I received a painful letter from my daughter's mother today. I'll spare you the details that penetrated through my soul like a thousand poisonous darts. She wrote ten pages, but I couldn't even stomach the first two.
This impending conflict hung over me for years. Like many other necessary confrontations, this one was long overdue. However, I can't even take credit for the final showdown, because (in the end) it was a financial crisis that forced me to speak up. Since I'm too aware of her vindicitiveness, I usually fly under the radar. Anyway, I promised myself I would focus upon my responses to these adverse life events rather than getting into the blaming game... As strange as it may sound, today I feel free in the midst of all the threats and chaos.
For starters, I've been learning it's not enough to remove yourself physically from an abusive relationship, but emotionally too. It’s one thing to leave an abuser and quite another to do the inner work so your abuser leaves you. What people fail to understand is that a partner can take residence in your head so that his or her thoughts become yours. This in psychological terms is called introjection. Introjected beliefs are rarely if ever questioned.
Oh, another thing. Before I received this letter, I had a couple of “aha” moments to prepare me. I read two articles about emotional blackmail and I'd like to share the treasure chest of insights I jotted down (and in my teacher mode wrote them in summary form). I hope it hits home to you as it did to me.
• Any threat intended to cause fear, guilt or other emotional trauma if you do not comply is abuse.
• The victim of emotional blackmail is typically empathetic and kind.
• Victimizers attacks with rage, because they experience any kind of assertion as an attack on them.
• Some people are unfit to maintain an intimate relationship that a true partnership requires.
• It’s especially infuriating to be the rational one, who cannot payback at the same base level. The hardest job is to stay non-defensive and cool.
• Emotional blackmail is something no one who truly loves would do because it's a hideous form of manipulation
• It's used by mentally unstable persons
• This kind of power play hurts the child the most who is caught in the middle.
Thanks for reading this.