There are different kinds of abusive behavior. The two coming to mind for me, are emotional and physical. When individuals become physically abusive, the signs can be obvious. The unmistakable image of watching someone being pushed around or hit. The signs of emotional abuse seem like they can be more hidden. We question something that might be said in our presence. Thinking the statement didn’t feel right or it brought about pain in our emotions. At times, people might explain away moments of abuse. They could venture down the road of commenting about your sensitivity. Making the point that a comment really wasn’t as bad as you thought it felt. If you weren’t so sensitive, whatever was said, wouldn’t be that big a deal. The world around us seems to carry an ever-evolving balance of power. The feeling presiding over a culture of abusive behavior. I recognize some are blessed with a life that never experiences abuse. But, that life isn’t the one I grew up involved inside. Though, physical abuse has never been part of my story. Emotional abuse was something I was unable to escape. The heartbreaking part was the belief it was my fault. My cerebral palsy creating a person who was somehow less than others. Meaning the verbal lashings were deserved. Because, I couldn’t lift a glass at dinner, pass a tray, or find the coordination to serve food to myself. If we are lucky, we grow into a healing that tells us, none of these factors are the reasons for the abuse. The responsibility lies within their personal makeup.
The concept feels like it can be tricky to accept. To tell you the truth, it continues to challenge my emotionality. I was taught to feel like the way I was being treated, was solely my fault. If I could learn how to act differently. The abuser wouldn’t be required to become abusive. There has been a laundry list of things about my challenge with cerebral palsy, that don’t make me perfect. While, some people in our world determine worth, based upon one’s ability to project perfection. I believe that best describes the world of abuse. A competition based around who can make others think they are perfect. Sadly, I continue to see the attempts throughout my life. The very game, seems to hook people, without their ability to understand what has transpired. By the time we feel something amiss, we are deep inside the dysfunction. Sometimes to the point, we have ourselves convinced we are living a healthy life. As if, this is the way things should be done. The drug of dysfunction remains incredibly intoxicating. As the victim becomes the perpetrator and the perpetrator becomes the victim. Things turn into a vicious cycle of confusion and chaos. Trying to outduel any person who comes into the path of your life. The competitive thinking and continuous comparison to others, drives everyone deeper into a spiral of darkness. Until, it becomes almost impossible to find the light guiding us out.
People who live their lives causing abuse, look high and low for victims. Always observing the individuals who fill the room. They want to find people willing to be convinced of their superior ability to function. So, when they start tearing into who we are as individuals, we will believe their perceptions. They must know me better than I know myself. Something we might say to ourselves. Not once, diving into, and questioning who they might be as a person. Or, considering what gives them the credibility to be believed. We are looking for acceptance for whatever the reason. For each person finding themselves in the scenario of being a victim, the reason might be different. Cerebral palsy has been a great tool to be used in my life. Convincing me of the need for other people to help me with situations. Because of my disability, I couldn’t get through life without their help. They had me convinced that my vulnerabilities were a problem. The challenges couldn’t be helped by anything within my own power. The world was going to run me over without their guidance. There wasn’t anything I could do about it, I was disabled. A huge factor in making the abuser successful seems to be emotional pain. The emotional pain inside my life was significant. I had been treated poorly for years. All the while, thinking I must deserve the treatment. The wild part of the situation was how I bent over backward, just to be treated poorly. Believing if I just treated people better, or supported them with more kindness, they would be nicer to me. It took forever for me to realize, that’s just not how it all works.
The more kindness you show the abuser. The more that abuser is going to take from you, their victim. When you start going out of your way to gain their approval. They have you right where they want you to remain. Doing whatever you can think of, in order to stop them from being mean. Whatever the mean streak might look like. It could show itself as emotional abuse. Or, it might be a combination of both emotionally and physically abusive behavior. There isn’t any amount of kindness, love, or support that will often get them to stop. The only way an abuser stops being abusive would be to recognize a problem. They would need the ability to understand how their behavior impacts others. The trouble seems to lie in the pounds of emotional pain they are under. Though, feeling sorry for the struggles they have experienced, doesn’t lead to healing. That sympathy we might have for them, along with the kindness radiating from that emotion, only gives them more to manipulate. They are constantly looking for ways of taking advantage. And the same rules seem to apply, whether interacting with you, or the neighbor down the street. They want to keep us in the box of their victim. Because, taking advantage of us, helps the monumental tonnage of emotional pain inside themselves. The pain that we can’t reach, no matter how much we desire to help. That emotional pain of theirs has been buried and covered by years of manipulating others. Using the emotional abuse of those around them, to achieve their own emotional highs. Leading to a person who only surrounds themselves with people they feel superior toward. People who allow them to achieve their high.
Our self-esteem seems the key to ending an abusive cycle. Not giving the determination of our self-worth to another person. They want to be solely in control of the way we think about ourselves. This way, they have the ability to control and manipulate our actions. Making us into something pleasing for themselves. Engaging in this kind of relationship won’t ever lead to acceptance. Not the acceptance and love we hope to feel from someone. I always thought it was junk when someone said you had to accept yourself before anyone accepts you. Or, you have to love yourself before you can be loved. They are two huge components to ending the life of a victim. But, what always left me confused was, what the heck does it mean? How do I come up with a way of accepting myself, so emotional abusers leave? In my experience, nothing about the process has been simple. When I heard, people make these statements. The image coming to mind was someone searching the desert for water. Like, eventually we suddenly stumble upon the ability to accept ourselves. What I have found is, the process for me, has been much more structured than the image. I had to start doing, in order to find the person, I could respect. At the end of the day, I don’t think it really mattered what I did. The trick was something I enjoyed that wasn’t easy. But, wasn’t too challenging, either. Slowly, but surely, as I stuck with a couple of those things. The feelings of self-worth began picking up in a positive direction. I could start looking at myself as gaining freedom from the emotional pain. My cycle with emotional abuse started to subside.
I realize it’s not an ideal answer. It seems there will often be obscurity to the process. With the journey looking different for each individual. I’m also far from a psychologist and not an expert in this field. I like to write about my perceptions of how cerebral palsy impacts my life. While, hoping the topics I brainstorm, in some way, help the people reading. Finding oneself caught up in any kind of abusive cycle, is never fun. Getting free of the pain brought on from the cycle is never easy. Life has found me in the middle of circumstances of emotional abuse. Tricking me into thinking somehow the abuse was the fault of myself. If my actions where better, than the abuser wouldn’t have to cause me pain. As if there was an ability inside of me, to act perfectly in the image of someone else. We aren’t meant to be perfect individuals, we are meant to make mistakes and learn from them, not be demeaned for our missteps. There must be room for grace and forgiveness. Otherwise, there doesn’t seem a hope for healthy relationships. But, an abuser doesn’t have room for grace and forgiveness, because they seek control of people. They hold the mistakes of others up into the light and believe those mistakes deserve judgment, then punishment. The judgment and punishment only leads to anger and confusion in ourselves. Which, needs an outlet. So, we go find ourselves a victim, without even understanding our own actions. Because, we think the cycle is normal, and even healthy. it’s not.