“Is his behaviour my fault?

by Annie Kaszina on May 21, 2013

“Dear Annie,

How do I know for sure if my emotionally abusive partner is not just behaving like a typical man who gets defensive and shuts down when he hurts me because he wants to be  my hero but feels disappointed that he failed so he lashes out? I get newsletters that say: “Is your man being mean, withdrawn, defensive, and not treating you like a queen? Learn the secret way to talk to a man that changes him into your Prince Charming forever and makes him want to connect to you and only you!”  

It’s this sort of newsletter  that keeps a part of me agreeing with my emotionally abusive ex that it truly WAS all my fault and I “should have just known what to do differently without him telling me!”

This thought haunts me and makes it hard for me to let go.  

What is the fool-proof test to know FOR SURE if he has mental issues/personality disorders? And is it always both people’s fault when a narcissist is raging at you?”  J

First off, I’d like to say how grateful I am, J, not to have bumped into that kind of newsletter when I was trying to screw up my courage to leave my emotionally abusive husband. I was already terrified witless of leaving the “safety” of my emotionally abusive marriage for The Great Unknown. Had someone held out t the hope that if I just learned the right words I could turn things around, I would have stayed longer, tried harder, and…

failed even more miserably.

Why so?

Because we’re talking wishful thinking, here.

But this wishful thinking is common enough that it bears looking at.

Let’s start at the very beginning: by the time you reach the point of wondering whether to live or give it yet another shot, you are NOT in a good place, mentally and emotionally, right? You are emotionally starved of love and approval by your supposed Nearest and Dearest. He’s put in a lot of time and energy messing with your head, diagnosing your – alleged – mental and emotional problems, and brainwashing you to believe in your – perceived – limitations.

The net result is that you’ve forgotten who you are, so much so that you believe you probably are the construct – or more correctly, destruct – he says you are.

So, there you are, feeling at the end of your rope, and you’re meant to be a paragon of strength, restraint, wisdom, and love. You’ll say the magic words – okay, maybe you’ll have to say them a few times – and Mr Nasty will morph into Mr Love’s-Slightly-Tarnished-Dream. In front of your very eyes.

But it could work, couldn’t it, Annie?”

“Of course, it could. In Lala Land, where pigs fly, nasty people queue up for a Personality Transplant, and true magic wands are given away free, in every packet of breakfast cereal. (Even the ones that are just all bran/fibre!!!)

What makes you SO negative, Annie?”

“Experience. Personal, and professional. Common things occur most commonly. Miracles do happen – and pigs don’t fly. Besides, just supposing they did, why should your pig take to the sky before anyone else’s/everyone else’s?

“Let’s come back down to earth:

  • You’ve spent years trying everything you know to get through to that man
  • He shows remarkably little aptitude for treating you like a princess, a partner, or even a fellow human being
  • he has an impressive  – proven – capacity for nastiness.

If there really was a Nice Man inside Mr Nasty just struggling to get out, your ex/partner would behave very differently.

Just suppose for a moment that you were half as provoking, and insensitive, and heartless, and cold, as he says. I don’t believe for one moment that you are, but you’ll probably be wondering. So, we might as well address the worst case fantasy.

If you were that awful, Mr Secretly-Nice would, still, behave better than resorting to temper tantrums, and blaming and shaming. He’d know that nice people do NOT – routinely and repeatedly – behave badly. He’d take responsibility for his own behavior, and he’d refuse to get bogged down in all the horrible, pointless blood-letting.

Nice people just don’t indulge in a war of attrition with their partner. They just don’t.

Nice people don’t expect you to take responsibility for their feelings. Nor should you take responsibility for their feelings. It’s enough for you to take responsibility for your own feelings.

As for the Narcissist label… If he chooses to feel that having a label absolves him of personal responsibility, that’s entirely up to him.

You’re very much more than a label. He may not be.

But why would you want to commit to the thankless task of ‘carrying’ Mr Nasty Narcissist for the rest of your life???

One final point: if you are getting hypnotized by a label or two – whether that is his label or your own – you might like to read: “Cracked: Why Psychiatry Is Doing More Harm Than Good” by James Davies. You might be amazed to discover how many mental illness labels have been invented in recent decades, and how they were invented.

Sure, some people who bask in the Narcissist label are seriously other than most people. But most emotionally abusive men are simply callous, manipulative, nasty clones. End of.

Label, or no label, why would you want to give a Nasty not just the power but permission, also,  to make you miserable, forever after?

 

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