Hello dear readers,
I just came across this excellent post that psychotherapist Julie Orlov wrote. Yes, yes, yes, I said to myself as I read the following. Yes, I’ve just come out of an emotionally abusive relationship. If you find yourself in such a puddle, do not blame yourself. Every person needs to feel loved and respected, and it is your very natural need that draws you to controlling, narcissistic people in the first place. It took me a long time to walk away from my ex-partner, and a lot of help from my friends. But I did it, and so can you.
If you’ve ever been in a controlling relationship, you know how easy it is to get caught in its web. It usually starts out with a simple suggestion like, “Do you think that outfit is the best you can do for the banquet tonight?” or “I think you’re better off ordering the salad,” or “You should get a real job and stop all that nonsense about making it as an artist.”
At first, you take their suggestions as a reflection of their love and concern for you. After all, their comments are not that far off base, and you certainly don’t want to appear unappreciative or defensive. At this stage of the relationship, you want to please your mate, not alienate him or her. It’s more important to appear receptive and understanding of your partner’s opinions than to challenge them.
Some time goes by. You now notice that your significant other’s opinions of you continue to be critical. Only now, there is an emotional undertone that suggests if you don’t abide by his opinion, he will be angry, punitive and emotionally manipulative.
The scariest times come when you believe the threats of rejection and abandonment.
The cycle has repeated itself in such a way that somehow, you’ve become sucked in and are believing the rhetoric. Or, at the very least, you’ve been trying to manage the critical outbursts. You’re now so consumed with keeping your partner’s emotional judgments at bay that you have trouble considering if his demands have crossed over into an abusive and inappropriate arena. Your judgment is clouded.
You continue to ask yourself, Is it me or him? You feel anxious around him, believing that somehow you can make things right again; you want to feel the love you did when the two of you first got together. Deep down, your biggest fear is that his opinions of you are right … that there really is something wrong with you, and you just may not be lovable the way you are.
Here’s what his controlling behaviors are all about:
—His own sense of helplessness and powerlessness;
—Getting someone else (like you) to make him feel okay;
—Wanting to hand-off his own anxieties so he doesn’t have to deal with them himself;
—Ensuring that you will never abandon or reject him;
—Projecting his deepest fears of being inadequate and unlovable.
I found myself here, caught in a toxic cycle. But I finally got out. It took me a long time to face the reality of his abuse. Even longer to realize that he was never going to change. I saw myself going down, drowning, and forgot that I knew how to swim. Emotionally controlling men are often very seductive and charismatic. There’s a reason you fell for him (or her) in the first place. That’s why you keep climbing back on board the ship that he commands, the vessel on which you will never be co-captain. But you deserve to steer your own boat, your own life, and if you don’t, your spirit will sicken. You will feel more and more hopeless, depressed, unworthy, and listless. Remember that you are not to blame for loving him. There is nothing wrong with you. You are an adult who deserves love, respect and autonomy. You deserve to be loved, cherished, and admired exactly as you are. You deserve to have the energy and resources to pursue your dreams and reach your goals. You deserve to be happy. Your spirit is beautiful–golden–and unique. Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. The first step is to have faith in your own senses, your own experiences and emotions. This first step is the most painful, but it is tremendously freeing. You will pass through this. You know the joke, right? If you find yourself in hell, keep on going! Until you get out, because you can and you will. Don’t believe others who diminish you and wreck your self-esteem.
I like to think of myself as the creator of my own lifeboat, which will blossom from within my golden heart. The more energy I put into my dreams and desires for happiness and love, the larger and more beautiful my life boat will grow. Soon I will be sailing my own lovely ship across the sea, braving the waves and steering straight into true refuge, the safe harbor of a relationship with someone who loves and honors me fully.