I received this question from a man who is in the beginning stages of the “fall out” of a relationship with a woman who seems to be somewhere on the psychopathy spectrum. The question kind of jolted me because I remember wanting so, so badly for that sense of closure. I wanted a heartfelt, genuine display of remorse. I remember sitting beside my mom on the couch, staring vacantly ahead, my voice coming out in a whisper, “I just want an apology.”
This was months and months after horrific upon horrific discovery and at this point, I was almost numb to what my ex-husband had actually done. Intellectually, although I understood what he was and that he lacked empathy and a conscience, I still found myself longing for an apology. The gravity of what he had done was so enormous that an “I’m sorry” would have been meaningless, but still I wanted it with every fiber of my being.
I mention this because I want to emphasize that there was a long period of time when I understood on a clinical level what my ex-husband was and what it meant (see psychopathy checklist), but my heart and mind could not get on the same page (see cognitive dissonance).
So the question “Will I ever get closure” is one that hits very close to home. And to the gentleman who asked, I will tell you that the answer is yes. And no.
No, you will never get a genuine apology from someone on the psychopathy spectrum. No, she will never wake up in a cold sweat realizing what she did and how she hurt you (and many, many others). No, she will never fall to the floor in a heap upon realizing what she lost. A person who truly lacks empathy will never, EVER feel even a smidgeon of what you feel.
It IS possible that she will give a half apology at some point, or seemingly “confess” her bad deeds. If a psychopath ever does this, it is because it is in some way self-serving. It has nothing to do with you. Nothing.
Or the psychopath may apologize/confess precisely to keep you in a confused state of agony even longer. I remember at one point my ex-psychopath texted me finally, after months and months of me begging for the truth and him adamantly denying his affair (and this was after he was basically caught in the act), that “it” had happened at his work, but long after I had fled with our newborn baby. He hinted that “it” in fact had happened only because I (and both our families) pushed them together with our “suspicions.” Now, in hindsight, I see that this is such a prime example of a psychopath using even a confession of “truth” as a tool of manipulation.
If the psychopath gives this type of half-apology or half-confession, it does not mean he/she has magically been implanted with a conscience. It means only that he is gaining something from the apology/confession. Whether it be the ego-fuel from your reaction or the satisfaction of knowing he’s further tormenting you with his “confession,” this display is absolutely unrelated to him having any genuine feelings of remorse. Because if you are dealing with someone on the psychopathy spectrum, that is. Just. Not. Possible. Ever.
After I tearily told my parents that my ex had finally confessed and that I was, actually, in part to blame for his affair, my dad very succinctly laid out the reality of the situation. He went through everything that had happened, everything we had learned that made the confession impossible. Finally, my dad looked me in the eye and said, “He is now trying to trick you with a very distorted version of what really happened. And he is enjoying it immensely.”
So, no. You will never get closure via the psychopath’s words/actions. You will however find a deeper closure than you could ever get from him/her once you truly understand 1) What this person really is (a black void, a skin suit with no soul) and 2) that this is the best thing that ever happened to you because you are now finding the person you were always meant to be. I know this sounds frustratingly abstract, but this person came into your life for a reason. I hate hate hate when someone glazes over months of pain and trauma with a pat on the back and a “But I bet you never knew how strong you were, huh?” But hear me now, this is a fucking test and you are passing. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how many times you fall down or how many times a day you think, “WHAT THE FUCK is my life right now??”
If you are reading this now, you are at the beginning of finding out who you really are. So, “Will I ever get closure?” Yes, you will and in the process of finding closure, you will find so, so much more.