...when it's time to make a change - part 2 (Dr. Hare's Checklist for Sociopathic Traits)
In the weeks leading up to my leaving, I met and trained my replacement at work. Ariel was a nice and agreeable man—roughly my age and married with two kids. We got along well and, in between sending out quotes for life insurance policies, would talk about our lives. He told me the story of how he met and subsequently married his wife; and his story permanently altered my view on love and romance.
Ariel had married young and was living with his first wife. He was miserable. They fought too much and too dirty—name calling, bringing up irrelevant moments of the past, and always failing to reach any common ground. He was imperfect, but tried to repair the damage they had done together. She was seemingly unaware and uninterested in doing the same.
Ariel did not want to give up on his marriage. He was headstrong and determined, and wanted to find a solution. One night, after a particularly bad episode, he collapsed onto his knees and begged God to help him find something—strength, resolution, peace, a love he deserved—anything that would make things seem less bleak.
He soon found the strength to end his marriage, the resolution to move forward, and the peace within his life that he so craved. In his altered state, he went to the office in which he once worked—the broker that maintained his life insurance policy—determined to change his beneficiary. He was helped by Vicky—a former coworker with whom he did not get along. She had a strong and capable attitude; and he blamed their previously prickly interactions on the similarities in their characters—when in reality it was the fear of what those similarities meant, that kept his feelings for her not only at bay, but also appearing as if emanating from the opposite end of the spectrum. On that day however, he did not have distaste for her. He confided in her, told her discretely about the dissolution of his marriage, and was surprised to find in her response a similar confidence. She too was ending her once toxic affair with her son’s father.
What followed was a surprise to both of them. A romance quickly blossomed that was exactly what they had always hoped to find. They were kind, patient, generous, understanding, loving, considerate—and above all, ready.
After weeks of dating, Ariel shared with Vicky the story of the last fight he had with his ex-wife. Once finished, surprised by the serendipity, Vicky shared a similar story. She too had one final, tumultuous night with her ex—one that led to her pleading with God to help her find strength, resolution, peace, and love. The day of her fight, of her prayer, was the same as his.
When Ariel spoke about his wife, he spoke of a love that I did not think existed outside of movies and romance novels. I assumed love was all compromise and begging for the strength to go on, day in and day out. He painted a love that was inspiring—one that you never questioned or second guessed—one that caused you to constantly miss the one you love, and not relish those moments without them.
I suddenly had a greater desire to achieve this level of love, and was certain it would not be possible with Voldemort. Conveniently, a coworker in a similar situation as mine—with a child and a problematic ex—sent me a checklist for sociopathic traits. It was then that I realized I had created a child with a sociopath.
Dr. Hare's Sociopathic Traits Checklist
- Superficial Charm: the tendency to be smooth, engaging, slick, and verbally facile.
- Grandiose Self-worth: a grossly inflated view of one's abilities and self-worth.
- Need for Stimulation: an excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation.
- Pathological Lying: deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, and dishonest.
- Manipulativeness and Callousness: pursues desires, without concern for the suffering of one's victims.
- Lack of Remorse: unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unsympathetic.
- Shallow Affect: interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.
- Parasitic Lifestyle: exploitative financial dependence on others; lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and an inability to begin or complete responsibilities.
- Poor Behavioral Controls: constant expressions of irritability, annoyance, threats, and aggression.
- Promiscuous Sexual Behavior: a history of attempts to coerce others into sexual activity.
- Juvenile delinquency: early problematic behaviors—lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, and bullying.
- Lack of Realistic, Long-term Goals: a nomadic existence; aimless and lacking direction.
- Impulsivity: unpremeditated behaviors that lack reflection, planning, or resistance to temptations.
- Irresponsibility: repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments.
- Failure to Accept Responsibility for Own Actions: low conscientiousness and denial of responsibility.
- Criminal Versatility: criminal offenses, regardless of arrest or conviction.
- Revocation of Condition Release: a revocation of conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.