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// At Penn State

When You Grow Up With A Sociopath Instead Of A Mom

Because nothing is more gratifying than succeeding, in spite of them.

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When you think of sociopaths, you think of serial killers like John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy, or maybe you think of the show, Dexter. You don't really think of them as someone you love or care about, just cruel, heartless, murderous people. So when one of your parents is a sociopath, it takes a long time to realize it. But once you know the signs, they are pretty easy to spot. You hear the criteria and slowly put the pieces together.

The first thing to know about sociopaths is that they lie: and they lie for no reason. And without remorse. Secondly, they are manipulative. They are so good at changing people's perceptions of reality to match their own. You’ll be convinced you remember an event correctly, and they can twist your mind and the world until you aren’t even sure anymore and suddenly YOU are the liar. Thirdly, they are selfish. The have not capability to feel anything from anyone other than themselves. They are narcissistic.

So when you hear that they are selfish people, you wonder “why would a sociopath ever have kids?” I honestly don't know. And if anyone finds an answer to this one, let me know. It probably suited their needs at the time. Maybe it gave them an audience that would implicitly believe all of their B.S. when the rest of the world stopped listening to them. But you don’t know for sure; you’d have to ask them. But then you’d probably get a lie instead of an answer. So all you can do is speculate.

The hardest part is living with the lies. Things that are usually off limits to the rest of society, things you just don't lie about, are totally fair game to them. Anything that helps further their personal agenda is okay in their book. Their personal philosophy is strictly Machevalian: the ends justify the means.

So maybe, your mom has lied about having cancer, blood clots, and other serious illness to get out of something or to evoke sympathy. And, maybe, she told her one boyfriend she needed to get special surgery in a city that was a plane ride away when in reality she was hosting another man at her place all weekend and didn’t want her first boyfriend showing up unexpectedly. And then when her boyfriend showed up to leave her flowers, gifts, and a speedy recovery and her lie was uncovered, she told the new boyfriend the old one was a crazy stalker who's been attacking her for ages. Because she always has to be the victim. It’s the only way she can justify their actions. And maybe, in order to make it seem real, she actually took the old boyfriend to court. And you don’t know if she did it so she can live with herself just to keep up the show for the rest of the world.

You don’t want to say it would have been easier if your dad was the crazy one, but, that’s also exactly what you’re saying. Moms are supposed to be the people who unconditionally have more love for you than anyone else on the planet. Your dad never carried you in his stomach. He didn’t HAVE to hang around (though he thankfully did). Moms physically have children and all of the hormones and unconditional love that comes with it. The phrase “a face that only a mother could love” didn’t come out of nowhere.

But sociopaths are incapable of love. And that makes it especially hard when they have children. Because they are only looking out for one person and one person only: themselves. Narcissist makes terrible parents. And they especially make terrible mothers. They do not care about your happiness. They do not care about your success. They do not care about you. In fact, the relish in your failures. They go out of their way to impede you, while simultaneously telling you to your face they are looking out for your best interest. They don't even care about their own children.

For example, your mom may have convinced your little brother’s schools, teachers, counselors, and all of your friends/family that your little brother had autism. This was false. But she loved the fact that he was put in special classrooms. She loved that he was academically and socially ostracized. And when your dad debunked her claims, she fought harder and said that he was being cruel by asking too much and pushing too hard. She twists things like that. She made herself seem like the caring mother when she was the one simultaneously trying to ruin his life.

So trust becomes incredibly hard for you. When the person you are supposed to trust inherently, the person who is supposed to show you the world and how it works, the person you blindly depend on lies pathologically for no reason whatsoever all the time, your perception of the world is skewed. And, when you finally start to realize the extent of the untruthfulness, your whole entire world is shattered. Everything you have believed, everything you thought, was a lie. Through all the twisting of words, manipulation, and bold faced lies, you realize that you weren’t living in the real world: you were living in the version of the world they created. And, if you can’t trust the person who gave birth to you, how the hell are you supposed to trust anyone else.

You will feel dumb. When you escape them, their bubble of thought, you feel like you have been taken advantage of. A gullible idiot. The only thing you can compare it to is having someone point to your chest saying “you have something on your shirt," only to look down and have them flick your face. And you believed there was something on your shirt. Except, instead of believing there was something on your shirt for two seconds, it was years. And then you realize there was nothing there. And you’ve just made a fool of for your entire life.

It’s not that you’ve been burned before and now you are weary: You’ve been burned for so many years, you refuse to even get close to a stove again. You refuse to be the gullible idiot lead astray. You just can’t allow yourself to get taken for a ride ever again.

And because of this, your relationships will suffer. Whether it’s acquaintances, friends, or boyfriends/girlfriends; trusting people is nearly impossible. Trust issues do not even begin to scratch the surface. You have learned to rely solely on your own observations, since, anything told to you was most likely a lie. Because the person who was supposed to always tell you the truth never did. Everyone becomes guilty until proven innocent. Your boyfriend is always cheating on you, and you know it. Your friend really isn’t busy and just hates you and you know it. Your study group doesn’t actually have a class and is just being lazy and you know it. You start to create your own version of reality because you refuse to live in someone else's ever again.

And you’ll never get an apology. For anything. They are always justified in what they did. They are always the victim. So even when they smash a vase on you, slice you with one of the pieces, throw you out of the house with blood running down the side of your face, change the locks while you walk to the hospital, and tell your little brother to lie for them if police show up because it’s better if a sibling gets in trouble instead of a mom, they’ll still find a way to victimize themselves. You deserved what you got. And when “you’re” ready to apologize, they might accept it. And you don’t know whether to laugh or pity them. You don’t know if they actually believe their false narrative or they just don’t care. They try to make you apologize when they committed the atrocities.

You learn not to hold your breath waiting for an “I’m sorry." Because it is never going to come. It’s better not to waste your energy hoping they’ll change. Because they can’t. And, that might be depressing yet, it’s true. And a lot of depressing things are true. But there is peace in accepting that you’ll never hear them say the words you’ve been craving to hear. Because all you want is for them to take any level of accountability for what they've done. You just want to know they are aware that it was wrong. But it's so much easier to let them slip out of your mind instead of subjecting yourself to stress and sadness.

And you have to remember that they live in their own mangled version of reality. The most comfort you can get is to just assume that they believe their own concoctions of the world and are not aware of the actuality. Because, well, it’s terrifying to think that someone could be that heartless, that incapable of emotion and that narcissistic. So you tell yourself to pity them. You tell yourself they don’t perceive the world as it is.

And there is no point wasting time trying to comprehend why they didn’t love you. Because they can’t. And even psychologist can’t yet answer this question. They just can’t feel for anyone other than themselves. Including their children.

And sure, for a while, you think that it’s you: that you are just inherently unlovable. That even your own mother doesn't love you, so how could anyone else?

But it’s not you. It’s them. And you realize they are forever bound to be unhappy. You grow up and you learn that happiness is only real when shared with other people. And they’ll never know the joys of caring more for another person than they do for themselves. They’ll never know how beautiful, how powerful, and how wonderful it is to be completely honest, emotionally naked, and vulnerable with another human being. And you pity them. And you realize it wasn’t you who was unlovable, it was they who couldn’t love. If you can’t love your own children, you can’t love anyone.

And even after you come to terms with your trust issues, even after you come to terms with being unloved, you remember the most frightening part: you see them in yourself.

It’s terrifying to think that some of them are passed down to you. You can’t help but think about all the times you lied without remorse, the friends you easily made but could never keep, your need for attention, your great acting/manipulating abilities, your ability to have completely emotionally detached rondeau with the opposite sex, and all the same mistakes you never seem to learn from.

The most hurtful thing anyone can say to you is “you sound like your mother.” Because, god damn it, you know you do. And that’s your biggest fear, that you are just as sick and demented of an individual as she is. And you’re scared of yourself sometimes because of it.

Every time you look in the mirror you see their eyes looking back at you. Or maybe you have their nose. Maybe, you even got their charismatic smile. You see it in your physicality. And you can’t run away from it. Living with them as a part of you is the hardest part. Cause you can cut them off, but you can’t cut yourself off. You can't rearrange your DNA. You can't just give up half of your chromosomes.

When someone gets an answer on the “nature vs. nurture” debate, they should give you a ring. Because if it’s nature, you will not be having children. You don’t want to subject them to that. Everyone deserve to be loved. Everyone deserves to be able to trust. And it's terrifying to think that you are just as capable of what she did.

But, with all of the Freudian problems that come with an emotionally absent mother, there are some upsides.

You’re independent. Because she never really loved you or cared about you, you had to learn how to things on your own. You learned how to love yourself because no one else was going to. She wasn’t going to waste her time or effort on you, on making sure your lunch was made or you hair looked okay.

You learn to do these mundane things on your own sooner than later. You learn to cook because the extent of her knowledge was microwave meals. You learn how to do your own hair/makeup. You learn how to get from point A to point B without a ride from her, cause you know she can’t be bothered. When even the smallest favor, like getting a ride somewhere, becomes an example of how she is so selfless and does everything and never gets a break, you learn to avoid asking for things. But now you are a young adult, and you are far better prepared for life on your own than the kids who had their mom wake them up every day, packed their lunch, and sent them off to school with a kiss. And sure, you would have killed to have a loving parent, but you are more independent.

Your skin is a few extra layers thick. When you are constantly being told how worthless your existence is, how you were a mistake, how all you are is nuisance to everyone on earth, how you should have been aborted, how you’re going to end up in jail or a pregnant teen, you come to a point where it stops bothering you. And honestly, if you let everything she said get to you, you wouldn’t be able to function. Not be morbid, but you either give up on life/yourself or grow a thicker skin. Choose the latter. You become a more laidback person. It will take a lot more to bother you. It will take a lot more to insult you. You become more chill. You laugh off negative comments. You become bulletproof because when people with actual limits try to hurt your feelings, they can't even scratch the surface compared to what she said to you.

You don’t rely on others for your worth. The whole experience has made you weirdly more confident. You think that after being told how god awful you are on daily basis you’d shrivel into a ball of self-pity. And you did do that for a while. But, at some point, you realize the monster who's been telling you these things are wrong. It’s the same day you realize everything you’ve been told is wrong. And, after that point, nothing can stop you. You see yourself through a new lens: a clear lens. You realize that you were seeking validation from other people, even if it was your parent, it was still another person. And that you learn never needed them. You don’t need anyone's approval, for that matter. You learn a lot quicker that the only person's opinion of you that matters is your own.

So you grow up, you move on, and you go out into the world a little bit stronger than the next person. You make a conscious effort to watch yourself. You make an effort, to tell the truth. You make an effort to learn from mistakes. You make an effort to show the people you love that you care. You make an effort to be a better person than your mom was. And you make an effort to put everyone else before yourself.

And you learn that even though your childhood was not ideal, it made you the amazing person that you are today.

You don't let the ruin you. You take the good with the bad. And you work every day to be the best you can be. Because nothing is more gratifying than succeeding, in spite of them.

"I'm trying, what more do you want" - me in all situations.

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