As I’ve been going over my life, I’ve come to see that the abusers in my life have mainly used generalities to attack. They try to state weaknesses and lack of worth in their target and not focusing on specific facts about them. This is chiefly because most abusers don’t take the time or effort to really know their targets. They seek to inflict the most devastation with minimal effort from them.
There were times that the one I loved attacked specific thoughts I had shared with him so it would pack the biggest punch. This was so I wouldn’t interrupt his plans to do something he shouldn’t be doing. His attacks were usually generalities as well but, because I shared thoughts and things that happened with him, he put to memory a few to recall them for his personal assurance. I was merely a game piece to be moved and pushed aside at his whim.
It is very hard coming to terms with the fact that you are merely a pawn or a toy to be manipulated to suit the other person’s needs or desires. It attacks your feelings of worth, purpose and place in the world (especially if it involves family). And, because abusers tend to target generalities about a person, it is hard to fight it in your mind. You can work through specific events or conversations, but generalities attack the heart of a person. You’re worthless, can’t do anything right, stupid, not a good friend, daughter, co-worker and so on, are attacks on someone’s very being.
It’s a ruthless and cowardly approach to controlling and/or manipulating someone because it requires very little from them while it takes so much from the one to whom they are aiming their attack. They don’t have to defend their comments because their target usually withdraws into themselves or they fight back with generalities as well, which only gives the abuser more ammunition.
Unfortunately, abuse teaches a person that what others think about them is one of the most important criteria in living their life. People present a dilemma to those who have been abused. There is trepidation at the thought of meeting someone new because they’ve been told how horrible they are. Clearly, if those who are close to them think they’re horrible, what chance do they have with someone new liking them?
I’m not a person that changes with the people I’m with or the event I’m attending, but anything involving people causes some degree of anxiety. I usually pray that I won’t say or do anything stupid and that I will be an encourager to the people who will be present. I don’t expect any of them, especially if I don’t know them, to particularly like me or care if I’m there. I, too often, have had my focus on myself and how not to make stupid mistakes. It has changed a lot over the years to where the focus has reverted from myself to the other person and letting them know they mattered. What I would really like, though, is to be able to simply go into an event or time with someone and enjoy the time. I’d love to meet it merely with anticipation without any of the anxiety.
The other problem I’ve had is that the abuse has made it hard for me to let go of people once I let them in. When someone moves or the season of spending time together as friends comes to an end, I feel a huge loss. I often take it as “proof” that I’m not likable. This is nothing but the lies fed into my brain surfacing to “support” what I’ve been told all of my life. This is a double-edged sword because I not only hurt when people I love leave, but I also hold on to people who hurt and don’t really care about me. It is all so unhealthy and such a horrible way to live. It’s not something I would wish on anyone.
So, how do you fight these comments and attacks?
- My first place to go is the Bible where I read who God says I am.
- You can also look to those in your life that you know, without question, love and care about you. How do they treat you? What do they say about who you are and what your life reflects?
- Another place to look is in yourself. What are your strengths? How do you treat others? Do you mostly only care about yourself or do you look to the welfare of others?
I’m sure there are other ways, but those are good starting places.
Other people are very important in life. They should be. However, just because someone has come into or has been in your life, it doesn’t mean that what they speak into your life is truth. Abuse is about controlling another person, not caring about them. It’s good to reflect on this fact when deciding whether to take what someone says to heart.
~ Joanna Lynn