“For many adult children … a time comes when they can no longer take the abuse. It has gone on too long, taken too much from their lives, caused perpetual suffering… They are not going to change… You are the witness; the one who knows the truth… Recognize that you are entitled to a life that is free from this abuse. You deserve inner peace, a sense of freedom within yourself and in your relationships. You can start by initiating a No Contact policy.” Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
When you’re in an abusive relationship, cutting off contact feels impossible. In therapy I found myself saying, “I can’t do that!” I had been indoctrinated with a set of rules. Having unquestioning devotion towards family was at the top of the list. Pleasing her was crucial for survival.
In therapy sessions, I blamed myself for our inability to get along. One exchange in therapy went like this:
Me: How can I have such strong hatred for someone who has done so much for me?
Therapist: Like what exactly? I want you to be specific.
Me: Well I mean the obvious like food, clothing and shelter. I grew up in a nice area.
Therapist: You could have gotten those basic needs met at a homeless shelter or at a youth hostel. What about your other needs? What about feeling safe? Feeling secure? You’ve often said that you grew up feeling like the roof would explode at any minute.
Most narcissists put on a great show. They’re loved by many. So while I was hurting, others only saw how funny and entertaining she was. They urged me to be nicer to her, to stop my incessant crying. This is when I developed the thinking that I brought it on myself somehow. I wasn’t patient enough, I didn’t do what she wanted. I was a horrible daughter, a rotten human being. There was never a moment of calm. Something was always brewing. Now I wonder if the non-stop insults and verbal and physical attacks were part of her strategy to make me weak, so that I would always be near her. She’d have her punching bag by her side.
Their false relating is based on what they want from you – use of your creative gifts, your adulation, your life service to them, your role as the ongoing, endless recipient of their abuse. They intend to take your life psychologically and they do. You are the one who is anxious all the time, exhausted, even physically ill. So often I see that the narcissist does not become sick but his spouse, child, sibling does… There is no humanity in their distinctions, no mercy, no compassion. They take and take and never stop until they destroy you, unless you identify them, sever your relationship with them and begin the work of self-healing for the rest of your life.” Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Many wonder, why victims don’t leave? Someone hurt you repeatedly, so… cut off contact with them! You have to do it for your health and safety! Why would anyone stick around and get hurt over and over again? My therapist said that victims are often very loyal to their abusers. The thought of leaving is clouded by our long and complex history with our abuser. We may still love them, or think that they’ll change. We may have convinced ourselves that this attention, this sort of communication is in fact love. We may be used to abuse. We may be financially dependent on them. And sometimes we simply don’t have the mental or physical strength to leave.
We have been beaten down so much that we actually believe we are worthless. How could we possibly make it on our own? The idea that no one wants us is already part of our daily thought process. Our whole lives have been a never ending stream of pain at the hands of the person who was supposed to love us unconditionally.
Recently I’ve significantly limited contact. It has been a rocky few months, but my intuition (!) tells me this is right. I’m less tired, my chronic chest pain has decreased. I’m less fearful and anxious. I’ve become more focused on work that I love. I’m hopeful and excited about the future for the first time. Most importantly I’m finally listening to myself.
“The person who seeks to control you and is willing to abuse you to gain control over you does not want you connected to your intuition. It is nearly impossible to control you if you have a strong intuitive guidance system in place and you trust it above all else.” Kellie Holiday, Healthy Place