Catfish and Sociopaths

Catfish (According to Urbandictionary.com):  A catfish is someone who assumes a false identity on the Internet using various platforms including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A catfish is often undesirable in comparison to thier profile, as an actual catfish would be to a premium “catch” fish like Alaskan salmon.

 

A few weeks ago, during a business meeting, a few of my coworkers brought up their obsession with reality television.  When several of them began to rave about the MTV show “Catfish”, I immediately assumed that they were referring to some show about actual Catfish farmers or fisherman in the Deep South.  You can imagine how silly I looked as I questioned them on why a show about a Catfish farm would be so interesting.  After a brief description of the show, however, I decided that I should check it out.

As the Urban Dictionary explains, the Catfish that MTV features on this program is someone who creates a false sense of themselves online in order to lure in unsuspecting and vulnerable for romantic relationships.  The show follows the person who is questioning the identity of the Catfish (usually because the person begins to make up loads of excuses to not meet in person).  By the end of the show, the viewers find out what the true identity of the Catfish.

After watching a few episodes, I realized that this term Catfish is basically another word for a person with a personality disorder.  Most episodes of the reality show leave the viewer as though he/she should feel sorry for this person who has lied about their identity (because usually it shows a deep rooted self esteem issue); however, having lived through a relationship in which I was extremely deceived, I find it hard to have compassion for someone who has engaged in this sort of behavior.

 

Social Media Catfish:

 

With the Internet and Social Media so pervasive, it is becoming increasingly easy to create a whole new identity and “false self” virtually.  The television show often focuses on those who are hiding their true physical appearance.  This is likely why it is so easy for viewers to feel a sense of sadness for the Catfish.  In a society that places so much value on physical appearance, many people can relate to the idea of wanting to escape and be someone else for a while – someone that most people would find physically attractive.

The more common (and potentially more dangerous) Catfish, however, is the person who trolls the Internet for his/her mark and intends for the deception to continue in person (or intends to harm the mark financially, emotionally, or even physically).  These Catfish focus on creating a bond with their mark before meeting in person so that the mark feels a false sense of trust upon the initial in person meeting.  Luc used Match.com as his trolling mechanism.  He created the profile based completely on his false self.

 

Here are some of the lies Luc propagated through match.com:

1)   Rising R&B Singer:  Luc made himself out to be a young man who had recently been signed by a major record label.  If he could have gotten away with telling the world he was an established artist he would have; however, he knew that it would be impossible to pull off something that big.  He created enough fake information online about this false career that anyone who wasn’t familiar with the music industry (like me) wouldn’t have initially thought this was strange.

2)   College Graduate:  Luc’s online profile noted that he was looking for someone with a comparable educational background.  He claimed that he had attended Virginia Tech and graduated in Music Engineering.  Upon meeting in person, he even had a framed diploma (which was fake) making it appear as though this lie was completely true.  In reality, Luc hadn’t even finished High School.  Unless I had requested official transcripts from the school, I would have had no way of vetting this lie initially.

3)   Name and Age:  Unless you are able to get ahold of a person’s Social Security number, this one is really hard to prove.  On just about any social media site, you can claim whatever name and age you want without any proof.  Luc decided that on match.com he wanted to be 26 years old (he was nearly 40).  Had I known he was actually 40, lie number one wouldn’t have been as plausible.

4)   Successful Software Businessman:  Another lie that is easy to pass off on the web is your profession.  For example, does LinkedIn require proof of the profession that you claim?  Luc claimed he owned a small software company and this was how he was able to make ends meet while he pursued his music career.  He created a website for this company, registered some random software product for a patent, and created a virtual job for himself.

 

When the Catfish steps from behind the computer:

 

If the Catfish has completely lied about their appearance, I imagine it usually doesn’t move from behind the computer; however, the most dangerous lies have nothing to do with appearance.  In fact, when you meet them in person, and they look enough like their pictures, you might breath a sigh of relief.  When I met Luc in person, he looked older than his pictures.  When I questioned this, however, he noted that he had shared headshots and they must have been air brushed or something.  Given that he still looked like the same person, I didn’t immediately question the other facts about his profile.

Before meeting Luc in person, we had spoken on the phone several times and shared many life experiences and stories (mine were true – his completely fabricated).  I felt like I knew him already and this was a danger that I hadn’t known to protect myself from.  My normal skeptical nature had been squashed because I believed I had gotten enough background from his profile and our conversations.  All of the “background” I felt I had gathered, however, had been a fabrication provided by the Catfish.

 

Could you be dealing with a Catfish?

 

Since I started blogging, I have received many letters from women who tell me about how they were in a relationship with someone whom they really didn’t know.  Sometimes, these women were married to the men for years before they learn their true identities.  They believed they married and had children with an Alaskan salmon, when in reality they married a Potomac River Catfish.

(Note:  For those of you outside of Washington, DC – Potomac River Catfish are big and ugly.  While fun to catch, the CDC warns against eating them because they are full of dangerous levels of Mercury that when consumed in large quantities can poison you.  Catfish are bottom feeders, so if their environment is polluted – they are too.)

Just because you think you know a person, and your relationship has moved beyond the virtual sphere doesn’t mean you aren’t dealing with a Catfish.  If you are with someone whose story doesn’t seem to make sense, it might not make sense because they aren’t being honest.  In the age of technology it has become increasingly easier to re-invent yourself.  Regardless of what appears to be an attempt by popular media to sympathize with the Catfish, I believe this type of Catfish is dangerous and should be treated as such.

 

 

The Frog Is Still A Frog – Even After The Kiss

Back in the early 1980′s when I was more of a Cappuccino Princess than a Cappuccino Queen, I remember watching fairy tales on VHS tapes (yes, I am that old).  My parents would bring home a new fairy tale on what seemed like a weekly basis.  I would watch stories about pretty Princess’ turning frogs into Prince’s with a kiss, Prince’s bringing back Princess’ from the death curse of an apple, and beastly creatures who were really good on the inside –  if only the right woman came around to turn them into a handsome Prince.

As a parent, you might not think your child really believes this stuff.  I was a believer, and if your child is anything like I was – she believes it too.  I remember being five years old, looking at a frog, and actually wondering if that frog was really a Prince waiting to be kissed.  As I grew older, of course I knew they were all just fairy tales; however, some of the lessons and the hope from those stories still remained.  I believed that there was good in everyone, and was determined to find the good in even the beastly, dirty frog.

 

When I grew up, I found a frog.  He presented himself as charming frog, he tried to clean up well, and even said many of the right things; however, he was still just a frog.  When I started to see poor behavior from the frog, I said to myself, ‘he is really good inside – he must be because everyone is good deep down.’  It took me a little over a year to realize that this frog wasn’t turning into a Prince – this frog would stay a dirty, nasty, and evil little slippery frog…even after I kissed him.

 

 

How Psychopaths Use Fairy Tales:

When I met Luc, he made a point to tell me I was the first person he felt so strongly about that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.  When he proposed, he told me it was the first time he had proposed.  I later learned that I was at least the third girl who had been told that same story.  (One of the three of us didn’t survive the relationship)  Why did he tell me that?  He told me that because he wanted me to believe that I was the woman who would turn him from the beast into the “good guy”.

 

About eight months into the relationship, just after I found out I was pregnant with my son, Luc described a scenario where he had treated the woman before me horribly.  After listening to the story, I was scared.  I wondered how this man, whom I had wanted to believe was good deep down, could have treated someone that way.  He tried to explain that it was the woman who was abusive toward him, and that was why he didn’t respect her.  (Of course, always someone else’s fault)  His son was sitting in the back seat of the car during this conversation.  After listening to his father talk about treating this woman poorly, his son said, “would you do the same thing to Hera that you did to her?”  Luc began to yell at his son saying, “How could you say that!?  Of course not!”  His son said that to his father because he had seen it happen over and over again.  He knew it would eventually also happen to me.

 

 

You Had A Child With The Beast – Now What?

I had no delusions that keeping Prince safe would be easy, and I knew raising him to be that good man I knew he could be would be met with challenges (because his father was a beast).  Recently, a mother asked me my advice about how she should handle the fact that her son was being conned by his father.  This is a great question and one I gave a lot of thought to when I was planning for Prince to live a long and happy life.  On one hand, one of the best case scenarios would be for the psychopath to show your child the “good side” and attempt to make him believe he is good (as the alternative is evil abuser).  That being said, every protective mother knows that this facade cannot last.  It is a normal concern to worry about the day when the mask drops and your child is devistated, or worse – injured or killed.

I don’t have all the answers and, sadly, Prince didn’t live long enough for me to have to shield him from the lies of his con man father.  What I believed I would do, however, is never lie to my son.  I would always tell my son the truth even if that meant exposing his father’s lies.  For example, I imagined my son would come home telling me about how his father was going to be opening for a major musician in a concert.  Then, he would likely have asked me if I remembered a time when I saw his father in concert.  At this point, I would say to my son, “I have never seen your father in concert.  To my knowledge, he has never been the opening act for any major artists.  I am not sure why he would tell you that, but if you would like to go see him in concert – I will buy tickets and you can surprise him.”  I would never have made excuses for Luc’s poor behavior and I would never allow Prince to believe something that wasn’t true – especially if he asked for my verification of the truth.

 

 

Lessons for my children:

 

I am not suggesting taking the magic out of childhood.  By all means, I will tell my children about Santa Claus and encourage them to put their teeth under their pillow for the tooth fairy.  I will, however, make sure my children have the best chance in life, and grow up understanding that not all people are good people and that people don’t just change because you love them  or because you “kiss them”.  We will watch fairy tales together and we will talk about the real lessons in life.  I will tell my daughter to watch how the man (or frog) treats his mother, sisters, and previous girlfriends.  If he is slimy and terrible to those women, he will do the same thing to you.

Prince was only 15 months when he died.  While I did a lot of talking to him, I never got the chance to teach him life’s lessons.  If I had, I would have told him not to be a frog – but to be a true Prince.  I would have explained to him how important it is to just be a good guy – no scamming, conning, or cheating – just a good guy.  If he was a good guy, he would find his princess.

 

The other day I went to see the movie “Oz the Great and Powerful”.  There was a five year old little girl sitting behind me with her mother.  For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, the bottom line is that Oz is a con man through and through. At a point in the movie, the little girl yelled out, “I told you Mama!  I told you Oz was really a good guy!”  For the little girl, her faith in humanity was restored through another fairy tale.  For Cappuccino Queen, it was another example of a little girl who was being “set up” to believe that one day she would have the power to make a bad man into a good one.

 

It’s Not You – It’s HIM

Let me start out by saying that I am by no means a forensic psychologist with a degree and years of clinical experience with psychopathy.  I am, however, a woman who ran into a really bad dude.  I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that during the year I spent with Luc I did see some odd signs – or red flags.  Sadly, some of the signs I didn’t pick up on, and others I simply ignored in hopes that things would improve and my son’s father would actually be the man I had hoped he was.

Since starting my blog, I have heard from hundreds of other women who have also run  into some really bad dudes.  While these men are different guys, and not all are psychopaths, they are all people each one of these women now wishes she had avoided.  All of them showed signs, and we all ignored these signs until it was too late.  These women are all strong women who have stood up and admitted to having ignored these signs (or completely missed that they were signs at the time), and have shared their stories in an attempt to help other women recognise when its time to RUN.  Ladies, I salute your courage and I congratulate you for leaving no matter how long it took.

If you are reading this blog entry and recognize one of the below red flag situations as similar to something that is currently happening to you in your relationship, please take the advice of many women before you – and run.

 

Compulsive lying:

Red Flag Story:  “One night he received a phone call from his mother.  I was sitting next to him so I heard the entire story.  He said, ‘sorry we couldn’t answer we were just eating dinner.  Yeah, we made mashed potato, baked chicken, and carrots.’ When he hung up, I said ‘why did you tell her that’s what we ate when we had grilled chicken with broccoli cheese rice?’ He then said, ‘What difference does it make?  We ate dinner, we had some kind of chicken.’  The lies continued to get worse.
My thoughts:  People who lie for the sake of lying have problems.  Luc used to lie about things that didn’t even make sense to be lying about.  Psychopaths are convincing liars because they don’t have the conscience that makes non-psychopaths feel guilty about their lies.  While it may seem like the lying is small and “no big deal” as they will claim, the root of the issue is that this person is not trustworthy and is probably also lying about things that are big deals.
Cheater: (and I don’t mean just cheating with another woman)
Red flag story:  “At 35 years old he cheated at carnival games because he ‘wouldn’t feel like a man if he couldn’t win a prize’ for me.  I hated the stupid stuffed bear, but he insisted it was for me.”
My thoughts:  This red flag goes a bit hand in hand with the compulsive liar.  Luc used to cheat at golf every single time he played.  He would brag about fake hole in ones and talk about how great he was at the game.  A cheater translates to someone who cannot lose and needs to always be the best.  Since many psychopaths have deep self esteem issues, they cheat a lot because they cannot stand feeling less than perfect.  Find yourself a good, honest man who isn’t afraid to lose a game.
Blaming other’s for their own problems:
Red flag story:  “He would always insensitively talk about most people-as if he was better than them. Even if Mother Theresa was around-he would say she was something negative. He always blames everyone else. Always. Never takes full responsibiity for his actions.”
My thoughts:  This is a big red flag that a lot of people miss at first.  Typically, this red flag plays out when your partner says or does something terrible to you (i.e. calling you a degrading name or straight punching you in the face) and then turns the situation on you and makes it appear as if you were, in fact, the real problem.  Additionally, if you run into someone who never seems to be able to apologize for their bad behavior and always finds someone else to blame for their “circumstances” – you have run into a bad dude.

Can’t hold a job:  
While several women wrote in about this particular problem, this one is quick to sum up:  If the guy has too many problems that prohibit him from finding work or keeping work (be it sheer laziness or violent tendencies), he is also not likely to be capable of sustaining a romantic relationship either.

Sexual violence/ problems:
Red flag story:  “The neighbor’s boyfriend was caught having sex with her fifteen year old daughter.  The ex tried to convince me that it was consensual, and that I was a sheltered prude who needed to up my awareness and game so that I could agree with him.”
My thoughts:  Luc was famous for using sex to control people.  He would always try to tell me that I was a prude because I wasn’t willing to get into his “fettishes” such as swinging, voyerism, etc.  Don’t ever ever ever let someone make you feel bad about not wanting to enter into some type of sexual situation with them.  If what he is asking you to do doesn’t feel right, that is probably because it is NOT right.  Sexual problems are a big red flag.  I would venture to say that most psychopaths have sexual problems that they call “fettishes”.
Extreme behavior even when there are no other obvious signs: (also known as “raging”)
Red flag story:  “My ex boyfriend burned nearly everything I owned while I was at work.  He never showed any violence before, so I gave him another chance and things went well for another couple of months….until he snapped again and dragged me across the house by my hair, squeezed the breath from my throat as he bashed my head into the wall, and shoved me off the porch.  Sometimes the signs just aren’t there, or they seem so small all the time that you don’t put them together in your head until after something bad happens.”
My thoughts:  I destinctly remember looking into Luc’s eyes and thinking, ‘wow…he looks crazy right now’ while he was in the middle of one of his rages.  Crazy men act crazy when they snap.  While they are mostly on their best behavior, there are moments when they won’t be able to control themselves and they will show you a glimpse of their true self.  When you see that scary look in their eye (or after you have learned that they have burned your stuff), you best leave immediately because it will only get worse.
Attempts to get you away from family and friends:
Red flag story:  “It happened slowly as we moved to an area that was further away from my family (I have a really close family).  He tried to isolate me by taking my car keys and ringing me every five minutes to make sure I was home.  One night, when I didn’t clean the cutlery to his standard, the next thing I knew he had slammed a phone book into me and started punching it (so he didn’t have any bruises).”
My thoughts:  Bad dudes don’t want you to have friends and they want to cut you off from your family.  Why is this?  Because when they start to beat you they don’t want you to think you have anyone to run to.  This might start out subtle, but eventually it will be obvious that they are not interested in fostering a relationship with those you are close to.  He wants to be your best friend, your lover, and your only family – he wants to own you.  Don’t let him – keep your people (friends and family) close.
Finally, by no means is this a comprehensive list of red flags.  This is simply a list of things other women have shared as red flags they wished they had seen and run from.  When you are in a relationship or considering a relationship with a man, consider both their actions and what they are saying to you.  I leave you with one final thought.  If a man says the following statement (or some variation of) run away fast before you end up in family court with him, and find yourself beating your head against a brick wall in anger:
 “I haven’t seen my kids since they were born because their mom(s) is/are crazy and kept me away from them.  But, I mean, my kids are my life.  I raised those kids, I was always there for them…”

Unrealistic Expectations

I couldn’t stop shaking.  I knew that every word coming out of my mouth would likely not make any sense.  This was the last time I would testify in an attempt to save my son’s life.  As I walked to the stand, I felt as if my legs would buckle beneath me.  Judge Algeo watched me closely and I knew this was going to have to be the show of my life.  Sadly, no matter how much I tried to “keep my emotions in check” as I had been coached many times by my attorneys – this was my son I was fighting for and I couldn’t shut off my maternal instincts.  I hadn’t eaten in a week, hadn’t slept in days, and probably should have been on some sort of anti-depressant medication (if, in fact, there are meds that can help a mother not feel as terrified as I felt in that moment).

My testimony went by in a blur.  Everything I had planned to say didn’t come out right.  I begged Judge Algeo to wait until Prince was old enough to speak before he would consider unsupervised  visits.  As I sat there terrified and shaking, Luc sat back and smirked.  He knew he had checked all of the boxes (or at least lied his way through the court’s tests) and he appeared to enjoy my very visible pain.  Prudence Upton, Luc’s very aggressive attorney, seemed to also enjoy my suffering.  She spent a considerable amount of time chastising me for not making plans for Luc to spend time with Prince at chuck -e- cheese on his first birthday.  I remember thinking to myself, ‘seriously woman?  You are worried about chuck-e-cheese and I am worried about my son living to see his second birthday.’

Unfortunately it appeared as though Chuck-e-cheese was a bigger deal than I thought it was.  Judge Algeo and Prudence seemed to expect that it was my job that week to make sure that Luc didn’t have to lift a finger in order to spend time with his son.  I was supposed to contact the supervisor and request more time, plan for a party that Luc would enjoy, and make sure everything was rolled out on a red carpet.  Luc never lifted a finger nor requested extra time outside of court.  That day, however, Luc was the calm and collected father who could shed a controlled tear on the stand and I was the mother who had been painted as a basket case – a scorned woman – and over dramatic.

 

A reflection of myself:

 

A couple of nights ago, I received a frantic phone call from a mother who is going through a terrifying custody case with an abusive (soon to be ex) husband.  She has a two year old son whom she is fighting for.  As I spoke to her on the phone, I thought to myself, ‘this woman sounds like a basket case.’  After our conversation was over,  however, I realized that I may as well have just been speaking to myself  about seven months ago.  This woman had a right to be frantic – act crazy – be terrified – or whatever emotion her body allowed her to have.  She was in the fight of her life struggling through a thankless and helpless system that fully intended on harming her son for the sake of “parental rights”.

 

To give you some background, the father in this case had assaulted this two year old boy and this abuse was documented by Child Protective Services.  In fact, the CPS worker came into court to testify in the hearing when this mother tried to get a protective order against the father for her son.  After hearing the testimony of the abuse, the judge denied the protective order calling the bruises found on the boy “merely negligence” vice abuse.  The judge admitted that he called it “negligence” because he did not want to end all visitation.  This judge chose to  protect the father over this two year old little boy.

 

Upon hearing that the protective order for her son was denied, and visits with the abusive father would begin, this mother broke down crying in the courtroom.  The judge reportedly called her out publicly and told her to “put on [her] game face.”  He continued to tell her that he was watching her every move and that this sort of “behavior” would be used against her in his future rulings.

 

Unrealistic expectations:

Ever since I have gone through my own Custody War, I have learned many tough lessons.  One of the toughest lessons that I have learned is that the courts have turned into a war zone.  In this war zone, women are expected to stop being mothers who worry about their children.  In fact, showing fear in the courtroom could be one of the very things that will label you as a “parental alienator”.  We are supposed to forget about having been abused, turn our children over to men we know have abused and will abuse again, and we are supposed to do all of this enthusiastically and with a smile on our faces.

 

To expect a woman who has lived through the chaos created by a psychopath to “remain calm” in family court as the abuse continues, and while she is trying to protect her innocent child, is asking her to leave her humanity at the door.  Any woman who could walk into family court when the stakes are that high and remain calm – I would question her mental state.  I have heard that the family court used to be slanted toward women.  I sure wish I had been going through the system at that time. When I went through, I experienced what seemed like a war on motherhood.  I was told I wasn’t allowed to be a mother to my son, but that I was required to make sure that Luc could be his father despite what he had done that proved he was not capable of being a real father.

 

As absurd as it sounds, I am still waiting for the day when I get a call from my family attorneys telling me that Judge Algeo has requested that I provide Luc with some time to visit Prince’s grave.  I can also imagine that in this same phone call I would be asked to provide Luc with a car, since he doesn’t have one, and a packed lunch for the long trip.  Some of you might be thinking that sounds absurd, but not as absurd as the moment when I stood over my son’s dying body listening to nurses discuss how they wanted to create a hospital “visitation schedule” for the man who had just murdered my son.

While nurses were discussing allowing this man to visit, I was told that if I said a word to Luc that I would be taken to a psychiatric ward and kept away from my son in his final hours.  That – ladies and gentlemen – is the state of our society.

Justice for baby Prince

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Over the past two years, there have been many moments in which I have been ashamed of my country.  I grew up believing that if I was an honest person, who worked hard to positively contribute to society, I would always be able to turn to our justice system for help in dangerous times.  When I needed help, however, the justice system was not there for me.  The justice system allowed my sister to be assaulted and for the criminal who assaulted her to walk free, for me to be falsely arrested instead of protected from my abuser, for the Family Courts to ignore the dangerousness of my son’s father, and for several public servants to place my son in the hands of a disordered man who I believe murdered my 15 month old baby boy.  I have lived a nightmare since the day Luc walked into my life.  This nightmare reached epic proportions the day I left him, and since my son’s death has reached the unimaginable.

I am not alone in my quest for peace.  Every person (man or woman) who has found themselves in the grip of a psychopath comes to a point when they also crave peace.  As MLK Jr. stated so eloquently, peace does not only come with the absence of tension.  To a large degree, the tension I had with Luc no longer exists – Prince is gone and Luc has no more control over the person I cared most for in life – my son.  The tension was also reduced the day I realized that Luc was a lost cause, and that I truly didn’t care what happened to him (beyond justice for my son).  Though I will never again be in family court with this demon, it is impossible to truly have peace until justice is served.  While many men and women who have dealt with a psychopath may never receive the justice they deserve, today me and my son received a part of justice I feared may never come – Lucifer was arrested this morning.

The medical examiner report ruled my son’s death a homicide and that he was drowned.  Since my son was only 15 months old, Lucifer could be facing capital murder charges and the death penalty.

This piece of justice feels bitter sweet.  Had the justice system been there for us before now, my son would be here to celebrate this moment with me.  I am not sure that I will ever be able to forgive my country for the terrible injustices that led to the death of my son.  I am not sure if I will ever forgive myself for following the law and waiting for justice my son would not live long enough to see.  That being said, I realize that if I sit back and merely complain without attempting to change the system – I become part of the problem.  When I read the words of MLK Jr., and think about the incredible legacy that he left behind, I feel hopeful.  While many of the injustices he felt during his lifetime have improved, it was not without struggle.  Right now, we are facing new injustices and new problems.  We are facing a crisis directed at our children.  It has become part of my legacy (and the legacy of my son Prince) to see to it that no other child faces the same fate and no other mother will have to bury her son in this way.

One of the most vivid memories I have of my son happened on one summer day (a few short months before he died) when I was dancing with him up and down the driveway in front of our house.  I looked into his beautiful brown eyes and asked, “Are you going to dance with Mama on your wedding day Mr. Prince?”  Prince was laughing hysterically as I spun him around in circles to the silent music both of us imagined.  While my son was not verbal, if he could talk his answer would have been “No”.  It would have been “no” because Prince would never have a wedding day.  He would never be old enough to get married, and we would never again dance together.  I tell this story not to ask for pity, but to ask for your help in finding the justice my son, and every child, deserves.  Justice does not come from one mother screaming at the top of her lungs about what happened to her son – it comes from the power of many.  The civil rights movement was not a movement based on the words of one brave man; it was a movement afoot in a country that was tired of living in the shadows of injustice.  I am tired of living in a country where the courts allow children to be abused and killed by disordered parents and caregivers.  How about you?

Today was a big day for justice, but it was only a piece of the story and a pebble on the path of justice for our children.  I have often told you that this blog is not about Lucifer (that is one of the main reasons that I don’t use his true name).  Today, however, I want to share a letter with all of my readers that I have written to Luc (but will never send).  I imagine this letter could be used over and over again for many woman (and some men too) who have escaped (or hope to escape) a psychopath.  I encourage everyone to share their “goodbye letters” in the comments of this post.  Say goodbye and good riddance to the psychopath in your life and pledge to have “no contact” with this person in both the physical and in thought.  This is the first time I will address Luc – and it will also be the last.

 

Dear Lucifer,

I regret a lot of things in life, but I will never regret leaving you.  While we were together, I wrote love letter after love letter – hoping and praying that you would one day prove to me that you were the man I wanted you to be.  You never proved anything, because being that man was impossible.  You have taken a lot from me, but you have not ruined me.  I was strong before I met you, but now you have assisted me in becoming wiser and stronger than I ever believed I could be.  Prince was an angel.  I have always known that he saved my life, but now I realize that he likely saved many others.  Sometimes I think Shawn sent him here to protect her son from you.  Maybe your mother Alma sent him so that you would stop killing, conning, leaching, and abusing.   Prince’s true mission was one that I will never completely know until I am in heaven along with him.

Today is the beginning of the rest of my life.  After this moment, I will begin to forget about you.  I will move on, fall in love again, have more children, and one day remember Prince without remembering his unfortunate sperm donor.   I am fairly certain that you will remember me forever.  You are likely thinking that your current situation is my fault.  Don’t be confused Luc, this is part of your disorder.  You always said that you wondered if you were being punished for the bad things you had done in a past life (because you didn’t have money, were not a successful singer, or whatever thing you chose to complain about that day).  I am here to tell you the honest to God truth – you are being punished for the terrible things you are doing in this life.  Everything that is happening to you right now is of your own doing.  That very large and angry man who wants to make you his girlfriend (or maybe already has) is sharing that jail cell with you because of what you have done to the people who tried to love you.

You have destroyed everything that could have been good in your life.  Now, you have nothing.  You have become what you have feared the most – powerless and utterly irrelevant.  In jail you will probably still tell stories about how you believe you were in concert with Brittany Spears, Rihanna, or whatever other artist you will claim to personally know at the time.  The difference, however, is that now everyone knows how delusional you are so these stories will be nothing more than the stories of a crazy man who sits in prison for the rest of his miserable life.

Enjoy the media attention and the televised trial because it will be the last stage you will perform on.  Eventually, you will disappear along with the average news cycle, and nobody will think about you as you rot in jail where you belong.  And remember – you are sitting there because of the things you have done.  You took Prince’s life after only 15 months.  My little boy touched more people in a positive way than you will have in your lifetime.  In fact, I would challenge you to find just one person who will admit (after they learn who you really are) that you have touched their life in a positive way.

Good riddance Lucifer.  You are finally where you were meant to be – in chains, powerless, and forever in jail.

Truthfully and finally,

Prince’s Mama

 

 

 

Domestic Abuse – Stupidity does not unite us

A few days ago I wrote about something I like to call Non-Traditional Domestic Violence.  Since I wrote that post, I have received several emails from women who have lived through all kinds of horrifying abuse at the hands of likely sociopathic men.  I wanted to share some of the experiences of these strong women with my readers.  When I was living through the abuse, I felt very alone.  Even though I had friends and family living near me, I didn’t think anyone would understand what I was going through.  I was not even sure how I would begin to explain why I spent so much time crying.

One of the things people wonder about me is why I write.  Let me clear this up for the record.  I do not write out of vengeance.  While I know that Luc (and likely his old man housemate too) are reading every single word I write, this blog is not for them.  It is also not to try to change the minds of those who don’t believe psychopathy exists.  I write for the mothers (and fathers) who will one day be in family court trying to protect their children, for the man or woman who falls in love with someone who doesn’t exist (a con), for the judges who care about saving kids, for the lawyers who will represent a victim of domestic abuse, for the men and women living through abusive relationships, and most of all – for my son.  I want people to know what happened.  I promised him that I would see to it that his life will is not forgotten and that I will fight for justice.

It’s unfortunate that my son’s story began with his mother’s horribly abusive relationship.  Though its not pretty, it’s important to tell this part of the story.  For all the women who have had the strength to write down their story – me and my baby send you hugs.  Here are a few that I have heard:

1) ” …I found out I was having twins.  My pregnancy was lonely.  He wouldn’t touch me, he wouldn’t speak to me.  He treated me like a test tube only making sure that I had enough nutrition to keep the babies healthy.  I developed pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and was put on bed rest.  While in the bathroom, I collapsed from a pain in my back.  My mother and I tried calling “J” (the sociopath) all night and into the morning.  He did not answer.  I was in the hospital for five days and my boys were in the NICU for 3 weeks.  I was there with them every single day and most nights too.  “J” was not there.”

2) ” …he would tell me that he was going to China to buy a woman whom he would bring back home to raise his sons.  He said a stranger could do a better job that I could.  He called me a “negligent cunt” when he discovered a diaper rash on the baby and he threw dirty diapers at me.  He asked me to leave the house so he could have a prostitute come over.  He would lock the car seats in his car and sleep on the keys so I couldn’t escape with the babies.”

3)  “He stopped letting me sleep at nights.  He would stay up late playing video games and would come into the bedroom periodically doing something idiotic like yelling at me just to wake me up….or he would shove me out of bed and I would end up down on the couch.”

(Note:  At the risk of being a little controversial here, if your boyfriend/husband plays violent video games ALL day and ALL night….to the degree that it impairs his ability to get a job or socialize with others…this is a HUGE red flag.  Luc did this – I should have left when I realized this was a problem.)

4)  “After a year of abuse…I started planning.  I met with a lawyer and I started telling my friends about the abuse (I had previously kept it a secret).  One night, when I knew he would be away – I left.  I had 13 friends and family show up with a moving van.  An aunt took the children and the rest of us packed anything we could for as long as my nerves would hold me at that house.  Then – I left.”

5)  “After he pushed me into a wall, punched me in the stomach (post pregnancy while holding my 3 month old son), and tried to kick in my front door, I gave up and tried to get him to stay away from me and my son.  I finally realized that this was not the kind of man my son needed in his life.  He fought me for custody.  At first it was supervised, but now its unsupervised.  I refused – now we are going back to court because I violated the court order.”

6)  “My ex husband poured scalding water on my face because he was upset with his finances and because I wouldn’t allow him to leave the country with our son.”

7)  “For nine hours, he held me hostage in his apartment, violently assaulted me, suffocated me with a body pillow…he didn’t allow me to use the bathroom.  When I finally told him that I would pee on his floor, he allowed me to go to the bathroom.  While I was using the bathroom, he took pictures of me.  He then told me he would use these pictures to embarrass me.  He did – he sent them to my father’s work e-mail address.”

8)  “I’ve seen the scariest man I have ever met walk into a court room with his head bowed, hands clasped, voice low and one tear on his cheek.  This has only made him more frightening.  I know…how it feels to lose a child.  To lose a child due to another’s complete lack of empathy and, in fact, humanity.”

9)  “…now he has started to emotionally abuse our son.  Every time my five year old son has to go to a court ordered visit, he says ‘please Mommy I will listen, now can I stay at your house?  Please, I don’t want to go to any sleeps at Dad’s.”

10)  “When I finally got the courage to leave him, he held me at gun point.  He told me that I would leave one of two ways – by jumping out of the window or in a body bag after he shot me.”

 

These stories are horrifying, but sadly they are not as uncommon as we would all like to believe.  I have heard the statistic that only four percent of the male population is considered a psychopath.  I wonder, however, how many more have gone undiagnosed and how many people are “on the spectrum” and, while not killers, are still abusive and dangerous.

The women who have shared their stories with me are all pretty, smart, and educated.  They are someone’s daughter, sister, cousin, friend…

Abuse can happen to anyone.  Stupidity is not at all a unifying characteristic for women who have been in abusive relationships.

 

The woman my son can be proud of

Tonight I sat and stared at the Christmas tree my parents put up this year.  My eyes quickly focused in on a small ornament I had bought a little over a year ago today.  I remember like it were yesterday when I had brought Prince into this small mom and pop Christmas store in search of his first Christmas ornament for his very first Christmas (which unknown to me at the time also happened to be his last).  The ornament was of a baby in a pea pod shaped frog outfit.  The baby was wearing a crown and a cape and it had a simple inscription:  “Little Prince”

The baby seemed to stare out at me from amongst the other ornaments on the tree.  As I stared back at it, I couldn’t help but to cry.  Despite how strong people have said I am throughout this ordeal, I didn’t feel strong in that moment.  The helpless emotions I have been feeling throughout this holiday season came rushing out as I stared at a small token that represented my little Prince.  I stared at the tree and remembered how instead of my son sleeping peacefully in his crib, his body lay cold in the ground.

This coming week will mark eleven weeks since my son died.  This time of year is a time when people tend to reflect on the year and think about how they will “change” or “reform” or “resolve” for the new year.  I have spent a considerable amount of  time thinking about my son and how much time I spent trying to protect him.  I have put a lot of thought into how I will transfer that energy into getting Justice for my son and holding the “periphery criminals” (those who stood, and continue to stand, one the outside periphery of Luc and both condone and enable his criminal behavior) accountable as well.

Beyond this, however, I am also focused on how I can be the type of person my son will be proud of.  This might sound strange to those who don’t believe in an afterlife, but bear with me on this one.  Every day I wake up, I balance my firey burning rage against the system that failed my son and the demon Luc himself.  There are moments, however, when I imagine my little boy watching me from heaven.  I don’t want him to see me angry all the time and full of hate.  I want him to see me as I would have wanted him to see me had he lived.

 

So in the new year, I am not making a New Years resolution that will fade in a few months as life gets busy.  I am starting the new year deep in thought about how I can be the woman my son will always be proud of.  This is not something that can be accomplished overnight because I have some work to do.  I need to be able to wake up without wanting to punch a hole in the wall in anger about what has happened – I need to be able to focus my anger into justice achieving activities – I need to be able to move forward with grace in the face of the most horrendously bad lifetime movie-esque story.

 

 

Hold Fast

In the past few weeks, I have received many more emails from women (no men yet) who are facing what seems like impossible situations with the father of their child/children.  Given what has happened to Prince, it has been hard for me to find the words to advise others who find themselves in similarly horrifying situations.  I fought through an impossible situation for 15 months, but even though I gave it my best shot – it didn’t end well for me and Prince.  My baby boy died during one of the first times he ever spent alone with his father.

While to many my story is uniquely horrifying, I have come to find that it isn’t as unique as it should be.  Sometimes after reading similar stories over and over, I start to think as if there is some playbook of psychopathy that all these crazy men are reading.  I say this because even though we are all different in some ways, some of the terrible things these men do are sickeningly similar.

Many people love to judge women for falling for psychopaths, but I am here to tell you that none of these men are going to walk up to you – punch you in the face – and then ask for a second date.  Most women who end up in abusive relationships (be it physical, emotional, or a combination of both) can’t even understand how they ended up in the situation when its all over.  The burning question on many of my reader’s minds is this: what do you do once you realize that you have been sleeping next to a monster and you now share a child?  The unfortunate reality is that you only have a few options and none of them are good.

1)  RUN:  If you realize the man is a monster early enough, the safest option is to back away slowly toward the door.  As soon as you get through the door safely, run as far and as fast as you can and make sure you hide in a place where he cannot find you.  If however, you have already entered into a Custody War with this person, this may not be a legal option.  (Note:  Even though it wouldn’t have been legal, I still wish I had chosen this option in order to protect my son.  Hindsight is always 20/20)

2)  FIGHT:  Once you find yourself in court with one of these monsters, you don’t have the option to stop.  By that, I don’t mean that you should get emotional and fight with your words or your fists.  If you truly believe this man is dangerous (gun carrying, serial killer, drug user, mentally disordered, gang banging, or whatever else evil you can imagine) type, you can try and fight if you choose not to run.  Most attorneys will not be prepared for the kind of crazy you are going to tell them, so start by contacting a local domestic violence group.  They can give you free legal advice and refer you to an attorney who knows how to deal with psychopathy.  If you choose this option, buckle down and get ready for a terrible experience.  Family court is never fun and games and this is especially the case when you enter into court with a pathological criminal psychopath.

3)  PRAY:  If the first two are not viable options, sometimes all you can do is be the best parent you can be to your child and pray for them when they are with the disordered parent.  The unfortunate reality is that in most situations, family court will not choose to protect your child if that means limiting the parental rights of the disordered parent.  (Yes, this is crazy – but true)  So if you have already considered the first two options, or have tried them and failed, your best bet might be to just be a good mom.  Your child will need you to be emotionally healthy so that you can help them weather the storm of the disordered parent.  (Note:  At the point where I ran out of money and my attorneys would not file an emergency order, I tried this – it clearly didn’t work)

Psychopaths do not play by normal rules.  You will find yourself playing a crazy and disordered game of chess with someone who might very well end up blowing up the chess board.  There are many things I am proud of in my life -my son is one of them.  I am not, however, proud of how many nights I spent stressed out over things I could not control.  I would give anything to go back and rewind time so that I could try all over again to save my son.  I would fight for him every single day and for the rest of my life.  I don’t have that option now, but many of you do.

Hold Fast

I come from a long line of strong people.  My Scottish roots can be traced back hundreds of years.  I am from the Clan McLeod.  My son is a McLeod.  When my son passed away, my father told me a story about how long ago when our family was still living in the highlands of Scotland there was a horrible tragedy.  The rival clan had gathered around the McLeod church and burned all of them alive inside.  Entire families were killed -women, men, children.  The only people who survived were the ones who happened to not be there that Sunday.

If my family members who had survived had not moved on with their lives, I would not be here.  They lived through a terrible situation and made sure to thrive in spite of it all.  Our family motto is “Hold Fast”.  This could mean many things, but to me it means sticking to who you are, protecting your family, and fighting for Justice.

So my advise to other parents who are living the nightmare that I have been living the past several years (since I met the devil himself), is to hold fast.  It is your job to protect your child in any way you can - even if that means just being the strong and healthy rock they can come home to after surviving the chaos.  For those of you, like me, who have lost a child (my unnatural or natural causes), you are still their parent and you must still hold fast in the fight to protect their memory and their legacy.

 

 

 

 

 

Surrounded by people – but still alone

It’s Christmas Eve tonight.  One year ago, this very moment, I was tucking my son into bed and preparing to wrap his presents for his first Christmas.  Looking back, I am glad that I was unaware of how bad things would get.  I was able to celebrate my son’s first Christmas like he would have so many more.  It was my son’s first Christmas, but it was also his last.

I didn’t go shopping this year and I haven’t been able to listen to Christmas music.  Nothing seems to matter without Prince.  I have been smiling to make others happy and going through the motions, but truth be told – I wish this holiday would just pass this year. It’s just another day that I have to wake up without my baby boy.

I woke up this morning and my first thought was how I needed to go get Prince.  Then, I remembered  that he was gone.  Even though its been nine weeks since he passed away, I still wake up sometimes and its like he is dying all over again.

My belief in God might be what’s keeping me from completely falling apart.  While so many people have tried to comfort me by saying that Prince is in a better place, this doesn’t seem to give me peace.  A better place for Prince would be here on earth where he would be allowed to live out his life.  Instead, he was never given that chance that he deserved.  So while he is not here suffering along side his grieving Mama, I am not so sure that he is in a better situation than he would be had he been allowed to live.

 

So right now as the police, the judge, the lawyers, the prosecutors, and the medical examiner all sit down with their families and prepare to spend the holiday full of joy and happiness, I remember the one Christmas my son was allowed to have.  I think about how this Christmas I will be visiting his grave instead of watching his face light up with joy while opening presents.  It’s this time of year when people take a vacation from things like death, duty, and “solving murders”.  Instead, they hug their children extra tight and thank God they aren’t me tonight.

 

I am surrounded by what feels like thousands of people, but tonight – I am completely all alone.  I am left with the thoughts of my dead son.  The child I was not allowed (by law) to protect.  I was a mother interrupted and my son was living on borrowed time.

 

Though my son was a shining star in my life, these past three years have been full of pain.  I grieve my son, but I have been grieving the loss of happiness, innocence, and justice since the day I left the devil.  I took my newborn son out of what I knew to be a life threatening situation and the courts send him right back.  I was not allowed to be his mother.

 

I sit here tonight remembering my son and thinking about all the things I wish he could have done – the places he could have seen – and the milestones he should have met.  I wonder when it will be that I am aloud to live my life and leave this monster in the shadows where he belongs.

 

So tonight, I don’t feel thankful for much in the face of this terrible loss.  I do, however, thank God for the fire burning rage I have inside of me.  It is this rage that keeps me fighting for Justice.  While I know that all of those who had a hand in killing my son will one day have to answer to God for their sins, I am certain that God left me behind to make sure that these same people don’t get away with these same sins here on earth.  Bottom line – there is nothing scarier to a public servant who has done wrong than a mother scorned.  There is nothing scarier to a psychopath than a woman who is not afraid to shine a light on what he really is.

The Lost Child Club

This post is dedicated to the parents who lost their babies in Newtown, Connecticut today.  18 babies died in their classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School when a gunman deliberately came into their classroom and murdered these innocent children.

Rest in peace baby boys and baby girls.  My Prince is waiting for you in heaven to show you the ropes, give you a big hug, and welcome you home.  You were loved and you will be missed.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Tonight, several parents join a club that no parent wants to join.  I call it the “Lost Child Club”.  This group of parents are forced to live life as parents without their children.  These parents woke up one morning with healthy children, and are now going to have to go to sleep knowing that they will never see them again.  Unfortunately, I can imagine how these parents feel.  While my son was not killed in a mass shooting, I remember how I felt when I realized that my Prince would never wake up again.  A part of me died that night with him as I know is the case for all of the families who have lost their babies tonight.

I joined this club nearly eight weeks ago when my son died tragically and suddenly during an unsupervised visit with his father.  Before Prince died, I could never have imagined being a part of this club.  I wouldn’t have signed up, nor would I have wished membership on anyone.  I knew I was not the first parent to lose their child in a tragic way, but after it happened – I hoped that I would be the last.

A loss for the right words:

When I first heard about this tragedy I was on my way to meet with someone who I had identified to help me with my case.  I needed someone who could help me in my fight for justice.  For the last two days, I have been practicing what to say in this particular meeting.  I needed someone who could add some teeth to my fight and this guy was the guy to do that.  After hearing this news, however, my “speech” fell apart.  Hearing this news brought me back to how I felt the night I lost Prince.  So instead of the grand speech that I had prepared, I said something like the following:

“I had something to say – I had planned a speech.  I just heard the disturbing news about a shooter who killed an entire class full of babies.  I have no words right now that sound right.  I need your help.  My son died and I need your help.”

 

Under normal circumstances, I consider myself a very articulate woman; however, this situation has left me cold.

 

Psychological Confusion:

I hear news anchors talking about how “rare” these things are and attempting to calm down the public.  Having met someone who is capable of this sort of horror, I wonder if it is as rare as people want to believe.  While we don’t yet know if this shooter was a psychopath, it is clear that he had some sort of psychological condition.  Given what I know about the system, I believe that we will soon hear about the people who could have reported “suspicious behavior” or possibly even had him committed to an institution.  We will likely hear of the many things broken in our system that allowed this mentally ill person to walk into an elementary school and murder innocent babies.

We have laws in this country that state that if you are seriously ill, you cannot possess a weapon.  What is the threshold for this and do we really enforce this?  For example, Luc owns a handgun and actually still possesses a concealment permit in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  That’s right – a man who is under investigation for killing his own child is walking around a free man and allowed to conceal his weapon in public.

 

Finding some words:

I won’t sit here and say that my situation is the same as these parents.  While there are similarities, there are many differences.  (No better – no worse – just different)  I have been living in chaos since the day I met Luc almost three years ago.  I worried about Prince every single day,  because I came to understand what Luc was capable of and how truly disordered.  These parents, however, sent their children to school.  While they were at work expecting their children to be singing songs and learning to read, these children were being killed.

There is nothing that I can say that will make tonight any easier for these parents.  There is nothing anyone can do to make them not want to jump in the grave with their children.  If they were reading this tonight, however, I would say this…

“You are not alone.  You were not the first, and you probably won’t be the last.  You did the best you could to protect your child.  You will, however, still beat yourself up for all the things you think you should have done and all the things you wished you had done differently.  This is normal.  Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve.  You need to do it your way.

Right now, you get the ability to act or feel however you want to act or feel.  When this initial grief phase begins to ease, please try to celebrate the memory of your baby.  Your child is now your guardian angel.  You were chosen to be your child’s parent and, unfortunately, you and your child were chosen for a greater cause for which might not make sense at this time.  Don’t lose your faith in God because of this tragedy.

You don’t know me and we might not ever have the chance to meet.  If you cannot get out of bed and fight for the memory of your child, I will try and fight for you.  I am a mother who lost her son.  I fight not only for my son, but I also fight for yours.  When you feel like dying, please remember that you are the only thing left of your baby in life.  Your child deserves the right to live through your memories.”

For all of my readers who have children.  Don’t just hug your children tonight.  Hug them every day and never take being a parent for granted.  You never know what hand you will be dealt in life.  Even a child can be there one day and gone the next.

 

The Pain of a nation:

We need to all start taking some responsibility in this nation.  How many people see child abuse on a daily basis and don’t report it?  How many people see someone with a serious disorder and allow him/her access to a child?  How many children are going to have to die before we as a country start actually trying to fix the things that are wrong with our country?

President Obama said, “our hearts are broken.”  I would take that a step further and say, “Our nation is in danger.”  What has made our nation special is that throughout history we have overcome tremendous challenges.  We have been able to come together and make important changes.  Now we face a crisis on children.  Let’s come together and fight for our children.  Let’s put our differences aside and start asking the right questions and seeking the answers.  We are all responsible.  Reporting something after the fact is too late.

I was not the first, and clearly I was not the last…but I wanted to be.  Rest in Peace baby boy Prince.  Take care of these new baby angels.