“My mother was a very self-centered person. At times, all of us, my father included, were used only as a means of gaining what she wanted. Her needs were always paramount and it was as if the rest of us didn’t have any feelings at all. There was always a sense, that when she did anything for us, it was done begrudgingly. I often felt afraid. She would sometimes suddenly and inexplicable exploded into an angry rage. I would often have to sit and listen to her rambling negativity; afraid that if she sensed I wasn’t listening, she would explode once again. As I reflect on those years, I begin to wonder, if my mother had psychopathic tendencies. I also realise – now that I become increasingly aware – how many women I’ve experienced in my life (past and present) who are of similar character. I’m also aware of the solution to the daily abuse: Deafness. I’ve stopped listening. The only problem being, it hasn’t stopped the abuse.”
Putting into words how emotional abuse manifests itself can be very challenging
There’s no doubt human emotions can be very complicated things. Healthy interaction between human beings happens when there is a balanced appreciation of the feelings we each have. The modern disease of self-centeredness disengages healthy interaction between people.
Now that you’ve read these words they may or may not have meant something to you
Unless we’re actually aware and understanding, of our tendency to replicate the relationships we had with the adults around us as children, in our adulthood, these words remain meaningless.
We forget childhood
Childhood for many is an extremely difficult period, and as such, is often best forgotten. The problem being, if we forget the past, we’re likely to repeat it. In fact, the unconscious mind will make a point of drawing us into similar situations, over and over again, in an attempt to clear up any unfinished business we harbour.
Becoming aware of this enables us to start setting firm boundaries. The individual in our story has become aware of his tendency to allow others to offload their negative emotional baggage, and how this, is a repeat of childhood abuse. Fear is involved; the fear that when he confronts the situation he will be disliked. It’s only now he feels comfortable in his own skin, and understands how to be alone, is he able to stop the abuse. In addition to this, and most startlingly, he feels it’s safe to start properly listening again.
Believe it or not, one important element to this change, has been awareness. We all have methods of escaping uncomfortable realities. Certain realities can become very uncomfortable once we become fully engaged with them. This is why so many of us are in constant need of escape. Employing methods for escaping an uncomfortable reality are all well and good, however, there must be moments of clarity.
We call it entertainment don’t we?
That’s right, we ‘entertain’ ourselves. Be this with books, games, travel, films, TV or whatever, they are all a means of escape. We’ve labelled them entertainment. And of course drink and other forms of drugs are used to enhance this entertainment, are they not? All used as a means of escaping reality. The thing is, unless we’re prepared to turn off the TV, close the book, give up the booze etc., we will continue to cope with a bad reality. We’ll cope right the way up to breaking point. Once this is found we then go see a doctor in order to become tranquillised into coping. All we’re doing then of course is putting off accepting that something needs to change.
Now that the individual in my example has decided to raise his awareness – through meditation leading to mindfulness – he’s better able to set the necessary boundaries with the people around him. With mindfulness, and without all the usual methods for coping, he recognises the desperate and important need for setting firm boundaries.
Raising awareness isn’t all about setting boundaries. Raising awareness, of how our coping methods keep us stuck, is also beneficial. For example, think of the woman who reads copious amounts of romantic novels. She might be single and this is how she’s finding emotional stimulation. Perhaps our reader is in a relationship but her partner is emotionally dead. Either way, reading is helping her cope, but also keeping her stuck. How we’ve learnt to cope has become a vicious circle
Becoming aware of our reality enables us to change it
It’s an interesting paradox that so many of us are dumbing down our awareness in order to cope. On a daily basis people must have their fix. They must escape. How would it be if reality were better than this escape? Would we actually be living a fuller life through being better engaged with each other in the real. Would we have a better appreciation of our environment and home? Would we wake to the true importance of loving each other, ourselves, and our home? Is abusing each other and our home, just a symptom of our lack of awareness, and our failure to set proper boundaries? All questions worth pondering on.