Someone recently started following my blog and “liked” one of my posts. I checked out her own blog, and she’d written a startlingly honest piece wondering if she might be a psychopath. She listed off the 16 traits of psychopathy identified by expert Hervey Cleckley, and forthrightly admitted that she believed she possessed 14 of those traits. However, she lacked two of the traits:
- Unreliability, disregard for obligations, no sense of responsibility, in matters of little and great import.
- Untruthfulness and insincerity.
Some of the things she admitted doing were unflinchingly cruel, but she expressed regret and remorse, and seemed to have an unusual depth of insight. I replied to her post:
Conventional wisdom holds that if you think you are a psychopath, you probably aren’t. I don’t know how much weight to place on conventional wisdom, but there it is. The well-known self-acknowledged psychopaths minimize it, justify it, or tout the benefits of having no conscience. From my personal experience, trait #5 is the one that *always* applies.
Psychopaths tell lies constantly, for personal gain or for no reason at all except the sheer joy of duping someone. They even tell lies when it seems that telling the truth would be more beneficial for their purposes.
All psychopaths abuse others in one way or another. But being an abuser does not mean you are a psychopath. Some people abuse because they’ve endured abuse. That’s not an “excuse” to keep doing it, but a pointer toward why you might have done the things you’ve done and how you might change. Plenty of people who have been abused do not go on to become abusers. Psychopaths *never* say “I’m sorry” — or if they say it, they don’t *mean* it.
When abusers say they are sorry, they usually *do* mean it, but haven’t get gotten a grip on what is causing their behavior and how to change it.
It’s hard to peg psychopathy as a “yes / no” phenomenon. How many traits of psychopathy must one have to meet the criteria? A victim will know one when s/he gets involved with one … eventually. Psychopaths have a choice, and they *choose* to do bad.
We all have a shadow side and self-doubt. Keep working and processing and learning and strive to do what is good.
Thanks for reading my blog!
This, and a few other recent exchanges got me to thinking… Well, I was already “thinking,” and doing little else. I have shared a lot of personal details about my experience with my wife, what she did to me, what I observed first-hand, how she treated her children and family, what others told me. What I’ve shared thus far doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
As a very insignificant example of all manner of hideous and hurtful things that have gone unspoken, in my post Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?, I realized I left out a bit. At one stage, after the first “other woman” and before Claire, my wife led me to believe she had started a relationship with a friend of hers named Jess. She emailed me photographs to prove it:
Later on, my wife claimed that Jess had “come on” to her when they were in my wife’s kitchen and Jess was drunk. She said that Jess had assaulted her in front of her kids, and so they’d had a “falling out.” Who knows what to believe?
Many years ago, I had a situation which will be worthy of its own post one day soon. The short version is that I had an intern-therapist who did some very inappropriate things to me. I filed a grievance with the organization the intern worked for. All I really wanted was an apology and an acknowledgement of what had been done wrong. The result of the grievance procedure was something to the effect of, “We don’t find any wrong-doing, but for showing good faith in bringing this to our attention, we are offering you $4,000.” This incensed me, because I only wanted the apology and acknowledgement, and they were buying me off with the offer of money. So I hired an attorney, and in the end, I won a sizable sum of money, and the institution was forced to make substantive changes in their practices and procedures.
Now I have to search my soul. Why am I sharing so many personal details about my wife? Well, for one thing, they are true (my opinions, my truth, as honestly as I can express it). This is my story and it happened to me. Writing about it is my way to heal.
For another thing, I’d like to spare current and future victims harm, and if I am silent, then I am an enabler. Edmund Burke famously said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Next, many people are unaware of psychopathy and how it can creep into one’s life, uninvited, leaving one devastated. I would like to be one of the voices increasing awareness. Also, so much distortion comes with getting involved with a psychopath, the best help available is to read the stories of survivors, and say, “Aha! Yes! It wasn’t just me…. I ‘get it’ now.” Finally, the topic is just plain interesting, to me at least.
So, I hang on the ethical precipice, wondering whether to expose all I know, have proof of, and which I have been told or experienced — and that would be a bombshell that would affect many people’s lives. Or whether to keep things as tame as I have chosen to do so far, and reach for the higher ground. And yet, all I really want is an apology…. I know my wife is reading my blog, as are people on every continent except Antarctica. That sounds nasty and egotistical, but it isn’t really. I’ve always known I had an unusual story to tell (hence, I’ve been fully open about being transgendered and my suicide attempts). And I’ve always known that one of my very few talents was writing. My blog is my creative release! It is for me, and for anyone else who might take comfort from it, or learn from it, or even laugh at it.
There is no doubt my wife long ago launched a “smear campaign” against me. I have no proof of what allegations she has made against me since I don’t know what she’s said about me behind my back, but I can make some educated guesses. One of them will be that I left her in financial ruin, not paying my fair share of expenses. I can counter that argument with evidence:
That, and so, so much more. (Be sure to notice the date on the Western Union transfer….)
I’m not saying I am perfect or that I made no mistakes. Never made such a claim, and never will. But when I weigh the mistakes I made against what was done to me, there is simply no comparison, and no excuse.
In thinking about my dilemma of what and how much to share, I came across the following:
“You always hurt the one you love, the one you should not hurt at all;
You always take the sweetest rose, and crush it till the petals fall;
You always break the kindest heart, with a hasty word you can’t recall;
So if I broke your heart last night, it’s because I love you most of all.” (Mills Brothers)
When Paula used to scream at me for endless hours and called me “c*nt” and other epithets that even sailors don’t know, I tried to tell her that she should be careful what she said, because words once spoken can’t be unspoken.
Still, after all that has been done to me (including the death of my precious dog), I find that a part of me still loves her. Or I think I do, anyway. Who but the soul knows? When I said, “Till death us do part,” I meant every damn syllable. Flaws and all, hers and mine. Even after I found out she’d lied about owning her home, which delayed my move to the UK for a solid year, I still kept my vows. She may have taken that vow twice before me, but it was my first (and only) time, and believe me Jesus, I meant it. She may parade any number of “other women” in front of me, but for my part, she is my wife, my one and only. She is and will be until the day we are legally divorced, or until the day I die — whichever comes first.
And even after we both die, we will be soul mates — because we took those sacred vows. And because of what we shared, and what we alone know. And because our lives touched in a way that neither of us will ever forget. If not soul mates in the romantic sense, at least soul mates in the karmic sense. In our intimate moments, Paula would say to me, “My body doesn’t lie.” Who is your body lying to now, Paula, and if your body didn’t lie, then why did your lips lie?
One kind word of apology or acknowledgement or explanation would stop me dead in my tracks. Otherwise, it’s between me and my karma and my God and my own inner goodness. Who knows which will triumph after all I’ve been through?
When I was preparing to move to the UK, I made sure that Paula was aware of all that I was sacrificing. I was transgendered, legally blind, and had no family. I had a roof over my head, and the mementos of my past, my dog — and that was all. I wasn’t working, and I was 53 years old when we got married. That’s not a time to be making life-altering sacrifices. Paula said she loved me, and she understood the price I was paying for us to be together. Did she? Or did she mouth the words? I told her I was putting my life in her hands, and she said, “I love you so much, I’d die for you.” Didn’t quite turn out that way.
My message to Paula is the song at the end, but what I wish I could be saying is this:
I love you so much. More than poets could pen, more than stars can twinkle. Would that I had the power to turn back the hands of time, and find us sitting together in the misty rain on the wondrous beach, warming each other against the cold that dark night. Why did you hurt me this way? Even now, I’d be with you in a heart beat — if I knew you really loved me. If I knew you wanted me. If I knew you wouldn’t hurt me any more… If I knew I could trust you… Even now.
I want to wake up from this cruel nightmare and smell you wearing White Musk again. I want to spend a whole evening slow-dancing to romantic music like we did when you were at my house. I want to see you audition before X-Factor, because I know you have it in you. I want to make you eggs and toast for your birthday, even if they come out crappy like they did. When the rolling credits at the end of the movie scroll, and we’re both crying, I want to hold you close.
I’m sorry for the mistakes I made, but if you look back honestly, I think you’ll find they were relatively few and relatively minor. At least nothing deserving of what I got in return. I’m sorry for the things I had no control over, like my stroke and my mother’s death. I’m sorry, full stop.
Please wake me up, wake us up, from this nightmare.
But you see, those were the words I was trying to say in spring of 2013, ready to forfeit another home and the life I’d rebuilt, with Paula begging me to “just get on a plane,” while unbeknownst to me, my wife was courting Claire. If I’d gotten on that plane, which one of us would have been hurt? My January 2013 visit was my attempt to turn back the hands of time, but instead, I was faced with Outrageous Lies — the Sofa.
Those were also the words I was trying to say in January of 2014, when I sent many gifts, including a bouquet of Paula’s nan’s favorite flowers. But then I found out about Claire… And then Paula told me she had broken up with Claire because she “loved me,” and could I send her more money so she wouldn’t be sent to prison? (See Discard.)
So I guess words are useless now and all the clocks are broken. Nothing left but lives in jagged shards. This is what it is like to heal from a psychopath.
And as a last, closing remark to my wife, if your vows were so meaningless to Hussain, to Lotfi, and to me, why should anyone believe you now???
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