I’ve felt for a while now that if just a few things had gone differently for me, I might’ve grown up to be a sociopath.
Don’t believe me? Read my fiction someday [whenever I actually finish and publish some], or even take a glance at a few of my published poems.
This feeling, this suspicion… It’s why so many of my main characters embody sociopathic traits alongside a downtrodden, but at least somewhat decent, heart. In that way, they’re really alternate versions of myself. I use them to take on experiences I’ve never had, and to see how my life might’ve played out had I completely lost touch with my conscience.
Fortunately, I didn’t.
There was a time, however, [back before I started my medications and I was going through a hardcore manic phase (not that that’s really an excuse)] when I definitely got close. It was during my teenage years, and I treated people horribly…
And I enjoyed it.
After sixteen-or-so years of being the bullied, the loser, the underdog, the scapegoat, the last resort, the ugly friend, the class joke, etc. I was finally on top.
I was powerful for the first time in my life, and I absolutely loved it.
I loved seeing the way the same people who once stomped all over and tormented me (or were the type who would’ve done so had they known me earlier on) were willing to do just about anything for my approval, or even just a split-second of my attention. I adored the way what I said and what I wanted actually mattered for once. I even reveled in the fact that people were actually afraid of me.
I was finally mighty.
I still don’t understand how or why I pulled that whole thing off. I don’t know why those people decided I was worth enduring all the ill-treatment they received from me. I’m still amazed that they really thought I was so special, and that they wanted me around that badly [or, like, at all].
It was just so nice to not be treated like dirt for once in my life.
Regardless, my conscience eventually caught up with me and, just like that, I saw all the damage I’d done and pain I’d caused in just eight months. I’d hurt some really good people who deserved so much better; the guilt and sorrow which followed my phase were all-consuming.
I couldn’t even imagine how terrible everyone else felt.
Thus, I turned my entire attitude around. After fifteen years of being a sweet person (to my great detriment), and one year of being an absolute monstrosity (to my great benefit), I turned seventeen years old and entered my senior year of high school more-or-less returned to my former, benevolent state.
I’ll admit it: this “switch-back” of mine didn’t happen overnight. Some of my toxic habits took longer than others to break and, in turn, I still had a screw-up or two in the weeks immediately following my seventeenth birthday. Those instances were more reckless than malicious, but they definitely weren’t indicative of my best hours.
I redeemed myself in the eyes of my friend circle. Of course, there were many people who later showed me they weren’t deserving of the kindness I quickly came to regard them with in the aftermath, but there were others who I still believe deserved all the compassion I had to give them, and then some.
I stopped lying and hurting people without purpose (these days, I only use my strange talent on rare occasions to tear apart the most horrific bullies, abusers, rapists, etc.).
I became a good friend again. I figured out how to be a good girlfriend. I learned how to be a good daughter and sister.
I really did my best.
I was honestly stunned that my friends weren’t angrier at me, and that they accepted me even after everything; I’m extremely fortunate.
I mean, there was one girl who was only sticking around to punish me for not requiting her romantic love [and for existing in general, as I later discovered is her awful custom], but the rest of my friends back then were absolutely worth all the work I put into trying to be a good person again.
Things were wonderful for a while; in some ways, I was an even better person than I’d been before my sociopathic phase by the time I turned eighteen years old and headed to college. I suspect my substantial improvement was a result of learning a thing or two about consequences and human sentiment.
In college, however, I was quickly reminded of the repercussions of being a mindful and compassionate person. Just like I did during the first fifteen years of my life, I attracted the negative attention of bullies, mean girls, manipulative “friends”, etc. Abusive partners and rapists also added themselves to this list a few days after my eighteenth birthday.
No one feared me anymore, nor did they grovel for my kindness. Instead, I was on the other end of it…
And, let me tell you something: the other end is absolutely hellish.
I didn’t think I had a choice in the matter [and in certain situations, I didn’t]. So, I endured it all — the hitting, the screaming, the manipulation, the betrayal, the sexual harassment/assault, the bullying, the shaming, the rapid decline of my spirit — from numerous sources.
I was almost sure I deserved it; sometimes, I still think I do.
As a child and early teenager, I received variations of this treatment for being the ugly duckling, the new kid, the tomboy, the nerd, the weirdo, the brown girl, etc. But, now I blend in well enough that being treated like garbage by every 49 out of 50 people I meet (my rough estimate) doesn’t make as much sense as it did when I was younger. Plus, as an adult, the bad treatment is of a different [and far more intense] breed altogether. I didn’t recognize the dissimilarities immediately, but now I can feel them in my very bones.
At first, I assumed it was all karma… but, after a while, I realized I’d gone through so much more pain and trauma than I’ve ever inflicted on others. Maybe I broke a few hearts in high school, let some people down, and bossed a handful of my friends and lovers around (that was more or less the extent of my sociopathic deeds, and I still feel pretty awful about it). Still, did those incidents make me deserving of being ripped apart by human beings on a daily basis?
Maybe they did.
I mean, I try my best to hold myself responsible for everything that happens in my life, so maybe I’m finally getting what I deserve.
But, if that’s the case, why doesn’t it feel that way? Why does it all feel so… wrong?
In my adulthood, the cause of my ill-treatment changed, but the actual acts and effects became worse than ever.
The damage isn’t simple or minor anymore, like when I was a child/teenager — it’s of a far more traumatic nature. People did [and continue to do] things to me that I would never wish upon anyone [not even in my most sinister state]… And then, they behave like it’s nothing. It’s as simple, natural, and mindless to them as brushing their teeth in the morning.
I’ll be honest with you. That sense of power I tasted for a brief time, some eight years ago, still tempts me sometimes.
It’s not an easy thing to do: sorting through all my trauma and mistakes. Warding off my self-destructive [and occasionally vindictive] thoughts is no walk in the park either. All the injustice, mistreatment, fury… It’s challenging not to start sipping away at those sociopathic spirits again when those things get to me, especially when I know how capable I am of ruining all the people who have tried to destroy [or seek to destroy] me.
Yet, I’ve changed; therefore, I don’t succumb to such temptations anymore.
Nowadays, I resist the urge and handle things differently.
I take deep breaths, type up my stories and poems [oftentimes about sociopathic protagonists with troubled pasts and tainted hearts], wipe away the tears streaming down my face, put away my laptop, drive home, and hug my mother instead.