ON ABUSE: AVOIDING "THE LITTLE UNIT"
Thanks, Loving Radiance. I needed that virtual hug. It is the longest 2 months of my life enduring this rollercoaster with her.
This I choose to do. I can choose to check out if I want to.
Every time I visit this place with some friend who has fallen victim to abuse I think "My god, this place makes NO FUCKING SENSE!"
I'm not a professional. This is not my field. I'm just a friend. And it's a hard leash to hold. Even knowing what I do know about the cycle of abuse? I still guard really hard against the feelings that bubble up. I guard against the feelings and watch out for inappropriate expression of them. Feelings of ugh, disgust, horror, dismay, annoyance, fear, worry, etc. All kinds of yucky feelings. Feelings that make me feel
enraged and GRRRR
I can't go around spilling that yucky stuff at my Abused Friend. She's already been getting abuse. You don't fuck with fragile. She is not a well person yet. It's too easy to perceive her as the source of my ughness. But *I* chose to be here. So the source is MY choosing to sit in a line of fire. On purpose.
This I choose to do. She's endured with me on my eldercare dramas. Why would I bail on her when it's her turn to have a life drama thing?
But I have to steam valve it elsewhere so that I can stay level and keep on keepin' on. Mainly to DH. I have to keep reminding myself that I am NOT her. It is NOT about me.
Sometimes I slip or feel in danger of slipping and I try to catch myself and I apologize to her and tell her that I made inappropriate commentary in my frustration with the SITUATION. (Not her.) I own it. Or I try to. I want her to see that too -- that even I can lose my cool here and the appropriate behavior is what? Blame HER? No. It is to apologize to her for blowing my stack. Give her back that dignity. Cuz her abuser blames it all on her. Anyone can color outside the lines from pressure -- the correct next behavior is to make apology and get back in line. Not blame shift my bad behavior on to someone else.
Some of our friends in common have been turning to vent at me -- "WHY!? WHY does she stay!?" and I just point them to speakoutloud.net. It could be cognitive disonance.
It is not codependence
all the time -- it could be the reality of leaving being dangerous
and not ready with a safety plan.
It could be the victim is at a stage you do not realize and needs different things at Stage 1 than at Stage 5. I have yet to find a better website for abuse/domestic violence issues that lists what the friends and family can be doing at each stage. I've pointed so many people there. Abused Friend and I visit it together. I really do ask her point blank "What do you need me to be right now? Just an Ear? An Ear with Feedback? How can I best support YOU today? What stage are you at so I know what volume to put it at? I can go look it up and see my role to you and what you need."
And this comes after ages of saying "Are you being hurt? If you are being hurt you can tell me. My door is always open" and not taking it personally when she denied wrong doing or hurtness. Even though I knew something fishy was going on over there.
Sometimes it takes a while for the victim to be ready to own "Yes! Yes! I am being hurt!" so the correct thing to do it plant a seed there. For the day in future when they are ready to run -- they have you to run toward. She doesn't have to come here. She can go away. She keeps coming back for support so I must be doing something right in being up front and radically honest about where I'm at here. And she can tell me to buzz off any time.
But how does it feel? To me? The Meta Feeling umbrella over top all these smaller yucky ugh feelings?
- I can't control how I feel. It is imperative that I control how I behave.
In "High Fidelity" the Joan Cusack character sums it up so
Liz: You're really upsetting her, and him!
Rob: Like I care about him.
Liz: Well, you should.
Liz: Because all you're doing is forming a little unit. Them against you! Before you started all this psychotic madness... there was no unit; there was just three people in a mess.
I think it makes one of my other friends crazy watching me say NOTHING about the abuser. I keep it on the abuser's behavior.
"I do not approve of this behavior. This behavior is NOT appropriate. You do not deserve to be treated like this. This is not loving behavior."
(And it sure as hell isn't loving!) My other friend has called me out and said "Well DUH that is bad behavior! Why do you keep DOING that?! He's a jerk!"
I explained SHE can see that... like "DUH! So obvious!" But she assumes it is obvious to the abuse victim. Is anything I'm saying untrue? Nope. Totally not appropriate. Is the volume I'm saying it at being heard? Yup. Why would I want to shout it at a volume that overwhelms the victim?
I'm not going to touch a personality. I'm not going to create a "little unit" here -- where the victim has to defend self and abuser from all comers. That blocks the victim from help. That's not the goal. Move it FORWARD to the goal of the victim choosing to stay with CHANGES MADE SO ABUSE STOPS or choosing to leave.
My other friend goes nuts "She should leave!"
I point out -- "She could pick BEING SAFE either way."
I want her free to choose for HERSELF what she wants her next future to be. I want her eyes free of clouds to be able to SEE what she's got here for HERSELF. She cannot see clear yet? I hold up lamp then. No judge. Just shine light on behavior done / not done.
Let the actions speak for themselves:
- This is the loving and respectful TALK.
- This is the abuse BEHAVIOR.
- Do they match? Yes or no?
- Is it loving and respectful to present you with abusive behavior after promising you loving talk? Yes or no?
Keep holding up the lamp to light the way. It is the cycle of abuse. Round and round. They may not be ready to trying jumping out of the cycle to escape safely yet. Person may not even be ready to ANSWER questions inside their own head yet. First they may need to learn to think on their own again. That's another thing abuser's steal. Your ability to think on your own, make decisions on your own. They have to leap over the cognitive dissonance first.
She sometimes calls me to ask "Am I being crazy thinking this here?" and I look at the thing or hear the story and I honestly say "Um, my reaction is __. Same as you. I don't think your reaction of ___ is not normal or weird. Could ask ____ for their opinion. But I'm going with NO. You are not crazy to want/feel/think that."
Because abusers steal that too -- tell you what to think, what to feel, what you are allowed to want. You cannot trust your own self any more with your decisions and your thinks. Giving back the trust in their own capability -- that's where I want to park it.
- No. I will not create a "little unit" keeping her stuck with her abuser.
- No. I will not make her value judgements for her.
- No. I will not make her choices for her.
- No. I will not steal her adult-ness from her.
- No. I will not run her show for her. She is the boss.
- Yes. I will tell her she does not deserve this treatment.
- Yes. I will verify that her feelings and thinks are not unreasonable (when they are not unreasonable.)
- Yes. I will encourage her to make her best healths decisions from a place a full information.
- Yes. Change is fucking hard.
- Yes. Thinking is fucking hard.
- Yes. I believe she can choose for her own damn self what she wants in her own damn life!
Hard Conversations and navigating them with some kind of Grace.
(pause to think)
Sigh. Life! So bizarre. So horrible. So wonderful. THIS place I do know. I don't know about being abused -- I fortunately have not been. But I know about the enduring place and the "I can get through this" place.
I may be experiencing pressure from the side here. But there I chose to go. I may be feeling all kinds of yargh. But that's all been felt before.
I don't want to LIVE here. But I've been here. Here I am again. I know I make it out the other end. Always.
I'm still here, aren't I?
I live to tell the tale. Over and over. Confidence is grown by doing. I know I can get through tough times. I can endure when the situation calls for endure.