It came to my attention that while I have never been a victim of physical abuse, I have definitely been a victim of emotional abuse. I was startled when a mentor pointed this out, but when I did more research, it was easy to see that it was true.
Here is some of what it looked like for me:
- My statements were turned around: When I expressed my feelings, they were dismissed as the other person defended themselves. Rather than being heard, I found myself comforting the other person.
- The emotional abuser/manipulator was always willing to help and agree with me, but then passively aggressively acted as if it were a chore, acted as if I owed them something, or acted as if I never do anything for them.
- I was made to feel guilty. Either I spoke up, or I did not speak up enough. Either I was too emotional, or not emotional enough. Another powerful emotion used was sympathy- the other person always made themselves the victim.
- If I had a headache, he had a brain tumor. No matter what my situation was, theirs was ten times worse. They derailed the conversation and put it back on themselves. If I called them on their behavior, they turned it back on me, or claimed that it was always about me.
- The person impacted the emotional climate of whoever we were around. I was always in a position to try to fix how they felt. I take responsibility for being codependent, but I was also being manipulated.
- The person had no accountability. They did not take responsibility for themselves or their behavior – it was always about what someone had “done to them”.
There are lots of other signs of emotional abuse, but those are the ones I identified with in that relationship. It was exhausting to be in that environment, but today I have a choice. I have the gift of awareness.
I do not have to be a victim today. Today, I choose life and I choose to surround myself by people who also choose life. I can’t save anyone, and today I know that. I am available to listen, and to help- but my focus is simply to answer the question “How can I be useful to you and to others today?”
I am not useful trying to rescue someone while making myself the martyr.
Follow me around: