I spent the weekend on a trip with a woman who annoyed me to my core. Despite the beautiful surroundings, all I could think about was how to avoid this person who (for some reason) was determined to spend her vacation in my ass.
She was invited by a mutual friend and yet everywhere we went, she insisted on sitting next to me. Every time she saw me, she had a different compliment. Whatever I said, whatever I did, whatever I ordered she wanted to do the exact same. And worst of all, every time I turned around she was trying to give me a hug. I thought my head was going to explode.
“I guess I don’t understand,” my husband said. I’d locked myself in the bathroom and called him from the verge of homicide. “It just sounds like she’s trying to be nice. What’s the big deal if she wants to give you a hug? It sounds like she just wants to be your friend.”
“Right.” I said. This is the problem.
When you’re a sociopath, everyone wants to be your friend. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? After all, sociopaths are known for their callousness, deceitfulness, failure to conform to social norms, disregard for lawful behavior, manipulativeness, and penchant for pathological lying. Who doesn’t want that sort of friend?!
Seriously, my personality traits read like a cautionary label. You’d have to be a fucking fool to want to get close to me. And yet here was this woman basically tripping over herself in an attempt to connect – no joke she actually fell over a deck chair trying to give me one of her awkward hugs.
It made me hate her. As in really, really hate her.
In the old days I would have done something awful to get rid of her. This time, however, I refused my dark urges and decided instead to remain on the socio-path-to-enlightenment. I sat with the hate. I stared at it. I got to know it.
Being a sociopath can be a huge advantage. In some ways, it’s almost a superpower. In the absence of fear anything is possible. People gravitate toward individuals who aren’t afraid. We’re like magnets, lending ego strength to those who are otherwise restricted by their inability to simply not care. Riding on the coattails of someone like me, “normal” people are able to catch a glimpse of a life without treat, consequence or need for approval.
That’s what this girl was so attracted to. She saw me as a person unhindered by fear. She noticed that I didn’t ask the group before I made a decision. She liked that I did what I wanted without asking permission. She envied that I wasn’t interested in propriety. She hated that she wasn’t the same. She didn’t want to know why I was different or ask questions to get to know me. She simply liked what I had and decided she wanted to take it – apparently through fucking osmosis.
There is a term in psychology known as self-object. This term refers to any situation where one person is viewed as an extension of another person instead of an independent being. In the case of my vacation stalker, this woman wasn’t interested in being my friend. She probably didn’t even see me as a multi-dimensional person. I was her self-object. To this person I was nothing more than an escape from what is most likely a very unhappy and extremely insecure existence. In short, she wanted to use me. And I wanted to murder her.
Self-objectifying is a major trigger for me. I cannot stand being used, especially by people who want to side-step their own introspection by coasting off my ego-strength.
You want to stop being insecure? You want to make your own decisions and not spend your life caring about what other people think? Then get off your ass and do the fucking work! This woman represented the worst type of user: the ones who want to steal another person’s identity because they are too lazy to find one of their own.
But that’s only half the story. The truth is that for me, my hatred of this woman went much deeper than that. What really infuriated me is what she represented: years and years of dealing with people who claimed to want to be my friend, only to shun me and make fun of me and make my life miserable once they realized the type of person I truly was. These people made me feel unsafe and forced me to act like someone I wasn’t out of fear of discovery – all the while stealing my personality traits and faking them as their own.
It took me years to face the truth and a decade after that to fall in love with it: I am a sociopath. I have ease of access to a treasure trove of personality traits that some people would literally kill to possess. These traits come with a great deal of liability and a burden of darkness of which I constantly have to be in check. But I have come a long way from the person who ever thought she had anything to fear from judgement. And instead of being angry at this woman, what I should have done is offer her the very thing that was kept from me for most of my life: empathy.
As a sociopath, it can be hard to relate to other people – especially those who are trying to engage emotionally. This is one of the hardest things for me. For the most part my emotional range is quite shallow. It’s one of the reasons I cop to being a sociopath straight away. Letting people know the type of person I am allows for them to understand why I may not respond in ways they are accustomed. It prevents a lot of potential misunderstandings and means I don’t have to pretend to be someone I am not.
They key to relating to others is empathy. Most psychologists will tell you that sociopaths are incapable of empathy. But I am living proof this isn’t true. Granted, it’s not easy. Empathy is one of the hardest concepts for a sociopath to understand.
I believe the primary reason for this is because it is something we are rarely afforded ourselves. That was certainly the case for me as well as most of the sociopaths I have treated. Think about it: who empathizes with a sociopath? No one. And so the only way a sociopath can gain an education in empathy is to be self taught.
This woman represented the perfect lesson in empathy-education. I felt the darkest parts of my personality come to life in her presence: a cocktail of emotional vapidness served in a glass-chard-low-ball with an arsenic rim. Away from home and from my husband, the man who helps me want to be the sort of person who connects with others, it would have been extremely easy for me to manipulate, charm, steal from and destroy this woman. My dark side rarely gets a night out and this was the perfect opportunity. She had a lot of nice stuff.
But I didn’t. And it’s not because I felt guilty and it’s not because I gave two shits about this house-frau who kept asking to borrow my perfume (what the fuck was wrong with this woman!?). This choice for me was selfish.
Being on the socio-path-to-enlightenment means sometimes you have to skip the dark temptations. I sat with the hatred instead of indulging in it and as a result I ended up understanding myself better. What’s more, I was able to explain the situation to my husband, which helped him to understand me better. I was able to write this post in the hopes of helping someone else understand themselves better.
And in the end this woman who ruined my weekend with her gelatinous presence ended up doing me a favor. I may even go as far as to thank her. That’s a lie – I have zero intention of thanking her. But I will probably return her sunglasses.