Predator in our mist
I feel like I’ve just come out of an abusive relationship says Ann as we sit and enjoy a coffee overlooking the water. Ann is in her mid-50’s, married with grown up children and she and her husband run several successful businesses.
I hear the sadness in her voice as she tells me how she is working on healing and trying to forgive herself for being so naive and gullible. Her eyes well up with tears as she says “How did I open the door to this predator?” I hear Ann’s story, time and time again and I reassure her, that she wasn’t gullible and naïve. If you have never been exposed to the evil or been a victim of narcissist, how could you possibly know the signs to look out for and more importantly how to manage them and get them out of your life?
Ann first met Damien when he wanted to deal with one of their businesses. As she says, when I first met him I thought, wow he is quite arrogant. It was some months later that I started dealing with him. Most people just came and went, whilst some others would stay and chat and were quite social. But not this one! To start with he was quiet and observant. I have always been a person that people came to for advice, I once thought this was an asset, only to learn later in this instance, it was a burden.
As time went on this person started asking me lots of questions, quite targeted questions now I look back. I have never had anything to hide and have always thought of myself to be an open and honest person, another downfall I was to learn. Then the offers of help started, of which initially I declined but he became more assertive. When I kept declining he went behind my back to other people asking what I needed, until the day he got his answer and then just informed me what he was going to do to help me. At the time I was tired, the job I do is very labour intensive and as all people know who run a micro business, you are everything in the business until you can build it up enough to start paying others.
Bad Move No 1:
Before I knew it he was there all the time. My friends and other clients were saying “What does he want?” “He is all over you like a rash” of which I laughed off. In my naivety I replied “Nothing he just likes to help.” “Can’t sit idle” he would say. It was too late anyway, I had befriended him and I am fiercely defensive when I feel a friend is being treated unjustly.
Bad Move No 2:
As the years progressed, I put more of my faith and trust in this person until the day our business dealings increased into other areas.
Bad Move No 3:
It was then that the rot started to set in. I noticed changes and questioned them only to have my worries rationalised and settled in the moment. But there was something that niggled away at me.
You know, his words never really matched up with his actions. The stories never really had proper time lines and were disjointed. I remember early on one day in particular, I was listening to a story of his and I instantly thought to myself, “Your trying to intimidate me.” There was no way I was going to show that I felt that, so I just laughed it off and this is how I handled the following stories that he told me.
What I didn’t realise at the time was, that he was planting the seeds of fear in me.
Bad Move No 4:
People should never repeat the stories like he was saying, especially not in the beginning, actually never! When I mentioned the stories to some of my close friends I was told to stop worrying and that he just really trusted me. I actually felt sorry for him, having a life like he had had.
It wasn’t long before I started questioning everything and everyone. I was starting to isolate myself because I didn’t know who I could trust and with all the things that were being fed to me on a regular basis.
So, I started throwing random questions into google, and it was then that I started reading about narcissism and toxic relationships. In the meantime, things were getting so bad in my head that when I spoke to my doctor she suggested that I go to a Psychologist. My god! I really was going crazy, nothing was making sense. I felt like I was in a constant fog and had really no idea why I was becoming this desperate, needy human.
I was never like that before. I always thought of myself as an independent, capable and strong woman. Why was I being so emotional? Why did I doubt myself and all my decisions? My family were worried about me and my friends couldn’t understand what was happening.
I couldn’t understand how any human could be so hot one minute and then so cold the next. So full on for a while and then like a complete stranger the next. I couldn’t think about anything else, it consumed me. He would say things and then deny it or tell me I didn’t hear it properly or I misinterpreted the situation.
Then all my fears came back to haunt me. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I had handed myself to him on a platter and my own words were coming back to slowly destroy me. Then a little part of me started saying, “How the hell do I get out of this?” “I have put myself and my family in harm’s way.” I berated myself mercilessly. How could you have been so stupid to get yourself here I would say to myself. You silly, silly, woman. All the seeds were planted and I was watering them.
I felt I had been blindsided and shocked when the day came that I was abused in front of clients and friends. Then to be ignored and to have everything about my personality stripped away. Accusations thrown at me that I knew were not me and I apologised for it! Can you believe that? For god sake, I apologised for someone else’s perception of me that I knew was not true.
I am still seeing the Psychologist and she is helping me rebuild myself. I am learning that personal boundaries are vitally important and never allow anyone to break those boundaries. And that when something is too good to be true, you had better believe it isn’t. Above all else trust your gut, I used to think I did, I used to think that I could read people really well, not this time.
The Psychologist has explained that these types of people are insidious and she is totally correct. They eat away at you silently, like a termite does to a house and before you know it; your roof falls on your head and crushes you. He was just a clever opportunist who worked out what my weaknesses were quickly and used them to his advantage. What I have learnt though, is what he thought were my weaknesses, are in fact my greatest strengths.
I have also learnt to listen better. I always thought I was a good listener, what I didn’t realise is that people tell you all about themselves when they project their shit onto you. So throw it back and get the hell away from these people as quietly and as quickly as you can. They don’t give a rats tail about you and never will and they accept no responsibility. I took on full responsibility and that it was all my fault.
I know now that I co-created this situation by not kicking his sorry ass out of my life the first instant I felt intimidated. No client is worth that sort of bullshit and he certainly was not my friend. If anything, it became quite clear from his words and his actions that he thoroughly disliked me, probably right from the beginning. It wasn’t until the end that his words and actions actually matched up.
The saddest thing of all is, I still think there is goodness in there, trying desperately to get out. He just won’t let it, because good people don’t get what they want right! Wrong mister. You had better believe good people get what they want, because I got you out of my life and I will protect my family however and whenever I can till the day I die. Because above all else, family is what matters most to me, not your filthy tainted money.
You may have thought that you won this battle, but you will never win the war of your own self-loathing. That will follow you forever. You are nothing but a predator, a pretender, no self, a child in a man’s body. A wolf in lambs clothing as the saying goes.