanation. No matter how many words you’ll spew, not only will those words be used against you in the worst way possible (and out of context), you will be wasting your energy. In turn, that leaves you with less ability to live a good life.
Let your “No” be a whisper and leave your shouted “No” only for those times you’ve lost all inhibition against unleashing your anger.
The No Rule: let your “No” be a whisper. If someone demands an explanation for your “No,” start with the assumption you’re being manipulated.
Sociopaths love driving you past the point of control and then using your entirely normal response as an accusation against you. Observers won’t see the gaslighting. All they will see is you screaming in anger at your family member or friend.
When I was younger, I tried hard to distance myself. I had no real sense of self-worth. I knew where I was trying to go. Because of the pathology of many members of my family, I came into adulthood ignorantly. Interpersonal skills? Not much. I should have declared my independence and stuck to it unilaterally. I would have moved past some of my future obstacles much more quickly. Would my life have been lesser? Maybe. I don’t know. But, I do wonder who I would have substituted into my life absent some of my addict and sociopathic family. Something would have filled the void. Would it have been better? Again, I can’t know – and that’s on me.
If I had it to do over again, I would cut anyone angry or addicted from my life when I changed my name. I would abandon any attempt to bridge the infinite divide between me and people who were fundamentally different from me. Everyone would have been put against the backdrop of my poor grasp of normalcy.
As I got older, my ability to tolerate sociopaths waned. As my life moved toward a larger understanding of self, my joy in living a life free of drama became self-evident. That kind of tranquility gave me greater latitude in saying “No” to the screeching urgency of the sociopaths demanding access to my life.
It is with this post that I give my final “No” to the sociopath who won’t take “No” as an answer.