You don’t have to be with a narcissistic, emotional abuser for long before your sense of common decency is outraged. The longer you are with them, the more frequent the outrage – and the more your heart breaks. You find yourself asking two questions over and over again, “How can they even behave like that?” and its even more insidious sister question “How can they behave like that to me? As discussed in a previous blog post, neither question is helpful. In this post, we need to shift our focus to the one question that you really need to ask yourself about an abuser.
Abusers specialise in hurting you
Abusers specialize in hurting you. They do this because they love the power they feel when hurting you. They revel in the control it gives them over you Plus, they get a lot of entertainment out of watching you squirm.
When we start to inform ourselves about emotional abuse, discovering how an abuser uses power and control is usually an early paradigm shift. We take it on board – and yet we do not really take it on board. Despite knowing how much an abuser loves to exert power and control, we still don’t really grasp how fundamental that is to them.
Abusers excel at identifying your blind spots and using them against you. They know that the workings of their mind are so foreign to you that you struggle to see what is in front of your eyes, Or, at least, you struggle until the truth has bitten you on the butt so many times that you can no longer sit down. Then you are constrained to stand up and confront the reality that you would rather ignore.
Abusers are not like you. They are cast from a very different material.
You already know that. But you don’t believe that.
Do not disregard what you know about power and control
Unfortunately, every time you trust your belief and your faith in human nature over your knowledge about power and control, it costs you dear in terms of hurt, humiliation and heartbreak.
Abusers are a different kind of human being – the kind who know about values, love and decency but regard them as obligatory only for lesser mortals. They, on the other hand, are on this earth on some kind of perverse mission of their own choosing which justifies them destroying anybody they please. They particularly enjoy destroying the people who love them.
Still, that is an enormity to take on board.
We all have our pockets of denial. My own relates to Evil. I choose to reserve the term “evil” for genocidal monsters. Everyday monsters, like abusers, I simply label toxic. There is only so much evil I want to see in my world. I see my ex as a functional horror. In reality he has done good in his life as well as bad. The good was in his professional – and social – life. The very bad was, needless to say, in the context of his “nearest and dearest”. I acknowledge that he is a hugely destructive human being to be around but I balk at the term “evil”.
Identify any blocks in your thinking
We all have a block of a similar kind somewhere in our thinking. The problem is when you either unaware – or insufficiently aware – of the beliefs and values that lead you to paint an abuser in far brighter colors than he merits.
The biggest issue that a block in your thinking presents is how best to deal with it.
You could be tempted to interpret the fact of having a block as a proof of inadequacy, feel cut to the quick and respond from the position of Received Wisdom.
(Received Wisdom, I have to say, strikes me as a total pain in the butt. The Imparters of Received Wisdom revel in their own importance as they foist on you some stale little nugget they would be loth to swallow.)
In this case, the knee-jerk response of Received Wisdom would be, “Well, I just have to get rid of that block in my thinking.”
Absolutely true. But the trouble with blocks is that you don’t see your own. That can make it a tad difficult to get rid of them.
So, here’s what what to do instead.
Start from where you are
1) Do what works We may not always like to start from where we are -rather than where we might wish we were – but it works a whole lot better. Assume that if you have put up with an abuser for as long as you have, you probably have a block or two in your thinking, somewhere.
2) Acknowledge the facts. You need to acknowledge that much as you might prefer not to have a block in your thinking, S**T happens.
3) Tell yourself that the is not your fault. It isn’t. You didn’t go out of your way to create that block in the first place because you thought it would be fun or interesting, or for any other possible reason. You had that block because someone taught you to think that way.
4) Have a constructive dialogue with yourself. Tell yourself that when the time is right and you don’t feel stretched to the limit, you will sit down and work on that block. Unfortunately, for now that block will have to sit on the back burner. However, you won’t be turning the heat on under it.
5) Reassure yourself Just in case your nervous system is going into overdrive, reassure it that you have a simple way of outwitting that block.
6) Focus on one simple question. Ask yourself the one simple question you need to ask to get beyond that block. “What do they want to achieve by what they are saying to me?”
This simple question eliminates what you think they should feel, to focus on the advantage that they are looking for in any conversation with you. You have known them long enough to know that every conversation they have – as well as every angry outburst and sulk they indulge in – are all geared to servw their purpose of power and control.
Remember, even when they don’t want you in their life anymore they still want to make you feel bad.
That is the one way in which an abuser shows any constancy.
So, make life as easy as it can be around an abuser by always asking yourself, before you respond to any communication from them, “What do they want to achieve by what they are saying to me?” Once you understand that, it becomes a lot easier to focus on your own agenda of keeping yourself safe and separate from them. That is, after all, what you want to gain by not getting manoeuvred into being the fall girl in their toxic game.
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.