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Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Sociopath Next Door

Have you ever seen a deadly animal in the wild, in real life?  A bear on the trail ahead of you, or a snake suddenly popping out, or a moose so close you can see the hairs on his massive (wickedly pointy) antlers?

It’s like someone douses your heart in ice water and you freeze with the sudden and inescapable realization that you are in the presence of a deadly predator.  

If you’re lucky, that’s the feeling you get when you encounter a sociopath.

If you’re NOT lucky, you only see in retrospect, after she or he has gotten that promotion or that raise by lying, or cheating, or using some other devious means to get what he/she wants.  Unfortunately, sometimes they’re quite charming on the surface.  It is merely a mask they wear.

I used to have compassion for these people.  I’ve met one or two.  They always seem to be recovering from some major set-back or another.  Close friends and relatives often hate them for reasons that aren’t clear.  But compassion will tug you down into their vortex of bitterness and mindless rage.  They lie.  They spin the truth.  They will hurt you…just because it’s in their power.  There’s more of them out there than you think - and they don’t all kill people.  

They will destroy you if you are in their way, but they don’t always leave body counts.  A high percentage of CEO’s fit this profile.  

I digress.  This is a story about MY sociopath.  Charming would not be a word I would use to describe anything about her, except maybe her tiny, tiny feet.

My sociopath is about four feet, 10 inches and weighs probably a buck fifty.  I judge her age to be somewhere around 19 and 24.  A tiny slip of a girl.  She’s pretty in a rough-girl kind of way.  I can’t explain it exactly but something about her eyes or the set of her mouth screams don’t mess with me.  She makes the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  

Her boyfriend (Husband?) was there last week with her at a class I take with Ellie.  When I first saw him I physically hesitated.  

He had the hulking look of a bodyguard for hire.  You know the type.  Bulging muscles and a blank stare.

White V neck T-shit, baggy black cargo shorts, black hat sitting low on his forehead.  Tattoo’s from shoulder to wrist, from neck to….well I’m not sure where to but probably everywhere.  He was carrying a ‘man purse’ that I’m fairly confident had a gun inside.  This isn’t TOTAL hooey - even sweet old ladies carry guns around here, we live in Texas.

I took all this in, chided myself for my prejudices and preconceptions and smiled, put my sweater down on the floor near him.  He wasn’t going to find a close minded judgey person here.  (Well, he was, but not from me).  Anyway, I don’t know if that was what tipped her off in my direction or not.  

She seemed jealous, possessive of her thug-mate-for-life.  Uh oh.  I had caught the attention of the creepiest mother in here.  Literally.  Her son is Ellie’s age.  The fact she reacted this way to ME (keeping an eye on me when she wasn’t right with her beefy boyfriend, glaring at me even when she was) made me almost laugh out loud at the sheer ridiculousness.

I mean, I was wearing clean clothes that day and my teeth were brushed but that was about it.  I thought, lady, even if I WANTED the hassle of another man in my life I sure wouldn’t find it here in my almost-pajama’s in last year’s stretched out sports bra helping Ellie off the hanging bars.

At the end of class the ONLY open space to sit down was on the other side of her man-meat.  I almost didn’t sit down, then I figured being the only one standing when there was a space open might draw undue attention to me.  She was not pleased.

I digress.

Her son was at the bars and crying.  Her boyfriend/husband went over to help him.  I turned to her and said, “Awww, he didn’t even ask for mom and dad he just stood there crying forlornly until someone helped him.  So cute.”  He was like a tiny puppy yowling at the front door for food.  It WAS cute.

Why I said ANYTHING to the only person in the last five years to set my ‘sociopath, RUN NOW’ alarms ringing I don’t know.  I may have a flair for creative self-destruction I’ll have to examine more deeply at a later time.

I’ve never looked at a Cobra directly in the eyes but I have to imagine it was something like the cold and unblinking glare she set on me.  There was nothing but cruel calculation in her eyes.  I had to wonder if she was already three steps ahead of me and debating which of my tires to slash.  Front, back, or all four?

She ended up staring at me with a sneer and not saying anything at all.  Cue me, backing slowly away…inappropriate responses to normal conversations are often a sign you’re dealing with a sociopath.  (They laugh when others cry, they’re amused when others are frightened).  They aren’t capable of empathy and they never feel remorse.  They rarely feel fear.  They DO need to win.  

Anyway, I’m safe at home.  No tires slashed.

You tell me, is that too much from a few quick encounters over the course of the last two months?  Maybe. Usually if I sit down and really examine what my instincts are telling me I find a logical reason, something that tipped me off that makes sense after the fact but that happened too quickly for me to absorb consciously at the time.

Anyway, my instincts may be off.  She may be just a run-of-the-mill Mean Girl.  There are plenty of those around.  I figure if that’s the case I’ll be better off avoiding her anyway.

For the rest of you out there - trust your instincts.  And if you’re in competition with someone you think may be a sociopath…pray.