When they convince you that no one truly cares, that you have no one except them- that’s the moment to run. The direction doesn’t matter, so long as it’s away from that source of negativity. You are worth more than you know, and definitely more than they can appreciate.
Here’s what I’ve learnt about people like this: It’s usually not about you, it’s about them. Their need to feel powerful, in control and depended upon override everything in their being and that energy is usually reflected in their behavior toward the most vulnerable one in the room- You.
And THIS, is why self-love can’t be overrated enough.
With the rise of the #MeToo movement, I got to thinking about the various types of abuse that exist and how silent so many of us have been for so long. Why is it we wait months, years, some silent for life? What is it that we fear?
Emotional abuse has a place in the castle of my heart. Naturally, I was curious to delve deeper into the mind of the emotional manipulator. Here’s what I learnt.
Emotional manipulation is a difficult thing to define. It’s not surprising then that it’s so difficult to recognize it for what it is. The definition I found says “it is any act of including confinement, isolation, verbal abuse, humiliation, intimidation or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identify, dignity and self-worth.”
That being stated, it’s important you distinguish between normal disagreements versus a pattern that leaves you in a constant state of internal confusion. For example, disagreeing on what should be done first and last on the errand list, who needs to do what chores etc are completely normal, healthy even- these things are the silent teachers of compromise. It’s one of those beautiful moments life hits you with the exam then the lesson.
Emotional abuse is an attempt to control. Instead of slapping, pushing, or grabbing etc, the emotional abuser is skilled at manipulating emotions.
It’s so easy to think it’s just in your head, to be told its in your head – to blame yourself. That’s actually a critical part of how the control is placed over you. That’s why it’s extremely important to hear yourself out.
In those moments you find yourself constantly apologizing while being unsure if an apology was even necessary; having the need to hide your feelings in fear of upsetting those around you; feeling disoriented during the smallest disagreements because you know it’s a matter of time before it will explode; worse, you know the blame for the explosion will be pinned on you or someone you love… Observe your state of being. If you find yourself constantly disoriented due to those around you, fearful of your every action even something as basic as eating with company (to the point something in your head is telling you the situation is irrational), please give yourself a chance.
Is death something that occurs when the body can’t function again? Or is it possible to die while still walking with a beating heart? I suspect we go through many deaths in our lifetime. Each time our personality is moulded by a drastic event- a death occurs, making space for yet another aspect to be born. What about if a part of our personality could be murdered? How would that differ from natural death?
This is what I think – Emotional abuse leads to personality annihilation over a long period of time. When you’ve lived within such an experience, it’s as though gravity has left the existence of your reality, logic has stopped being a frequent visitor and you can finally understand the struggle a dyslexic person goes through every algebra class. Your value system which has been your life guide feels useless, and eventually, you feel worthless. Suddenly, your body feels like a burden you give to those around you. Your existence, your personality feels like a waste and just like that, you’re trying to fit the mould the abuser has laid out for you. Nothing will ever feel like enough and be damn sure the criticism won’t stop. All that remains is pain and anxiety. It is something that results from others constant toxic input- it is not how you deal with a tragic event that creates this chaos.
I suppose that’s why the first step is the most difficult.
Something I’ve found that helps keep an ounce of sanity in such debilitating times are remembering who’s in your corner. Not everyone is going to genuinely love you and that’s okay, but recognize the ones that do and hold on tight!
I’ve found allowing the moment to pass, the tears to flow, the anger to pump through your veins and into something creative or productive ( like something artsy/ sports related/ exercise) helps a ton! Eventually you’ll feel tired, and that’s the critical moment- just before you go numb and rock yourself to sleep, ask yourself, what happened, what did you do that was so wrong, if you’d judge someone for the factor that sparked the situation the way you were judged.
This sounds horrible but this is why it helped. It was almost as though watching an actor read his lines from the script mindlessly; a performance for his benefit only. When I did this, everything felt less personal and ultimately, it affected me in a drastically reduced manner. Some may wonder why not walk away. The purpose of abuse is to control an individual. This control makes it extremely difficult to leave. Worse yet, some individuals don’t have the means to leave and thus their state of existence can’t be directly changed for some time. It’s important to know when enough is enough though, but that’s another conversation entirely.
There will be intimidating people in your life. I remember being told I have no real friends of my own. I remember someone I considered very much in my life convincing me I have no one to truly lean on except him/her. I remember feeling worthless. I remember being eroded by intimidation- by lies. But I did not only survive through the experience- I’m stronger than before. You can be too.