“How do I Heal Before I Alienate Everyone I know?”

23 Jan 2017

How do I heal…?

“How do I heal before I alienate all my friends and family?”  writes Sophie.

How long do you suppose Sophie has been in her emotionally abusive relationship? 6 months? A couple of years?  Longer?

Sophie is aware that she could – as well as should – act now to change things, while she still has the energy.

Chances are, the relationship is fairly new, since she can still see that her life is slipping out of her control .

Plus, Sophie  senses – doubtless, rightly – that her friends and family are beginning to tire of being involved  in the whole sorry mess.  She appeals to them for a reality check.  She enlists their sympathy and indignation on her behalf. Then she disregards their advice.

You can see how some people might start to feel screwed over, under the circumstances.

The man with the Prince Charming Mask

Doubtless, you can also see Sophie’s predicament. She met the man with the Prince Charming mask. Maybe she had encountered said man before – although not in a romantic context. So he didn’t bother to put on his (standard issue) Prince Charming mask. Not for her benefit, anyway.  However, once he had her in his sights, on went the mask.

That Charming mask led Sophie to revise her judgement, telling herself,

“Hey, the Man in the Mask has a lot going for him, really.” (The “R” word always implies that red flags are fluttering away furiously – unheeded.  When Mask Man holds out so much promise, it’s all too easy to overlook minor details like a red flag. Or ten.)

It’s not long before an emotionally abusive partner starts to isolate you.

It’s never long before an emotionally abusive partner starts to isolate his “mark”. There may be the odd snide remark about her friends, or family. There may be comments about her work, and/or co-workers.

But A Woman In Love doesn’t really hear it, does she?

She tells herself that it is because he cares so much that he looks down on the people around her.

Besides, as a Higher Form of Life, it’s not surprising that Mr Man looks down on lesser mortals.

The sniping starts early on.  As a Higher Form of Life, Mr Man feels entitled to be dismissive, hurtful and even contemptuous.

Like all victims of emotional abuse, Sophie tried her best to separate the man from the reality. She told herself that her beloved was SO superior that he couldn’t possibly be a common or garden abusive partner.

Unsurprisingly, the sniping had just gotten worse.

The more “serious” the abusive relationship, the more intense the sniping

The more serious an emotionally abusive relationship becomes, the more focused, and intense, the sniping becomes.

The relationship started to go downhill. (How was Sophie to know that it would prove to be a very, very, BIG hill?)

So, what does Mr Man’s victim do in the circumstances?

She focuses on carrying the relationship – and the Man Without The Mask – back uphill.  (By now, the Mask is nowhere to be found.  Mr Man has locked it away, in a rigorously climate controlled environment, in a safe – to which he alone has the key.

Every so often, Mr Man brings The Mask out as a temporary exhibit, the way you might a fragile work of art. But, hey, that’s okay. His devoted partner will try to work with the new reality. After all, if she can only create the perfect micro-climate – because it is all down to her, isn’t it – then that Mask could go on permanent display, couldn’t it? Mr Man could wear it full-time, instead of his habitual scowl.

In short, the Woman In Love spends so long obsessing about the expression on Mr Man’s face that she loses sight of the importance of friends and family.

How could Sophie not obsess about the expression on her man’s face? That expression would tell her exactly what she could expect. Plus, it changed faster than the Texas weather.  That’s what made trying to manage an emotionally abusive partner’s moods a full time job.

That’s why Sophie ended up merely using family and friends as a kind of defective “sounding-board”. They were defective because they did not give her the feed-back she wanted.

Trying to manage an emotionally abusive partner’s moods is a full-time job

Trying to manage an emotionally abusive partner’s moods is a full-time job – as Sophie found out, to her cost.

Of course, there is no getting paid for it. Nor is there any praise  – or even acknowledgement – to be had.

Trying to manage Mr Man’s moods simply a coping strategy.

Or, more precisely, a survival strategy.

Being in an emotionally abusive relationship means spending most of your life in survival mode.

That is hugely wearing and destructive.

So, back to Sophie’s question: how do I heal?

How do you heal?

Ideally, you turn to Mr Man (first name Scowl) and you say: “Listen, Scowl. I understand you need to give your Mask a very special micro-climate. But, you know what, that micro-climate isn’t very good for me, at all. In fact, what’s good for you and The Mask is, actually, toxic for me. So, here’s what I am going to do. I’m going to leave you to spend quality time with your Mask, while I find a non-toxic environment that works for me. Because I’ve spent ages asking myself, how do I heal? And being around you is, clearly, NOT the answer.”

Sanity starts when you stop expecting genuine understanding, or empathy, from an emotionally abusive partner. You would do a lot better asking your dog to share his bone with you.

There is no good reason to expect genuine understanding, or empathy, from an emotionally abusive partner. You may give it – because you are who you are. However you won’t get it – because he is who he is.

An abusive man is too busy spending quality time with his own demands and issues to care about your feelings.

You cannot heal until…

You cannot heal until you can start to be honest with yourself, and  also with your friends, and loved ones. That means admitting to yourself and the world that Mr Man is an abuser who had you fooled.

You lost sight of friends and family because you lost sight of you.

You became estranged from them, because you became estranged from you.

So, the answer to Sophie’s “How” question is this, the way back to friends and family, is the way back to you, too. You have to make yourself a priority in your own life.  Until you can do that, you are not going to be able to be truly present for the other people who matter in your life.

It takes a lot of energy to shore up someone as distressed as an emotionally abused woman. True friends and family will not count the cost – provided they do not feel they are wasting their words on deaf ears. They will be happy to support you emotionally. But they need to know that you are prepared to commit to yourself, rather than just committing to Mr Man.

Your healing has to be your priority.

Continuing to throw your love at Mr Man is a complete waste of your time.  He will never appreciate the gift you offer him. Using that love to heal yourself, on the other hand, will enable you to transform your life. If you have not already done so, why not leave Mr Man in his exclusive relationship with his high maintenance Mask?

A better life awaits.


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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