I found your site while in the midst of learning the truth about my
spouse, and it encouraged and helped me so much that I was able to leave.
I would like to share my story in the hopes that other women can
learn from it. I have shared it personally with a few women in
similar circumstances, and it helped them to get the help and support they
needed to get rid of these men. My
story is long, but it is a catharsis for me to actually admit in writing
what I have known all along deep in my heart.
I have been married 4 times, and I only just turned 40! I am happily
single, and learning that I am a really good person with a kind and
sincere heart. I am not stupid, and do a great job for my employer.
I only screw up when it comes to a relationship with someone of the
opposite sex! I have wonderful children who have turned out well
thus far despite my messed up relationships. They
apparently modeled after their mother and developed empathy vs. contempt
in response to their hardship.
I married at 20, and had my first child the same year. My husband
was 18, and immature. We divorced after a few years, but have
remained close friends since that time. Our only problem was
maturity. He has been diagnosed now with bipolar disorder, and his
medication only recently was properly ordered, so it was a rough couple of
years for him. After our divorce, I married a friend of his. My
first ex thought this guy would love me the way he loved my son, and so
encouraged the relationship. No. 2 would be sociopath no. 1 for me.
(Actually, I had one boyfriend in high school that was a sociopath
who nearly killed me, but I really thought I was better at picking them by
this time!). No. 2 was a womanizer. He liked them young and
not so bright. He wanted to get married so we could have a child,
and told me the womanizing
was in his past, that he would treat his wife as special. He charmed
me with gifts, flowers, trips. I believed him, sort of. I did
believe my son needed a whole family, not a broken one, so I married No.
Almost immediately, the changes started. He was very
attentive (or so I thought) while I was pregnant, and he did not mistreat
my son. He even adopted my son, and No. 1 agreed because we all
thought it best for my son that he have a complete family (we were all
young). I learned, however, of the infidelities after my daughter
was born. I began to confront him, and that started the
emotional/verbal abuse followed shortly thereafter by the physical abuse.
The other women were taken in by his charm, and people kept telling
me how lucky I was to have married such a wonderful man. Only it was
a front. He threatened to leave me every time I spoke up, so soon I
quit speaking up as I did not want another failed marriage. I did
not tell people what he was doing or how I was feeling because I was so
ashamed. I thought if I became
nicer, so would he. He escalated to having affairs with his boss and
another married woman. We were already in counseling and the
psychologist had us take personality tests (MMPI and others) and other
tests to determine what our goals were, etc. I could not list a
single goal, except that I wanted to help him in his career.
a five page, single spaced outline of what he wanted, and not one page
included me or the children! I got a call after the results of one
of the tests. The psychologist was calling to warn me that No. 2 was
showing homicidal ideations directed at me! Oh
boy... He said that No. 2 felt
that I was everything he wasn't, and he hated it. He thought I was
too moral and too quick to do the right thing. At the time, it
didn't strike me as bizarre; I was concerned that this husband was going
to leave, too. Then, I got pregnant again, and this time he pushed
hard for an abortion. I stood
up to him for the first time and said, "NO!" We argued for
three weeks, but I miscarried at 14 weeks, and learned for the first time
that he was glad the baby was gone. I learned about the married
woman and learned she was stalking me at work! Ulp!
I went to my boss, a
remarkably strong woman, who helped me move to another state. My
friends came through for me, and helped me that first difficult year. Good
stuff! He was well connected, and used his influence to make me come to
court in his state every Monday for several months. I finally got
mad (I had trouble expressing my feelings then, you know Yeah...), and hired a
top-notch divorce lawyer, who went after him. Excellent! Finally, I got a
little child support and he left me alone, temporarily.
wacko married the woman he had moved in with and started interfering with my life
and my children. I finally asked her why she was bothering me.
Didn't she have the man she wanted, or what? I learned from my
children that he wore my wedding rings around his neck and had a picture
of me next to his bed. I went to court and got an order forbidding
her to contact me and making him responsible for dealing with me when it
came to the children. Good!
Well, I was now single. Poor, but happy. I became a new career
and worked hard at rebuilding my life. A new man appeared, and I
told him I was not interested in a relationship. He said that was
great, but three weeks later, he decided he wanted an exclusive
relationship. Not wanting to hurt his feelings because he seemed
laid back and sweet, I said okay. He was moving to another state in
about six months, so I thought it would end then, and I could go back to
my happy single state. About three months into the relationship, his
house was broken into, and he announced he was moving in with me. I
was stunned, but didn't know how to say no. (I know it is hard to
believe I'm not stupid, but I'm really not! Giggle!
You are just a sweetie, too much perhaps...) He left for the other
state, and I resumed my happy life. The kids and I were really
involved with the community, the school, and our church. My job was
great, I was appreciated there. My church was great, I was active on
various committees. My kids were doing wonderfully in school,
winning awards and choosing good kids as
Well, this guy calls one day (we'd talked periodically) about 10 tens
later and announces he is coming back to my state. He is happy I am
involved with the church, and he wants to join my church and wants us to
get married. He says he realized that he wants me for a wife and
says he is willing to accept the whole package and raise my children with
me. I don't know how to tell him no without hurting his feelings
because he seems to be a nice guy and I don't believe you ever
deliberately hurt anyone, so I say okay. Ooops! He tells me he is not good
at planning, and has me plan the wedding and honeymoon. I learn on
the honeymoon how tight fisted he is with money when it comes to me
and the kids, and how free he is with it when it comes to himself, the
same thing as No. 2. No. 3 also has a serious drinking problem.
He is and an alcoholic driven to verbal rages, spewing the worst
things at me once he had a few drinks in him. He breaks furniture,
and threatens to leave me when I am pregnant with his child because I
can't have sex with him because I am so ill that I have to be hospitalized
several times. He announces that we are buying a house, but I have
to provide the down payment. He says we can't live in a rental house
any longer, that it is beneath him. He pressures me so much, I give
in. He then announces he will only be working part-time as he is
going to go back to college for a second degree. I begin working a
lot of overtime, and managing a house with three children.
don't tell anyone what is happening codependent
shame, I think..., but my new boss, another remarkable
anyway. She begins talking to me about my childhood, and learns that
I, like her, have a lot of blank spots in it. I really have just a
few memories of things before I was ten. I don't remember teachers
or schools, but lately a few things have surfaced, and they have caused
such pain that I can see why I couldn't remember before.
My mother is an alcoholic. Verbally abusive. Emotionally
damaging to me in so many ways. She absolutely did not love me, and
I believe the knowledge of that and the inability to accept it drove me
into relationships where I was treated the same way. But, I digress.
No, not really. This makes more sense now.
Anyway, my boss gets another job offer in another city, and I agree to
move, too. No. 3 is already thinking of leaving because he is
nearing graduation (it has been six years since I had been paying for his
schooling). He is gone every night until 11:00 or so, and gone
much of the weekends. He has nothing to do with me or the kids, and
the strain is unbearable. We try counseling, but he refuses to
listen to the counselor. She gives me some ideas, and I use them,
but they don't work. He tells me he wants to have sex with me, but
it is a physical release for him, and I have to learn that this is how men
are. Yuk. So now I feel worthless, and feel that I am a prostitute.
Meanwhile, my friends are worried about him. They've never
liked him. My boss is concerned, and tries to help me, but I am
blind. I am sure that he will change because this marriage is
important to him. Then, our daughter is
diagnosed with a rare disorder, and it is devastating. I read
up on the
disease, and he buries his head in the sand. He screams at me that
he is tired of my wanting to do the right thing and having to be organized
about everything. He can't stand that I do everything depending on
whether it feels right, and he can't stand that I know how to take care of
He announces he is leaving, that it is too hard, and that he never loved
me. He doesn't say goodbye to the kids, and they all fall apart. He
doesn't pay child support the first year (like No. 2). No. 2, by the
way, had stopped seeing his kids that year, and although we called
him several times, he refused to call the kids. The kids had a very
rough year. They lost their dad and step dad in the space of weeks!
No. 3 moves into a lovely cottage and immediately begins bragging about
how much fun it is to be free and how much he likes having the cottage.
In the meantime, I have fallen apart, seen a new counselor who is
very worried about me. I admit to her that I am feeling suicidal,
that I can't go on because I feel that I am going to die. She sends
me to a doctor, who takes one look at me and puts me on Remoran, a
wonderful anti-depressant. Yes! It lifts the black cloud I've been living
under, and my friends and boss become my support system. I feel
better in a few weeks, and resume my church activities (new church, since
we had moved a year before). As I am healing, I try to be No. 3's
friend (he didn't have any others, much like No. 2). I am rebuffed
constantly, but feel it is in the best interest of our child if we manage
to get along for her sake.
One day, a man shows up in my Sunday school and choir. He sings like
an angel, and one night asks me to dinner after practice. My teenage
daughter thinks he is great looking, sweet and charming, and begs me to
say "yes." Dinner is okay, but I notice he doesn't share
much information. I ask about it, and he tells me he is shy, that he
hasn't had a date in over two years, and he has admired me for many weeks
now and is floored that I said yes at all. The next day, I call him
and tell him I'm not interested in dating. He says okay, then says
he wants to be my friend. We hang up, and I go to church. He
is there, but I just wave. After church, I am at home with the kids,
fixing lunch, when he arrives with a truckload of firewood. He says
he noticed when he picked me up the night before that I didn't have any.
I am charmed, but cautious. He brings me Hershey's Hugs and
some coffee, saying
everyone needs a hug and a little warmth in their lives. I am more
charmed. He tells me that he has needed a friend like me, and he is
so happy that I allow him into my life.
BTW, he is the little brother of my best friend, and she doesn't tell me
anything about him, except to say he is a changed person. He
substitute teaches in my Sunday School class, and he even preaches one
Sunday night. I relax my guard, and my pastor encourages the
relationship. One day, after he had me finance a car for him because
he was fighting some bogus judgment against him, he asks for a loan to pay
off the attorney helping him with this judgment. I give it to him.
He begins asking for more money, and I give it to him (as I would
give it to anyone). He promises to pay it back. Then, he tells
me he was laid off. He says that he knows I would never marry him
now. I respond with, "That's not true." He says,
"You wouldn't go out with me unless I had a job, but you would marry
me while I'm unemployed?" I tell him it is different, I know
him now. I am not implying I want to get married, I
am thinking it is a hypothetical. He tells me he is losing his house
because he can't pay the rent. Well, he can't move in with me, so he
proposes and says we can get married quickly by a jp and have the church
wedding at Christmas. I agree, and once again learn about his real
personality once married. Oh boy...again.
He is paranoid and secretive. He begins stealing money from my bank
account and getting loans in my name. He is gone every evening and
weekend. He promises things, but reneges. When confronted, he
explodes both verbally and physically. I become ill from the
stress, losing a lot of weight, and my friends are concerned. He is
charming and loving in public, and a monster in private. He can't
have sex with me because he is "turned off" by being touched.
He drinks all night without showing the effects. One weekend,
I discover long distance calls to Haiti. I talk to one of my
friends, a U.S. attorney, who tells me those are drug calls. I find
out at the same time that my savings account is drained, the payments on
his two cars (in my name) haven't been made for months, the car insurance
(State Farm, no less!!) is
overdue three months and has been cancelled, and he has been hiding his
paychecks from me. This happens in the space of a few days, while I
am packing some stuff to move to the storage room outside. While
packing, I come across two notebooks of his. As I read through them,
I am terrified. He is a criminal, a drug abuser of alcohol, cocaine
and marijuana, and has been a courier. He has a page with his
description of his "perfect" woman. I fit her
characteristics to a tee. I find references to a prior girlfriend
and notes about his holding a gun to his head. I begin praying and
crying at the same time. Believe it or not, God answers my prayer
and tells me to get him out of the house (it's a weekend, so he isn't
there yet anyway) because he has a gun.
I go to the sheriff's office and tell them he is bringing home a gun
with the intention of killing me if I don't quit confronting him about
his activities and whereabouts. It's in the notebook, along with
his stalking of the ex-girlfriend. The sheriff's office doesn't
believe me, but they do find outstanding warrants on him, and say they
will arrest him when he gets home. I do more digging, find the
number to the ex-girlfriend's uncle. He directs me to the mother,
but tells me to get out, that the notebook is dangerous and my life is
going to be in danger when No. 4 finds out. I finally reach the
ex-girlfriend (M) who is so glad to hear from me. She repeats the
warning to get out, and she fills me in on No. 4's horrid past (and
present). She gives me the number to the ex-wife. He had
told me he couldn't pay child support because she had left the state,
only she lived down the road from me. Both of these women agree
to meet with me in a public place. They are still afraid of him,
and they tell me about other women, too. I find two of the other
women, and they can't talk to me because they are terrified. M
and the ex-wife (T) meet with me, one bringing her mother, and the
other in touch with her mother by phone. Our stories are
identical. I am chilled, and shaken. I go to my Sunday
School teacher, and when he opens the door, he says, "Oh, thank God,
you have finally come to see me." He said he had been praying for
me and had a really bad feeling come over him and had tried to contact
me all weekend. Only I've been in hiding, so he couldn't find me.
He tells me how to get a restraining order, and he tells me he
had only learned about No. 4's true personality/identity in the past
week, and was frantic for my safety. I place the kids in safe
places, explain a little of what's going on, and go into true hiding
for the next week. He is arrested, and they do find him with a
brand new gun and ammunition. While he is kept overnight in jail,
I change the locks on my house, get the restraining order, and have his
car repossessed. He is furious when he gets out, and comes
looking for me. He breaks the TRO immediately, and I call the
sheriff. He is picked up, and does 5 days for this. T and M
go to court with me to explain why the TRO needs to be made permanent.
They, along with two others, had TRO's against him that didn't
work because he was well connected. By now, I have become better
connected, too, having worked in the legal field for years. I am
also angry that he deceived me and wiped me out financially, and I am
determined that he will not scare me any more, or scare the other
women. T and M and I have become close (after all, we share the
same personalities!). They are much younger than me, and my
friends say that is what made me able to finally stand up and do
something. I gave the notebooks to the DEA and FBI, and the DA is
bringing him up on fraud for signing my name to checks. He is
being investigated for the drug stuff and the threats, too.
I stayed with friends for about a week, then moved to a suburb and an
apartment. A gated apartment. One of my friends, concerned for
my safety, had begun sleeping on my couch most nights in order to protect
me as No. 4 was still harassing me. When we looked at the criminal
history of No. 4, we were worried he would assault me or even kill me.
Why else would he bring a .357 Magnum into my house after telling me
this was the last weekend we were going to fight, that it was no longer
going to happen?
Well, I got a job offer, a really great one, in another state. My
who had been my bodyguard, had become my fishing buddy by this time.
We started spending time together with my little girl. (My
other two were now grown and moved away, so it was just my daughter with
the medical problems still at home.) We realized that we had become
close, and hadn't even dated yet, so we started dating. I decided to
accept the job offer, and asked him to come with me. He said yes,
found a job immediately, a promotion from what he was doing, and we moved.
It has been heaven! He said he thought my self-esteem had been
damaged since early childhood, that I was a bright and vibrant woman who
didn't know how to say no or stand up for myself, and that
he was going to make it safe for me to express myself.
He said I had
involved myself with "morons and psychopaths" and it was time to
learn how to have a normal adult relationship with a grownup man. He
does treat me very well, and his money goes to us. He treats my
children with respect, and obviously loves them. He loves me, too.
I have never been treated as an equal, and my opinions never counted
until now. Where I had been hesitant to say anything, and where I
wouldn't criticize for fear of a blowup, he has encouraged me to say what
I want, and even have bad moods if I want! He encouraged me to use
my experience to help other women in similar predicaments, and I have
helped three thus far, not including T and M! I didn't know I
had it in me, but he says there is even more in me that I haven't tapped
into. He encouraged me to write a book, so I have my outline ready
and he is going to help me find a publisher! The working title is,
"A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing -- How to spot a Predator." I
think you are well qualified to author this volume...
So, my story ends like this. I am feeling more and more like me
every day. I feel safe and able to express my feelings, my wants,
my needs, and I like knowing they will be met. I have learned that I
am special, that I can be a partner in a relationship. I have
learned there are men out there who are not out to steal from you, demean
you, or hurt you in any way. I have learned there is such a thing as
a trustworthy man, only he may be where you least expect him. I have
learned that love doesn't involve mind-searing pain and that you don't
have to contemplate suicide in order to get out of a bad situation. I
have learned I have much to offer other women feeling just as worthless,
just as demeaned, just as stupid. I have learned what attracted
those men to me, and I have learned why I was attracted to them. Excellent.
My children are doing well, too. They have learned from my
experiences that you can't judge a person by first impressions or
appearances. They have learned you have a right to your own
opinions, and you have the right to be treated as a person. My two
grown (well, one is almost fully grown, but acts as if she were grown
already!) children told me they admire me for what I've done, that I am a
strong and caring person and they are glad I raised them to be the same
way. Isn't that a wonderful gift to receive from your children? Yes,
it certainly is. Your kids did not grow up in an environment that was
care-free, as childhood ideally is. Now you can gift them with emotional
security. Finally. My youngest, my darling heart, said she feels like the three of us
are a real family and she just loves to be with us. She said she
feels better that there are no much screaming fights and she doesn't have
to worry if I am okay now. Do you see how
codependent traits can develop in children who have to worry about a
parent? Help them learn what you could not teach them before,
and are still learning: that love does not demand they love other more
than they respect the Self...
So, Dr. Irene, thank you for your web site. I found it the weekend I
out about No.4's activities No such thing as
coincidence, is there..., and your definitions fit my situation
For the first time, I understood what Nos. 2, 3, and 4 were to me.
Antisocial personalities. I saw myself clearly that day, and knew I
couldn't stay that way because it was going to kill me. Thank you
for helping to save my life! Thank you for using my
information the way it was intended...
dear Kadie, I don't know what to say... I'm glad you finally found your
way. You are a very lucky woman despite the unfortunate choices you made.
But there is always a silver lining to every cloud: As a result of the
nightmare you have been through, you have much to teach others. Best
of luck on your book; I look forward to reading it one
you for writing - and forgive me for not notifying you of this post. I
can't find your email address! My very best wishes, Dr. Irene