I hope the title of this article got your attention. I want to share an experience I had during the devalue & discard (D&D) stage of my relationship.
The D&D stage shredded my self-esteem in more ways than one. It was more than just the realization the psychopath lied to me and never really had any feelings for me. That of course was devastating. But during that stage, I really began to lose myself. I began to try to play the game, and behave like the psychopath. It’s very common for many people in recovery to question themselves and think, “Is it me? Am I the psychopath?” or “I’m the one who is toxic, damaged etc.”
The D&D stage was like a chess match. I found myself trying to predict his next move and found myself trying to think four moves ahead. It was insanity!
The dictionary defines reactive:
Reactive – Done in response to problem or situation; reacting to problems as they occur instead of doing something to prevent them.
I was reacting to the psychopath and spending too much time waiting to see how he would react to me. It was back and forth with no end in sight. I wanted it to end. But because I had become emotionally invested, and because I couldn’t see clearly that this was not normal, I felt too weak to stop it. I didn’t want to accept that I was caught up in a game that I never wanted to play to begin with. And my opponent wasn’t showing any sign of wanting to stop playing. I have no idea how long he would have kept it going.
During the D&D I had become unrecognizable. A friend gave me the card of a therapist. I made the call and went in to see him. I told him my story and what was happening, and he sad, “Can you end this and stop contacting him?” I said, “No I love him, and I understand why he can’t see me or talk to me on the phone. He says how much he cares for me and just needs time.”
I was making excuses for him, but at the time I thought, “This therapist just doesn’t get it.” “He doesn’t see the whole picture.”
I brought all of my emails to therapy and read them to him. “Here’s what I wrote, and here’s how he responded. I haven’t replied yet, what do you think I should say?”
This therapist was a patient man I tell ya! He actually gave me some suggestions on what to say in my next email.
“Nobody deserves to be treated this way. Tell him he has no excuses at all to keep brushing you off like this, and that you are feeling disrespected.” Hmm… that sounds like something a grown up would say… oh yeah, I’m an adult, how did I forget that?
I believe the therapist knew full well, that once I started to really challenge the psychopath and call him on his shit, I’d begin to see the ugly and colder side to him. This is exactly what happened. He still strung me along. Reward, punish, reward, punish.
The chess match continued. Finally my pain and my pride wouldn’t let me keep it going any further and sent him a “good bye.” He tried to keep it going by responding with “What does this mean?” Invalidating the whole message and making me feel crazy. The truth was I stopped reacting and was giving him mature and sane responses. This left a bad taste in his mouth I’m sure and the game stopped being fun.
I did not respond, and then he responded with a message accepting my “goodbye” and wishing me well. Game over! What I believed was a meaningful connection with a person I sincerely cared for turned out to be one big game, time to face the truth and the pain but stop the reacting.
I could have kept the game going! I could have used my pain and anger, and the feeling that I had nothing left to lose now so why not just go into full on crazy mode and really let him have it!
I could have sent my gigantic folder of emails to his wife and his workplace. I could have driven to his work and tossed them all over the parking lot and tossed them all over his front yard. I could have phoned his wife and told her the entire sordid story. I could have taken the card he sent me and mailed that to his wife as well. His signature was on it. Pretty solid proof.I had plenty of proof to out him, smear him, and let others know who he is and what he did.
Lucky for me, before I did anything like that, my therapist explained to me that I couldn’t be the one to make the psychopath pay consequences for his behaviors or to expose him. He agreed that the guy deserved to pay in some way and should be exposed - “But not by you." I think he said something about letting the psychopath hang himself and eventually he will. It may take years and years, and I may never be there to see it or know, but he will, I just had to trust and have faith in that.
Plus, now with the psychopath out of the way, we could now put all the focus on me, and begin the healing process.
If I had continued to play the back and forth game, if I had reacted, and carried out my revenge plans, it would have created new problems on top of the one that already existed. Nothing would be solved.
People would have seen me as completely crazy. That was the last thing I needed!
Instead of reacting, I had to solve the problem. The solution was cutting all ties and going no contact with the psychopath and keeping it that way.
I burned the entire file of email exchanges we had that I had printed out. I burned the card he gave me. I deleted all of it from my computer. I deleted his information from my cell phone.
Mistakes were still made - I didn’t change my email or block him from Facebook. I still left the door open a crack just in case he would come back, and I rationalized it. “I know more now, I’m stronger and I can handle him.” “I could be wrong about all of it and maybe I’ll hear from him again and we’ll make amends.” “I’m probably never going to hear from him again anyway, he’s done with me.”
With Facebook I thought, “Look at me, and what fabulous life I’m living!” Since the psychopath and I went to the same high school we had a lot of mutual friends. I believed that he would see my photos and status updates, and “I’ll show him! I’m doing just great and he didn’t break me!” I was still playing the game. I could keep tabs on him to see what he was up to, which only caused more pain and set backs.
I was wrong. I did hear from him, four years later and the game continued. But I was stronger and I stopped it fast! Then I blocked him from every avenue that exists.
I no longer care to play games with anyone. I never did before the psychopath, and I never will with anyone again.
That isn’t love. That isn’t a healthy relationship. It’s nothing but dysfunctional and keeps us from living a life that we deserve. With good people, with peace, serenity and with all the joy and beauty life has to offer.
The psychopath can keep playing the game with someone else. It’s a game that nobody wins. There are only losers, including the psychopath.
I’m living my life and embracing all of it.
Playing Games with the Psychopath is Soooo Much Fun!
I really began to lose myself. I began to try to play the game, and behave like the psychopath. It’s very common for people in recovery to question themselves.
Article Author: Indie917