by Jessie, 27
My ATM card was missing. I assumed that I had been robbed somehow, so that night we went down to the local Police station. He tried to talk me out of it, but I filed a report.
The more we investigated, the more I realized was missing. To make matters worse, his job had ended for the season, so neither of us had any money. That should have been a sign for me, but then love can make a person blind. Well, blinder than usual.
It was almost a month before we figured out what had really happened. One night my parents called me to let me know that the bank had retrieved a copy of a cheque that had been forged from my bank account. What luck! Soon I would have some evidence of who had stolen from me. That weekend we went to his parents house, to help them put in a new drive way. The whole family was in town – it should have been a nice distraction from my troubles. It turned out more to be a horrible nightmare where I was forced to put on a happy face in front of near strangers rather than show them that the one solid foundation beneath my life had turned rotten.
You see, when we got to his parents house, he admitted to me that he had been the one to steal my money. I never found out what for, exactly. It seems like most of it, he frittered away pointlessly tipping cab drivers and treating his friends to expensive dinners.
I called my parents. At first, it seemed like maybe we could get past this. After all, he had confessed – that stood for something, right? Most of the money was spent on things for the both of us… so it was really more like he had just spent a little too extravagantly, than stealing from me. I really wanted to believe that.
I spent the whole weekend in a state of near despair. His mother could see that something was wrong, and she asked me what. I couldn’t bring myself to say it. I told him that he had to tell his mother what had happened, and after a little while, he did. I wasn’t there for the confrontation.
I guess they worked things out, or else she was at good at self delusion as I was, because that night things seemed almost normal. On Sunday night, she drove us back to the dorm, along with a plate of home made nachos to snack on. While he went down the hall to the kitchen, the phone rang. I answered, and it was my mom. She suggested that I needed to be alone for a time. His mother was still in the parking lot, so I tearfully told him that I thought it was best for us to spend some time apart, and he want home.
I didn’t sleep at all that night. I just cried. I kept going over things in my mind that he had lied to me about. You see, he told me that he never had a job making databases at all. No job at all, in fact. So, that thing about the phone ringing reminding him of his pager? That was a lie. He had just been using it as an excuse to isolate me.
I found letters hidden under the mattress. They were from my bank, and from my credit card company – he had maxed out credit cards taken out in my name. My student line of credit had been emptied, as had my savings account.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the things he had said to me. That lost laptop, that I was sure was in my room but I never found again? Suddenly it seemed terribly suspicious that he was the last one to look for it.
I called my parents again – told them I wanted to go home. So much for intersession, I left right in the middle of the term. All I could think about was wanting to be at home. How could someone who said he loved me do something like this? We were supposed to be soul mates, together until death do us part and even then. He called me often, messaged me on the computer. Said he was sorry, that he felt to terrible about it, that he felt worthless and that the world would be a better place without him in it.
I couldn’t stand to hear it. Even as I found out more and more damning evidence – like that his parents had actually kicked him out for stealing from them. As I looked at my credit card histories and bank statements, I learned more and more disturbing facts.
Earlier that year, I had some abdominal surgery. When I was released from the hospital, I was still very groggy and in a great deal of pain. I went home and went to sleep. He was supposed to stay there with me, to make sure I was safe. When I woke up, I was alone. I had to use the bathroom, so with great difficulty I forced myself out of bed and crawled to the bathroom. I went back to sleep, and when I woke up a few hours later, he said he had stepped out to buy us some groceries.
I found out from my credit card records that he had actually gone to the mall and the movies while I was alone and in pain.
The worst part was that I couldn’t just turn off the love I felt for him.
I wanted so badly to hate him, but all I could think about was the way he held me, and said he loved me, and took me out to dinner and sat with me at dialysis.
I remember thinking that it would have been easier if he had died, instead of losing him this way. Because now, every single memory I had of him was tainted. I couldn’t think of one single moment I had spent with him where I didn’t wonder if he was just manipulating me and using me to his own advantage.
It was a week after returning home before I took off the engagement ring. I think I still have it, along with a box of other things he paid for with money he stole from me.
This is where I should go on to tell how this whole experience built character, and how I’m better off for it, right?
Well, I’m not sure if I am. I’ve always been a strong person, but this whole incident just broke me, more than anything else in my life. Not finding out that I was going blind, not being denied a driver’s license, not missing my sister’s wedding to attend a marine engineering training program only to discover, at the end of the program, that my vision problems would keep me from getting the certification, not even having my kidneys fail and knowing that I would need a machine to survive for the rest of my life – none of that so profoundly hurt me as this. How could I ever trust my judgement again, if someone I had known since childhood, who I trusted with my very soul could turn out to be a cold blooded liar working the long con?
Worse than that was knowing that I let him isolate me. It wasn’t that there were never messages on my answering machine – rather, he deleted them. I couldn’t even talk to other men because he was jealous, but I thought it was kind of charming that someone loved me to much. I let him turn me so profoundly against my own nature – what kind of person did that make me? Was I so spineless that I just rolled over and forgot who I was just because of a pretty bit of ankle?
It’s been four years. Most days I don’t think about it. But sometimes I’ll see his name in the credits of a television show (his first name is a common surname) and it feels like a lance has passed through my heart. And those days, I wonder if I can ever get over something this profound. He stole everything from me. He broke me. Like an badly fractured bone, I don’t know if I’ll ever truly be sound again.
Our Advice to You
It’s not your fault
I know it’s the dumbest thing for you to hear, but none of this is really your fault. Some guys are pretty dumb, some are abusive, some could care less about you. The man you found was a sociopath. He’s not like anyone else you know.
There’s really no defense from a sociopath because we all believe (or want to) that everyone is operating on the same standards of decency.
It’s like having a terrorist crawl in bed with you: how do you threaten someone who uses suicide as a means to an end? How do you protect your heart from someone who doesn’t have any semblance of a conscience?
Sociopaths seem like everyone else, and this allows them into your life until… well, you found out what he was capable of.
For now, you need to heal your heart. Check out the book, Heal Your Heart to get the perspective you need to move on with your life.
Don’t let this stop you from moving on with your life. You really found someone uniquely cruel. This kind of person is a master at manipulating you into loving him. Long con, indeed…