Daughter of a Sociopath
As a little girl, I woke up everyday feeling loved by all the right people. And when my life couldn’t get any better, my daddy brought home everything I begged him for. It goes without saying: his joy was intertwined with feeding me a sense of specialty. Every breath I took with the air I shared with him, I knew I was the only one with a smile this radiant, a laugh this carefree, a life this exhilarating, and a daddy this magical. I believe every child’s favorite place is in the moment that bubbles rise from their soul whenever they feel their dad's kisses fall onto them. It was my favorite place to be to escape the nightmare hidden behind this fairytale my dad created.
One night, I was brutally awakened by piercing screams, glass shattering on cheap laminated kitchen floors, and the boom of my dad's anger rocketing into the walls. My eyes bulged in the darkness as I followed the terror to its source. My heart was beating at the speed of light, my breath locked in my throat. I was possessed by fear. Before me was an image you only see in horror movies: my dad's huge hand was preventing life from flowing through my brother's body as his little feet dangled. My mother was torn between bargaining for his life and protecting my sister from my dad. Everything froze before me and it was a still picture. This was our family portrait.
Shattering my heart into pieces was the horror booming through the atmosphere, riveting through my tiny little body. "STOP! Dad! Stop!”, I screamed.
This was only one nightmare of a night in the nine years I was abused by my father.
How can the same dad that looked like God in my eyes be the same dad that had his hand wrapped around my brother's neck? The answer is antisocial disorder, which is informally known as sociopathy. Sociopathy is characterized as a lack of conscience. People diagnosed with this personality disorder seem surfacely charming , but truly are aggressive and irritable. Most suffer with drug and alcohol abuse and disregard the law. Common behavior among sociopaths are a lack of remorse, recklessness, deceitfulness, and highly saturated sense of irresponsibility. Their lifestyle is inconsistent among their responsibilities for family and friends, maintaining their career, and their finances. Males are more prone to this disorder than females. This disorder onsets in adolescent or early adulthood, but cannot be diagnosed till after the age of eighteen.
This charming god-like image my dad wears is all a ruse to lure people in for his own benefit. Anti-social disorder is often misunderstood or misinterpreted by society. Film and television often position us, the audience, in an omniscient point of view looking down on sociopaths in the film and we have this God-like ability to see behind the charm. Truly, as human beings we are not all-knowing. When I read articles like, "How to Spot a Manipulator" or "Are you Dating a Sociopath", they diminish the truth; sociopaths are good at what they do: manipulation. Manipulation is the use of influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits, or privileges at the victims expense.
When I left my dad at the age of nine with my family, I felt like I was separated from the only person who saw greatness in me. His loving appearance still outshone the abuse and manipulation. It wasn't until I began to talk to him after two years of disconnection, I realized how horrible he was. Whenever we talked there was a huge gap between us. I wanted a relationship with him. He wanted to give me things and then leave. When I turned sixteen, I learned that he didn't want to be a good dad, he just wanted to look like one. The rare times we did talk were limited to ten minutes. In those ten minutes he criticized what I ate, did, or the way I looked. He had a persisting irritation regarding me not visiting him after I left. He believed my mom kept me from seeing him (not true). I begged him to come see me, but there was always an excuse. Even over the phone he still had a way of manipulating and abusing me. That year I developed an eating disorder for multiple reasons, but the main reason was because of my dad. Every time I came near food I heard his voice in my head critiquing the way I looked, the way I ate, and my weight. I was still traumatized from when he starved me, forced me to eat food he knew I hated, and when he used food to play mental games on my family. When I turned seventeen I hit my breaking point; at this time my interest in psychology was at its peak. My research in psychology functioned like a peeler, exposing the reality of my childhood. I began to have nightmares and flashbacks of my childhood. In July of 2017, I changed my phone number and I stopped talking with my dad and our mutual friends and family.
Now, I attend therapy and the more I go, the more I talk about my dad. Both of my therapists agree that the chance of my dad having antisocial disorder is extremely high. Surprisingly, knowing this only increased my guilt. I can’t shake that I feel guilty for not giving him a second chance to love me. I want to believe that even though he is cruel to other people, I am the exception to his disorder and I am special. Still I get swooned by his charm and manipulation. It’s such a difficult decision to make, to end a relationship with my dad. It's not only hard because he's my dad, but I also feel guilty for leaving him lonely with his mental disorder. I feel as if I am punishing him for an illness that isn't his fault.
The best lesson I have learned through all of this is that my only responsibility is to be the queen of my own kingdom, which is my life. I have no responsibility to abandon myself to take care of someone else. I feel horrible for leaving my dad, but I also feel at peace knowing I am protecting myself from pain and trauma. I still struggle everyday with this decision and it doesn't help hearing other people’s opinion, but it's my choice and I am making it.