Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Part II: Never Get Involved in Abusive Relationships Again

"Three Messengers" (painted version)
© 2017 by Lise Winne
design dedicated to Lenora Thompson and Five Hundred Pound Peeps

This time, I'm not going to say as much on this topic because I have a great link at the end of this post.

If you read Part I on healing from abuse, you know that one of the first parts of healing has to do with not exposing yourself to your abuser any more, saying no to any more abuse.

I think many survivors feel as if they have lived in a war zone, and after it is all over, they feel as though they are thrown into a cold desert as well. It is not an easy ride, and is quite painful for most of us.

Your abuser has either become physically abusive, or he's discarded you (and discarded you without any support, and even taking away as much support as he possibly can: your mutual relationships, perhaps leaving you financially stranded as well, perhaps trying to take your kids away, or your dignity away with erroneous allegations and smear campaigns).

Abuse makes you feel alone. Everything feels depleted: there is no love (where you thought there was); there is no kindness (where you thought there was); there is no understanding (abusers mostly throw their interpretations in your face); there is no financial net (it seems they want you to become destitute or suffer in that way too). Abuse will make the huge majority of the people on the planet feel depressed (and grieving). And yet ... it is still not the end of the world!

You may feel alone because you either do not feel comfortable around people the abuser knows, or you don't totally trust them, and that is a big problem. These people will not necessarily become your support group either, or show that they care at all. It is a shock when you find that they love your abuser more. They may even invalidate your feelings, and refer to issues you have with your abuser as "your problem." Some people even laugh at you, as though they are at the movies, watching you suffer. This is shocking, but it happens. But even then, it is not the end of the world.

The awful thing is, you get used to it, the betrayal is like a domino effect. The people who really hear you are the people who are left standing by you. That is, believe it or not, a good thing. It is like everyone in your life is put on trial. Will they betray you, or will they stand by you? Will they take sides, or love you both? If they are your family, they are likely to love you both (which will still mean some discomfort, and separation, because abusers are very manipulative and pit people against each other to get the upper hand).

So, the best thing to do when you are alone in a desert bloodied and bruised from a war is to withdraw from people who know you both, at least in the beginning, when your feelings are too raw and tender, and find other survivors. People who are in all stages of recovery become your best support.

In my own personal life, I got to know many of them in Alanon and CODA. I intuitively knew I needed to withdraw from people I shared in common with the abuser, which was very early in the game, during the devaluation stage, not the discard stage. I knew from what my father told me, that I was going to be targeted (because he knew the people better than I did -- I was an innocent, and I believed that the people in question loved me, unconditionally even, and wow, was I wrong!! -- but he knew better, and I intuited that he might know better, thus seeking support).

When you are targeted, there is not much you can do about it. It's not like you can persuade someone against it. The only thing you have are boundaries, what you will and will not put up with.

For me, being a target had probably been set in motion by people in my life from the time I was a toddler (narcissistic evaluations of people never change, even when you are old, they are that rigid).

My instincts proved to be right about finding new people, and spending a lot of time with people not connected to the narcs, because what an amazing community they are! And most everyone can be contacted by telephone when you are going through a rough patch -- but I'll get to that later as it deserves a post all its own. I'm just giving you a heads-up now so that the desert does not look empty.

However, you have to be very careful at this stage.

The last thing you want to do is to get entangled with another narcissist, or sociopath, or psychopath, or batterer. Overwhelmingly these kinds of people are NOT in survivor groups -- it is too boring and emotional for them (i.e. not fun, and they are all about finding fun after a relationship has ended). They also find empaths sickening, and there is so much empathy-laden talk in these groups that it would drive any narcissist or sociopath away. Narcissists and sociopaths usually like to dominate, lecture, give advice and manipulate people to their way of thinking, and they can't do that either in these groups. However, the rare narcissist or sociopath might feel it is a good way to find vulnerable prey (as empaths are the people targeted for abuse), but if you make it clear that your boundaries are firm, that you are too wounded to be in another relationship, they will tire and give up the chase. Most survivors are raw with wounds: the last thing they want is to be seduced or talked into another enmeshed relationship.

That's a big difference between a perpetrator and a real victim: the real victims are too guarded and hurt to go after another relationship, whereas perpetrators pretend they are victims, but never seek help, live it up and love bomb new targets right away.

So, how do you keep narcissists and sociopaths away from you?

I didn't need to write this part/answer, because I found the perfect article to address this issue (with all of the detail and signs you need to look for to stay out of these kinds of relationships forever):

Never Get Involved with a Psychopath, Narcissist, Sociopath -- or any abuser -- Ever Again -- by Adelyn Birch

from Higher Perspective:

7 comments:

  1. Wonderful art, love it. :) You know how I feel about birds too. :)

    This is a great article and a reminder about how we will walk from abusers but then you look at the swept clean landscape and it's a scary place. I had to walk from over 40 people. No one in the family was "safe" and then I realized the narcissists around me, the two false friends of THIRTY YEARS! Yeah everything does feel depleted and at times you wonder "What have I done?" I know the family still waits for me to crawl back which creeps me out. Queen Spider who doesn't even accept the realities of aging, is waiting me out."

    I lit matches threw them behind me and burned bridges on purpose, even the zines if I get them done--yeah I know I am taking forever--will be like a lighted torch so I would never make the mistake I made on the first no contact.

    Facing the fact that someone never loved or cared about you, even someone you had in your life for decades is scary business. I wouldn't wish this on my worse enemy, realizing the latest friend cared nothing for me, she saw me as a bug she could easily squash and even later I thought what the hell, she was upper middle class at least with 6 figures in the bank during my era of dying in poverty in Chicago, but my family had made me used to being the worm that deserved nothing so she gazed down on me even then. This fact didn't even occur to me.

    With narcissists like my mother, every relationship held in common with her was tainted. It got so bad, if they ever even "met" my mother once or twice they chose her [with the exception of my husband and his best friend--my friend too] You can't trust them and changing minds, brainwashed by a high functioning narc and sociopath is impossible. You are wasting your time. It's better to be alone. I discovered they all loved my abuser more. I was nothing. Even the millionaire friend loved my mother more, and supposedly no longer had contact with her or told me this. When she defended my abusive mother, I knew the friendship was doomed. I was done. No friendship ever had actually existed. My theory that she could have been chosen by my mother grew stronger, especially since the mutual college friend's father had business contacts with my parents.

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  2. Yes the long list of betrayals grows immense. You wonder at one point will anyone be left? Who is loyal whose not? Most won't be. It is sad to admit. My husband was loyal and loving of course. The Queen Spider didn't even make an attempt to sway him.

    So yeah I withdrew. I withdrew big time, like in retreat. I don't plan to go back either. Here ACONs have to go by thinking not feeling, make the decision and never go back on themselves. I feel like I gave people a chance, and I honestly with all of them I said what happened and gave my side of it, and it changed nothing.

    I agree with you this is the time out in the desert alone [or left with only very very few] and the support of the ACON community or other victims, where one has to be cautious. This is where they can strike the hammer to hoover someone in using the fear of "being alone" on people. Some ex scapegoats may even relent because having no one left can be so painful they go back to earlier abuse. That article has good advice on how to avoid new narcissists and sociopaths. When I ended the friendship with the millionaire friend, yes her lack of empathy stood out, she really WAS indeed like my mother, and she even basically said in one letter she lacked the ability to feel empathy. They are correct that invalidation goes with this inability to feel empathy. They always silence you, this applied to EVERY member of my family by the way, they do not listen and they do not care. Your emotions are a threat to them, a bother, they are to be smothered and repressed. [Every friendship I ended this was a common theme as well as DEFENSE of my family, even the ex-friend here, who never had met the family was angry at me, for doing something as "unforgiving" as leaving a family behind.

    We don't want new ones. I try to screen out narcissists, trying to look for kindness, some real vulnerability, and empathy. If they are into status and bragging--some red flags I saw in one new recent group, that puts me on guard.

    Thanks so much Lise

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    1. One exercise I am trying is that when I start obsessing over a "bad person" (for lack of a better word), and "what they did", I make my mind switch over to an empath.
      I know a lot of empaths now, whereas before, I knew way too many borderlines, narcissists and sociopaths that my life was a mess.

      The narcissists and sociopaths are cold, and they are so outrageously cruel that keeping a boundary is not "difficult." Even when they love bomb, you can get glimpses of retaliatory looks here and there. I used to just try to stay off of subjects when I got that look (because I had narcs in my family and thought I had to "put up or shut up"); but now I just walk away from ANY person who has any of the traits of narcissism and sociopathy. They just cause too much destruction.

      However, my big weakness in my life was borderlines. They are the opposite of narcs in that they are warm, often highly creative, and the ones I knew were top of their class in college or graduate school (or second or third -- just brilliant people). With narcs, you can't really get close because there is no one home, they are chameleon-like, parrot people, and they keep personal stuff, their insecurities, their jealousies very close to the chest (usually -- there are the grandiose narcissists, of course, who do it differently). With borderlines, they let all of their feelings and thoughts hang out. The borderlines I knew talked about every thought and feeling they had. The intimacy could be incredible. Unfortunately, the ones I knew were very controlling, and volatile, huge scary tempers. They were also practically suicidal with buckets of tears once they went over the border in terms of "abuse". They are still a Cluster B. In my experience, narcs don't apologize -- their nose is in the air. Borderlines do, and do a lot, so this broke my heart.

      My heart is still huge for the two I got close to in my life and I have many regrets that I can't seem to shake. With the narcs, however, I don't feel aching in my heart or regrets; all that "enters into the mind" is the cruelty. So it is a lot easier to switch them off in my mind and focus on their opposites: the empaths.

      Just another healing strategy perhaps ...

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    2. I agree it's better to switch to empaths. I meet empaths online but not sure why they seem so hard to find in real life. I know one nice person in town whose not playing the hard nosed narc show off game. I have told myself look for the quiet people ignore the ones who stand out more to you, to avoid the narcissists. Agree the narcissists are cold. While some fake smile on the front end, it's far easier for me to recognize them. I agree borderlines are far more complicated. I think Aspergers is borderline repellent, they tend to leave me before I leave them. I bore the hell out of them. You are right the narcissists are secretive as hell while borderlines share, and share feelings too: sometimes my disappointment with borderlines has been so great, there is far more emotion there. Whatever they need I can't give them. Sorry you have had to deal with some who caused you so much heartache. Me, they seem to unload, cry, and then LEAVE. But I left feeling like a trash can, who they didn't even see. They like counselors, and now when I meet emotional people who want to share their whole lives to me that I met in a coffeeshop or elsewhere, I am more cautious. One came to visit me, and she was having problems with her boyfriend, he later married her. She was crying, etc, I thought wow, now we can be good friends but once her problem was over, she wanted nothing to do with me. She vanished. She's on my Facebook, life is happy for her now. She gives me a few likes, but there was never really a friendship. I invited her over and she was always "too busy".

      I end up feeling like a wrung out wet washcloth around borderlines. The narcs used to feed on me like vampires, but the borderlines would unload and walk in a very short time. Yes they will even apologize and appear to be nicer, but the same empty feeling will be there nonetheless. We are objects to the borderlines just as much. I actually left my self help group because it had become Cluster B land. There was no real connection. One borderline yelled at me, "Why are you even here you don't have bipolar [I went for depression and the group was supposed to be for regular depression too] and he was my Facebook, and got upset I was an Aspie, "You don't relate to us nor us to you", I had been fully open about my Aspergers, and then I left the group, I was planning to for a while, and he called two months later, and said, "Where have you all been, we want you back". Borderlines do that weird push and pull thing. The whole HOT and COLD. We hate and love you, back and forth. Narcs will pretend to be friends, but there is always that same coldness. I got the feeling that particular day, he has less supply and I crossed his memory banks. I hope I can find some empaths in everyday life. I suppose I see them already has having all the people they need or something like that. I meet empaths all the time online, and befriend them, some even very close friendships. I am not sure what is happening IRL, maybe the empaths pick up on too much of my physical pain etc, and are reluctant. I'm not sure.

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    3. "Borderlines do that weird push and pull thing. The whole HOT and COLD. We hate and love you, back and forth." -- yes, and sometimes multiple times a day, and with a lot of strong emotion! It's the old "I hate you! Don't leave me! I'm sorry!" over, and over again.
      I'm studying Borderline Personality Disorder now, but in the past I didn't know what I was dealing with. I also didn't know HOW to deal with it. In my responses, I was shutting down, which to a borderline means "being cold" and unfeeling (like his parent used to do). I wasn't cold and unfeeling, far from it, and actually very conflicted inside, but I may have appeared cold in the way that I was gradually separating BECAUSE of my own inability to deal with the drastic ups and downs.
      There are some studies that suggest that borderline mothers make narcissistic daughters, and that when these narcissistic daughters become a narcissistic mother, they create a borderline daughter, and on, and on, and on through the generations. It makes some sense in that the intensity of the borderline mother creates a reaction in the daughter which is to close down, be cold, not care (the child on the receiving end cannot deal with the intense emotions and mixed messages, thus becoming a narcissist), but then they have a daughter who can't get Mom's "closed" attention unless she is practically screaming, or crying, and reacting to Mom's cold silences with an I-hate-you-and-you-are-mean-to-me-but-don't-abandon-me messages (thus becoming a borderline like her grandmother early in childhood).
      In other words Narcissist -> Borderline -> Narcissist -> Borderline -> Narcissist -> Borderline, generations of them.
      One of the borderlines I was particularly close to attended therapy for years, and understood a lot, and was educating me about his condition, and what he wanted to change about himself and work on, but I was frightened of re-establishing any kind of deep connection again and kept a boundary. But I always felt conflicted about that boundary.
      In contrast, narcissists never self reflect, they walk away, love bomb someone else, and they are "closed" to "emotional bonding". They are in charge. It doesn't leave much to be conflicted about.

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  3. I think the crux of abuse is that last quote you put up about overlooking what they are doing. If many of us didn't overlook, and walked, they would be like spinning tops, not being able to find supply.

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