How is it that we have such a hard time identifying people who harm us? These people seem “normal” when you meet them. In fact, they go out of their way to be kind, funny, intimate and understanding. When we are immediately drawn to them, some of our defenses come down.
When do we decide not to listen to the part of us that seems wary? The small voice in us which acts as our radar, so to speak. Every time, without exception, I regret not heeding that internal early warning system.
I had a client who experienced an early warning when she met a woman several months ago. She appeared to her as the Mother she never had and because of this, she was needy and ignored her reservations as they came up. As time went by, the unacceptable behavior increased and again, she made excuses for her “friend” and overlooked the importance of those inaccuracies.
This woman invited herself to my client’s home and spent two days revealing herself in all her “glory.” It became the norm to be told what to do and where to go. She berated servers at the restaurants and when she was mean, the owner of the restaurant comped part of their meal. She clearly enjoyed making people succumb to her control and demands. She talked behind my client’s back to her husband while she was standing three feet away and within earshot. She wore inappropriate attire in the morning in their kitchen. During one of her 3 hour stories, (which my client had heard 3 times prior) she portrayed herself as the victim and vilified anyone who asked for clarification or interjected at any point. That weekend was her “show” and she controlled it like a master manipulator. It was intolerable for everyone else.
What was most interesting however, was my client’s reaction to her and the situation she allowed. She told me she found herself shocked by her friends behavior and yet she silently watched the horrific “show” unfold. She tried to keep the peace and hoped it would blow over. Unfortunately, it did not. After the houseguest from hell left, she had a difficult time regrouping, as the controlling behavior triggered other unresolved issues. These unresolved issues from her childhood sent her into “breakdown” mode and for hours, she processed until she slowly began to understand what had happened and why. Change can be difficult but ulimately healing if we allow it.
Here is what I suggested she change after her weekend from hell:
- Never again allow a situation to become so out of control.
- Physically remove yourself from any situation that makes you uncomfortable.
- Keep your home sacred and a make it a safe place.
- Do not allow anyone to diminish you or anyone you love without saying something.
- You and your husband are a team and if one of you are unable to set appropriate boundaries or take control, then the other must step in and make it safe.
- Continue to explore your beliefs and heal any vulnerabilities that you find.