“What are you trying to change?”

27 Nov 2012

We need to look at what you’re trying to change so you can feel happy and good about yourself.

Working with emotionally abused women, I can never fail to notice how they always focus their attention, and energies, on their partner.  If only a woman can heal, or change, her emotionally abusive partner, then she will have the relationship she desires and she, too, will be healed… allegedly.   

The difference between healing and changing an emotionally abusive partner is, essentially, this: ‘changing’ a partner is all about controlling him – albeit for the better.  ‘Healing him’ takes you even further along the path of martyrdom. It requires more self-sacrifice and limitless commitment than healing yourself would ever take.  And is also a hopeless, thankless task.   

In theory, you only have to wave your magic wand, as per the image, and your frog will turn into a Prince.  In practice, you’ll end up with RSI, and the transformation just won’t happen.

Trying to change a emotionally abusive husband for the better, into the man he “should” be, means the abused woman is trying to live her life from the outside in

, investing her partner’s life with greater worth than she does her own.  Her argument might be: “I have to invest all my energies in him, because, until he changes, I can never be happy.” 

She’s right, of course, she won’t be happy, for as long as she makes him – and the emotionally abusive relationship – the centre of her world. 

You see, an abusive partner is not interested in your happiness.  Actually, he isn’t  interested in his own happiness –or he wouldn’t choose to live in such a difficult, demanding, negative world.   What rocks his world is being the Drama Queen in your life.  So, he will throw as many temper tantrums as he feels he needs to throw, to make sure he remains the focus of your attention. 

Just today I was talking about this with a client who is also a mother, and an excellent mother at that.  She did not allow her children to ‘get away with’ temper tantrums.  She knew it would not help them to grow up with socially acceptable behaviours.  Yet, this same woman accepted temper tantrums from her husband.   

I told her that she was infantilizing her husband.   

She didn’t get it at first.  As she saw it, she was doing everything she possibly could to love, support and grow this difficult husband of hers.  She was draining every last drop of strength from her own veins to build him up. 

Count Dracula wasn’t objecting. 

Women who put their own life ‘on the back burner’ and dedicate themselves to healing their emotionally abusive man, actually save him the bother of doing it for himself.   

You can never change what is outside yourself, only what is inside yourself. 

 When you start to focus on yourself, you have the power to change your feelings, beliefs and attitudes, at any time.  When you do, it will, inevitably, have an influence on the people around you. That doesn’t mean the frogs you know will turn into princes.

That’s just you setting the bar too low.

When you focus on yourself, you live from the inside out, you have the power to transform your life, and to become someone you respect, admire, and truly like, someone you can feel proud to be.  When you respect, admire, and truly like yourself, do you think that you will attract into your life people who will respect, admire, and truly like you, also?

What would you rather do: spend your life waiting for your abusive partner to finally reach the top of the personality transplant list?  There are no guarantees he ever will, of course? 

Or would you like to take pride in your achievement of bouncing back from an emotionally abusive relationship to shaping a life rich in happiness, laughter, freedom and success?


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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