“I hate him, with every fiber of my being, I hate him,” Marie said as she looked back on her day. “But while I hate him for this moment, I won’t let the hate linger because I’m not going to give him that power over me.” After years of silence, her bio dad sent a package of weight loss tea to her work. It was his way of saying, “Happy Mother’s Day, I see you. I’m watching you. You need to lose weight.”
This was not the first package of its kind. Over the 30 years of no contact, he would periodically send Marie a newspaper clipping, an article, or random note all with the same weight loss message. Marie knew it wasn’t about her weight, it was his way of sparking insecurity, disapproval, and paranoia in her. He did this to get her back for the years of distance. The packages almost always followed shortly after her brother, who kept limited contact, would have a visit with him.
It took Marie years to unpack the damage his pathology did to her psyche. Sociopaths are gifted at installing bugs into a person’s hardware that can remain hidden for years which slow down the functioning of a person and can even destroy it if left unchecked. But this time, instead of sparking fear in Marie, she used his “gift” as a reminder of the now eradicated lies.
Chuck knew he was a jerk. He cheated on his wife several times, put his work before his family, rarely went to his kid’s activities, drank heavily on the rare occasions that he was home, and verbally berated anyone who challenged him. And yet, he was a highly successful businessman, intelligent about a wide range of topics, had numerous friends, and was charming (when he wanted to be). Nonetheless, despite getting his way most of the time, Chuck was miserable.
He toyed with counselors in the past, going only when needed to preserve his marriage, but not putting any real effort into changing. Instead, he would strategically turn the counselors against his wife over many sessions, leaving her a bigger mess than when they began. He was proud of his ability to manipulate situations that normally would be to his detriment into his benefit. This precise skill was used in business as well to make him far more successful than his natural abilities.
But here he was at the mid-point of his life, wondering what was it all for? He made money to spend it on cars, boats, and houses but these things just needed more money to exist. He was a rags-to-riches story but never seemed to fill the hole in his heart that told him, “You will never amount to anything.” He had sex to feel intimacy and connection but couldn’t feel satisfied. He had a family to secure a sense of belonging but instead found shame.