Updated: Aug 16
For 25 years I let a sociopath control every aspect of my life. This person shaped who I am today. He originally manipulated me into this cowardly, passive and insecure girl who has spent her whole life going through failed relationships and never truly understanding herself. From the time I was young, I was told I was never good enough. My room was never clean enough, I never did good enough in school, my high school job could have been better, the first car I bought all by myself could have been better. The verbal abuse that came with all of that was traumatizing to say the least. Once I got older I knew the words he was saying weren't true, yet I wanted him to approve of me, to be pleased with me, to be proud of me. And when I had done something he perceived as wrong, such as accidentally leaving juice out overnight, I would be awoken at 5am to the sounds of screams and dishes being thrown around the kitchen. And only seconds later my bedroom door being thrown open and a tall dark figure shoving his finger in my face telling me what a lazy and worthless piece of shit I was.
I'm sure this story hits home for many people. Sociopaths are everywhere and can be hard to spot. They come in all forms, and can be extremely charming at first. Many experience sociopaths as romantic partners and even friends, or in my case, family members. Mine was my father. It used to kill me that the one man who should love me regardless of what I had done, or who I had become, literally couldn't feel love for anyone. He once told me I was too much like my mother and because of that, he didn't want to be around me. I was 20. He used my brother and I as tools in his game to hurt my mom, even years after their divorced. We were never shown love by this “man”.
Anyone who has had the “pleasure” of encountering a sociopath knows the cycle. It's the same, whether it's a partner or family member. They are kind, and caring. They try to be fun and are always on the move. I have many fun memories with my dad. We used to have a boat and we would spend every weekend in the summer out on the water. I have many memories of laying on the boat fishing and tanning as a teen, or holding on for dear life to the tube as he whipped us around in circles in the water, or him taking it easy on me when I decided I wanted to learn to kneeboard. But these moments are short lived and far between. What the outside world didn't see were the explosive reactions to even the tiniest mistake. The demeaning and evil words that could come out of his mouth were heartbreaking to a 13 year old me who didn't even understand and a sociopath was and took everything to heart. So you leave, you try to cut this insane human out of our life. Yet somehow, they always come back. They turn the charm on like it's a freaking light switch. I would refuse to see him on his weekends, which then ended in a bribe for a new phone, or a potential pony (seriously). Again, this was short lived kindness which would almost immediately revert back to emotional and verbal abuse.
The thing about sociopaths… they don't have normal human feelings. They are void of empathy, guilt and even love. Oh but they are good at faking it when it benefits them. Their one weakness is they do not like to be lonely. With my dad, I always noticed that he needed a person around who he could treat badly. Once my mom left him, that became me and my brother. They don't truly miss you or even want your company. They don't have the ability to miss someone. Once you are gone, they don't regret losing you as a human, only as a tool that had once benefited them in some way. He benefited from me as his verbal punching bag, and a way to manipulate and hurt my mom, who he perceived “did him wrong” when she left him. The only person they can care about and love…. Is themselves.
Four years ago was a turning point in my life. Something had happened to me, someone had hurt me and my dad had witnessed it happen. Instead of being a normal father, and even attempt to be supportive, I was told that he didn't want to have to deal with it, and even discovered that he had told my concerned family members to not worry, I had it coming.
Four years ago… I was 25. So WHY did I spend 25 years trying to please this guy? Why did I keep answering the phone call when he wanted to apologize for the unimaginable words that he could say? Because like I said before, they are damn good at faking human feelings. And who doesn't want to have a relationship with their dads? There HAS to be something good inside of him. Plus, you can't abandon family. If I cut him out, I would pretty much lose that side of my family. But that was enough. The anxiety I felt towards any authority figure made living a normal life almost impossible. I had constant fear of punishment at work if I happened to do anything wrong. It was disabling. I now know that because of this childhood trauma, I have Complex PTSD. It is a form of PTSD that is caused from a buildup of multiple or constant trauma.
This was hard to hear. How could I have let him do this to me? Even 4 years later, I am struggling with triggers that surround me. In relationships, I refuse to be treated badly and pretty much go to the extreme to avoid it at all costs. A small bicker turns into a full on war. Quick escalation is all I know. I have severely struggled with work. My supervisors terrify me because I always feel like I am on the verge of a verbal bashing for inadequate work. But recently I have noticed a shift in my perspective. Don't let these inhuman monsters make you scared. No. instead, I have learned how strong he made me, how independent he made me. I have deep insecurities still that I am working on. But I can also list the good things that came out of it. I can spot a sociopath a mile away. I know how to avoid abusive romantic relationships and have never been in one. Through trauma, I believe your strengths show. Instead of working my ass off to please him, I now work my ass off to be who I want to be. I will never treat my child the way I was treated as well.
Because of him I am:
A hard worker.
A good parent.
A strong person who won't back down.
Someone who refuses to be walked on or abused ever again.
Full of knowledge of red flags of a narcissist/sociopath.
Closer with my mom than ever.
Look for the flags. Don't feel bad about cutting them out, because I promise, they don't feel bad for hurting you. I am LUCKY that he was never physically abusive.. But it can certainly escalate to that, and a lot of sociopaths are.
If you feel like you might be dealing with a sociopath or abuser or are being abused, please reach out. There are many ways to safely leave, even if it feels like you can't.
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