Reflections and lessons learned from my experience dating a Sociopath

by Chris on August 5, 2009

Chapter 1: How I ended up engaged to Megan in seven days.

My then wife, Gayle, and I separated in August 2008, and she moved to Salem, OR with two of our six kids and started in a new relationship with another man that same month. Consequently, we went through a divorce that was final that same month.  Alone with four of our six children full time, I found myself feeling lonely, defeated and struggling to manage my home, career and children. About six weeks after Gayle left me, I signed up for eHarmony and a couple other dating sites, to see what else was out there.

On September 24th, I initiated conversation with Megan over MySpace. Her profile made her seem very loved and appreciated by everyone who knew her, and there was a heart-breaking blog post talking about how she lost a baby at birth, and how thankful she was for the little time she had with her.  I was immediately attracted to the person her profile represented, and thought she looked very attractive in her visible photos, and I initiated an email conversation with her. At the time, I had no idea how easy it was to control what does and does not get posted by friends on MySpace, and that you could essentially present yourself to the world any way you wanted to.  We texted back and fourth for a couple few days, I was hesitant to meet her, since I thought she might be more of a party-girl and I was very much a stay-at-home dad and conservative Christian, but I was still interested in learning more about her.

On the evening of October 4th, she called my my cell and we had our first actual phone conversation. She called back a couple times that same day, and the last time she mentioned that she thought she needed to go to the emergency room.  Since the kids were with Mom for the weekend, I offered to drive her, since I had determined at that time that she was close to where I lived and I wanted to meet her.  I picked up Megan for the first time, not for a traditional date, but because she needed a ride to the local Emergency Department because she was (reportedly) urinating golf-ball sized blood clots. She barely even looked like her MySpace images, which I later found out were highly modified since she had experience working with Photoshop for a couple local photographers in town.  I didn’t want to be shallow and forced myself to remain diligent and get to know her better.

We were there in the E.R. late into the next morning, and I was impressed by her intelligence and grasp of medical terms as she explained her condition to the ER doctor.  She said the problem was a “medical mystery” that had started in February 2008, but she was in extreme pain. She was quick to tell the doctors that she’s not a drug seeker, that she works there and her doctor would vouch for her credibility.  Everyone she met at the hospital seemed to believe everything she said, as did I.  Not exactly the best way to get to know someone, but at the time I was more desperate for affection than I realized, and let myself believe that our meeting was in some weird way romantic and perhaps even “meant to be”.  I heave since learned about myself that I’m a sucker for a damsel in distress, and am attracted to women who “need” something from me.

After we left the hospital with Megan full of pain killers, she asked if she could crash on my couch so she wasn’t alone while she was in so much pain, and we stayed up all night talking. Over the next few days, I met her children, in-town surrogate family, Phil Johnson her ex-husband and Emily’s father, her bosses, doctors and best friend Kristina. Everyone who knew her seemed so intelligent and appreciative of Megan. All six of my children had met her, thought she was very cool and my oldest two regularly asked me if and when was going to marry her.  My own children seemed to accept her and her them, and I thought to myself that I knew what I needed to know, that she passed all of my “tests” and I should think about asking her to marry me.  Five days after we met, I bought the ring (on credit), not sure when or if I was going to ask her, but I wanted it near just in case.

Seven days after we met, Megan told me that she found out while she was at work (as a medical assistant at the hospital) that a recent blood test revealed that she may have a blood clot in her left leg, which could kill her at any moment, and that further testing was necessary the following business (Monday). I tried to comforting her, telling her that as long as she cooperated with the doctors order to stay off her leg until testing, I had a feeling everything was going to be fine, which is when I first encountered her emotional instability. She was unexpectedly angry that I wasn’t crying about it with her, accused me of not caring, and I was immediately afraid of the relationship ending. I know realize I should have ALLOWED to end, but at the time I was afraid of rejection, and still didn’t know what I was getting myself and my children into. Megan seemed to be respected, outgoing, intelligent, excited about the future with me, my six kids, and her two, and I convinced myself that this was my only chance for happiness.

During this first week, it was very difficult to get Megan to go home for any reason. I think she slept after her apartment once or twice, but left me feeling very guilty, that she was safer being watched by someone she could trust, and she was in my home most of the time.  So seven days after we first met, late one night while Megan was crying to herself that she was going to die and I couldn’t think of anything else to do to help give her hope for the future, I decided to give her the engagement ring and ask her to marry me. My idea of engagement was not exactly what most expect, so I was clear to tell her that I had two conditions. First, she needed to keep her apartment and live at home until we were married. Second, we needed to do both personal devotional pre-marital bible study together, and attend premarital counseling with a professional.  Third, she would attend a thirteen week Dave Ramsey Financial peace seminar with me, to make sure we could see eye to eye on finances.  Finally, we had to mutually agree that the wedding day would be set AT LEAST one year following our engagement. The purpose of an engagement period in my mind is like a feasibility study on a home purchase. During that time you should do everything you can to find reasons NOT to close the deal, before you sign on the dotted “until death do us part” line. I was very clear about all of this during my proposal and throughout the relationship. This was also all to make me feel more “sane” about asking someone to marry me so quickly. It’s clear to me now that I was very much on the rebound from my 14 year relationship with my wife, and had no business dating anyone only three months after divorcing.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the LAST thing I should have done was to allow myself to start a relationship with another woman. I regret it with all that I am and take responsibility for my part in it.

Chapter 2: The relationship. Five Months of Manipulation, Lies and Drama

It was a constant battle trying to get Megan to honor the engagement agreement and to go home at night. I didn’t want her staying at my house, because of the message it would send to my kids and church community, not to mention to Megan and myself.  Every night was a battle wrought with weeping and gnashing of teeth about why she thought I was abandoning her by asking her to go home. Every night, between 9 and 11pm, she would become very emotionally unstable, and I would come to dread it, hoping to get her home before it happened. She also swore like a sailor, every other ford being the f-bomb, calling her girlfriends her bitches and hoes, that kind of thing, which was unwelcome and concerning to me.  She tried to clean it up around
my kids, but never really
succeeded, and had no problem at all talking that way in front of her own children.   She was also very verbally forceful with her kids to get them to “behave”, borderline threatening complete with foul language, and it was clear to me  that they “respected” her and knew she was serious. This contrasted with how I raised my kids but Megan never really got to the point where she felt comfortable treating my kids the same way.  I tried not to be judgmental about all of these conflicts, being persuaded that her regularly attending counseling and our getting to know each other would eventually remedy the situation.

Once Gayle had rejected Megan (she could see Megan more clearly than I could during the relationship) and informed my pastor that Megan was essentially living at my house, I became frustrated and gave into Megan’s persistent pressure first to establish, and then to move up the wedding date and throw out our one  year engagement requirement.  But there was a period of time where she had me committed to Mid March 2009, half of the original engagement time commitment. By January 2009, I finally regained my foothold there and pushed out the wedding even beyond one year, promising my daughter that I wouldn’t marry her or even set a date until 2010 at the earliest, that there shouldn’t be a rush.

On several occasions, I actually tried breaking up with Megan, beginning as early as three weeks into the engagement, but was always met with resistance and asked to wait until our next counseling appointment, that she wasn’t herself, that she was going to change soon for the better, once she gets enough help, etc. My reasons for wanting to break up were always two-fold. First, I was seeing my world fall apart all around me since letting Megan into my life, and my kids being impacted by it all, and I wanted to try to step back and correct that.  Second, I found myself trying to manage Megan’s drug problem while she tried to manage my relationship with Gayle and the kids, and I felt we both needed to spend our limited energy on our own problems, that neither of us were in any position to start a new relationship. Because of the way she reacted in person when talking about such things, I got in the habit of sending her email or instant messages. She was notorious for using my words against me and I wanted things in writing so I had proof of what I said or what my intentions were. It was a constant balancing act of trying to avoid her fight-or-flight abandonment panic response while not compromising my goals and beliefs. I couldn’t see it very clearly when I was in the relationship, but looking back on it all it’s crystal clear now.

When the seizures started, Megan essentially became unable to be left alone or care for herself or her kids. I felt obligated to pick up the weight, and take care of them all. Who else would, and what man would I have been if I just kicked her and her two children to the curb? At least that’s what I kept telling myself through it all. I became good at insulating my kids from the drama, keeping them away when Megan had seizures and lost her temper, but probably not as well as I think I did. In addition to seizures, Megan once told me that she thought a demon had possessed me, that I had a weird voice, black covered eyes and horns from my head. So I guess we can add hallucinating to the list. At this point, she had regular seizures, was anemic, could barely walk, had intestinal problems, and was seeing things. The day before her first hospitalization, I drove her to a GI specialist in Seattle. The next day when she was admitted in Longview, that doctor called down to tell the resident doctors that she believed the narcotics they were giving her could be causing all of her problems. Megan quickly called that doctor out as a quack and we never visited her again. There was a TON of drugs given to her while admitted, and when she went home she had heavy prescriptions for combinations of oxycodone, oxycotin, fentinol, and adavan for anxiety. When her son would have panic attacks, she would give him a half of one of these adavan pills, telling me she knew what she was doing, doctors prescribe it to kids all the time, and she knew how much to give him based on his weight.  I didn’t know at the time, but that was very illegal and dangerous. She seems to believe there is a drug for everything and everyone. Once I was sick with a headache and she gave me cough medicine. I didn’t know it at the time, but she gave me prescription cough medicine that belonged to someone else (I forget who) and it knocked me out. She said it was funny, that before I passed out I was drunk. For the record, I have never gotten drunk in my life and have never taken “social drugs”.

My divorce and now-angry ex had cleaned out my checking account with unforeseeable legal expenses in the future and imminent foreclosure of my overpriced family home, I started seeking an affordable rental home close to my kids school. At this point Megan’s “medical mystery” had evolved into non-epileptic seizures, and she  had her driving rights revoked by her doctor due to the constant seizure activity.

One day, after complaining how those Longview doctors couldn’t figure anything out, we were researching her symptoms on the internet, and came across an article that explained her problem perfectly. Here’s the page we read, which under complications listed every one of her symptoms.  It was a moment of joy for me because I thought we were finally on the road to recovery now. She acted like it was news to her well, but I now believe she probably knew this all along.

Either way, I started helping her get off of the drugs by keeping them from her, controlling how much she would get, slowly (over six weeks) reducing her intake. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was secretly taking drugs I didn’t know she had stolen from Ray Gerald, her son’s grandfather the entire time. Over Christmas, we all spent the night at Becky and Ray Gerald’s house, Austin’s grandparents. It was my job to keep an eye on Megan since she was still having regular seizures and I wanted to protect her from harm when it happened. She had disappeared into the back bathroom for some time and I headed back to check on her to see if she was ok. I had picked up a towel and an empty bottle of Vicadin, belonging to Ray, fell out of it. She admitted to me that she took one pill from the bottle, and told me the next day that she told Ray about it and had apologized. What I didn’t know until after the break-up was that she never told Ray anything, and that the bottle was FULL not empty, so she had a steady supply of narcotics the entire time that I thought she was “detoxing”.

Phil, who had become the closest thing to a real friend I had in Longview since meeting Megan, was always there at a drop of a hat when Megan asked him to watch or assist with Emily. He probably had her 95% of the time for the five months I was in the relationship with Megan. During the time I thought he was just doing me a favor by taking a little load off of my plate, but now I realize he was protecting his daughter from a messed up situation, and was sacrificing a lot to make himself available to Megan night and day to maintain stability for Emily. Phil has always stood out to me as a very committed father. He gets Emily to and from school on time, spends quality time with her every day doing homework and preparing healthy meals, spends time with her weekly at dance recital, and manages to care for her 24×7 while keeping his job and paying Megan child support. As a father of six children I can say that Phil is a role model father and I respect him very much for how he manages his relationship with Megan, putting Emily first in everything he does.

Buckling under the d

aily pressure to get Megan to go home, Megan and I came up with the disastrous idea  to move her into the garage of the home I ended up renting.  Initially this was going to be a detached shop, but due to available finances and time to get her “apartment” set up, it ended up being the attached garage. It was a fully finished and insulated garage, and I put carpet down to finish it off.  I was still trying (with desperation) to keep boundaries agreed to during the engagement, calling the garage her apartment, not allowing her to move personal items (or her children) into my home, asking her to sign a lease that grants me the right to quickly evict her if needed, etc. That way, if and when we eventually got married, there could be a “moving in” ceremony for Megan and all of the kids.  Additionally, I had been covering her rent and car payment (among THOUSANDS in other expense ) every month since we met, since her drug-addiction had caused her to be unable to work at either of her jobs.  I reasoned that it would therefore save me considerable money while I was dealing with my own financial crisis.  I also drug Megan into an AllState office to sign up for car insurance since she never paid hers and her car lender was imposing very expensive insurance on her through her loan, and took her in to apply for food stamps. She was resistant on both counts, and I was just trying to help her get on her own two feet so we could be engaged as individuals, not with her being so needy and dependant on me.

Through insane amounts of justification, I convinced myself that it all made sense, was a good compromise since Megan couldn’t drive or care for herself or kids, and that I would have more success getting her to “go home” if it just involved walking out to the garage, which also sent the message to my kids that it isn’t ok to live together before you’re married. I of course see now that I was justifying allowing her to essentially move in, and I regret it to this day.

Megan used to tell me (literally every night when it was time to go home) that the apartment she lived in before the move to my garage was full of mold and was probably contributing to her health issues and her children’s attendance at school during the previous year.  She would tell me that I couldn’t go inside it because it was messy and she was embarrassed. I asked her if I could see the the mold, and she never let me see it. She accused me of not trusting her and I usually backed down pretty quickly.  I eventually did get to go inside. It did smell very musty, even moldy, I only saw the front room, which was a mess but not THAT bad, where she usually allowed me to enter when picking her up or dropping her off.  When I helped her move out, I saw the bedrooms, which were off limits before that. Messy is not the word I would use to describe the living conditions in that apartment . The kids rooms both were full of rotting food and drinks, the kitchen was full of dirty dishes that sat in the sink for the entire time we knew each other (five months!). There was inches of trash in every bedroom.  I eventually did get to see the corners in her closets and windows where the mold was supposedly growing, and didn’t see any evidence of mold. I’m confident that if someone were to test that apartment today, they would not find levels of mold there, even though Megan continues to claim they exist. Melissa and Lori, two of my daughter’s friends, helped me move Megan out that night, and they saw the mess in all it’s glory as well.

At once point Megan even went to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, and I was very supportive, hoping she would become a regular and start effecting change in her life. She missed the next one because she was sleeping all day (which she did the entire time I knew her), and I don’t believe she has continued to go, since she’s so heavily taking the narcotics again.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this relationship was a mistake and hurting me and my kids, and I needed to find a way out of it. I even got her to spend the night at her friends house once and asked her to talk to Megan and convince her that she should break up with me, since breaking up with her seemed impossible.  Toward the end of February, Gayle was held over night at the Salem Hospital E.R. for taking sleeping pills and contemplating suicide. This turn of events let Gayle to let me know she wished she could work things out with me, which is all I wanted from the very beginning. Having her support gave me the courage to get serious and (figuratively) drag Megan kicking and screaming out of my life. I wasn’t sure if Gayle and I could ever work things out, but I knew for sure Megan and I never could and every day I let her stay there was another day of pain for me and my kids.

When I moved Megan into the “apartment”, aka my new garage, I helped her setup the beds. She only lived there for a few weeks before we broke up, but the entire time the garage just got more messy and she never unpacked or set the place up. Ironically that made it easier for the movers to move her out.

Chapter 3: Since the Breakup and Final Thoughts

As soon as Megan realized that it was over for REAL this time, she stopped the act and I was able to see her for who she really was for the very first time. She tried (and succeeded) at taking many of my personal items in the move, and refused to return the ring and dress, claiming that these were all gifts. She blew her $5500 tax return on shopping sprees with her friends, and with me out of her life to monitor use, she went head-first back into heavy narcotics and seizures. Phil has had Emily 99% of the time. Similarly, Becky and Ray have had Austin most of the time. Since Megan and her friend Kristina had been vandalizing my mailbox, we started monitoring her MySpace status and saw that she was partying every chance she could get,  had a couple boyfriends already dump her (they were obviously much smarter than I), was still heavily into her narcotics. She has since had her vehicle repo’s and had an eviction filed against her for not paying the rent. Additionally, Phil, Becky and even her own landlord have reported her to DSHS, and why Megan still has custody of those kids I will never understand.  I know she loves them, but she also loves the income they bring her and she does NOT put those kids first in her day to day decisions like a mother is supposed to do.

Phil, Becky and Ray all have to walk on ice around Megan to avoid her getting angry and withholding the children from them, and this is very unfair to those kids. They would be far better off in the custody of someone who has the mental capacity and emotional independence to put them first in their life. Phil, Beck and Ray are exactly the right people to do it. Megan needs to hit rock bottom, get help, and start cleaning up her life, but those kids shouldn’t be forced to go for the ride when they have such better places to be with people who love, care for, clean and feed them the way they deserve.

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