I received a text:
I am driving to Middleburg to
sign paperwork. If u can
sign today we will be done
w all this stuff.
Want to celebrate?
My ex husband sent me this text on June 4, 2013. We’d been in court for most of seven years at that point, first for our divorce and then again when he filed for full custody of two of our three children and requested that I have no visitation. He only wanted the boys.
I was working at my computer when the text came in. I looked at the time on the corner of my screen—12:17pm. What, did he want to get a drink? Go out to lunch and blow off the rest of the afternoon together? What exactly did he have in mind?
I went back to working and then picked up my phone to read it again. Then again, one more time. He’d finally signed our custody settlement after two years of strained wishing that he would.
After almost seven years of filing motions against me in court.
And nine years before that of the kind of marriage that took me from being a confident woman in a medical program to a quiet female who made lunch for him and his lover in our home.
And one more year before that of a passionate courtship during which he convinced me he was the love of my life.
Even though I’d known him for years by the time that text came in, I was still stunned. I still couldn’t believe that he could really torture, batter, abuse, and maim other people—even our children—and then through deluded thought patterns could actually believe that we’d still celebrate together when he agreed (on paper) to stop.
He believed it so whole-heartedly that he invited me out to celebrate.
Psychopaths are confusing. M. Scott Peck says that confusion is a sign of evil—that if you’re around someone who confuses you all the time, you should see it as a red flag.
And my ex confused me. Because if he didn’t feel guilty, then did he really do anything hurtful? Maybe he didn’t mean to. When I was around him, I came to question myself daily. Was I making him out to be worse than he was? Could he really be bad when he seemed so nice sometimes? When everyone liked him so much? He presented himself as a victim of everyone and everything, including me. So did that mean he was or is? How did we construct our separate realities? How could our perceptions be so incredibly different?
If he hit me but then happily brought me a glass of wine, ready to celebrate together with no remorse, was he faking his good mood and hiding the sense that he felt bad for what he did? Or not?
Psychopaths generally seem like very happy people.
That text, asking me to celebrate, offers a glimpse into his conscienceless way of being in the world. Even today, I still want him to know that he hurt me, and that he hurt our children. I want him to feel bad about some part of that.
But he never will.
Some people have no remorse.
If you liked this post, you may also want to read The Other Side of Charm.
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