You had no idea when you married he or she wasn't a healthy person you were saying "I do" to... but instead a sociopath. You may not have known for years, you may not have discovered it until during the divorce process or even until after the finalization of it.
Once you realize you are/were married to a sociopath the first question that may come to mind is:
How do I deal with him? Or maybe her?
First and foremost the absolute most important thing you can do with a sociopath is to cut contact with them in person, via phone and text. Email and www.ourfamilywizard are great ways to communicate. Communicating this way does two things.... one, it will make your life much more peaceful and two, it will help you get the distance needed so you can heal from the emotional destruction and abuse your ex has wielded for years over you.
Working with a therapist who is skilled in dealing with sociopaths and who can guide you in setting healthy boundaries will go a long way in building the invisible security fence you need to keep your ex out of your yard, your heart, your mind and lastly, your life as much as possible.
The next question you may inevitably have is:
How is a sociopath created?
Sociopathic behavior is said by experts to be a seed originally planted by family genetics but often later triggered to grow by the environment the child lives in; the mother or father's style of parenting. Not all children who are born with the predisposition go on later in life to become sociopaths. Most of whether it develops lies solely on the parent(s). If intervention is begun early enough in life, before puberty hits, children can receive the help they need to become healthy, well adjusted adults one day capable of loving others besides solely themselves.
A sociopath is all about himself. These are typically the dads who are neglectful or just outright abandon their children, walking out and leaving the mother to solely care for them. In reality, this is the best thing that could happen and though it may be difficult for someone to wrap their head around that notion, it's the horrific alternative of having an abusive dad in the picture that makes him walking off the best case scenario.
If the sociopathic father stays in the family picture it will indeed be an uphill battle. In fact, the father is likely capable of winning 50/50 custody due to his cunning tactics of showing how "devoted" a father he is... ultimately winning over the court systems with his "refreshing over the top" fatherly devotion to his children we see so little of in today's world as a whole. The court system is typically so pleasantly pleased to see what they view as a "respectable and nice man stepping up to the plate" that they dismiss away any talk from the mother that he's a sociopath painting a facade of care for his children when in reality behind closed doors he's a manipulative, cunning, controlling, lying man who will use his children as pawns at any cost to get the control he wants over you and them. This unfortunately often leaves the mother feeling a loss of control, her hands tied, her words cut off and no one believing what she knows in her heart is happening and no one believing what she has seen this man is capable of behind closed doors.
But fret not..... There's hope.
Children often see through a sociopathic father's behavior early. And they often see it much earlier than their mother does. They see the evil cloaked in kindness and they know what their father is capable of along with instilling fear in them... of creating confusion and havoc... of twisting their words, minimizing or dismissing their feelings, wants and needs.
There are things as the normally functioning parent you can do even if you share custody and co-parenting with a sociopath to thwart their attempts at attacking your character, bad mouthing you, lying about you, twisting your words, etc. There are also things as the mother you can do to ensure you don't raise a sociopathic child who patterns after their father one day as a adult.
10 Tips to help in dealing with a sociopathic ex
& ways to prevent your child becoming one:
1. If your sociopathic ex who has cheated is lying and tells your children:
"Mommy cheated"... act cool without indignant alarm in their presence when they relay this information to you. When they begin telling you what he's said the lack of reaction by you gives his words zero power. You know it's a lie and he's continuing pitiful attempts at planting a seed of doubt in your children's minds about your character (because he wants the heat off him and placed on you. Sociopaths love creating drama and interaction even if it's negative. Sometimes all you can do is laugh)... then he casually follows his outright lie to them with a "Ohhh, I shouldn't have said that.... that wasn't appropriate. I won't say anything further, I'll talk to you about it when you're older and grown up."
You, of course, see right through it, you see the evil. You know what he's doing. The children see it too and hence their loyalty is to you. So listen to what they say and then respond with "Hmmm, well, I never did that. Sounds like another one of those times people are just making up crazy stories. You may hear lots of stuff that isn't true." Then move on.
2. Always, always document everything your ex does. It can't be stressed enough. Documenting what he's doing (or not doing) could certainly build you a viable reason to take him back to court at some point in time.
3. As a mother, guard against having a relationship with your son where he is your "pal", your best friend or emotional crutch aka husband figure. It's imperative you watch the "Mama's boy" dynamic and make sure you are not leaning on him, allowing him to be "the little man", "the mini man of the house", etc. Children need to see their mother as fully capable, strong and self assured in her decision making, financial earning and emotional health. Even if at times you don't feel it. At times like those when you may feel less than confident it's important to lean on a friend. Children need to see that "mama has it all running smoothly and together and there is zero reason for worry". It will give them comfort by reminding them every so often of this.
4. It's imperative we give our children a voice. A sociopathic father wields great control over his children, as he voices what they need, their desires and most importantly their feelings as he sees fit. Anytime your children voice a hurt, an upset or an injustice the sociopathic father may react with visible irritation responding with a dismissive "You're fine!" Sociopaths are narcissistic and always place theirneeds before others. They are the ones who spend what they want, evade taxes, come and go as they please, lie, cheat, praise status and image and look out for themselves. They will not give any life to your children's voices. But you can! Encourage your children daily to talk to you, use their voice and share their thoughts with you. This is vital. Ask them how they feel about different situations and experiences... how they feel when they are treated less than well by others and listen attentively with undivided attention. Be a good example, treating others with kindness and respect... letting your children learn by your actions that helping others, speaking nicely, using manners and caring about others is a wonderful thing!
5. Teach your children not to fear their father. The sociopathic father parents his children through fear. He doesn't want to be questioned, he doesn't want to hear they don't like his rules, that they don't like who he's dating, that they don't like how he's torn their world upside down. He's running a dictatorship not a peace loving home with the right to use their speech intertwined with respectfully sharing how they feel. Tell your children each and every day they are absolutely worthy of God's love, your love and the love of others. Affirm this to them. Encourage them to boldly (but respectfully) tell their father how they feel and to not shrink back in fear from him, for when they lose their fear of him he loses power to hurt them as much.
6. Give to others. An important thing for your child to see you doing is volunteering or helping others even if its on a small scale like offering a bag of raisins, water and crackers to a homeless person, letting a person cut in ahead of you in traffic, leaving a large tip for your waiter, etc. When your children see you doing nice things for others they will see the beautiful value in giving unconditionally to people without expecting anything in return unlike the sociopath who only has time for helping others if they find them useful to them and their own needs.
7. Children are shaped by their parents. If one of their parents has stayed in the picture, abused them physically, verbally and emotionally, as the sociopathic parent does... this instills insecurity, fear, distrust and a general lack of control in their lives. Which leads the child to not receive the comfort and security from their parent(s) that they so desperately need to become a healthy adult. What develops instead is a child who acts aggressively toward others as a need for control in the name of protecting themselves. This may be a child who behaves defiantly, has incredibly low self esteem, bullies, is cruel to siblings, animals, plays with fire, etc.
8. When we guard against acting aggressively toward our children we receive the same positive behavior we role model... back from them. When we guard against yelling at our children and instead implement positive ways to reinforce behavior through active praise etc, we are teaching them that gentleness is a vital part to discipline.
9. Once a child grows into an adult who is a sociopath the damage is done and there is unfortunately no undoing it through medication or therapy.... that's why it's essential that children receive the intervention they need during childhood.
10. Sociopaths attack you; your character without merit due to their deep rooted insecurities within themselves stemming from an abusive childhood. They criticize and transfer all their negative behaviors, traits, feelings, self hatred etc, onto others... and if you are divorcing one you may very well have become their favorite target. They will outright lie and say you've said things you never said, they will twist your words until they no longer resemble what you did say, they will create confusion where once there was clarity. The defense against these manipulative tactics is to disengage. This goes back to distancing yourself from them for your own mental health. Just when you believe things "may be different" and you attempt to dip your toe back in by communicating with them it undoubtedly will send you running back to safety... because each time the sociopath will delight in going for the jugular once again proving they cannot be trusted.
No one prepares for marrying a sociopath
nor one day possibly divorcing one
and unfortunately having to co-parent with them.
But by sharing our experiences with others who have lived it we can raise awareness of how to handle the situation so none of us feel at the sociopath's mercy. Doing this is a great thing and although someone who hasn't experienced the wrath and craziness of a sociopath may question our coping strategies and may chalk it all up to "psycho-babble" or us behaving as disillusioned or less than nice.... those of us who have lived it know otherwise and what it requires in self preservation.
We can take the steps needed to keep a sociopathic ex at a healthy distance and instill the things needed to prevent a child becoming one themselves. The parent who is functioning as a healthy parent does have the power to make a difference in the child's life and help offset the destruction the sociopathic parent is attempting to create. There is hope!
We don't have to live as a victim at the hands of a sociopath or one who is our ex. We can walk in peace, freedom and victory! We can take heart in knowing there are others who have lived it too and have come out on the other side past just "survival mode" into healthy living and thriving!
What a blessing that is.
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2013
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable,
as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters,
and all liars,their portion will be in the lake
that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
- English Standard Version
2 Corinthians 7:10
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to
salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
- English Standard Version
image “Boy Shouting” by Supertrooper via FreeDigitalPhotos.net