He made no effort to explain his virtual disappearance from our marriage. He was like stone. I was just a roommate. I wondered why we were uncharacteristically going 3 months at a time without sex. After a few years of suffering and yearning for the fairy tale I had lost, he agreed to go to marriage counseling. I poured my heart out, telling the counselor how I was feeling ignored, and intensely lonely. He attributed his lack of interest to my depression. Which is a crock because my depression started after his poor treatment of me, which I now know was abusive.
My depression began slowly, due to his ignoring me, not due to my discovery of his lies and cheating. Being all-forgiving and self-sacrificing, I was willing to put that behind us and "keep the family together." I had believed so strongly in our relationship and our future. I had made plans, dammit. (Little did I know: I was fully invested in a bunch of lies. Lies upon lies upon lies.)
I thought it was just his mid-life crisis. I had even started researching mid-life crisis and trying to find ways to help him. Six counseling sessions later, I was flying high. We were lovey-dovey again. That was late 2006. We stopped going to counseling.
Well, he could only keep up the facade for a few months. He started doing things that would make me breakdown in tears... Why was this happening? Why? Why? Why? I had a major nervous breakdown and had to spend time in a mental ward because I could not stop crying. After release from the VA Hospital, I could no longer function. I lost my memory and a lot of my personality. Murderer! He killed me! In broad daylight.
The weird thing was that, I did not feel like my husband's serial cheating was the worst thing in the world. What really scorched my heart was him suddenly turning his back on our friendship. A few months later of despicable, soul scarring verbal and emotional abuse from the man I worshipped, I could take no more, and I moved into a tiny apartment, but still contributed my full portion of the bills on the house because the kids lived there.
I now regret leaving my 11 year old son in his "care", but at the time, I was in a bad state and I was not even taking care of myself. (PTSD) At the time, my husband was still being his old self with the kids. At the time, I thought I could trust him to ensure their health and safety. At the time, I was oblivious to the fact that I had married a psychopath.
I will skip forward a few years because there is a lot of (gasp, Baby Mama) drama that ensued and that is not the focus of this particular post. I wanted to share the day when his bizarre behavior started making sense to me - when I found a dysfunctional family support group online. I read one woman's account of her "devalue and discard" and it was an eye-opener. Her husband was a non-violent psychopath. What? How can that be? I TRUSTED HIM! How could he be someone else all along, and I had no idea? I started researching... Yes, check off all the boxes - my husband IS A PSYCHOPATH. For real. No joke.
Here is my lengthy diary entry from that day the answers came:
He is a psychopath. That answers so many questions. He tries to say and do all the right things based on what he thinks he should mimic, but his emotions don't come into play like a normal person. I think of him as an android or a zombie. Except that zombies are violent and Harlan is non-violent. So his mother really did an excellent job of teaching him how to act. Maybe his father is a psychopath?
Now I am scared about having left my precious son in his care. Marche is trying to emulate his father by controlling his emotions and going along with whatever his dad does. We have all been unaware that his dad is not controlling anything because he doesn't feel. It is hard for Marche to cope and still act like he's fine, and he has been sad without knowing why. A lot of events in his life made him sad and mad, and he hasn't expressed these feelings. I hope he never loses touch with his feelings by burying them all the time. I feel a need to remove him from this emotionless existence, so that he will grow up to fit into society.
Harlan is capable of hurting people's feelings because he has never had hurt feelings and cannot relate. That is why it was ok with him to bring his baby mama over that dreadful Easter Sunday when I was already in pain. How callous. He just doesn't know what emotional pain is. That is how he could just "move on" immediately after we separated, and never tried to make it work. If only I had known he was a psychopath years ago. He's such a genius and an expert at saying things like he really cares, so we pay more attention to his words than his actions.
I wonder if we should ask Harlan if he has ever felt emotional pain. I wonder if we should ask him if his feelings have ever been hurt. I wonder if we should ask him if he has ever been sad. I am afraid to, because he doesn't want to be caught. I wonder if we should ask him what motivates him to act like he cares. I guess that helps to keep him from being discovered and ostracized. But if nothing bothers him, why would being left out matter to him? What is his motivation?
He makes it obvious that he doesn't want to be criticized. Nobody will criticize him because he "trains" people to stay away from any subject of his wrongdoing by acting like "how could you possibly say such hurtful things to me, when I would never do that to you?" The reasons he would never criticize or say possibly hurtful things is because: 1. he learned so well how to always appear to have perfect manners, and , 2. he doesn't feel anything strong enough to make an issue of it. I wonder if he thinks everybody is like him - only feigning concern if it benefits themselves somehow?
Harlan is capable of believing that everything is ok all of the time. If something good happens, he doesn't feel anything. If something bad happens, he doesn't feel anything. So, life is pretty much the same no matter what happens. He doesn't understand all the bad things that happened to Marche. He doesn't understand that he is the cause. He doesn't think about how Marche is probably suffering inside, but trying to control his feelings like he thinks his dad his doing. But that is not what his dad is doing. Dad has no need to control anything because the feelings don't exist. Harlan wouldn't understand the struggle that is going on inside Marche to make it look like everything is fine and good, when in contrast, life is horrible in a lonely, broken home.
I had tried to explain Marche's resulting unhappiness to Harlan, but he kept insisting that everything is ok, and they have no problems. Harlan never has problems on an emotional level. If some glitch happens, he tackles it and then his reasoning makes it seem like it meant nothing, no matter how big of a deal the glitch was. Something like losing his wife of 15 years (when he had a supposedly happy marriage) didn't cause him to miss a step. It was just a minor inconvenience to him.
To me, losing my marriage and my family has been devastating. Some days I didn't know how to go on. Now, I know how. I have to make sure Marche doesn't lose his humanity and starts being callous to people. I am not greatly worried, because he shows that he cares quite often, but he is learning the wrong things sometimes. Like how Harlan opens our presents and plays with them. Like how he enters without knocking. He doesn't know what a bad feeling that causes in normal people to have their boundaries crossed. Since Marche was raised with that happening to him, so he thinks that it is a normal way to do things. Harlan gives his 2 year old daughter lip gloss and polishes her nails -- and she's not even potty trained yet. What a twisted sense of priorities. It is my duty to point out the abnormal behaviors so Marche doesn't follow behind his dad and cause other people pain unknowingly.
"CHARISMATIC PSYCHOPATHS are charming, attractive liars. They are usually gifted at some talent or another, and they use it to their advantage in manipulating others. They are usually fast-talkers, and possess an almost demonic ability to persuade others out of everything they own, even their lives. Leaders of religious sects or cults, for example, might be psychopaths if they lead their followers to their deaths. This subtype often comes to believe in their own fictions. They are irresistible."
"He is generally superficially charming and often makes a striking impression as possessed of the noblest of human qualities. He makes friends easily, and is very manipulative, using his ability with words to talk his way out of trouble. Many psychopaths love to be admired and bask in the adulation of others.
With the lack of love, there is also a lack of empathy. The psychopath is unable to feel sorry for others in unfortunate situations or put himself in another's place, whether or not they have been harmed by him."
"The psychopath is a manipulator, who knows exactly what makes us tick and knows how to manipulate and influence our feelings.
They have the talent to spot kind, caring women."
*(Harlan always talks about how "nice" his woman of interest is, like that is the most special thing in the world.)
"Mimicry is often used to convince others that the psychopath is a normal human being. He does this to create a false empathy with his victim. The psychopath will try to make you believe he has normal emotions by spinning some sad tale or professing profound, moving experiences; the truth is, most psychopaths go through life as in an incubator, touched by few and having no real compassion for others; but they will lie to convince you that they have normal emotions"
*(Harlan always tells stories about his childhood.)
"Guggenbuhl-Craig states that " they are very talented at appearing much more humble than the average person, but are hardly so."
"In general, most psychopaths will brag endlessly about their exploits and "bad" things they've done (often called a warning sign, which will ward off careful souls), but more often than not, the woman who is fascinated by him will not listen to reason, even if she is warned by others who know him about his past behaviors.
Why? Once again, because the psychopath makes her feel so "special."
"The despair and anxiety wrought by antisocials (psychopaths) tragically affects families and communities, leaving deep physical and emotional scars..." [Black, 5]."
"QFG note: Hare says that Psychopathy is MORE prevalent than depression, schizophrenia and BPD. For all we know, many people who are depressed, become schizophrenic, or develop BPD, do so as a result of interactions with psychopaths. Psychologist Andrew Lobaczewski says as much in his book "Political Ponerology." QFG = Quantum Future Group
*(So, now I know what happened to me in 2003.)
"he always seemed to be charming everyone around him, although in the end every woman who fell for him ended up becoming hostile"
"What often happens in the aftermath, as Field has stated, is that the victim may repress his or her anger for a quite a while, but then, often many months later, a sudden realization of the truth may come over the individual, and the victim will finally realize that all along he/she has been bullied by the psychopath. This is when the victim suddenly becomes very angry and is motivated to have some sort of justice."
"The real danger about psychopaths is that some women, in particular, actually have a psychological predisposition towards forming attachments to them. They even fall in love with them. These women, usually of a hysteric or histrionic personality, feel empowered when attached to the psychopath, regardless of the truth she has been told about him, or regardless of what he himself has told her. Some of these women have an underlying fantasy to feel that they are in control with the psychopathic male (according to Meloy)"
"In some cases, our society allows psychopathy because we do not really fight back against cheating and lying behaviours..."
"As for recovery from the psychopath, despite the pain that may be left (some people never recover, according to Field), you will learn how very uncomplicated yet cowardly the psychopath's means of keeping cool is. It's just the way the psychopath must function to maintain their rather fragile (but set in stone for life) self-image."
"Strangely enough, many find the psychopath's verbal deftness quite charming, and psychopaths do tend to talk a lot, especially when they're pouring on the charm.
The question is, can you spot one before they get to you?
That is why it's important to study whether or not you may be the type who falls for them, who, in essence, becomes prey to believing in them. Some people may find concern over psychopathy irrelevant, but it's not. Psychopathy causes tremendous damage in our society, and affects all levels of our lives. It causes illnesses and disorders such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Money is also lost by innocent victims to psychopaths, and these social predators also do much economic damage to our society."
"Naivete is the great enemy."Many also "cling to the belief that their loved one (the psychopath) simply has a few problems just like anyone else, not the symptoms of a personality disorder." [Black, 59]
"In consequence, whether or not they can't or don't desire to change, studies have shown that they won't change, in general, so don't waste your time trying to help or change them, for the help you offer will always be repaid to you in full by treachery."
"...More often than not, the typical psychopath will seem particularly agreeable and make a distinctly positive impression when he is first encountered. Alert and friendly in his attitude, he is easy to talk with and seems to have a good many genuine interests. There is nothing at all odd or queer about him, and in every respect he tends to embody the concept of a well-adjusted, happy person."
"Very often indications of good sense and sound reasoning will emerge, and one is likely to feel soon after meeting him that this normal and pleasant person is also one with -high abilities. Psychometric tests also very frequently show him of superior intelligence. More than the average person, he is likely to seem free from social or emotional impediments..."