I usually begin an article for my blog introducing a topic with a story. Stories are essentially forms of data that one can piece together in order to gain some sort of understanding for a larger topic, or an understanding of themselves. Each time I sit down to write I feel compelled to explore a topic based off a story I remembered, or a budding story of sorts that I am going through.
I thought of all the stories I hold that have to do with abuse. There are plenty in which I can choose from, and one right now that is occurring in the form of bullying. Although, this time, I thought twice about introducing this topic with a story. Many of the readers on this site are all too familiar with all the different forms of abuse, especially of the different kinds at the hands of narcissist. We all know that feeling of shame coming over us after experiencing abuse: your heart rate speeds up, your face flushes red, your moods drops, you almost feel as if you become dead behind the eyes, wishing as though you did not exist, or what’s worse are not worthy of your existence.
Growing up with mental, emotional, and physical abuse at the hands of my father, I had very little positive development in my life. Because of the fact my father had complete power over me, I felt totally and completely hopeless. I did not have anybody to turn to or to help me. I learned to take the abuse, to get used to it. My father often made me feel that I deserved it. This was his way to justify his anger and hate he conveyed towards me.
It comes as no surprise that I was bullied as a child, and still experience forms of adult bullying. One of my co-workers years ago decided he was going to pick on me to no avail. He was an unsavory character, full of hate towards others, always on the look out to blame, and constantly injecting negative energy into the environments he was in. I finally decided to stand up for myself, we argued a bit and in the heat of the moment I asked him “Why are you doing this?” “Because you are an easy target”, he responded. That moment was incredibly eye opening for me, it was not me or who I was; it was just the simple fact that I never learned how to not take the abuse.
It’s really saddening in this world that people choose to abuse one another. And, that they themselves cannot see that their hate and anger towards you is just a reflection of their hate and anger towards themselves. And usually if matters are brought up their ego (or personality disorders) are so wrapped up in their projections and judgments that it continues to be more comfortable for them to continue their bad behaviors towards others instead of growing self-love for themselves. So, the blame continues.
Being at the hand of abuse leads one down the depressing familiar path of I am not good enough, and the deadly thinking that I am alone in this world.
I have thought a lot about how to not become the easy target. A lot of techniques and responses I have come across always feel aggressive or like fighting. This is usually not true and probably because that is something that my father wanted me to think every time I stood up for myself. My first step in understanding who I was and how I deserved to be treated was by learning about boundaries (there is an article I wrote about this that you can access by clicking the link). Through learning what my physical, mental, and emotional boundaries are and how to set them I established much healthier relationships with people and learned how to not just protect myself but not lose myself as well. It is a very powerful thing to know what is your own issue and what is someone else’s, and how not take that on.
But sometimes, that seems not to be enough. People will continue to press your buttons and expect you to still be nice to them in return and if you are not it is just another reason for them to prove their own delusional projection onto you. So with that, I developed ways of reading people to see if they are narcissists or bullies as well as others who are not worth my time. I know the techniques that abusers use and do my best to acknowledge that it is their problem and find ways to gracefully stand up to them or distance myself from them before the air gets too thick to breathe, before the tension between us can only be broken through a blowout, with the damage possibly lingering forever.
I still to this day work on this issue. I tell myself that because I am standing up for my boundaries and not giving in to people that does not mean that I am fighting or am that I am cruel person. It means that I have enough self-love and awareness for myself to put myself first and to create healthy and nurturing relationships. I know that I am worth it, even though others still may see me a way to dispose of their pain. I continue to practice this knowing that it means that everyone is not meant to be friends, or on good terms sometimes. I’ve learned not to be afraid of bring up issues, speaking up for myself, and even confrontation. If it does come down to confrontation the least a confrontation has the possibility to put a plug on continued blame as the other person knows that you are aware of the situation and has less means to go on. This may less of the case with narcissists, though. Regardless, stricter boundaries and usually have to be set. Conflict is real and workable; abuse is not and should not be tolerated.
I always ask myself in the face of abuse: would I rather make myself small to please someone, or be respected?
It probably seems so simple to those who have been fortunate to grow up in a loving environment. But for the rest of us, I hope we can all learn to respect ourselves, and be respected by others in return.