Saturday, January 24, 2015

To the Sociopath I Fell in Love With

You came looking for me when I wasn’t looking for anything. You did everything right and I fell in love with you. I cleared space to include you in my entire existence. Then you were done with me, you checked out, and I was left holding empty promises.

Apparently, I outsmarted myself, too. With my belief in theories of time, I should have known that 40 years can happen in 5 minutes.

Because of the project we started working on, some of our references to it and notes were made in personal texts, which I had saved.

I found two comments from you to me that would appear to have been made in jest:

“If I get what I want, you may have outlived your use.”


“You can’t hurt my feelings… (I’m a) sociopath.” (Even though I already knew what that meant, I looked it up, anyway.)

Out of everything that you said that I listened to, these were the two things I should have heard. I’m listening now. You were right. In fact, there is another point you were right about. During one of our many conversations we had discussed the idea of hiding things, and you pointed out that the best place to hide something was in plain sight. That includes the truth.

Well done! I completely missed it.

I’ve never been a huge fan of labeling. Giving a person a label has the potential to pigeonhole that person into one set of characteristics only, leaving no room for redeeming (if necessary) qualities. Labels can also keep a person stuck in a rut. In this case however, my use of a label enables me to begin to eliminate the “why” that has been plaguing me since you left. I’ve wasted too much of my time trying to understand how the man that I loved to a capacity I didn’t even know I held, who supposedly loved me just as much in return, could have dropped me so abruptly. Your own label serves a purpose for me at the moment. Right now, I need to use it in order to be able to raise my own energy, to have an answer to the “whys” that have been playing on a continuous loop. My emissions have been low, and I can only raise them one step at a time. (I don’t plan on sticking around on this step for too long.)

Besides, I can’t hurt you. Win-win.

Really, my calling you out as a sociopath is not a label but more of a statement of agreement. You said you were a sociopath and you were right. Charming, charismatic, superficial, and egotistical, living behind the delusions based on mistrust of other people and the grandiose beliefs that only you are “real”. With an uncanny ability to convince yourself that you are always right, and that you are doing things for the highest good. You use your supposed ability to live peacefully among others without argument as validation for your rightness, when actually what is going on is that you allow no one to disagree with you—accomplished by avoidance and refusal of acknowledgment. You can make promises, and hurt someone’s feelings without remorse or apology, because you don’t stick around to face what you’ve done. No one can argue with you if you’re not there. Ergo, you are always right. Clean conscience. Originally, I had mistakenly attributed that avoidance to cowardice, but have come to realize it’s a tactic to uphold your delusions. Cowardice and fear could be behind it, but the avoidance is a deliberate tool. Don’t face what you don’t want to see.

You are truly brilliant, but you know that. You have an exceptional ability to read people, and to say the right things. An extraordinary businessman. One who understands all of the strategies, including how to intersperse just enough of the personal into business dealings to achieve your desired outcome. Your knowledge of the personal is remarkable, and is exceeded only by your detachment from it.

Your ego demands honesty from other people, yet you feel that you are above adhering to it. Not to deliberately deceive someone, as in to cheat them in business-- you know that you have many other skills to get what you want without lowering yourself to that type of dishonesty. Your own dishonesty plays in with your avoidance game. The lie by omission. The refusal to face a conflicting opinion. The refusal to acknowledge that someone else may feel differently about something you may have done – or worse, that they may be right.

You promote expectations in other people’s minds, then denigrate them for having those expectations, using their presumptions against them, calling them “unrealistic.”

There’s no need for you to apologize, because you know exactly the outcome of any given conversation, because you’ve already had it in your head. Besides, if you don’t face them you have no need to acknowledge your actions and, therefore, no need to apologize.

You limit everything that is personal. You keep yourself alone and separate from the commoners, because you know you are truly different. That doesn’t mean you don’t have supporters and fans, and that is all you need. The yes-men, the people awed by your brilliance and charisma. Keeping relationships superficial absolves your full personal involvement and allows you to bask in the adoration and praise that is heaped on you even when you’re not there. He’s a great guy.

Argument or discussion are not means to the end of creating a better outcome, but are used an enjoyable pastime, a pleasant diversion--like a bar room debate--that will be shut down the moment it gets real, or if you feel you could lose ground.

I have to face what’s real. Even in light of things you may have said recently, you truly have no use for me. And I have to stop listening to your words and focus on your actions. If I mattered to you, you would show me. Period. We mere humans do silly things like that. Not just for people we love, but even people we like. Even people we just know. Agreeing with your self-title actually allows me an acceptable enough reason to stop my constant tripping on the “why.” And I have learned your limits on love and friendship—as well as your capacity for them. I accept that our definitions are different. Loners don’t need friends.

I know that the man I fell in love with was a mirage, and as distant as the moon I thought him to be. And I am not “his star” like he said, but one of the many stars he looks down on--with the exception that for a brief moment he shined his light on me. I continue to love that man anyway, as illusory as he is, because love of any kind is positive (and resistance to it was harder!), and will learn soon how to re-channel it into something even more beneficial, to more people. And love without the burden of expectation in and of itself feels good. I don't have to delete him, block him, or cut him out. I can just let him be there. I can even acknowledge and interact with him. It's quite freeing.

Thank you, my sociopath, for helping me learn that.

“I had some dreams,  
they were clouds in my coffee…”

Putting it out there: I understand that my determination to learn to be patient and accepting of what is will stir up resistance from old habits. And I will be more forgiving of myself, and not be too harsh when I have moments of lower frequency.

--If I’m going to learn fucking patience and acceptance, I’d damn well better give some of it to myself!

(Nope. Can’t go without that word even once.)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fears, Facades, and Faith in People (and my Oxford Comma)

Tonight there was a gas leak in one of the pipes in the street right in front of my house at the exact spot where I park my car every night. I could smell it outside and called the fire department. They checked the basements of all the houses while they waited for the gas company to show. The smell didn’t seem to be coming from any of the houses; just that one spot on the street. The gentleman who work for the gas company confirmed that it was indeed coming from the pipe that was right where I parked my car. He had a mallet and some other tools with him and said that he had to do a little digging to see if the leak headed towards my house or my neighbor’s house and that a crew was on their way to fix it.

Like I always do in situations like this, I went for the humor: I offered the firemen alcohol (of course they refused), asked one of them for cigarette, and when it was time for me to move my car I demanded that I wanted it in writing that I would be safe to start it and threatened to haunt him if he lied to me. There were also borderline inappropriate jokes about phone apps and a stud finder (right, ladies?)—you had to be there. When the first worker from the gas company showed up, after he found the leak (and also found out that there was gas on the foundation of the house), I told him if he was going to blow it up to do it now before I finished cleaning, because I’d be really pissed if I cleaned the house only to have it blow up.

This was a good night for it to happen, because both of my girls were not going to be home. My oldest was working until 11 and I was going pick her up from work and drive her to her father’s house in Boston because she needed to be there in the morning. Because of that I made arrangements for my 10-year-old to stay at my friend’s house (who also happens to be my daughter’s school bus driver) so that she wouldn’t have to be out driving with me late. I know that if they had been home they would’ve been nervous.

I had about two hours until I had to leave to pick my daughter up from work, and I’d been standing outside with the firemen and the gas man, and I was getting cold. So I went inside. I was in the house alone, and I could feel the house shake every time the gas man swung his mallet and hit the ground around the pipes. And then I realized something.

I was afraid.

I will not say that I’m not afraid of anything, but I don’t usually get scared. I get uncomfortable, nervous, hot, cold, pathetic, snarky, flighty, bitchy, hungry and horny – but I don’t get scared. Not like this. I have had scary moments, but I’ve always prided myself on my ability to not react out of fear—even if I get reactionary shakes afterwards, I’ve always managed to be clearheaded in the most trying moments. 

This goes back as far as I can remember, from when I was eight and almost drowned in the bathtub when my hair got caught in the drain (I don’t think I ever told my parents about that) to a few years ago when I lost the brakes when I was driving a full school bus—of course there was that almost freak shaving accident in the shower couple years ago that I mentioned last month. I have had serious experiences; I have children – and there is always a measure of fear at points in their lives, but I don’t remember ever being afraid like I was tonight. We live in an age of terrorism. My family is military, and I was brought up to not react in fear or to allow myself to live in it. In my first blog here I referred to terrorists as bullies and got a little snarky.

But tonight I was actually afraid. This was a very new experience for me.

I have to say this is been a banner fucking year for me for new experiences.

A number of years ago when I was driving a school bus full-time I was driving a route that was undergoing construction on part of it. I bitched about it for days and the delay it was causing, especially because one of my stops was right in the middle of it. One day, about an hour after I picked the kids up at that particular stop, my boss called me on the radio and told me I wasn’t going back to that stop in the afternoon. When I asked why she said, “It blew up.”

I do not know if I have the correct information about what happened, but the information that I have has become my truth. From what I understand, it was human error and that someone hit the gas main. The house that was there exploded and, fortunately, the four college students that were inside sleeping all survived. I had heard a couple of years after that that those poor kids were still suffering the fallout of that – understandably so. Obviously, I had some serious moments of thought about that myself. I stopped there twice a day every day while that construction was going on, and that accident happened less than an hour after I was there. That was enough to give me some pause (understatement). Apparently, it also gave me a measure of fear. I park my car on that spot every single night. Despite confident assurance from the gas company worker and the fire department, I was actually afraid. But they told me that everything was fine and relatively easy to take care of. 

Because of that I had no intention of running away to spend the night somewhere else. I like to be able to trust that people know their jobs, and I wasn’t about to be a hypocrite to what I say I believe in by running scared, or to worry about the possibility of human error. That possibility is always there, for everything.

Before I go further, I want to thank everyone who has a job where “business as usual” is potentially dangerous: gas workers, electricians, construction workers, transportation workers, policeman, firemen, doctors and nurses, military personnel – everyone who has a job that carries a large responsibility with little room for error. Thank you for knowing what you do, and doing it to the best of your ability.

Every parent is aware of the façade we put on for our children when things aren’t going well. Normally, I complain about having to put on “that face”, because it’s not easy. It’s not easy to pretend that everything is fine for the kids, that you’re not worried about whether or not you can feed them or pay the rent. Or hide a negative attitude. Or hide fear. I was grateful that my kids were not around tonight. I also realize that sometimes it’s easier to forge through something when they are around and you have to plaster that confidence on. Because for half an hour I was alone in the house, and every time it shook with the downswing of the mallet, so did I.

I was determined to stick it out. Guess what I did?

I called my father.

I wanted him to confirm what I was already told, that everything was going to be fine. I felt more than silly about it, and fully expected him to make fun of me. I felt ten years old.

But he wasn’t home.

(Yes, I had a good laugh at that, too.)

Knowing that I was going to be picking my daughter up, and not wanting him to call me while I was with her, when I left my message I did not tell him why I was calling. I did not want her to know that I was concerned – and rightly so; as soon as I dropped her off at her father’s house she called me while I was driving home, very worried about me being home near a gas leak. I did what every parent would do, and I told her that everything was going to be fine.

For the remainder of the ride home I thought about the times that I’ve had to put a face on for my kids, and then for the times that I know my parents had to do the same for me. And I appreciate it. Especially now that I know what it’s like. And I thought back about specific instances where I know now that they put on the paint and spackle for me and my brothers and sisters, that I hadn’t known then. And I appreciate it.

To all of you parents out there (past, present, and future) – especially the single parents who go through it alone, know that the effort you make now will be appreciated later in some way. My father wasn’t home when I called him tonight (and you know I’m going to give him hell later!), But he did help me: first, in the gratitude that I felt for the façade he always put on for me, and second, in that happy realization that I had that – despite the turbulence of our relationship – I actually wanted to call him in that moment. I had always mourned that I didn’t have a “family home” to go back to (divorce will do that). But I know I have family to go back to. And that comforted me incredibly.

Gas leak? Smash shmeak. I have better things to think about.

(When I got home from Boston, the gas company was still here, but they said they were pretty much finished and just cleaning up. It’s 3am now, and there’s still a truck outside, but they do seem to be pretty much done. Thanks, guys.)