Do Emotionally Abused Women ‘Lack Bandwidth?’

by Annie Kaszina on May 13, 2014

Is it possible you lack bandwidth?

 

Maybe you’ve never thought about yourself in terms of bandwidth before.  Or maybe, as an emotionally abused woman, you’ve got too much going on to worry about anything as rarefied as bandwidth.

Actually, that’s just my point.

When you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, it feels as if you have more demands on your resources than you can ever deal with.

Why?

Because – as you already know – emotional abusers are notoriously bad at support.  Rather than helping you to shoulder the load when you are in difficulties, an emotionally abusive partner will add to that load.  No matter what else is going on in your life, he’ll still make everything about him.  To give you an illustration: many years ago when my father was diagnosed, out of the blue, with terminal leukemia, my very own emotionally abusive husband announced: “I’ve told your brother he’ll have to support you, because I can’t.”

(For the life of me, I can’t remember what reason he gave for not being able to support me – if, indeed, he gave a reason.  I am fairly confident, however, that it wasn’t ingrowing toenails, an overweening ego, or a bad case of haemorrhoids.)

Emotionally abusers make it all about them.  It really doesn’t matter what might be going on in your life, everything is always about them.  What’s more, they’ll launch a full-blown drama, at the drop of a hat, to make sure your focus is where it’s meant to be: on them.

Is there anyone else, in the whole world?

In most circumstances, the truthfulness of an emotionally abusive partners should be taken with half a ton of salt.  In this case, you’d better believe them.  They truly do NOT believe that anyone else in the whole world matters anywhere near as much as they do.

In their world that is the indisputable truth.

No wonder you can feel crowded out of your own head, around them.

When I start working with a new client, what – or who – do you suppose they mostly talk about?

You’ve got it: him.

If only he wasn’t driving them so crazy, then they’d be able to think straight.  And if they could just think straight, then they’d be able to sort out their lives, right? 

That’s the anthem of emotionally abused women everywhere.   And you know something?

It’s NOT going to happen.

Keeping you going round the Crazy Loop works beautifully for him.  For lots of reasons.

But there’s also the fact that you, the emotionally abused woman, have been so well drilled in the belief that you are worthless that you’re frightened to look at yourself.

You’re so sure that what you’d find would be even worse than he says it is that you don’t dare to look.

That begs a question, of course.

And here it is:

“If you were so out and out, irredeemably A-W-F-U-L in the first place, why would he have bothered?

It’s all about him, remember.  As he sees it, the role you serve – in the public domain – is to massage his ego, and further his interests.

So, there’s something of a chasm between what he says to and about you, and how he views you as serving his needs.

This one is a little bit subtle, so let me spell it out: he doesn’t value you a person – he’s not someone who values people.   However, he is aware that you represent some kind of value to and for him.

In other words, he’s a Humongously Self-serving Snit (that’s the technical term, BTW) but he knows value when he sees it.  And you represent good value.

A client of mine is in business with her husband.  He treats her like a pair of hands, although it’s her people skills and abilities that drive the business forward.

Does he know this?

Of course, he does.  He’s not stupid.  And he’s wedded to his finances.

Did she know it?  

She hadn’t the first idea, until I pointed it out to her.  And then there were loads of gulps and “Ah buts” and double-takes before she could allow herself to believe it.

Once that penny dropped, things changed a LOT.  Inside a month.  She became much more assertive and, lo and behold, he started to pay attention.

Why had she never realized before?

Lack of bandwidth, of course.

Think about it: she’s married to him, and she works for him.  He’s breathing down her neck 24/7.  That left her no time to think about anything except him.

Stress always works to narrow the bandwidth.  The more stress you have the narrower the bandwidth gets.  Which means you get forgetful, frightened, despondent, and disempowered.

Don’t wait for the stresses to reduce before you make changes.  That just doesn’t work.  Stresses are anything but self-limiting.  When you’ve been through enough stress – and who hasn’t in an emotionally abusive relationship? – anything can become a major stress.

What you must do is learn to shift your awareness and perspective.  When you stop seeing things through the lens of your stress, things change so that, like my client, you get a handle on your own life, surprisingly quickly.

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