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Bird of Prey.

 Illustration by Jessica Durrant

I was such an idiot when I first moved to Paris. I didn't realize how desperate I was to make friends and to create connections that I was accepting some real low-quality people into my life. Anything to feel like I truly lived in the city I was so in love with...

I was watching yet another episode of a television show that I have to stop mentioning in fear that you will all grow suspicious that the network is paying me to plug them. Rest assured that there is no network, and certainly no paychecks coming my way. I'm just a loser who watches shows years after they go off the air. I'm mentioning it again because there was one episode that absolutely terrified me. The episode that shook me to my core wasn't about murderers, ghosts, devils or spirits, it was about a young girl who falls prey to a predatory sociopath. 

I saw myself staring back at myself.

I have somewhat of a history with sociopaths. I have some in my family, some who are long lost friends, and shady sublets. I tend to attract these kinds of people because I'm a trusting person. Not so much these days, but I was, especially when I first moved to Paris when my defenses were low and I assumed that people had better things to do with their time than focus on, and attempt to ruin the lives of others. Call me crazy.

So whatever did happen to Phil? You know the 55-year-old retired American professor living in Paris who was such a dominant character in my earlier posts. Why did he drop off the face of my blog never to be heard from again? Because I suspected he was a predatory sociopath, preying on my vulnerability.

I met Phil at an art show in the Marais right after a short stint of light stalking from Lucien because he wanted to get back together after deciding that he could live with my "hips fats". So that alone tells you that my head wasn't screwed on straight. From the get-go, I should have realized that something wasn't right. The first red flag should have been when he befriended a former friend, Adelle mere weeks after I met him. Adelle, a French girl with a four-year-old son was excommunicated from our expats in Paris group of friends for trying to find her son a replacement father...with all of our boyfriends. I also found out that she had sabotaged my employment at a huge French fashion house where she also worked. After several interviews for a position that I was more than qualified for, she contacted HR to falsely inform them that I was using drugs in the bathroom of a party we were all at. It wasn't true at all because there wasn't enough to go around! I kid, I went into the bathroom to gossip. I can't resist bathroom girl talk, especially after several glasses of champagne. I honestly didn't know that my current company had brought party favors. So you get it, this girl is evil. Well, Phil was aware of all of these horrid stories of this demon in Dior and still pursued a friendship with her when he was supposed to be my new friend. I woke up one morning in my first apartment in the 15th, logged into Facebook, and what do I see? Phil at Adelle's birthday party? How was that even possible? I should have just let those two have each other, but I didn't and continued my friendship with Phil. Don't you want to just kill me? Yes, I was that dumb.

Once Phil realized that Adelle was a weak link in our group and nobody was bothering with her manipulations, he dropped his focus on her and moved on to someone stronger in my life: my new boyfriend...MF. I'll never forget his first attempt at driving a wedge between us. 

Picture it. The Marais. Early 2010. 

Phil and I were heading to MF's restaurant on a cool winter's eve. We walked in to find MF and his father talking to an American girl; a customer who had just eaten dinner and was on her way out. It wasn't until MF's father told me that she was American that I was aware because of how well she spoke French. She was slightly standoffish to me as I asked her where she was from, what brought her to Paris, and all the questions you ask someone in another country who shares your nationality. I wasn't sure if she was blowing me off or if she was just shy, almost reminding me of the female Garth in Wayne's World 2. Either way, her lack of interest in me was apparent. I blew off her perplexing response to me and helped MF's brother Petit Flâneur close up.

"Garth" excused herself as she was running late to go see Sexy Dance 2, the French title for Step Up 2 at Châtlet. No comment. Phil took this opportunity to escort this complete stranger to the theater. I didn't think much of it, I figured he was bailing out of offering to help the guys close up. When he returned from his walk with Garth, he looked at MF, and with mischievous eyes said, "That girl likes you." MF politely smiled at him and quietly went back to wiping down the cafe tables. I knew Phil was trying to get a reaction from me so I ignored him, which only made him push the envelope further. "MF, I think you're going to see that girl again," he said nodding his head in a way to imply that my boyfriend was about to get lucky with some random chick. "I told her that you know the Marais really well and she should come back, so you could show her around." MF looked at me, looked at Phil, and then back at me to confirm if he understood what was going on. At this point, I stepped in. "What are you doing, Phil?" I asked with exasperation by his childish attempts to cause friction between MF and I. "What?" he looked at me as if it was me who was overstepping major boundaries. After unnecessarily explaining why he was being inappropriate, he stood up and said, "Not everything is about you, little princess. This is about MF and that girl." And then he stormed out. It was between MF and some random chick? This guy was truly deranged. I then translated the entire interaction to MF who then called me dramatic for questioning Phil's motives. I felt like I was losing my mind.

It gets worse...

The following day, I was having coffee at Au Chat Noir, my neighborhood cafe in Oberkampf and who walks in? Garth and she appeared to be looking for someone. Our eyes met and I waved to her. At the sight of me, she started back-stepping towards the door, about to leave. This is when the New York girl in me came out. I got up from my seat and I approached her. "Hi there," I said looking at her as if she was absolutely insane, "I met you, like 12 hours ago, hi." She looked back at me and said hello while nervously gripping her bag. "What brings you over here?" I asked, remembering that she had said that she lived by Trocadero. For those of you who know Paris know that Trocadero to Oberkampf isn't exactly a short trip, in fact, it's quite a hike, especially at 9:30 am. "That Phil guy told me this was a great café, and that the nice guy from the restaurant in the Marais lives around here." Her eyes glazed over in a dream-like state at the mention of the nice guy from the restaurant.

I am not a jealous girlfriend, I generally let this kind of thing go, but the fact that she had crossed town to come to find my boyfriend because Phil guided her there needed to be addressed. I had to get a little Blair Waldorf on her and let her know that this kind of behavior is frowned upon, especially with me. Looking back, perhaps it was wrong to be sharp with her, and she really didn't know that MF was my man, it was Phil's fault for leading her there under the false pretense that he was single. One of the traits of a predatory sociopath is to isolate the victim from the people they love so they rely on them. And he was only getting started...

I have since Googled him and found his Linked In the page that included links to his manuscripts and dissertations on strategic mind control and its influence on others, consumer persuasion through physiological tactics, and the psychology of controlling others.  I felt sick. Sick because I was used as a guinea pig to aid him in one of his studies, and lending a hand in destroying my life was just a minor casualty in his research.

Before seeing this episode, I thought I was the only one who has dealt with this kind of personality. Unfortunately, it took me longer than a 43-minute episode to cut him off, and based on some of his growing aggressive behavior like lighting napkins and letters on fire in my mailbox (which he admitted), it could have escalated. I'm lucky to have ended it when I did because he was after my relationship with Aurélien. By September of last year, I was on to him and he wasn't going anywhere near Aurélien.

I'm sorry that this post is so dark (and long!) right before the weekend, but this experience has rattled me, and I have never been able to address it out of fear. I have to be brave, if I can save someone from going through what I went through, then a less than "Coquine" post is worth it. Always remember, if it doesn't seem right, it normally isn't. I now have to stop beating myself up for not listening to my instincts screaming at me to get the hell away from this guy. But I guess we live and learn, right?

23 comments:

  1. Eek I'm glad you got rid of him, I don't like the sound of "mind control" at all.

    PS Even if the post was dark, you gave me a laugh by making me look up lady Garth, it's been too long since I watched that movie!

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    1. Yes, there is something unsettling about "mind control". I'm glad he's gone..but something tells me I'll be hearing from him again.

      How funny is the female Garth? I like imitating her. : )

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  2. You are a younger Duchesse, I swear to God! I've had f'ed up "stalker" types in my life too, men and women.

    When we meet, we'll need a LOT of time to chat..;)

    Glad you're listening to your inside voice now:) I know I do:)

    Bisous xoxoxo

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    1. Hopefully Phil is the last toxic person I invite into my life. I was so stupid. This is just the tip of the iceberg, I have so many more stories of his creepy behavior.

      Yes, we'll need lots of time to gab! You're thinking of going to Paris in the winter again, right? I guess now it's not as easy as it was when you were in The Hague, so let me know and we'll make it happen this time.

      Will you be in New York at some point this summer? : )

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    2. Actually, we are planning a 5-day escape in a few weeks and I was hoping to go to NYC, but we're debating. The Duke would rather go to some place he's never been... How long will you be in NY this time?

      And yes, the trip to Paris will happen for sure, even though it's a bit more complicated than just hopping on a Thalys nowadays:)

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  3. Fucking hell I felt really scared when i read that post, as if Phil the Psycho is hiding round the corner. What a horrible, horrible man. It sounds like it good have been a lot worse, no wonder you still feel rattled by the experience.

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    1. Creepy stuff, eh? Yep, I was an idiot and couldn't see or rather didn't want to see that he was sabotaging me. When I confronted him, his response was typical of a sociopath. He blamed it on me. Him telling my friends terrible things that "I said" was somehow in his head MY fault. Amazing.

      Why are psychos always hiding in or around a corner? They lurk too...LOL!

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  4. AnonymousJune 30, 2012

    How horrible! How did you even want to stay in Paris after everything you have been through? You are such a strong woman. You deserve all the happiness that has been coming your way.

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    1. I ask myself that question from time to time as well. Something told me to stay and I'm glad I did.

      I guess I had to see all sides of the city to make a well-rounded decision if this was the place for me. I was supposed to see life not just la vie en rose. : )

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  5. What a story. I was curious about the Phil story for a while now but never wanted to pry into the depths of your personal life. I can now see why you held back in sharing with all of us. Who needs to deal with that when you are trying to figure yourself out in another country.

    As always you handled it well and are able to find some humor in it. You are on to better people people in your life now. Good riddance, Phil.

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    1. I figured there was some inquiry about this story plot that managed to vanish overnight. I also received some e-mails from readers wondering what had happened, so this is just a few stories of why he is no longer a player in my life. There are tons more if you can believe.

      To be fair, he did some really nice things for me, but that's another trait of a predatory sociopath. They do favors to justify their cruel actions and when you call them out on it, you are called ungrateful.

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  6. Oh my God. That is awful. No one deserves that crap at all. What a psycho, some people are just creeps. At least you are ok and away from him now.

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    1. Pretty gross huh? Don't worry Em! This isn't typical Paris! I know you just got to town and I don't want to scare you. It seems like you are on a good path! Just keep your eyes open. : )

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    2. So not long after I wrote this I had one of the craziest experiences of my life, possibly one of the craziest things I have heard happen in Paris. Will have to tell you over coffee. Insane...

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  7. I always wondered in my early twenties why my friends put up with losers and psychos.

    Then at the ripe old age of 28 I found myself with a stalker ex-boyfriend who stole the neighbors ladder to climb through the window of my second story apartment and hired homeless people to sleep on the dark stairwell in front of my door to find out what time I was coming home at night.

    It was humbling to realize it could happen to me too. Especially when I was supposed to be older and wiser.

    I used to beat myself up about it too, because I felt so dumb for getting myself into that situation. But I think I learned a lesson in empathy and more importantly listening to myself and trusting my instincts, like you said.

    And now that it's been six years the stories are really funny because no matter how scary he acted, it always ended with him blubbering and slobbering and crying like a toddler. My friends still call him Spiderman.

    Phil is so pathetic and sad (and creepy) but he adds a nice villain spice to your 365 Days. On top of everything else.... what a crazy year. I'm glad you are including links to go back and re-visit it.

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    1. WHAT?! HOW?! Now that is absolutely insane! Did you see the homeless people sleeping in the hallway? And would they really report back to him with your whereabouts? That guy is nuts, there are such easier ways to keep track of someone sans homeless people!

      I guess we feel we're exempt from the crazies, and sometimes you don't even realize you're with one until you step out of the situation. I remember several people trying to warn me about Phil, saying that they felt that there was something off about him and I defended him. He schemed this whole thing and was about to do it again with my new friends and boyfriend but I cut him off before he had the opportunity. I have a feeling it's not the end of though...he'll strike again. They always do...

      What happened with your stalker? How did you confront him? I'm so sorry you had to go through that. It's really creepy.

      btw, I love how your husband thought I was making all of this up. Sometimes I wish I was! Haha.

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  8. I know. It makes ME sound insane to believe that he hired homeless people. I would wake them up so I could get in my door and tell them they could sleep in the parking structure in the back because it was quiet and safe and they would always leave out the front instead.

    I wanted to volunteer for a homeless paper that was written and sold by the homeless. They sold it for a dollar and kept .50 cents of the money. Of course, as soon as we broke up HE went and volunteered for them. Just a coincidence?

    The only thing that worked was to just cut off 100% of contact no matter what he emailed/texted/etc.

    I'm glad I dated him. I don't think I could have appreciated a nice guy who lived an hour away and was only going to be in the country for one more year otherwise. And then I wouldn't be in Paris and I wouldn't have found your blog that I send to my friends when they get dumped.

    Totally worth a few crazy moments.

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  9. Scary!! And definitely awful that he used you as a social experiment! What a Dick!! Glad you cut him out of your life! He can study Katie Milliesen, she must be rich with sociopathic tendencies for him to harvest.

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    1. Seriously! It wasn't that scary when I was in the thick of it, I thought that there was something wrong with but looking back, I can see that I was manipulated. Creepballs!

      Good idea! KM and Phil should definitely meet! Haha!

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  10. Oh my good god. What a nutter! Jesus! I like to believe, and still do for the most part, that deep down inside people are good and do not go out of their way to hurt others. But when you hear about stories like this, it's just like wtf. Dude, what happened in your life to make you such a horrible person? urgh. So glad you got rid of him and all his toxic energy.

    Also, re?: meeting friends in Paris. remember a few posts back you mentioned female friends of MF's that were a bit too close for comfort and kinda bitchy? well, i'm dealing with some bitchy female friends of my boyfriends right now. the first time I met them they were great and we got along and i was like oh yeah this is awesome, but once the news broke that I'd be moving here things changed. weird. Guess i have a lot of learn about Parisian women...

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    1. Disgusting, right?!?

      Yes, I used to think that all people were good and wouldn't go out of their way to hurt other, but apparently that's not always true. Some people really have no conscience. It's scary.

      So your bf is in France and his French girlfriends are being cold to you now that you will be a permanent fixture in his life? Am I getting that straight? Lady Gaga once said something to the effect of, People love you when they think you're going to leave and they hate you when you're going to stick around. You obviously possess something special and have a spark, and that's a threat to them.

      I had that issue at my tax office I was working at. The other assistant hated me because she thought I was going to stick around that dead beat office but once I was blunt with her and told her I wasn't staying beyond 6 months, her attitude changed, making work more pleasant.

      Don't let them get to you. It's their own insecurities. Is your boyfriend always there for them? MF was always comforting his girlfriends with their boy drama, but when I came around, he had to divide his time and they weren't getting all the attention. The attention that THEIR boyfriends should have been giving them.

      It's all part of the experience, my dear. It's up to you and your man to create your life without outside influences. If he is the one, he will make sure that happens! : ) That's my two cents for the day!

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  11. What a loser, a 55 yr old big loser!
    I don’t think he was using you as a Guinea pig for any studies, the guy wanted you for himself and took advantage of your vulnerabilities back in those days.
    Creepy!!

    Oh and by the way, congrats on your “civil union”, very happy for you
    Sylvia

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    1. Yeah, he did some really strange things. I really did trust him as a friend and didn't think him or anyone was capable of actively trying to destroy someone's social life and self esteem. He's a sad awful man!

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