Killing You With Kindness

When the narcopath is the most amazingly sweet and wonderful person you know

Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian

Few people would describe me as sweet. I have spent my entire life trying to be a good person and most would agree that with the exception of a couple of bad personal choices in partnering, I always act to benefit others in the best ways that I can. I consistently sacrifice my own happiness for others and am unselfish in my gifts of time and service as well as financial support. I possess a working moral compass, and when I make mistakes, I am quick to acknowledge them and assume accountability and try to correct them in any way I can. I like to help others. I don’t want anyone to suffer, and it hurts me to see others in pain. I would never knowingly harm another individual. And I consider myself “a helper”. One of the good ones with a pure heart and an earnest soul.

But I don’t always come across as particularly warm or sweet in my interactions with others. I keep my head down and do the job that needs to be done. I roll up my sleeves and get to work and through acts of service and devotion, I am loyal and dedicated to those I love. I work hard and try to provide a richly textures experience for them to increase their joy and help them grow their spirit.

But sweet? That’s really not something I have strived to cultivate or assigned much value to because, in my experience, I have seen so many cases where the saccharine sweet sycophants turn out to be the most sadistic and savage of them all.

In spite of all that, our society seems to value this quality of sweetness. “ Oh my, aren’t you just a sweetie-pie?” and “ He’s such a sweet boy,” telegraph the message that sweetness is a quality that supersedes all other qualities that are valued and held in high esteem. They look up to people who are charming and cute and warm and sugary. But I think our society has made other misjudgments when it comes to prioritizing what is important and what really matters. They are easily enchanted and distracted by shiny sparkly things. And many times the shiny sparkly things possess nothing more than a glittery facade. Strip away that sugary coating, and beneath it is nothing but poison.


Ever so often I fall prey to my curiosity and break my no contact regimen to scroll through my ex-husband’s social media who was a narcissistic sociopath (narcopath). He abandoned what should have been a fulfilling career in service to others as a teacher and mentor and role model, only to pursue the life of a bohemian artist and drug-fueled hedonist. When canvassing through his Instagram posts and other commentaries online, I am completely baffled by his ability to speak in such soft and gentle terms with such sweetness and effervescent kindness that is unnerving and disconcerting for someone who knows what lives at his core. To look at the world through the lens that he provides to the world would indicate that this is a kind soul with an uncanny ability to fetter out all of the beauty in this world. His photographs and artwork many times consist of the most breathtaking beauty that exists around him. He has a gift of seeing all the nuanced details of a flower or a sunset or the light as it bounces off the landscape.

But I have witnessed brutality and cruelty in complete opposition to how he presents himself to the world. And even more disturbing, I think he presents that false version to his own self and believes that he is actually this fragile and delicate soul with a tender heart and beautiful spirit who sees through the eyes of a saint and a savior.

How could someone who seems so sweet and wonderful do such horrific and evil things to the people who love them and trust them?

And then I think of some of the world's worst serial killers and cult leaders. And while some of them were scary and disturbing at first glance, many many of them were not. Many of these dark souls were in fact quite charismatic and joyful and seductive. They were salesman and politicians and preachers who leveraged their ability to convince others of some alternate reality in order to feed their inner beast, manipulate, exploit, discard, and repeat. Their machinations were never transparent; the evil within them never peeked out and showed itself. It remained very deep inside, hidden away, well concealed.


I have often questioned my own reasons for wanting to write articles, create a podcast channel, put the vlogs out into the world that show the raw ugliness of what happened to me with full disclosure and no shame or stigma. I have wondered if part of it is that I want to stand on the rooftops and scream to the universe, “ Hey, this person appears so harmless, so innocent, so victimized, but there’s something else that’s inside him. He is dangerous. He is deadly. He is nothing like what he appears to be. It’s a mask. It’s a deception. Maybe he has even deceived himself. But you have to know this and protect yourself…He is capable of such evil and destruction. Don’t let him fool you. Run away! Save yourself!”

I think that that could be 2% of what drives me, but the other 98% of what compels me to continue writing and podcasting and vlogging and doing workshops and doing life-coaching, is because it hurts me to know that other people are suffering such horrible agony, and they may be scared and confused and not know what is happening to them and not know what to do about it. I want to help them. And through helping them, I feel stronger and more empowered. If I can help other people understand the aftermath and the recovery from these abusive relationships, then I am also closer to wellness and recovery myself. I may not be able to restore the relationships that became casualties or collateral damage because of his nefarious deeds, but in warning others, perhaps they can avoid staying with someone who has no soul and be compelled to watch as every relationship that ever mattered is targeted and torpedoed out of existence. Maybe there is a little redemption or atonement in that.

I guess that’s how things like any 12-step program are so successful. You have a gathering of people who become a tribe of people who have all experienced the same thing and because they have all experienced that same thing, they can fortify one another, listen with empathy and understanding, leave the judgment at the door, and lean in to fight for each other. Everything from Alcoholics Anonymous to Weight Watchers works on the same principle. It is a safe place. It is a healing place. That is what I want to provide. And in doing so, I can reclaim some meaning and purpose for my own life.

I have been to many of those meetings through the years, and I attended Al-Anon for over a decade following the dissolution of my first marriage. While there were a few sweet and approachable people in those settings, the majority displayed a more somber tone. They were veterans of an invisible war. Much of their playful glee and silly frivolity was clearly dampened by whatever demons they were battling. The cutie-pie routine never seemed appropriate with people like these in settings like this. It wouldn’t matter how much the narcopath bats their eyes or shows their dimples. They aren’t there for sugary sweetness.

Gemma Evans @stayandroam

But something remarkable happens in those gatherings. There is a fortification in the bones that makes you stand taller and a sense of earned survivorship that each person proudly wears like a badge. There are many ways to be genuine and authentic in championing other human beings. The ways we sit beside them when they crumble and show them empathy and patience and prayers. The way you drag yourself up when you think you have nothing left to give, only to show up for others when they need you and when no one is looking or witnessing your kindness. It is in those moments of fragility and fear that we become brave. The way you silently and anonymously perform acts of human kindness and make every attempt to restore the dignity of the broken, shattered heart. The way you always do what you say and keep your promises. The way you never abandon the people you love. Never betray them. Never injure them. Never destroy their hope.

These are the ways real people can be there for each other, and these are the qualities that matter so much more than any “sweet” words or heart-warming smiles. When it is real, genuine, and of substance, it is a vow that promises to love another person more than you love yourself.

And that, my friends, is something that is beyond what the narcopath can ever understand or ever do.

For them, it’s all a show. It’s all a game. And they must be the “white hat” and “knight in shining armor” to the world to see. What they want and what they need is always at the center of everything they say or do. If they perform generous acts of benevolence, you can bet there is something in it for them.

They make promises and then break them.

They make hearts melt and then break them.

They may seem sweet, but they are poison.

If you have been betrayed by a narcissistic sociopath or other Cluster B disordered partner, or if you were suddenly and ruthlessly discarded, it is important to understand what is happening and how to get up and get on with your life.

Visit me at to discover articles, podcasts, and vlogs that educate, illuminate, and support your journey to wholeness and well-being.

There is a life after the storm.

Educator, aspiring humanist, composer of words. Survivor, warrior, healer, believer. Contact me at

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