Because Life Isn’t Complicated Enough

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Thursday 4th January 2007

Friday 29th December I was out with Heather and Sue. We didn’t have anything major planned, and really I was only out to see if Keith was around. So off we went to the usual pubs, no sign of Keith, and we ended the night at the local club.

Sue was feeling fed up because ‘Heather’s got Chris, and you’ve got Keith, and I’ve got no one.’ So after pointing out that Keith is a long way from ‘got’, I wandered around the club looking for suitable men for her. Saw a couple, but also saw a really cute bloke by the bar. It was one of those moments when you look at eachother and smile. But he was surrounded by women, and I was still thinking about Keith, and so I didn’t do anything.

Sue and Heather were chatting to a couple of likely lads, and I went to get some drinks. I was at the bar by the guy I’d seen earlier, and now he was alone, so I used possibly the worst chat up line I’ve ever come out with (and believe me, the competition is stiff), ‘it’s not often you see someone modelling themselves on Ian McCulloch nowadays.’ But the good thing was it took a hell of a lot of explaining, and then we ended up talking for ages and in the usual way I had his life story, all the horrible bits anyway, about his heroin addiction and withdrawal, various other things that I won’t write about, and he kept on saying, ‘why am I telling you this?’ I really couldn’t answer, I hardly felt like I could say, ‘I don’t know, but men always do.’

Then he asked me if he could kiss me. By this time I knew he was 28 and had been living with his girlfriend for 4 years, although they’d split up last year for four months then got back together, and they didn’t really live together, although they live together, and isn’t that a familiar story? So I said ok.

He is a fantastic kisser. So we went to a quiet corner, and we kissed until the club closed.

Sue and Heather followed us home singing Simon and Garfunkle’s ‘Mrs Robinson’, until a man came out of his house and shouted at them to shut up.

And now I don’t know what came over me, but I asked him to come back to mine. We wouldn’t do anything, just chat. He said ok, even though he knew about my husband. And what do you think happened?

Remember when you were a teen and your Dad would catch you snogging on the sofa? It’s actually worse if your husband does it.

So there’s my husband in his dressing gown threatening this poor bloke, and I managed to bundle him out, because really none of this is anything to do with him.

I tell my husband there’s nothing to explain, because he already knows I don’t love him, and that this Steve (for that is his name) is just nothing but a distraction from the real issue which is that we cannot stay married. He was understandably really upset, and I was ashamed of myself, because his feelings hadn’t been in my head at all. So then Steve phoned me, and wanted to know if I was ok. I said I was fine and my husband was yelling at him never to phone me again.

I told him that we were doomed anyway, because when we went out the next evening I was planning on telling him I wanted to take off my wedding ring, and it was up to him what he wanted to do: divorce, separate, stay together for our little boy (but not as a married couple). I told him I wasn’t prepared to be unhappy any longer, that I couldn’t bear to think I was never going to be in love again. Which went down well.

30th December 2016

It’s appalling isn’t it? Looking back, I don’t know how I could have lived with myself, hurting another person like this. I can’t get myself back into my head, back to that place where I thought it was acceptable to trample over someone’s feelings like that.

I think the poem I first posted maybe explains where I was – in my head, my husband should just let me go and stop clinging on – I’d told him I didn’t love him in the October, so for me it had been 3 months of the marriage being over – not to mention the many, many months of contemplating it beforehand. I neglected to consider that he hadn’t really had an inkling of what had been happening in my head. He had become a stone weighing down the butterfly I felt I was becoming. I was pretty sure it was marriage, and not me, that he wanted (and as events unfold I think I was right), and I felt trapped by the trips to Relate, the talks etc. But to do this? And to not care? It’s pretty hard to spot the sociopath in the story at this point, tbh.

But hey, let’s get to the bit this is all about – how I could so easily have spotted what Steve was, if only I’d bothered to notice.

What startles me about this blog entry are the things I missed out. Other things that were the absolute glaring red flags. I was happy to post about the horrible way I treated my ex-husband, but didn’t think it worth mentioning a couple of corking examples of Steve showing exactly who he was from very first meeting.

You know how I said he was surrounded by girls when I first saw him? One of those girls was the person he had come to the club with. His story was that she had invited him and said he could stay at her house that night. His story was that she was chasing him and had wanted to sleep with him for ages but he wasn’t interested. He certainly dropped her quickly enough when he met me – but did I not think it was worth mentioning that when we were in that quiet corner kissing, she and her friends came barging over, yelling at him and calling me a slut? He literally laughed at her and told her to go away.

It’s a technique called triangulation, but we aren’t yet at the point where it comes into play big time, so I’ll leave you to google.

But the very first big red flag was that as we were talking, he said he had no money to buy a drink, so I bought him one. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? No wonder I didn’t think to mention it. But that’s the thing – within the first couple of minutes of meeting, he was testing me, because that’s what sociopaths do.

There’s this big myth about sociopaths – that ’empaths’ somehow magnetically draw them to them. It’s nothing so magic. It’s more a numbers game that sociopaths play.

Like all predators, they don’t want to take on the strongest prey – that stuff about how they target successful strong people is yet another myth. True, they won’t willingly have a moth-eaten specimen as their prime partner (although ‘any port in a storm’ is probably the sociopath motto), but however impressive that partner may seem to the outside world (or even to themselves), the sociopath knows they are damaged, knows they are struggling along behind the rest of the pack, knows he can pick them off more easily than he can pick off others. And how does he know that? Because he has tested and probed for wounds from the very start.

A sociopath doesn’t want to waste time and energy on a boundaried person, a person who knows where they end and others begin, who has a strong sense of self, what is theirs, and what belongs to other people. A sociopath looks for someone who has no boundaries, who long ago learned to get their sense of self and their self-value from being valued by others, and who has trouble separating their own needs from those of the people around them. Sometimes you can tell that by looking at a person. Sometimes you will suspect, but you won’t know until you have tested them.

How do you test for that? Well one way is to ask a small favour very early on – definitely in the first conversation. He didn’t even have to ask. IIRC he said, ‘I’d buy you a drink, but I’ve not even got enough money to buy one for myself.’ So I offered, thus passing his first test.

But let’s go on to the red flags that I DID think to write about. When he told me about his girlfriend that he was living with (but not really living with, according to him), I believed him about the situation, because I was in the same boat. I actually took it as a sign of his honesty, it never for one second crossed my mind that he had only told me about this girlfriend because I had already told him about my own situation. And it didn’t for one second cross my mind to not get involved with him because not only did he have a girlfriend, but he had also come to the club with someone else! But hey, he’s honest, right?!

Then the heroin addiction. He actually said, ‘most girls walk away when I tell them that.’ How did he know? Because he routinely told them, had I but realised it – it was another test. It was also another one of those set-ups that sociopaths do – letting you know how much better you are than all those people who judged them. Probing for weaknesses and capitalising upon them. And so now he knew that my brother had been a heroin addict, and that he had died at Christmas the year before. I bet he wished he’d known my brother never got off methadone before he lied about how he had got off it himself…

I haven’t mentioned up to now, but I was 41. I was also still married, yet neither of these things seemed to bother Steve at all. To me, this seemed a good thing – Keith always said the reason he didn’t want to get involved with me was because I was still married and it was too complicated (he was right). But looking back, surely I should have realised that however well-preserved you are, and even if you are separating, most men of 28 would be a little wary at least of such a combination.

And if I was a complete arse in inviting him back to mine, what sort of man would accept – knowing that my husband still lived there? One who thrived on drama and conflict, that’s who.

I thought Steve was being caring phoning me to see if I was ok, saying he was outside and would come and defend me if my husband hit me. I now think he was just looking for a fight, and judging my husband by his own standards.

I wasn’t looking for a partner, I wasn’t really looking for anything except a bit of fun and an ego-boost. I really didn’t expect to see or hear from Steve again, especially given how the night had ended. After all, how special would I have to be for a man to overlook THAT debacle of an end to the night……




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