Mary Jo Buttafuoco Is Loving The Latest Chapter In Her Life

We all know the story. On May 19, 1992, Amy Fisher shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the head. That’s one story. Today, Mary Jo Buttafuoco is telling her story. Together with writer Julie McCarron, Mary Jo has penned her first book, the inspirational, often-funny and informative Getting It Through My Thick Skull. Celebrity Parents spoke with Mary Jo about the book, moving on, and her newfound outlook — and purpose — in life.

Why did you decide to write the book?

The book came about from a conversation I had with my son a couple of years ago. He said, “Dad is a sociopath.” I didn’t believe it; I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I thought a sociopath was someone you saw on Dateline who killed their wife or their mother. After learning about it, I realized this is what I’ve been living with and never knew it. It’s a trait of many people. These people live among us, they don’t go to jail, but they will suck you dry emotionally.

After realizing that Joe was a sociopath, I started writing things down, events that had happened even before I was shot. I said to myself, “This is the answer to the chaos.”

How did it feel?

It felt so freeing. I could now put a name to the craziness of my ex-husband. In the book, I write about the first house he gave away to the drug dealers, and how he got arrested again and again. Knowing what he is now, it all makes perfect sense. I have been able to let him go in my head. I know that I can’t help him, I can’t fix him or change him. I just have to move on with my life.

Do you think it was easier for you to let go once you had a name for it?

Absolutely. If you’re not feeling well, and the doctors can’t tell you what it is, you know you’re still sick. Once you get a diagnosis, now you can put a name on it. Then, you can work on how to deal with it. That’s the important part. Once I put a label to Joe, it all made sense. I can walk away from him and not feel guilty. If had this information 20 years ago, I would have left 20 years ago, knowing what the outcome would be.

I can only imagine how much flack you’ve gotten from people who thought you stayed too long.

That is the main question. “Why did you stay?” I had to admit that I was really ashamed and embarrassed by it. I thought I was a smart lady, but he truly fooled me. As I wrote more and more things down, then I could see that I wasn’t stupid; it was that he was that good of a sociopath and still is.

They say that you can only see in others what you see in yourself. So it makes sense that you couldn’t see it because you didn’t know what it was.

That’s true. I was raised good Irish Catholic girl. I am the oldest of five girls. It’s in my nature to nurture. Joe and I had been together since we were in our teens. Our families got along really well, so there was a lot of love between the families. Even now, my brother-in-law shakes his head and says, “How did we not see it?”

Let’s talk a bit about that title. I love that wicked Irish humor.

[laughs] You got it! It came to me because my mother would say to me, “Mary Jo, when are you going to get it through that thick Irish head of yours?” When I woke up after being in a coma for three days, I looked at my mother and family. They had been through hell, not knowing if I was going to live or die. I said to my mom, “Ma, you see? The thick Irish skull came in handy!” [laughs] It made them laugh, and that was it. I thought of writing all these titles about me triumphing, but then I knew that was the best one.

What has the response been to the book?

I’m so thrilled. It’s gone beyond my wildest expectations. I’ve gotten over 600 emails from people thanking me. They write, “You’ve answered my question. Now I know what my son/husband/whomever is.” The light bulb has gone off for them, too. Now they have the tools of understanding, and they can make changes in their lives.

What are your plans for the future?

I have this fabulous new mission I’m on. I want to get on the lecture circuit. My book is not just about learning about sociopathy. It also teaches lessons of overcoming adversity, forgiveness, and talks about my own addiction to pain pills. I want to spread this message, to help people who need an answer to their question. My kids are happy, and I have a wonderful man in my life. I feel empowered and happy, and that’s a great feeling.

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