What are you telling them?

16 Jun 2015


The woman I was talking with was strong, vocal, out there. She was, she said, a BIG personality, absolutely NOT a push-over for an emotionally abusive partner.  Rather, she was someone ‘who intimidated the crap out of men’.  That was a problem for her.  It wasn’t so much that men ran for the hills when she opened her mouth to speak. It was more like they responded by telling her to shut the f**k up, so they could hold forth…

By now, my exquisitely calibrated antennae were jangling.

There was no doubt in my mind that this woman is a strong, powerful  woman… But something wasn’t right. The responses she was getting were clearly abusive.  Which could only mean that somehow she was attracting the attention of emotionally abusive men.

I kept listening.

She’d been married twice.  She’d married both husbands because they were great providers. (Where was the strong, powerful woman when she made this decision?)

The marriages hadn’t worked out: it turned out they both had unacceptable addictions – and emotionally abusive behaviors.

Now, in mid-life she was still looking for her knight in shining armour.

Since she’s a woman who shoots from the hip, I did, too.

disneyliedsmall“Tell me about the Cinderella program,” I said. “That’s quite a Cinderella program you’re running there.”

There was a bit of coughing and spluttering.

“The Cinderella program?  I didn’t think I was running a Cinderella program.”

“But you were.”

“Well, now you come to mention it, I guess I must have been. But I’m a strong woman. And I’ve heard from so many, many men that I just scare them witless.  I talk too much. I don’t give them the time and space to talk. I’m too big a personality for any man. They tell me that.”

Are you recognising a familiar refrain, at all, here?

What these men are saying is just one short remove from: “Nobody’s ever going to want you“: Hymn #5 in the Emotionally Abusive Partner’s hymn sheet.

Only the guys in question didn’t even have to have a relationship with her before they started dropping the poison in her ear.

Hurt and diminished as she was, by what these men had said, she pursued the topic of being too strong for any man – every man – she had ever met.  She just wanted a man who would take care of her, for once, and make everything alright.  She’d fought so many battles, and slain so many dragons single-handed…

I heard the wistful little girl in her voice. I felt the power of the Disney beliefs incredibly strongly:  she’d served her time skivvying , she’d cooked and cleaned for the creeps, jerks, and emotional abusers, she’d cleaned the stables for them, she’d polished their boots… Wasn’t it time for her Pince to appear?

As you know, Cinderella-ing doesn’t have a shelf-life. You don’t automatically do X amount of years, and then graduate to Princess status. Cinderella-ing can be a lifetime vocation. The problem with it is that, however many years down the line, you end up pretty much back where you started –  just with badly chapped hands, and housemaid’s knee to show for it.

“You know, I truly believe that you are that strong woman, Marilyn,” I said to her.  “I don’t doubt it for a moment. But there’s something very curious going on here, and here’s what it is.  There are two of you right now; strong Marilyn who absolutely is a powerful, trail-blazing woman, and poor, helpless Cinderella-Marilyn, who’s looking for her Prince so she can finally have the magical done-for-you Life she’s wanted since the time she was knee-high to a grasshopper. And here’s the killer:

“This is absolutely counter-intuitive, but absolutely true: the weak Marilyn – that’s Cinderella-Marilyn is actually the one that has all the power over you! She’s running the shoe. She’s a sweet, sweet little girl, but she really shouldn’t be running anything more important than a teddy bears’ picnic. Because she’s just not emotionally equipped to do so.”

Long, long silence.

Then Marilyn said: “You know, you’re right. I never realized…”

“About those men,” I went on –  guns still blazing – “do you want to know why they keep trying to silence you like that?”

(To her credit, she did.)

“It’s because something really weird is going on. See, when you’re talking to them, you’re not talking to them as the strong, kick-ass Marilyn. The person showing up to the dialogue is Cinderella, and what she’s saying is that she can be this really strong, powerful. charismatic person if they’d just like to give her the okay…”

Why would they?

I’m asking YOU that.

Because this whole – true – story has been for you, and about you, as much as Marilyn.

Why would emotionally abusive men who have been attracted to a Cinderella kind of gal encourage her to release the Wonder Woman within?

What on earth would be in it for them?

Nada, zilsch, N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Right?

In my world, no blame ever attaches to anyone who has ended up with an emotionally abusive partner, or other creep, jerk, or form of pond life.

Still, we need to understand that the messages we send out go a long way to determining the response we get.  When you are broadcasting on Cinderella frequency – whether you know it, or not – you WILL attract the emotional abuser who’s hired a Knight in Shining Armor suit for a few days.

And your inner Cinderella can be a very stubborn little girlie, wanting what she wants…

You really don’t need to let your inner Cinderella run the show any more.  In fact, you can’t afford for her to be broadcasting to the world anymore.

The empowered you is just the reverse side of that coin. I really want to help you, too, to get there, so you can stop opening yourself up to emotionally abusive partners and, instead, be honored and acknowledged for the strong woman you truly are.


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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