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Appeasement of abusers, an impossible goal — 22 Comments

  1. Funny you should post this as I have been having an ongoing discussion with my bestie for the last week or so. Her mom has guilted her into doing things with her, then says she seems like she is acting as if she is obligated to be with her. Well DUH!

    Bottom line- Her mother is not happy within herself. Nothing anyone says or does can change that and meanwhile she is making the lives of everyone around her miserable. Walking on eggshells much?

  2. Pixie, we can NOT do enough to appease those who are trying to CONTROL us, whether it is a mother “guilting” us or an abusive spouse or child, or friend. We must STOP trying to appease those who would control us through the old FOG=Fear-Obligation-Guilt.

    When we belly crawl and try to appease these people we are just giving them the “go ahead” to continue to abuse, use and control us.

    Now I admitted I try to appease a cop standing by my window after he caught me speeding, but that’s just “good sense” a smart mouth gets you a ticket and “the old lady act” usually gets you a warning and an admonition to slow down, but you know that is the only time I try to appease anyone. It only makes them despise you for “being weak” and hey, they don’t like you much or they wouldn’t be trying to control or abuse you in the first place.

    When I first started trying to “set boundaries” for my own mother, she became FURIOUS, I wish you could have seen the look on her face of utter RAGE.

    I had assured her I would be there for ALL true emergencies, but that other things that could wait would have to fit into my schedule and instead of taking her to town on Mondays which is the day she had “always” gone…it might be tuesday or Wednesday, she glared at me and said “well, what if I WANT to go on Mondays” and I said well, then get someone else to drive you. (She is perfectly able to afford to hire a driver) That was when she began to buddy up to my now-ex-DIL and loan her money, give her a vehicle, etc. and then later, when I was in hiding, the DIL and her BF tried to kill my oldest biological son the husband of the DIL….and WOW, mom was so surprised! BETRAYED even….and wanted me to come back and be her servant…but I had stopped trying to appease her. That didn’t sit too well either. But at age 60+ I had grown a back bone and realized that I couldn’t appease my mother, or anyone else for that matter. Time to grow up Joyce! I did and I am very glad.

    It hurts to realize that anyone you love wants to control you through whatever method, but Ii realized in hind sight that my mom had tried to control me my entire life…and I so wanted to please/appease her. No more. I’m at a point now that I don’t bow and scrape to anyone. If they like me the way I am, great, if not.;..not my problem.

  3. Joyce, this is a terrific article and it resonates with me.

    I remember the first exspath and what visible GLEE he presented when I was groveling in an attempt to appease him.

    Oh, yes…..it is an attempt to smooth things over, and it only provides the abusive individual a tremendous sense of power and control. It NEVER solves the power and/or control issues.

  4. Yea, Truthy, there just ain’t no making these folks happy, and debasing ourselves in an attempt to appease them just makes them despise us more.

    And yea, it seems that they ENJOY our debasing ourselves.

  5. Truthspeak,

    Isn’t that the truth! Just appeasing an abusive type does not mean that you’ll get on their “good” side. These people don’t have a “good” side. They will go a time before “sticking it to you,” over some perceived slight, or just because they enjoy creating drama, being bullies, taking pleasure in attacking people.

  6. It took me a long time to grasp the concept that you can’t appease control freaks…and I still grapple with it.

    growing up I had the idea that I was responsible for everyone else’s happiness, and of course that is not true at all, but it is a common thing taught to our children….”we can’t let the neighbors know daddy gets drunk and falls down, if you tell anyone it will be YOUR fault if daddy loses his job.”

    We cover up the “family dirty laundry” and try to appease daddy (or mommy) when they are drunk or disorderly to keep them from “getting upset”—I finally realize I am not responsible for any one else’s happiness, they are responsible for it. Just took me a long time to figure that out. LOL

  7. Spathx accused me of being controlling because I was setting boundaries and not being ok with being treated like a hotel maid/ whore. Insisting, or trying to, that my home and ME be respected. MF’er…….I fell for it. I tried so hard to let things go and play nice and gentle and walk on egg shells. I just was so worn down and confused and couldn’t get my feet under me. I am picky about my home, how things are done, where things go,,,,,Also, probably not the most diplomatic person in the world because I have a hard time finding the right words in the moment so I put things off then they build up…..It seems to me that is he really cared about me, he would help me learn and work through things like that. I certainly was willing. And I was willing to do the same for him…..he wasn’t willing. Tossed me a crumb of effort from time to time and acted like it was a steak dinner.

  8. Dotty, when we “let things build up and then explode” this is dysfunctional functioning on OUR part. I suggest that you read Dr. Eric Berne’s book “Games People Play”, it is an older book but available used almost everywhere and is a quick read and also o ne you want to study. It has a lot of information in how people interact with each other. He calls them “games” but they are serious business for sure, but by looking at them as “games” with “rules” we can see how we ourselves did not respond in a healthy way.

    Just going over and over how the offender acted doesn’t help us much in the long run, we must change the only person we can change and that is OURSELVES, so that WE are functioning in a healthy way whether others do or not.

    When we let little things build up and build up and then “explode” Dr. Berne analogizes them as “saving trading stamps” like we did when I was a kid. When you spent money at a store you got “green stamps” and you pasted them in a book and when you got X amount of books you could trade them in for a small appliance like a toaster or a bigger thing if you had many books. So when we hold in all those little things and don’t resolve them, we are “collecting stamps” and keeping them until we finally get the last stamp and we trade them all in for a guilt-free explosion. LOL Sometimes people even try to trade in old stamps that have already been redeemed, and then the fight is ON.

    Get the book dotty and read it with an eye to finding out what you have done that is unhealthy. You can’t change him, and you can analyze what HE did wrong all day every day but that won’t help YOU. The healing starts out learning about them, but then MUST move on to learning about OURSELVES….what we can to to make ourselves think and be

    • Joyce, Im really not usually like that but became like that with him. It was impossible to deal with any issues in a productive manner. Nothing got resolved….I grew weary……more and more confused. PTSD, etc. I wasn’t like that at the begining and I have been working on saying what i really think and feel for a long time. I really do get confused sometimes, over think things into a loop.
      Anyhow, in the world at large, i do tend to speak up for myself, say no, etc. It was with him that I just lost myself. There was no winning and I use the term loosely. I got caught mentally and couldn’t get out. so now I’m out and if I’m ever with someone again, that will be another red flag that something is wrong….not feeling safe to speak up for myself. THIS is the pattern……..it’s in dysfunctional situations the I get tripped up because I think to hard about what to say so it comes out right and it’s a sign that I’m NOT safe. I don’t have that problem in healthy relationships. idk, not making sense. I hope beyond hope that I will never ever allow myself to get hooked like this again. With alcohol removed from the picture Im hopeful.
      Thanks for the book recommendation Joyce….

      WOW!! 1964! I Just looked up the book!

    • Joyce, with Spathx, there was such a damned if I did, damned if I didn’t dynamic going on. Im still feeling the effects of the mental turmoil. Just thinking over some of the encounters, I feel drained. At the time, it was like I was driving in fog. My mind was so cluttered with confusion,,,,,now, it doesn’t even seen real to me. Or like it happened five years ago. it’s so strange! I can remember lying on the bed during an incident between us and just staring out the window and not even being able to find words in my mind to say. just blank. I think I was so drained I just couldn’t find the words. Then he would push the envelope and I’d snap like a beat dog……enough! Then he would walk out, as usual. I’d cry and just couldn’t figure it all out. this was all before I knew about Spaths. I just couldn’t imagine someone doing something to their GF intentionally and malevolently! My frame of reference was so off base. I was looking at everything through love lenses, not spath glasses.

  9. Joyce- Her mother has issues and I know what you mean about them getting angry when we no longer cater to their whims. I have had that lately with my spath.

    I will have to look for that book as it sounds like an interesting read. If you realize how you play into their hands, from then on you can see it more clearly, recognize it sooner and put a stop to it.

  10. “Stockholm Syndrome” is a misnomer – it had been a recognized psychological defense mechanism long before the hostage situation that resulted in it’s current identification. “Trauma-bond Syndrome” should be how it’s referred to.

    Individuals who endure long-termed and/or prolonged traumas experience the following:
    * a perceived threat to their psychological and physical safety
    * the perception and belief that the abuser will follow through with their threats
    * the perception and belief that the victim cannot escape or leave the situation
    * deliberate isolation from views and opinions OTHER than the abuser’s

    These dynamics occur in situations of:
    * Incest victims
    * Concentration camps or prisoners of war (remember “Bridge Over The River Kwai?”)
    * Cult memberships
    * Hostage situations
    * Situations of domestic violence and/or domestic abuse
    * Abused children
    * Battered women

    The most glaring consequences of this recognized psychological defense mechanism is that victims of this syndrome experience an inability to facilitate or engage in their own escape and that they feel extremely negative reactions to family, friends, coworkers, agency representatives, and anyone else who is attempting to help them.

    For me, the perception that an ABSENCE OF ABUSE is a PERCIEVED ACT OF KINDNESS resonated with me on a huge scale. One minute, Victor was threatening to shoot the children, then me, then himself, and later in the day he would take us all out to eat. My mind would be screaming at me that this situation was WRONG, on every level, while the other half of my mind would be insisting, “See? He’s not such a bad guy, is he?”

    Yah……..there’s no ending a cycle of abuse on a friendly or hopeful note. The only solution is to GET OUT in whatever manner is safely possible. Even then, with help from trained professionals, agencies, and legal protection, it’s STILL a cr*ap shoot whether the abuser will let their victim escape and continue living.

  11. GREAT points, Truthy, and from “the horse’s mouth” so to speak. Having lived that bonding to our abusers we can definitely connect with those concepts in retrospect, but at the time we were just as locked in as Jaycee Dugard or Patty Hearst.

    I’m not sure why WE eventually got out, saw the light and so many others don’t. I wish I knew the answer to that question.

    • Joyce, I think that when there is ANY kind of dependency involved, conscious or unconscious, people tend to not only be stuck but inextricably stuck until something forces the issue.

  12. Yea, Dotty, sometimes something FORCES the issue, and we start to come out of the FOG,– the fear, obligation and guilt.—and it us usually a very painful thing that knocks us out of the river de-nial, and that’s not a river in Egypt. LOL

    Denial protects us emotionally, and SHORT TERM, it is very beneficial, but long term it keeps us from acting on the FACTS of a matter. Short term it helps protect us emotionally from a grievous loss, like the death of someone we love “OH, it can’t be true!” but if we never accepted that person was dead, we wouldn’t bury them, and you can imagine the problem that would have been. Sort of like the Bates Motel movie.

    But we can not successfully live in denial, it only keeps us from acting to help ourselves. But getting out of denial and into the grieving process is painful and we don’t want to do it, we would many times rather play “let’s pretend it is rosy and everything is lovely” but in a domestic abuse situation or any abusive situation for that matter, getting out of denial is the only way we can heal and become healthy emotionally.

    As long as we deny that we had any part in staying with the person who was abusing us, then we will not be able to process the healing. We can not change THEM, we have to change ourselves. In order to change ourselves, we must see where we made poor choices, and resolve not to make them again with another person. We must learn to set boundaries, healthy ones, and that’s a difficult job when you are an adult and h ave been trained NOT to have any boundaries. It was extremely difficult for me, and I am still a work in progress. Healing is a journey not a destination.

    • Joyce, It’s interesting…..in the begining of this Spath encounter, I did set boundaries….BUT I was still drinking so some of it was all, forgive and forget type things and he made such a point of telling me that he was the most forgiving person…..it kind of planted a seed i think, like Dorothy…..you don’t have to be a hard a** about everything, learn to be forgiving and understanding…….mind games. I was coming at the whole thing, the whole time from a totally different place than he was Joyce. I wouldn’t want someone to just drop the hammer on me so I didn’t drop the hammer on him……then it was too late! I was hooked!
      I just read an interesting article on LF today about the addictive quality of ANY relationship and why it’s amplified with a Spath. I need to reread it but it was very enlightening. I’ve said for a long time now……I feel like i was date raped only the drug he used was oxytocin and he administered it with physical, not sexual, closeness, touching hugging, hand holding, etc. THAT was my hook. I’m starved for physical contact. I was when I was born, I was growing up, and i’ve basically “prostituted” myself for it, off and on, to one degree or another, my entire breeding years life.

  13. Dotty,. you make a good point about oxytocin, people do need to be touched, and there is a hunger in humans. We are herd or pack animals and need contact from others. That is one reason that solitary confinement is so bad for people and why even hardened convicts hate it.

    We need interaction with others of our species.

    You mentioned that you were drinking at the time, and that may have been part of your problem with the abusive relationship. Again, your choice to self medicate with alcohol was not a good choice, and it made it easier for you to continue the abuse.

    I’m glad that you are sober now, and I hope that you will continue to stay sober. We all make better choices when our brains are not fogged by drugs of any kind. Since your biological mother was a drinker while she was preg with you, it is pretty likely that you have the genetic tendency for alcoholism. That makes it more difficult for you to resist the alcohol, but not impossible. I hope that you are going to AA or some other program to help you maintain that sobriety.

    Many of us have “prostituted” ourselves by trying to appease the abusers so that we will get the love that we need and want from them, but there is no appeasing them, they will always be abusers and whatever the “excuse” they have is not good enough. We deserve to be treated with respect, not only from others, but also treated with respect for ourselves.

    Respecting ourselves means that we do not do things that we know are bad for us…that includes drinking, over eating, and other bad health habits, and that we DEMAND that those in our circle of intimacy do not abuse us. If they can’t respect that boundary, then they don’t need to be in our circle of intimacy.

    I’m glad you are out of the relationship and sober, so now you can work on healing yourself, doing for yourself what you need to do to stay sober and to set appropriate boundaries and STICK with them.

  14. Thanks Joyce…..my sobriety is the silver lining to this mess, that and the lessons. I would be lying if I said I didn’t envy people who can drink…..which is ridiculous because it’s like saying,,,,,oh I envy people who can stick their hand in the fire. But, since I was drunk before I was even born, I’m sure it will always have some pull on me in that direction. I see clearly now how dangerous it is for me. Any shred of ability I have to protect myself goes right out the window the moment I touch alcohol in any form. Im naked and a walking bullseye. Im actually lucky to be alive probably several hundred times over.
    When I was younger, I didn’t know what I know now…..just running on auto pilot again. drinking came natural to me and I started very young. My parents were fairly oblivious and I certainly never was dissuaded from it by them……they were just so clueless in the parenting department…..straight across the board!!

  15. Dotty, taking care of ourselves is very important in our healing. My drug of choice is nicotine, and smoking was killing me, I had to STOP, so I know how it is craving something that I know is not good for me. I quit sometime in the summer of 2009, and haven’t had a cigarette since then, but from time to time I sure WANT one. I made up my mind though that no matter what, I WILL NOT SMOKE AGAIN. Period. I don’t k now if I will ever quit wanting one sometimes, but that doesn’t matter, I will NOT SMOKE AGAIN.

    Some of my friends smoke, and my son that lives with me smokes a pipe, but I don’t make them stop, or not smoke around me, I just must take control of MY urges and keep away from the cigarettes, Whether others smoke around me is immaterial to how I behave. My choices are what I must make and do.

  16. More than 6 months ago an 82 year old friend of mine who still has some livestock and has shopped at the local feed store for 50 years was complaining that they didn’t have a handicapped ramp (he uses a walker) and the one step up is too high for him to get in.

    Well, I called the nice young man at the Disabilities Commission (not a state agency, but actually a non profit) and the young man went out and checked and yes they did need a ramp legally. Well time went on and no ramp, finally I got a call yesterday that they were going to put one in.

    While not having a ramp is against the law and can get you a fine, the Disabilities Commission has to turn the case over to the department of Justice to prosecute and that takes YEARS if it ever happens at all.

    The man’s wife went to the store the other day and they asked her about her husband and she told them he couldn’t get in. Well they said he should go around the back and come in that way (about a 1000 foot walk) she said that wouldn’t work then they suggested that he honk his horn and they’d bring stuff out. she said, No that wouldn’t work because he wanted to shop.

    I heard from the young man yesterday that the store is maybe going to put one in. But I will never shop there again unless I need something I can not find anywhere else in the world or on line.

    These people were made aware months ago that they were in violation of the law but they did not care until the man’s wife informed them that they were opting for a BIG fine. (Well in reality it would have been years before that happened if at all) but apparently the self interest, rather than the interest in others prompted them to act (well, I’ll believe it when I see it) I will vote with my $$ and my feet to businesses or people who are not willing to reply to a reasonable request for which they have an OBLIGATION to perform.

    You cannot get these people to act for your benefit, but sometimes they will act for their own.

    • Joyce, you are 100% spot-on. Unless it interferes with business or a fine is involved, businesses will often do nothing for as long as they can get away with it.

      This goes both ways, as well. Anyone who has ever been a rental manager/agent/owner KNOWS that there are people out there who stop paying rent, legally, and it can take MANY months to get someone out of a property who isn’t paying rent. These people do this with full intent – they go to court, hire attorneys to represent them……and, it’s atrocious.

      But, it is what it is. Sadly, there is no law against being an a$$hole, and a person can be a jerk, legally, and enjoy the same benefits of the Law that a complainant will.

      (sigh) I hope that store is fined, and GOOD FOR YOU for upholding integrity!!

  17. Well I think they are going to put in a ramp…finally! But you are right, they dragged their feet as long as they could until they were threatened with a fine.

    having had rental property for many years, I can tell you that you are FULL ON RIGHT! Boy could I tell you some stories! You have to be very careful with renters and watch them closely and be ready to act within the law, and even then, sometimes, you lose out.

    I had a young man who lived in a small rental property, and a land lord is legally able to enter a property. One day I tried to get in for some legitimate legal reason and my key wouldn’t fit. That evening when he came home I went up to talk to him and he admitted he had changed the locks (I think he had drugs in there and didn’t want to take a chance on me finding them) and I informed him that I had a LEGAL RIGHT to enter the property and that he should give me a key NOW…he didn’t want to, so I told him, “Young man, this house is owned by ME, and as long as they make crow bars and axes, I will have a “key” to get in.” He gave me a key, but moved out not long after that and dumped about a bushel basket of fire place ashes on to the carpet. Yep, renters are “fun” to deal with sometimes, but I have also had some EXCELLENT renters who became friends of mine.

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