My Father The Sociopath

This is a post that I thought I might never write. I still haven’t committed to writing it well- or in entirety. We’ll see…

I know that eventually I will have to ‘deal’ with my father- even speak about him. I have, thus far, mostly reserved this for moments between me and my sister. She ‘get’s it’. We lived it. We are, and have been, each others safe harbor.

My mother was his wife. Talking with her is too painful and I’m uncomfortable. I don’t want to hurt her, or make her feel like a fool. She married him.

My children never really knew him. I had instructed them that if a man ever showed up with a fancy car and told them he was their grandfather and asked them if they wanted to go for ride, or to show them his gun, they were to RUN.

My husband and I have had countless conversations over the years- conversations, not intense sharing (husband & wife telepathy). Too many ‘Red Alert’ moments. After all, we did have to figure a way out of the IRS problem my father left me in years ago. Like an $8k problem (in 1982 dollars), with lawyers hired and a baby that came prematurely. Because I was his VP and he had my name forged all over corporate documents. They came for me. He had skipped town.

When, years later, he called me out of the blue to tell me he was The Pope’s ‘Point Man’ in Miami (and never offered where he had been for 10 years) I asked him why? He replied that I had misunderstood, that it had never happened. Then he laughed.

I mostly heard, ‘The Pope’s Point Man’.

“Are you actually saying that to people?”

“Yea I am, because it’s true, he doesn’t make a move without me.”

“Dad, come on. Get real. You’ve crossed the line with this one. You know it isn’t true and I actually believe you think it is. You’ve gotta see someone. It’s NOT true. And you know it! It’s just one more in a long string of BULLSHIT that has flowed from your lips like a full-up crapper over a lifetime of crap! CRAP Dad!!! And I’m SICK OF IT! You are CRAP and all of your life has been leaving a wake of CRAP over people.”

Silence.
Then, “He doesn’t make a move….”

Click.

My father was an interesting man; highly intelligent, handsome, charming, and thoroughly void of conscience. 

Even as a young child, I learned to understand him from an ‘audiences’ point of view, one where I could sit back, eat popcorn, and observe. The show was always interesting.

I believe it’s title was ‘Being a Sociopath’.

Let’s discuss.

He never told anyone he ever loved them- because he actually didn’t know how it felt.

Any ’emotions’ he ever showed were because he mimed them- observing them in others, knowing it was expected of him, and he acted them out. Except for anger- that was real.

He was constantly changing professions (not just jobs) reinventing himself after the newest television show or blockbuster movie. In his lifetime he played Soldier, Playboy, Dog Trainer, Advertising Executive, Race Car Driver, Sheriff’s Deputy, Salesman, Entrepreneur, Honorary Native American Tribe member, Music Producer, Sports & Entertainment Promoter, Husband, Father, Friend (and the Pope’s Right-hand Man, don’t forget).

Let’s just say he LOVED costumes, and was trying them on in an attempt to find the one that felt ‘Real’.

In life, sometimes we have a choice. I choose to see him as a Dickens’s character- deeply flawed, unable to right his path, unrepentant, narcissistic, and lost. Like drunken Bill Sikes (but without the drunk- Dad had no substance abuse issues. Weird- I know). 

But factually, someone that I learned a helluva lot from.

Dad was impressive, not so much for what he did, but for how he could fuck-up a free lunch. He showed me what to never do, or be, or live.

I consider myself lucky- even having received a gift- the gift of a bad ‘example’.

Yea- that’s a ‘gift’ too.

Dad never sought help because he thought it was the world that was wrong. 

He never stayed rich because he thought he deserved the good things in life even if he threw them away- regularly. 

He was never powerful because he had no power over the illness that defined him.

And he didn’t love anything unless they (or it), served him in some way, and then it was always short-lived- like his wasted potential. 

He died alone and under awful and dramatic circumstances (just the way I predicted).

In the end, his life story fell on deaf ears, except for those that are still trying to write the theme song to his interesting movie.

I guess I need brush up on my violin.
 
PINIMAGE
With comedian Paul Rodriguez,
his Formula One Indy car,
 & as a Deputy Sheriff.
PINIMAGE
Suave and debonair in Miami Beach (1950’s)
As a soldier
& with our Great Pyrenees dog Andy…
to name but a FEW of his incantations.
 

 




  • Patty Rumaker - Thanks for sharing. Isn’t it amazing how quiet we keep our past and yet our past is what created our present (good and bad). Not too long ago I read the book, “The Sociopath Next Door,” because I thought I had one next door, which I did, and it really did help me to understand this affliction. Thanks, PattyReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - I also have read that book. Wonderful don’t ya think? She put into words so many excellent examples of these very flawed people. What happened next door?ReplyCancel

  • Considerer - There’s a lot more to this than is apparent on the surface. Well done for writing it. And well done for owning it. I wrote about my own dad just yesterday but am desperately hoping to have it published elsewhere, because I know he reads what I write.

    *hugs*

    Good for you for doing this.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - You are so right. I’ve been rolling this around for a long time, but he died last year, so here it is. Thank God my mom doesn’t read my blog. Thank you for the hug. Back at ya!ReplyCancel

  • afterthekidsleave.com - Cheryl, that’s heartbreaking. I know what it’s like to grow up with deeply flawed parents–they really do teach us how not to live, don’t they?

    I think your story is important, because most sociopaths fly “under the radar.” They manage to fake being human with reasonable success, even though their behaviour can cause immeasurable pain to those around them. Your dad sounds more flagrant than most, which in some ways is a blessing: at least you don’t think you’re the crazy one.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Oh No… I never thought I WAS THE CRAZY ONE. Even as a young child I KNEW there was something ‘OFF’. But the ‘heartbreak’ just strengthened mine- however, others were not so lucky. There’s so much more to this story that I just don’t know where to begin, but I appreciate your thoughtful comments. It’s comforting to know you’re not the ONLY one. xxxoooReplyCancel

      • sadie - Our stories are identical. Fortunately my mother divorced when I was two. He stole my little brother and raised him. By the time they surfaced it was too late and my brother chose to stay with him. Mom was weak. My brother was rxposed to unforgivable things she did not know. . He used my identity and I went after him with the IRS. He placed his best friend as head of the company who suffered the one year jail term because of my persut. I should write a book. My story includes a murder plot I uncovered decades later. I earn my children all the time.ReplyCancel

        • Cheryl - Identical. My story includes a very dramatic and puzzling ending to his life. Maybe not quite what it seemed but no one in authority really cared to investigate and i suppose it doesn’t really matter- so there it lays. I deeply feel what you said, “I earn my children every day”. I think that about sums it up. Certainly they didn’t deserve us. That I know for sure.ReplyCancel

  • The Desert Rocks - Sounds like your mom fell for a ‘bad boy’ who hustled his way right out of your lives. Horrible. I can totally imagine James Cain playing the role in his movie. Hugs to you for learning those lessons the hard way and being able to write about it.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Great article, I’m curious, how did he die?ReplyCancel

  • carol cassara - Well….I didn’t have the father I’d hoped for, either, but your father does take the cake. I’m sorry for what you (we) missed out on and kudos for writing about it.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Oh he ‘took the cake’- and anything else he could get his hands on. Thanks for stopping by Carol and sharing.XXXOOOReplyCancel

  • William Kendall - That is heartbreaking, Cheryl. Sad to say, the man was a monster. At least you could see him for that.

    To protect ourselves, sometimes we have to cut people completely out of our lives.

    His dying alone, however that came to be, seems what he deserved.ReplyCancel

  • melindaw - I admire your courage for tackling this topic! May you go on to inspire others in similar situations:-)ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Thank you Melinda. I’m not one for ‘opening-up’ about really tough subjects, but I guess if you don’t you never overcome them- and maybe help someone else from feeling alone.ReplyCancel

  • conniemcleod - I’m so sorry and how brave of you to write about your father. It has made you into the remarkable woman you are today, so you did take the bad lessons and turn them into something good. I am sending you a cyber hug for the pain you have gone thru.ReplyCancel

  • kblakecash - Excellent. Being able to see these experiences as a gift is your badge of evolution.

    “Crazy” is a word that gets tossed around quite a bit, witnessing it can be humbling.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Jesus KB- another amazing comment. Thank you for saying ‘excellent’ it was and is. I’m proud of myself. I love the notion of a ‘badge of evolution’. I’ll wear it happily, and ‘crazy’ up front and personal is very interesting. I still find the mentally ill fascinating though I NEVER wanted to dip my toe in that field professionally. Had seen enough in one lifetime.ReplyCancel

  • Alyson H. - Wow. I understand some of this. My father has never told us he loved us, my mother well she is another thing all together. I have made a conscience effort to not be like my parents. It is a constant in my mind, a constant struggle – I see little things and wonder uh oh, am I sliding into them? I hope you realize that you are who you are despite of him. It took me a while to realize this, but it is always there. Hugs to you on sharing. It means a lot.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - I used to worry about the ‘temper’ part of him- in me. But it turns out, not to be a problem. Though don’t mess with my kids or you will regret it! HahhaaaaaReplyCancel

  • Dana Hemelt - You write this with such openness and honesty, Cheryl. I admire you for making the choice to see your father for who he was and learn by doing the opposite of his example.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Thank you Dana. It’s been quite a ride, and after having so many wonderful comments left here, I’m thinking maybe I should tell more of his story. We’ll see….ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - Ah, Cheryl. I hope that was cathartic for you to write on some level. We don’t choose our parents; it’s really the luck of the draw. I am sorry you so obviously came up short, because a woman like you deserves only the best things in life. But you made your life better, and happier, perhaps because of him. It propelled you to be happy and wonderful and warm in your life. Perhaps that is the gift that has come out of the darkness he provided you with. That, my friend, is the silver lining in this story.

    Better and better, heart to heart, your life will continue to have meaning and purpose and love.

    ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - I’m really good- my life, that is. I never let this define me. But I did let it teach me something. Hugs & Kisses Cath!ReplyCancel

  • michelle - You are really brave to put yourself out there in such a candid manner… thanks for sharing!
    Writer In TransitReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Thank you. I’m Okay with the ‘sharing’ part- it’s the blow-back from my sister I’m worried about. Thank God my family doesn’t read my blog. HahaaaaReplyCancel

  • Rachael - Well said. Thanks for always being such a positive role model for me and for being a great example of just letting it all make you stronger. Xoxo -RachaelReplyCancel

  • Julie Phelps - Wow, what a read! It grabbed me with unexpected intensity – took me back to memories of the sociopath I was married to for almost 25 years. He sucked the life out of me for most of that time, but when I rescued myself and began living my own life again, I discovered lots of internal strength and awareness that I had previously been missing out on. Observing and living despite the behavior of a sociopath who is significant in your life is one tough way to learn your lessons, but you DID learn them! You’ve turned all that negative stuff into positives, it seems to me.

    Now that I’ve read how his condition affected you, as a child, I feel extra lucky that his son – my youngest – rose above and beyond, as you did. He inherited some of the genius talent but is tempered by the not-to-be-underrated “Mom” traits. Whew! Having him turn out to be a successful and loving human being seems even more miraculous to me after reading your words from a child’s perspective.

    Thanks for posting.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - This is amazing- your comment, taking the time to comment, living it, and your reflection. I’m so happy for you and your son. Sociopath’s leave severe damage in their wake- and a wake it is, like an undertow. Just when you think you’re able to release yourself from the surf and make it back to shore, that damn undertow wants to pull you back in. You know how people say that the way to survive an undertow is to let it take you out and then it will naturally deposit you down stream if you just relax- like that! I bet you have a hellluva story yourself. Maybe you’ll share it one day. I know I’d read it. You Go Girl!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Froman - Cheryl, I am so glad I found your blog. I really do look forward to meeting you sometime in the near future. You have lived a fascinating life, haven’t you? As for your sociopath dad…well, there’s no doubt that what he was. I’ve read about sociopaths and have always felt a bit sorry for them. Can you imagine what it’s like to not have empathy? To not be able to feel or to love? My dad was/is a narcissit, and has been pretty absent for much of my life. But he’s still my dad. And you are right, you learn from their mistakes and weaknesses, to be better. Look forward to reading more of our work. And to meeting you at some point. My very best to you!ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Thanks Lisa. My sister and I used to ponder the reality of Dad coming to terms with himself, and we decided if he did/could he’d probably kill himself. Of course as a Sociopath that would never happen because they are first and foremost self preservationists. Your a Gem. We WILL get together. I LOVE BATON ROUGE!!!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - What a brave and poignant post. I admire the courage it took to post this, Cheryl. I don’t even have the courage to write about some of the painful experiences I had growing up in my private journal, even though I know that writing about it will help me find some peace with the past. I hope that this indeed brought you some relief.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Here’s the thing. I’ve been settled with this for decades. I just got to thinking maybe, maybe, I should write about it so that someone else could write about it and not feel alone, because PEACE is a GOOD THING. Thanks for taking the time to read it, and comment. Now it’s your turn.ReplyCancel

  • bookworm - I am looking forward to your memoir. Most memoirs? Dull, boring and omnipresent, compared to what you could write. I’ve already put in a pre-order with Amazon. Would your sister ever forgive you if you wrote a memoir?ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - A Memoir? I’ve actually complied a cookbook that follows my parents life story with family recipes. Ya think?ReplyCancel

  • Sue - I am in pain reading this because… I would say my Dad was narcissistic, tended towards illusions of grandeur, and did not know how to enjoy his family except for on rare occasions. He loved the lime light at the expense of his family. Was a ongoing womanizer to the point of making me want to puke. He was really more social with others than family. And me, I got stuck taking care of him in his old age for years alone without help, so like Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman, I went to therapy to be able to say that…..I am angry. Then there is my older brother who makes up big stories about things that are unbelievable and expects you do not know he is full of it, and I think he believes his own lies. He too left my other 2 brothers holding the bag on big money owed to the IRS (from the business they were in together) after skipping town. That’s my Reality Show excerpt. It could have been worse, I know. Like you, I know what not to be.ReplyCancel

  • Bnicholl - I would like to hear more about your father, actually. Love, your daughter.

    (See I do read your blog from time to time!)ReplyCancel

  • Petra - I was so surprised reading this, Cheryl. Because I so far knew the candid, light, yet witty side (and posts), so this one left me silently reading to the end. I find it amazing you came out this strong, honest and open person. A caring person, too, ready to jump in when help is needed. Iam glad we know each other. I grew up without a father and also know what not to be, but wouldn’t trade that absence for the person you grew up with (when present). Thank you for sharing this – I now understand better the hesitation before posting.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Well if anyone knows the labor it takes to write about their ‘family’ you do. I suspect you have more to tell, as well. Love ya Petra.ReplyCancel

  • Ida Chiavaro - I have struggled to come up with a comment for this post, so many of the others say it perfectly. What comes to mind now is the quote ”we die as we lived.” This is truly a powerful piece of writing and despite the obvious torture you endured, the fact that you decided to take the ‘high road’ stands out most of all.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Thank you Ida. I’m glad you crafted a reply, even if it did take a moment to pen your thoughts. I’m always very happy to see you here. Another quote I often think of is, “we reap what we sow.” Never more true in this case.XXXOOOReplyCancel

  • Roshni - This is so sad, Cheryl! I feel so bad because you were denied a dad, and I feel bad for him too (please don’t hate me for this) because he clearly has some major psychological issues that were not resolved. You’re such an amazing person that you were able to rise above this!ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - It is sad, but sometimes when life throws you lemons you make lemonade (maybe too lighthearted a metaphor for this but I can’t think of anything else). Thanks for stopping by Roshni!ReplyCancel

  • Chloe Jeffreys - It’s so awfully painful having a parent who doesn’t love you, who can’t love you. I am sorry for it for you and for me. I don’t know if my father is alive or dead. I also have had to have the “run if you see a man who says he’s your grandfather” talk with my children. That’s a horrible conversation to have to have. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy much less a nice person like yourself.

    We don’t get to choose our parents. That’s really unfortunate, isn’t it?ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - It really is unfortunate, however, once in a while the universe hits one out of the park- like with my mother. God Bless my mother. Thanks for stopping by Chloe. Sorry for both of us.ReplyCancel

  • Beverly Diehl - Sorry I missed this, BITD – I think I had family visiting during this week. Nice, decent family I whose company actually, enjoy, unlike my Narcissist Daddy, whose death I don’t regret even a little, except that it took too long. The world’s a better place without him in it.ReplyCancel

  • Karen - You’ve really captured the essence of sociopathy here–the trying on of multiple identities, the rage, the inability to experience genuine emotion, the utter incapacity for empathy. I’m so sorry you had to live with that, but as you say, you learned a lot from him. I think those of us with deeply flawed parents are all in the same club, and the best we can say is that we now know what not to do.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - So right Karen- about knowing what NOT to do. How often do we have that kind of gift- the example of ‘bad’?ReplyCancel

  • Sandra Sallin - Cheryl this was powerful, meaningful and touching. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - True lies always are, am I right Sandra? And THANK YOU for coming by my friend.ReplyCancel

  • Rhonda - One of the most touching posts I have read. I admire your honesty and the courage to write from your perspective.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Thank you Rhonda. If I can say this out loud- then maybe someone else can join the chorus, and be mended. Thank you again.ReplyCancel

  • mindy trotta - How brave of you to write this, Cheryl. Your dad was a very good-looking man, with, obviously, lots of demons. How very sad that he didn’t think enough of his family to have an honest, loving relationship with them. I find it very ironic that he had so many good qualities, like intelligence and charm. Unfortunate that he could not put them to good use.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - It was always the most confusing thing about him- that he just couldn’t put his strengths to good work, but then I had an epiphany and realized he was incapable. He just didn’t have the mechanisms. It’s called Mental Illness.ReplyCancel

  • Carol Cassara - Interesting and sad, both. What a gift to be able to see him as a gift, too.
    Caro;
    http://carolcassara.com/shamanic/ ReplyCancel

  • Pam Lutrell - I understand. My dad fabricated a lot in his life. I did not know until after his death that he never passed the Bar Exam. He told us because he went to law school, he was a lawyer. But, I am willing to concede there are things I learned from him. I know the courage it takes to write a post like this. ReplyCancel

  • Penelope Lemov - How difficult–and brave of you–to write about this. And to find at least a small nugget of positive, even if it’s learning from the negative. ReplyCancel

  • Lana - Wow…amazing post. I have been unable to write about my dad so far, because he’s such an ass, and I didn’t think I could come up with any redeeming qualities. Maybe I’ll give it more thought…ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - I truly believe that there are lessons to be learned- maybe not redeeming qualities- but strengths that can be had in spite of the difficulties. I hope you find yours. Thank you for speaking up here.ReplyCancel

  • Gary Sidley - Powerful stuff, Cheryl. A dad who showed you what to never do – I’ll retain that line in my memory for a long, long time. I suspect this post was a hard one to write?ReplyCancel

  • Valerie Newman - You are brave to write about this. It is so emotionally charged. I have my own difficult story about my biological father who died when I was 10, but I haven’t yet had the courage to write it. Maybe next year. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Cary Vaughn - Wow. What an extremely sad slice of life. I was rather moved by this. I felt pain for you and for him. Sorry.ReplyCancel

  • Sue Pekarek - I like the what not to do lessons, I can relate to that with my Dad and then there was his Dad who noone but one of my siblings and finally my mother after tons of years finally met him. He was the lawyer who was not a lawyer, he stole his son’s identity. ReplyCancel

  • Kim - My dad, for many years, was an abusive jerk to me. More emotionally than anything else but abusive nonetheless. He would belittle me and treat me like I was worthless. The final straw was when we, my husband and I, let him move in with us to get back on his feet after splitting up with my now ex stepmom. His attitude was that I was the woman of the house and therefore had no say. He stormed out of here nearly 2 years ago and we haven’t spoken since.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s hard to accept when we have parents who have no love or respect for anyone but themselves, if even that.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - My husband’s one demand was that ‘he’ not ever move in with us. And he didn’t- though we came close a couple of times. It would have served no one. Thanks for sharing your story Kim. Every little bit helps those that feel they are alone in this.ReplyCancel

  • Princess Rosebud - You have endured so much and have risen above – with a smile on your face and a trendy hat on your head. I admire you!ReplyCancel

  • William Kendall - It does sound like he was a monster… and utterly lacking in empathy. At least what you got from that in your life was an example of what not to be like.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - William- this is a re-post from last year at the same time. You responded then- and again, now. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn Karp Schwartz - I understand. My mother lived a lie. She abused me horribly for years. My dad passed away from sickness when it was 10 and my mother reinvented herself for her second husband, She denies everything that she can get away with to show the world a different person than the mother she was to me. She was a terrible mother. ReplyCancel

  • Cristy Stern Zdenek - You are incredibly strong and I’m so glad you have made decisions in your life to allow peace, happiness & love into your heart. ReplyCancel

  • Mari Collier - It’s difficult to read histories like yours. My father wouldn’t even punish us for fear he would hit us too hard. He told us bedtime stories (the classics & some he made up). He would play checkers, dominoes, or work a jigsaw puzzle with us. Of course, we only had one. That was all they could afford. He and Mama did teach us to play pinochle when we were old enough, and of course, the one concession he made to drive us anywhere was to catechism classes. He even helped us with the memorization. Imagining or trying to put myself into your world is difficult. I could write about it as the person being a stranger. It also sounds like your father was amoral. So sad for you and your family. ReplyCancel

  • Carrie - You’re brilliant and brave for doing this.

    Sounds kinda like my ex-husband. I read “The Sociopath Next Door” and man, oh, man…did some questions for me get answered after that divorce.

    My dad has always told me there is a lesson in everything. And sometimes that lesson is what not to be or what not to do.

    I think you have life nailed down pat.

    Thanks for sharing. Truly a great read.

    However, I’m very sorry you had to endure that kind of person for a father.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Thanks Carrie, but he really made me stronger and more wise so I celebrate him for that. Thanks Dad.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney Conover - DAMN. You hit this completely out of the park. This was brilliant. It is being bookmarked — and sent to my mother.

    Immediately.

    You see, I had one of these fathers, too. No, he didn’t stick me for a ton of money; he’s has had the same six-figure job for over 35 years; and he’s awesome at saving money so he’s never broke. This is important for my father because is worth is LITERALLY tied to his wealth.

    But I can relate to this: “Even as a young child, I learned to understand him from an ‘audiences’ point of view, one where I could sit back, eat popcorn, and observe. The show was always interesting.”

    And this: “Dad never sought help because he thought it was the world that was wrong.”

    And the above was his downfall: I became estranged from him in 2007…and my mother filed for divorce a few weeks after that.

    We haven’t spoken since, he’s never seen my children. It sucks, and it’s a bitch, but I don’t need that drama — or anger — in my life anymore.

    Damn. I am just shaking my head here because I have NEVER read a post that hits home like this about my father.

    Hi, I’m Courtney at The Brown Girl with Long Hair, by the way, stopping by from the Mamapedia FB group.

    Have a great weekend.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Well, it’s a pleasure to met you Courtney! So we are kindred spirits- you and I. Everything about being with, or around my farther was sooooo unnecessarily difficult. It could never be ‘I’d like salted peanuts’. It had to be a certain size peanut with just the right amount of salt served in his favorite bowl. It could never be ‘We have dinner reservations at eight’. It was ‘and they better have my favorite table or I’m going to knock out the owner.’ It was never ‘let’s go to lunch’. It was, ‘ANd pretend your my girlfriend’ . I’ll let that one sink in. The world never worked the way he wanted it to- and it was always the World’s fault. May he rest in Peace. I’m stopping by your place asap!ReplyCancel

  • Rena McDaniel - I’ve known a few men like this, one of them is my brother. It always amazed me that 4 of us came out relatively normal yet he is so utterly different but I can’t imagine having him as a father!ReplyCancel

  • Penelope Shelfer - Wondering….I’m thinking your father must’ve had one hell of a fkd up childhood to be so lost. Not have one clue who he was, what path was the right one, too scared to be human….he seemed to me fearful of living. Empty. Kind of like my dad. I love this articleReplyCancel

  • Fulano - In my case, it was my mother who is a sociopath. My father was just codependent.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Either way is hard. Stay strong. Get out of the way.ReplyCancel

  • Donna Beckman Tagliaferri - I understand…funny I wrote about isolation this morning, never think you are alone on this. You are not…love to you, celebrate your husband tomorrow.ReplyCancel

  • Donna Beckman Tagliaferri - http://bleachervision.blogspot.com/2014/06/isolation-is-new-black.html maybe you will find yourself here.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela Mason - Hard to read; I can just imagine how hard it was to refeel everything to write it down. I understand how it feels, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to express it to those outside the family. You did a good job. ReplyCancel

  • Diane Tolley - I know this sounds incredibly naive, Cheryl, but I honestly thought, as I was growing up, that everyone’s dad was like mine. I remember the shock when my best friend lifted her shirt and showed me the black stripes all up and down her back from her father’s belt. Black. It was at that moment I realized all Dads were not created the same. And yet, we somehow survive. Your post is amazingly honest. And your strength is showing . . .ReplyCancel

  • Michael M. Fury - Cheryl, As we have discussed, Dad was similar to yours. Comparisons could go on, but what’s the use of reliving it, but to learn from it. Something you said about your dad not telling you he loved you struck me. Ours did, but many times his actions betrayed his words- just as baffling. Another thing i read in comments was he had a privileged ubringing. Watch the Kings Speech- obviously privileged upbringing but a nanny that tourtured him to the point of starving him, parents didnt notice for 3 years. A testament to the man’s character he was sane. Children “get” bonding in the first three years or not- we are “formed” then. You either get connecting or not. Being from a privledged family does not guarantee your parents have an intimate relationship with you. These are the components of an intimate relationship that i believe need to be shared in order to be learned. 1)Initiative 2)Presence 3)Completion 4)Vulnerability 5) Nurturing 6)Honesty -these components are the elements of functioning relationships- think of their opposite for dysfunctional relationships. Several years ago, before Mom passed, I shared these with her- knowing we (my family) needed clarity on this subject she charged me with sharing it. My gift to you.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Thanks Michael. All lessons well learned. I appreciate you sharing your story here.ReplyCancel

  • Rosalind Warren - The Pope’s Point Man? What utter bullshit. So glad you managed to grow up together enough to recognize him for what he was and call him on his bullshit. Sorry your dad is such great material. You ought to write a book. “The Psychopath’s Daughter.” ReplyCancel

  • Dr. Margaret Rutherford - You have received an incredible number of comments on this post. Not surprising. It’s an incredible post. Sociopaths cross my path as a therapist every once in a while. They are awful. They make the whole process kinda slimy. They never play by the rules. There are no rules for them. I regret for you that this was your childhood. I rejoice for you that you have learned so much and become the woman and writer you are.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Thank you. This may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. I HAVE received a large number of comments. I guess I’ve hit a nerve- or stated something that is hard to put into words, and somehow, I’ve done it. I can imagine that a true sociopath is a conundrum for a therapist. In fact, I’m surprised you see any. After all, THEY wouldn’t seek help on their own because they don’t believe anything is wrong with them, and, IF persuaded to see a therapist certainly would not allow themselves to be treated for the same reasons. As I understand it (and from my own experiences) I don’t believe they can be treated, neither through talk therapy, behavior mod, or drugs. They have the proverbial ‘missing kink’. I hope this helps some of your patients.ReplyCancel

  • Natalie D - I can’t even imagine growing up with someone like that at the helm of your life. I mean, you got out and you’re not only normal but pretty amazing, which is a testament to your strength and ability to learn, even from the worst of circumstances.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Sorry it took me so long to reply- I’ve been soaking up the sand and surf! Anywho, thank GOd for my mother! SHE was at the helm.ReplyCancel

  • Michele - I was raised by two sociopaths (mom and step-dad) and then there was the mystery of an absentee father. Last weekend I finally, after 48 years, came to the point of acceptance and the initial stages of forgiveness. My family was like a John Cassavetes movie. Hostility, violence, cruelty, drama, lies and deceptions. But also, oddly enough, there was some moments of absurd hilarity and even love. Writing about it, I hope, will bring you healing. I never thought I’d reach this point, but I can’t tell you how great it is to finally feel that weight lifting from my heart and soul. I wish the same for you! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - My heart and soul is LIFTED! It has been for decades. As for a movie- did you ever see The Royal Tenenbaums? OMG. People said if only it was true- it WAS! HahaaaReplyCancel

  • Larry Larry - Wow. I’m sorry you had to write that, but as you say, even bad examples can be a gift and blessing. Good for you sister.ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne - I was sad when I read your post. Sad for you and sad for me. I was married to a sociopath for 33 years. I’m releaved to finally be FREE. The hard part is that it has left my children dazzed and confused. It is still too hard for them to see the real truth so they just don’t talk about it. I know they will have to deal with it someday. I’m glad you have your sister.
    Suzanne
    chapter-two.netReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - I’m sure it did- leave your kids dazzed and confused. That’s the result. They leave damage in their wake. BUT- there can be mending- even advantages to having experienced someone like this. For us- it was talking (of course), and remembering, and making the conscious decision to eject him from our lives. And ya know what? His reaction to our lack of contact didn’t bother him at all- which only went to prove the point. He was a sociopath with no conscience- which made us stronger- and it all just sorta helped build our resolve. And yes, I do have my sister, and your kids have each other, and you, and you have me if you want to talk Suzanne. I ‘get it’.ReplyCancel

  • Patti Delvillan - I’m in awe of your honesty with this one Cheryl. The strength of your spirit shines!ReplyCancel

  • MJM - Parent/Child relationships can be crazy, just as you’ve shown above, it’s sad and unfortunate to say the least, but sometimes that’s just the hand we were dealt. Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself with us, it was very interesting and something that would seem to come from a Hollywood script.ReplyCancel

    • Cheryl - Ha! HE would have LOVED his life to be a Hollywood blockbuster film! He thought his life WAS a Hollywood blockbuster! If I get one thing out of life it’s that my relationship with my own children is not remembered by them as crazy bad- crazy GOOD is okay. *wink*ReplyCancel

  • Joselyn Nicole Borden - Oh man, this hit me so much. The way you describe your dad feels so familiar. I always tell my husband that I think my dad really has something missing inside him. He never cared about anyone and he never really will. He was a great charmer to anyone on the outside, but really he was just a good actor. Like your dad, mine never said ‘I love you’ and he never really felt. He just mimed feelings, except anger. One time, after a terrible night of abuse, I was crying in my room and he said , “Are you okay” ….Silence… “I mean, are you physically Okay, I don’t care about your feelings.” Because he knew I had school and didn’t want me to look like I was hurt the next day.ReplyCancel

  • Joselyn Nicole Borden - Oh man, this hit me so much. The way you describe your dad feels so familiar. I always tell my husband that I think my dad really has something missing inside him. He never cared about anyone and he never really will. He was a great charmer to anyone on the outside, but really he was just a good actor. Like your dad, mine never said ‘I love you’ and he never really felt. He just mimed feelings, except anger. One time, after a terrible night of abuse, I was crying in my room and he said , “Are you okay” ….Silence… “I mean, are you physically Okay, I don’t care about your feelings.” Because he knew I had school and didn’t want me to look like I was hurt the next day.ReplyCancel

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