What if almost everything that an abuser ever said to was just one big, fat lie after another? How might that affect the view of yourself that you currently hold?
By the time an emotionally abusive relationship ends you know that it was all just a big con. The partner who swore to love you – and you loved dearly in return – was not who they said they were, at all. Naturally, that leaves you with a deep sadness.
So, what do you do with that sadness?
You do what you have learned to do with all your painful emotions, you turn it back in on yourself. You get angry with yourself and hate yourself for making such a big mistake.
How could you let yourself be conned like that?
How you “let yourself” be conned
The short answer is that conmen and women are very good at what they do. You probably had a few, small gut reactions to some of their lies and abuse. But, overall, the conviction with which they spoke convinced you – exactly as it was intended to do.
When people feed you the story that you most want to hear – and you know that you would never lie in similar circumstances – you do this thing called defaulting to truth: you assume that they must be telling the truth… because you would be.
The pattern of defaulting to truth can make you the abuser’s ideal mark.
But that is only the half of it.
In fact, this “How could I…?” question conceals an even bigger and more important question,
How could you still keep being conned by the same person who made your life hell?
Now, I am not talking here, about how you could give the abuser second, third and gazillionth chances on the strength of a faux, partial or time-limited apology.
In reality, that is merely another aspect of the BIG problem, how you could keep the con running, even after the conman or woman has ceased to be active in your life.
The biggest lies that abusers tell
You see, the conman or woman didn’t just lie to you about how they felt about you and the future you could have together. They also lied to you about who you were.
You learn an awful lot about everything that is wrong with you from an abusive loved one.
Chances are, an abusive loved one – as ever, we are likely talking about the Usual Suspects, parent, carer or sibling – taught you in childhood that there was plenty not to love about you.
When an abusive partner comes along, first off they offer you the hope of emotional redemption by feeding you a line about how wonderful you are.
Sadly, this is only ever a line – not because you are not those nice things that they briefly say you are – but because they don’t believe them. They just don’t see the world that way.
They weren’t looking for someone to celebrate. They were enlisting you with nice words – that are at odds with the way they see the world – so that they could have someone to criticize and destroy.
That is why they never saw much good in you.
Abusers are professional fault-finders as well as liars.
The important thing here is how that impacted you.
The problem with your Default to Truth pattern
This is where you pattern of defaulting to truth really led you down the garden path.
Once again, you couldn’t help but ask yourself, “How could they possibly say that about me, if it wasn’t true?”
You would never do that – and didn’t do that to them. Even when you had more than ample cause.
Having done your default to truth pattern, you accepted and internalized all the awful things that they said about you and you made them your truth.
Every awful thing that you say about yourself stems from something that a toxic person said to you.
Only you can know how often they needed to say those things to you before you internalized them and used them against yourself.
But here’s the thing, their hateful comments were lies – lies that you have made your truth. You have made their lies reasons why you should be inferior and unlovable.
They lied just as much about the bad that they saw in you as the good that they saw in you.
Most of what they ever said to you was a lie. I say “most” because there would have been times when they told the truth, times they talked honestly about inconsequential things, or else revealed to you just how cynical and emotionally bankrupt they were.
When that happened, you likely defaulted to your truth and didn’t believe them.
Two things to keep in mind
So, you need to take two important considerations from this article.
1) That you have a problematic habit of defaulting to your truth that you need to get to grips with. Nice as it is to believe in a rosy world where people don’t have toxic agendas, you cannot afford to fall into that pattern again. You have to look for serious proof that a person’s behaviour matches their words.
2) You are still being conned by the toxic lies they fed you. Those lies are costing you your self-worth, peace of mind and ability to create the happy, meaningful life that you want for yourself.
How do you get over that damaging way of seeing yourself?
The first thing is to become aware of it and acknowledge it to yourself for what it is.
The second thing is to learn how to protect yourself against it – and future assaults on your sense of self. That is where having strong boundaries comes in. Having strong boundaries enables you to see what is and is not your “stuff”.
You have been conned – and, not inconceivably, are still being conned by someone who sees only the worst in others. You need to put in place strong defences against that kind of damage.
Work on my Boundaries Bundle is steaming ahead. It is nearly ready for me to share with you. But for the next few days, my focus is still on making sure that you have all the parts of the puzzle, so that you can become a Boundaries Warrior.
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.