Woman swinging

Gaslighting Sociopaths: Have We All Been With the Same Guy?

I started to call this post “Why Cowboys Are No Longer My Fantasy,” but that wouldn’t convey the subject at hand, and no sense in blindsiding readers. Though I might have done so in Alienable Rights, first book of the Other Worldly series, with a certain former-cowboy character.

The thing is, this character turned out to be so much more than quirky, and not in a good way, which readers will come to realize in books two and three, Feeling Alienated  and (coming soon) Aliens Abound. When you’re dealing with narcissistic sociopaths, that tends to be their modus operandi. Subterfuge and effusive smarming, so you won’t know who they really are until you’re in too deep. Hence, blindsided.

My protagonist Rowan Layne realizes things were so much worse than she could ever admit to herself, once she gets some time and space and distance between what she must ultimately realize was an abusive relationship. But it leads her to grapple with trust in herself, in her ability to adequately judge character in others, affecting her willingness to fully engage in new relationships.

Due to recent and continued gaslighting regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection—including whitewashing of horrific atrocities perpetrated by violent extremists—I noticed a plethora of tweets comparing congressional Republicans and their pundit pals to narcissistic sociopaths whom women had apparently dated, been married to, or were otherwise in a relationship with.

I found myself asking, have we all been with the same guy? Because that sounds exactly like a certain cowboy that Rowan once lived with and attempted to love.

Narcissistic sociopaths, some perhaps psychopaths, are supposed to comprise less than 10 percent of the population. If so, how is it that so many have fallen prey to one or more in their homes, their places of work, or anywhere else? And sadly, these abusers aren’t only men.

But what’s startling is the lines are all the same when the game is pathologically played. “You’re the abusive one. That’s what I’ll tell others if you dare tell anyone;” “It didn’t happen the way you think it did;” “That wasn’t so bad, so don’t go crying to all your friends about it, playing the victim.”

There are far worse phrases, but you get the general idea. And perhaps you’ve heard them too.

How do all of these toxic individuals of different ages and backgrounds, who have never met each other, how do they end up spouting the same verbal abuse, engaging in identical manipulative and often violent behavior? Right down to the lies they tell.

The never-ending lies. About who they are, what they’ve done and what they will do if you call them on their crap. The vicious, nasty name-calling. The casual threats. The sick, twisted, distorting of reality. The projection, about anything and everything. One giant pathological do-loop entrapping their prey with confusion, doubt and fear.

There are far too many of these predators, who are ironically cowards at their core. Worse, too many make excuses for them, often blaming female victims for their abhorrent behavior.

For Rowan Layne of my Other Worldly series, it takes time to find her way, but in the end, she’s one of the lucky ones. Because Rowan breaks free and ultimately triumphs to learn that she is not responsible for the psychosis of others, especially abusive males. And it really did happen the way she thought it did.

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