coming out of the fog

coming out of the fog (Photo credit: theloushe)

In my last two posts I have talked about my difficulties with my sister and her husband, and how I have come to the conclusion that it is best to cut off contact, at least for now. It is not my desire to do this but their behavior has become so toxic to me that I feel like I have to back off for my own mental well-being. What has complicated our problems for so many years is that I have at times been out of control with my bipolar behavior and so they did have some legitimate grievances with me. But as I have worked on improving my behavior I have found that to my surprise they have become more angry with me, not less. There is another dynamic going on, something that I haven’t wanted to acknowledge until recently. They have serious behavioral problems themselves and often take it out on me.

I am not completely ignorant of what constitutes abusive behavior, however it is difficult at times for me to recognize it simply because I am used to having blame placed on me because of how I have acted when I have been out of control with my bipolar disorder.  But things are becoming much clearer to me now because while I have changed my behavior towards them, they have not changed their behavior towards me at all.  Well, that is not entirely true. Their behavior has gotten much worse towards me.

Anyway here is a list of characteristics of abusers that can help identify whether you are in an abusive relationship:

1. They demand respect, but do not feel obligated to give it.

2. Only their feelings matter. If you express a feeling you are belittled and told that you are feeling sorry for yourself. Often you are accused of being selfish, sitting on your “pity-pot”, or being a “cry-baby.” Tears are not allowed.

3. They expect you to be a “mind-reader”, to anticipate their every need or want, and to comply with their desires without question.

4.  They will accuse you of their own flaws to deflect responsibility from themselves. So for instance, if you have a need and express it then you are being “manipulative’ and “selfish.”

5.  There is no room for compromise. It is either “My way or the highway.”

6.   When they get angry, they assume the worst about you. They pretend that they are mind readers who “know” that there was some evil motive behind your actions. When you try to explain you are accused of “making excuses.”

7.  They make you responsible for their unhappiness. Everything would be fine if you would just behave yourself.

8.  They consciously or unconsciously set you up to fail. Remember the comic strip “Peanuts” where Lucy would set up Charlie Brown every football season? Lucy would hold the ball for Charlie to kick and then when he got a running start she would pull the ball away at the last minute. Nothing you can do will be good enough for your abuser.

9.  Abusers are addicted to being “right.”  Have you heard of the saying “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?”  Of course what this says is to not sweat the small stuff. Unfortunately, abusers would rather forgo happiness than to admit that they are wrong. And then they pass their misery to the rest of us.

10.  Abusers will always deny that they are abusive. They will paint themselves as long-suffering saints and act like you are the one who is unreasonable. They will say or do anything to try to justify their irrational behavior, including telling outright lies. For example, my brother-in-law  told me that when he yelled at me to get a job (I am disabled), that he meant it as a compliment!

I hope you all will find this list helpful. If you have anything to add please feel free to share Winking smile