Not too long ago, in desperation for financial stability, a close friend of mine shared that there was a potential job opening as an editor for a new publishing company. I was given the employers name and told to wait for him to contact me, as he was not yet ready to hire, but would be soon. I was to work one hour a day, five days a week for $15.00/hr. I was thrilled!
So I got in touch with my potential new employer and shared that I was in need of the job and that while I’d not done editing work professionally, I had done so for a few friends writing books who needed an editor, but couldn’t afford to pay for one. This didn’t seem to matter to him and he was willing to hire me ‘as is’, and because of my mental and physical health challenges, still waiting for a decision on my social security claim (I’m on year 4 now), the job was perfect for me with flexibility of hours, as well as $300.00 consistent a month, which is really nothing, but having lived with literally nothing the last four years in the way of finances and relying upon the good graces of my foster family and friends, as well as occasional small donations from the blog, I was excited that I might actually become even slightly independent and learn something new all at the same time.
There were promises of more work by my employer, should I prove myself. My employer seemed to have integrity and patience with me as I began the work. There were several red flags waving in the wind that I blew off as being ‘just me’ from the very beginning. I had added my new employer to my friends list as this is how I was given the job, through Facebook messenger.
About a week into my new job, a couple of my Facebook friends alerted me to red flags they had discovered on their own about him. Serious red flags. They were both concerned for my well being and the potential that I might be hurt in some way by this employer regarding my new job. One of these two friends had received a friend’s request from him. She accepted and began reading his work (poetry) on his timeline and found it ‘interesting’ and messaged him to ask him about it. He was extremely rude to her, assumed that she was ‘after him’ and that he didn’t have time for her ‘talk’. I do not have a lot of people on my Facebook, only very close friends and my children.
A year or so ago, I cut my friends list back to what I felt was safe for me emotionally, as I identified a lot of triggers from many of these ‘friends’ causing me to react inappropriately. They were part of the unhealthy population in my life that I was afraid to let go. So it would be unusual now, for me to add someone new and unfamiliar to me. I have a couple of very close friends who are very protective of me. Ironically, it was these two friends who alerted me to red flags they were seeing, and the above conversation that one of them had had with him.
I justified these red flags about my employer, as something in the past and felt that everyone deserves a second chance. I apologized to my friend who conversed with him and I told her I would speak to him about it. She told me not too and to just let it go, that she was not concerned for herself, but for me, that this man just might be pathological, and that his ‘writings’ were nothing more than ‘bullshit’.
But I was immediately loyal to him for giving me what I thought was tremendous opportunity. Looking back now, it wasn’t about loyalty at all in the real sense, it was a very deep vulnerability within me. What it was, was four years of shame and guilt for having to depend upon others to prevent homelessness, on top of the lifetime shame and guilt I still needed to work through in therapy. The thought of being a burden troubled me so deeply, I contemplated suicide for awhile. I did not want to be a burden to others and promised myself when I started my claim, that if I were to become a burden, I would do away with myself. Without financial stability, my recovery was severely slowed, my PTSD increasing, my depression bottoming out and the stress creating a continuous cycle of autoimmune flare, making me very ill. I was living merely to exist and I didn’t feel that my life was worth the burden I’d become for the few that truly loved me.
From the day I was given the job, my employer sent an email with a youtube video attached. “Learn this,” he said, “I don’t have the time or patience to do so.” It was a video on how to format an e-book. That was my second red flag. The first was in discussing how I would be paid. . . via credit card until “business loans come through.” I decided to overlook this and the video. I asked for clarification regarding what I was to be doing, because the job title was for an editor, not an e-book formatter, which later turned into e-book converter too. I felt really ‘stupid’, as I had been working on my own book for years, but I’d not done the formatting or conversion yet.
I didn’t know what I was doing. I felt angry because I was not told the truth about what was expected, but even angrier at myself for not having the guts to get the clarity I needed in what I was really hired to do. I was terrified I’d lose the job if I asked questions.
This made me perfect prey for another disordered one. And with every disordered one, comes the promise.
The promise for more work, if I performed well. The promise that there would finally be consistency and stability in my life financially, and that it would be me taking care of myself, free from dependence, from the constant terror of homelessness, of losing my pets who are my dearest friends of all. . .
He bought the Word 2013 program for me, a program that I’d not worked with before. I had Word 2010, but this was a whole new ballgame. The youtube tutorial video he sent me, that provided step-by-step guidance about formatting was a 2007 version, which complicated my learning process even more. I decided to start with tutorials on Word 2013, which took hours and hours to learn and hours more to implement as e-book format. What I’m describing makes this seem so easy, but this was incredibly difficult for me and I struggled and struggled with it as I tried to meet an invisible deadline.
I learned that no matter what work I’m doing, I put my all into it. Whether it’s working with survivors or editing, formatting and converting an e-book, I put heart and soul into it, as well as unnecessary pressure upon myself. I wanted to keep this job so badly, I let go of self care and put in 8 or more hours a day to learn this. I let my employer know that there was no way he would get a finished product if I worked only an hour a day, at least not for a long, long time. He gave me the okay to work the hours needed and to keep track of them. I did so and kept track of everything else too.
What a mess this turned out to be! Word 2013 had me pulling my hair out of my head! What a headache that program is! And so touchy too. But when I looked at conversion, my stress levels climbed. After six weeks, I began to feel very ill, yet kept pushing ahead, but brewing within me was overwhelming resentment and anger setting off triggers for me left and right. I was used to living my life in a state of hyper vigilance, but this was for a very different reason. I was not being paid nearly enough to do what I was doing. Several times, I shared with my employer that the hours were climbing and therefore, my pay would be too. He assured me that I would be paid for the hours put in but that for now, and because his ‘loans’ had not disbursed, it would have to wait. “Ten more days”, he said, “and fulfillment of manifestation is assured.” This kind of word salad was how he spoke about everything. His books were full of this kind of talk. Glorified word salad, saying a whole lot, but saying nothing. I’d heard this kind of talk before, but ignored it and chalked it up as a quirk of his, sound familiar?
Ten days came and went and nothing, so I inquired about my pay again. The loan had fallen through but someone else was going to ‘help him out’ to get this business going. “Ten more days”, he said. . .
The eighth week had come to pass and I had finished the work, finally. At this point I was so ill, I could barely hold my head up to see my computer screen. I was so exhausted, so fatigued, so stressed about whether or not this job was even ‘legit’ anymore. . .”Oh GOD, PLEASE don’t let it be!”. . .I was terrified to go back to where I was before, but something within my entire being knew that what I had prayed so hard not to come to pass, finally did when we were approaching pay day.
Just prior to week eight, I was going to be short a small amount of money to pay my internet bill. Nearly every dime I received from this job, was going to catching up on bills that I’d not been able to pay for months. I was excited about receiving the rest of my pay as it would have taken care of the rest of my bills and it would keep me from homelessness and put toilet paper in my house. Coffee filters have a dual purpose! Never in my life was I ever so grateful then when I was able to buy CHARMIN!
But it was not be. When I asked him for help with this small portion of my bill, knowing that my next pay would not come for another week, I was told that he had only $12.00 on his credit card and couldn’t help me. Uh, wait a minute, I thought to myself….isn’t that where my pay comes from too? I questioned him about this. “So when were you going to tell me that you were not going to pay me at all?” Suddenly, he stopped his word salad, philosophical bullshit and told me that the loans just did not go through and that he just “didn’t have it.” This followed by a restoration of the mask, “However, next payment is assured, all is well!”
I decided to do some research on my own about this man. The website for the Publishing Company was gone, a broken link, and for me, a broken heart. By this time, I’d finished my work and had produced three beautiful books for this man and had sent them to him. And with the gall that most pathological people have, he said he was “disappointed in me” that I would not continue to work for free on the other ten books he had and just trust that these (clearly imaginary) loans would come through! Politely and respectfully, with as much ‘dignity’ as I could possibly muster, I told him that I would not work for free and that I wish to be paid what is left remaining to be paid. He told me to ‘submit’ my hours and I would be paid within 30 days. I did submit the hours and it’s been longer than 30 days. I’ll never see the money from all of that hard work. . .
When it was over, I was very, very sick. My doctor ordered another series of blood work to be done immediately, as I’d also drastically dropped over ten pounds in six weeks. My hair was falling out of my head in clumps. I was so depressed, I was crying at the drop of a hat. I felt my life going into free fall and I was back to square one, again, a truth I could not admit to myself then, even though I knew what it was. My blood work revealed that my thyroid had literally stopped functioning. I should have been hospitalized, but instead my thyroid med was immediately increased and I was ordered to rest and to start an immune boost program, but next time, hospitalization will be necessary should my thyroid reach that state again. I’m being watched very closely, medically right now. After another series of blood work a week ago, showed my thyroid numbers were sitting at the very first number in registering thyroid activity at all. Another bump up because I was still very sick.
I wondered if I should write about this at all. I’m still feeling the sting of shame and humiliation in what happened. I got taken again, AGAIN, by a pathological individual. And as with all pathological people, there is the same, repetitive pattern that is always present: The PROMISE, followed by deprivation, sabotage, abuse, blame. But more so exploitation, the key to recognizing a disordered one.
This was more than just what he was doing. It was about me too. About my vulnerabilities and how this played into what happened. I see clearly what it was for me and I’m certain he did too.
This angers and saddens me, all at the same time. It’s so hard not to feel anguish and despair about my limitations, about the abuse that brought it about. It’s hard not to feel anguish about how society sees the disabled, but abuse survivors in particular. We live in a society that does not take care of its people but rather blames them for their abuse, for their problems. All of these problems, whether its poverty or disability or lack of opportunity, lack of mental health resources, and lack of any resources at all for adult children of pathological individuals who fumble through life without the life skills to care for themselves, are blatantly ignored and are a result of economic injustice and inequality. but that’s another post for another day.
I learned so much from this. Not only about my vulnerabilities that run so deep for me, but that while being in a place that says I’m ready to accept what happened to me, that it is what it is, that I cannot change what happened, that I cannot change the impact it has had upon my body and my mind, it will be many others and a society and government who won’t accept me.
After I left my last relationship, I told myself I would never have another psychopath in my life again that I could not be touched, ever, ever again. I had hopes and dreams. I was in school at the time of the break up, studying to become a licensed therapist and wanting to specialize exclusively in therapeutic support for survivors of pathological abuse, whether that be parent, partner or child. Never within those dreams, did I imagine that PTSD and two serious chronic illnesses would make that dream impossible for me without a lot of help. Help that isn’t there. Help that doesn’t exist, but at the time, sidelined me from school altogether.
I learned that I have limits. Limits that need to be respected and not fought against. I’ve spent my life fighting psychopaths, fighting the system, fighting my illnesses, fighting my PTSD, fighting to stay alive, fighting to stay off the streets, fighting to survive, or rather, to exist. . .
There was never a time while I had that job that I felt peace. Peace comes with acceptance and submission. I don’t mean submission to abuse, but to submit to the things that I can’t change or control and let them BE and to try my best to work on things that I can control in my life.
Financial stability is key to recovery. This provides the room to heal, the room for self care. The room to focus on yourself, your life, setting boundaries, going to therapy, enjoying life to the degree that even if you’re poor, you know that check is coming. You are blessed if you have financial stability and your health. This is what my psychopaths stole from me. My parents in particular. I don’t say this as coming from a ‘victim mentality’ but one that is often the truth for so many of us. It is truth for me. It is what it is.
With proper nurture, love, care and compassion, combined with proper discipline, a child is set to go into the world as a productive member of society and hopefully, one full of empathy and care for other human beings.
But this is not what happens to adult children of psychopaths, narcissists and sociopaths. Some are very fortunate to have walked into adulthood with barely enough confidence in themselves to build a business or to work with authority and coworkers, untouched by C-PTSD or chronic illness. Some are so fortunate as to have work and their health. Still, there are major issues they have, somewhere in their lives that manifests as damage. I’ve yet to meet one adult survivor with two pathological parents that does not have significant damage, emotionally and physically. When both parents are pathological, the child might as well have grown up in an overcrowded orphanage, with no one to rock or soothe them, no one to nurture them, no one to hug them. The ONLY utility the child of two pathological parents has, is to be pulled out of closet and ruthlessly used only to be tossed back into that closet until next time. . .
What this encounter did for me most, is to open my heart to grieving. Grieving the loss of my parents. Grieving the loss of my siblings, the intense sadness that I feel when healthy adult children call home, or spend a holiday or a week in the summer with their healthy parent, while I wonder what that must be like, how beautiful that must be. It opened me up to the anger at my parents, buried for so, so long.
I’m grieving my motherhood, for my damage was spilled upon my children and through my relationships with psychopathic partners. . .
Last week, my third daughter gave birth to my fourth grandson. I had wanted desperately to see him, but I didn’t get to for the first day or so until they came home from the hospital. You see, my relationship with my daughter has been strained and I’ve been working with my children for over a year, to try to help them heal their wounds, to build a relationship with them, to share with them, to SHOW them how sorry I am for my mistakes and how deeply I love them. . .
On the day I went to see my grandson, I sat immediately down in the living room of my daughter’s home, after hugging my granddaughter and seeing her new ‘My Little Ponies”. . . fluttershy is her favorite. . .and of course, my granddog, a huge fawn colored Doberman, whose as big a baby as my grandson, and who jumped up on the couch and plopped his 100 lb. self into my lap, kissing my face. . .
Finally, my daughter gently handed me my brand new grandson. Suddenly, no one else was in the room but he and I. . .I gently touched his fingers and toes, examined him carefully, tons of black hair with my daughter’s widow’s peak. . .he was so quiet, staring straight at me as I talked to him….he was so focused, so alert. . .and I talked and talked to him. I could feel his little babyness in my lap, his cooing and then. . .he smiled at me…he was so focused when he did it. . .his bottom lip would jut out on occasion, unsatisfied with the conversation, but when he smiled, I wanted to stay in that moment forever.
In his face, I saw the faces of all of my children, the bonding that wasn’t there due to so much pathology and distraction, so much buried pain, so numb and distant, filled with PTSD. I saw the years of my children go by in the eyes of my grandson, so focused on my every word. In so many ways, I was holding them all again in a way that I could not then. .
Soon, I would have to be going home. It was nap time. With the squeal of my granddaughter, “Bye-bye GRANDMA!!! HUGS!!! KISSES!!!!” and my grand dog following close behind, I grudgingly walked to the front door. “I’m glad you came by, Mom”, said my daughter as I turned to hug her. “I’m glad I came too…” was all I could manage as I walked out the door.
When I got to my car, and was safely buckled in, I felt an overwhelming pain in my chest. A hollow, deep pain. A pain I had known as a child, when my parents were cruel to me. . . I could not figure out what was going on in that moment, but as I pulled away, the tears began to fall. . and the doors to grieving opened wide. . .I stopped the car and wrote a text to my daughter, “As I left your house today, I started to cry. ..I didn’t know why at the moment but I do now. I wish I had been the wonderful mother you and Kate are to my grandchildren. I am so proud of you and I love you very much.”
Words I never heard, but words I can still say. Love is a promise that a parent makes to a child. But a promise that a pathological parent will never fulfill.
Someday I hope there is way out of this present hell, but I know now, in part, it is the watershed of grief. And it’s time to embrace it, while facing the unknown once again. . .
Onward and Upward.