PTSD and Psychopaths

Psychopath: traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, dis inhibited, and egotistical traits.

This is my ex-boss through and through. To give an example, she is 66, highly brilliant, but still pounds her fists on the desk when she doesn’t get her way.  When she doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, she plugs her ears and hums. She does things for people only for the reward or the recognition. She struts around the hallway in Gucci jeans and doesn’t miss a beat while kicking in a door with her $1500 Prada heel.

She hired me when I needed to move from where I was. I had worked at the same place for over 13 years and it was time for a change. So she hired me. I only moved down the hall but it was a good move and I was happy.  Stressed and tired but happy with my decision.

I am not an educated woman. Meaning, I don’t have a fancy PhD or Masters. Hell, I just completed my Associates in Science last year after 20 years of trying. And I did it because she kicked me in the ass. Motivated me. Pushed me. Told me I was smarter than most of the PhD faculty she has had work under her and that I could do anything with the brains I have. She was eccentric and high-maintenance and needy. And I sucked it up. I loved being dependable and depended on. I loved being needed and accepted by this louder-than-life genius.  I became her right hand and her “adopted daughter”. She gave me a diamond bracelet and expensive skin cream. I was in heaven. I had never taken care of a grown woman the way I took care of her.

But then. Then she became abusive. She spread rumors and lied. She told other people I wasn’t as smart as I think I am. She said I made mistakes too often. She pitted all of her employees against each other. So we ended up like rabid lions; looking and smelling and searching for the “outcast” in our group so we could clench down on his throat and suck the life out of him.  She did it to everyone and I thought it would be different for me.

It was not.

She eventually pissed off the wrong person and enough HR complaints were filed that she was removed from the building on a Friday in September. I cried and kept contact with her until I was let in on and shared all the secrets we had as a group. Then I dropped her. I blocked her number and took myself off her sharing option in her calendar. I requested to be removed from her other personal matters and reminders.

And I cried. I cried like a girl that lost her mom. I cried for the idiot I had been. I cried for how hurt I was. I cried how badly I wanted and thought I needed her acceptance. I just cried and took a few days to recuperate.

Today she returned to the office to pick up some things that she needs to take with her. This isn’t the first time. Or the last. But this is the first time we spoke since September. She thanked me for my help. Said what a good job I did collecting the files she needed and documenting effectively. “You’re welcome” I said with a smile.

I resisted the urge to clean her foggy glasses or get her a pencil with an actual eraser on it. I resisted asking if she wanted coffee or if she needed any more help. I resisted throwing my arms around her frail frame and telling her how sorry I am for being a shit and telling all of the dirty secrets she had but that she’s a terrible boss and I  miss her terribly and to forgive me for being ungrateful.

Instead, I calmly walked away and went into my office. Shut the door. And cried again.

Some things just stick with you. The way she loved me and the way she betrayed me do. Due to her mental illness (diagnosed Bipolar Disorder not medicated) she would have highs and lows. Her highs consisted of creativity where she would write intense manuscripts and research projects and her lows were full of anger and resentment. Her genius trumped any need for medication so she never medicated her disease.

Mental illness is not something to ignore.

If you have any kind of mental illness diagnosis, even if you don’t, May is Mental Health Awareness month. Talk to someone. Get help. You never know how great you can truly be unless you try to be better. It starts with you.