In abusive relationships it is not uncommon for the victim to feel that the abuser loves because they say they do.
Abused children believe their parents love them because they say they do. And children will believe this even when the parent has a long history of beating the child or profoundly neglecting the child.
This is why it's important to watch what people do, rather than what they say. The predators and abusers of the world often display "empathy gaps", gaps in their ability to feel compassion or empathy for others. Their words are very charming and full of "love", yet their actions tells a different story.
Once, there was a frog trying to cross a flooded river. As he prepared to cross to the other side on a lily pad a scorpion asked to ride with him. The frog responded, "If I let you go you still sting me." The scorpion answered, "If I sting you we will both die. Why would I do that?" So the frog acquiesced and they boarded the lily pad. Halfway across the scorpion stung the frog. As the frog lay dying he pleaded, "Why on Earth did you sting me? Now we will both die!" The scorpion answered, "Because I'm a scorpion. It's my nature."
We cannot change other people. This is especially true if you are dealing with a narcissist. Even knowing this, it's hard to grasp just how far they will go to hurt you when enraged. Their behavior sometimes defies reason and reality.
I recently watched a narcissist who became so enraged at the "frog" in her life that she she stung herself to death trying to get at the frog. Having destroyed herself, the frog and the entire lily pad she now sits in the wreckage which was her life, still trying to take shots at the frog. Fortunately, in real life, the frog is usually able to get to shore and carry on with their lives. But not without the narcissist's stings having taken their toll. This is especially true if there are children involved.
What enraged this narcissist? The fact that her partner saw through her facade. He saw what she really was and therefore had to be destroyed. Family members and friends tried to understand what he had done to her to make her so angry. They interpreted her rage as hurt. They were certain he had done something truly heinous. But he hadn't. He had merely seen reality. He had seen the vacuum of her psyche, the absence of all the things which make us human; the lack of empathy for others, the absence of remorse when she hurt people, the lack of regard for any other person. He saw what she really was, what she fought to cover up with a carefully contrived facade. And for that the narcissist was determined to destroy him. And and destroying him became more important than her own well being. She utterly destroyed every good thing in her life, including herself, trying to get back at him.
People who find themselves in an unhealthy, even abusive relationship often ask themselves, "why do I stay?", "what is it that keeps sucking me back in?" Many times it can be the "courting behavior" that follows the abuse. In domestic violence, this is illustrated in the Circle of Abuse. The abuser becomes violent and lashes out at the victim. Afterward, he or she engages in the courting behavior they originally used when dating the victim. They are charming, caring, attentive. They lavish the victim with compliments and gifts. A victim who has low self esteem may tolerate the abuse to get the courting behavior. The pain of being hurt is overridden by the kindness and attention that are lavished on them after it is over.
In less abusive relationships a more subtle form of this behavior may exist. If someone is in a relationship with a narcissist or a sociopath, they may experience a constant stream of unloving treatment. Their partner may be uncaring, callous, accusatory, jealous, cold, distant, hostile, selfish, critical, demanding, demeaning, etc. They may heap insults on them or demean them with a constant stream of disparaging remarks. They may constantly accuse them of cheating. Or they may be dismissive and condescending. The relationship may be totally devoid of empathic, nurturing, caring, loving behavior. So why do they stay?
It may be that they are totally taken for granted, until they attempt to leave or start to pull away. When the emotional manipulator reailizes they've gone too far, they may engage in courting behavior to reel the partner back into the relationship. If their partner's self esteem is low enough this may go on for years and years. If their self esteem is somewhat higher, they may eventually realize that, "One compliment negates a thousand slights."
Hello loyal readers. I apologize for my absence, but I had to get some things straight in my own life. So I quit my job working for an abusive boss and asked myself what kind of counseling I would do if I could any kind at all. I've seen a lot of violence and I've learned that there is only so much I can do to stop it. Though I can't change the entire world, I can create a safe place in my little corner of it. And if there are two things I want most in this world, it is to save children and animals from violence. So I created a nonprofit organization which rescues animals, rehabilitates them and works with them to provide animal assisted therapy to children who have experienced violence. We are small, but growing and you can visit the website for my new organization, TherapyWorks.
As for this blog, I shall now take up my "pen" and try to return to regular posts. I am reading all of your comments during this past year (I'll try to catch up on responding to them) and appreciate your patience.
"If you don't live what you sing about your mirror is going to find out." Ani DiFranco, "The Million You Never Made"
... that is the question. A veteran of Vietnam was talking about his experiences in Vietnam, about coming home and about the trauma he experienced and about how others believed he should react to that trauma. The mental health professionals, the V.A., his family and his friends all wanted him to "heal". But what they meant by "heal" was to forget, to stop talking about it, to move forward as if nothing happened. But he disagrees. He doesn't want to "heal". He wants to remember.
I really have a problem with the recent surge in diagnosing children with Bipolar Disorder. The children I see with this diagnosis are often the victims of serious issues at home, issues which may even include abuse. Some struggle with PTSD and the mood swings which are inherent in a traumatized individual are attributed to "Bipolar Disorder" and medicated.