Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Empty Souls - Time For Me To Speak Out
I'm about to open Pandora's box. I'm nervous. I'm excited. I've got the push-me-pull-you voices of reason and doubt working overtime inside my head. But I've decided to do it. I've purposely never spoken about this subject on my blog before now. But today I've decided to come out of the closet and write about something that is very close to my heart. Why today? Well, why not. It's the first day of December (my favourite month) it's snowing (the French countryside looks beautiful) and I've just read yet another article describing a set of people (this time a county council) as "empty souls with no empathy for their fellow human beings".
Each time I hear a comment like that, something deep within me resonates with recognition and anger. Because I know what they mean - I've been there. I know what it's like to stand and face an empty soul. Someone with no conscience. No compassion. No empathy. Someone who's only driver is that of winning. An empty shell who believes the law is for other people, and who thinks human beings are simply trinkets to be played with and thrown aside when they're no longer of any use. A soulless creature so skilled in the art of mirroring and deception that you simply don't know what you're dealing with - until it's too late. Because by that time you'll have been sucked dry, abandoned and left for dead. I'm talking about people we call sociopaths, or psychopaths.
Don’t be fooled by the Hollywood image – a sociopath is not someone you can pick out from the crowd. In fact 1 in 25 people are thought to have this particular personality disorder yet lead seemingly normal, in some cases glittering lives. Yes, these people are living, breathing and moving among us - right now. If you are reading this in a place where there are more than a handful of people around, then it’s probable that one is just a few feet away from you. But you wouldn’t know.
Charismatic, charming and often referred to as the life and soul of the party, these people are in fact ruthless predators who choose their targets with surgical precision. Their every move is calculated, as they mimic your deepest hopes and desires, their seeming success sweeping them along on a red-carpet of acceptance and adoration. If you are picked out as a target, you’ll feel loved and adored, the most precious person on the planet and you’ll willingly give them your heart and soul. Trust me - as I said, I've been there.
You’ll have little or no chance to see the truth until it’s too late… once they’ve bled you dry emotionally, mentally and financially. They'll do it right in front of your face - and you won't even realise what's happening. Once they've got what they want, or they've been rumbled, they’ll walk away without a backwards glance, leaving you dazed, confused, and trying to pick up the pieces of your broken life, while they trip happily on to their next willing victim.
Because these are not real people. They lack the one thing that makes the rest of us human – they have no conscience. They behave like machines under the convincing guise of a genuine and caring human being. And with automated exactness they will ensnare you, suck you dry, discard you like rubbish and then fire up and move on, confident in the knowledge that nobody will believe their victim’s story. I am not a doctor or a scientist. I have not spent years studying this subject. But I did spend a decade living as the perfect prey for a ruthless sociopath, and I’ve spent the twenty months since my discovery learning all I can about this particular personality disorder and comparing notes with other targets who have survived. Their stories are scarily similar.
Life’s Little Lettuces so far has been about me. It's been about my own journey out of chaos. My attempts to explore how I got here and what made me such a typical target. It’s been my personal cathartic diary charting my voyage of self-discovery to ultimate truth and final freedom. I'm not saying I'm done with my discoveries - far from it. In fact in many ways I feel I've just begun! No, it's just that now, as from today, I'm going to bring a new angle in to my blog.
Because now I feel it’s time to stand up, speak out and fill in some of the gaps. To write about the often misunderstood subject of sociopathy and the emotional fallout from abusive relationships in more detail. To bring it all out in to the open. It's time for me to say out loud: "Yes, I know how it feels to be trapped in an abusive relationship! I have been sucked in and used by a charismatic sociopath - more than one in fact! But now I'm free and I know what it takes to get here!"
My hope is that by speaking out and sharing my experiences I can help support a few of the millions of people who have suffered from some sort of abuse in their lives. And for those who are still living under the shadow of cruelty or exploitation, perhaps I can add to the encouragement they need them to help them break away before it's too late.
Well... There you are. I've gone and done it now. I've opened Pandora's box... so now there's no going back...