Tag Archives: abuse

If our loved one truly loves us, but they are abusive towards us…should we forgive them…and continue to stay with them even though they are hurting us…and emotionally destroying us?

Some folks, because of their raising and emotional stuff, have a hard time saying, “I love you.” or showing their love physically through hugs n’ rubs. Their kids, spouses, and other intimates sometimes develop issues because they are not demonstrative of their love. Their intimates question their love for them because they do not show it. They sometimes feel a void or emptiness because of the absence of verbal and physical manifestations of their love. This can create a great deal of frustration and tension in the relationship. So, just like WE have issues and shortcomings…we have to recognize these folks have their own issues and shortcomings…and the lack of verbal and physical acknowledgement of their love for us…happens to be one of their shortcomings. So, instead of continually questioning whether or not our loved ones love us…we ought to look at the Big Picture of their behavior towards us…how they prove their love in other ways…like the things they do for us and the way they treat us. I believe that love is an action…that when people love us, it is apparent in their behavior towards us.

But this brings up another point. Some people because of their upbringing and trauma experiences, may act in VERY unloving ways towards us. For instance, they may be physically or emotionally abusive. I believe that many of these folks actually love their people, but their emotional issues result in very unloving actions towards us and other loved ones. They act that way…not because they don’t love us…but because of Emotional Mind dynamics…and being abusive is their destructive coping behavior…they yell n’ scream and cuss n’ fuss and they may hit us. Their behavior is not a manifestation of love or lack thereof, but a manifestation of the ugly inside them…all the pain and anger and ugliness from their past. It’s like they “throw up” or vomit that ugliness on those closest to them. Why? Because they have all this toxic stuff inside them…and when they get “Big-Time in Emotional Mind,” the poison is bubbling up inside them…and they blow up…and this stuff blows out…and all over those around them. Why the family and those they love? Well, we are the safe objects…the safest place for the emotional tension to be released. Because we’re safe, we stay with them…and they can “get away with it.” They can explode on us and around us. Point…it’s not about their love for us, it’s about their emotional baggage…their past relationship experiences…their history of trauma…and how they learned to cope with negative emotions. That’s what makes abuse intergenerational. That’s how it gets passed on from one generation to the other. It’s about social learning, trauma, emotional pain and intensity, and destructive coping behaviors.

So, this brings up another point. If our loved one truly loves us, but they are abusive towards us…should we have mercy…forgive them…and continue to stay with them even though they are hurting us…and emotionally destroying us? Should we practice “love is an action” and stay with them? I believe we should protect ourselves and others and get out of the situation…because we’ll never be okay IN this toxic relationship…and if we have kids, we have a responsibility to protect our children and not allow them to be victimized…and exposed to poison. If we remain in the situation, we are just enabling the perpetrator to continue their destructive coping behavior and we are setting the stage for this destructiveness to pass through the generations…to our children and grandchildren. If we have been victimized and have emotional issues because of this, we need to get therapy for ourselves and the other victims to work through this so we are not living our lives…living this out. We have to do something to stop this destruction both in the here-and-now…and in the future. We have to stop the cycle. It will be healing to know though…that the one who hurt us…probably really loved us…but their emotional stuff got in the way of demonstrating that love in all ways. We ought to understand that what they did, had less to do with love…and much more to do with how they cope with pain and stress. They were desperate for relief in the moment, the emotional moment…and they did what “came natural” to them. They did what was “bred into them”…what their role models did…what they learned to do…and what gives them immediate relief in the moment. It’s like their drug of choice.

We all have some undesirable ways of releasing the pressure of the emotional moment. I believe we all enact destructive coping behaviors…some more so than others…and some of these destructive coping behaviors are more destructive than others. Some people are abusive to others and some are abusive to themselves. Some smoke, drink, drug, or overeat. Some over-shop, over-golf, over-work, over-play, over-Facebook…over-sex…etc. Others may withdraw, isolate, under-work, under-eat…etc. We’ve all got “stuff” and our challenge is to find healthy ways of releasing stress and pressure and dealing with our emotional issues and concerns. We’ve got to find Life-Enhancing coping mechanisms and to refuse to do our “preferred” or overlearned destructive coping behaviors.

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Why Do Borderlines Do Such Crazy Things?

This question was asked…and I couldn’t help to respond. One person responded to the question with an excellent description of the pain and trauma a borderline has experienced…a “well if you went through this…you’d be that way, too” type of response. It helps to make the non-understandable…understandable. It certainly helped to get a sense of the pain someone with bpd goes through…and has gone through.

To his response, I added the following information.

The term borderline originated because in the days of old, folks considered this to be borderline psychosis…because of the seemingly insane, crazy type of behavior…the OUT-OF-CONTROL behavior…behavior that oftentimes makes little sense to the observers and the targets of the behavior. Many times, borderline people don’t understand themselves because of their out-of-control emotions and behavior…imagine how hard it is for someone else to understand their behavior…especially someone who has little or no experience with this kind of stuff. At least the individual asking the question is asking…in a quest to understand the seemingly un-understandable!

From a DBT-CBT perspective, when we’re “Big Time in Emotional Mind,” we have little to no Rational Mind going on…we’re like 95% Emotional Mind and 5% Rational Mind. We’re not thinking straight…we’re not rational…we’re just BIG TIME IN EMOTIONAL MIND. Our emotions are intense…they are driving our perceptions…they are driving our behavior…they are driving our thoughts…we’re not dealing with reality or the way things really are…we are reacting to things based on our emotions, our fears and traumatic experiences, and our emotion-driven beliefs. Our emotions have “done gone crazy”…and we say and do irrational things in such an intense emotional state. But the truth, it’s not about being crazy…or stupid…or anything like that…it’s about being overwhelmed with emotions, memories, fears, trauma…it’s about being desperate…desperate for relief, desperate for comfort, desperate for a continuing relationship, desperate for assurance of safety…and it’s about desperately seeking to reduce our emotional intensity to a level that is more tolerable.

Everyone gets “Big Time in Emotional Mind” now and then…and when we are…we all do crazy, irrational things…we all lose control now and then…and we say and do all kinds of things…that afterwards we say, “What was I thinking?” Well, we weren’t thinking…rationally. We were just reacting emotionally. Emotional Mind was controlling our thoughts and our behavior…and we did some really desperate things to meet our perceived needs in the heat-of-the-moment.

With borderlines (and like the rest of us now and then), the past slams into the present…and it’s really hard to deal with the here-and-now as it is in the here-and-now. They react to today’s situations with the anxiety, intensity, fears, unmet needs, rage, and the memories of all the pain and trauma from the past. I’d venture to say that all borderlines have full-blown PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)…or many features thereof…and they react to the present…and live the present as if it was the past. It’s like they expect the present situations to be a repetition of the past…because the past repeated itself so many times before.

Working Through the Pain of Verbal and Emotional Abuse: Self-Disclosure in Therapy…A Question of Professionalism…Does It Hurt More Than It Heals?

Someone who loves me and supports me told me that I’m making myself look bad and unprofessional by writing these blog entries and sharing so much of my personal neurotic self. She questioned how I think I can look professional and be a respected author of a therapy workbook if I am presenting myself as so messed up. I’ve thought about this all along…and I did expect this point to be raised. I haven’t thought through it at a deep level though…so my thoughts about it aren’t so organized…so what I write now will be pretty raw…but here’s what I think at this moment in time.

I teach my patients that most normal people are messed up in some ways…that there are few VERY NORMAL PEOPLE who have no major emotional issues and concerns. I believe that ALL PEOPLE struggle with themselves in some way or another…at least at some points in their life. I don’t think that NORMAL people are perfectly normal. I think the kinds of emotional issues and concerns that I struggle with ARE NORMAL…that many people struggle with the same things…or similar things…or other things that dog them just the same. I think that normal people are messed up…I think being “ABNORMAL”…IS NORMAL. I think that people who are putting on a PROFESSIONAL FRONT are PUTTING ON a professional FRONT. I know that some people are highly self-controlled and very tightly wrapped…and, that’s ABNORMAL.

What’s wrong with them that they can’t admit or reveal their humanity, their weaknesses, their struggles…Why is it that they feel so strongly about presenting to the world as SO PROFESSIONAL and SO NORMAL? What is it that they don’t want people to know about them…or what are they so ashamed of that they’re hiding…or what is it that they don’t want people to think about them? What is so bad about their true self? Why do they have to hide their humanity and who they are as a person? Why is it that they feel the need to separate themselves from humanity and place themselves on a “I’ve got my life VERY WELL TOGETHER and I’m better than you…or different than you…I’M PROFESSIONAL…I’m DISTINCT…I’m in a different social class…I am one that is respectable…I have overcome my humanity” pedestal?

Boy am I going to piss these people off!

I think that if we can’t accept ourselves, our weaknesses, our humanity, then we have major, big, emotional issues and concerns. I think that if we have to put ourselves on a pedestal and create a facade of absolute professionalism and perfection…then there’s something wrong with us…something wrong that we feel we have to distinguish ourselves from humanity…from the “common people.” Has our sense of self been so beaten that in order to FEEL OKAY…we have to be SO self-controlled…and maintain such a professional self-image and presentation to others…so that we can feel a sense of integrity, wholeness, togetherness, and acceptability? Why would one have to distinguish and separate themselves from humanity in order to feel okay? Do we feel so bad about who we are…and our humanity…that we have to distinguish or separate ourselves from others…and humanity?

Why can’t I just feel okay about myself…and accept that my emotional and psychological weaknesses are okay and acceptable…and normal? Why would I have to CHEAT and DECEIVE my patients and book readers…and put on this facade of PERFECTION or near perfection…and interact with them in HIGHLY PROFESSIONAL ways…in order to gain their respect by deceit and trickery? Is my sense of self-respect so low that I have to heighten my sense of self-respect by conning other people into having over-esteemed respect for me?

Do I have to fill up my empty tank of self-respect with THEIR RESPECT for me? If my tank of self-respect is filled enough…I don’t need others to fill that tank for me…because it’s already filled enough. Granted and obviously…my tank of self-respect falls below what is healthy because I struggle with it so. However, I’m not going out in the world trying to get others to fill this tank for me. In order for my tank to be filled adequately and to stay that way, I must have the resources to fill it on my own…rather than begging, borrowing, and stealing respect and self-esteem from others.

I continually work on myself and continually struggle with my humanity and my emotional beatings and slaps from the past. I don’t want my reservoir of self-respect to be so vulnerable to the destructive whims and neuroses of others. I continually work on myself so my reservoir of self-respect increases over time…so I am not so needy of being filled with respect by others.

If I am truly to experience self-respect, it needs to come from within…it needs to be mine…else, the amount of respect I have for myself is going to be ever vulnerable to the waves of approval or disapproval from others. I’m tired of living that way. I’m tired of my sense of self being tied to what others think of me…because not everyone is so healthy as to treat us or to regard us consistent with our level of deserving. We all know that other people put us down in order to feel better about themselves…that others may blame us for things instead of blaming themselves…that others criticize or find fault with us because they don’t want to acknowledge or deal with their own faults and weaknesses…that they make us look bad so they don’t have to look bad…and they take credit for what we’ve done so they look better…or they don’t brag on us like they could because somehow it makes them feel less than.

I have received many emotional beatings and slaps in my journey through this world. I’ve had many people in my life that have been very emotionally unhealthy and have been emotionally and verbally abusive and hurtful to me. I have sucked in…and have personalized what they’ve said to me, how they’ve responded to me, and how they’ve treated me. I derived a sick sense of self-respect and self-esteem as a result…a level of self-respect and self-esteem that does not match the reality of my life, my talents, my accomplishments, etc.

I have been very hurt by several authority figures. Some have been victims of emotional abuse and have come to derive a heightened sense of self and empowerment by putting others down…they feel powerful and in control when they weaken the self-esteem of others…they feel in control by overpowering and beating others….and some of these people are filled with so much unrestrained pain and anger…that they have major Emotional Mind eruptions…and they spew the hurtful and the ugly all over their environment.

I have also been subjected to some very narcissistic people as well…people that are so sick inside or so emotionally unhealthy that they interact with the world and present themselves…and on the surface think of themselves…as superior to others. Instead of giving other people due credit, instead of speaking of others in the positive ways they deserve, they demean us, take credit for our work, and don’t show us the positive regard we deserve. They psychologically esteem themselves at our expense. They so much need this to feel okay about themselves. This is a defense mechanism for them…a defense against experiencing their humanity and emotional vulnerability…and the pain and ugliness they feel inside. This is a destructive coping behavior…it is a narcissistic defense.

I have been so beaten and demeaned by my interactions with some of these people that I’m tired of it. I’m tired of feeling this way. I’m tired of the anxiety, self-doubt, insecurities, and all the crap that I’ve felt and suffered through as a result. I’m so tired of the Emotional Mind beatings that I put myself through…that I’ve had to turn on Rational Mind to take a true look at myself…and to decide for myself who I am and what I have to offer to this world. I’ve decided to appraise my own self-worth and to protect my vulnerable sense of integrity. I’ve decided to minimize the impact these emotional unhealthy people have on me…and to rely on the positive regard other people have for me…and the positive regard I have for myself.

This psychological issue is something I will no doubt struggle with for a long time…it’s not an easy thing to overcome. I’ve spent most of my life tied to and deeply affected by how these people have regarded me or have treated me…that it is a rather engrained way of regarding myself. I am working on it…and I will continue to work on it. I will be affected by future insults…but, I will work to minimize the impact they have on me. When one of these insults comes my way, I will work to be Mindful of how it’s affecting me and I will work to disseminate the truth from it. I will ask myself, “Did I do something to deserve this? Is it undeserved and an unrealistic appraisal of me?” If I did something, I will own it…and I will work to continually improve myself in that area. If it makes me feel bad about myself that I keep doing things that cause others to have negative regard for me, I will work to soothe myself and to remind myself that I’m not perfect and that I’m a work in progress. I will try to come up with a Game Plan or a plan of action to better control myself so the same thing doesn’t continue to happen in the future. That’s all I can do. I refuse to destroy myself and my sense of self over it.

I write the things I do in this blog to reach out to other people who are hurting and are struggling with the pains of life…to recognize that in their abnormality, they are perfectly normal…that everyone or most everyone struggles with things…and that what separates the so called normal from abnormal in our mind is how much we know about them…and how much they are willing to know and acknowledge about themselves. I believe that in my abnormality, I am very normal. I feel defective, but I know I’m at a level of good repair…perhaps even better repair than most people…and that, I am a work in progress.

Further, I feel that I have the level of knowledge, skills, understandings, and achievements to be thought of by others as a “professional” and that if people know me, are around me enough…they will easily have that respect for me. I no longer feel the need to ACT professional so people will respect me. I think I can be myself and share myself…and do so while carrying out a professional job. My profession is to help people to achieve self-respect and to gain relief from all the pain and turmoil that drives destructive coping behavior, self-destruction, other destruction, and life destruction…so that they can feel okay about themselves and will begin to interact in the world in a productive, life-enhancing fashion. If I achieve that, then I’ve done good…and I’ve fulfilled my professional responsibility. If being “unprofessional” in appearance by revealing my struggles and weaknesses and my recovery journey…helps to reach a subset of hurting souls, then it is worth being regarded as “unprofessional.” Really, the unknowing opinions of others matter little in the big picture of the world…and any help given to tormented souls matters most.

Now, all this is not to say that I NEVER ACT professional. My profession requires I abide by an ethical code of conduct…and I am very invested in acting professional in that manner…because those things make a major difference in the care and treatment of those I serve. Further, when I’m around people that I am expected to impress or need to impress with my professionalism…I can generally do a good job of pulling that off. I CAN ACT professional for the sake of making a professional impression when I have to…I just don’t choose to live that persona otherwise.