Stifled and crippled

20 Jul 2011

My client was struggling with what she needed to do.  She had not one man but two in hot pursuit.  One was her ex-partner who – in the way of abusive men – had discovered he ‘truly loved her’ now she wasn’t returning his texts or phone calls any more.  The other was her self-appointed next partner. 

Ironically, both were telling her the same kind of things: she’s beautiful (which she is), they see a future with her, they want to buy her this, and take her there, and above all they want her to spend the rest of her life with them… more or less exclusively with them. 

The coincidence of having two men singing from much the same hymn sheet at the same time was unnerving but, still, she didn’t know how to handle the situation.  

Like all emotionally abused women she didn’t want to hurt them.  It was okay for them to smother her with their unwelcome attentions.  But she didn’t have the right to hurt them. 

We talked about whether she would truly hurt them, or whether she would ruly irritate them. 

Let me ask you to be the judge of this: when demanding people don’t get their own way, are they usually hurt, or annoyed. 

“Ah but…” you might say, “if these two men truly love her then she could hurt them.” 

“Yes, but…” I’d reply.  “Life is not like the movies.  Realizing you are in love with someone does not happen like a bolt out of the blue.  You don’t bully, smother, maltreat,  ignore,  shout someone down, or treat them like your rescue puppy, and then, one day, wake up to their good points and fall in love.  If you are a nice person with a loving heart, you will have behaved in a nice, caring way throughout the relationship.  So, I don’t buy that, at all.” 

These men are control freaks. 

Control freaks make bad partners.  Their disregard for your feelings must translate into emotional abuse.  It really is that simple. 

A very simple equation follows on from that: if they don’t care about your feelings then it’s their pride that will be hurt when you dump them. 

Hurt pride could be a very good learning curve for a controlling man.  Just because he won’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not good for him. 

My client could see all of that, but still she couldn’t see her way to saying: “Thanks, but no thanks.” 

Why not? 

She was, she said, terrible at making decisions. 

It goes with the territory of being an emotionally abused woman. You‘ve been taught not to trust your own decisions.  You’ve been taught to believe there is no rightful place for you in the adult world.   That is part of your 7 Wounds programming. 

When my client thought about the enormity of that training, she said: “I’ve been stifled and crippled my whole life.” 

Of course, it was a sad, shocking revelation – and one I’ve certainly had to deal with in my own life. 

Next she went into the pattern that ALL abused women go into: envisioning future hopelessness.  She didn’t see how the future could be different. 

I did exactly that in my time; and I do see how her future – and yours – can be different. 

In another life, I was a teacher.  One child I taught was the daughter of Irish immigrants who came to the UK, from grinding poverty in the early 60s I think.  Miriam’s father had grown up in an orphanage because his family were too poor to feed him.  Her mother had fared slightly better.  Father worked on a building site.  Mother worked in a shop.  Miriam won a scholarship to a good school, and took off.  She was as bright a kid as I’d ever met. 

Not that she was the only one. 

There were a few in the school like Miriam; children whose families had been oppressed by circumstances and poverty for generations.  And then when they got the opportunity, they suddenly took off.  They became high achievers.  

The image that comes to mind is a pressure cooker.  Opportunity, when it came, was like releasing the steam, and opening the lid on something amazing. 

But that wasn’t just the case with Miriam, and other kids I taught.  I believe that’s what happens with abused women also.  And it’s what happened with me.  I honestly believed I was totally washed up, and my life was over – I couldn’t have been more wrong.  

In different ways, I see the same thing with my clients.  To a woman, they start from the assumption that their life is over, their rightful place is on the enormous scrap -heap of abused women.  Some choose a more specific scrap-heap like the Scrap-Heap of women over 40, or 50, or The Scrap-Heap of Women Who Have Had Children, or The Scrap-Heap of WomenWhose Partner Treated Them Badly…  There are many, many scrap-heaps to choose from, and more being created all the time, by women not a thousand miles from where you live. 

But here’s the thing: that’s their starting point.  When they start to see themselves through my eyes, that is through the eyes of someone who sees what they cannot see, and has the expertise to tease all that talent and inner beauty out of them,  they stop thinking Scrap-heap, and start exploring their inner gifts and talents. 

We release the steam – and that alone makes life much, much more comfortable for them.  Then we lift the lid on the pressure cooker, and we can start to look at the beauty that lies within. 

What happens to the stiffled, crippled feelings? 

They vanish in the hiss of steam being released.  

You, like the kids I taught, have so many gifts just waiting to be released.  Even if you think you don’t, you do.  After all those years of being locked down, and repressed, how could your gifts not emerge, once the lid is lifted on your life? 

As Steve Pavlina says:

“Timidity is the mind-set that says you’re too weak, too small, and too unimportant to be deserving of real power. ..This belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In reality, you’re so powerful that you’re actually turning your own strength against yourself, temporarily rendering yourself weak.  You’re like a god who declares, “Let me be powerless.” And that’s exactly what happens.” 

Instead of “Let me be powerless”, what would you rather say to yourself?  And when will you start saying it?


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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