My Search for Redemption After a Narcopath
This is a true story and all names have been changed to protect both the innocent and the unrepentant. This article was penned by a guest writer who prefers to remain anonymous. (For clarity, a narcopath is a narcissistic sociopath.)
As a divorced, executive in my early thirties, I was looking to provide stability for my young son, Jack, and I really wanted to have it all: the intact family, the home in the suburbs with a white picket fence and more children. I lived in a busy city, served on several high-profile boards and thought myself to be pretty discerning in choosing the right partner. After going on many dates, I met Greg; he was attentive, compassionate and seemed to meet every one of my benchmarks for a mate.
Looking back, I see that he met my needs because I openly expressed them and he was a fast learner. He morphed into whatever I wanted and became my perfect partner. I did not realize it at the time, but I was actually targeted by Greg, due to my young son and my position as a successful businesswoman. Several times during our courtship, I witnessed red flags, but ignored them because he met so many of my needs.
We married and had two children of our own. Jack, my oldest son from my first marriage, was beloved by his younger siblings, but Greg was intensely jealous of him. After the younger children were born, Greg would often cruelly punish Jack for reasons I could not understand. Greg moved us to a small town in another state, where I was isolated from my family and friends. I tried to build a new life there, but I did not fit in as an “older mom from the big city”. I became more and more isolated and began to lose myself in mothering and trying to be a good wife.
Greg made friends and went out many nights while I stayed home with the children. He would stay out late, and when I could not reach him by phone, I would lie awake in fear. He morphed into a man I hardly recognized anymore, hitting the children for minor offenses, throwing things and screaming at the top of his lungs if I forgot to buy orange juice. By his estimation, I could do nothing right. Also, I would often see Greg driving around our small town with different women, but he was always quick with an excuse, calling these women clients or coworkers. He could not keep a job and had run up his credit cards with cash withdrawals and internet pornography.
The fights between Greg and Jack shook me to my core. One night, after an altercation, Jack begged me to leave Greg and move us away. But after being told how worthless I was for so many years, I believed it; I told Jack I simply did not have the strength or the money to leave. The look on his face haunts me to this day. It was a look of resignation and loss of hope.
At our 10 year anniversary, Greg confessed that he was a sex addict and had been using drugs and drinking heavily. Additionally, his financial affairs were a disaster. I mortgaged my house and used all of my savings to pay off this enormous debt. I got a job and started my plan to regain my self confidence, determined to get out of this marriage. Six months later, Greg announced to the children and me that he was filing for divorce and moving away. Though initially shocked and upset, I realized after a few days that I was actually relieved to get away from this man and all of his problems.
It took years to divorce Greg, not because he did not want a divorce; it was simply a game to him. The mask was off and he decided laws did not apply to him. Many times our judge would have a deputy in the hearings ready to arrest Greg for stealing the children or not paying child support, only to have him sob in fake remorse or come up with money at the last minute. The entire process left me feeling adrift and powerless.
Greg was an irresponsible and abusive lawyer, father and husband. After numerous complaints, the state bar took away his license to practice law. He was prosecuted for stealing funds from clients and had to serve time in jail for his misdeeds. Splashed across the front page of our small town paper, the story left the children and me humiliated. Later, a book written by one of Greg’s defrauded clients, detailed his improper handling of her case. This book was all over town. Though our family was ignorant to his malfeasance, we were consumed with embarrassment and shame. Greg, on the other hand, remained unrepentant. This was a hard time for all of us.
As a measure of control, Greg sued me every year for one reason or another. This was one of the worst divorces, and being isolated from family and friends, I lacked a support system. These proceedings took their toll on the children and me both physically and emotionally. In fact, my children stayed in counseling until they were grown.
My youngest child developed a serious drug addiction that nearly killed him. After spending an extended time with his father, he started using the drug “spice” and was homeless and living out of a car. He was admitted to the hospital and was lucky to have survived, despite both of his lungs being ‘whited out’. He developed secondary infections and ended up with a port in his heart for 60 days. Sadly, in time, his drug addiction worsen.
My middle child is lovely, genius-level smart and very well rounded. This child was beaten and abused and finally cut all contact with their father. She married a wonderful man and has given me the light of my life, a grandchild.
The most devastating effect of this marriage was to Jack. In a revelation as a young man, Jack disclosed that as a child, he had been sexually molested by his stepfather, Greg. [Studies show that it takes an average of 15 years before a male will admit to molestation.] Jack, a compassionate and sweet man, was concerned that his siblings had suffered the same fate. To his relief and mine, they had not been, but Jack was scarred by the shame of Greg’s actions. In that moment, I was haunted by the memory of Jack’s face as he begged me to leave Greg many years before.
Within six months of revealing this horror, Jack hanged himself. Even as I write this, many years later, tears stream down my face. I will never take a breath without missing Jack. I have had to do a lot of forgiveness work along the way to survive. I learned it is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive yourself for your inability to protect your children. That once “perfect” marriage turned into a “perfect” hell and was the root cause of this devastation. Had I been able to see the future, I would have left that day when Jack begged me to. God made the world round for a reason: so we would not know what was over the horizon.
Those of us who have been targeted by a narcopath are not easily identifiable. We come from every race, gender and socioeconomic status. But one thing binds us together; we were persuaded to believe a person was something they were not. In reality, we fell in love with the parts of ourselves that we told the other person we were looking for. I seek redemption and forgiveness everyday, and I will work on forgiving myself until my last breath. My path was not easy and my road was not what I planned. Even with the incredible loss of Jack, I remain rooted in the hope that by sharing my story, perhaps one person will not make the same mistakes I did.
My greatest wish is for no one to entangle themselves with this kind of monster. I still cling to hope.