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Crazy Makers

(92 Posts)
garlicbutter Sun 22-Jul-12 21:48:36

I have been 'triggered' into a right old state by a controversial thread in Mental Health. I am not attempting to 'diagnose' what's up with the OP, she's in a serious pickle.

Her thread's triggering factor for me is its theme of other people forcing their opinions - she's mentally unsound - onto a person who believes she is sane. It's taken me a while to figure out why it got to me. The answer is Complex PTSD, which I have although it's not a recognised diagnostic term. (I have "generalised anxiety disorder, which patient relates to her earlier diagnosed PTSD".)

This is too long for an OP. Finishing in next post.

garlicbutter Sun 22-Jul-12 21:49:20

The extended trauma that caused my psychiatric breakdown(s) was a double whammy of being viciously bullied by my mad boss while also being meticulously gaslighted by my weird husband. The extended trauma that made me vulnerable to these two sociopaths was my abusive childhood. I've written about all this before (and am eternally grateful to Mumsnet); it's probably not necessary to do it again but I need to talk about how crazy-makers can, literally, make you crazy enough to need hospitalisation and long-term mental health care.

Not enough people recognise this, particularly those who are uninformed about emotional abuse and the abused targets themselves. Head-fuckers are really dangerous. While your head's being messed with, people around you tend to see the crazy but not the abuse. This isolates you even more. It needs discussion.

I'm a bit fragile atm and might not be able to engage much immediately. But I know there are several regulars of this board with personal experience of what used to be called "mental abuse". It might be good to talk about it closely.

akaemmafrost Sun 22-Jul-12 21:53:45

I think this is a good idea for a thread. I relate to a lot of your posts GB though I don't post much. I had an abusive childhood, was bullied viciously at school and in various other environments and then endured a 10 year marriage who was abusive in all ways it is possible to be. I actually had a nervous breakdown and believe I have complex PTSD as well. It affects every area of my life and I cannot be in close relationships apart from my dc because of it. I would very much like to understand more though would find it difficult to contribute much.

garlicbutter Sun 22-Jul-12 22:24:01

Oh, Emma sad It's a bugger, isn't it? All those neural pathways we've developed that make us tolerant of bullies, anxious to please, anxious to understand and ... anxious! I've bookmarked some websites about Complex PTSD but they got jumbled up when I changed browsers. I will look them out and post as I find them. Information is power, they say.

I'm on a self-devised programme of overwriting the neural pathways that make me a superb target. It's in line with the work I did in therapy but I imagine will take longer and be more convoluted than it would be with a really good professional! As well as constantly building & reaffirming self-worth and boundaries, I'm doing "compassion work" which is a combination of neuroscience, buddhism and mindfulness. As weird as it sounds, my psychotherapist was really impressed that I'm doing it and they actually run courses based on this work. My book is Paul Gilbert's "The Compassionate Mind". There are other books for it on Amazon, too, many with CDs.

I'm going to self-compassionately have a long shower now, and go to bed with a pill. My head needs time to process today's unexpected roller-coaster.

I'm SO ANGRY that people can do this to other people (us)! They're the ones who get away with it ... OK, they must be sad inside and we end up much wiser thanks to all the repair work. More than anything, I think, I wish psychological abuse weren't so sneakily effective. It robs you of your available defences and people just stand there, missing it all! angry

Oh dear, I need that calming shower, don't I wink

DrinkFeckArseGirls Sun 22-Jul-12 22:31:17

Spot on. Funnily enough none of the doctors I've seen (not that many just 1 GP and 2 psycholgists but still) could diagnose me, so it just went under PND. But this is exactly what I have been suffereing with. Actually a friend months ago told me it was PTSD but when I mentioned it to the psychologist, she made a face like that confused. It's because I did not suffer a life threatening situation. But when I read about PTSD I knew it was about me, really confusing when the professionals tell you one thing and you know deep down another.

greenearrings Sun 22-Jul-12 23:37:53

garlic,that book is superb and I do believe compassion work is the way forward. As you will have read,Paul Gilbert believes this approach can repair the neuro pathways which have been damaged by childhood trauma.

Your experiences and diagnosis are very similar to mine.

I am practicing this approach ,too.And delivering it as a mh professional.

However, I am not sure I agree about crazy life changed following a toxic bullying boss ,combined with a controlling and abusive partner and ,despite previous therapy and professional knowledge and experience,it was MN that helped me find the light.

However,the light turned out to be more about learning to recognise just how unhealthy and toxic my family were and are,and how much of this - all of it - I had,and was still, seeing this as normal. Dismantling this,and taking responsibility for myself, has been - still is- a long ,painful road. But I seriously believe that the obvious vulnerability I carried from childhood - the backward inside out wiring which I had learnt and which meant I truly did not recognise bullying and abuse for what it was - has been seriously eroded. I hope it will be rewired ,finally,with compassion work.

Yes,my boss, ( and the system in which he operated) and my exp were cruel bullies and committed acts of abuse - gas lighting and controlling being my personal deepest horrors. But it wouldn't happen to me now.They might try,but I feel confident that I would notice early enough and be able to say '"hang on are you serious ?" i am not even sure that people like them would bother to try that stuff with me now. I give out different signals,I think.

I am not saying people who behave like this cannot or do not make some people crazy.
And I am absolutely not victim blaming.

But this is a dynamic which requires both partners to dance the dance.

I would say it is the hard wiring we receive through faulty /abusive /not good enough parenting which sets us up to be vulnerable to be unable to deal effectively with these people and situations and even sets us up to attract them to us.
The biopsychosocial model which Paul Gilbert uses makes sense to me - crap childhoods (maybe not even abusive,could be due to "blame-free" factors like war,death of parent/sib,illness) combined with a genetically inherited tendency towards certain sensitivities, along with the way in which we ,as children,make sense of our experiences - how our core beliefs are formed (which is down to a strong degree of chance in itself ) are what lead us to behave as we do,and thereby to form the relationships that we form,or even seek as adults. We repeat familiar patterns,seeking to get it right at last.We feel comfortable with a familiar fit,even though it is painful and awful.

I am going to come back to this tomorrow. I think this is an excellent thread.
i hope i am not rambling and missing your point.

garlicbutter Mon 23-Jul-12 09:54:45

Hell, no, not missing it, green grin I think all these factors intermingle so as to create the abusive 'dance' between partners. Thing is, you don't even know the factors are there until a crisis forces recognition. I've read a ton of very convincing stories from women who say they were perfectly balanced pre-fuckwit, had perfectly balanced childhoods, but still got trapped in their partners' control games. I tend to think "Hmm, maybe not quite as sorted as you thought?"

But ...! It's possible, I suspect, for a girl from a balanced family to be rendered vulnerable by the various pressures on women: to be confident and compliant; sexy and virtuous; pretty and immune to vanity; fragile and strong; powerful and malleable. I've caricatured it as I don't want this to be overly political, but most Mumsnetters will know what I mean! The majority of women get through life without being grossly abused, so those issues won't be top of mind for them and they'll happily pass such 'feminine' values on to their daughters. Thus creating, perhaps, a potential abuse victim who will feel she's doing everything right until it turns out to be wrong. Men who take unfair advantage of such feminisation are, of course, abusers. So maybe I'm saying the way we teach our girls teaches them to be ready abuse targets, without any major childhood factors. I'm not sure.

I'm unqualified to know, really, since I was abused in childhood. The extent of that abuse didn't become clear until my late forties! Going back to the beginning: We really don't know we're fucked up until someone takes the piss. We think we're feisty, we're passionate, we're intense or we're cool. This gives the crazy-makers their hook.

I realise this thread's going all over the place atm, but I don't mind wink It's a very big topic and the more different input we get, the more likely we'll find common ground and decisive factors.

garlicbutter Mon 23-Jul-12 10:16:37

I've worked out how X2 "did it". There was a moment when he was sitting on the sofa with his sister, all cuddled up and laughing at something. I walked in the room and he looked up at me with a expression that an observer would find natural: a sort of twinkly grin. But it wasn't. It was a smirk and it was goading.

He never cuddled up with me, not in a relaxed and happy way. Every second with him, I felt a little nervous; as if I were on trial. He was so cold with me, I assumed he just didn't do easy affection. My friends assumed the same. The whole time I was with him, I was waiting for the moment he'd relax that much with me, while also accepting he was undemonstrative. But, now and again, he demonstrated that he does do easy affection when he chooses.

Although I understood that I was feeling the absence of [what he shared with his sister that day], I didn't understand that he knew it. By withholding, he kept me in a permanent 'early dating' state, hoping he'd relax with me, until I was desperately craving that easy cuddle. Whenever I decided we clearly weren't emotionally compatible and I should call it off, there'd be a moment like the above, or he'd give me half a second of what I needed ... I'd think we were getting there, and fall back in. I only saw the true picture when I saw that smirk. And even then, I didn't believe my own judgement. Who would, normally? "I saw my husband cuddling his sister and he was doing it to make a point"? You'd say I was crazy, huh.

greenearrings Mon 23-Jul-12 10:23:37


A dance then,yes. And so,just as the good girl - albeit feisty,passionate -even politically aware - and cool feels she is doing everything right until it turns out to be wrong; so the good boy - valiantly taking on the role of ...(reluctant to post caricatures here....hmmm....why? not sure...)....feels he is also doing it right until ....

A gross generalisation,yes.

And I am not an abuse apologist.But this dynamic is so common that we need to look at it from a broader perspective than what a bastard the men are (even though they may well be ).

At this point i feel under equipped to argue my point,and at risk of being misunderstood,possibly of triggering or offending women. I do not wish to do so.

Yes ,abuse is wrong. Yes ,there are some people for whom the damage was done too early for repair (not starting a nature/nurture debate about psychopathy,here....) and who have malign intent driving their behaviour towards others.....who will not change....

And yes,relationships in which this is the dynamic are toxic and cannot continue. The person on the receiving end must be supported in finding safety,peace and repair.

But I wonder if labelling the perpetrator as "bad" is too easy in terms of beginning to understand what drives the behaviour,whether change is possible and where societies responsibility lies in addressing why this is so widespread.

and it is dependant on the dance.

My taking responsibility for my own behaviour in the dance is what has led me out of it. And is why i will not do it again. It does not mean I deserved what i got. just that,had I known how to behave differently,it would not have occurred in the way it did.

Could the same not be said of the abuser?

PurplePidjin Mon 23-Jul-12 10:24:05

I had a totally normal childhood and still ended up with PTSD after a violent break in.

Surely, logically, several consecutive or simultaneous events could cause several incidences if PTSD in a person? That sounds pretty damn complex to me!

BTW it took me 2 years to get over "Simple" PTSD, so i truly wish you all the very best recovering from compound occurences thanks

greenearrings Mon 23-Jul-12 10:24:30

What hope for humanity if a large section of people are "bad". and only to be "punished" ?

akaemmafrost Mon 23-Jul-12 10:32:53

My ex H used to be generous, kind, witty, man of the match, king of the party, supportive to his sisters and Mum, in fact the only person he hated and would barely make eye contact with in public was me.
Do you know how "crazy making" that was? I'm sure you probably do. It had to be me didn't it? He got on with everyone else (only it came out later that he DIDN'T). I must be a real awful person, boring, uptight, worthless etc. Even my own DH had nothing to say to me. His family obviously picked up on his lack of care and respect and acted accordingly, though probably sub consciously.

So my own parents were abusive, very withholding and punitive, right until adult, I was still terrified of them till my early thirties. Now my own DH could apparently barely stand to be in the same room as me.

It must be me right? Except then I found MN and realised it wasn't. I didn't even know it was all abuse, just thought I was a rubbish person.

Lots more to say but will leave tin there for now.

greenearrings Mon 23-Jul-12 11:31:12

My ex behaved in the way you describe,garlic. I thought it was me until i read the first npd thread and recognised my own life .

My father behaved like this to my mother and still does. She reacts by behaving in the same way towards me. My father gives every impression that he hates women. He behaves appallingly all the time,even now he is an old man.I struggle to find compassion for him,even though i know he suffered extreme abuse himself as a child.

That is why i was so slow to notice that behaviour in a "normal" setting such as work. And took it on as my problem. And why i felt so at home with my ex from the start,and tried so hard to understand and help him.He had an awful childhood. But he didn't see anything wrong in what he was doing ,ever. i am sure he is behaving the same to someone else now.He was a fantastic guy as far as everyone else was concerned,pillar of the community etc,and worked in family mediation. wtf.

But i don't think either of them set out to make people crazy,or believe this is what they do,ever. even though that is the effect of their unforgivable ex claimed he couldn't understand why all his relationships failed.My father is a bitter man who has no friends.

The abuse I received set me up to be vulnerable to more abuse. the abuse those two abusers (there were others) received ,seems to have set them up to abuse women.

Restart Mon 23-Jul-12 15:43:10

It is a dance. I was shocked to realise that my Ex had been bullying me for years. He didn't scream and shout or exhibit what I classified as bullying behaviours. He simply wore me down on everything, he would go on and on until he got his way, he would make me feel guilty and unworthy. He was passive aggressive and controlling. He gas lighted me on many occasions. Yet because I was so used to all of those treatments from my family, I just accepted that it was because I was less valid as a human being. I covered up for him, I defended him and most importantly I enabled him. He left me for another woman, and now he is dancing a very different routine. She says jump he says 'how high?'. She is like his narcissistic mother, self obsessed and he is the little boy desperate for her attention. The dancers are intrinsic to the style of the dance. My ex had neglectful parents, his mum abandoned him and his brothers, his dad couldn’t cope and survived by avoiding as much of life as possible. I had neglectful parents, my dad left and my mum was nuts. The combination of my Ex and I was a chemistry experiment gone wrong. He dealt with his childhood by trying to control everything, I dealt with mine by trying to comply. His father’s avoidance of responsibility and his mums absence made him determined to live a life of material accumulation. He never valued me as the mother of his kids, I think it hurt him deeply to see me love our kids because his mother didn't love him the way he needed to be loved. He resented me and the resentment built. My childhood taught me to comply or face punishment. the rules of compliance were changed without warning constantly, so I became a very anxious frightened person, too afraid to have core beliefs or opinions of my own, because to express them would be interpreted as insolence, and that was the ultimate crime. I lost myself, and learnt to live in response to others rather than as a person in my own right. Recently I dated a guy for 15 months. I tried to split up with him maybe 4 or 5 times, because I found him emotionally unavailable. Each time I tried he would suddenly open up to me and communicate and that would be enough to draw me back in, pretty soon I would realise that I was back to being treated as though I was on a never ending interview, passing tests and being judged, never quite declared fit to be his true partner or equal. Finally I split with him. I don't think it was a deliberate tactic on his part, I think he was emotionally crippled and could only display emotions when forced to do so, he had his childhood demons and a divorce that had cut him, so he was hyper vigilant. Being with him was making me crazy, none of my needs were being met and I was again dieing inside. He wasn't making me crazy, the situation I allowed myself to become stuck in was. It was the groove I was used to, I slipped in to it and followed the track around and around. I was so hurt and angry at my X, but it wasn't his fault any more than it was mine or should I say equally as it was mine. We were a diabolical combination. We fit together like a co-dependent tongue and groove set. I look back at our relationship and I too can list the occasions when something registered deep inside me as wrong, just like gb's moment with her Husband and his Sister. I knew it was wrong, if I were healthy I would have known to walk away, but instead I stayed. I swallowed my emotions, added one more tick to the 'things that must be wrong with me list' and I persevered. I'm trying to reprogram me myself. Compassion is key. I think I too have PTSD. I think I lived on a knife edge for my childhood. I spent my days trying to build a house of emotional cards only to have them flattened. There were no emotional safe places, just an open battle field where I was the canon fodder. I was traumatised when my Ex left because I had done everything possible to comply, I had given up my dreams, I had lived where he wanted, worked as much as he wanted, sacrificed my own happiness and none of it was enough to add up to anything. I did all that in exchange for what I thought would be safety and security but instead I got my greatest fear - abandonment. I don't think he made me crazy I think he exposed me to my greatest fear and that made me crazy. The only thing I had as a child was the belief that compliance would save me. So - I'm so sorry i have meandered in and out of topic here. I think it's our own inner belief systems that make us crazy - the ones hard wired in to us during our childhoods. These people we attract and are attracted to because of the familiar feelings they illicit - they simply give us our cues and we then auto pilot our lines and positions in the dance.

Kernowgal Mon 23-Jul-12 19:14:40

Interesting reading indeed - am starting to wonder if my friend is suffering from PTSD after three years with an incredibly EA/PA boyfriend and other violent relationships before that, plus witnessing her stepfather's DV towards her mother.

Next time we talk about it I might raise it with her, she's very open to talking about it and I think she would be interested herself. She doesn't seem to have any boundaries and often her behaviour/conversation in a group situation is completely inappropriate but she seems totally unaware. She's very unsettled and all over the place and her parents don't know what to do with her. Financially she's a disaster zone. I feel like she needs someone to sit her down and ask her what's up and what can they do to help her.

greenearrings Mon 23-Jul-12 20:23:00

Restart - yes,yes,yes and yes.

seaofyou Mon 23-Jul-12 21:20:02

nLP under hypnosis is fantastic for PTSD! 3 sessions stopped the flash backs of my brothers death I had for 3 yrs. Still had the anxiety but it faded slowly over time. Does anyone else get a blob before flashback in corner of vision of upper right or left eye before flashbacks also?
But can return with vengeance as did when I was threatened with a knife. It is amazing how calm you become when you stare death in the face.
The PTSD changed into a flight/fight panic state though when ex started attacking house....I went from wanting a gun to accepting we were going to die over 2 yrs of attacks. Like you Purplepidg it is when my life (or as in my DB death) the PTSD occurs...sadly I have had a lot of life threatening wonder my home will be my prison/safe haven for rest of my life! Life threatening experiences is the main cause of PTSD.

garlicbutter Mon 23-Jul-12 23:35:46

I need to do some serious calming down before coming back to this thread. Thank you very much for such powerful posts. It is a huge topic, isn't it?!

Emerald50 Tue 24-Jul-12 03:00:44

Hope this post is not too long - I believe I have ingrained PTSD. I am 48. A bullying incident that happened with a sibling earlier this year triggered a reaction that brought me back to my childhood. Over twenty years ago I had moved to the other side of the world to get away from my Dad as I believe I had to, to survive and thrive. I am happy to say I have a wonderful husband and three children and have built myself a great life in a great country with some wonderful new friends and some friends that are like family to me.

But I am haunted by my past and it immobilises me sometimes - almost every day I wake up and ask myself what happened in my life to have made me leave a country I loved, everything familiar, my family, my culture, part of my identity and my friends. I have always felt a little like I am living in exile and luckily my husband was aware of my family situation before we married and he is very supportive. We both agreed where we would live as I met him after I had moved. I said to him the other day that maybe I didn't love him enough - because I would have let him go rather than allow him have to go through all the emotional pain with me of my past but he said he knew what he was up for when he met meas I was honest with him and was up to the job. What a guy so that is why I live where I do too in his country of birth. I feel extremely lucky to have a supportive partner who allows me to show the scars. One of my biggest fears was I was unworthy to be loved because my Father made me feel like I was nothing. A couple of times after my Father had bullied me I felt like I did not want to go on with my life. I consciously looked for a man unlike my Dad as I was early thirties before I married so had had time to think about it.

Parenting my three children threw up my 'default' parenting setting and that scared me - there were times when I reverted to what was familiar to me in my own upbringing and I recognised I needed to get help or risk continuing the cycle. This is why I am on this site and attending psychotherapy as well as other avenues - to overcome my past and become the great person that I know I am (it's very hard for me to say that!). I sometimes get a glimpse of her and I like her, but mostly I am hard on myself and have a hard time loving myself. I had the luxury recently of spending sometime by myself and this period of reflection showed me a glimpse of a person that was not angry or damaged anymore by the past.

In my childhood I had a very abusive controlling critical Father who I now recognise was a bully and possibly suffered NPD or BPD and the bullying incident with my sibling reminded me of the way my Father had treated his own family (my Mum and four siblings) and how us children did not stand a chance as we were just innocent lovely little kids to not become damaged from his emotional abuse. He played us all off against each other so the bonds were broken between many of the siblings. I am happy to say I have never felt closer to my siblings (not the bullying one who I no longer have contact with) but as adults we have started to open up as to what it as like for us all. As this recent bullying incident played itself out I realised that my sibling was repeating the sins of the Father and had no insight whatsoever into the damage he was doing. I got a glimpse into the past of how my Father had possibly handled difficult stresses in family life and put so many people offside and how ultimately had damaged peoples lives. No one had ever successfully stood up to my Father (apart from my husband) and as you can imagine my husband became the bad guy then and was put down to other relatives.

I really related to the post about outsiders seeing the crazy but not the abuse. My Dad was just thought off as eccentric and it was all a bit of a laugh to the extended family. My Fathers siblings knew that my Father was bullied by his Father my Grandfather. They were happy to stay on the sidelines and not get too involved. I feel angry with my Aunts and Uncles too. Our cousin don't get it when I try to open up to them of a little of what it was like. They cannot relate to that side of my Dad as he was a 'street angel., house devil' and could be charming. He was very chauvinistic as well though that was part of the times as he would be 86 now if he were alive.

For many years I have known that my depression is reactive and have had to slog it out with many professionals to get the correct help I need. Connecting with other people who can relate to Chronic/Ingrained/Complex PTSD is part of the way forward for me I believe. I can relate to so much of the other posts.

I returned back to the family home in the past few months and spoke to my other siblings (not the bully one) and my Mum about my trauma which started when my oldest sister had violent psychotic episodes when I was nine years old- and since those conversations it is the first time I have allowed myself to take the lid off and stop protecting my Mum and Dad who dealt with my sisters situation 'as best they could' but unfortunately neglected the effect of their own way of dealing with it on their other children. The combination of a NPD or BFD, Bullying Father and my sisters psychiatric breakdown in a time and country where the stigma and misinformation was enormous was combustible. It as all shoved under the carpet and no one spoke of it. Hard to believe even us siblings did not band together but we were all screaming out for attention and understanding of the situation (inside ourselves).

I now try to 'feel' the pain as opposed to talk about it. What has prompted me on my current path and recognition of ingrained NPSD was seeing the effect on my other siblings in their mid-life and how they are so hurt and are not healing and my love for them. They have turned to outward stuff to heal because it is too painful for them to look within. I understand this completely. Because my Mum is still alive they are still dealing with my dependent sister who had now become so much of her illness instead of the lovely clever artistic person she is who happens to suffer from a mental illness. She had no chance to learn strategies and boundaries to cope with her mental illness. She is 54 years old now. My other sister and brother are just getting by day to day blocking the pain in their own way. Neither have partners or children and my Mum is not capable of supporting them as she is very much of the if you don't talk about it it doesn't exist mentality. She is part of the problem because she chooses not to deal with things. That is her character.

I hope some of you can relate to my and that it helps not brings up more pain though we do have to go through the pain I think - doing in together would be healing I think. It has been good for me to write it down. Thanks for reading.

garlicbutter Thu 26-Jul-12 11:27:33

I related to a load of it, Emerald! I'm really sorry I left you unanswered. It's been a weird week and I need to collect some thoughts.

Restart Thu 26-Jul-12 14:07:33

We are here in this safe environment to share these stories and relate. Non of us are as alone as we thought we were. I go over this thread in my mind and think how i have behaved in a crazy way frim being worn down , manipulated and bullied - i'm hiping the healthy me i'm building wont let that hapoen x

garlicbutter Thu 26-Jul-12 14:47:24

It's weird, isn't it, how the recognition takes so much effort and then the realisation that no-one else can fix the source? Proper guidance helps a lot, I find, and I'm glad there's so much on the internet as it's hard to find the right professional even if you can afford them.

I'm going to look at my triggers because I'm still reeling from my involvement with mental health threads: the 'damage' hurts but is a signpost and I should read what it says!!

• Being unheard. This was the overriding theme. I am disbelieved because I'm crazy, insecure, damaged, sensitive, or worthless or old, fat, female, poor, whatever. There's always a reason. In some circumstances, the aggressor really does have the power to silence me as adults did when I was a child. I'm actually better at dealing with them now (though not enough yet, imo) although I still tend to feel as if I'm faking - an opponent can easily destabilise me if they figure out how to put me back in 'helpless child' mode.

My irrational reactions come when somebody assumes this authority, without really having it. I seem to award the power to them. This lets people bully or discredit me, I get frantically upset and try persisting (like a misunderstood child) instead of standing full height and asserting myself. Need to think about this. I definitely awarded power to X1, X2 and mad flatmate. In fact, I rather suspect I'm always doing it. Oops.

• Being unwelcome. It shouldn't happen - I've usually been popular and had great friends - but the parental message that I'm so shit, nobody would want me around, is still hurting me. X2's emotional withholding made me feel desperate longing until the desperation took over and I went crazy. This was irrational because I knew you can't demand affection or approval. I knew I shouldn't be with someone who acted like he didn't want me. But I ended up being with him anyway, and demanding.

I'm still hiding from people. I've got plenty of pragmatic excuses but, all the same, I'm keeping an unhealthy amount of distance. Then, of course, I occasionally crack and splurge inappropriately. And yet ... I long for easy affection! Gah.

OK, stopping here for now smile

greenearrings Thu 26-Jul-12 20:42:31

Emerald,I ,too can relate to a lot of what you say. I'm sorry about your sister,your description of her "becoming" her illness,is how I try to understand,make sense of and deal with my parents. They both had horrendous childhoods and are totally locked into their own private hell. And their relationship is a toxic dynamic. I suspect they might each have been different;healthier;if married to other people.
Still they were,and are crazy makers to me. Except now I don't allow it. They still do it,but I manage the whole thing differently,and barely see them.

Restart - I have re read your post many times. What you say about the emotionally unavailable man and your experience of trying to end it,then getting just enough to stay really hit me between the eyes........I am struggling to work out if that is what is happening to me right now.........on the other hand,I am still so hungry for love and attention,yet terrified of it,whilst t the same time ,having no real idea of what a real ,grown up relationship would be like,that I am unable to tell if it's me or not.
The only time I felt as if I was getting enough attention,and therefore felt secure,was with the crazy maker ex who I failed to spot as controlling,bullying and mean until far,far too late.Of course,he was an illusion and a fake,but it disturbs me that the intense attention and silly soulmate fantasy that I so readily swallowed ,could have felt good,and even been mistaken for love.

I believe I was looking for unconditional love -parental love,never having received it. Not what a grown up relationship should be about. What my parents gave me,I understood to be "love",not realising that it was anything but. No wonder such crap felt familiar and comforting..........
Garlic - i do believe my twat radar is alright now. But I fear that I am too damaged to give and receive proper love in a healthy grown up relationship.I suspect I am,myself emotionally unavailable. I also know that I have been capable of pretty bonkers behaviour - yes,as an outcome of a crap dynamic - crazy maker stuff....but still,not ok. I feel shame,and fear of my own capacity/potential (?) to behave abusively.
My fear of abandonment is acute.
I am great at helping others,and "get" it all intellectually...yet find it hard to "feel" it myself.....classic borderline trait/ptsd effect.....

garlicbutter Thu 26-Jul-12 21:31:53

I get it all intellectually...yet find it hard to "feel" it myself.....classic borderline trait/ptsd effect..... YY, me too! As I'm on a severe down atm, my behaviour (or, rather, inertia) is doing me damage ... and I can see that, and know what to do and even what to think, but it doesn't get through confused

I suspect a lot of the problem is fear of getting it wrong. I've been called emotionally unavailable (by twats, mainly) but it can't have been true. I was practically free of boundaries: my emotions were out there, spilling all over the place! I used to believe the more you love, the more you'll be loved - which I'm sure is true with 'normal' people but, like you green, I wanted unconditional love so that is what I unwisely gave.

I am unavailable now - definitely. I'm assuming this is a necessary over-compensation. When you're learning relationships all over again, as it were, it's probably sensible to tread carefully. And, well, maybe this is 'normal'? (Not hermitting, I know that isn't normal.) People without psychic injuries don't go around baring their hearts; they usually take years, don't they, to become fully available to their partners? And even so, they don't assume complete transparency or unconditionality.

So, green, in an extremely rambling way blush, I'm wondering if the relationship you mention is demanding too much of you, in terms of emotional availability? Might the other person be themselves withholding, while requiring surrender from you?
I don't know, of course. Just asking.

garlicbutter Thu 26-Jul-12 21:41:13

I feel shame,and fear of my own capacity/potential (?) to behave abusively.

Don't! I did, until I figured out the repeating-patterns thing, and that I was with people whose patterns triggered mine. At the same time, I learned from therapy that anger's OK - and discovered my "angry voice", of which I'm disproportionately proud! - and from observation that freaking out is actually pretty normal. Weirdly, this latter discovery set me free. I don't think I will ever rage again, except on purpose. Your potential to behave abusively is a natural human quality. Everyone can behave abusively.

D'you know, last night I had a really strong urge to describe some of the raging, ranting, throwing, fighting, sobbing things I've done. Now I don't. We all know what it looks like, anyway, don't we.

greenearrings Thu 26-Jul-12 21:50:33

hmmm...could be....will give that serious consideration...thank you smile

sunshine after lots of bad weather is a recognised trigger of low mood....sympathetic weather can make it easier to hold the rumbling blues away...when it's sunny,it can feel as if the rest of the world is out there sipping cocktail,having jolly barbecues ,generally enjoying life.....all except me...

I've said it elsewhere recently,but it' a shame there are no adoptive mothers for damaged adult children...I suspect a few of us have been ,or are ,out there looking for dates/a relationship ,hoping to find that special love which we deserve (of course) but which should have been given to u when we were little...and cannot be found now,outside ourselves.....therein lies the's defeating me...(loving myself unconditionally,I mean)

greenearrings Thu 26-Jul-12 21:53:02

sorry for typos

adoptive mothers/fathers for adults = psychodynamic psychotherapist......the limitations,however,are obvious smile

garlicnutter Fri 27-Jul-12 11:52:33

Greenearrings, at the time you typed that I was hunting online for photos of my old psychiatrist! I think he bigged up the fatherly aspect - he was a Jimmy Edwards schoolmaster type - and it must have worked to a degree as I wanted thoughts of a comforting Dad (not the real one) last night grin

It looks as if he's retired, so I won't be able to stalk him. Heh.

struwelpeter Fri 27-Jul-12 12:57:08

I have just been reading an extract from Marilyn Monroe book, by a US feminist. She looked for father figures in husbands and psychiatrists - always looking for parenting.
Not sure that MM analogies can go all that far, but first point is self-awareness. I'm also interested in dancing a dance with someone. I think we all do that in our relationships, but while no one ever is perfect or utterly content with their upbringing, it is when the dance becomes unhealthy and our reactions to it. I too wonder about my abusive ex's new dance with new gf. We all need to aim for equality, and not to abuse or use others or make them crazy ... I suppose that is the best anyone can hope for.

garlicnutter Fri 27-Jul-12 13:48:48

I meant to come back to this:
But I wonder if labelling the perpetrator as "bad" is too easy in terms of beginning to understand what drives the behaviour,whether change is possible and where societies responsibility lies in addressing why this is so widespread.

Labels like that don't help much, no. But I look at the bullies & manipulators I have known best in my life and I see that some would have wanted to change - and couldn't - while others perceive no cause for change, so wouldn't. Therefore, they are what they are. Which, actually, is what they all say at some point.

My father was sadistic and full of pain. He was, taking the sum of his words & deeds into account, a bad person. This fact pained him. He did a lot of very good things but his thought and intents were not good. His good deeds were done when there was no loss to him, by his standards. The nature of his standards meant he'd choose the 'bad' thing if both options were equal in terms of benefit to him.

My mother is not at all a 'bad' person. She is, however, defined by what the world reflects upon her. This makes her harmful, without harmful intent: the way children do harm. We were talking about meditation: she says she doesn't need a method, as when she's in a static situation she can "fold in on herself". I've often seen her do this. I asked what she found inside. "Nothing," she says, "It's completely empty; I feel peaceful." She is a multi-faceted, mirrored surface and no more.

My intuition about X1 is that he's full of yearning. His childhood wasn't good, but he believes it was good and just. He, too, desires a great deal of validation - he's a classic Narcissist, complete with beautiful possessions, popularity, mood swings, tantrums and self-obsession. I'd say the self-obsession is his defining quality. He does good things and thinks he's a good person, but doesn't actually care about others' welfare. He would only consider changes that further enhance his public image.

X2 has an autistic-like misunderstanding of people and the world around him, coupled with hyper-sensitive vision & hearing. He is a brilliant mimic. His world construct is that of a zero-sum game, which he must win, and he has no moral compunction to limit his tactics. He really enjoys putting one over on people. My intuition is that his emotions are restricted to fury, resentment and triumph. He doesn't care what people think of him and has no wish to change at all, as he often says. I feel he is empty inside, too.

Crazy ex-flatmate is a lot like X2 - they got on very well together, though neither liked the other - but with X1's vanity attached. Despite sharing 7 years of our lives, I never found out what was 'inside' her and I don't think she wanted to look. Perhaps she was both yearning and furious? She fits the NPD profile exactly. As long as she gets constant adulation, at someone else's cost, she doesn't want to change. When she loses her main supply (10 years, for her) she simply moves to another feed.

So ... I'm only interested in these people's inner selves to the extent that they teach me about my own dysfunctions. They won't change because they can't, and wouldn't choose change if they could. I can characterise them as 'bad' because they harmed me - some unintentionally, but the harm was real. They were able to harm me because I was over-invested in forming positive relationships with them. Essentially, I hoped they would change ... into rounded characters with the full range of emotional & cognitive expressions. That was, I think, unrealistic and wasteful of my efforts.
I'm interested to know why you want to see if they can change, green?

garlicnutter Fri 27-Jul-12 13:49:42

struwelpeter - YY re dance and equality!

Emerald50 Fri 27-Jul-12 13:58:35

Thnx Garlic butter and Green Earrings and Restart for support - We are all a work in progress and I can see the insights from this thread can only help. One of the things I get really angry about is how invisible I am or my pain is - wearing my heart on my sleeve is a cry to be understood and to get the same recognition that society gives others who may be physically unwell. I have a very strong need that people understand what happened to make me so emotional and sad and to see my strength and that they become outraged instead of 'oh you need to forgive him' . I do forgive my parents but I am outraged for all who did not speak up because a child has to be protected. That we may be sensitive souls who are caring people means we do not bounce back without lots of the right type of support which takes a bit of working out and part of that is deciding when we are ready to take on a new relationship and whether it is going to be a 'real' relationship i.e. being accepted as we are for who we are for all our strength and vulnerability and our past - it is very liberating when you take an educated chance on someone who is capable of sharing or relating to your pain. Take heart I think there are dance partners out there who will take the past on board - it is part of our journey and although there is shame for every victim each crazy maker or bully or NPD or BPD out there has usually left carnage around them so it's a matter of honing our skills to connect with caring,kind,sensitive souls who understand emotional abuse and can dance too and you will find that tango partner!

Orkward Fri 27-Jul-12 14:26:57

I can really relate to so much that's been said on this thread, it's very strange to read.
I had a very bullying sexually harassing boss - went on for years and I felt very traumatised by it and by the process of reporting it trying to deal with it properly.
I'm just realising how wrong my relationship is, how many things I've ignored or covered up or pretended weren't happening because of his mh issues or my inability to know how to handle it. Now, all these things are crowding in at once, the realisation of what has happened, and my anxiety is completely out of my control, I feel really unwell, not sleeping or eating.

I'd not thought about ptsd, but there are so many incidents that have been traumatic that it does make sense.

greenearrings Fri 27-Jul-12 19:21:47

re change...
I see change happen in my work (teaching emotional coping and mindfulness (dbt)....) I experience people - men and women with a variety of "labels" ,BPD being one,engage in treatment and learn to understand what drives their behaviour and to learn healthier ways to cope and to live. I see these changes maintained over time..I hear people talk about how they wish they had understood year ago.....I advocate treatment and encourage people to enter it......
These,however,are people whowant to change. who are ready to examine themselves and accept personal responsibility for their actions. A huge part of the process is "radical acceptance" - learning that we cannot change the past,but must find a way to live in the present,for the future. And compassion.

I do not believe anyone can change unless they want to. And then work hard over a long period of time.
Some people will not do this. Are they unable to? Too damaged? My professional position is to hold out hope to people who present for treatment,that change is always possible.
But personally,I do suspect that some damage is sustain so early,and is so severe that the costs of even beginning to look at oneself will be too great,in terms of the pain involved in accepting any responsibility for our actions.Easier to stay "bad" then?
I do not personally believe any baby is born bad. but we have a genetic loading to contend with,and what happens next - and the sense we make of it as we begin to think for ourselves - may set badness deeply into ourselves,so that it cannot be changed....?

also,I have behaved badly to others,before I began to accept responsibility for myself. I have changed. I know it is possible.And i know how painful it is to carry the realisation of what i have done in the past ,and would do differently with the insight I have now......
....think how unspeakable it would be for some of the people who have behaved catastrophically badly to consider themselves culpable in any way......easier to blame others - from the past or present...and look for more to blame in the future.....that,I am sure,is what drives a lot of badness....though probably not consciously...

And also,there must be hope that humanity/society/the world/whatever you prefer can change and accept break the cycle of cruelty and abuse that nations do.....
The debate about smacking starts and ends with this perspective ,for me.

greenearrings Fri 27-Jul-12 19:25:21

Alice Millar is my guru on this.

Restart Sat 28-Jul-12 05:43:06

I agree, people must really want to change, and must be realistic that change is going to take hard work, but not just hard work there must be progression. One can spend a lifetime examining ones own navel. I believe there has to be forward momentum in this search. One has to allow oneself to become very uncomfortable, one has to let go of what one thinks 'should be' and deal with 'what is'.
I relate to the feeling of ignorance as to what a healthy relationship feels like, there are two opposing ends that I am familiar with - the partners are direct abuser or enablers, both are equally thwarting. I believe the type of abuse I suffered with my ex only existed because of my susceptability to it, I think if I had had greater self esteem I would have determined at the very begining that this person could be a nice friend but not a partner, once our dynamic was set in play then he wore me down and i was worn down. I am hoping that my recent relationship has taught me some more about that. Basically that people will treat me the way I allow them to treat me. The other end of the spectrum is equally unappealing to me, to have someone accept me as permanently damanged, and spend 10,20, 30 years dancing around the damage.
That is the tricky thing. I've been conciously changing and hope to continue. I would need to find someone that see's that and can cope with the potential for further change. I don't want to be emotionally stunted again. I don't mean change to my core self i.e. that I would become a stranger over time, but in my emotional responses. I would like to further develop my emotional boudaries, maintain empathy at an appropriate level. I would like someone that could recognise when damage is on display, acknowledge it to me (not sweep it under the carpet or accept it as all I'm capable of being) and allow me the emotional space to work on the damage and to make me feel supported and accepted in that process. There must be progress though, if there is not progress then I need to rethink and try something else.
I think there is danger in becoming stuck in a rut of self discovery and repair and that we may in OCD style continuously strip away, repaint and strip away again at the same issues, because we reach a level where we are either to afraid to delve deeper or simply conditioned to being 'in recovery' and using it in itself as an excuse for avoiding life.

Restart Sat 28-Jul-12 06:41:45

sorry hit submit on the above post (when answering the phone) without having a chance to change my standard spelling and grammar sins. I am in a militant mood today. I feel that we all have to heal at our own pace BUT sometimes we have to set up our own internal boot camp and get ourselves fired up to tackle that next god damn hurdle, rather than prostrate ourselves below it in the mud and while wallowing view it as insurmountable from our lowly perspective. We come to these forums and are so enlightened by the perspectives of others, but we can also give ourselves a fresh perspective. We aren't stuck. I read a blog recently which gave me real food for thought, it was asking women to challenge the notion that they were unable to change the 'that's just how I am' mentality. It asked something like 'have you ever changed your behaviour for your relationship e.g. to keep the peace? to please someone else?' It's premise was if you can change to suit someone else, then you can change for yourself. I'm very losely paraphrasing and i hope I haven't entirely lost the meaning in doing so. It struck me though, that I had felt somewhat fixed in spite of the changes I've worked so hard to make, but then I remembered the changes I made simply as a matter of course to enable a relationship to continue. Strange how effortless when for other people and how much hard work when for myself. Also, I think self esteem is difficult to develop if one lives in a reclusive way, I think part of building the self love we all need to heal is in putting ourselves 'out there' as an equal to others. Not only in a dating sense, but as part of our society. To put ourselves out there and say this is me and I'm not ashamed of who I am (whether we believe it or not at first) is a big step towards healing. Some may reject us, a lot may, that doesn't matter, we reserve the right to reject the people we don't want in our lives also. I lost my train of thought when the phone rang and am rambling now. To fight off the people that may potentially make us feel crazy we need to reserve our elasticity for ourselves and the changes we wish to make to ourselves for our own improvement, we need to have the 'read only' setting in place when it comes to others. By changes I meand and include the erosion of confidence that comes from absorbing toxic interactions.

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 09:43:41

we need to have the 'read only' setting in place when it comes to others

I like your expression there, Restart! It's about giving up the narcissistic dance, isn't it, where both dancers' moves are determined by the follower's reactions to the leader. Healthier 'dances' are free-form: a continuous interplay of leads and follows on both sides. I agree with much else of what you say, but to me it's about loving myself as fully as I've loved other people rather than testing myself against external relationships, iyswin.

Restart Sat 28-Jul-12 10:59:25

yes gb that's what I mean , it's about loving ourselves so that we need never fear facing others, because we know we can take care of ourselves right down to an emotional level. I thinkI can tend to hide away. my mother and grandmother were and are respectively both reclusive so it's a tendency i'm very mindful of. I'm not sure about my grand mother, but I think she simply withdrew.My mother is unbearable to be around. For years I allowed myself to be made feel guilty for not having a 'normal' relationship with her, constantly had people saying 'but she's your mum' etc. My mother drove everyone away with her sheer toxicity. I was made to feel guilty for not making more of an effort with her, but 1. she made it virtually impossible not answering her phone/opening her door, changing her number and not giving anyone her new number, not turning up etc etc. (I of course covered up this aspect of her for the most part so I took the full brunt of the 'blame' for the lack of contact) and 2. 'she' does not respond it's her illness that relates to the outside world, no empathy no rational thoughts, there is no relatable person there that can be reached, yet even knowing that she can bring me down and continue to damage me. I can see my sister drifting towards the tendency to withdraw now too. She dealt with things by being a controller and is finding it difficult to deal with her kids growing up and not being so compliant. I can see bitterness setting in that they are not more grateful, but of course her method of control was to take over everything for them and indulge them so now they are 'helpless' adults with an overblown sense of entitlement - the youngest in particular. I noticed on her recent visit to this country that she now finds me less compliant than I have previously been and can't deal with it, she withdrew. I can see her doing it more in her home life too. I struggle with a lot of the social situations i push myself into, but I feel it's something I must do for me. I live with a fish out of water feeling in most settings, I dont feel that I fit in here here but then go back to Ireland and know for sure I dont belong there. If I allowed myself to withdraw I would find it difficult to gather the courage to face the world again.

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 11:25:48

Have you seen Wobbly's MLC thread? Her OP contains a guide to making your spouse crazy. Very accurate, ime!

I think this was written for people whose spouses have suddenly 'changed'. Wobbly has said her partner is diagnosed with NPD so she would have been living with crazy-making for a considerable time. I don't happen to believe in mid-life crisis, at least not in this way, but, if it were all down to that, X2's MLC began as soon as we got engaged wink (He was 31: a bit young for mid-life!)

Restart Sat 28-Jul-12 11:54:13

my ex was behaving as if in crisis for at least a year before we split up and until very recently. In the last couple of days I have spoken to him and recognised the person of old. I can still sense that he is anxious, but he I don't feel afraid of him or the Mr Hyde character he was for those years. I reas somewhere years ago that men that had difficult relationships with their mothers are more prone to mid life crisis and the description it gave of the type of crisis was exactly what occurred with my ex. I think he has NPD but in the past 4 years he moved so much further along the spectrum he became unrecognisable. He went from being a selfish , passive aggressive bore to down right frightening. I felt that he would have hit me over the head with a shovel just to get me out of the picture if he had thought he could get away with it. I went from being his partner to being simply 'in the way'. I can now see the version of him that our friends saw, that is to say he is polite and pleasant and talks about his concern for our kids in the face of the impending birth of his next child, he says all the right things, and if I didn't know him so well and didn't know the background to some of what he's saying better than he realises I do. I would be sucked in by his Narcissist delusion He completely believes it all himself , he constructs an image and then immediately forgets that it is his own construct and occupies it. However, he seems to have moved back down to a more manageable level of the scale of NPD which makes my life less stressful in terms of parenting with his involvement. This all belongs on the other thread...

Restart Sat 28-Jul-12 12:31:57

yes I remember that mlc for dummies post, reading it brought me right back to the time just after my break up when I was struggling to comprehend what had happened and how my life had imploded. It is surreal that such a pattern is played out so regularly around the world, it is so scripted.
Do you remember this one (the original source seems to have been deleted, but I copied it on to my blog 2 years ago).I'll post the link on the other thread also.

Emerald50 Sat 28-Jul-12 12:39:47

Just read Alice Miller - Thanks - Wow - Perfect timing. I feel I am moving forward in my healing - hope you are ok Orkward - it's a huge shock when the penny drops - we can't be too hard on ourselves - getting on this forum and access to others journeys and sharing resources is a remarkable achievement - it takes a lot of time and I can't always see the progress in myself but it is being made - I just know that much - until I am tested again I guess and then I will know by just how much - a key word for healthy relationships is Respect - for ourselves first and foremost and for others who are deserving of it - I.e. that they treat themselves with respect by facing up to themselves - warts and all - none of us are perfect - we are not supposed to be - having the courage to admit that and do something about it is what counts - I don't think we can get stuck on the road - sometimes I have to take a break and reflect - time alone to reflect has always served me well in tandem with trusted confidantes and asking for help - hard to do too

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 14:10:57

Thanks for that link, Restart. This bit: "Not only did he blame me for the failure of the marriage, but he also resorted to DEFAMING my character. How could he believe that I am such an evil being after having loved me for years?” invokes the damage done by crazy-makers.

OK, a completely secure individual would know they're being unfairly treated (and have supportive resources) but this kind of trashing can and does throw even the strongest person into a nightmare of fear and self-doubt. Because the 'weaknesses' being exploited are love, trust and respect. For those of us whose default position is self-doubt, this raises a lifetime's worth of fears: not that our good qualities are being exploited, but that our qualities are not good after all.

I agree with you about respect. It's now my non-negotiable. I even reject family teasing now, which may make me look somewhat humourless but I won't make a joke out of character assassination.

Orkward Sat 28-Jul-12 14:49:03

I read the MLC post and convinced myself that it's me! I think I'm doing all the first things on that list - demonising my partner by going over every bad thing that's happened and blowing it up, becoming emotionally detached, obsessing about my own feelings, creating bafflement and confusion, what if i'm actually a crazy maker rather than someone made crazy?

Since first admitting that things in my relationship are wrong, I've easily convinced myself that i have some kind of personality disorder making me saboutage everything and maximise it and talk myself into something. If i list the things that have happened, people tell me i'm right to feel scared and want to get out - so I swing constantly between the two things, needing to be told that yes, things are bad, and then convincing myself that it's some kind of awful flaw in my own personality that's just creating these problems while he is really not that bad. it's exhausting and confusing.

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 15:24:58

Ah, yes, Orkward. The embarrassing outcomes of being made crazy ...
I have:
Obsessively gone through his phone
Had long, pointless conversations with his friends, trying to find out what he's been up to
Thrown stuff, overturned restaurant tables, had stand-up meltdowns in crowded places
Snogged his friend
Monitored the mileage on both cars
Rung numbers off his phone to see if they were answered by the listed person
Tried to catch him out in conversation
Moped around in his vicinity like a lovestruck teenager
Gone apeshit at him for gawping at attractive women
Gone through his box of old paperwork
Accused him of shagging practically every woman he was friendly with
Acted like a perfect wife on meth, all polish and bright smiles
Stayed up late to 'talk' about our relationship
Screeched and sobbed. A lot.
I'm sure there's more.
Was I mad? Yes, without a doubt. I did everything in the Insecure & Unstable, Possessive Woman's Handbook. Bizarrely, nobody pointed out a relationship that made me this unhappy was bad for me. They - even my own close friends - wanted me to chill out, take a step back, stop pushing him away.
Whereas, in reality (took years to piece things together), he was doing really crazy, weird and egregious things. My suspicions were not only unfounded, they din't go far enough. But I was the one who acted crazy. He found it amusing, I think.

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 15:28:42

* My suspicions were not only well founded, they didn't go far enough.

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 15:50:59

I should add, he was accusing me of being an Insecure & Unstable, Possessive Woman well before I became one.

At first the dissonance was so great - I knew I wasn't; even his stupidly laddish friends said I was laid back - I ignored it. Or, perhaps more accurately, couldn't process it so shoved it in Room 101 of my mind. After a while I started countering his accusations ... and this became arguments about whether his actions were reasonable ... when the only action I'd questioned was his accusation! Whenever I tried to de-escalate one of these rows, it became about me "controlling him" so I would, irrationally, go out of my way to be very un-controlling. This gave him more leeway to do more peculiar things, and when I questioned ^them: well, the crazy dance started for real.

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 15:52:33

This: the accusation of being something I wasn't: is what the Freedom Programme calls defining.

Orkward Sat 28-Jul-12 15:58:03

I've had no possessive feelings or irrational behaviour towards him, I just feel so full of doubt and confusion that all the steps I'm taking to protect myself feel like saboutage and deceipt.

By listing the bad things that have happened, I'm making him sound like a monster. By distancing myself from him, i'm becoming emotionally detached. By being so confused and full of doubt, I'm creating a muddled and confused situation, but most of all - by finally talking to people and telling people the bad things, I'm being disloyal and horrible and creating drama where none needs to be. This is someone who forced me to have sex with him - but I'm totally spinning in circles thinking that it can't be true, it must be me, there's something wrong with me. I can't seem to believe the people who tell me it's not my fault and I really want to.

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 16:07:22

I've easily convinced myself that i have some kind of personality disorder - I was so sure I had BPD, I requested diagnosis (twice). I displayed so many of the symptoms, diagnosis was granted (twice). I do not have a personality disorder; it's official!

As greenearrings mentioned, BPD and PTSD share several characteristics.

Restart Sat 28-Jul-12 16:11:55

It's not yout fault orkward. You appear to have the same distorted view of loyalty as me. You need to talk. Stop protecting him at your expense. x

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 16:40:37

I understand that, Ork. I have a permanent injury from his rapes, yet I never acknowledged what he did sad Similarly, I refused to believe my own eyes when I saw him with an OW - literally, I saw him but told myself it wasn't him. (There's more to this story, which makes me even more self-deluding.)

You say that listing the bad things about him makes him sound like a monster. Is he a monster? There must be some appealing things about him! Isn't it more likely he's selfish and dishonest? A monster sounds so awful. He, on the other hand, sounds like a man who hid his worse qualities from you until you were caught. You're not wrong to identify his unpleasant qualities, or that he misled you. But you didn't make the worst mistake ever; you were tricked. And I imagine he still has enough of the good stuff that you can see why you fell for his trick.

Do you feel as if you "deserve" to be pushed around?

Orkward Sat 28-Jul-12 16:50:30

No he isn't a monster. He has good qualities, and we've been together half of my life, it's been a very gradual thing. I think that it's only facing these things now, after years - they all come flying up to the surface at once, which is overwhelming and unsettling. Meanwhile he's fine, life is normal.

That sounds horrific garlic sad

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 17:05:27

It always sounds horrific when it's somebody else! But, yes, it is hard to accept bad things are done to you personally. I'm convinced it's harder to accept when you were pre-conditioned to abuse - trained to minimise abuses committed against oneself. I also think the pre-conditioning leads to the confusion you've described. For as much as you know it is wrong, a large part of you flips into minimisation and self-blame mode as per conditioning.

garlicnutter Sat 28-Jul-12 22:07:26

sea, I didn't really know how to reply to your post. I'm sorry I left it so long - and very sad to hear you've 'imprisoned' yourself at home so as to feel safe.

You know, to a child, parental neglect and contempt are life threatening. I can remember how incredibly huge and terrifying my dad seemed when angry - in fact, friends who met him after I'd grown up were surprised to find he was actually a small man, because I'd given the impression he was powerfully built. Resultant Complex PTSD tends to feature emotional flashbacks, which are rarely like the event replays known in classic (single event) PTSD.

Emotional flashbacks give you the sensation of being back in a traumatic situation - generally that of a small child feeling threatened. It's common to feel as if you are physically smaller than usual and as if nobody can hear you. Emotionally, it feels exactly like being an intimidated child and we tend to fall back into the survival strategies we adopted then. Pete Walker classes those strategies as "fight, flight, freeze or fawn". As we are not children now, our feelings of intimidation are rarely appropriate and, thus, neither are our responses. I was forever fighting or fawning over Mad Boss - these were the only responses he sought and, like a little game program, I responded in full flashback mode. (When I think of him now, I imagine him taller and more imposing than he was.) Predecessors had taken the following approaches to his bullying: Expressing his irrationality and walking out; Manipulating him through his vanity; Bullying him harder. None of these featured in my range of options, even after I'd spoken to those others about him - so my CPTSD locked me in my scared-child pattern, dancing abuse with the boss, unable to contemplate alternative recourses. I did get the bastard fired in the end; it was important to me. But I was too ill to take it to a tribunal, which would have been far more satisfying.

I have Walker's 13-step Flashback Management pinned to my wall. Would it be of use to you, sea?

Emerald50 Sun 29-Jul-12 02:11:24

Very revealing Flashback link thnx Garlic - I am a flight/fawn - after I escaped physically from my Dad and crazy maker family dynamic I moved to six different countries over 10 years!!! I remained mainly single during this time (no long term or live-in partners!) i knew i was damaged and and that is what saved me I now realise from an abusive marriage - I had a close call with an abusive partner but luckily he was not interested in me (he saw i did not love myself and he needed perhaps someone to reflect off ). Guys would run a mile from me as i was so emotionally needy at that time which I totally forgive myself for now even if it is a tad embarrassing to think about - it was not my fault and and I am not ashamed of it - my Dad is the one that should be held to account in a perfect world but he did not give a damn or was not conscious of how destructive he was- that is part of what saved me that i knew what I didn't want and bully Dad did not do emotion very well - I think we all need to remember we are acting entirely N0RMALLY given the abuse we suffered or are currently suffering - our abusive circumstances are abnormal - I had a broken heart for years and damage - a Termination - at least I saw the world whist i was heartbroken and found myself and began to like myself bit by bit And forgive myself as i had to rely on myself a lot of the time - the fawn in me comes out in paid work situations as opposed to my parenting role - I can't seem to set healthy boundaries and cannot relate well with non compassionate co-workers - i.e. office politics and Witholders - I'm not sure this is the right thread for me as I enjoy very healthy marriage ATM in any case - we are almost 17 years together - am definitely ingrained PTSD but I really feel hopeful ATM that I am healing and I feel very supported by a very emotionally healthy partner, friends and non bully siblings and internet- my mh sister always thanks me for caring enough for her to do 'tough love' with her though it hasn't always being appreciated over the years and has done my head in when I am physically in the same country as her - she needs boundaries and because she is my sister I cannot walk away only when she gets abusive with me - the healthier i get the more i am able to look after myself - all the posts and links have been so helpful to me - thanks

Restart Sun 29-Jul-12 02:55:40

A person that forces someone to have sex is a rapist and that is a monstrous act. We find it so hard to call them what they are, we are conditioned to cover for them and play down their abuse. We feel their shame for them. It is not your fault Ork, i cant say that enough.

garlicnutter Sun 29-Jul-12 10:02:52

I'm not sure this is the right thread for me as I enjoy very healthy marriage ATM in any case - we are almost 17 years together - am definitely ingrained PTSD but I really feel hopeful ATM that I am healing and I feel very supported by a very emotionally healthy partner, friends and non bully siblings

Personally, I feel I could learn a lot from you, Emerald, if you choose to stick around on this thread smile I've no experience of a supportive partner, my siblings are damaged in denial and I've distanced myself from friends out of - er, shame.

garlicnutter Sun 29-Jul-12 10:05:18

Reiterating this, Ork: "A person that forces someone to have sex is a rapist".

Orkward Sun 29-Jul-12 12:30:07

Yes sad
And still sleeping next to that person and eating with them and sharing normal life is really, very crazy making.

Restart Sun 29-Jul-12 14:52:24

I'm so sorry you are still in that situation Ork i cant begin to imagine your inner turmoil. Is there any way you could get some space ? A weekend at a friends place, to get clearer perspective? x

Orkward Sun 29-Jul-12 21:20:58

Yes going to go away for a week soon with children, hoping that a bit of time away from home will help. other plans have fallen through recently and so I'm still really unsure what to do long term - I know what i need but not the right way to get it.

seaofyou Mon 30-Jul-12 00:31:04

Ork sometimes you cant see what is happening until the situation has stopped. I am hoping this week away sheds some reflection for you and your situation.

Emerld you write so well...your parents are classic stiff upper lip must not discuss etc and yes MH such a stigma back then....hasnt still moved on much either! It was hell for you growing up and you have survived! you are extremely strong!

Thank you garlicbutter for the 13 step flashback guide! Although it is not for 'simple' PTSD the 'STOP' and tell yourself you are safe, it is not real etc at first are very apporpriate. I returned to my early 30s when my brother died for those flashbacks...but NLP has stopped them completely!

However the PTSD type of hypervigulance state and hypersensitiveness and dont forget the startled response that leaves me clinging to the ceiling when ex used to attack and comes back everytime I see an awful outcome on the news for dc and or their mothers murder makes me imprisoned with fear in my home and this 13 step might be better for.

I am convinced once a person experiences flashbacks the likelyhood of repeated ones for other situations is high chance? Like the gate is open. But I see a difference between what I class as single PTSD and complex PTSD, but both just as disabling, difficult and to get over..maybe complex many years longer if not forever? With the complex I see a repeated return of the Narc abuser! Is this coincidence...or is this is what the books go on about 'victims needing counselling for years later' ?

It is reassurring to know I am hypervigulant not paranoid when ex gaslights!

Emerald50 Mon 30-Jul-12 11:25:48

I went to a seminar at a parenting workshop last year and the presenting psychologist/pharmacist!came up with the acronym SEA for measuring healthy relationships S- do you feel Safe, E - is it Easy, A - do you feel Adored! There was a lot of shuffling and nervous giggles at this from us particularly about the adored bit but the Safe had to be non-negotiable. Stay safe Orkward

seaofyou Mon 30-Jul-12 13:50:13

Oh I didn't know that acronym Emerald so pure coincidence that SEA with my name lol! Easy for me to remember then! Actually if you look at my name title ...what do you think? It was a piece of music ex said he wrote for me...I later finds out he tells the ex he left me for the same crap story! With lyrics of 'I fall deep into the sea of you'
Ex was actually writing lyrics about himself! If you look into water you see reflection of oneself! So a mirror! It is the most Narcissistic song I have heard and I have used this title to remind me he is a Narcissist!

Restart Mon 30-Jul-12 23:04:31
Article on tapping therapy and possible benefits for people with ptsd and/or anxiety

seaofyou Mon 30-Jul-12 23:33:41

Restart can't open it but the tapping as states in title is NLP! Done under hypnotic or relaxed state where the unconscious mind is open to suggestion too at same time as tapping! It literally gave my life back! It stops the replaying of events so no flashes or back in the situation! Totally amazing! If NHS offered this simple cost effective treatment that the max 10 sessions of CBT can't even touch! Then the waiting lists for anxiety, PTSD, phobias etc would be wiped out and mental health services would have time for the other serious mental illnesses and people who suffered for years be able to get some quality of living back fast!
I am going to do a course on it to help ds who suffers with anxiety because of AS and know other life threatening situations re attacks on house ds was present and being physically abused by df I know ds has PTSD also.

garlicnutter Tue 31-Jul-12 11:27:40

I think anything that reduces misplaced fear is useful. Tapping doesn't do it for me but I have other tricks, also learned under hypnotherapy, and practise Pete Walker's steps often. However, they don't deal with the underlying beliefs and behaviour patterns that lead us to malfunction again and again. I've never seen any reputable practitioner claim these can be altered by any other means than committed, long-term psychotherapy and rehearsal.

This CPTSD thing is similar to Stockholm Syndrome. It is in the captive's interests to form a relationship with her captor, no matter what issues the captor may have. She comes to devote all of her thoughts & efforts to him: getting to know the nuances of his every mood; aiming to please him for small favours and to persuade/manipulate him for reduced punishments. It's such an all-consuming project that, over time, she loses the identity she had prior to the capture and becomes, instead of a free & independent individual, fully purposed to 'mirror' her aggressor. This is a good parallel of what happens to people in abusive relationships.

When the first such relationship occurred in one's childhood, the Stockholm effect forms the child's only belief system which explains why abused children so often grow up to have abusive relationships. It's what they are equipped for.

The therapy I've done and am doing uses assorted means to identify unhelpful and rigid beliefs, discover more helpful, flexible ones, and to replace the old with the new. The third part of this - replacement - can be facilitated with tools such as tapping, but I'm afraid the first two have to be done over time, with much uncomfortable self-examination and firework displays of lightbulb discoveries!

Orkward Tue 31-Jul-12 21:11:00

Some of that is uncomfortably familiar. I worry that years of living with dp and his mh issues, it's been so all consuming, I definitely am so tuned to every mood and switch how I react immediately. I've been miserable and sad for a few days, but can only show that because he's been relaxed and carefree, as soon as he switched to a bad mood i had to flick a switch and change to compensate. I worry about what's left of me outside of this, it's quite a scary thought.

Emerald50 Sat 04-Aug-12 03:08:17

My recent epiphany as a result  of returning to the scene of the crime - my childhood home and country as a 48 year old and viewing objectively my Mums role in our family dysfunction, as opposed to my Dad being the main abuser and my Mum a Saint for putting up with him, is leading me so deep and so much back to the past that it's a little scary. Hence I am writing all my thoughts down here because I need too in a safe place. It is the first time I am able to view my Mum's role objectively. I think the lack of connection/attachment feelings of safety and security from my parents and the terror of my sister's illness shaped me and created a feeling of off-balance where I was left to figure out at a very early age how to get the approval, love,respect I didn't get and that was essential to my survival. I did not look within the family or extended family as that was my instinct not too and we were all as siblings pitted against each other by our Father. Even significant others in my life i.e. kind aunts or uncles were criticized by my Father. I have always had great girlfriends in particular that helped me so much and to this day  I value them so much. I looked for love in other people and not myself though. I did not know that I needed to do that first and foremost. I do know that now. 

Enter my Prince or first love - it was love at first sight for me -  to this day I remember it as if it was yesterday - so powerful - I was not strong enough to look after my own emotional needs and I never told him about home situation as I was sure he would run a mile. He was/is strong emotionally and I felt vey safe with him and a bond was formed that I think lasts to this day (we were out of touch for 14 years). Although it was young love and not a sexual love we weaved in and out of each others lives from about ages 14 to 23 years and then he moved to Amsterdam and I lived in London. We met up as adults in Dublin on a weekend we were both home and he later wrote to me in London wanting to reconnect and see where it would and I wrote back to say I would like to keep in touch again too. I found out 11 years later that he never got my return letter - that is what he told me.  How I know this is -when I was back at the family home with husband and two year old on a holiday at aged 37 he stopped by our house which is on a main road where on that day my Father was painting the front gate pillars and he introduced himself and asked - whatever happened to Emerald? And my Dad said 'oh you have just missed her, she is gone shopping in town and she is married now with a young baby to an Aussie and lives in Australia and  is home on holidays' the most bizzare thing about this 'coincidence' was my Dad earlier that day had told me to bring all my junk from my old room back to Australia or burn it and when I was going through it I had found the  14 year old letter from FL and was yearning to know where he was, what happened to him and was thinking of him on this day of all days. I remember praying I would bump into him when I believe I had not had this thought in 14 years as I had pretty much decided fate had intervened and it was not to be although of course I would have thought about him every now and then I think.  I had got on with my life - travelled a lot, lots of jobs, interests, met my husband  and marriage, house  and babies - very busy time. Lots of therapy too!

I rang him that evening and we all met up in the pub and got on very well. My husband and my FL - wow. So every two years  when I am back in Dublin I would eithear call him and chat on phone or meet up with him and once with both our two year  olds - who got on famously - a boy and a girl! Who we jokingly bethrothed to each other. He is still married now with three children like me  and appears by all accounts quite content with the way life has worked out for him and I am very happy for him and very proud of him for being the great guy I remember.

When I returned home two months ago I met up with him and we both bumped into another mutual friend of ours also an ex- boyfriend of mine that I had gone out with on the rebound from FL - I was only 15! What I now know is a transition relationship-  To cut it short my first love said had he known what was going on in my life (he still does not know the extent of what was going on as I was too , confused, scared to speak about it to anyone in detail) or that i was unhappy he would have saved me! That was about seven weeks ago and now I can see that is what I wanted - to be saved. But I saved myself. The challenge in life for me now is to act to my values and principles and boy that can be so hard in this complicated world.

omg I cannot believe everything that is being  dredged up right now - is this healing or being stuck in the past? 

garlicnuts Thu 16-Aug-12 23:11:44

Thanks for your moving post, Emerald, and I'm sorry I didn't reply. To your last sentence - I feel we're drawn to triggers that raise questions we're ready to face: if not completely, perhaps somewhat. It's just happened to me. I'll post about it later. How are you feeling now? Did you work through some stuff, or put it aside for the time being?

Lots of what you've written resonate very strongly with me. I, too, realised my Mums role in our family dysfunction, as opposed to my Dad being the main abuser and my Mum a Saint for putting up with him decades after beginning to resolve my feelings about my dad (they never were fully resolved until 5 years after his death, however). Once I began to see how massively she failed us, it was more difficult to encompass than Dad's abuse. He was violent, cruel & nasty. He had his good points - the ones Mum loved more than she loved her children's wellbeing. I'd respected, loved, defended and modelled myself on a woman who preferred to ask what was wrong with me, her child, than to reject the man who hated me. It's a spaghetti-like mass of emotion, and that spaghetti is my own identity. It's taking time and a lot of depressing work to unravel; I'm irrationally scared I'll find nothing inside when I'm done!!

I, too, have nice aunts from whom I'm too distant to confide in (the other nice rellies are dead). My cousins may as well be strangers, for all the relationship I have with them. It feels much too late to bridge the gaps created by my bonkers parents sad

Your story about First Love and Aussie Husband is lovely! Funny how things come together sometimes, isn't it? The challenge in life for me now is to act to my values and principles - Yes, it's hard. I'm aware of having conflicting sets of values/principles/beliefs - the idealistic ones and the cynical ones - and that real balance actually lies between the two. I believe I'm getting closer to 'balance' but it's hard. It takes it out of me big time.

garlicnuts Thu 16-Aug-12 23:34:00

The current thread about a marital rape has raised quite an impressive set of monsters for me. Not only has the same thing happened to me, but several wonderful replies from survivors of past rapes rattled me. They describe the after-effects of refusing to fully acknowledge the enormity of rape, powering through and moving on without 'dealing' with it completely. These posts were written to illustrate why it's better for the OP to name what happened, put the responsibility where it belongs and to seek professional advice.

Well, I did none of that. One date rape as a virgin, one sexual assault with rohypnol and repeated anal rapes by both husbands. Plus other sexual assaults. All acknowledged by me - not by the perpetrators - and then dismissed. Reading those other accounts of anxiety, depression, social dysfunction, low self-worth and abusive relationships ... my jaw literally dropped open. For the first time, I've made a connection between my issues and the rapes. More, actually: I've made a connection between my childhood, the rapes and the abusive relationships. In essence, it goes like this: It is my DUTY to accept pain, mainly from men but anyone will do. It is my duty to be sexually compliant. I must be brave.

None of my many therapists have been interested in discussing the rapes. In fairness to them, I might have given off signals that I wasn't ready to process them any more than I had. Now I am. I started writing about it this evening, but couldn't continue all in one go. This is a good sign, I think - it means the feelings are real. I've also been drinking quite a lot tonight: again, a sign of significant emotions coming to the surface. I will allow the drinking tonight, as long as I don't allow myself to "forget" the feelings - which is why I'm posting this. I will phone Rape Crisis to see if they've any advice on what approach to take in this stage of my self-therapy. It all feels very ... big.

I'd like to thank those posters on the other thread, if they see this.

greenearrings Fri 17-Aug-12 07:48:47

((((hugs)))) garlic.

achillea Fri 17-Aug-12 08:17:28

I've only just seen this thread, very interesiting, particularly this bit

By withholding, he kept me in a permanent 'early dating' state, hoping he'd relax with me, until I was desperately craving that easy cuddle.

I remember his brother using the phrase "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen", it was passed to him by his uncle. I think this is a tactic that has been used by many men and which they have shared between each other in their exclusively male circles. It is a way to trap their partners, locking them up in a kind of Stockholm syndrome (as you mentioned earlier). If this happens at an early age and it works for them, why change it? Meanwhile their young partners haven't the slightest clue they are trapped.

Restart Fri 17-Aug-12 15:52:21

Garlic, you are facing huge emotional demons, take it slowly and be kind to yourself every step of the way. I think the ultimate pain is in acknowledging that the people we've loved and trusted have abused and betrayed us; or let us down by simply standing by and watching us be abused. In fact the ones that stand by and allow it to happen are I suspect the most damaging, because they reenforce the view that it is somehow acceptable or deserved, and set our expectations for life. It's easy to appear saintly when in fact you are just standing doing nothing, like an icon. I think we avoid calling the abuse what it is because that is the admission of just how betrayed we were , we feel misplaced shame. When we acknowledge it, the pain must be dealt with. It takes a lot of work to get to the point where you can finally allow yourself to see things as they actually were. Our minds sometimes seem to block things that are too overwhelming. None of it was your fault Garlic, you were sent out in to the world with only a template for abuse to guide you. You are incredibly courageous and I'm sending you lots of ((((hugs))))) too xxx

garlicnuts Fri 17-Aug-12 18:16:44

Thank you so much, green and restart! I must admit I've backed away from it today, despite my resolve. I'm not putting it out of sight, though, not this time. Piecing it all together, bit by bit ... It's one thing to know with your head and another to "know" with your soul, isn't it? [sigh] I'm getting there <perks up>

For all the articles and diagnostics I've read on why some people are more susceptible to PTSD than others, I've only seen bloggers making a direct connection between childhood abuse and depth of trauma. I might have been reading the wrong things. Or it might be because PTSD is only formally diagnosed in relation to a single event (or series of events) that would traumatise most people. CPTSD is more about a sort of all-encompassing, lifetime Stockholm syndrome and the inner conflict that sets up, isn't it? Abusive conditioning versus inner wisdom / 'little professor' / wonderchild. Then a really competent crazy-maker can work that conflict to destabilise you. Hmm.

Achillea, I'm sorry to say "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen" is still widely-traded advice. It's ridiculous, it means getting your woman by fucking with her head! Gah!

achillea Sat 18-Aug-12 00:44:40

Your posts are starting to make me think more about ensuring girls are educated properly to recognise this kind of manipulation at an early stage. It is interesting how girls are so vulnerable to this abuse despite being the more 'socially wired' gender. We go through school dealing with lots of complex social challenges in the playground, the bullies, the pecking order etc while the boys are still charging around playing football and picking their noses. We learn how to stand up for ourselves against other girls but never learn how to stand up to abusive men. We don't even recognise one when we see one, we get infatuated and melt into their strong arms with our little hearts pounding.

ladyWordy Sat 18-Aug-12 02:13:45

The difficulty is in spotting an abusive man, achillea sad It seems to me you need a lot of experience, especially in the early stages. Because they seem to all intents and purposes to be a dream come true. Charming, nice, solicitous, 'so in love', exciting to be around, with only crazy exes to worry about ....because you, the latest victim, are so different and special and unlike anyone he's ever met. And he's so keen to commit, too! 

Am feeling way off tonight because a relation I care about is, I have a sickening feeling, walking straight into a relationship just like this. She's found someone much older, with exes, and all the trimmings. I know they play a long game. Feel sick at the thought of watching the train crash slowly. 

Her mother thinks he's wonderful, but there's so much there that makes me instinctively recoil.

While I haven't had the awful experiences other posters have had, I have my own issues. This is making me feel powerless and upset. 

Garlic re your 23 July post...I don't think any woman is immune from an abuser, simply because of the abuser type's beguiling, over attentive, besotted approach early in the relationship. Early signs of control can look like thoughtfulness, and taking care. Only the most experienced and the cynical will be saying.....if it looks too good to be true, guess what....

Restart Sat 18-Aug-12 02:46:01

Yes, abusers act out the analogy of the frog placed to swim in cold water, they allow you to swim happily at first , then slowly increase the temperature over time until you find yourself being boiled. The problem is trying to tell your besotted relative may just make you seem bitter - its a hard one to navigate.

ladyWordy Sat 18-Aug-12 12:45:50

It's true restart....there's nothing I can do. Her partner is her choice. She is lovely and hardworking, it's only in her relationships that she hits a blind spot. 

Her mother is of the view that anyone who likes her daughter is a good guy. (And there have been some grim predecessors to this one.). I keep my misgivings's hard.

Emerald50 Tue 21-Aug-12 11:44:43

My Father was an abusive man as was his father and now I see that trait in my brother - learned behavior - my husband is not an abusive person - I consciously looked for someone unlike my Dad - in my case it was choosing to be with someone who was capable and practised being emotionally open and was not needy for someone to feed his ego i.e. the thing that attracted me was he liked his own company and proved it by lots of time on his own, having fun travelling, hobbies not always centred around other people propping him up whether it was work etc etc he did not need me as a prop for his low ego- (my Dad was only good with the negative emotions)- and he could communicate on an emotional level without eithear of us feeling it was a flaw - that was the non negotiable for me - combining rational thought with emotion - it's a lovely combination and maybe not so rare - mind you I spent a long time looking and moved to the other end of the world - I would say my DH is strong and sensitive and is respected for it amongst those that matter - he was raised by single Mom and one sister so all female household rubbed off on him - he had not got macho ego power and control male influences apart from at school where he noticed how the fathers drove the sons in the absence of his own father - just a thought for thread - re perhaps we need to look at healthy non abusive men and what they are and have that discussion

garlicnuts Thu 23-Aug-12 18:31:25

I love what you said about your non-negotiables when looking for a partner, Emerald!

Unfortunately, "combining rational thought with emotion" was so foreign to me, I wouldn't have known it when I saw it. My first husband was unlike my father in that he was sociable, arty and extrovert (but narcissistic) and the second was different for being undemonstrative, inarticulate and practical (but sociopathic). I did discount potential partners, and friends, who were genuinely at ease with themselves because - well, I assumed it was fake. I'm guessing my dysfunctional-style communications would have put them off, too.

For a considerable time after starting therapy, I blamed my crazy upbringing for my "crazy" reactions to what I now know was abuse as an adult. I assumed a sane, rational, emotionally balanced person would simply refuse to be bullied, or to rise to manipulative bait. It's instructive to read threads on here, by perfectly well-balanced women who've also been drawn in and fallen prey to crazy-makers. Look at Lou's current threads about her Chutney man: ten years she put up with him; silencing her own doubts; devouring relationship self-help books; having rows without knowing why; crying and taking the blame. She's as sane and well-supported as they come!

Maybe my 'craziness' made me more vulnerable: tolerant to abuse, accustomed to emotional roller-coasters, and more likely to choose an abuser again. But it happens to well-adjusted people too - and makes them crazy.

Is it possible to describe healthy, non-abusive men and what they are? If someone like Lou can't tell the difference, would you or I?

Actually - just before hitting Post - there's one thing I've noticed about my family. I've started saying that, before you think about love & passion, you need proper respect. This draws a variety of responses, none of them healthy imo. Some just look as if I've said something really weird. Others rave on about respect, clearly confusing it with admiration/adoration, which is a different thing entirely.

Is respect the magic key? Or does it just happen to be a big issue in the Garlic family??

ladyWordy Thu 23-Aug-12 20:29:58

I assumed a sane, rational, emotionally balanced person would simply refuse to be bullied, or to rise to manipulative bait. … sadly, not necessarily…… because emotionally balanced people assume others feel as they do, and can be reasoned with in the same way. This is where things start to go badly wrong. sad

The healthy victim tries out all the techniques that work on normal people – eg, give and take, nodding and listening, helping the other person feel important – and the situation, bafflingly, gets worse! Because the abuser is not a healthy, normal person acting out of character - but an unhealthy person acting in character. Still the victim twists and turns to try and change themselves enough, so that the relationship is tolerable.

And then we see the kind of misery apparent on this board.

Yes, you are 100% right about respect garlic - as in, treating the other as an equal. It's key!

So how else to spot a good one? some thoughts..

1) They don't feel a need to take over all the time (or help out, or however it's interpreted when it's really control)…

2) …But they won't sit by while you're tired or working hard, assuming you'll wait on them. They do their part, or ask if you need a hand (ask - not tell)

3) They appreciate your skills and talents and would love you to take them further.

4) Love and respect you for what you are, faults and all. They don't worship and idealise you into some non-existent perfect creature.

5) They admit to faults and mistakes. Any failed past relationships are partly their fault, and they accept that.

6) They do not check up on you all the time! Too busy with their own life. If other men look at you, they can look…. and why wouldn't they, because you're gorgeous.

7) Not keen to get married…… or at least slow off the mark! Why? Because they know it is a very serious commitment. And when they do marry, they really mean it. So they want to know you very, very well before they start even thinking about it.

8) A sense of humour...but they do not crack crass or cruel jokes of any description. Crass or cruel jokes are cracked by crass and cruel people.

9) They aren't different people in public. You get the same personality in public and in private, like a stick of rock.

10) Pleasant - not glutinously, dazzlingly charming! (Gavin de Becker warns that charm is a verb...)

...hmmm, long one.. but I know there's more. Any thoughts?

ladyWordy Thu 23-Aug-12 20:36:07

..actually, good men are a bit like friends aren't they? ...but with, um, benefits? wink

garlicnuts Thu 23-Aug-12 21:04:34

Interesting rather than 'exciting'. Risky behaviour - addictions, speeding, thieving, extreme sports - and obsessions: too much gym, running, cycling, work, television, anything - are all "pushing the boundaries" behaviours. Stretching limits is good for us sometimes. Constantly knocking them over isn't.

Ability to relate normally to women. Absence of sexist talk.

garlicnuts Thu 23-Aug-12 21:05:20

grin @ fwb!

Don't ask me, 95% of my friends were narcs, too ...

Emerald50 Fri 24-Aug-12 02:26:09

Very long post! I find it hard to be concise on this subject and so much food for thought -Apologies. Garlic Nuts I think we are all very sane (more sane because of our backgrounds!) on this board and I hope I don’t come across as judgemental – it took me till 47 years old to recognise my brother and my SIL (of about 20 years) were abusive towards me and that I had been ‘enabling’ towards them. It has been a huge learning curve re their abuse over the last nine months - a rebirth!. On reflection I only stood up to both of them as a result of their behaviour towards two very vulnerable people–my very ill uncle (82) with no family in Australia apart from my brother in same town and me 800 Kms away, and my SIL’s own Mother). It took their despicable treatment of the vulnerable and my SIL’s horrible treatment of my DH in one particular nasty letter to him and ultimately directly to me, for the penny to drop (complete and utter disrespect which triggered me back to childhood and my understanding of having chronic PTSD).

Respect is key I agree - I am lucky that DH is not an abuser perhaps because he knows what abuse is too and how crazymaking it is. My DH had to teach me respect when we first got together – even down to the tone of voice I used with him. I had no idea what it was like to have a respectful partnered relationship up until aged 32. I was lucky enough that he cared enough about me to teach me this and stick around. I did not know I needed to be taught this as this is the way we related in our family but I look back now and am so grateful as I have been able to carry this over to my parenting, friendships and as I had become aware of the effects on me of this ingrained lack of respect within my family/childhood in the latter stages of Bully Dads life, nothing was left unsaid to my Dad (in a very respectful way of course – lol).

I do feel blessed that I did not end up with an abusive partner (at least to date – I don’t want to be smug – we have our issues like all relationships and we are always working on our relationship) - so many of you on this forum have repeatedly ended up with abusers. I did too but it was SIL and brother who I repeated with. I did think very carefully about qualities for future partner. How could I not. My bully Dad made me feel like I wanted to exit this world. But maybe the difference for me was there were a couple of significant others in my life who saw something in me and that is what gave me the impetus to find myself and be myself. Kind Uncles, first love and teenage girlfriends in particular who confirmed my gut instinct that I was in a small way lovable (one girlfriend who I am back in touch with as of last week and she said she had no idea what was going on in my family at the time and we are now having an amazing retrospective conversation thirty years later – thank you Facebook). I can’t tell you how good it feels to tell her and be accepted by her because I so desperately hid all that crazymaking stuff at the time, thinking I was the crazy one and feeling shame and embarrassment. I guess I am coming slowly out of the closet and do fear rejection but am doing it anyway for my healing. I have you guys to help me with that one I hope. I tell my book club too if it comes up in book discussions (you would be amazed how often it does) and it’s amazing hearing some of their stories too. One girl is writing her memoirs re serial abusive Dad. I don’t feel so alone and I have the highest respect for these women who are strong, sane, beautiful souls. There are some who do not get it having had very normal upbringings but they are very respectful to those of us who haven’t. I observe these ‘normal’ people and enjoy their joy in life.

I am concerned for my other SIL (bully brother’s wife) -contact has always been denied directly with her - he epitomises what others in this forum have described as abusive esp controlling her. He has called me emotionally unbalanced and the ‘usual’ putdowns to her so she has had no idea who I am and it’s possible she is too scared (and does not even know it) to have contact with me on her own. She is a strong sane woman too. Now they have a young baby and I fear he will be bully Dad - but what can I do. I try not to think about it too much.

As DH sister is a Narc – she and my DH are currently in a battle re their 90 years old Mum’s end of live decisions - It’s a drama that I am watching from the front row – I have no part to play in any way only to be a support to DH who is ultimately trying to honour his Mum’s wishes. It’s very scary to have an NPD involved in these type of decisions. Who could be more vulnerable than the old and the young and this is where they exert their most power is it not? Because DH grew up with abusive crazy maker sister too maybe there is an understanding there that circumstance through no fault of our own can make for a really difficulty life/family setting hence lots of compassion between us. We both know what abuse looks like and we help each other out when we see it. I do feel confident I can spot abuse when it is directed at me and I also know I have the choice in how I react to it. DH only put a name to his sisters traits after I did a lot of research after bully brother triggering incident. He had her sussed though for years and has good boundaries in place with her. DH respects my decision to have limited contact with her and supports me in this. He has decided he wants to be loyal to her as she is only sister. I have to respect that but it #$its me sometimes!

Lady Wordy – Love your 10 point abuse indicator and Garlic Nuts added points on interesting rather than addictive behaviours and non–misogynistic. Essential. Very well thought out.
As an extension of point no 9 to your -^They aren't different people in public. You get the same personality in public and in private, like a stick of rock^. I would add that non abusers treat all people the same– they are not condescending or unkind to one and not to another – i.e my SIL treats waiters like dirt etc. Her feeling that she is superior, puts others down and is in no way respectful. Similarly if the person is not highly educated she looks down on them. She literally fawns over others she feels worthy of respect on her terms.
Another point to consider - maybe controversial – non-abusers know when to put somebody or something ahead of themselves when it is for the greater good – i.e. I believe there are times when we decide that we are going to take a back seat and let someone else shine or help them even if we have to sacrifice what is important to us (not for forever or damaging to our self-esteem) maybe these are the qualities of compassion and humility.
Lady Wordy - The healthy victim tries out all the techniques that work on normal people - Still the victim twists and turns to try and change themselves enough, so that the relationship is tolerable. Very revealing - through healing we are all getting insight into ourselves –not only identifying Crazymakers and avoiding (or at best limiting/ setting boundaries with them) the other side of the equation is about ourselves and doing the hard work to recognise the effect of the abuse on us. The goal for me is to live the life from this point on that I was denied (I seriously feel I was denied something essential - obviously I cannot go back to the past but the past has given me some real clues as to what was missing particularly with my recent trip to childhood home etc and as I have started writing about earlier life) with or without a partner but definitely without abusers. We must be true to ourselves and not change who we are because we are good people – we have to know ourselves first and foremost and how do you do that? – I know how I did and have written it before but it will be different for everyone. Maybe knowing ourselves comes before loving ourselves and then we know how to love ourselves lol!
Respect + Friendship +Commitment +Chemistry = maybe LOVE or whatever Love is!
I feel strongly that there are two sides to the equation.grin

garlicnuts Fri 24-Aug-12 14:52:30

Wow, amazing post Emerald. Thank you. It deserves a more in-depth reply I think but, for now:
non-abusers know when to put somebody or something ahead of themselves when it is for the greater good – i.e. I believe there are times when we decide that we are going to take a back seat and let someone else shine or help them even if we have to sacrifice what is important to us (not for forever or damaging to our self-esteem) maybe these are the qualities of compassion and humility.

When and how, perhaps? I'm not sure I do recognise this in the most helpful way. I have a tendency to hop in the back seat too quickly, making perhaps too many sacrifices. On the other hand I do (now) recognise lack of compassion or humility. Just haven't established how they work to best effect confused

Restart Sat 25-Aug-12 02:36:27

I'm sorry if this is a repeat but my last post seems to have gone
I would add Honesty to the list i.e. A person whose actions match their words. Not someone that waxes lyrical in noble terms and yet their actions reveal a passive aggressiveness and single minded selfishness. Someone that doesn't move the goal posts to suit their own agenda. Someone that isn't always the victim of other peoples actions when the truth is that they are living the consequences of their own choices, inaction and refusal to take responsibility. Someone that doesn't deliberately segregate people into Silo's so that they can freely contradict their stated values. Honesty is a very broad term and I believe as with all the other listed attributes a test to be applied to ourselves as much as to a partner. It is often just as difficult to find the ability to be deeply and truly honest with ourselves as it is to find someone else that is prepared to be completely honest with us. I think there is a broad spectrum to healthy relationships. Selflessness is an interesting term, does that imply that the partner is therefore being selfish? I'm' trying to work my way through the concept of selflessness to see if I can imagine an instance where I think it would be required in a healthy, honest relationship. Selflessness is I believe a prerequisite of being a parent. However, I thought in an adult relationship it would be more about negotiation and compromise. When you enter a relationship you do so based on a set of existing circumstances, when circumstances change you negotiate your way through them. If your partner e.g. wants to do something and there is a greater good involved then that would be part of the negotiation. If you're benefiting from that greater good it's not selfless. We all have our 'selfish' pursuits, hobbies etc. They’re just part of the standard give and take of life. We all have our times of need too but again that is give and take. Trust is the key, we trust our partners to be fair in this give and take. If it is all take on one person’s part then that has moved outside the boundaries of a healthy relationship. If someone demands help while refusing to help themselves that is untenable. I can’t think of an instance where selflessness belongs in a healthy relationship, I am thinking of examples where one partner has to lean on the othe for support. In a healthy relationship that support is not really provided as a selfless act because it’s provided with the tacit belief that should the roles have been reversed the same support would have been forthcoming. It’s part of the contract of love, the basis for marriage, relationships, family and community – that we are there for each other in those circumstances. If we didn’t believe we’d need someone at some point, particularly as we age I think at least another 50% of people would walk away from their relationships, because compromise and negotiation is bloody hard work. In unhealthy relationships that support network is broken; there is no contract of love. When a partnership has extended beyond coupledom in to a family then the greater good of the family has to be considered also i.e. it is in fact selfish to decide to be ‘selfless’ for a partner if this harms the children in the process. If the ‘selflessness’ is related to lack of confidence and self-esteem, i.e. we go along with what our partners because we fear our ability to deal with the consequences of stepping out of line (which is a good summation of my relationship) that again is obviously not a healthy relationship. I think a healthy relationship means never losing our self.

Emerald50 Sat 25-Aug-12 06:43:46

Restart good reading - yes never losing our self in our relationships - my challenge is knowing who I am (not what I am are or what I have) who I am at my core and that it's good enough Garlic nuts with regard to my comment re compassion and humility perhaps I also mean the lack of empathy which is absent in my relationships with the abusers in my family and SIL - another is their inability to say sorry when saying sorry although might be uncomfortable for them is clearly the correct thing to do and not just my wishful thinking - hope that explains my comment of putting others first rather than their own ego.

Also the pursuit of a win win situation all the time in their relationships - not being able to ever consider anything other than this, when there are times when i believe you have to put yourself out 'i.e. fairness - even if it means something as simple as travelling a bit further or getting out of paying their way - some of it petty perhaps I know but it all adds up to someone always putting themselves first and never been able to imagine walking in another's shoes even someone they claim to care about and that might need extra support at this time - this thought helps me within my own partnership is the two sides of the equation -in order to be with the 'perfect for me' partner I have to not be a hypocrite and try to be the best version of myself - a lotta hard work.

If I don't acknowledge these things it leads to resentment and bitterness so in dealing with abusers. Its important for me to be honest about this and move on. I have very old fashioned values - the lack of duty and loyalty and their addiction to power and control displayed by my SIL and Brother concerns me but of course I don't have them as a partner which is where my posts may be not too relevant - but sharing common values and knowing what my values are and living to them is huge in keeping my relationship in tact and learning to love myself and heal and find joy again in the present! I am tired of having chronic PTSD!

porridgelover Sat 25-Aug-12 08:49:13

I've been lurking here since it started. I find these latest posts very helpful.
Restart you say that a healthy relationship 'means never losing ourself'.
That chimes for me as I am trying to have a healthy relationship with my Family of origin....but find it nearly impossible due to the role I was given which is now so entrenched that any personal change in me is completely denied by them. I was not allowed to be me as a child; am not allowed to be me now. It means I spend virtually no time with ageing parents.
Emerald I think you said something about saying sorry.....a genuine apology can do so much to repair relationships can't it? But false ones ('sorry Miss Sensitive' said in snarky tone) deny the insult AND deny the person.

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