Surviving a Sociopath, with a Thank you note.

It’s funny and humbling that I finally sit down to write this article on Remembrance Day, a day we honour those who have fought and died for us. Fought for our freedoms, the same day the world is still reeling from news that Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States. So may I say this with a touch of humour, please keep my story in perspective.

Every year on Remembrance Day, I stop and reflect on the brutal battles my grandparents fought in World War II to give my family a better life. The seeds they planted along their journey to Canada were to raise a family that live a better life than themselves. So I can’t help but stop and ask myself, “Am I living the life they envisioned for me? A life they fought so hard for me to have?” And the answer has been no – the last 10 years or so – I have not. Today, however I most certainly am, I am blessed to have gone through some tumultuous times in the past few years and have made such a monumental shift in my life I don’t think I could say I’ve ever been this full of joy. Happy comes and goes, life gets tough, things get complicated; but I can honestly say I have more joy in my life today than I ever have. And so many awful things have contributed to my joy, there are some days I want to wrap my arms around some awful people, kiss them on the cheek and thank them from the bottom of my heart. As I walk about this world today with total peace and utter freedom, I know who my friends are, I know who I can count on, I know my truth and it surprises me how liberating that is. I hope this story brings hope to someone going through similar things. Never give up, fight for what you believe in; if you are coming from the right place, the right thing will happen.

This is a historical week; the unthinkable has happened, Trump will be President. It’s Remembrance Day today and thoughts and images of war are everywhere. Isn’t it ironic that on this very day that we honour those who fought and died for us is the same day hate is brewing and traveling across social media faster than lightening? In my opinion, over the past few years the U.S. has taken a gigantic leap back in time and is once again openly hating one another, hurting each other, Americans are waking up to messages of hate written on their homes and cars; people are getting beat up, ridiculed for being gay, tormented for their chosen political party. Hitler’s name is mainstream and trendy…..it’s like we have resurrected the worst moments in history and set them free to roam our streets in modern times. It’s a dangerous time and I am saddened by the state of this world, I am saddened that people hate so fiercely and treat people so badly. I am not naive enough to think that hate has not always been ever present, I know it’s always bubbling under the surface but good has always managed to keep evil at bay; but today and recently, I’m not so sure good can conquer all evil anymore. It feels as if it’s time for the pendulum to swing in the wrong direction and re-teach us long lost lessons that the generations before us had to endure and learn in the most painful ways. Now this didn’t happen overnight, this isn’t just happening in Washington, Pennsylvania or Ottawa….But what I’ve realized and am not afraid to say it, we should look no further than our own backyards as to where the hate starts, where it begins to fester and blossom and then spread; it starts in our own homes and in our children.

It’s the perfect storm for me right now, as I’ve wanted to write about my experience for quite some time, but as a journalist I know sometimes waiting and gathering and digging for all the information is what has to be done before you react, conclude or put pen to paper, because without all the facts all you have is a story. It just so happens that I have been researching sociopaths for over a year now. And low and behold I’ve discovered they come in all shapes and sizes. I have interviewed professionals who have educated me on what a sociopath really looks like. It’s not always a scary face (well maybe Trump’s is) because he’s a classic media hungry sociopath. It’s not always horrific criminals that do unspeakable things. Most times, it’s just a regular ole’ person who lives in your neighbourhood, an unassuming mom maybe. Studies show there are far more sociopaths living ordinary lives than those we see demonized in the media. A neighbourhood sociopath doesn’t wear a badge or advertise the turmoil that goes on in their mind they simply move through life undetected. They slither about their days and do whatever is necessary to protect the burdens they carry. Have you ever met someone so charming, self deprecating and what appears to be so humble it’s cute? But when you pull back the layers of the onion, you reveal the eye watering truth about how these people really operate. They would rather pour gasoline on someone who ‘threatens’ them than water to put out the fire; the hate they spew and damage they happily leave in their wake is like air for them to breath. But all the while, looking squeaky clean and innocent because a sociopath gathers pawns, collects them like game pieces and gets them to do their dirty work so all the gossip and lies don’t fall back directly on them. She cleverly collects pawns to spread her hate until her story is coming from so many different people, the unsuspecting audience has no choice but to doubt the sociopath’s target. How do I know this? Because I was one of her pawns.

The fascinating thing is; there’s always some truth to her stories, that’s how a sociopath gets away with it, look at Trump, he agrees and disagrees on the same issues, supports and condemns people based on his needs at the time, they are master spin doctors. They bide their time, they wait for the perfect moment, they gather their pawns and then they oh so delicately drop a bomb on some unsuspecting person with no regard for what their life will look like in the morning. How do they manage to sway people? How do they convince these pawns to buy into their story? How could a women in her right mind actually vote for Trump? How can a person of colour, an immigrant, a millennial cast a ballot for him? Because they spin the truth and sell their hate as hope, like Trump, he mapped out his plan and knew who his audience was decades before he even ran. Everyone saw the People Magazine interview- the one quoting him “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.” And look what happened for goodness sake; he’s President Elect. He brings up things that are real, things that have happened and then spins it in whatever way he’s mapped out to achieve his end goal. For Trump it was winning the Presidency; for the neighbourhood sociopath, it’s a full on character assassination casting doubt on their target for life.

Let me be clear, in no way shape or form am I saying that what my family has gone through in any way compares to what those who fear for their lives in the U.S. or anywhere else for that matter. The racists and bigots are only waking up in America and dusting themselves off as they crawl out from under their rocks. They’ve been in hiding for decades and I predict we’ll see white hoods and burning crosses again on a daily basis, we’ll see our LGBTQ community beaten and tormented for their very existence. I have no doubt about that – and I don’t dare compare the neighbourhood sociopath to the woes others are facing today and will face tomorrow…..what I am saying is that the underlying feeling and message is the same. Hate, is hate, treating people with disdain and unkindness can be little gestures or monumental ones. When you shun someone, when you treat them untoward, when you spread hate or gossip or lies; you are contributing to the world we live in today. I don’t sit on top of my soapbox either, I am not perfect by any means, but I have however learned from my mistakes. I care enough to find out the truth, it’s crazy to me that people don’t ask more questions, outside the circle where the mess was created. Why, otherwise rational people, wouldn’t dig a little deeper for the truth or the whole story. Research shows that when dealing with a sociopath they are just that good at manipulating you into the thought process of – why wouldn’t I believe her?; it’s (insert name) after all, she’s so sweet. And if her victim rises up, the snake takes any accusations or questions against it or it’s behaviour and turns it in to a laser focused counterattack on it’s target. It’s actually gripping when you remove yourself emotionally and watch the game unfold for her.

For my story and what I discovered; It all comes down to protecting her secrets, the sociopath will do whatever necessary to assassinate your character in order to protect their very existence. She is a classic wolf in sheep’s clothing and her game is all about draining her victim’s dry of any credibility, friends, status or reputation. Psychology Today Magazine wrote this:

“Once the sociopath realizes that you are avoiding them, not participating or interacting with them and have become un-scammable, they will (if they haven’t already) begin to bad-mouth you. If a sociopath sees you as a possible threat to their successful existence and ongoing manipulation of others, they will seek to destroy you and will be hell-bent on seeing you lose everything. It’s really not that they need to have your things for themselves; it’s just that they are driven to see that you are left completely desolate.”

And when you come to realize it’s too late and the snake is already fully at work don’t beat yourself up; prepare yourself for what’s to come. Sociopaths create patterns, they have targets in more than one circle. Find comfort in the fact you are not her first target, nor will you be her last. Past targets will reach out to you and you will forever have their support and understanding. You will begin to see how you too were used as her pawn and fell for her manipulation against her past targets.

You have to make a decision when you face a sociopath and you have to make it quickly. I decided to spray myself with Pam everyday and go about my business and not let any of the sneers, the whispers, the knives in my back stick. I chose to use the experience as a life lesson for my daughter and myself. We built walls around our family so high it gave us a chance to heal from our own wounds of not living the life we wanted to be living. It gave us the chance to be open to new friendships and dare I say the snake lead me to some of the greatest people I have in my life today. And quite frankly, I am free to walk around my neighbourhood and not have to be fake, if you choose to slam the door in mine and my daughter’s face, that’s on you. You choose to block my daughter’s path on the sidewalk and make her walk around you on the street….that shows your true colours. Every time something untoward happens to my family, we rise higher. We are a true testament to Michelle Obama’s advice to Hillary during the campaign: “When they go low……you go high.”

So why am I writing about this? Because that’s what I do; I am a writer and this article is my thank you note. I truly believe all of this was supposed to happen. When you become complacent the universe gives you the wake up calls you need. What I want people who face something similar to know is; it’s on you how the game ends. It’s your responsibility on how you react. You decide when the game is over. Believe me, there were times when I had to sit on my hands and bite my tongue but as the days, weeks and months went by….I found it got easier and easier and as the sneers and snubs continued, I actually became more centered in my own life. I became more grateful, more inspired and more determined than ever to make my dreams come true.

Once you come to realize the smear campaign isn’t personal as a sociopath is not capable of remorse, they have no empathy, they don’t really hate you, they only see you as a tool to get further in their game. You can’t “fix” them or change them or make them see their evil ways, because sociopaths truly believe in their story. Look at Trump, he truly believes he can make America great again, he really honestly believes he’s going to build a wall and send every immigrant “back” to their home country and create millions and millions of jobs. The best way to move forward is to not respond, don’t defend yourself, don’t react and do not contact the person ever again. Any contact with her or anyone she’s collected as pawns will only fuel the fire that runs her engine. I have lost a lot of good friends/acquaintances along the way, I felt anyone close to her has to be kept at arms length for their sake and mine. This experience has made me stronger, my daughter stronger, my family stronger and my circle of friends smaller and made of concrete.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that if you are going to judge someone, you better make sure you’re perfect yourself; because everyone makes mistakes, it’s what you do with those mistakes that counts. I’ve also paid more attention and really lived this; If you are happy and have true joy in your life it is literally impossible to treat others badly. Really, it is. If someone is rude or unkind you can bet they have unresolved issues themselves. They have struggles, problems, anger, resentment or something they are trying to overcome within themselves. Let it go and show them mercy. You have to realize they are only a distraction trying to pull you off course. History has taught us the strongest people are the ones that humble themselves and step away. Every fairytale tells us you overcome evil with good; and as I wrote earlier I do believe we may be a bit off course but in time all wrongs will be righted. Don’t be a Donald and think you overcome disrespect with more disrespect, insults with more insults, blame with more blame, the only way to get back on course is to always take the highroad.

It takes work and effort but if you keep telling yourself “This too shall pass,” you’ll be rewarded. Trust me. Find your joy and believe in mercy, that’s the best gift you can give yourself and those that have stuck by you. I truly believe the same amount of mercy you show others is the amount of mercy the universe will show you. Karma will always come back around. Knowing that is worth picking up the bucket of water and leaving the bucket of gasoline behind – for good.

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

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