Archive | March, 2013

The Top 10 Things I Want in a Man

30 Mar

The other day I was talking to a friend who is going through a tough time.  Like me, he is a people-pleaser.  In our conversation he said that he doesn’t even know what he wants in a partner.  He is so used to thinking about someone else’s needs that he never thought about his own.  I can relate.

As we were talking I realized that I haven’t taken my own advice.  I never thought about my top needs and the things I want from a partner.  Outside of my one therapy session and this post a few months ago, I haven’t put the kind of thought into it that I should. Is it any wonder then that I wasn’t getting my top needs met?  One reason is that I hadn’t even identified them.

So this week I took the time to write down the top 10 things I am looking for in a partner.  The 10 things I need in a man are:

  1. Intelligent – Not necessarily measured by degrees but by being able to hold an interesting, stimulating conversation.
  2. Sense of humor – It is important to have someone who can make me laugh, who understands my sarcasm, and makes my days brighter.
  3. Honest/ Truthful – This really should be #1.  Someone without this quality who has everything else still isn’t someone who I could have an enduring relationship with.
  4. Stable & Responsible – These are basically the same thing to me, although I know there is some difference.  I need someone who values the same things and is responsible and established.  I do not want to “rescue” someone else.  I am not interested in anyone who is living with his parents, doesn’t have a job, or is in terrible debt due to bad choices.
  5. Sexually open – My sexuality is very important.  I need someone affectionate who can be free and open with me. I also am a “once a day” woman ideally, and need a man who can keep up.
  6. Unselfish – I don’t want someone who is selfless to the point of not meeting their own needs (like I have been sometimes), but I do need someone willing to give as much as I do.  I want to be with someone who puts me first, who thinks about my happiness, and who doesn’t take advantage of my giving nature.
  7. A take charge/ aggressive type – I have a strong personality.  I need someone stronger.  I will not be content for long with someone who is passive, and neither will they.  I need a man who is a man, and will make me feel like a woman.
  8. Emotionally Aware & Open – There is a concept called emotional intelligence, which is “the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions.”  After living with someone who only faked emotions and lied about them, I need to be with a man who is able to understand and access his emotions.
  9. Goals/ Ambition – I don’t really care what the goals are, but I do need someone who is self-motivated and knows what he wants.
  10. Someone who challenges/ pushes me – I know myself, which means I know that I have a tendency to pour myself into other people, procrastinate, and not do everything I should.  I need someone who will encourage me and challenge me mentally, emotionally, and with life in general.

I think it’s a good list.  I also think that it’s very do-able.  My husband didn’t have any of the things on my list except maybe a sense of humor – limited and juvenile as it was.  That’s what you get when you don’t know what you’re looking for – someone who isn’t right for you.  Next time around I’m going to be more aware of my needs.  What would make your top 10 that I didn’t include?

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Mischief in the Neighborhood

30 Mar

Today when I wandered out to check my mail I discovered that my mailbox had been vandalized.  The metal flag was bent and wrapped around inside the mailbox itself.  The door was almost broken off, the metal warped.  I bent it back to the proper place, looked into my empty mailbox, and went back inside.  The mailbox next to mine looked okay, so I thought maybe mine had been targeted by some kids.  I didn’t feel like dealing with it, so I just went inside and carried on about my day – giving my dog a haircut, taking a shower, doing some laundry.

A few hours later my sister and her boyfriend came by.  She told me something was being sent here.  That jogged my memory about the mailbox, so I let her know.  Of course, she told me that I should call the police.  I hadn’t seen anything, and the only thing I knew was that it happened sometime between 6 or 7 pm last night and 1 pm today when I checked my mailbox.  What specific time frame – NOT!

Fifteen minutes later my sister called and said that I wasn’t the only one.  My Dad’s mailbox had been vandalized and so had his next-door neighbor’s.  She said that several mailboxes all the way down our side of the street were damaged.  Apparently one of the men at the end of the street was able to video his gas being siphoned out of his car around 1:30 am.  The police had been out earlier in that morning and taken a few statements.  The neighbor suggested calling to be added to the police report so that when the perpetrators were apprehended they could be charged correctly.

My sister of course wanted to dial 911.  I told her that we really shouldn’t waste their time with that, so I found the non-emergency number.  I called and about 15 minutes later or so an officer showed up.  Oh my gosh…  Officer Hotness!  He took some details down, told us he would add it to the report that was taken this morning, and headed out.  I have to say, though, I wouldn’t mind him patrolling around here more often.

That wasn’t the last time I saw him today, either.  I could make up something and say that he came back here just to talk to me, but that would be a lie.  I just saw him five minutes ago when he came back to take some pictures.  He got to meet Buddy, who would definitely not make a good guard dog.  We were outside talking to my step-mom, and he didn’t even bark.  Maybe he could tell he was one of the good guys, though.  We laughed and talked a little, then I bid him a goodnight and headed back inside.  There is absolutely no chance anything will develop, but it was nice to talk to such a cutie.

I think this little encounter was a good reminder that there is a lot out there for me.  It also leads very well into the next post I have been working on about what I’m looking for in my next relationship.  Handsome didn’t make the list, but I think a mutual attraction is a given.

What is Your Attachment Style? I’m Secure

29 Mar

Today I found a neat little attachment style quiz thanks to fellow blogger VwoopVwoop.  She posted a very good blog about how we are raised affects the way we interact and attach to the people we are romantically involved with.  My favorite line from her post is the very first one.  She says, “Secure attachment is the outcome of a healthy upbringing, with a sense of self, good boundaries, and no anxiety about what others’ hidden motives might be.”  So true!

After reading about the various attachment styles, I started wondering where I fall on the spectrum.  I feel like I was raised in a pretty healthy environment, but my last relationship obviously wasn’t healthy at all.  Thankfully, she provided the link to the quick quiz, which is here.  I took it, and found that I fall in the “Secure” category.  That’s good news!  Here’s the pictorial representation of my attachment style:

Attachment

Here is what else the test had to say about me:

“According to attachment theory and research, there are two fundamental ways in which people differ from one another in the way they think about relationships. First, some people are more anxious than others. People who are high in attachment-related anxiety tend to worry about whether their partners really love them and often fear rejection. People low on this dimension are much less worried about such matters. Second, some people are more avoidant than others. People who are high in attachment-related avoidance are less comfortable depending on others and opening up to others.

According to your questionnaire responses, your attachment-related anxiety score is 2.64, on a scale ranging from 1 (low anxiety) to 7 (high anxiety). Your attachment-related avoidance score is 1.33, on a scale ranging from 1 (low avoidance) to 7 (high avoidance).

As you can see in this graph, the two dimensions of anxiety and avoidance can be combined to create interesting combinations of attachment styles. For example people who are low in both attachment-related anxiety and avoidance are generally considered secure because they don’t typically worry about whether their partner’s are going to reject them and they are comfortable being emotionally close to others.

Combining your anxiety and avoidance scores, you fall into the secure quadrant. Previous research on attachment styles indicates that secure people tend to have relatively enduring and satisfying relationships. They are comfortable expressing their emotions, and tend not to suffer from depression and other psychological disorders.”

I am definitely comfortable expressing my emotions.  I have suffered from depression in the past.  It may have been situational depression, though.   That situation?  My husband!  I am a little higher on the anxiety scale now than I probably was when I first met him, although 2.64 isn’t bad.  I do sometimes worry and second-guess my own judgment now.  I wonder if someone can really love me the way I love, fully and deeply.  However, I am keeping that anxiety in check because I know that I have a lot to offer.  This was a good little confirmation that I am healthy and strong, despite what I’ve been through.

On another note, I’m doing well in school.  My first week is almost done, and I’m loving it.  I feel so invigorated.  I’ve definitely missed this the last few years.  I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend and a great holiday!

Exciting News: Continuing My Education

20 Mar

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I am so excited to let you guys know that I’m starting a MBA program next week!  I’ve been waiting to officially announce this until after all of the details were completely worked out, and now they are.  🙂

I think I have mentioned before that I love learning.  I would be a professional student if it paid well enough.  I wanted to start a Master’s program after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, but life got in the way.  Mr. Mess and I were starting to get serious.  I had a full scholarship for undergrad, but those really aren’t available for graduate programs.  Not without working 30 or so hours at an internship or as a teacher’s assistant.  That really wasn’t feasible since I had to have a full-time job to pay my mortgage.  Damn responsibility.  And damn useless boyfriends who are living with you, but not contributing half of all of the bills.

So I put it off.  Then I was laid off.  Finding a job and getting back to my previous salary became a priority.  After a couple months of unemployment and a temp job, I found my current company.  They’re a great company.  It was a great opportunity.  I threw myself into it.  I advanced.  Now 3 years later I’m getting bored again.  There’s still more to learn here – there always is.  However, I don’t feel energized and motivated the way I would like to be.

Then there was the matter of all of the drama going on in my personal life.  Mr. Mess was very demanding emotionally and financially.  I spent time and energy supporting him, encouraging him to grow and change fields, and trying to help him get his credit straight.  I was the responsible one.  I always am responsible, but I also had to be extra responsible to counteract all of the irresponsible he was throwing my way.  There was no way that I would have been able to manage his mess and the sex addiction drama and therapy and my demanding job and his lies…

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Now that he’s been gone for several months and I’m focusing on myself, that urge to go back to learning has increased.  I also have someone very close to me who has been teasing me about my lack of a Master’s for a while.  I’ve been getting more and more motivated and interested.

Then last month my job started a management training series with the corporate lawyer.  The first few sessions were aimed at knowing yourself, discovering your potential, identifying talent in yourself and others, and focusing on your strengths.  They purchased us the StrengthsFinder 2.0 books and had us take the online test.  If you aren’t familiar, it identifies your top 5 strengths out of a potential list of 34.  I got mine back, and all 5 of them relate to academics.  At least in my brain they do.

Here are my top 5 strengths in order with a description of each.  See if you agree with me that at least 3 of them basically sound like the same thing:

  1. Input – You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information — words, facts, books, and quotations — or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.
  2. Context – You look back. You look back because that is where the answers lie. You look back to understand the present. From your vantage point the present is unstable, a confusing clamor of competing voices. It is only by casting your mind back to an earlier time, a time when the plans were being drawn up, that the present regains its stability. The earlier time was a simpler time. It was a time of blueprints. As you look back, you begin to see these blueprints emerge. You realize what the initial intentions were. These blueprints or intentions have since become so embellished that they are almost unrecognizable, but now this Context theme reveals them again. This understanding brings you confidence. No longer disoriented, you make better decisions because you sense the underlying structure. You become a better partner because you understand how your colleagues came to be who they are. And counterintuitively you become wiser about the future because you saw its seeds being sown in the past. Faced with new people and new situations, it will take you a little time to orient yourself, but you must give yourself this time. You must discipline yourself to ask the questions and allow the blueprints to emerge because no matter what the situation, if you haven’t seen the blueprints, you will have less confidence in your decisions.
  3. Learner – You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered — this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences — yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”
  4. Competition – Competition is rooted in comparison. When you look at the world, you are instinctively aware of other people’s performance. Their performance is the ultimate yardstick. No matter how hard you tried, no matter how worthy your intentions, if you reached your goal but did not outperform your peers, the achievement feels hollow. Like all competitors, you need other people. You need to compare. If you can compare, you can compete, and if you can compete, you can win. And when you win, there is no feeling quite like it. You like measurement because it facilitates comparisons. You like other competitors because they invigorate you. You like contests because they must produce a winner. You particularly like contests where you know you have the inside track to be the winner. Although you are gracious to your fellow competitors and even stoic in defeat, you don’t compete for the fun of competing. You compete to win. Over time you will come to avoid contests where winning seems unlikely.
  5. Intellection – You like to think. You like mental activity. You like exercising the “muscles” of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. This need for mental activity may be focused; for example, you may be trying to solve a problem or develop an idea or understand another person’s feelings. The exact focus will depend on your other strengths. On the other hand, this mental activity may very well lack focus. The theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; it simply describes that you like to think. You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection. You are introspective. In a sense you are your own best companion, as you pose yourself questions and try out answers on yourself to see how they sound. This introspection may lead you to a slight sense of discontent as you compare what you are actually doing with all the thoughts and ideas that your mind conceives. Or this introspection may tend toward more pragmatic matters such as the events of the day or a conversation that you plan to have later. Wherever it leads you, this mental hum is one of the constants of your life.

There it is.  I like words.  I like knowledge.  I love learning and challenging myself mentally.  I’m a hoarder of information.  I need to be growing and keeping my mind occupied or I become unhappy.

So, I finally bit the bullet and started seriously inquiring about graduate school.  I checked out two Master’s programs close to me, and learned quite a bit about them.  I then researched a few online programs.  Once I found the perfect one I didn’t delay.  My first class starts next Tuesday.  I’m registered, everything has been processed, and all that’s left is for me to actually start the first class next week.  It is an 18 month program to earn my Masters in Business Administration.  Then I can tack on another 5 or so classes to get a concentration.  I’m still debating between HR, Marketing, and Project Management.  There’s time to decide on that.

Right now, I have to say that three little letters have never gotten me so excited about the future.

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My New Take on Boundary Agreements

17 Mar

I will probably get some push back on my opinion tonight, but I would like to tell you what my current thoughts are on boundary agreements.

If you were an original blog reader, you know that I had a boundary agreement with my soon to be ex husband. I understand the point and purpose of one, in theory and in practice. Hell, our boundary agreement even helped me to stand firm in separating from him when I discovered another big lie.

However, at this point I would never, ever accept a relationship with someone I couldn’t trust enough to use his or her own good judgment (or to have good judgement in the first place). Period. I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to be with someone who has to have a piece of paper full of self-explanatory things that they should give the person they’re in a relationship with in order to be a decent partner. Someone who needs that to guide what is right and wrong is not a person I ever want to be attached to.

In fact, if I ever feel the need for a boundary agreement in the future I will RUN in the other direction. On that same note, I would tell anyone considering the need for such a document in their own relationship to get the hell out. NOW!!! Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Just save yourself the future pain and heartache that is sure to come.

I realize that is probably offensive to some. I apologize. It’s just how I see things now. It’s also why I don’t post as much anymore. I think my input is a little too harsh. At the very least it comes from a much different place than those of you still hoping to reconcile with someone so untrustworthy that they need something in writing that details (very specifically) what is unacceptable to do to someone you supposedly love.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe communication is important. I think when any relationship starts to progress toward something serious there should be an open discussion about values and expectations and the importance of honesty, fidelity, respect, and all of the other critical aspects of a relationship that need to be present in order for it to succeed. However, if you do not trust your partner’s words, actions or morals enough to believe they can and will follow through on the supposed “shared values” you have unless they are written on a checklist somewhere with the accuracy and precision of a legal document, then they are not SHARED values at all. In my humble opinion, that itself dooms the relationship.

Compatibility extends to more than just the bedroom. Relationships that go the distance have one key thing in common – the people in them share things in common. Not necessarily the same religion or the same background or the same politics. No. Although those things don’t hurt, it is really shared VALUES that make the difference. If we both value respect highly and equally then we can choose to respect religious or political differences, for instance. Likewise, if only one of us places a value on respect (or values something else, like religion, more highly) then those differences will likely cause strife.

So what do I think boundary agreements are good for? A long laugh. Okay, that’s not the serious answer, and it’s also not fair. I think boundary agreements can help the injured partner feel heard and feel safer. You notice I said “feel.” That’s because they don’t actually guarantee a damn thing. Except maybe that when you see the person who claimed to love you cross a clearly drawn and agreed to line you can finally see what everyone else already could – what they’re doing to you is wrong.

The truth of the matter is that a spouse who crossed one of those lines knew what they were doing. They knew what was right and what wasn’t. They knew what they did wasn’t acceptable. Maybe they have justifications or rationalizations that made it easier for them to swallow, or maybe they’re narcissistic and delusional. Either way, writing it down on a piece of paper won’t change anything. They will choose to do better, get help, and fix things or they will continue making excuses to themselves and you and others. A boundary agreement won’t change that.

For those of you who have a boundary agreement and believe in them, best of luck. I really hope it works out. It is just another of the many tools available to people going through this difficult journey. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I understand. I just no longer agree. Personally, I would rather make an agreement with myself that I deserve more.

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This is me this weekend, enjoying my agreement with myself that I’m worth it. And sporting my new pink cat eye glasses. 🙂

Being with a Narcissistic Sociopath – Part 2

15 Mar

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So, here’s the continuation of my first post on this topic.  I’ve been working on these for a while.  It has been eye-opening to see the traits and characteristics detailed and described like this.  It’s even crazier to see how many of these he had.  I knew he was a narcissist, but seeing how much that overlaps with sociopathy and relating it to the last 5 years of my life I am shocked by how much I put up with.  Now that the time with him is really almost officially over and done with, I think this is a good time to examine these things, then leave them in the past where they belong.  I will never again let someone like this be part of my life.

Again, this list came from Paula’s Pontifications.

Once it’s clear you’re dealing with a narcissist, go through the following list to see if the narcissist is also a sociopath. (You’ll discover many overlapping traits from each list.) The list below of 20 sociopathic traits is taken directly from the book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Dr. Robert D. Hare, Ph.D:

1. Glib and superficial charm. The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Sociopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A sociopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.  My Mom always said that he was a “charmer.”  He definitely never worried if he didn’t know the facts behind something.  He still had an opinion.  A strong one.  Whether it was actually based on anything or not.  He always talked over me, and in social settings he made sure he was the center of attention.  His voice was often booming and inappropriately loud, even in intimate, otherwise quiet settings.  It was embarrassing, but I thought it was just because I was an introvert.  All of those other red flags I just assumed went along with an extroverted personality.  

2. Grandiose self-worth. A grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart.  Sociopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.  He had no concept of where he actually stood in relation to others.  He was very, very cocky.  He would also brag about the smallest thing like it was some crowning achievement.  It’s one thing to be proud of yourself.  It’s another to take something mundane or normal and gloat about it to everyone. 

He was also adamant about being so much better than everyone else he worked with, no matter what the job.  He complained about being “stuck” with incompetent people or having to take up other people’s slack.  In retrospect, it’s funny how in EVERY single job he was the best…  Yet it was never reflected in his pay or position. He always had excuses, though. He just wasn’t an ass-kisser or he was too valuable in the field to get promoted. When he was fired it was someone else’s fault and they were out to get him. Yeah…

3. Need for stimulation or proneness to boredom. An excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Sociopaths often have low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.  The first part of this one doesn’t ring too true.  He could be a bump on a log sometimes – sitting and doing nothing for days.  He wasn’t into thrills like sky-diving (which I want to do).  However, he did have a very short attention span.  And low self-discipline doesn’t even begin to describe it!  He would start things all the time and not finish them.   That is why I have half-finished counter top, a living room with only one wall retouched, and various unfinished projects that he promised to take care of and didn’t.

4. Pathological lying. Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.  Hahaha… Pathological lying for sure!  He was certainly manipulative, dishonest, deceitful and deceptive.   Read basically any of my past posts, and you will see that.  That man would lie about anything and everything just for the hell of it.

5. Conning and manipulative. The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.  I don’t think my ex had real concern for the things that he did to people.  He felt entitled to the things that he took from people, even if they were taken through deceptive means.  He didn’t have any problem with lying to me in order to keep me around longer, stay in my house, and con kisses and sex out of me that I wouldn’t have given him if I knew the truth.  He could pretend to understand what I was going through, but he never actually did get it.  He would cry, but it was out of self-pity, not because of what he did to me.  It was always, always about him.  He could pretend to be concerned about my feelings, but when given the opportunity to behave the same way again he would.

6. Lack of remorse or guilt. A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.  Oh look!  My last comment transitioned perfectly into this one.  His apologies were never really about being sorry.  They were about doing what he needed to in order to keep what he wanted.   He never incorporated what he was sorry FOR – it was just about the words.  He couldn’t grasp the way he made me feel and find real remorse for that.  As far as other people outside of our relationship?  I never, ever saw him empathize.  He would bitch about people and judge them for the VERY SAME things that he did.  I used to point that out to him – how can you judge someone else harshly for being in a position that you have been in (unemployed, homeless, living off of other people, etc., etc.)?  He just couldn’t put himself in another person’s shoes even if he had BEEN in those shoes before.

7. Shallow affect. Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.  I like the term “emotional poverty.”  He was certainly “openly gregarious,” but with a very, very shallow pool of real emotions to draw from.  From afar and at parties and such, he would come across as a very likable, charming person.  But it was all on the surface.  It didn’t run deeper.  He didn’t let anyone in, ever.  Maybe there was nothing deeper.

8. Callousness and lack of empathy. A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.  He could fake warmth for a certain amount of time.  He was certainly inconsiderate and tactless.  If you actually sat down and talked to him about a specific person or situation, you would soon see how little empathy he had.  Everyone on welfare or unemployment was a drug dealer (except when he needed unemployment – oh, wait, and he WAS a drug dealer at one point!).  When his sibling(s) got into a jam, he wanted nothing to do with helping.  He was very judgmental about my sister and everyone he had ever met that he felt the slightest bit superior to, which was basically everyone.

9. Parasitic lifestyle. An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.  Hahaha…  That is spot on.  He is 48, almost 49 and has never, ever lived on his own.  He lived with his parents off and on well into his late 20s and even some in his 30s (I believe).  He lived the college, drunken party life into his late 30s even though he never went to college.  He always had multiple roommates.  He sold pot and did every single drug imaginable (that didn’t have to be injected because he’s afraid of needles).  His friends paid most of the bills.  He might have pitched in here and there.  Maybe.  He moved from couch to couch in his friends’ houses after his last breakup until he wore out his welcome with every single person.

He even lived with his sister for years in his 40s.  She always covered him when he was short, which was every month. This is the same sister he couldn’t be bothered to help out when she lost her job of 20 years.  Oh, and he had no sympathy for her, either. From his perspective she should have had money saved up for something like that. Nevermind that he didn’t have a penny saved himself.  Then he found the gravy train with me. He had me fooled for a bit.  Once that was over it was back to couch surfing. Now he’s living with another friend and supposedly paying rent… I feel sorry for that guy. 

And don’t even get me started on his lack of motivation!  What motivation? Selfish also doesn’t begin to describe how completely self-centered he could be.

10. Poor behavioral controls. Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.  He had little to no control over his anger.  He would blow up at the drop of a hat.  He threw things.  He had temper tantrums like a child.  He would strike out and become incredibly petty. I found myself unconsciously trying to smooth things over and attempt to control his wild mood swings before they happened.

11. Promiscuous sexual behavior. A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests. We all know this one applies. I think 50+ sex partners off of the internet counts as “indiscriminate,” especially since his only criteria was that they were female and willing to fuck him. Multiple affairs? Check. Having more than one sexual relationship going at a time? Check.  Brief, superficial relationships? Check.  Bragging?  Triple check.

12. Early behavior problems. A variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home. The only one of these I don’t know for sure is the glue-sniffing. Knowing him that probably happened, though.  He even set an entire grove of woods on fire as a kid.  

13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals. An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.  Realistic and long-term were two terms he didn’t even know.  He doesn’t have anything saved.  Nothing.  Maybe the $5 they make you put in the savings account to keep it open.  That’s it.  He just raided his “retirement” account (which only had a pathetically small amount of money in it anyway).  His long-term plans (become a famous chef, open a restaurant, become a millionaire) would only have been possible if we lived in a magical world where a genie could grant wishes.  He had huge pipe dreams and absolutely no feasible plan for making them happen.  Before he knew me he was extremely nomadic – moving every year basically.  

14. Impulsivity. The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.  Yep.  At first I called that spontaneity.  It seemed fun.  He seemed to be a good balance for my overly planned, serious nature.  Then I started seeing it pop up in ways that weren’t just a spur of the moment vacation.  I started to noticed that he failed to think ANYTHING through.  Even if he tried, he failed.  He might say that he was or was not going to do XYZ, no matter what.  Then the second he was actually faced with the choice he did the opposite of what he said he was going to do.  He would spend money he didn’t have.  He had unprotected sex with people he didn’t even know.  When he drank he often got hammered.  There was no moderation, no control, and no thought of what the negative consequences of his foolish actions might be.

15. Irresponsibility. Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.  When I met my husband he had terrible credit.  He blamed his ex.  Now I know that was a huge red flag, and I should have run in the other direction as fast as I could.  At the time it seemed reasonable.  They were renting a house together.  She moved out and (he said) left him with all of the bills, some of which got out of control.  I had just gone through a breakup.  I, too, was left with the house and all of the bills.  It was a struggle.  Of course I never let anything get past due, and I never, ever would have.  But I could see how someone making less than I was could have a hard time.  It had been over a year since that breakup, but he still had bills that had gone into collections.  I helped him pull his credit report for free so he could get the number of the agencies and work out some sort of payment.  

Fast-forward 5 years later to the present day – Some of these bills are STILL in collections.  He had more than adequate opportunities to pay them off.  Hell, I would have helped him out with them.  Besides the fact that I was paying most of the bills already, if he had called and set up something I would have helped make the payment to get them off of his credit.  Call me a push-over and an enabler.  It’s true.  I was.  Not anymore.

Besides those examples from the past, within our relationship he would often overdraft his bank account, go over the limit on his credit card, and hide bills from me that were in his name and past due.  I didn’t let him fuck up MY credit or my bill payment.  He knew enough to know that there is absolutely no way that would fly under my radar.  But anything that didn’t have my name attached to it wasn’t paid more often than it was.  He was fired from his construction job for sloppy, lazy work.  He has all sorts of excuses, but the bottom line is that plus his bad attitude got him fired.

16. A failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.  Mr. Mess had never once accepted responsibility for a single thing he did wrong. Ever.  There was always an excuse.  It was his ex’s fault, his boss’s fault, his co-worker’s fault, my fault, our dog’s fault, the doctor’s fault, the cell phone company’s fault… You name it.  If you asked him, the entire world was in a conspiracy against him and he’d never done a single thing wrong.  Antagonistic manipulation is the perfect term.  I’d never heard it before, but it fits perfectly.  That’s why gaslighting was so easy for him – it was second nature to place the blame anywhere and everywhere besides himself, and if it made me feel crazy in the process all the better because it made lying to me easier.  And his denial of responsibility was always used as a tool to manipulate – he made me feel sorry for him about the way his last relationship ended, and I know he is doing that today with the story he tells about us.  Everything is designed with a spin that puts him in the role of innocent victim.

17. Many short-term marital relationships. A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.  I was the only idiot stupid enough to marry him.  That didn’t last long, though.  Before me, his longest relationship was 3 years (maybe).  Other than that, it was 6 months here, 6 months there, and a whole fucking lot of one-night internet hookups.  I am shocked that he was able to keep the friends he had for 20+ years.  The main reason I see for that being possible is that most of them were just as immature and messed up as him – gatherings always had to include drugs and drinking, there are only 2 friends who are married (even though they are all his age), and they still play video games non-stop.  That plus his manipulation, party vibe, and victim mentality kept people distracted and feeling sorry for him and ready to get drunk and high.  Then once that has occurred basically anyone is tolerable.

18. Juvenile delinquency. Behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.  He was the drug dealer at his school.  He was almost expelled on more than one occasion, but his parents always fought tooth and nail with the school and threatened to sue them.  He laughed about the times they tried to catch him red-handed and couldn’t get the concrete proof they needed to put him in juvie.  He got drunk and crashed his Dad’s car at 13.  He used to get in fights a lot.  More than once he bragged (yes, bragged!) about the fact that he thinks he only passed high school because they wanted to get him the hell out of there.  

19. Revocation of condition release. A revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.  After high school he joined the Coast Guard on a whim because his cousin was doing it, too.  He only lasted a few years there before he was dishonorably discharged for drug use and insubordination.  Lovely.  Before that he was caught a few times (I believe), and thrown in the brig.  He didn’t stop, and in fact got worse until they didn’t want his ass around anymore.  He had his driver’s license suspended and revoked more than once.  Usually it was for failure to pay a fine.  Often the fine was related to something else he was supposed to do (like have insurance on a vehicle or report one sold and turn in the tags), but failed to.

20. Criminal versatility. A diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes. (Hare 2011).  I’m not sure how criminally diverse he was.  The things I mostly know about involve using and selling drugs.  He did drive drunk a lot.  He got caught once for that.  He did tend to brag about getting away with things.  He would laugh and act proud, like not only was he brilliant to get away with things, but the cops were incredibly stupid and didn’t have a chance against his mastermind.  Snort.

narcissist

In addition to the above two lists of traits, the biggest trait (or magic trick as I like to call it) that makes narcissistic sociopaths so dangerous and effective is their ability to go unnoticed by the rest of us. They can do this, because they are good at pretending (lying) and wearing many masks (again, lying). Simply put, they lie to themselves and everyone else. They lie so much that some of them are convinced of their own lies, which is where evil is born.  This part obviously has to be true.  Although now, looking back on all of the above traits and stories, I feel naive and stupid to have fallen for it, that is how these people go through life.  They lie.  They are good in small doses.  They have explanations for everything.  I honestly believe that he had convinced himself that his version of things was the truth.  Even faced with proof to the contrary, he would adamantly stick to his improbable story with so much conviction that it made the other person question reality.

I am no psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor. However, I have lived alongside a narcissistic sociopath and feel the need to share, even if in a tale-like fiction setting, how I understand the psychopathology that insidiously penetrated my body, mind, and spirit until I was nearly convinced that I was the evil one. How? Projection, transference, and control, that’s how.  To this day I know his version of our marriage is that I was controlling, jealous, and a “nut job.”  For too long I let him play on my insecurities and almost convince me that I was the problem in this relationship.  This blog – you people out there who read my story, gave me support, and grounded me to reality – and my individual therapy are the two things that kept me sane.  Well, those and my family.  And books.  Thank goodness I had those support networks.  If not, I can only imagine the hell that I would be living in for the rest of my life.

I hope you enjoy this story and pass it along to your family, friends, others you love, and anyone you suspect is or has been a victim.

Paula Carrasquillo ~ July 2012
Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath

Possibly the Last Time I Have to See Him?

14 Mar

Tonight just might have been the last time I had to see Mr. Mess.  He came to pick up the small amount of the tax return that I kindly offered.  I gave him the last few odds and ends I found that belong to him.  He was here less than 5 minutes.  And that should be it!

Hopefully when I file for divorce next month I won’t even have to see him.  My lawyer will just take care of everything.  He can sign the papers when he gets them.  I won’t have to be there or see him.  I’m pretty sure that we won’t even have to go to court together – I think the judge will just sign the order.  Here’s hoping!

Being with a Narcissistic Sociopath – Part 1

12 Mar

A few weeks ago I found a link to a blog written by a very strong woman.  Her goal is to create awareness of personality disorders and how these disorders destroy marriages/intimate partner relationships and are at the center of abuse/domestic violence cases.  She has a lot of great information.  One particular post, Identifying a Narcissistic Sociopath, really struck home.  I have read it many times.

I see so many characteristics of a narcissistic sociopath in Mr. Mess.  So much so that I wanted to re-post the list here with my comments and maybe a few examples from my life.  My comments are in blue.  The rest is the text of the original blog post:

Do you know what it feels like to be locked up, placed in a dungeon of a partner’s creation? If so, you’re not alone. If not, pray you never do.

Abuse comes in many forms and affects many people in the victim’s life.  Emotional, physical, and sexual abuses are equally degrading and harmful. One is not better than the other or worse than the other. They are ALL abuse.

This story is specifically about emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissistic sociopath.

According to Dr. Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door, sociopaths make up 4% of western society (Stout, 2010). That’s about 1 in 25 people walking around among us without a conscience, without the ability to measure, or care to measure, the morality of their decisions and actions. Would you know how to identify a sociopath if you saw one, met one, started an intimate relationship or entered into a business contract with one? More than likely, your answer is No, because unlike what we read on the television news or see in Hollywood movies, sociopaths aren’t just serial killers and murderers. Rather, they are members of our communities who we would never suspect of evil or wrong doing and who seamlessly blend into society with the rest of us. How? Through lies, manipulations, and more lies.  Lies, manipulation, and more lies”… Sounds familiar.

In romance, narcissistic sociopaths often appear too good to be true. They are charming, agreeable, and engaging. The narcissistic sociopath loves (or seems to love) everything about you. He hooks you. Then he breaks you. His emotional abuse is VERY subtle. The victim may not know she is being victimized until it is nearly too late.

Identifying narcissistic sociopaths

Although not all narcissists are sociopaths, all sociopaths are narcissists (Stout 2010). Therefore, if you can identify a narcissist, you’re one step closer to being able to recognize a sociopath. Below is a definition of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and a list of narcissistic traits taken directly from the website of Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love. (If you know someone who fits at least 5 or more of these traits, a psychiatrist could easily diagnose him/her as having NPD.)

The DSM-IV-TR defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as “an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts,” such as family life and work.  I don’t know about the sociopath part, but already the narcissist side is looking incredibly fitting…

1. Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);  This manifested itself very, very early with Mr. Mess.  He told me when we first met that he was a construction foreman.  In fact, he was a temp worker on the line at a company that formed concrete beams.  He wasn’t even an employee of the company itself (and was never actually hired on there, despite his insistence that he was the best person who worked there).  He had no supervisory duties at all.  There are so many other examples that we could be here all day on just this one point.  He always had an opinion on something, and his opinion was always right, even if it was based on absolutely nothing (no facts, no reasoning, just because he said so).  He got enraged if I ever questioned his claims or lack of proof.

2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;  Oh, he always had this.  He is studying to become a chef right now, and always talked about opening his own restaurant, becoming a famous chef, and all of these other things that are pie in the sky type fantasies because he had no concrete plans to make them happen (yet was convinced they somehow were going to come true).  He would watch cooking competitions and act like he could win them with his little to no experience.  He would go on about how he was the best person in his class, yet he consistently did poorly on his practical exams.  Again, too many examples to go through.

3. Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions); Hmmm… maybe not so much on this one.  He was never elitist about the institutions he was part of (his cooking school is a community college, not that he acted that way when he was glorifying his cooking abilities).  He DID always look down at others in his classes and meetings.  He thought he was soooo much better than them, and would constantly complain about the people in his groups.

4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply);  Oh, absolutely.  That man wanted a standing ovation every time he did the slightest thing right.  He was always wanting people to tell him how wonderful he was, and would lie to get the attention and admiration he wanted.  He needed positive affirmation for every.single.thing. or he would become pouty and childish.

5. Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment;  Entitled.  That describes him to a T.  He feels like he should get what he wants because it’s what he wants.  He felt like he “deserved” things just because.  Even with the tax refund, he feels like he should get part of it because he deserves it, because he “needs” it.  He fully admits that I took a loss on the car and that he is the reason all of the extra options were added that made it upside down.  He acknowledges that his “half” of the tax refund doesn’t even cover my loss and that he agreed to give me the $2K.  But somehow he STILL thinks that he is entitled.  He has always had completely “unreasonable expectations,” and his parents for sure set him up to believe that he should get some sort of “priority treatment.”  Hell, they got him out of drug charges and school suspensions, and he still laughs at how smart he was to get away with it (with their help).

6. Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends;  Without the ability to manipulate and live off of other people, I don’t think he could even exist.  Before me, he was unemployed for several months and literally moving from couch to couch, bumming off of his friends.  He used me to buy him a car (more than one actually – the last 3 vehicles he had were either mine, paid for by me, or financed by me). 

7. Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;  He certainly was never able to accept or empathize with my feelings, needs, preferences and priorities.  He could lie and pretend for a while, but his true nature always came out.  He literally had no concern for my health, and his actions made that increasingly obvious.  I have never once seen him put himself last for anyone or put anyone else’s feelings or needs before his own desires.  I think he is probably incapable of that.

8. Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly;  Reading the first half of this, I wasn’t sure…  Then I got to the second sentence and it started to make sense.  He definitely did feel like people were “out to get” him.  I think it’s part of the entitlement and the inability to take responsibility for his own actions.  Either way, things were always someone else’s fault.  If something went wrong it was because someone else didn’t want him to succeed.  Just like this marriage being over is because I didn’t give him enough of a chance.

9. Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy (http://samvak.tripod.com).  Oh, yeah.  His parents played a huge part in that.  They got him and his brother and sister out of all sorts of legal trouble, and he felt entitled.  He couldn’t stand being contradicted, especially when he was wrong. In fact, that was when he could get the most indignant and petty.

So yep, I was definitely with a narcissist.  I knew that much already.  It was nice to see this list here in black and white.

Taxes Finally Done

5 Mar

So, our taxes have officially been filed and accepted by the Federal and State Departments of Taxation.  This is the latest in my entire life I’ve ever waited to file.  To make a long story short, I filed them myself.  That decision was made after we visited Mr. Mess’s choice of a tax preparer and realized not only was the man about 120 years old, but he also wasn’t do anything special for the $280 he wanted.  When he put all of the documents we had brought and put them in a folder, I made sure said folder was placed into my hands.  Yay!

A few short days later, I have filed our taxes, gotten a confirmation that they were accepted, and all I need to do now is wait for the direct deposit.  Into my savings account.  He made his case for getting a portion of the return, even though it wasn’t nearly as much as he anticipated it would be.  I still haven’t decided how much, if anything, I will give him.

Once I saw the $3K plus that I had to pay taxes and penalties on that he took from the retirement account, it effectively reduced the portion of the refund that I was thinking of giving him.  Suddenly his pity party sob story about living paycheck to paycheck meant nothing.  He had over three thousand dollars and a job.  If he has already blown through it in not even 3 months (maybe that New Year’s trip wasn’t the best idea?), then that’s his problem.

Hope everyone out there in blog land is doing well!!!

taxes

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