Let’s start with the basics. Emotional abuse is incredibly hard to recognise for what it is, let alone deal with, when you’re in it, because you can’t possibly see it for what it is. As you see it, you’re in a relationship with another human being – it’s about you and him.
In practice, something very different is going on: you are two people with two totally incompatible agendas, each trying to win out. Your agenda is all about love and closeness. His agenda is about getting his need to feel important met. The way he knows to do that is through exercising power and control – over you.
You cannot exercise power and control over another person without diminishing them, and diminishing them fairly consciously and deliberately. Diminishing you, every which way, is an inbuilt part of an emotionally abusive partner’s game-plan. That – rather any inherent weakness in you – is why you end up losing yourself to emotional abuse, in these 7 ways:
- You feel deeply unsafe. The fact is, you are unsafe around him. He will, inevitably, launch emotional assaults on you – often, when you least expect it. That’s why you end up in a state of constant hyper-vigilance – not that that awareness serves to protect you in any way. Sadly, that feeling of being unsafe remains with you long after you finally leave him. It only ends when you finally work through your fears.
- It’s always all about him. It just is. Because he is a source of such stress, and distress, he becomes your major preoccupation. His behavior is your constant preoccupation. You keep revisiting the same thoughts about him, over and over again. And you keep questioning your conclusions. You already know he’s a jerk; but you keep testing your own thought processes, anyway.
- Your self-belief is shot. Because you’re not stupid, you can see that you’re falling short, way short, of what you’re capable of doing and being. You tell yourself that says something (negative) about you. Actually, it says a lot about how relentlessly he has gone about diminishing you.
- You lack energy and motivation. Even when you can see what you want and need to do, it’s still hard to follow through. You’re easily blown off-track. That’s hardly surprising when emotional abuse has hijacked your head.
- You give yourself a hard time. Because he gives you a hard time, you give yourself a hard time. It’s as logical – and unfortunate – as that. Emotional abuse is all about getting you to accept being punished. He punishes you for anything and everything, and you do the same thing. You blame yourself for not being what an emotional abuser says you’re not. Mr Far-from-Perfect hides his many, conspicuous failings behind a smoke-screen of blame. And you fall for it.
- You give up on the future. In all my years of working with emotionally abused women, I haven’t met one who said, in all sincerity: “You know, my future without him is going to be F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!” Every last one has expressed, in some form or another, the idea that they don’t want him in their life anymore. But even without him they see a life of emotional and financial privations. What they see ahead of them is isolation, precariousness, anxiety and even regrets.
- You give up on yourself. You feel broken. So you conclude that you re broken, and broken people can’t heal – or, at least, you can’t. Actually you don’t know for a fact whether you are bruised or broken – in my experience, I’d call it severe bruising that leaves you feeling broken. But just supposing there was a breakage, how can you possibly know that YOU can’t heal? So many human beings with broken lives have healed against all odds. That belief that you are less able to bounce back, is all part of the syndrome of emotional abuse.
By getting into a relationship with an emotional abuser, you have – unwittingly – got yourself caught up in a cycle – and a syndrome. You become caught up in the cycle of emotional abuse. For as long as you do battle with the other person, you will remain caught up in that cycle. For as long as you feel lost, hopeless, and despairing, you remain caught up in the syndrome.
One thing your abusive partner never told you – because he really doesn’t want you to do it – is that you can break free of the cycle and the syndrome of emotional abuse and have a great life. George Herbert famously said: “Living well is the best revenge.” I’d go further; I’d say it’s the only revenge worth even thinking about. It’s a revenge you deserve. If you’re sick and tired of losing yourself to emotional abuse, and are ready to start your healing journey, don’t wait any longer. Get in touch now.
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.
The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse. Starting with the basics.