And here we go again…
I gave you my time. You received it.
I gave you my words. You heard them.
I gave you my resources. You took them.
I gave you my space. You used it.
I gave you my trust. You broke it.
I gave you my kindness. You exploited it.
I gave you my compassion. You stepped on it.
I gave you my understanding. You laughed at it.
I gave you my perspective. You tossed it.
I gave you my concerns. You scoffed at them.
I gave you my tears. You ignored them.
I gave you my heart. You crushed it.
I gave you chances. You snatched and ran with them.
I gave you my love and care. You milked it.
I gave you my boundaries. You ran past them.
I gave you Truth. You gave me silence.
And what do I get for all of this?
Nothing from you and everything from me
I am so sick and tired of being used inside of a relationship. I am sick and tired of collecting data only to have it end up a completely different product then, “as advertised”. I am sick of the other, not giving as much as they are receiving and I am tired of the emotional upheaval every time the relationship breaks apart. I do not understand – I cannot imagine treating people in the ways I have been treated. Cruel, immature, avoidant and emotionally manipulative. This was an anxious – avoidant mash up that could not be reconciled, as it takes two WHOLE INDIVIDUALS to make a thriving relationship, and only ONE to destroy it.
Well then, with that rage expelled from my chest, through my fingertips and onto the keys – I know I am NOT the VICTIM HERE. “Au contraire!” I am the OWNER of this story, who used her voice to make a decision that was right, based on the ways in which I was being treated.
Was it easy? No.
Did my “Fawny” take over? YUP!
Have I cried in pain? Yes.
Did I text my friend frantically during my melt down? Oh yes!
And all of this to what end? Growth or shame – I have the power to choose. As my dearest friend said, “Rochelle, you can let this turn into a big blob, or you can take a nugget of truth from this and keep moving forward.”
( sounds easy when she says it, doesn’t it?)
I was in this relationship for 5 months. Sadly, this individual emotionally ‘ran away’. Suddenly, there was erratic and impulsive behavior with no communication to fill me in on his decisions. When questioned there was no answer. Just silence. The more I asked if he would be participating in the relational agreements we made together, the more stonewalling I received.
If you are not familiar with the stonewalling tactic, in my opinion, it is one of the cruelest forms of indifference and emotional/psychological manipulations out there. Avoidant Attachment Individuals will do this because closeness and connection becomes threatening and stressful to them. They appreciate their space – some are aware they do this and others are not, but willing to become self-aware. Narcissists and Abusers use this tactic intentionally to gain power and control over their victim. To torture and keep them confused. It is a tactic to shut another human out in order to keep them silent, trapped and disoriented. It is painful. It causes the victim to believe he or she doesn’t matter, they are unloveable or somehow disgusting, damaged goods. Stonewalling is a form of gaslighting – pretending that an issue does not exist – confusing the other partner. Banner health describes stonewalling as the “Silent Killer”, and in fact as I have experienced – It truly did “kill”…. silently… literally.
I pause a minute and take inventory of the men I have encountered intimately. Let’s see here… sex addict with physically violent tendencies, used anger to shut me up and coercion to sexually abuse. Then there was the Narcissistic personality that used strictly verbal abuse to spew his shame ALL OVER ME. And now, I have come to stonewalling. Cruel, disrespectful, and immature. NONE of these behaviors are humane or allow a partner to walk in the dignity they were created to wear. I will say, stonewalling is on a whole other level of psychological torment.
As I consider all of these experiences, and take stock of the pain, loss, heart ache, betrayal and shock, I have to consider a common denominator in all of these relationships. ME.
Now, I AM NOT VICTIM BLAMING. NONE OF THIS WAS MY FAULT. THESE ARE ALL “HIM” problems and I cannot fix another human being. Girl, I am NOT a rehabilitation center for little boys who do not know how to be emotionally regulated, mature or controlled. I cannot REHAB someone to undo their pride and arrogance. The ONLY person I have responsibility for is me.
I am ONLY responsible for noticing my behavior, collecting data on myself and then responding with self-compassion, truth statements and radical love. Here is a glimpse of each of these healing skills, my prayer is that I may be a healthy participant in any relationship with Self, God and Others.
Self-Compassion: Self-compassion awakens all of my happy neuro-chemicals. Oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. It is my belief that compassion towards self re-ignites our relational circuits in the pre-frontal cortext of our brain. When relational circuits are shut down, we cannot connect, attach, or experience Shalom with God, self, or others. We feel numb or unable to receive any opposite input. However, when we connect to joy – and our joy capacity builds, those relational circuits turn back on and we move out of our triggered state.
What if the FIRST step towards reconnection, attachment and Shalom is to get the relational circuits back online with some self-compassion? When we show compassion towards ourselves we are reminding ourselves of the TRUTH in our narrative.
- “I made the decision I needed to – with the information I had at the time.”
- “I am growing. This time it only took a shorter amount of time to respond.”
- “This is painful AND I practiced a really good new behavior.”
- “Of course I gave so much – I am a good and loving person.”
- “I’m human and mistakes are allowed.”
Truth Statements: Truth statements are VITAL to being the owner of your story. Cognitive distortions and the inner critic completely derail our healing. The story we tell ourselves can make us or break us. The more I practice catching the inner critic and telling the truth back to her – the faster I get at awareness and not allowing her to have the final say about who I am. Here are some truth statements that I explain to my inner critic.
- I am not the worst person in the world – I am a good and loving person.
- I am not mean – I used my voice to draw a boundary. This boundary can keep me balanced and healthy.
- I am not a horrible person – I protected my space.
- I like to be kind and give to my friends, and I get to change my mind when to stop giving that gift.
- I might be the bad guy in their story but I am not the bad guy in mine. I have people who love and support me – they know me.
- What if they think I’m irrational or crazy? I don’t need to defend or prove myself to anyone. My decisions are between me and God alone.
- He’s gonna tell stories about me and it won’t be the truth and then they will think bad things about me: Yep. That is probably happening. I’m curious, why do you need them all to know that you are the one who was treated unfairly? Which part needs to be validated from these people?
Radical Love: For me, radical love for myself means taking the time to reflect. Looking at my patterns in behavior and knowing what my “go-to” moves are when I feel scared, insecure and a threat to my intimate attachment. (fear of abandonment or rejection)
Radical love is to be curious and compassionate while accepting and reassuring the younger parts of me that scream with unmet needs when a man begins to turn against me and the attachment wounds begin to pile up. Who is she? What does she need? How can I validate her? How does she chronically respond to these wounds? What movie is she playing when past wounds are triggered? What does she need to express?
What I have understood from my younger parts so far, is that when the threat of abandonment and rejection come nigh – she fawns. BIG TIME fawner over here. She does everything in her power to placate, “make nice”, betray my gut, ANYTHING so that they won’t leave.
It looks like giving too many gifts, making meals, over functioning, apologizing for doing nothing wrong and yet I was blamed. It looks like doing his laundry, buying him his favorite candy bar at the checkout line in Walgreens. Offering to do something for him. ANYTHING that says, “see me, love me, please think I’m valuable so you’ll stay.”
Girl, that little one needs help! And by help I mean: self-compassion, the truth, understanding, empathy and acceptance – from ME, the adult self. ALL OF THIS culminates into a beautiful radical love, it is the way Jesus loved me first.
I have studied myself and how I respond to relational wounds. It’s painful to look at, because I know the ORIGINAL wounds that have caused these chronic reactions. It is painful to acknowledge the SEVERE DEFICIT and neglect that I come from, which would cause my little one to create these survival strategies. But now, these strategies are causing me pain.
I could not choose my parents – so fawning helped me survive. NOW, when I am being treated unfairly, or abusively, I don’t have to stay! I am not 6 anymore, dependent on this person for survival – I am 36 now and I can choose to leave. It is HEALTHIER to leave – and the Fawn reaction to intimate attachment wounds just will not work anymore.
Radical love for myself says: Dear me, I know that taking care of the adults in your house was a way to survive and cope. You didn’t have a choice. You were a little girl, and you had to stay with your parents – no matter what type of wounds you received. I am here to tell you that you do not have to stay with these dating relationships. You are not a little girl. You are a woman now, and not dependent on them to take care of you like you were when you lived with your parents. Now, you take care of yourself. Fawning isn’t helping you – it is hurting you. It keeps you trapped and stuck with men who have no interest in making healthy choices or participating maturely and kindly in relationships. Fawning is dangerous when you are in a relationship with an unsafe person. Let’s think about what we can do moving forward; I think this will be our Fawning game plan.
- You are kind and caring. Let’s WAIT to see if they are trustworthy enough to hold your kind and caring gifts.
- You love to give. WAIT to give to this person until you have seen them give to you.
- You love to be agreeable and go with the flow, but we will not be a doormat for people to walk all over.
- You want to make others happy. Their happiness does not come above your own. If you have a twinge in your gut – say “No. That won’t work for me.” That gut has never failed you.
- You love to help the person you care for. Be curious: “Am I over-functioning right now? Am I trying to solve a problem for them or do their emotional work for them? Am I trying to show them I am valuable by being helpful?” Take a step back. Pause and re-evaluate. My value does not come from showing them how much I can serve, be a good cook, provide meals, folded laundry, help them with their business, bills, children, emotional vocabulary or anything else.
- You love to speak life into others: let’s think for a moment before writing that text or email. How long have you known this person? Is this affirmation you are telling them match with a long track record of their observed behavior? Or, are you stroking their ego in order to be seen, loved and earn your value in their eyes?
- Just because they want it, does not mean you want it or have to want it.
- Consider the context: Are you about to apologize after a healthy conflict resolution where both parties took responsibility? OR am I apologizing for having opinions or expressing discomfort in the relationship?
- I can speak up and share what is on my mind.
- I get to set the boundaries I need. And if I want to change them, I get to do that too!
- Take space and reflect. Check in with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it is okay to say “hmm…. let me think about that.” It is equally okay to leave whenever you need.
My Dear Sister,
I thought I might let you into my most recent layer of self-awareness. As painful as it is – I am confident and hopeful that Jesus brings the right things at the right time to reveal the new layers that need healing. We do this delicate work by UNBECOMING the grooming, programming, and distortions we have been taught since birth. There is so much evil and past damage that could cause us to stay stuck or maybe even crippled. Which is why I believe, my sisters are the bravest in the world. Each day you decide to get up, take a deep breath and begin all over again. It is the most courageous thing I have ever seen. You are glorious and beautiful.
Even though fawning is my arch nemesis and I never even knew it – the more experiences I have to self-reflect, I can see that this is another gift to my healing. To name this way I survived in childhood, is to EMPOWER my journey toward wholeness. Jesus has time for this piece of the puzzle and so do I, we are not in a hurry. So, tomorrow I will try again – practicing my self-compassion, truth, and radical love. I hope you will join me.
You are not alone.