Monthly Archives: January 2015

Reasoning with a Sociopath

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I realized my main problem in trying to communicate with my ex, with trying to figure out what to say to him that will actually begin the healing process, that will allow us to work together as a functional team to ensure the best for my daughters.

He’s a sociopath.

a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial,often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.” – http://dictionary.reference.com/

What’s a sociopath?  This definition by Sue Fitzmaurice is very tangible:

  • “Charming
  • Delusional
  • Never Wrong
  • No Empathy
  • Plays the Victim
  • LIES & CHEATS
  • Twists Your Words
  • Has to Win
  • “Gas-Lights”

And so there IS no reasoning with him. There is no point in trying to lay out facts or expect him to act like a rational human being. Because he isn’t. He’s a sociopath.

Now that I can put this into words, I hope this will help the healing process. I hope this will help me let go. I’ve been holding on to conversations in my head, just things I wanted to tell him, but it’s no use. The mechanism for him to understand simply isn’t there.

The interesting thing in the above definitions is that neither of them mention ego-centrism. Because that’s the other thing I’ve noticed. It’s all about him, even when he says it’s about the kids or me. I don’t think it was always this way. I think there genuinely was a time when I was in a functional relationship. But that broke, crumbled, and disintegrated.

All I need to really remember is that there is no reasoning with a sociopath. I will think I am getting something out of a conversation that just isn’t there. All I can do is document, stay factual and polite, and follow the letter of the law.

I need to let go.

Let go of the emotional attachment to seeing his attempts to communicate.

Let go of the reactions when I actually read what he’s written or listen to what he says.

Let go of ever thinking that I can express to him in a meaningful way how much hurt he caused my daughters.

Let go of bitterness.

Let go of thinking that I could coach him how to have a relationship with my daughters.

Let go of thinking of him as their dad. He isn’t. He relinquished that title when he left without word the second time.

Let go of worrying at all about what his mother thinks or does or is. She is my girls’ grandmother, so I will continue to facilitate their relationship, but I just need to let go of caring about it. I don’t own that relationship, either.

An Open Letter to My Ex

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Dear Failure as a Father,

No, it’s not my fault.

I didn’t take my car keys and my wallet and my phone and drive you off 1248 miles to Utah, walking away from my job, my kids, and my spouse.

I didn’t

  • ignore texts, Facebook messages, emails, and phone calls
  • ignore voice messages from my daughters
  • fail to contact my children even after the police notified me that I was the subject of a missing persons report
  • take off with my paycheck and fail to pay the bills to help my two little girls
  • withhold any contact information from my daughters
  • go for weeks without even attempting to initiate contact with my daughters

I didn’t

  • completely change my profile on Facebook, creating a new name for myself and trying to have a porn star lifestyle
  • fail to communicate with my two little girls for months
  • default and fail to appear in court for the proceedings for my divorce to have any say in the support of or access to my children
  • ignore any child support mandated by the courts
  • limit Christmas for my daughters to a greeting card and a magazine subscription – from a new nickname they’d never heard of before

I didn’t

  • limit my birthday gift to my oldest daughter to $20 cash and a card
  • fail to appear in court for my final divorce proceedings
  • completely and wholly default in the matter of my divorce, including any say in access to my children

I didn’t

  • neglect to try to see my children in March when I was back in the state
  • go for months without trying to communicate to my daughters
  • fail to try to negotiate a time to see my children in June when I was back in the state
  • limit my younger daughter’s birthday gift to a greeting card and a $25 gift card
  • again fail to contact my children for months

I didn’t

  • give excuses about why I couldn’t provide child support when I finally got a job
  • oh, and whine about it on Facebook
  • provide even more excuses why I couldn’t pay anything to help when my younger daughter had to go into braces
  • fail to bring anything for my daughters when I finally saw them in October, nearly a year after I’d left
  • fail to purchase anything for my girls at McDonald’s when I “went out to lunch” with them
  • take stalker-esque photos of my daughters and my ex instead of asking them to be in a photograph
  • tell my children that I was inventing a flying car and a flying suit and a flying bicycle
  • start the most psycho email barrage ever, accusing my ex of neglecting the children
  • email old neighbors, asking them to go behind my ex’s back to email me
  • fail to attempt to communicate directly with my children before acting like a sociopath

I didn’t

  • tell my children I’d write to them every week, only to have it peter off to an occasional email
  • fail to provide a working phone number to my children for 14 months
  • write emails that do not focus on my daughters but instead on me
  • fail to respond to what my daughters write to me
  • write to my children that I’m now developing suits for firefighters
  • send my older daughter a birthday message on the wrong day
  • cop out of sending my daughter a birthday present by asking her to tell me what she didn’t get – not even up front asking “What would you like for your birthday?” but “What didn’t you get that you wanted?”
  • record and send a video that had sound quality so poor my daughter couldn’t understand what I was saying – oh, and have it saved sideways, too
  • blame my ex for sharing the birthday message the day it was sent

Therefore, I fail to see how any of the quagmire you’ve created can legitimately be placed on my shoulders.

You walked away.

You continued to walk away.

You failed to treat the girls and me with respect.

And yet it is my fault? Yet you blame me for it all? You take no responsibility for any of the hurt or pain or hardship; you fail even to acknowledge that your leaving caused turmoil. Instead, in all things, you place the blame squarely on my shoulders.

Fine.

Because I got the better end of the deal.

I got the kids.

I don’t accept responsibility for your actions, but I claim full responsibility for my daughters. I am their parent. I am their guide, their role model, their influence.

I am their MOM.

You will ride in the limo

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No, no, I won’t ride in the limo.

I do not want to be any closer to you than I must be. I will help you make tough decisions, I will write my mother’s obituary in 40 words or less, I will go to the viewing, the service, and even the interment and be pleasant at all of it.

I will not ride in the limo.

To ride in the limo means that I would actually have to sit in the same enclosed space as you, breathe the same air as you, possibly touch you, and definitely smell you.

Simply put, I value not being in jail.  And I would probably be arrested for assault.  And I would owe the funeral home for cleaning the upholstery in the limo.

________

So I took half a day off work yesterday to help with plans for my mother’s funeral.

And, just as I was leaving work, I get a message that the meeting was cancelled by the funeral home.

Okay, whatever.

The meeting was rescheduled for today at 9am.

I was not about to take off another day for this – especially not if it meant sitting in the same room as two of my brothers and my father.

So I get these texts that detail the plans: 2pm visitation, 3pm service, interment, reception

Okay. I can deal with this. Even if I wanted to avoid the whole graveside service thing at any cost, I can deal with it.

And then I get the text:
You will ride with us in limo from the nursing home.

Excuse me?

First, thank you for inviting or asking me.

Second, from the nursing home? Do you mean the funeral home?

Third, um, NO. No, I have other transportation, thanks.  No, I do not want to be trapped in a conveyance with you. No, I do not want to be separated from my children. No, this would not bring me comfort, make things easier on me, or help me or anyone else in any tangible way.

I already told the pastor that I need to be kept AWAY from my birth family. I do not need the opportunity to lash out at these people who would intentionally (and unintentionally) push my buttons, goad me, and keep me from being able to grieve in my own way.  What I need is for my friends to be my human buffer zone, for them to intervene between me and my birth family, and for me to have the least interaction possible with them. Yes, I am an actress, but my performances top out after so long.

I wouldn’t want to make a scene, but I also don’t trust myself to be strong when I am emotionally overwrought.

So, no, thanks, I’ve got my own transportation already. I’m riding with my girls.

Good grief

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Grief comes in many forms: there’s the grief over your spilled coffee when it was the last of the package of Red Velvet coffee from World Market, there’s the grief over the loss of a pet, the grief over the loss of a once-possible future, grief over the end of a relationship, grief over the loss of a loved one, a parent, a friend, a child, a sibling, a grandparent.

I’ve known many of these, and today I am re-experiencing the grief over the loss of my mom.

My mom died in her sleep last night after struggling with pneumonia and problems swallowing and a whole host of other medical problems. She’d been on hospice care for about three weeks after being dismissed from the hospital, so it wasn’t unexpected.

However, it hit me anew today.

I’d already been through a grieving process because my parents had disowned me a few years ago. They had lied to me, sent bill collectors (for their bills, mind) after me, cut me out of all communication, hidden their whereabouts from me, and then… used me. Used me as a way to store their hoarder’s house, used me as a way to deal with all their messes, used me as a permanent address when they didn’t want to give out their nursing home address.

My brother tried to use me as a way to take care of Mom and Dad over the holidays, tried to use me as a responder when they had a health scare, tried to use me as a way to not have to deal with their hoarded stuff.

Last year, my dad asked if he and my mom could come back to live with me.

I had to tell them no.

No, I couldn’t open myself up to that much hurt any more. No, I couldn’t expose myself to the lies, the deceit, the recriminations. No, I just physically and financially couldn’t take care of them any more (I am still paying off their stay in the first nursing home).

And in all this time, I grieved.

I racked myself with guilt for not being the dutiful daughter, for not pursuing them, for not maintaining a relationship with them, for not giving of myself, my time, and my resources to support them. I felt guilty for placing them in a care facility even though it was ultimately their choice. I felt guilty for a number of things. I felt guilty for the angry words I said. I felt guilty for living in their house when they disappeared.

I realize I grieved for the loss of a trusting filial relationship.

Some of that guilt stuff was just a mess, just something I didn’t really need to take on to myself because they could have made different decisions, too. They could have told me that they wanted to move back into their house and take care of themselves and send me back to my own house. They didn’t. Instead, they lied and conspired and treated me as a contemptible outcast – until they needed something. I was a tissue – to be used and discarded – and maybe used again if there were no other likely tissues when the need arose.

I have lived with that guilt, that resentment over the situation, and the grief for the loss of my parents for years.

And now, today, I have good, clean grief. It’s honest grief. My mom died, and I grieve her loss.

But it’s odd because I’ve already been in the grieving process so long that it’s not hitting me like a sledgehammer. It’s not knocking me out and incapacitating me.  Instead, it’s just stealing in and quietly mugging me, draining me of energy here and there, sporadically making me exhausted.

Oh, I had my ugly cry this morning. I cried and sobbed and snot ran down my face. Then I got over it. I got up, started breathing again, and finished out my yoga practice and went home and got my kids ready for school and got dressed for work and showed up on time and did my job. Yes, I took a nap over lunch when it snuck up on me, but otherwise, it’s not this overpowering darkness today.

Perhaps it helps that, in reality as well as in my mind, she died last night. It wasn’t today. There was nothing I could have do. There is nothing I can do. So there is no reason to get overly worked up over it.

It also wasn’t sudden. She’d been on hospice care.

We also weren’t close any more. She’d done more than distance herself from me over the past few years.

I think the saddest parts are when I think back to how close we were. When I think about how she helped take care of my daughters as infants, when I think of the phone conversations, how she helped me go to college, to Europe, to get my braces done, how I took care of her after her heart attacks or stroke, when we were best buddies, those are the times when I feel the loss.

But in the end, we weren’t. We weren’t best buddies. We were distant acquaintances. She knew nothing of my life and I nothing of hers.

I’m not going to kid myself and think her death will have no impact on me, but I think I may now be over the messy, guilt-ridden grief. I may now know how clean good grief feels.

Insanely productive

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I’ve been insanely productive today – and pretty much all this week. I’m not really sure what’s bringing it about, but I’d like to think it was the adherence to eating clean. I’d add working out, but I intentionally ditched the gym this morning to laze about and drink coffee and eat a leisurely breakfast and read tucked up in a warm blanket before starting my day.

I think it’s that my survival instincts have realized that I need to kick it in gear if I want to keep my job. There has just been so much that I let pile up in this work-related depressive funk when my boss got removed. Looking at it from the other side, it was the same sort of mindset I fell into when I was going through my divorce. The bare minimum got done, but no big projects could be accomplished, and I drowned under extra tasks.

Whatever the cause, the result has been awesome. I’ve enjoyed getting my work life back together and clearing out the gunk.

The best part is that when I am on top of my job, I feel like it’s a good occupation for me to have, like work is a good fit. Perhaps a lot of my general distaste for my job in the past few months has originated from knowing that I wasn’t doing it to its fullest.

As a side note, I’m looking into other ways to augment my income. I’m going to need to do something if I want to be able to afford any extravagances this year, and I’ve got this thing called a wedding coming up in six months.

Finances have been weighing on my mind this week as I get ready to write over thousands of dollars in property taxes and school taxes. The problem is that, while I saved to pay for them and can afford them, it will drain my cash cushion. Granted, I didn’t have a cushion at all this time last year and wound up waiting until the middle of the summer to finish paying my taxes. So I don’t really know what I’m whining about. I’m in a better place financially than I’ve been in years, but I wish I was doing even better – and that would have meant scrimping on Christmas, which I didn’t do. So, okay, I get to live with my decisions and make the best ones moving forward that I can with the information I have at the time.

And I suppose that’s all we can ever really do.

Pulling Through

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This morning was one of those days when I had to pull myself through.

My first alarm went off, and I figured out not only how to shut it off, but how to completely disable it without waking up. I spent the next half of an hour in a grumpy slumber, trying to convince myself that I really wanted to follow through with my promise to myself to cycle on Wednesday mornings. And then my second alarm went off. And I snoozed it.

Eventually, I dragged my carcass out of bed and to the gym, running a few minutes late, but still hitting the warm-up phase of the class. I had a piss-poor attitude about the cold, about the idea of sweating, and about cycling.

Then about 20 minutes in, I actually started to enjoy myself. And a few seconds later, I started counting down the time until I could reasonably leave. I had promised myself 30 minutes. I got 35. On my way out, I did a weight check, and I was continuing my downward trend, so that was smile-worthy.

When I got home, it was as though I was struggling through molasses to get myself put together for the day. I was sweaty, I needed coffee and breakfast, and I was trying to help my fourth grader finish the rest of her math homework – without having her cry.

I was only five minutes late to work – or so. No one was beating down the door to get to me, so I counted it as a win.

Probably the best thing that happened all morning was a great conversation with my bestie while I was insanely productive at work.

I stole a couple of minutes to type up my monthly menu – my attempt to get on top of grocery spending, ensure reduced food spoilage, intelligently use resources, and plan healthy meals for my entire family that DO NOT require me cooking a separate meal for me and for them. We are on day 3 of the menu, and the first two nights went better than expected. Of course my kids knew I was systematically trying to poison them, but they gave in and ate… reluctantly.

Monday was pork tenderloin, butternut squash, and broccoli. Fortunately, it made enough that I have lunches for me covered for the week. Last night was turkey “steak,” Asian-inspired cabbage slaw, shredded carrots, and cucumber slices. Tonight should be oven-baked chicken with bacon-wrapped asparagus bundles. Thursday nights are my nights to rebel against cooking, so I put “Breakfast for Dinner” on the menu, hoping someone will step up and do the honors. Or the horrors.

The really good part about today was how my body felt. I felt energetic, and my stomach wasn’t bloated or rumbly. Last night I caved and made these “no added sugar” cookies. It was almost cheating because they contained bananas, applesauce, cranberries, and chocolate chips. You want to talk sugar? But at least it didn’t call for a cup of sugar or honey or any other added sweetener. Anyhow, I kind of went crazy eating these wonderful warm gooey bits of heaven, and I probably need to (a) not make them again unless I have people with whom to share them (b) reduce the recipe to have fewer cookies. But, oh, they were good, and my body didn’t rebel against them. In fact, it was quiet and calm and allowed a friendly weigh-in this morning.

The weather has changed. It went from warm and sunny to gray and ominous. The weather wasn’t supposed to deteriorate until tomorrow, but it’s here. Just in time for a work meeting that everyone knows will have BAD NEWS. We just don’t know how bad… yet.  And that’s killing my tenuous resolve to go to the gym tonight.

Hopefully I can pull through and make it to yoga. I need it after the workout I’ve given my knee today.

Test results!

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Wow! That was fast! Only yesterday I went to have my blood drawn for allergy tests. Today I get the call that they came back NEGATIVE. That is reason for rejoicing because I do NOT have food allergies!

On the other hand, what is happening to my body? Why am I experiencing reactions to certain foods?

What is the next step?

The reason I’m asking is that I seriously think some foods are BAD for my body, but I want to be able to prove it scientifically rather than circumstantially.

I want to know I am not just making this up.

However, I can continue to eat clean and take care of my body doing what I know is effective. It just is a letdown that I have no proof to show anyone that certain foods are my nemesis.

On that note, I am down nearly five pounds since the weirdly explosive, pain-filled day. That’s still up from where I was before I indulged in the evil cake of doom, but it’s approaching what I consider my “starting weight.” I hope to get back there this week.

Here’s my current theory about what I should do:

  • Reduce sugar consumption – that means reducing fruit intake. And I love me some fruit.
  • Increase water intake – and not just coffee *pout* – but actual water.
  • Continue to work on lifting/muscle-building exercises – my theory is that building muscle early on might not affect weight now, but should pay dividends later.
  • Continue to do targeted cardio – cycling, eliptical, things that work my legs – I really would like to reduce the real estate of my back side.
  • Continue to do yoga – the flexibility and mental health benefits of yoga are my payoffs.
  • Continue to “eat clean.” – I’m currently not plugged into any particular regimen, but I think I’m going to stick mostly to the Whole30 with some allowances for alcohol, butter, and some chemical-saturated water flavorings (which I’ve been avoiding, but might use to encourage myself to actually drink enough water.)
  • Buy some gas-relief medication such as Gas-X or Beano to help manage the symptoms of intestinal distress.

On the realistic side, the part wherein I admit to my human failings, I went to the gym this morning to catch the barbell class, but the regular teacher wasn’t there. I put away all the equipment I’d gotten out and decided to go do my own thing instead. I did the elliptical for a five minute warm-up, did legs, shoulders, chest, back, and arms, and I found a “new” machine that works calves. I really pressed myself to increase weight and do reps until my muscles tired. I only spent 35 minutes working out instead of 45, but I think I covered my bases. I just feel a little guilty about not going to a class where I didn’t know the instructor. At least I didn’t go home!

Day 2 Progress

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It’s sad but good to say that on only the second day, I feel 100% better.

Yesterday I was still miserable. I felt fevered, sore, lethargic, and basically sick through and through. I left work “early” – which is on-time – got fuel and actually felt hungry. I allowed myself a packet of sunflower seeds from the gas station.

I got home on a mission – go to bed. First, I knew I was running basically dehydrated, but the idea of water left me (literally) cold. So instead I made a “green” smoothie, though mine turned out a really awful puce color. Banana, apple, spinach, a couple raspberries, a couple blackberries, and almond milk.

And then bed.

I crashed from 5-7, and it was one of the best decisions of 2015.

I awoke to an empty house and went to make dinner: ground beef, grilled onions, cabbage, and celery. I settled down with a cup of hot tea and a good book about the time everyone got back. I was still feeling pretty punk, so I ate on the sofa in approved “Mommy is sick” formation.

We opened some leftover Christmas presents (yes, it’s the middle of January, and we still had a stack of presents – mostly books – left to open) and then scooted everyone off to their respective beds by 8:30. Snuggled under the heating blanket, we watched the rest of our movie and collapsed into slumber by 10pm.

And then this morning? Oh my goodness! This morning, I felt like myself again! I was energetic! I was excited about making breakfast for people! I was ready to go to work! Granted, I did skip my yoga class for extra shut-eye, but I rationalized it that the sleep was what my body needed MOST.

And today I have felt capable. I have felt able to be on my game and do what needs doing. I have been cheerful and responsive and quick-thinking. I have been motivated and a problem-solver.

This is the me I expect to see, not the person who steals a nap over lunch, not the person who hibernates at her desk, hiding from work.

I’ve got to see this through and see what happens. I am (again) keeping a food journal, but this time I’ve added a new column – Body Check – to it to see how my body is feeling at any given time in response to food and drink.

Now my next goal is to convince myself to start drinking straight water again. I fell off the bandwagon with that one when simply drinking water made me cold inside. I started helping myself out by making pitchers of that lime-infused water again, and the bonus is that my older daughter also was cheerfully drinking from that.

(I’ve gotta brag – I’ve almost entirely eliminated sodas, sweet tea, sugary drinks, and juices from my kids’ daily diet. Yes, if we are at a restaurant or going out to eat, they usually choose sodas, but I’m not purchasing them for the house, and we’re not making pitchers of sweet tea. Milk, water, and hot tea – with the occasional hot chocolate – are the most common beverages for the girls now, and I have no problem with that at all!)

Must Have Testing

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Ouch. Looking at my last post just lets me know how far off the reservation I strayed in the past five months.

Today, I am writing from a place of being in pain, in physical discomfort, as I try to figure out what I did to poison myself. Yes, poison. Something I ingested has brought me pain, inflammation, lethargy, fatigue, gas, bloating, and possibly even this low-grade fever I can’t knock.

So I decided to do something completely out of the mold for me – I called the doctor and conferred with my insurance and got set up for an appointment to possibly be followed by food allergy testing. I simply cannot tolerate this pain and discomfort any more.

Now, if I’m eating clean, if I’m taking care of myself and NOT eating inflammatory foods, I actually feel pretty great.

Last night, I re-committed to it. I promised myself no cheating, no “just-a-bite” of anything, no weakness. This is my battle, and I must fight it daily. Because the alternative is pain.

I will conquer this. It’s only willpower, so I just have to *want* it. And I want not being in pain.

On 1-15-15, I committed to it.

I just want to eat clean, track how I feel now, and wait and see until I get results from any allergy testing I have done.