I came out last month on The Huffington Post. No, not in terms of my sexual orientation. I came out and admitted that I was foolish; I married the wrong man too quickly, without doing my due diligence. I was too quick to trust and too quick to give my heart.
I have always been a trusting person; it's in my nature. In writing about my experience, I opened myself up to ridicule and a surprising amount of vitriol from anonymous people in cyberspace, and discovered that the same anonymity of the Internet that allowed my ex-husband to pretend to be somebody he was not also allows what may ordinarily be nice people to throw away their manners.
I made my story public because I thought it might strike a chord with others. With millions of people with psychopathic tendencies exploiting millions of decent, caring people, I hoped that mine might serve as a cautionary tale. I wanted to warn other women about the psychopathic portion of the population (estimated to be about 4 percent) -- a portion that is so well camouflaged as to be almost invisible. The only way to protect yourself from this menace is to learn the warning signs, or the "red flags."
I was unprepared for the debate my article would trigger. About half of the comments were sympathetic. Many of the respondents had themselves been in a pathological relationship. They had walked the proverbial mile in my shoes. But the others -- wow. Blame the victim much? According to these readers, I was a needy, narcissistic gold-digger. I was desperate, ugly (how that particular person could decide on my physical attributes based on my writing is a mystery to me) and had it coming to me. My favorite comment read something like: "She has the brains God gave a slug." They judged me harshly because I am a physician. I have a good education, and a good job. They judged me because I had the audacity to want it all. I wanted both love and companionship to supplement my otherwise satisfying life, but was foolish in how I sought it. I know I don't need a man to complete me, just as I know that plain cake is good without any adornments. A loving relationship is merely the icing on the cake. I had the cake, but wanted that extra layer of sweetness. I know now that the old adage is true: "Be careful what you wish for. It might come true." Because my icing was certainly not sweet and creamy. It was moldy and laced with bitterness, toxins and regrets. Talk about a cure for my sweet tooth.
All these people who point accusing fingers at me may be at least partially right; I let my heart override my common sense. I was lonely and wanted to experience the warmth and security found in a healthy, adult relationship. I believed the dreck I was fed over the Internet, because back then I was trusting. I was gullible, and -- I admit it -- stupid.
However, I cannot believe that I deserved what happened to me. I would not wish a relationship with a conscience-deficient person on anyone. Did the victims of the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme deserve to lose their hard-won earnings? Most people would say, "Of course not... they were taken in by a glib psychopath." The woman who dressed up a little, put on her make-up, and went to a party where she is sexually assaulted? Was she "asking" to be raped? How about the gullible women who believed in Ted Bundy's affable charm? Their little lapse in judgment, that of trusting a handsome stranger, cost them their lives.
I have listed just a small smattering of psychopathy survivor websites below. The sheer number of these websites speaks volumes about how prevalent this problem is. These psychopaths, serial exploiters with little or no conscience are out there, and their victims are suffering. Their victims pour their hearts into these forums because often times, the only people who believe and understand them are other victims. There are millions of damaged individuals who are reeling from the discovery that someone they loved was only in the relationship to use and debase them. Recovery from something like this is a long and difficult process, and some people in fact never fully recover. Until you have had your heart, your trust, your very foundation of faith stolen from you, do not be so quick to judge. Think back to past mistakes in your own life and remember that we all live in some sort of glass house. Before you pick up that pile of rocks, try to muster up some sympathy for others. And if you can't, then perhaps you suffer some deficiency in empathy yourself. Think about it.
Walk a mile in my shoes, baby. I'll walk a mile in yours
Psychopathy Survivor Resources: