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declivity

March 2, 2009

I wasn’t going to blog about this because this web site is about hope and laughter and writing and reading. However, after several days of trying to work through my emotions, I decided it might be therapeutic to post about it.

There is a person in my life, a family member, whose selfishness and complete disregard for others makes my skin crawl. For the last two weeks, she has wreaked havoc on our family, and not for the first time. Unfortunately, she is family, and I can’t simply discard her as I would a toxic friend.

I read a lot of thriller novels, and the antagonists in these books are often sociopaths. Consequently, most people think sociopath is synonymous with serial killer, but this is not the case. A sociopath doesn’t have to be violent; he or she simply lacks a conscience.

I am not a psychologist, and reading thrillers and mysteries certainly doesn’t make me an expert on the subject of sociopathy. However, I do believe that most of us know a sociopath (or have at one time), and this family member is certainly close to fitting the description.

She is arrogant, manipulative, charming, lacking in empathy. She destroys just about everything she touches, then seems to take pleasure in the resultant carnage. Her life has constituted a revolving door for men, and although she is currently married, the union is about to end.

What disturbs me most is the ease with which she controls other people (mostly men). She is terrible to her boyfriends (and her husband), often bordering on abusive, but they keep coming back for more. This lessens the pity I feel for them, but I have to wonder: why are they attracted to her?

She is physically attractive, if not beautiful, and perhaps that is the nature of the beast. She is like one of those beautiful carnivorous flowers in the rainforest; she is attractive to her prey.

Unfortunately, she has hurt many people I care about, and I don’t know how to resolve the situation. I’ve felt like I was on a downward spiral for the last two weeks, grasping for a foothold, and I can’t get recent events out of my mind.

My natural tendency is to try to fix what is broken, but how do you heal someone who was never well to begin with?

I’m frustrated, I think, because I can’t help the people she has hurt, and because I don’t have a solution to the problem. I could cut her from my life as a child would snip faces from magazine advertisements, but how would that help anything? Distancing myself doesn’t cure the issue.

Have you ever been faced with a situation in which you were forced to deal with someone with sociopathic traits? How did you handle it? I need to know.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2009 2:05 pm

    Hey Sam,

    Been there. And I did cut the person out of my life. It grieves me to lose a sister, but she has done it to herself. She has alienated nearly everyone in the family, she will never change, she is what she is. There is no ‘fixing’ her. I believe she is completely amoral, totally lacking in any sort of moral compass. I do not want or need someone like her in my life. Every time she is around it ends badly. We have not spoken for nearly 20 years. I believe she is beyond sociopathic, she is psychotic.

    You have to take a stand with people like this. Let her know that her behavior is unwelcome and her treatment of you and others is undeserved and you won’t stand for it. Then cut her off. I’m sorry, there is nothing you can do with someone who is truly a sociopath. They will never admit fault, or place any blame on themselves. You cannot change her. All you can do is change how you deal with her. It is hard. I know. The other people that she affects are presumably all adults, they will have to make their own decisions. Obviously if children are being hurt there may be other recourse, but if adults allow themselves to be treated this way you can’t fix them either. You could let the others know what you intend, if you’re going to cut her off and why, and maybe that will be enough to get some of them thinking at least. People like this run roughshod over the good nature of others, but only if we let them. I don’t allow it anymore.

    Good luck.

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