Reality Bytes: A Survivor’s Journey

Part VII

Right at the end of our court hearing, the Psychopath did one of his infamous maneuvers. He slipped one by an entire group of us. He asked the Judge to order his child visitation be held at a center where free monitors are provided for low income families. (Part of his tactical plan to avoid paying child support is to pretend he is poor—so much for a ‘doctor’s lifestyle!’)

“I just want to see my daughter. I miss her…,” said the talking head. As it continued, I watched people in the court room begin to float around in a puddle of sympathy as it accumulated deep on the floor. It was so pathetic because I knew if the people saw this devil in action, the pool of sympathy would turn hot molten lava and converge into his empty soul.

The paper he waved in front of the judge to secure the order had several addresses that listed all the centers in our county. We live in a large metropolitan area, so the addresses really meant nothing. Filled with confident conviction, he pointed to and named a particular center of interest that was listed on the sheet.

When the judge asked why he wanted that particular center, he confidently asserted himself, as if this selection was for the good of mankind and fairness to all: “It is convenient for everyone because it is the closest distance. It is only 12 miles away.”

It sounded reasonable, so no one objected. But no one thought to ask 12 miles in which direction? Distracted by the relief I felt about the visits being monitored, I wasn’t alert enough to question his motive. It all happened very fast.

One would think that after four years of the same deceitful and manipulative behavior I would be critical about every request. Every time. Hyper-vigilance (high harm avoidance) has an upside when dealing with a psychopath. But then again, you get diagnosed of being paranoid or delusional.

When I got home I saw that I got hood winked again. I felt shock when I looked on-line and discovered where the Psychopath just got the court (and us) to agree to have his visits.

I saw there was a quarter mile difference in distance to the next center on that list. It was in a much safer area that is famously known for its elegance and beauty. Instead, he picked one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city; probably one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country.

I printed a crime map for a half mile radius around the center for a one week period and saw there were 38 major crimes that occurred and were plotted out. This included homicide. Felony assault, armed robbery, grand theft auto, etc, etc., etc.

Making matters worse, I had to drag our little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl on two buses and a train to get into that neighborhood and then two hours later make the trip in reverse to get home.

Once I dropped her off at the center, routinely I walked three blocks to sit in a restaurant to wait out the visit. It is always an interesting trip through the bar-protected, graffiti-decorated buildings that lined the streets.

Often in the background, I could hear and feel a loud throbbing base noise. It would pulsate my lungs right into the wall of my rib cage as I walked. As the cars got closer, the metal grating sounds of vibrating trunk lids become part of the migrainish rhythm.

People on the streets looked me up and down and smiled as if they knew a secret that I didn’t. Tension still blanketed the streets from the devastating race riots of years past. It was obvious—I stood out.

When it was time to go get my little girl, I would trek back to the center. One day, as I headed over a cross walk to get to the center, I noticed a car coming toward me. I kept walking figuring it would stop as cars do, yet I locked it into my peripheral vision.

I walked. It came closer. Next it zipped right into the cross walk in front of me, missing me by about a foot. The teen driver looked into my eyes with an expressionless, stone cold face. When she punched down the accelerator, I felt a rush of adrenaline turn my legs into jelly just as the car swerved out of my path.

As much as I wanted to scream in anger, the tears welled up in my eyes AGAIN.

I flashed back to the talking head in the court room and how he man managed to pull this one off. The man who tells the world he is worried about the “well being” of his child, just locked us into a weekly court order that places her and I smack in the middle of a war zone.

Part V

Why in God’s name would you want to date so soon after being with a dangerous man???

That was the thought crossing my mind as I listened to the women in our recovery-based conference call. They were interested in learning how to date again.

I wouldn’t do that, I thought. Not again. Not so soon.

I described to the women how my weight has been a safety blanket, protecting me from wanting to be with a man. Being with a man, for me, is like seeing a big plate of food, but having my mouth wired shut. I just don’t get to eat the food. My weight is the wire. It prevents me from indulging.

Until an ordinary trip to the grocery store tilted my illusion of control upside down.

This afternoon a friend drove me to the grocery store (I lost my car in the aftermath of the breakup). Tucked in my purse were my government-issued checks for milk, eggs, cheese and other items.

It has gotten so bad, from a material standpoint, that the last time I heard someone mention identity theft, I started hoping someone would actually steal mine! I thought I could tape my social security number on the outside of the trash can—it would save the thieves the hassle of picking through the stinky garbage looking for one.

I was cruising through the aisle, happy as a lark filing up my cart, knowing I did not have to walk home with the groceries. I looked up and there HE was. The guy from the Laundromat was standing in front of me.

I met him at the laudromat a couple weeks ago. He was very handsome. Oh so handsome! Embarrassed at my jammy pants and a sweat shirt and pushing my granny cart full of laundy, I made a dash for the door. I smiled and waved “Nice to meet you” as I fled by.

Flash forward to the grocery store. I smiled at him and said “Hello, how are you?”

He recognized me and we started talking. I told him my name.

He said “Oh, I will remember that, that’s my sister’s name.”

Then he told me his name.

I said, “Oh, that’s my brother’s name.”

We both started laughing.

As I felt that spark of connection, in the back of my mind, I heard, “DANGER Will Robinson, DANGER!” In my mind’s eye, I could see a robot standing behind him wilding swinging his arms!

We stood grocery cart to grocery cart talking about cream of broccoli soup and clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl. Suddenly things felt very awkward and silly. The brief spark of connection had been driven away by fear.

He said, “I go to the laundromat on Saturdays, when do you go?”

I replied “When I run out of clothes.” I cast my eyes downward as the line fell flat.

Half comment and half question he blurted out: “You live close by?”

I shot back “Oh yeah,” then randomly threw in “I even use a granny cart to bring my clothes.”

(For a minute I realized I learned a trick from the psychopath, by playing with the meaning of words, because I use the granny cart for the exact opposite reason.) Without a car, the laundromat is too far for me to carry my clothes!!!

Saying goodbye was a funny, uncomfortable moment. I felt like we were in high school. I really thought he was going to ask me for my phone number. Instead, he described his vehicle, and said if you see it in the parking lot, you’ll know I’m there.

When I got to the line with my WIC checks for the milk and eggs, I thought oh crap. I went in a tail spin, praying my girlfriend would come up behind me in the line and not him. “God, do not let him come!” I thought. My face flushed like a hot red desert sun.

My friend did walk up behind me to join me in line. I sighed with relief.

While waiting for the cashier, I scanned the tabloids for quick fix dieting solutions. How fast could I take off 60 pounds?

Part IV

It was a rainbow day perfect day. I squinted at the sun as it peaked through the dark feathered clouds. I hoped the rain would take a nap for a while because it was time for my most favored activity— a trip to the Laundromat, yeah, yeah, yeah.

A mound of dirty clothes piled high above my granny cart—my newest set of wheels, gave away my agenda for the day.

Realizing it was laundry day, my ninety-year-old landlord volunteered her car. I gratefully accepted; the alternative was than hoofing it down the street like a homeless woman carrying all of her belongings in the rain.

Just then a magnificent cloak of vibrant colors magically spread across the sky. I thanked her for her offer and started our on foot with the cart. As the distance grew between us, I heard my landlord yell, “if it starts to rain and you need a ride call me!”

Judgment used to float around my head when I saw others walking around with one of these carts. It seemed they were either very old or homeless. Yet they were comfortable with their cart. They did not care about image. Man, how perception shifts when you get a chance to walk in another’s shoes, or push another’s cart…

I am now grateful to own this unassuming set of wheels. When I purchased it five years ago, my belly was big and round as it nurtured a very precious, beautiful little girl growing inside me.

I will never forget the blistery hot day. I was walking the one of the largest swap meets in the country. I purchased that blue granny cart to carry all the items I had bought for the “Good Doctor’s” office. I was going to be the doctor’s wife. Alas I thought!


I remember how that cart came in handy that day. As I pushed it around, I never guessed that one day it would become my only set of wheels. And that the “Good Doctor” wasn’t so good.

I admit, I still worry a tad about “image” as I walk down the street with the cart. However, I have come to appreciate an item I wouldn’t be caught dead with a few years ago.

It has become abundantly clear that I have something to give. Actually, it is that knowledge that keeps me going through the murky waters of this battle. I try to find humor. With laughter, the soul cleanses itself.

Part III

Hello dear friends, I was thinking about the early days and how things began with me and the psychopath. I love those who look at me with crunched foreheads and say, “so why did you get involved with someone like this?”

Well, back then I did not know what I know now. If I had, I would have never been with such a sick person. The issue was that he presented himself drastically different to me.

I remember our early days like it was yesterday-it felt so wonderful. He was so warm, affectionate and loving. I felt like the center of his universe.

There was one night in particular that is so opposite to what I am dealing with today. It was a beautiful moonlit fall evening on a chilly California Beach. Harmoniously, we swayed side-by-side at the shoreline in a mutual state of awe at one of God’s greatest creations: the ocean. I shivered from the cool sensation of the water rolling over my toes so he gallantly draped his leather bomber jacket around my shoulders. Oh, he was charming, gentle and self sacrificing.

His stunning powder blue eyes were hypnotic to me. Later that night, like a child I skipped down my driveway reliving the tingling sensation that came to me during our first kiss. It felt like a stream of butterflies flowed out of my soul into my belly. It was so dreamy. He was older, mature, attractive, a “doctor.” WOOHOO!

Between my moments of elation, I felt sorrow for him. He shared his story with me. He told me he was renting a room from a lady because he just moved back to the area. Some time ago, he said he married and moved away to another state. He wanted a family, but his wife had a miscarriage and refused to try again. He said he would have adopted a child, but she would not even do that. After 10 years of promises with him, she refused to fulfill his dream of being a father. How terrible I thought she must be while I consoled and honored his noble mission.

I thought what more could someone want? Here I am, so over the corporate rat race and completely missing having a family. I believed my chances to meet Mr. Right were slim to none. Just hitting my forties, the best thing to do I felt was to cover up my desire to have a loving man. The white picket fence, the babies, stay at home mom, etc. etc. So because I was making a lot of money and just bought a home, I assured myself things could be a lot worse.

My attitude changed when “he” seemed to have the same dreams as I did. It was a perfect overlap. He wanted a child. He wanted to be the pappa bear supporting his family and felt that moms were meant to stay home with the kids. By the time we made it through our wonderfully romantic holidays, I was just so taken in by him. I still feel him cupping my face with his hands telling me how much he loved me.

The family portrait he visually painted of us and our two children was hanging over the fireplace. He used to drive me around the beautiful tree-lined streets in an exclusive beach town to point out what houses we should consider to live in one day. Of course once he got his practice set up again.

Within five months of that blissful beach evening, he had proposed by sliding a very large diamond ring on my finger. In a few short weeks I found out I was having his baby which was only a few short days after I got a real glimpse into the man I promised to marry. A little too late, but what the heck, love could conquer anything, right? (to be continued…)

Part II

My friends so many things have happened since my first column.  The wreckage of the aftermath has gained some height and momentum.  I had a “my life flashed in front of my eyes” kind of experience that I will share with you.

It was around 3AM and I was in a very light sleep semi-aware of my surroundings.  It was because I felt somewhat paranoid when I went to bed because I had spent part of my day educating a new professional about our family law/ custody case.

Perhaps it is his anti-government extremist group affiliations that make me a little restless at night.  Or it could be something about my ex’s involvement with people who have two names.

Or, maybe it is the token diploma I found in the bedroom drawer that honored his completion of an extensive paramilitary training program.  Or it could just be that he must win at any cost.

So as I lay there, I saw an indication there was a flashlight in the back yard.  Its reflection flirted with my bedroom curtains.  He finally went over the edge I thought.  Then there was a loud banging on my glass door. A surge of fear went though my chest and limbs.

With the toughest, grumpiest, voice I could muster, I yelled “Who is it?” into the darkness.   A man’s voice responded in kind:  “it is ABC Finance Company.  We have come to take your car.”

At first I felt relief that it was not “him.”   But, the feeling of relief quickly melted away when I went outside to remove my personal items from my car.

This turned into a very sobering experience. Again I was forced to feel the impact of my daughter’s father coming into my life.

As I emptied out the car, it was like my life started flashing before my eyes, I started reliving the experience of signing the documentation when I lost my home.

I relived all of garage sales getting rid of my belongings. I cringed again about how those people scavenged through my stuff reminding me how little worth I had. They seemed compelled to beat up my perception of value on every single item.

I then flashed to an evening when I woke up in the middle of the night realizing the excellent credit I worked so hard for was going away– that began its spiral downward with a judgment for thousands of dollars placed on my report because “he” sued me for the diamond ring in small claims court.

Then I remembered the dream that night after that trial, his face was in my face laughing and laughing.  I woke up just as frightened that night.

It seemed with every item I pulled out of the car, a new painful memory surrounded my consciousness.

When I drifted back in to the present moment, with the “repo” man it felt like I was back in line at the supermarket with those government checks to get free milk and eggs.

The cashier made an assumption that I was trying to get more than what was on the check, in an instant his voice bellowed over the store’s intercom summoning a manager there to further pick apart the transaction.

The line was building behind me and heavy sighs were coming out of the customers while my child, with an urgent and untamed desire to leave, sat on the floor screaming in protest.

That chilly early morning, as I turned away from the car to leave I realized I forgot something.  I reached in and pulled my CD out of the car stereo. The irony is that it was Sandra L. Brown, M.A.’s Dangerous Man CD.

How fitting it was in that instant to have the Sandra’s CD in my hand while my car was chained to a tow truck.

As I walked away with the CD in hand, fighting back the tears, I looked at the man and said, you know, a few short years ago I had a 150,000 thousand dollar job, a nice home, great credit and money in the bank.  He just looked at me.

Part I

It’s 2:30AM on a Thursday night as I sit here developing my first message to you, dear reader. I am not accustomed to pounding my laptop keyboard in the middle of the night, but tonight I am making good use of the side effects from dealing with the aftermath of having a child with a psychopath. One of those side effects is the inability to sleep after a Strategic Traumatic Event (STE). An STE occurs when the psychopath in a custody battle performs a maneuver to knock the other parent emotionally off balance. It is designed to torment and to wear the other parent down.

As I am typing, in the background I hear CNN spilling sounds of the political battlefield of Obama vs. McCain into my living room. The battle for the White House is not even close to the war raging in some of our lives. The war we engage is with a pathological who has dropped his/her mask and unveiled the evil beneath.

Unfortunately for us, the mask is on a stick and the pathological is effective at sliding it back in place as needed. It is only when he/she realizes you are of no further value that the mask slips down and you get to see the real personality. In my experience, the pathological is a professional at “impression management,” a fancy term that means the psychopath will look and sound like Jesus Christ to others and even to you (until you believe it is Jesus Christ), while underneath it is really the devil manipulating your thoughts and perceptions.

During this journey, I have watched his face change from a loving, innocent, child-like portrait into a cold piece of stone. I have felt safe, secure and loved like never before. Unfortunately, they were these feelings of safety and love that blocked out the red flags – the times of confusion I should have paid attention to — the times I was uncertain of his acts or behaviors which were his real nature breaking through.

Now three years after the breakup, I am wondering if I might even die from the wrath of his hatred for me. I have felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up because of the piercing posture of his fiery eyes. Often his presence feels like that of an angry ghost attempting to carve a way into the depth of my soul.

The war I will present to you is about trying to protect the psyche of our innocent child who is at-risk. She too is a survivor of a psychopath and is being torn to pieces because she is caught in the path of his insatiable urge to “win” a custody battle, avoid child support, and destroy me. It seems his mission is to win at any cost.

He has no conscience and, worse yet, knows that I DO have one. He has no boundaries and, worse yet, neither do I when it comes to allowing him to trample on me. He has no reservation about pressing into me by hurting her physically and emotionally. He not only has no fear of getting caught, he gets excited about getting away with it.

The ordinary feelings that stop people from harming another human are devoid in him.

If you exist on this painful path, my heart goes out to you. I have been on this road for five years, lost almost everything, been to family court including dependency court nearly 40 times, been through two full ‘730 Custody Evaluations’, been investigated by Child Protective Services, been accused of a mental illness by a naive Ph.D. who fell for the ‘Jesus Christ image’ and read my reaction to the pathological’s abuse as a potential personality disorder in me, and I have been enduring and undoing my child’s behavior in reaction to his abuse. Last, but not least, I have gone through a raft of health issues, including multiple surgeries, brought on by the stress. All of these, though horrendous, are not unusual for a partner to experience in his/her relationship with a psychopath.

The column I write to you is one of reality. It is a real-time trip through the journey of a relationship with a pathological and the aftermath my child and I are navigating. I commit to give you the experience just as it is–not for me or my personal case–but for you.

I have searched and researched the country on the topic, taken classes about pathology, and established relationships with the best known minds in the field because I will do what it takes to be a survivor. I am a survivor and I am working through the stress of the most recent Strategic Traumatic Event (STE) which was a surprise visit by Child Protective Services triggered by his false allegation that I am abusing our child.

By pounding this keyboard for you tonight, I know I have become an expert. I am an expert in what the experience of a psychopath feels like, and what the damages can be. Discovery, awareness, and support by professionals is only in its infancy stages. I hope I can transfer what I have learned from this experience and research to you and save you some pain. Most of all, I hope to give you the tools that I am using to be a survivor and to protect my child. When one heals and shares that healing, we all heal.

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