I Survived A Mother I Believe Is A Psychopath

Photo: Aleshyn_Andrei / Shutterstock
woman sitting on bench

Trigger Warning: Child Sexual Abuse discussion ahead.

Everything you’re about to read is alleged and not proven in a court of law. There’s a paucity of justice in the world, particularly for the small and vulnerable of this land. It may or may not be true. You be the judge, even with no jury, a judge is nevertheless a powerful witness.

It’s long past midnight and I’m wide awake, though I’ve taken enough sedatives to choke a horse, but not die. Never to die. I want to live. As tattered and torn as I am, it’s all I’ve ever wanted.

I do cry, am crying. And yet, I can’t help but note, that the monsters recede. It’s like they’ve thinned in the air around me.

I can breathe, lie still and not feel like I’m falling, flailing in terror. The memories of what she did to me late at night, with the willing assistance of my older brother, return.

More horrific memories press in but have yet to reveal themselves. I am a lifetime movie of the week. I am a victim one can only look at through the lens of a true-crime feature. Yet, I live and so everyone’s bound to think well, it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t Elisa Lam-bad or JonBenét Ramsey-bad.

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I struggle with what it feels like not to be believed. I fight for ground here and beg for someone, anyone, to hold space for everything she did to me and forgive me for allowing her to do more. For going back, for not realizing, recognizing how much she’d done and how much she still did and even planned to do.

Two years ago I started a meditation practice and one year ago I started EMDR therapy. If you get out of your way, you’ll tell yourself everything: The actions she took to permanently disable me.

Don’t get me wrong, It’s long past midnight. My body won’t let go of consciousness. It doesn’t want to die. Terrible sensations burrowing into my innermost reaches burn hotter the closer we draw to 3 a.m.

Oh, yes. This gets very dark. I’m so sorry. Please turn back if you’re squeamish. I am. But here we are.

It’s long past midnight and I’m wide awake.

What I’m about to tell you may horrify you. It may disgust you and you might even be tempted to doubt its veracity. I don’t blame you. I did for decades.

But that’s what psychopaths count on — our inability to believe their relentless, single-minded pursuit to cripple, deform, and psychologically annihilate their victims while they smile and pretend it isn’t happening.

They’re not narcissists, although they can look alike in a certain light.

But at the end of the day, narcissists are still human and bound to a comparatively normal amount of harm to their loved ones. For much of their lives, a narcissist can act like selfish children, but they’re still human, capable of love and growth. I know several and like them.

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Psychopaths or sociopaths, experts say there’s little qualitative difference, may be born, they may be made by narcissistic mothers who do not touch them, and may barely even look at them. They run corporations, governments, and car dealerships. They often make great salespeople. They exhibit charm.

Some more than others, depending on what they want and how long they can go between feedings. I suppose there may be a sliding scale of psychopathy — Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer on one end, and oh, Vladamir Putin on the other.

But where do the women fall on that scale? I don’t know. The science on the matter isn’t as clear-cut as it should be.

Mothers sexually abuse their children. It happens. It’s rare, but it happens. If you can’t believe that then you’re a good mark. You’ll have a role to play in their sad, sick drama. You’ll act as their shield, and shroud their deeds in complicity. Yours.

And when you’re no longer useful, you’ll be disposed of. Women drug and even poison, play the long game and in the end, hide behind their patience. No one blames a selfless caregiver whose attention never waivers, far beyond that of yours and mine. Does that sound sexist? Well…

Careful what you’re so sure of, it makes you easy to fool.

Psychopaths look like us, they study, manipulate, lie and conceal, all the while sizing you up, reflecting you to win you over, control you, and isolate you.

They make very good mirrors. And for the wounded, their laser-like focus can feel like love. But it’s simply a drug. Don’t confuse the two.

Every action of theirs is calculated, planned, rehearsed, and scripted. They count on you not paying attention, or doing what we do, projecting our needs and desires onto them. So they can be nearly impossible to spot. It’s a challenge, but throw them a curveball, do something outside the realm of their expectations, and their mask slips. Pay attention to those reveals. It could save your life.

A psychopath needs a mirror, too — and that’s the victim’s role. It must bring them relief and perhaps feel like love. Love as presence. Love as witness, attention, and total, abject terror. That, my friends, is a far more intense love than what you and I might recognize.

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It’s long past midnight and I’m drifting into the theoretical, for your sake. I’d hate to take you into the abyss too soon.

We’re getting accustomed to these sick and terrible waters together. You reading about my horrors for the first time, me writing about them for the first time. You, my witness among a cloud of witnesses, your attention my lifeboat.

I think about all the people I’ve known and wonder, if they read this, what it will mean to them — if any of it will explain my past behavior driven by tangled emotions of sadness, fear, and cavernous need. I think not. Everyone can only see through the lens of their suffering and upbringing.

Except for psychopaths. We should always remember, that they are pain-made flesh.

So what kept me from becoming my mother? God knows she tried. She may have succeeded with my older brother, but not with me. I rose in defiance, which worsened my abuse. She wanted control and total submission. She sought to break us all and then ride in as our one and only savior.

And while I should’ve been destroyed beyond repair, I’m not. I defied her anyway and I kept on and even now, my defiance grows with each keystroke. Yet as I expand into my truest self, more memories crowd my fragile confidence. She’s here, squeezing and hurting and growing in size.

I’m in this strange in-between land where the world I thought I knew does not exist but the place I go has yet to form. The life I lead, a remnant built on unseen trauma, collapses beneath my new weight, and the one I see vaguely through the vapors up ahead cannot yet support me.

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Hope must carry me, as annoying an answer as I find that. And, your attention. It’s nearing 3 a.m. The dim outline of unthinkable terrors rises within me. I cannot push them back or tell myself it’s all a dream anymore….I’ve got to try to sleep, even if it feels like dying.

It’s long past midnight, long enough now where I can take more sedatives, and live.

Sexual abuse of children and minors is incredibly common. According to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 have experienced sexual abuse from an adult. Girls are far more likely to be victims of sexual abuse; the organization reports that 82% of all victims under 18 are female, and those who do suffer from assault and abuse are more likely to also develop mental health issues like depression, PTSD, and drug abuse.

Amy Punt is an essayist and opera librettist, playwright, and educator.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.