After my trip of a lifetime (which I will absolutely redo at some point) to Japan with James, I found myself on the doorstep of a local women’s shelter.
It was very difficult for me to make the initial call. I felt ashamed, confused and scared. On the other side of the line was a kind woman who asked me some preliminary questions to determine if I met some of the basic criteria for their services, which I did. I told her I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. That I didn’t want to use their resources in the event someone in a more dire situation needed it.
The woman I spoke with said, “Do not minimize what is happening to you. What you are experiencing is a form of domestic violence. If there was a way to see what you’ve endured, you would be covered in bruises and scars.” When she said that I started to cry and made an an appointment to develop a safe exit plan for leaving James.
Waiting for the appointment (it was two weeks out) was difficult. There were moments when I felt like I was reclaiming my life and there were moments I was filled with complete doubt. When the day finally arrived, I brought two things with me. One was a risk assessment to determine James’ propensity for violence and the other was a list of all the things, big and small, that I could think of that had occurred in the (at that time) nine months I had known James.
The counselor was very knowledgeable, had so many years under her belt dealing with not only victims but the abusers themselves. She took great care in listening to me and reviewing my situation. At one point I asked, “Can they ever change?” And while there are statistics on this very question that show that a small percentage can change, she said that in her twenty years of working with abusers, not one had changed. Not a single one.
For better understanding the possibiltiy of abuser changing, please read this:
A typical sociopath falls under what is called a Cluster B Personality Disorder. Cluster B includes antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder. All of these disorders are marked by unpredicatable and dramatic behavior.
For me, what James “is” is mostly irrelevant except for two facts. The first is that treating a personality disorder is like climbing Mt. Everest without an oxygen tank. Is it possible? Yes. It is more likely you will die trying? Also yes. The second is that with any of these disorders, the ability to love is lacking and, in many instances, absent completely. And it is true, James didn’t ever love me.
It was time to let go and, to borrow from the wise and lovely Cheryl Strayed, break my own heart. James had already taken so much that I would, if nothing else, deny him the opportunity to do that.