One thing that really gets me about today’s society is how emotional/psychological child abuse is normalized and even celebrated.
I’ve noticed a phenomenon of parents getting together and talking about how they’re such a Mean Mom or Mean Dad and how they’re raising their children to be respectful. They talk about destroying their children’s possessions, isolating them, humiliating them, and/or publicly shaming them.
And when these people hear about, say, a parent smashing a kid’s phone for not cleaning their room or burning their possessions or filming a punishment or embarrassing moment and putting it up on social media, they commend the parents for “teaching the kids a lesson”.
Why the fuck do we, as a society, think this is okay?
It doesn’t teach kids valuable life lessons, it teaches them to be scared of repercussions. It’s bullying and child abuse and for some reason, people think that’s commendable.
Whenever I hear people saying “haha I bet that 14 year old learned a lesson”, it instantly makes me suspicious of them. I will instantly think of you as either a potential child abuser or a child abuse enabler.
As a survivor of psychological abuse, people dismissing this behavior as “harmless life lessons” makes me wonder if it really was abuse. If I deserved it. If I really deserved to have my pet’s life threatened because I was a liar.
It’s not cute. It’s not “good parenting”. It’s intimidating, shaming, and traumatizing your child into compliance.
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I’m really sick of the culture of romanticizing painful, awful, emotionally abusive love. I hate songs that are like “I know I’m awful to you, but it’s just because I love you so much.” I hate quotes that are like “real love is sadness and fighting and blah blah blah.” I hate it.
Shut the FUCK up. Just shut up. Love shouldn’t be painful and angry. Love shouldn’t make you doubt yourself. It shouldn’t tear you down. It shouldn’t be about seeing who can hurt the other more. It shouldn’t be a game of “you fucked me over so now I’m gonna fuck you over worse.” That’s not love.
I’m not saying relationships are always easy. They are hard, they take work. We’re all human and sometimes we hurt each other. But you apologize. You grow. You don’t play blame games. You don’t belittle the other persons feelings.
It’s about being a team. It’s about supporting each other. It’s about encouraging someone to grow into the best version of themselves. It’s about looking for the best in each other. It’s about being two whole people who come together because life is a little sweeter that way. It’s about effort and encouragement and happiness. It’s about making simple things fun because you’re doing them together.
Love should never make you feel bad about yourself. Love should never make you hurt to the point that you start to believe you deserve to hurt. Love isn’t like that. Love like that is bullshit.
Love should glow. It should be a warmth. It should be a safe house. It should be kind. Don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise.
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“The greatest wound a child can receive is the rejection of his authentic self. When a parent cannot affirm his child’s feelings, needs, and desires, he rejects that child’s authentic self. Then, a false self must be set up. In order to believe he is loved, the wounded child behaves the way he thinks he is supposed to. This false self develops over the years and is reinforced by the family system’s needs and by culture. Gradually, the false self becomes who the person really thinks he is. He forgets that the false self is an adaptation, an act based on a script someone else wrote. It is impossible to be intimate if you have no sense of self. How can you share yourself with another if you do not really know who you are? How can anyone know you if you do not know who you really are?
One way a person builds a strong sense of self is by developing strong boundaries. Like the borders of a country, our physical boundaries protect our bodies and signal us when someone is too close or tries to touch us in an inappropriate way. Our sexual boundaries keep us safe and comfortable sexually. (People with weak sexual boundaries often have sex when they don’t really want to.) Our emotional boundaries tell us where our emotions end and another’s begin. They tell us when our feelings are about ourselves and when they are about others. We also have intellectual and spiritual boundaries, which determine our beliefs and our values. When a child is wounded through neglect or abuse, his boundaries are violated. This sets the child up for fears of being either abandoned or engulfed. When a person knows who he is, he doesn’t fear being engulfed. When he has a sense of self-value and self-confidence, he doesn’t fear being abandoned. Without strong boundaries, we cannot know where we end and others begin. We have trouble saying no and knowing what we want, which are crucial behaviors for establishing intimacy.”
Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child by John Bradshaw
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(I find this information relevant and helpful to my life. With that said I want to add a little more nuance... This can only really be applied after I developed an understanding that fawning was how I was trained to survive abuse, and prepare myself for the fact that unlearning self abandonment can be terrifying and flashback-inducing to my inner child who was forced to abandon herself. Safety is always going to be your brain’s first priority. I’m able to apply this information because I am finally in a safe place away from abusers. It’s not at all easy to unlearn deeply embedded childhood programming that was repeatedly enforced by dysfunctional, abusive caregivers. Especially in the case with my narcissist birthgiver, she forced enmeshment on me whether I wanted it or not. As with all defense mechanisms developed in response to trauma, acknowledging/processing/healing the trauma itself will decrease the need for the defense mechanism. I read this list more as “signs you’re recovering”.)
“Codependency/people pleasing/fawning creates a deep sense of loneliness because you can't be yourself. You're so busy doing for others that your life is never really your own.
In order to get help and start recovery, you have to ‘hit bottom’ much like the alcoholic.
You may have coped by thinking that you have all the answers - and let's face it, when people keep coming to you for help, it proves that point. That's why it takes a lot for codependents to stop. You may think that others can't survive without your help.
Unfortunately you burn yourself out in the process.
Starting the Recovery Process
Pain is the greatest motivator for instigating change. You don't seek change because you think you should. You seek change because you're tired of hurting. There comes a point when you're ready to do something different.
Where do you start?
Here are 10 tasks for starting you on the path of codependency recovery.
1. You start putting yourself first.
No longer are you willing to sacrifice yourself for everyone else. Putting yourself last creates a mountain of resentment that goes unexpressed. Not honoring your needs has to stop.
Instead of asking what they want, speak up about what you want. Include your two cents because you count!
2. You say what you mean without saying it mean.
Not expressing your feelings creates passive aggressive behavior. By not admitting that you're upset, feelings may come out later in sarcastic or hurtful comments.
When the pain of staying silent becomes too much, that pain forces you to speak up.
3. You can admit that you don't know it all.
Admitting that you don’t know it all is actually the good news! You can take a deep breath because always having to be right is exhausting!
By trying to solve everyone problems it creates unnecessary stress that wipes you out in the process.
4. You don't have to give advice.
This one can feel like torture but you can be supportive without giving advice. Instead, validate what's being said to show that you get it.
Most people want to feel understood, not fixed. That’s why giving advice can irritate people when they just need to be heard.
5. You can stay on your side of the street.
Knowing how to let go of what is not your responsibility is what defines detachment. That's when you can let someone else make their own choices without trying to control the outcome. If they are an adult, let them deal with it.
If even thinking about letting go makes you anxious, you’re not alone. Letting go is one of the hardest things you will ever do.
6. You don't always say yes!
Saying no makes you more honest in relationships. When you say yes all of the time, resentment inevitably creeps in.
Realize that saying no is an important boundary for your self-care. In codependency recovery, taking the risk of saying no means that your needs count.
7. You can ask for what you need.
By asking for what you need you will have a fighting chance of getting it! Part of the codependent struggle centers around doing everything yourself and not asking for help.
Your super-power is juggling many balls in the air but none of them are yours! Recovery is about moderation. You can still give but not when it hurts you.
8. You stop obsessing about things that are not in your control.
When you are codependent, the focus in constantly on others. Instead, practice being in the moment by bringing the focus back to you. As a result, you will feel less stressed and more grounded. When your energy is targeted on others, you lose touch with what you need.
9. You don't care as much what others think.
You start to realize how much time has been wasted on worrying, caring for, and helping others. Your identity gets wrapped up in doing rather than being yourself.
Letting go of what others think means that you're no longer thinking about them. Redirect your thoughts towards something you want to achieve! Pick a hobby or fulfill a dream that you’ve always wanted to do.
10. You can begin to let go of what others are doing.
By letting go of what others do your serenity comes back!
Trying to fix, advise or control other people's behavior - especially when there is an addiction, distracts you from solving your own problems. Once you let go of what isn't yours, other person has the opportunity to take care of themselves.
Whenever you are trying to change a behavior, being patient with yourself helps. Codependency is like a tree with deep roots.”
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