Sanctuary for the Abused
Monday, October 31, 2016
Manipulative Relationships: Are You In One?
Manipulation is not the same as influence. We all use influence with other people to advance our goals, and this is one of the hallmarks of healthy social functioning. Influence recognizes the rights and boundaries of other people, and it is based on direct, honest communication. Influence is one way we have of functioning effectively in the world. Influence recognizes the integrity of the other person, including the right not to go along with the attempted persuasion. Manipulation, on the other hand, depends on covert agendas and an attempt to coerce another person into giving in. Even though it may appear that the manipulator is strong and in control, there is usually insecurity under the facade. The tendency to exploit others and disregard their rights is a sign of unhealthy personality functioning. In fact, people who manipulate others have difficulty in maintaining good interpersonal relationships.
Those who manipulate other people are good at spotting people to control. If they feel unable to manipulate someone, they usually give up and move on to somebody else who is more likely to be receptive to the attempted manipulation. Once you recognize the features of the manipulation, the next step in correcting the situation is to discover your own contribution to the problem. (This statement may seem a bit difficult to accept. After all, it's the manipulator who has the problem, you might say. But realize that manipulation cannot occur in a vacuum. As is true of any relationship, it takes two people.) You can come to understand your contribution to the manipulative situation and then take steps to correct it.
Here are some common traits of those who are vulnerable to manipulators -
You feel useful and loved only when you can take care of the needs of other people. This goes beyond being nice to other people. Your sense of worth is tied up in doing things for other people. In fact, you take this so far that you please other people at the expense of your own well-being. For example, you might buy something especially nice for your partner or a friend when you would never spend that kind of money on yourself. Manipulators are drawn to this type of person and have no qualms about taking advantage of this particular personality trait.
You need to have the approval and acceptance of other people. Although most people appreciate being accepted, a problem occurs when you feel that you must be accepted by everyone at all times. The core problem here is the fear of being rejected or abandoned - and it is so strong that you would do anything to avoid the feelings associated with this fear. The manipulator works by giving you the acceptance that you need - and then threatening to withdraw it.
You fear expressing negative emotions. Although expressing anger and engaging in a conflict are never pleasant, some people will go to any length to avoid a confrontation. They want things to be pleasant at all times. They fear that they will fall apart in the face of negative emotions. Manipulators have an easy task in this kind of relationship - all they have to do is to threaten to raise their voice, and then they get their way.
You are unable to say no. One of the characteristics of a healthy relationship is appropriate boundaries that clarify who you are and what you stand for. In order to maintain healthy boundaries, however, you must sometimes say no when someone attempts to push your limits. If you are afraid of the conflict that may arise when you say no, you play into the hands of the manipulator. Learning effective assertiveness techniques is a way to regain your sense of control in a manipulative relationship.
You lack a firm sense of your own self. A clear sense of self means that you know what your values are, who you are, what you stand for, and where you begin and the other person ends. If you have an unclear sense of self, it is difficult to trust your own judgment or to make decisions that work in your favor. Without a clear definition of your self, you may be an easy target for a manipulator.
If you are in a manipulative relationship, it is helpful to recognize the personal tendencies that allow the other person to assert control over you. You can come to understand and explore these safely with the support of a professionally trained therapist. While you may not be able to change the behavior of the manipulator, you can change your own responses to attempts at manipulation so that you achieve a firmer sense of your own integrity. The unhappiness resulting from a manipulative relationship can lead to life-changing experiences that generate insight and the ability to cope more effectively with the demands of everyday living.
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Cognitive distortions are logical, but they are not rational. They can create real difficulty with your thinking. See if you are doing any of the ten common distortions that people use. Rate yourself from one to ten with one being low and ten being high. Ask yourself if you can stop using the distortions and think in a different way.
1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: You see things in black-and-white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see your self as a total failure.
2. OVERGENERALIZATION: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
3. MENTAL FILTER: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
4. DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count" for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
1. MIND READING: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don't bother to check this out6. MAGNIFICATION (CATASTROPHIZING) OR MINIMIZATION: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else's achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or other fellow's imperfections). This is also called the binocular trick."
2. THE FORTUNETELLER ERROR: you can anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
7. EMOTIONAL REASONING: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."
8. SHOULD STATEMENTS: You try to motivate yourself with should and shouldn't, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. "Musts" and "oughts" are also offenders. The emotional consequences are guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
9. LABELING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself. "I'm a loser." When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him" "He's a Goddamn louse." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
10. PERSONALIZATION: You see your self as the cause of some negative external event, which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.
(note: some of these can be CAUSED by either being a victim of abuse or having an abusive personality disorder - Barbara)
Friday, October 28, 2016
Traumatic Bonding & Stockholm Syndrome
"Why Do You Stay/ Go Back?" Traumatic Bonding And
The Development Of The Stockholm Syndrome
in Abused Women (and Men)
- by Debra Dixon
We hear the question, "Why do you stay?" ask of battered women over and over. Most of society tired long ago of the answer, "Because I love him." When a battered woman says "because I love him" she is describing the Stockholm Syndrome in the best way that she can. She knows that she has very strong feelings for him and can only attribute those feelings to love because of a lack of information. These victims do not have the information they need to accurately describe the dynamics involved in the bonding process that occurs with abuse and trauma and therefore attribute their intense feelings the best way that they can - love.
Theories on why battered women stay have ranged from "learned helplessness" to masochism to feminist theory regarding status and resources. While some of these issues (learned helplessness and a lack of resources) can be contributing factors it is time we look at the bond created by severe, prolonged trauma.
Traumatic bonding was first recognized and acknowledged during a hostage incident in Stockholm, Sweden. Authorities were amazed that the hostages refused to cooperate with them and actually saw law enforcement as the villains. What they were witnessing was the hostage's identification with the hostage taker. Authorities were even more shocked when the hostages refused to testify against their captors and one of the women later married him. While hostages may bond after a matter of hours batterers usually have many years with the victims without any interference or intervention.
This bond occurs because the well being of a child, a hostage or a battered woman depends upon the hostage taker or the batterer. If a batterer has total control over her money, safety, peace and happiness then it is in her best interest to keep him happy. This bond is not only in the best interest of the perpetrator but is, at times, in the best interest of the victim and is frequently necessary for her survival. If a hostage, or battered woman, is argumentative and provocative they are more likely to be injured. If a batterer or hostage taker dislikes the victim their likelihood of injury increases.
We often berate the victim for staying in these relationships and can't understand how it happened. A violent, controlling man does not take a woman out and beat her on the first date. We all put on our best face when we initially meet people and batterers are no different. If he took the woman out and beat her on the first date there would be no second date. She has no history or investment in the relationship and wouldn't tolerate it. His taking control of her is a gradual process.
Battered women, hostages and prisoner's of war will share some of the same experiences. Some of these shared experiences are that they are degraded, debilitated, they experience the constant threat of violence, the violence is intermittent, their are occasional indulgences, the captor demonstrates omnipotence, isolation etc...
The dynamics involved in domestic violence can be demonstrated by what's called The Power And Control Wheel by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP). It's interesting because when we compare Bidermans Chart of Coercion by Amnesty International with the Power and Control Wheel they are almost identical. (Bidermans Chart of Coercion is how Amnesty International documented the techniques of the Communist Chinese, KGB, etc. )
There are many types of service providers coming in contact with battered women who are still unaware of why these women stay. These service providers are unable to address the bigger picture due to a lack of information. The inability to address this issue creates many problems. Law enforcement, and much of society, still blames the women for defending their attackers, unaware of the fact that not only is defending the attacker in her best interest but the bond itself reduces her injury. The victims are not given the information they need to deal with the bond they feel and therefore attribute their perplexing feelings to "love." Allowing them, and their children, to continue in traumatic relationships.
While we advise against confrontational behavior we ask that battered women cooperate with law enforcement who can frequently only guarantee her safety for a matter of hours. I am not saying that battered women should not cooperate. I am asking that we rethink our approach to domestic violence based on the fact that a traumatic bond is occurring and that the bond itself must be taken into consideration and dealt with.
For more information contact VJC Inc for a copy of the book Traumatic Bonding and the Development of the Stockholm Syndrome in Battered Women.
Why Do They Stay? Traumatic Bonding
Traumatic bonding may be defined as the development of strong emotional ties between two persons, with one person intermittently harassing, beating, abusing, or intimidating the other.
There are two common features in the structure of trauma bonded relationships:
1. The existence of a power imbalance, wherin the maltreated person perceives him/herself to be dominated by the other person.
2. The intermittent nature of the abuse.
Social psychologists have found that unequal power relationships can become increasingly unbalanced over time. As the power imbalance magnifies, the victim feels more negative in her self-appraisal, more incapable of fending for herself, and more dependent on the abuser. This cycle of dependency and lowered self-esteem repeats itself over and over and eventually creates a strong effective (emotional) bond to the abuser.
At the same time, the abuser will develop an overgeneralized sense of his own power which masks the extent to which he is dependent on the victim to maintain his self-image. This sense of power rests on his ability to maintain absolute control in the relationship. If the roles that maintain this sense of power are disturbed, the masked dependency of the abuser on the victim is suddenly made obvious.
One example of this sudden reversal of power is the desperate control attempts made by the abandoned battering husband to bring his wife back into the relationship through threats and/or intimidation.
When physical abuse is administered at intermittent intervals (random times) and when it is intersperced with permissive and friendly contact, the phenomenon of traumatic bonding seems most powerful.
The three phases involved in the cycle of violence (tension building, battering and "honeymoon") provide a prime example of intermittent reinforcement. The unpredictable duration and severity of each phase serve to keep the victim off balance and in hopes of change. The "honeymoon" phase is an integral part of traumatic bonding. It is this phase that allows the victim to experience calm and loving feelings from the abuser and therefore strengthens her emotional attachment.
STOCKHOLM SYNDROME THEORY
Stockholm Syndrome primarily develops under the following conditions:
Victim perceives the abuser as a threat to her survival, physically or psychologically.
Victim perceives the abuser as showing her some kindness, however small.
Victim is kept isolated from others.
Victim does not perceive a way to escape from the abuser.
Victim focuses on the abuser's needs.
Victim sees world from abuser's perspective.
Victim perceives those trying to help her as the "bad guys" and the abuser as the "good guys."
Victim finds it difficult to leave the abuser even when it is OK to do so.
Victim fears the abuser will come back to get her, even if he is dead or in prison.
Victim shows signs of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) including depression, low self-esteem, anxiety reactions, paranoia and feelings of helplessness, and recurring nightmares and flashbacks.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
This information about crazy making is from the out of print book Stop! You're Driving Me Crazy! by Dr. George R. Bach. It fortunately has surfaced again and can be purchased as a used book for a small price at Amazon.com.
This is a coping method people use when they are afraid of rejection or confrontation. This results when our rights are not respected or honored. It is based on four basic rights: THE RIGHT TO KNOW, THE RIGHT TO FEEL, THE RIGHT TO HAVE IMPACT and THE RIGHT TO SPACE.
The ways that RIGHT TO KNOW are violated are when we are not given clear information as in underloading, overloading and fogging. In underloading they give us too little information so we are off balance and have shaky confidence about what we are learning to do or the person has left and it is only after they're gone that we realize we don't know anymore than before we asked them the question. At these times it requires the receiver of the information to assume or draw conclusions about the meaning of the incomplete information. This is also a time when mindreading comes into play. In order to survive this walking on eggshells the receiver of the message or silent treatment must use past references to know what the sender of the message might intend. In overloading it is just the opposite problem. The sender gives us too much information and we are in a confused state and a put off balance. We feel so defeated that we do not have the courage to set any boundaries or express any needs for clearer information.
THE RIGHT TO FEEL is violated when we are told how we are feeling i.e. "You're angry aren't you." or how we are going to feel or react i.e. "You're not going to like what I have to say." Or if we are given the message not to feel i.e. "Don't be angry" or "Don't cry". Or we are told what we should or shouldn't be feeling. i.e. "You don't really hate him or her, you just think you do" or You shouldn't feel that way about them.'
THE RIGHT TO IMPACT is where our insanity really shows up. It triggers so many old messages i.e. "You're not important, you're needs are important." And if we played the role of the LOST CHILD it just reinforces our sense of powerlessness and invisibility. We need to have assurance that we exist, that our existence makes a difference to people and situations. We know of our existence when we have IMPACT on others. One thing that really gets to us is when others claim to misinterpret or pick apart what we said in order not to have to comply with our request.
Thinging or objectifying is another way that they treat us as an objects as if we are only a piece of furniture in the room. They can be pictured putting their hand up to their ear and saying "Did I hear someone talking, is there someone else in the room?" COVERTLY HOSTILE or what ? Context-switching and derailing are great avoidance tactics. When you are confronting them on something they did or attempting to set boundaries, they switch the whole focus back to you, and thus put you on the defensive. Now the focus is on you and they slither away. This gets you way off derail track and off balance right where they want you--derailed. Clever huh, unless you are on the receiving end of this CRAZY MAKING. Role-playing is another very common way in which one or both parties avoids asserting themselves. This way the person can hide behind the role they see as the most comfortable, safe and powerful. i.e. referring to yourself as "Mommy" or "Daddy" "Mommy wants you to go to bed" Daddy wants you to come to the table." Or I'm the "boss" I'm the cook--he wife--the husband etc.etc. In this way the other person is put in a position where they almost need to respond in the "subservient" or weak or less powerful position or role i.e. the child, the worker, employer, the hungry one etc.etc.
The final CRAZY MAKING technique is to violate the RIGHT TO SPACE. This right can be violated in so many ways i.e. emotional, time, mental, physical. Without this right being respected we can lose perspective very rapidly and literally feel like we are going crazy. In setting boundaries we set ourselves against the others. It seems that when I am setting boundaries for myself I am violating another's perceived rights i.e. My right to have the radio volume up is a violation to right to have the volume down. My right to deny your request interrupts your right to make a request. It is almost always very MESSY. But our surrender of SPACE is a surrender of our SANITY.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Emotional Manipulator -- Skilled Controller
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Obsessive Ex Syndrome
An obsessive ex does not see a break-up the same way.
1. The Obsessive Ex may not even believe a break-up is in progress.
The Obsessor may think this is simply a more serious argument than usual, and decide they're supposed to keep contacting the partner until the argument is over and the partner takes them back. Even when at the point of stalking, Obsessors often still view themselves as a current partner who is simply waiting for an argument to be over.
2. The Obsessive Ex viewed their partner primarily as an object to support their own self-image, not as a human being.
The Obsessor's approach to the relationship has been what they themselves get out of it -- whether THEY are satisfied with the relationship. If the partner wants to leave, this is inconvenient for the Obsessor! They want the partner around to dominate, to make the Obsessor feel powerful. They didn't particularly care whether the partner was happy with them; they only cared that they preferred to have the partner around.
3. The Obsessor has an irrational "Sense of Entitlement".
This is the personality type that would park in a handicap spot when they're not handicapped because they believe their temporary convenience is "more important" than the needs of some other person (handicapped). They sincerely believe that their needs are more important than their partner's... more important than their childrens'... more important than anyone else's.
Once the leaving partner decides to value personal individual needs first, the Obsessor is infuriated. The partner's act of "rebellion" does not fit into their world view -- that of the Obsessor as the center.
4. The Obsessor wants to punish their ex-partner.
Obsessors can't let a connection end completely, because they may believe themselves to have been so wronged that they "need" to punish or seek revenge against the leaving partner. Even in cases where an Obsessor was wronged in some way, their desire for revenge and how long they cling to these emotions (to the detriment of their own life and others lives), is completely out of proportion to what injustices may have occurred.
(This does not apply to relationships where one partner was used & abused and desires closure or justice - but to those who seek REVENGE out of proportion with what occurred.)
Monday, October 24, 2016
"Self Discipline is Self Esteem"
Abbreviations: N=Narcissist, P=Psychopath,
D&D = devalued & discarded
- "We want closure which is never going to come in a way that we want but we can find closure by No Contact. We want to be heard, want them to know the pain they've caused but they are never going to listen and if they do, they don't hear the words. What we often miss is the beauty of "No Contact." You are finally saying No More. It is your voice without the words but they hear it loud and clear as if you screamed from the top of your lungs - "Go to the Devil." No Contact is your pure and sweet rejection. It is empowering. It is your last word. It is your closure. It is one of the most hurtful narcissistic injuries you could inflict. They have finally come to understand you know just who and what they are. They know the tricks do not work anymore. They know you are no longer prey or a pawn in their game. It is your last word."
- "The no contact rule was the best thing I ever did...please stay strong."
- "No contact is so essential. Your pride and dignity are riding on it."
- "We don't want the NP back in our life... we only want them when we are hurting."
- "No contact is the strongest statement I can make to him"
- "NO CONTACT is the best to be hoped for; and this principle of recovery must be held to with tenacious trust that this is the best thing we can do for ourselves --- AND the N!"
- "We must all let go of people who hurt us whether we understand why or not."
- "I had to treat no contact like a drug addiction. There were times I had to count the minutes, then hours of no contact. I marked days off on the calendar. My entire life went to hell and I finally got mad and took it back. I am making my own happiness these days. It's still a struggle but it gets better every day. I had to force myself through the initial no contact but once I started to see our relationship for what it was it became easier and easier."
- "Things he said to me when I was D&D'd are what made me begin the no contact... and I would have wasted all that I had established, for myself, if I ever contact him again. I have often been asked what I would do if he tried to re-establish contact with me. Up until a few days ago, I did not really have an answer. But, I have climbed up to another level and I know now that I would do exactly what is recommended...thanks, but no thanks. I am not the same person, I have nothing more to give to you, I know that you have absolutely nothing to give to me."
- "You have the upper hand with no contact. Hang on to it for dear life."
- "Keep that list of horrors he'd done and print off those articles that really zing in on what he really is and read them both with your breakfast cereal. This helps reinforce our No Contact commitment and keeps the malignant optimisms/magical thinking we're often prone to away."
- "I have no contact with my brother who is a P he still tries the manipulation through emails and my mother is a P. She tries through letters, same words, same game. It is very hard not to respond, you just have to keep reminding yourself what would happen to you if you did respond. It is as though they still have part of your mind and it takes a lot of strength to break free and not respond."
- "I used those Olympic-class thinking tactics to picture how I'd react when he came up to me on the street. Well it worked. I just said "I have to go now, goodbye" and walked away. No payoff from me! I gave myself a Gold Medal in detaching."
- "The No Contact rule is definitely it. I feel any contact with him is like sticking my hand in a snake pit."
- "I was coming out of a 18 year marriage. He saw my vulnerability a mile away!! I cannot stress the no contact rule enough."
- "Unfortunately as long as you stay with or talk to an N you will remain a form of supply for them whether it be good, bad or ugly. The only way you can achieve any type of victory over them is to walk away with your head held high and have no contact. The longer you stay, the longer you will miss out on your own life."
- "They deny they do it, deny they are the problem and lay the blame on someone else. That’s why the no contact rule is the only way out of the frustration and extra hurt."
- "I notice your N makes no effort to even acknowledge how his behaviour has hurt you. Expect him to blame you and tell you that you are the unreasonable one the whole way down the line. They deny they do it, deny they are the problem and lay the blame on someone else. That’s why the no contact rule is the only way out of the frustration and extra hurt. Waiting for an N to validate your experience or change the N behaviours could mean you will be trading emails at 90 and still not get any further going round in their crazy circles."
- "You deserve a rich full life. An N will rob you of that. Stay clear. No contact."
- "There is power in our silence. The power we gain during the No Contact period can't be emphasized enough.
- "Give it time. Use the power of silence."
- "We're strongest with No Contact. It's idiot proof, requires no effort on our part. It is free of charge and if used according to directions is, 100% guaranteed."
- "There is only one message they hear and that is the silence of No Contact."
- "I had some good old-fashioned growing up to do. No Contact thrust me into that. That's when I really started to see things as they were." It'll be the best thing you every do for yourself."
- "Time and no contact is absolutely the only way, because anytime I have anything to do with him other than leaving notes for him when he comes to see the kids, it creates a "feelings setback" for me."
- "My therapist very rarely "advises" me, as such - preferring to help me see the right answers for myself. But the one thing he's been absolutely emphatic about, ever since I told him about it, is that I must NOT contact my N, under ANY circumstances."
- "And, if you do N-dip and heaven knows we try far too hard to fix them, fix the problem and make it work, and if you do, remember to protect yourself financially and emotionally. Cut yourself some slack on this, OK. Sometimes No Contact is a learned habit."
- "There is a point where you re-find yourself (well at least that kick-start moment towards self-knowledge and emotional freedom...It's a neverending process), and life becomes an open field, your soul breathes again. No contact and time spent alone out of the crazy-making environment will help you greatly. My, you just have to stay stoic 'til you're out. Make sure that you give yourself every chance to recuperate your senses and not have your mind invaded by anyone."
- "NO CONTACT is the only way that God will work. We must not try to get in the way and do all the work, instead of God doing it."
- "After the worst of it was over, what I found to be key was to have no contact with him. None. Do not say go to hell. Do not say I love you. Do not, above all, try to sit down and have a dialogue, to reason with him. No response of any kind is the answer."
- "The months of distance from him is what FINALLY helped me reach closure. Up close, I can't keep straight what is what. I fall right back into old habits, no matter how much therapy, etc. I have. From a distance, it's all crystal clear."
- "The best therapists tell us to stick like glue to that self-imposed No Contact rule. No contact works, but we need to give it a chance".
- "The more time I stay in NC...the stronger I get."
- "It reminds me of quitting smoking, hang in there long enough and the urge for contact will pass."
- "Beware of the Contact Trap. So many of them turn our hope into hell claiming THEY ARE BEING HARASSED OR STALKED - by us!! Ns love the courts so we can end up trying to defend ourselves in a lawsuit."
Sunday, October 23, 2016
10 Commandments of Dysfunctional Families
The First Commandment:
Thou shalt reinterpret reality to preserve the perfect fantasy.
Sample Situation: This commandment is designed to hide family secrets. If you saw dad stagger and fall down the basement steps because he was drunk, you can't tell the truth. instead, reality must be interpreted into an acceptable fantasy. "Daddy wasn't drunk; he simply lost his balance and tripped. Poor Daddy."
Application: Even if you see it, it's not real. You must have made a mistake. Therefore, reinterpret what you saw to make it nice and respectable. If you don't, people will think you're and we're all crazy. We wouldn't want them to think that now, would we?
Motto: Always believe the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the dysfunctional truth.
The Second Commandment:
Thou shalt always send mixed messages, especially when it concerns relationships..
Sample Situation: A dominating father tells his child, "I love you. Now beat it and leave me alone."
Application: You don't really know what's true. Either your father loves you or he hates you. Since you never know for sure, you'll never be quite sure if others really mean what they say since those you loved most only spoke in mixed messages. They sounded good, but you couldn't trust them.
Motto: Avoid people and relationships. It's the safe thing to do.
The Third Commandment:
Thou shalt be an adult.
Sample Situation: Children were made to take care of their parents emotionally, physically, or sexually and to meet their parents' "childish" needs for power, attention, sex, and belonging. The children submitted to avoid physical and emotional abandonment by their parents. Children in these environments can't really remember a "childhood." For this reason, children were always expected to be adults.
Application: Being child-like and spontaneous is irresponsible and bad. You must act like an adult at all times and be responsible, even if you're only five years old.
Motto: There's no such thing as child's play. It's all serious stuff.
The Fourth Commandment:
Thou shalt keep secrets from others.
Sample Situation: Daddy has a "secret" that only he and his little girl know. Of course, she can't tell Mommy. If she does, Daddy will hurt you and Mommy might leave and never come back.
Application: A child's most important duty is to protect the image of their parents and family in the community. Watch what you say and be careful not to act funny around other people either. After all, as family we have to protect each other. If you stay quiet, you're loyal. If you can't, we won't love you.
Motto: To really love someone is to show loyalty by protecting their "secrets" at all costs.
The Fifth Commandment:
Thou shalt protect family secrets.
Sample Situation: A member of the family commits suicide. Since this is not acceptable to discuss even in the family, all pictures, memorabilia, and anything else which would indicate that this family member had ever lived here must be discarded. After all, no one in our family would commit suicide, would they???
Application: Our family doesn't have any problems, does it? Even if we did, we don't have to discuss or deal with them. After all, they're not that important. We can simply deny their existence so that we don't have to deal with the grief.
Motto: Life's too painful to have to deal with the pain and the problems. Just ignore them, they'll go away.
The Sixth Commandment:
Thou shalt not feel.
Sample Situation: A child cries because her best friend is moving away. "You shouldn't feel like that. Stop crying!" yells her mother angrily.
Application: Since any display of emotion might betray the family secrets that all is not perfect, all emotions must be repressed and numbed. After all, we're a normal family. We're not like other people who get angry, sad, or afraid.
Motto: Be respectable. After all, respectable people never show their emotions or pain..
The Seventh Commandment:
Thou shalt allow your boundaries to be violated, especially by those who "love" you.
Sample Situation: A child trying to accomplish a task continues to persist and work on it, hoping to gain a sense of accomplishment and approval. "Don't be so stubborn!" mommy says. "Just give up. There' s more important things than that to be done! Now put that stuff away and clean the house so that mommy knows you love her."
Lesson Learned: Anything you want is not worth protecting. Only those you love can tell you what is important and what's not. Quit thinking for yourself and just do what makes everyone else happy..
Motto: Because others are more valuable than you, you don't have the right to maintain your own boundaries or to make decisions.
The Seventh Commandment:
Thou shalt be hyper-vigilant
Sample Situation: A child is constantly reminded how dangerous the world is. People can't be trusted either. Therefore, stay aloof, don't get too close to anybody.
Lesson Learned: The only way to be safe in this world is to be careful and insulate yourself from others. Be careful. Always be on guard They might hurt you. If you need help, don't ask for their help. Do it yourself.
Motto: Always be on your guard. The wise person is always over prepared and distrustful of everyone and everything.
The Eighth Commandments:
Thou shalt not let anyone do anything else for you. Do it all yourself.
Sample Situation: Parents continually remind the child that no one is to be trusted. If they do something for you, they're doing it to manipulate you.
Lesson Learned: Stay aloof and don't make friends with anybody. After all, if you get too close, they'll use, hurt and abuse you. And remember this: nobody does anything for anyone unless they want something from you.
Motto: Do everything yourself.
The Ninth Commandment:
Thou shalt be perfect
Sample Situation: "Just because you got all 'A's on your report card doesn't mean that you couldn't have done better. You're lazy. Now get to work and let's see you get some more 'A+'s'!"
Lesson Learned: If it's not perfect, people won't love you. No matter how good it is, it's never good enough...but keep trying!
Motto: You're only as good as your performance and that's still not good enough!
The Tenth Commandment:
Thou shalt not forgive yourself or others.
Sample Situation: "You're always in my way, child! Why do you keep asking me to play with you? Don't you know I played with you last year? Wasn't that enough?! You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Go to your room. Don't bother me."
Lesson Learned: The only way I can be forgiven and loved is if I can earn it by being perfect. The guiltier I feel, the harder I must work to gain other's approval. If I make any mistakes, even a small one, they'll reject me or think I'm incompetent or worthless. I'm afraid I will make a mistake, I know I will, I feel so guilty. Therefore, even if I think I can do it, I won't. After all, I could make a mistake and then what would I do? Oh, I could never go back and say I'm sorry!
Motto: Since God doesn't forgive me, I can't forgive you either.
The First And Great Commandment Is This:
"Be a "good" person: Be blind, be quiet, be numb, be careful, keep secrets, avoid reality, avoid relationships, don't cry, don't trust, don't feel, be serious, don't talk, don't love and above all, make everyone think you're perfect...even if it makes you feel guilty."
The Second Is Like Unto It:
"Since you're worthless and nobody loves you anyway (including yourself), don't try to change yourself. You're not worth the effort and you couldn't do it if you tried anyway. God won't help you either. So get back where you belong. There's nothing wrong anyway so what's your problem! See, I told you that you were stupid."
Thomas F. Fischer
FACEBOOK GROUP FOR DAUGHTERS OF NARCISSISTIC MOTHERS
Saturday, October 22, 2016
UNLOVED DAUGHTERS: RECOVERING FROM CHILDHOOD
by Peg Streep
“It’s still hard explaining what it was like to people who didn’t experience it. I think most people think I’m exaggerating. I’ve gotten to used to it, over time, but it still stings and recovery is mostly a lonely process..”
Adele, age 42
“I have ghost images of my mother, most usually when I want a woman to like me, hire me, or include me in her circle. Nothing I ever did pleased my mother and it made me feel nothing I did was ever good enough. I still feel that way when I seek a woman’s approval.”
Sarah, age 56
In the years since I wrote Mean Mothers, I’ve talked to many women about the process of healing from the wounds of childhood. As a layperson who’s been on this journey herself—and who’s sought professional help—my understanding has been enriched by two important insights.
The first is from A General Theory of Love written by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon. In simple terms, they explain that lack of love has both neurological and psychological consequences:
“ Love, and the lack of it, change the young brain forever….as we now know, most of the nervous system (including the limbic brain) needs exposure to crucial experiences to drive its growth… The lack of an attuned mother is a nonevent for a reptile and shattering injury to the complex and fragile limbic brain of a mammal.”
The second is from Deborah Tannen’s book, You’re Wearing that?Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation:
“This, in the end, may be the crux of a parent’s power over a child: not only to create the world the child lives in but also to dictate how that world is to be interpreted.”
For me, these two insights in combination—the rather literal shaping of the brain in response to the conditions of an individual’s childhood and the super-sized influence a mother has on a daughter’s understanding of how the world works—capture why recovery can be so elusive.
The unloved daughter’s responses, both automatic and conscious, are different in kind from those of a daughter who has an attuned and loving mother. The unloved daughter grows up not trusting her own experience of events and interactions; she may be confused by the very nature of emotional interactions and her neediness—caused by the shattering injury to which Lewis and his co-authors refer—may make it impossible for her to navigate boundaries in relationships. Often, when she challenges her mother, she will be told that she’s wrong, or too sensitive, or, even more destructively, that what she’s talking about didn’t happen. These events create an internal wellspring of doubt which often yields to an incorrect but seemingly inevitable conclusion: “My mother doesn’t love me because I am unlovable. It’s my fault.”
The lack of love and approval leaves a daughter desperate for both. It’s not surprising that the quest to fill that metaphorical hole in the heart—an expression I have heard many times over and have used myself—can include both destructive and constructive behaviors. Alas, the journey to recovery may be even more complicated for the daughter who seeks comfort in behaviors that ultimately are dangerous blind alleys.
I’ll detail the blind alleys first and then proceed to what I’ll call the clear paths.
1. Unhealthy relationship to food
In most households, it’s the mother who’s in charge of food—both its preparation and serving—which, when a mother is unloving or manipulative, makes eating a potential locus for control. In her groundbreaking book, The Hungry Self. Kim Chernin detailed and explored the primal connections between food and female identity, as well as mothering and emotional hunger. These connections are both subtle and obvious. In response, a daughter may seize on eating or not eating as something she can control, as a way of countermanding her mother’s vision of the world or her place in it. Some daughters will develop clinically disordered eating while others will simply carry their complicated relationships with food and its connection to self-image into adulthood. In her book. When Food is Love, Geneen Roth (the daughter of a physically abusive mother and an emotionally distant father) explains that disordered eating may be an act of self-protection, a way of armoring the self against pain.
Paradoxically, many emotionally abused or neglected daughters often comment that they wish the maltreatment had been physical because, as one woman put it,” Then, at least, the scars would show and I wouldn’t have to prove their existence to anyone.” It’s been hypothesized that self-harm or cutting is intimately connected to lack of love, another effort both to fill the emptiness and to feel pain which you are able to control. In their book Bodily Harm, Karen Conterio and Wendy Lader write, “ self-injury represents a frantic attempt by someone with low coping skills to ‘mother herself.’ …Bodily care has been transformed into bodily harm: the razor blade becomes the wounding caregiver, a cold but available substitute for the embrace, kiss, or loving touch she truly desires.” Following up on previous lines of research, Jean-François Bureau and his co-authors looked at specific dimensions of parenting and their relationship to NSSI (non-suicidal self-injury) in young adults. What they found was that among those engaging in self-injury, their descriptions of childhood included portraits of parents who failed to protect them and abdicated their roles as parents, of parents from whom they felt alienated, as well as those who were over-controlling. These parents were generally seen as less caring, untrustworthy, and more difficult to communicate with. Generally, research has confirmed the link between self-harm and emotionally distant or abusive parenting and insecure attachment.
3. Compulsive behaviors
4. Hurtful relationships
Research shows that all of us are more likely to choose partners who are more like our parents than not—which is fine if you were raised by loving and attuned parents and not so wonderful if you were not. These relationships are comfort zones—which offer no real emotional comfort but which feel comfortable because we feel the way we did when we were children, living in our mother’s house. They offer no real solace, and, for many unloved daughters, finding ourselves in a relationship like this may prove to be the turning point that propels us to seek help in the form of therapy.
But these blind alleys aren’t the only ways daughters seek to fill the hole in their hearts; many—even those who have been stuck in a blind alley— find the healing they seek and need.
1. Earning secure attachment
Even if your upbringing didn’t offer you secure attachment, you can earn secure attachment in adulthood. Self-understanding is the basis for new interactions and healthy and healing connections to others as various as teachers, mentors, therapists, friends, or lovers. As one woman confided, “My first steps towards healing took place in the company of an older woman, my neighbor, who was kind and understanding. She was the first person in whom I confided my story and by telling her, I broke the silence my mother had imposed me. I heard my voice for the very first time in my conversations with her.”
Being able to make sense of your experience—making it into a coherent and understandable narrative—is the key to earned secure attachment, as posited by Mary Main one of the proponents of attachment theory. In an important study, Glenn I. Roisman and his co-authors looked at individuals with earned secure attachment in an effort to determine whether or not they were, however, more at risk for depressive symptoms. What they found was that not only were those with earned status (by making coherent sense of their past) involved in romantic relationships of a quality comparable to those with happy childhoods, parented as effectively as those raised in secure environments, but also were at no greater risk for internalizing distress than other secure groups.
2. Re-defining family
For many unloved daughters, creating a “family” on her own terms is part of the journey toward healing; sometimes, it will include distancing herself from her family of origin but not always. More than anything, this is an important act of reinvention, which can take the form of a close-knit circle of friends or getting married and having a child or children herself. In my early twenties, when I was estranged from my mother and single, I made Thanksgiving dinner every year for friends who had nowhere to go or whose families lived far away. Those dinners were one of the first steps I took to claiming earned secure attachment for myself. As one daughter commented: “In adulthood, I have surrounded myself with people I feel safe with. That wasn’t true of my childhood but it is now and it has made a world of difference. This doesn’t mean that everyone always loves everything I do or say, or that no one ever gets critical or ticked off at me. But I always know I am cared for, no matter what.”
3. Mothering the self
Learning how to self-soothe in healthy ways and replace the critical or dismissive maternal voice internalized in your head—the one that tells you that nothing you do is good enough or that you are “less than” a daughter should be—with a message of self-love and an admonition for patience are also important steps toward healing. A therapist can be of enormous help at this juncture.
Giving voice to what actually happened in your childhood is part of self-mothering because it gets you out from under the code of denial imposed on you and allows you to develop an inner voice that is truthful, strong, and reliable. Permitting yourself to acknowledge your pain, frustration, and anger with your mother and her treatment of you is a necessary part of the process—both in terms of stilling the critical or dismissive maternal voice and growing your own inner voice. Grieving may be part of the process as well as mourning the loss of what you needed and never had.
Learning to be kind to yourself, as well as patient—as your mother wasn’t—is also part of self-mothering. All of this takes time—there’s no magic wand to replace the acceptance and love you lacked with a sense of self-acceptance—but it can be accomplished. Talk to yourself as you wish you’d been spoken to by your own mother, and cut yourself slack as necessary. Acknowledge the process, applaud the steps forward, and accept the steps backwards. The hole doesn’t vanish but it gets smaller and smaller, and has a different context.
Copyright© Peg Streep 2014
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READ Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt
Lewis, Thomas, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon. A General Theory of Love. New York: Vintage Books, 2001.
Tannen, Deborah. You’re Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation. New York: Ballantine Books, 2006.
Chernin, Kim. The Hungry Self. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
Bassoff, Evelyn. Mothering Ourselves: Help and Healing for Adult Daughters, New York; Plume Books, 1992.
Roth, Geneen. When Food is Love: The Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy. New York: Plume Books, 1992.
Conterio, Karen and Wendy Lader. Bodily Harm. New York: Hyperion Books, 1998.
Bureau, Lean-François, Jodi Martin, Nathalie Freynet, Alexane Alie Porier, Marie-France Lafontaine, and Paula Cloutier, “Perceived Dimensions of Parenting and Non-suicidal Self-inury in Young Adults, Journal of Youth and Adolescence (2010), 39, 484-494.
Edelman, Hope. Motherless Daughters. New York: Delta Books, 1994.
Roisman, Glenn I, Elena Padron, L. Alan Sroufe, and Byron Egeland, “Earned-Secure Attachment Status in Retrospect and Prospect,” Child Development (2002), vol. 73, no. 4, 1204-1219.
Labels: abusive woman, ACONs, adult children of narcissists, betrayal bonds, boundaries, c-ptsd, childhood abuse, donm, female abuser, female psychopathy, grief, narcissism, narcissistic mother, negative, trauma