Deciphering insidious messages (guest blogger)

Written by Amie on January 22, 2015 – 11:37 am -

I have a guest blogger!

This is the first time I have had a guest blogger on my site. I really want to post this because I believe it will be very helpful for many people. Many (probably most) people have been exposed to dysfunctional and abusive behavior. If you were exposed for many years to dysfunctional behavior, chances are very good that you are still suffering as an adult from the messages you absorbed and didn’t even realize it. It was just “normal” behavior. Until we begin the journey of questioning depression/anxiety/anger, we most likely will not notice the interactions that feed these conditions (for lack of a better word). These interactions feel so familiar to us that most of us assume there is something wrong with us when we walk away from the interaction feeling miserable. Rather than go inward with the feelings (depression), some people explode with rage and either hurt themselves or others. Early on in my healing process, I had no idea why I still felt horrible after being with certain people. And then I figured it out. Their actions never matched their words. Their energy was saying one thing, but their actions another. Their words were not really expressing their truth, their words were being used to manipulate people and situations in order to fulfill their need to stay locked in their abusive behavior. The rest of this post will be written by a guest blogger.

 Abusive behavior and what it looks like 

*I am using “he” rather than write out “he/she” each time.

As long as the abuser has you (and all of his supporters) questioning YOU (the victim), the focus is off of him. When the focus is taken off the abuser, he does not have to face the fact that the problem in the relationship is his past and continued abusive ways. Instead, he can blame you for causing problems, and not “forgiving” (when in reality the true issue is that you simply held him accountable for his abusive behavior, you stood up to him when nobody would, and he sees this as you causing problems) Abusive people lie, blame, and deny and they are masters at all of these. They play the victim, and could win an Oscar for their performance. Anything to avoid facing the truth of what is actually happening. Their supporters (enablers) all flock to defend him. However, even the supporters will claim they are not supporting his behavior. Instead they say they are supporting both the abuser and the victim. (this is not possible). They say things like, “but he loves his family”, “he would do anything for his kids”, (EXCEPT WHAT HE NEEDS TO DO, WHICH IS SAY HOW HE HAS CHANGED HIS ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR) If you ask him to tell you how he has changed (because you want to know this before agreeing to be around him again), you are called demanding and controlling. The enablers then use guilt, shame, and lies to try and shut you up from speaking the truth. The abuser will tell the enablers lies in order to keep them believing he is the victim (like saying “I did admit what I did to her”,or “I have changed”,or “I have done everything possible to fix this”) and then say something different to the victim. (like lying about what really happened, not, in fact, admitting the truth).

Guilt, guilt and more guilt. Oh, and some shame too

Another way to attempt to guilt you is to ask you, “what would God want you to do?” (As if these people have this answer! lol) And then they ask, “Can’t we just start anew?”(this being said over and over, even after the abuser has had multiple chances to repair the relationship) “Can’t we just start anew” is another guilt trip laden remark. The person asking this question just wants you to shut up and stop trying to make the abuser and enabler change anything. Let’s start anew means, let’s sweep it under the rug like we always do. They want to go back to the way it was, but SAY things have changed, when in fact, they haven’t changed a bit.

People in dysfunctional relationships like things to stay the same. They may not like the behavior of the abusive person, but be sure, if you try to break the cycle at all, you will become the “hateful angry one” who is a “troublemaker” who is “always arguing with people”. The list goes on and on…Anything is used to put the focus on you rather than where it belongs.

Actions always speak loudest

The words of abusive people never match their actions. This feels so good to finally realize why it never felt good to be around them in the first place. I could not figure that out. They tell me, “My intention has never been to hurt you”, which I used to think, ok, well they didn’t mean to. I would still feel crappy, but I thought it was just me. When in reality this statement actually means, “I will not take responsibility because I didn’t mean to hurt you.” So hurting someone and not having to apologize is ok if you say you didn’t mean to? Also, if the abusive person continues to hurt you, their words mean absolutely nothing. They just say these words because they think it gets them off the hook from having to take responsibility for their actions. They don’t want to take responsibility for something they believe you deserved because you “disrespected” them by simply disagreeing with them.

“I have unconditional love for you”- doesn’t this statement  sound nice? If you have to tell someone you have unconditional love for them, then its very possible you don’t actually have it. Your actions  would show unconditional love, there should be no need to have to tell someone. When this statement is used in conjunction with the fact that the abuser refuses to take the steps needed in order to heal the relationship, (that they, in fact, ruined) they are trying to guilt you into changing your story, trying to get you to stop saying what is true. They want to be in denial, so they use what most people think is a loving statement, in hopes that you will feel bad enough setting boundaries that you will just let it all go, sweep it under the rug again. Again, trying to make you into the perpetrator because you are the one speaking out, you are the one rocking the boat.

 

Dictionary of abusive/dysfunctional statements:

1. “We are definitely on different pages” (what an abusive person actually means-Your thoughts and opinions are crazy/wrong/don’t matter, and mine are right, so there is nothing we need to talk about. You are crazy for even thinking that.)

2. “I’m sorry you feel the way you do” (what an abusive person actually means- It’s not my fault. You are very wrong about what you are saying. I will not even listen to your thoughts because the way you feel is wrong/bad) This statement is used to minimize ones’ feelings, to make you question yourself.

3. “You need to forgive” (what an abusive person actually means-Lift up the rug and let’s forget about all this that happened.You are bad if you can’t just forgive, forget, and move on) ** This being said even though the abuser has not admitted to the abuse, nor have they made any changes. (And I know that because I was with the person recently,and they exhibited the same abusive behavior)

4. “You are just hateful and angry” (what an abusive person actually means-this is your fault this mess is still going on. Anger is bad, you shouldn’t have anger.)

5.”My intention was never to hurt you” (what an abusive person actually means-I am not responsible for what I did to you. I will not take responsibility for my actions. You should feel bad that you think I would ever mean to hurt you)

6. “Don’t you think we have analyzed this situation to the fullest and we could resolve these issues?” (what an abusive person actually means-there is no hope of me ever taking responsibility for my actions, so can you please go back to accepting abusive behavior. And, btw, I have no intention of ever changing, but since I said the words “let’s resolve these issues”  to you, I am able to tell people I have tried everything, but its YOU that won’t accept my efforts. So its your fault this mess is still a mess.)

7. “Let’s focus on the positive” (what an abusive person actually means-stop calling me out on my abusive behavior, you are just so negative, angry and hateful!)

8. “But he/we have done so many good things for you” (what an abusive person actually means-be grateful for the good things, ignore and be okay with abusive things. Good things should outweigh the hurt.)

9. “You don’t really feel that way do you?” (what an abusive person actually means-you should be ashamed for even thinking that! You are bad/wrong/crazy. Your feelings don’t matter.)

 

Practice Questioning everything!

These are a few of the statements that I have learned to decipher. Whenever someone says something that makes you feel bad about yourself, question it. Ask if there is guilt or shame being used to try to manipulate you. Question what is truly going on. If you frequently beat yourself up over day to day interactions, stop, become aware, and practice looking within to learn more about yourself and what is happening inside you. When we do this, we take our power back from abusive people. Please feel free to comment with any messages you have absorbed from being in dysfunctional relationships.

 

Here is Brene Brown talking about how to stop a shame spiral.

 

 

 

 

 

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letting go; it is a process

Written by Amie on March 26, 2014 – 3:14 am -

bypassing old protective programming

It seems as though there are endless opportunities to practice letting go of the things that can’t be the way I want them to be. It is so interesting to me when I *know* something intellectually, but it isn’t quite resonating with me in my body emotionally. For example, in my life right now there are a few people who I really wish would *wake up*. I am not saying this in a judgmental way. Not at all. I’m saying that I wish they would have that “a-ha” moment when they realize how much they have hurt people they love, including me. The moment when their heart bypasses their old protective programming and their  human vulnerability comes  forward. I find myself wanting to tell them how hurtful their words and actions have been, but I know my feelings will be dismissed and I will be told I am angry and hateful. It is frustrating and very sad that we can’t have a conversation as people who, on some deep level, care about each other. On some deep level, beyond the defensiveness and the conditioned beliefs we have learned, lie two souls who just want to be loved and connected.

charge-hug

 I was closed up tight

It sounds so simple when I look at it from this point of view. I honestly believe it could be simple, but only if all parties are willing to put aside their armor, and just express their truth. Instead, I have to keep my boundaries, otherwise I continually get hurt. I understand exactly where they are coming from. I remember wearing my armor so tight that nothing could get in. I couldn’t admit to a mistake, I couldn’t admit I needed something, I couldn’t admit I was hurting. I was closed up tight. And this is why it is so difficult for me. I understand exactly where they are coming from, and at the same time, I crave an authentic connection with them that will never be unless they become conscious of their own wounds and begin to heal. It is contrast at every turn for me. I am not the same person they used to know. I am who I was born to be now. So I don’t relate in the same ways to people anymore. It is difficult to be around the old behaviors. It is difficult to be around the dysfunction, that in the past, had intensified my self hate.

focus on *how I feel* in a situation

I used to think something was terribly wrong with me because I felt one thing in my body, while at the same time, I was told a completely different truth. (It was a way to keep the facade going that everything was perfect and wonderful) I couldn’t figure out the inconsistent feelings for a very long time. I have since learned to focus on *how I feel* in a situation, not what someone else tells me is true. Trusting how I feel has been, and still is a difficult practice for me. Some days it clicks and I trust without a problem. Other times I question every single thing people say and do, and I doubt my gut feelings. I’m getting there, albeit slowly. It is a re-learning, it is a process. It is still tricky for me sometimes when someone sends me a note with words that, years ago I would have thought, “this is nice’. (While also feeling crappy inside, and assuming its just me,  something is wrong with *me* if I can’t see that this person is being nice) I received a birthday card the other day, that appeared to be a birthday card, but was really an attempt at guilting me. To some, it may have been considered “nice”. However, I am able to translate, or decode words from people now. I know the patterns.

 unresolved emotional wounds

I always come back to this: why do I want to spend time with people who can only see themselves as victims. By this I mean no matter what is said, they turn it around as though they are being attacked. They reach out in the same manner  that  worked on me in the past. Guilt and shame got me every time. I would feel so guilty that I would never question the behavior of these people, and I would go back every single time. I would go back to living the dysfunction I felt familiar with. Until I started waking up and realizing my true self was completely buried. And slowly, I had to distance myself. Then a year ago, I had to draw even deeper boundaries. Here we are over a year later, and they not willing to look within themselves to see how their actions have hurt. Hurt deeply. Had I not begun the process of waking up, I would be hurt over and over again. Because each time they ignore the needs of others, the hurt is compounded. Each time they twist the truth, they cause deeper hurt. Each time they use guilt to try to persuade, they cut deeper. This is the part I have a hard time letting go of. The fact that they refuse to truly accept how their behavior affects those they claim to love. I am no longer a victim to this behavior. Yes, it is difficult to understand, but I also know its not about me. They are acting and speaking from their unresolved emotional wounds.

I know for sure

It gets easier for me to let go when I am reminded of just how dysfunctional this situation is. At the very beginning of this situation, when someone very close to me was hurt, nobody came to her to see how she was doing. Instead, they ran to the side of the person who did the hurting. This is when I know for sure I am doing the right thing. This is when I know for sure I am breaking the cycle, at least for my own family. And still, it is difficult to let go of the hope that things will ever be healthy. It is a process…..

Great clip with Brene Brown about having the courage to be vulnerable.

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