Is Empathy A Choice – And Does The Narcissist Have A Choice?

empathy

 

This could be one of those posts that stirs up some controversy. Right off the bat I am going to put a disclaimer; this is just my opinion, who knows I might change my mind on it down the road; so if anyone has a different theory, please……. tell us what you think.

I received this comment from Safirefalcon on my post about sharing your pain.  I could feel a very long reply coming because it is something I have thought a lot about, so decided to make it a post.  Here is the comment and my reply below that.

painempathy

Re: the quote by Brene Brown though (and I love Brene Brown btw) I don’t think empathy is necessary a choice. I see it as a type of emotion and those aren’t always choices, especially when speaking of empathy in the context of narcissism. That’s not to say that everyone who’s eyes glaze over when telling of an experience is a narc.

But pertaining to narcs, their lack of empathy isn’t really a choice is it? Serious question.

They do however have a choice how to be and ‘act’ when told about something that could invoke an empathic response from someone who isn’t a narcissist. They could pretend to care or they could do what would be easier and make it clear that they don’t.

I know this post doesn’t necessarily have to do with narcissism or NPD but when I read your blog it’s where my mind goes. Lol.

Safirefalcon, I seem to view everything in terms of narcissism now LOL so I know what you mean. lol

empathy bear

As far as choosing to be empathetic, I think some people are more empathetic than others and it can be a curse; I wish I wasn’t as empathetic sometimes because it can be very taxing and I get sick of being told I am too sensitive. I don’t know how to be any other way, it is fine for someone to say not to take things so seriously, it is a lot easier said than done.

I think where the choice comes in is how we deal with that empathy. The empathetic person has to realize that it is not their issue, they can empathize with another person but not take it on and own it themselves. I think also that some times we are projecting what we would be feeling under the same circumstances but the other person may not be having the same reaction. We assume everyone feels the same as we do but many people are not affected as strongly as we would be and don’t even understand why we are so upset for them. We may not be able to help feeling empathy but it is our choice to act on that empathy. I think empathetic people tend to want to fix things for people and sometimes our help is unwanted and often times not in our best interest. With the narcissist, he is using our empathy to get what he wants, so it is never in our best interest.

To ensure we are not taken advantage of is not lacking empathy, I have a hard time drawing that line myself. I find myself thinking I am better able to cope than the other person, ie: I will give my last $5 because I know I will find a way to get by; so in essence I am saying the other person is incapable. In the case with our children, we want to save them from hurt so badly that we rescue them and they never learn to stand on their own two feet. It is where empaths run into trouble with narcissists, they act helpless and put it on us to fix the messes they invariably get themselves into. Or we assume they are feelings the same we would feel and we assign them emotions they are not having.

I have been working on not assigning people emotions that I would be feeling and trying to just take a person at face value. If they act like they don’t care, believe they don’t care and not assume they are embarrassed to admit their feelings, or they are a male and afraid to show emotion, or his guilt is making him act the way he is. I know the wospos’s mother and I assigned him emotions he wasn’t feeling and he just road with it. Like his mom thinking he was so sensitive because he removes himself from emotional situations, ie: missed his grandma’s funeral because he was too upset to be there. NO he didn’t give a shit and he was going to get laid by some chick at a party and didn’t want to leave.

As for the narcissist feeling empathy and whether he has a choice. I have read a lot on this one and I think the verdict is still out. We all know that the narcissist appeared very empathetic when we first started dating them and when they would try to pull us back into the web. From my experience, the wospos could seem very empathetic and do really thoughtful things for me, things that a lot of other men would never think of; the absolutely most considerate thing that only I would appreciate. On the other hand there were times I knew he was trying to appear empathetic and totally missed the mark, so what is it? Does the N play a guessing game as to what the right response to a situation is or does he say the cruel things he says knowing it will hurt the other person. Did the wospos not go to his grandmother’s death-bed because he just didn’t care and felt nothing or did he not go because he knew he would be expected to show emotions and it was too much work, or did he not go because by not showing up he had everyone thinking about him, even his grandma who was the one dying was wondering way the wospos was. I guess in the end it really doesn’t matter why they don’t show empathy, all we need to do is accept that they won’t and stop trying to teach them how to be considerate people.

But, in order for the narcissist to manipulate others like they do, does it not require empathy? If he was incapable of understanding other people’s emotions then how would he know exactly what to do to cut someone to the core?

I think the problem is the definition of the word, to me Empathy is an emotion, not an action.

Empathy is the ability to feel what someone else is feeling. Is it something a person can learn, or is it a natural instinct that we are born with?

Babies show empathy, if they see a child crying they will cry, I have seen YouTube videos of babies that cry when they hear a sad song or watch a sad cartoon.

Baby cries when mommy sings

Toddlers cried watching cartoon

I think we all agree that some people are just born empathetic and others not so much, the not so much people are not narcissists by nature but can be easily mislead by a narcissist and coerced into doing the narcissists dirty work. These people are usually the ones who are weak and lacking in self-confidence, they get off on the attention they get when they spread rumors, they see the narcissist as powerful and it is an ego boost for them to be the narcissists “best buddy” or they will spy for the N to get in his good graces where an empathic person would have stronger morals than that. The one fellow that did a lot of the wospos’s dirty work was Jim and he knew what JC was, he bitched about him all. the time, he was forever being ripped off by the wospos and knew he was a lying cheat, yet he would get sucked in by JC all the time and relished sharing any new gossip he had on JC and couldn’t wait to inflict pain on me by sharing new info he had even after I told him I didn’t want to hear it, it was as if it was out of his control, he would explode if he couldn’t tell me JC was happy with the new woman. I don’t understand that even more than I don’t understand the narcissist.

What about the narcissist, if a person can’t feel how can he have empathy? Isn’t empathy being able to put yourself in a person’s situation? feel their pain? I know I have cried many a tear reading women’s stories in here but that is because I have been there and can relate to what she is saying. Prior to meeting the wospos I would not have had the same level of empathy because I was one of those people who thought, “Why don’t they just leave?” “I would never let a man abuse me”, “He would never get a chance to hit me twice.” There are certain things a person doesn’t have to experience in order to empathize, a parent can imagine what it must be like to lose a child.

empathysuffering

If a person has experienced the control and cruelty of a narcissist we can empathize but if they haven’t, they can’t understand why we didn’t leave, even some of the stories sound bizarre to our own ears, imagine how unreal they must sound to a person who has never experienced the crazy world of a narcissist. No one can understand what it is like to live in a world where there is no reality and you can count on nothing, not even what you see with your own eyes.

I have read that narcissists actually have a very high level of empathy, I have heard it called “cold empathy”, they know what a person is feeling, that is why they can zero in on a person who is vulnerable so well; they just choose to use their ability to feel empathy to their advantage. That is where the lack of conscience comes in, they don’t feel guilty so there is nothing to stop them from using their empathy to better themselves, if it does not benefit them they can shut it off and feel nothing. To feel emotions is a waste of time to the narcissist, it is a weakness they leave to commoner, it is beneath them and would leave them vulnerable to be taken advantage of like they take advantage of people’s emotions.

empathyactions

In many ways the narcissist IS like the rest of us, he also assigns emotions to people that they don’t have, only in his case he is assuming all people feel as he does and are just waiting for him to show weakness so they can take advantage of him.  JC even said to me one time that he didn’t like to share anything from his past because I would use it against him later, I couldn’t understand why he would think that, I didn’t even know what he meant by that. But I do now.

Or after we split and he came to me saying he always loved me and didn’t I know that? He said, “You knew I had lost my job, that the place was infested with mice, I had to move.” as if that should have explained why he had to find another woman to feed off. And was he meaning to be cruel when he said that M didn’t want him talking to me and I should be able to understand, how would I feel if I was in the same position? knowing full well I had been in the exact same situation and it HAD hurt like hell but he hadn’t stopped talking to other women. Was it a totally innocent remark because he couldn’t relate or was it a purposeful comment meant to hurt me?

empathyblindness

People in my life have hurt me badly, people I love and expected to be there for me no matter what, and had been up until I met the wospos, turned their backs on me when I needed them most. It was not because they didn’t care or love me, they just could not empathize and so had no idea what I needed and did what they thought was the right thing to do. It doesn’t make them a bad person, it just makes them unable to relate to my situation and mindset because they have never been there. That is why sharing our stories are so important, not just to warn others about the getting involved with a narcissist but also to give them insight into what to do if someone they care about is involved with a narcissist.

I think there are many reasons why a person’s eyes glaze over when a victim starts to share their story;

They simply do not understand and see the victim as responsible for their own abuse

It is too scary for them and if they don’t hear it they don’t have to admit it could happen to them

People in general want happy stories, they don’t know what to say or do to help the victim and they don’t want to say the wrong thing so they avoid the situation all together. Like when you are walking down the sidewalk and see a friend coming towards you who is going through a bad time and you want to cross the street and pretend you didn’t see them. It is not that you don’t care, it is that you don’t know what to say or how to comfort them so you avoid the situation totally. Is that lack of empathy or lack of experience?

Then, there are people who are afraid they have turned into a narcissist. Is it possible for a person who once felt empathy to turn into a narcissist? I think it is possible for a sensitive person to be so badly hurt that they shut off their emotions so they are not vulnerable, yes. I believe that children who are severely abused can become narcissist and self-centred and I believe that society as a whole is becoming more narcissistic BUT that does not make them a narcissist. What makes a narcissist who he is, is the lack of guilt more than the lack of empathy. I think. The lack of a conscience does not automatically mean a person does not have empathy, it means they will use their empathy to take advantage of people.

empathyblockers

I don’t think I have answered the questions, I just reread this post and I went around in circles.

If a narcissist does have empathy, he uses his powers for evil and not good; we are polar opposites, I just hope we don’t cancel each other out. I hope the empaths of the world don’t become cynical and instead join forces to support each other and teach the rest of society how to use their empathy for good.

 

 

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13 thoughts on “Is Empathy A Choice – And Does The Narcissist Have A Choice?

  1. Rene

    I guess I would like to believe that they do not have a choice, because then it would lessen how really cruel they are. But, I don’t know. Maybe their perception of the situation is so different that they just really don’t understand why we are so upset. I just don’t know. I’m dealing with my first N for the last four years. I find it really hard to comprehend that they are so mean and hurtful and have no remorse. But, then again, I am considered an empath (per my therapist).

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Rene, no matter what, they do have a choice. They make it everyday. He chose to be a sweetheart when he met you, he chooses to be nice to the people he sees every day, he chooses to be nice to the new woman and he chose to try you like shit. If it wasn’t a choice he would treat everyone the same.
      If he was screaming at you and being abusive and someone knocked on the door, would he continue with his tirade or would he stop? He has a choice.
      JC used to say I was crazy to be upset about his personal ads, that i was paranoid and jealous for no reason. I told him once that I was not going to take his word for it but if he could find one person, a drunk off the street, a friend, ANYONE who if they knew the whole truth about our relationship would agree I was wrong.
      He would never tell anyone the truth about what went on behind the scenes because he knew he was wrong. They know exactly what they are doing and they do it anyway.

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  2. lonely

    A very interesting read, got me thinking, from my experience i believe my ex N wanted to have empathy, but really only used it to gain information about my weaknesses to use against me in the future, i believe he wanted to be in a committed relationship and wanted to be in love BUT just isn’t capable of it. After the final abuse he is living his life, i have managed 8 weeks or more of zero contact and he hasn’t turned up at my house in 5 weeks. I believe that he has unloaded his emotional pain onto me and feels very grand about himself and possibly happier.

    I feel completely ruined, i have tried so many different things to make myself feel better, a new car, a new job and landscaping only house, all it has done has distracted me from the pain momentarily. I truly believed the N was the man for me, to realise it was all a lie is unbearable still today, however TIME HEALS, so i hold on by a thread and live moment to moment.

    Much love and hugs to all of us.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Lonely, it has not been very long, give yourself time. this is not going to heal over night. Live one moment at a time and moments become hours and hours turn into days and with time the pain will subside and you will wonder why you put up with him so long. I never thought I would stop loving him, I resigned myself to loving him until I died. Guess what? I don’t love him any more and think he is a sad joke. How I ever saw a man I could love and respect I don’t know. All I can say is I was so brainwashed and beaten down I wasn’t thinking clearly. But it does take time and every time you go back you start from square one again, every time you have contact he sucks you back into his sick world.
      Stay no contact and come here as often as you need.
      We are here for you

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  3. fee

    Morning Carrie,
    Interesting post. Dave would say he can read people like a book. He reckons he empathises with people and from what I read about most peoples stories its the one thing I never understood. He had childhood friends still into his 40s who thought the world of him. He as family (only his sisters left) who would say he is the type of man to do anything for anyone. He as some exs who think he is the bees knees and he worked with children for 17 years before he lost his mother….who he went to the hospital everyday for months until the cancer finally got her. He cried for hours telling me all about her and how brilliant she was.
    He once when I first met him…a few mths later when the ranch incident had took place and we split up wrote me an email telling me how he understood me more than I knew…how when he was younger and going through hell the only thing the doctors did was throw tablets down his throat, that he realised 3 words he came to live by….calm, balance and fair….he said to me that I was emotionally shut off…and I know I can be…he wrote to get up everyday for 3 mths and make myself look and smell lovely….and after 6 mths my mental outlook would be stronger….and on the days I didn’t want to get up was the days I had to make myself…there the days that mattered. As I was reading this email it struck a cord. After he had totally destroyed me he was giving me a way to rebuild myself. He didn’t grasp that he had done it, just that he wanted to help.
    I am the most shut off recluse you would ever meet. I started isolating myself a few years ago. I coudnt emotionally deal with things. I didn’t want people coming around and I felt uncomfortable around people….even shopping etc. This wasn’t daves fault. This was mine, I felt I didn’t fit in anymore, I lost myself….then I met dave….he built something in me, then destroyed it again….he said he tested women ……give them all 8 weeks….after 8 weeks the women cried in bed, he broke barriers…they loved him….on to next fix…but of course with me and a rare few it was different…we had something special….he meant he could treat me like shit….I guess I was weak….yet he kept telling me am nails. A lot of what he said was right and made sense…..he had books around his house about making friends, how to maniplulate someone, books to read body language….and he was good. He saw my faults, he knew me…..I guess I have looked into myself so much this last year I understand now….I looked for people with flaws….people who would be too much to handle…..so when I looked past there flaws they may expect mine…mine was I was too insercue….never felt anything for myself yet I had high expectations of what to expect…ellie once touched upon it….I wanted someone to fill that void…make me feel whole…and dave did it so well for a few months…then took it away and more….and I went bk in the hope he would give it me again.
    Dave is known by people to help anyone, He was a blessing to many. Most stories I hear how they have no friends, no family, no money, no house, no car….dave had it all…..or so it seemed. He struggled with money as he spent before it arrived but he always managed to save the day. He had 5 cars, one worth over 30k, he had a business, he had a detatched house….he LOOKED successful….of course I found his finaces and he re mortaged his house, only paid interest only, made it look like he was rolling in it…when he needed more money…he would go collect money for thousands….threatening and bullying, putting people in the boot of his car, he could earn 60k plus…..he was vermin…that side of him that understood prostitues as he talked to them etc, he wouldn’t judge them, wouldn’t hear a bad word about them…..but me….he spat at, stripped naked, filmed, degraded….why? I think I know….he couldn’t judge what he used as that would be judging him…so he picked on me for having values/morals…tested me, needed something to have on me….so when finally I snapped …which I did and he filmed….he had that one piece of proof that I was deranged….and he showed all his family and friends who once thought he was finally with someone decent…now thought poor dave….but dave told them all he was helping me….I had mental health problems and he was the one person who understood….he slattered me..yet I played the part perfect….after 12 hours of mental assault…like interrogation…I took myself to the doctors and sat and cried like a baby, told them I think he is right, am a no good mother…I should kill myself….just like my father etc…I went to counselling, she said I was suffering ptsd…I didn’t think it was right until you pointed it out. Dave of course was there….he tried to fix what he broke. I had bought my home, worked, had a car, just been abroad when I met him….when I finally left I had nothing…16k in dept….selling my home….no job..and my health is on its knees….yet I have some inner peace now returning.
    I think they have empthany…or know how they should feel and most buy into it.
    I don’t get how he is sending me 40 a mth, telling everyone he will give me time and space and he will try everything to be a father….he will always be there for his son and he will forever be grateful to me for providing him….I refused meeting him through mediation after finding a solicitor and went on her advice. He plays the victim great…but he is nothing like what is painted by others of what a narc should be. Its confusing.

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    1. ellie2013

      Fee,

      You hit the nail on the head right here: or know how they should feel and most buy into it.

      That’s exactly it! The books on body language, on manipulation that all comes later. IMO, N’s are just born the way they are, there is a disconnect from birth, the neuron paths are not connected to the area in the brain that controls empathy, emotional feeling. As a baby, these individuals are the ones that can not be comforted by say sound, singing, talking does nothing for them. They are the ones that are comforted by say a car ride or walking and bouncing. They need physical stimulus to feel. The emotional things give them nothing. As they grow, they “observe” how others act to learn how to respond. IF an N is born into a good god fearing family they have role models to mimic. They learn what things are considered “good” and learn that by doing them they will get praise, get attention for their “good” doing. But they can not ever “feel” good deep inside about what they do because they can’t feel emotions like that, no empathy. When they reach adult stage THEN they learn that , since they have watched people learned to mimic , they can use the things they have learned to “use ” people to their advantage. They can control how others feel. It becomes a game and like all games once they win, it is game over. The thrill is gone and it is on to the next thing to “stimulate” them I believe most of them DO good things for show, but it is not to ever help the person on the recieving end It is to “show” others how “good” of a person they are.

      They truly are evil No consience, no soul, no feelings

      Hope you are doing ok Fee Give that precious son of youra a hug from Auntie Ellie 🙂

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    2. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Fee, Good Morning, it’s been awhile, I hope you and the wee sweetheart are well.
      Very wise words you spoke. You are right, it is confusing and that is why the victim keeps going back.
      I too used to wonder why the wospos was so good to everyone else except me. He would run out in the middle of the night to help a friend, befriend homeless people and take them for burgers but not buy me a burger and let me go hungry. Or have enough money to buy himself the best of something and I would go without. He would never drive past a person broken down on the side of the road, we rescued so many people I lost track, but I never minded, I loved that part of him. He would go out of his way to help anyone. One time we rescued a little old lady who had a flat tire and there was a gang of young kids laughing and harassing her. When we stopped he said for me to get out and talk to her, so as not to scare her. She called me her angel sent from God. The poor thing, and JC couldn’t fix her tire, (she drove on it and destroyed it) but he loaded her car on the truck drove her home and went back the next day with a spare tire and put it on, never charged her a dime. Things like that confused me, he obviously knew how to be a good person and kind. Not just anyone would go out of his way like that.
      He would always be on a kinda high after helping someone, which a person does, it feels good to do something nice for someone. I always feel happier when I have helped someone too.
      But I think with the narcissist it is not that they feel good that they were able to help someone, it felt good to be someone’s hero, to be the man who saved the day. It feeds their ego, they are thinking, “Look what I good person I am, I wonder how many people are watching and thinking I am so wonderful?” They aren’t doing it to be charitable in the true sense of the words.
      Like JC used to sabotage my vehicle so he would have to come rescue me, when he rescued me that made him my hero, I needed him, no one else could save me but him and I would be so grateful and that would feed his ego but after awhile it doesn’t give the same jolt as it used to, it gets boring, you truly do fall deeper in love with him because you appreciate this kind thoughtful side but once he has you totally hooked then he doesn’t get the ego boost from being kind, then it is expected of him, it is a give and take relationship and he knows you love him so why try? he needs to ramp it up, so he gets more abusive because if he can abuse you and you still take him back then that is an ego boost in itself.
      Like Dave putting you back together and making you feel good about yourself, he is in control of that, it gives him a real sense of power, he can rip you to shreds and then he can put you back together, isn’t he powerful?!!!
      JC used to have a bunch of books on How to Win Friends and influence people, how to get any woman into bed the first date, how to get a woman to do anything you want, he would read psychology books, he had a subscription to a magazine all about the human mind and how it works.
      Everybody loved JC at first, Dave might be smarter than JC was, JC lets his true colours show too soon whereas Dave has probably learned how to hide it better and saves all the abuse for you, you lucky girl and you should be happy to take whatever he dishes out because he can make or break you don’t you know?
      By putting on this act of the benevolent caring man he can get away with all the other shit he pulls because if people do hear shit about him they will refuse to believe it because he has been so good to them or they see him being such a nice guy it just doesn’t fit with what they are hearing so disregard it.
      So they believe him when he says you are crazy and he is just trying to help you and he is the poor suffering victim of a crazed woman.
      Sick sob, he really has it all figured out and that makes him so very dangerous. He feels omnipotent, and that he can get away with anything.
      The fact that they know exactly what to do to appear like the greatest guy in the world but are abusive, vile, vindictive, heartless assholes behind closed doors shows how really sick they are.
      They can’t handle being that nice guy, and it is like the lucky woman they pick ends up paying for it, like he has to have someone he can kick around because outside he has to put on such an act.
      The victim keeps seeing how kind he is to everyone else and can’t help but feel it must be her that makes him treat her the way he does. I remember thinking and even saying to him, that everyone came before me, he didn’t give a shit about me but would get out of bed in the middle of the night to help someone he hardly knew.
      I think most victims have experienced the same thing, it is just in here, on the blog, everyone is focussed more on the shitty things the ex did and we don’t tend to talk about the nice things. But we wouldn’t have been with them at all if they didn’t have good qualities about them, sure it was all an act but a very good act and we think no one could act that wonderful, if they don’t feel it.
      That is what makes me think they do know how a person feels but they use it to their advantage, they use it to appear benevolent or they use it to destroy someone. Either way it is always used to get them what they want.
      So good to see you Fee. I always worry about you. How are you?

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  4. safirefalcon

    Lol I guess it’s a good thing that you can’t really answer the question right?

    The choice thing reminds me of a conversation I had with my sister (who shows some narcissistic traits). I had been apprehensive about something that involved getting closely involved with my very dysfunctional family and made the mistake of discussing it with her.

    But then she had not long before that made it seem as though she understood in an earlier conversation. Anyway, the thing I remember her saying is, “You know, you have a choice.”

    She was eluding to my emotions and the way I felt. I could walk around miserable or I could be happy. There was a lot more to the entire convo, but when I hear or read things about ‘choice’ pertaining to an emotion, it triggers the memory of this conversation.

    This was a significant turning point however and I had realized in that moment, just after hearing her words, that our relationship would never be what I really wanted it to be nor what she SAID she wanted it to be.

    There was something inside me that felt some relief. It was a bittersweet moment actually and even weirder was the release of some chronic shoulder pain I’d had for years after I’d made that decision and realization.

    It had been a phone conversation and I’d noticed the pain being gone just after hanging up with her. That was more than a year ago…probably going on two now and still no shoulder pain.

    Huh…I guess she was right…it is a choice. lol.

    We’re no contact now incidentally.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Safire, isn’t that something, the pain just left, that just goes to show how stress affects us in so many ways that we don’t even realize. I have talked about this before and it is too much info I know but I always found it so interesting that whenever I was with the wospos I would suffer from hemorrhoids, really badly; but as soon as we would split they were gone. The last 4 + years I have not had the slightest problem. I had noticed the correlation but thought it must be my imagination, a coincidence, but when I told a friend she said , “where do you think the saying “Pain in the ass” comes from, or “pain in the neck” There is a reason people say those things.” and I thought yeah, it had to come from somewhere.

      I do think a lot of times it is a choice we make to be happy or sad, I mean, after all we can choose to cut the person out of our life, we can choose to focus on the positive things in life. A lot of things are out of our control but how we think about the things that happen to us IS within out control.

      My dad used to say that we can choose to love someone and I never believed that and I still don’t. When it comes to love I can not make myself love someone I don’t love but I it was a conscience effort to stop loving JC and when he was treating me so poorly I choose to continue loving him, I choose to believe lies that I knew were lies, and see the good in him instead of all the rotten shit he pulled. I don’t like to admit it was a choice and in the beginning I didn’t know what he was, but in the end it was totally my choice to believe him and give him another 2nd chance. I could have said, “Too little too late asshole, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” But I choose to believe him and give him another chance.
      I went no contact with my dad like 15 years ago and he died last summer. I thought it might be tough, that I might have regrets but I didn’t. I did it because it was so stressful having him in my life, every time we talked on the phone, every Christmas etc.
      I too felt such a weight off my shoulders (nothing profound like a pain going away though) . It felt so good to know I never had to deal with him again, I didn’t have to worry about offending him, or feeling inadequate, or him talking behind my back, now he had a reason to talk behind my back. I didn’t expect everyone else to jump on my bandwagon and join me in not talking to him. I told all my family it was my choice, I was doing it for my own mental health. My son still saw his grandpa, my brother (and then he would bitch profusely for days after)
      At one point they thought my dad might need bone marrow transplant and I told my brother I would get tested to see if I was a match and he was shocked. I told him, I stopped talking to dad because I just could not handle it, the guilt trips, walking on egg shells but I still love him I don’t wish him ill will or to die.
      I have never regretted my decision and that made it so easy to stick to my decision and never falter. My life was so much more peaceful without him in it, sadly to say I guess.
      I have great memories from when I was little and he was a great dad in many ways but I could not handle the times he wasn’t and I reached my breaking point, I had my fill.

      Good for you to realize you had reached your breaking point or had your fill.

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  5. safirefalcon

    Quoting you: “I do think a lot of times it is a choice we make to be happy or sad, I mean, after all we can choose to cut the person out of our life, we can choose to focus on the positive things in life. A lot of things are out of our control but how we think about the things that happen to us IS within out control.”

    I agree so much about this while at the same time it’s unfortunate that in order to be happy means to cut someone out of your life, especially when it’s family.

    Somewhere along the line I turned into the dumping ground/scapegoat and then everything wrong with the fam dynam was my fault. That’s quite a bit of power don’t cha think? Lol.

    Big double standard there. I had fingers pointed at me in blame if I tried to work something out or through…to me in order to have healthy and real relationships with people that you want to be close to, sometimes the convo has to be difficult. I wasn’t interested in accusing anyone of anything, just working through my feelings AND their feelings without anyone attacking anyone.

    And I’d be the one verbally attacked. It was too much. So I understand completely. There is no controlling what other people do or say, but at the same time, I do think it’s tough to just make a conscious decision not to feel hurt by the situation.

    Thing is there’s a lot that goes into the whole toxic dynamic and I never denied having played my part, but when it gets to a point where everyone is well aware of the elephants in the room…well for me it was not acceptable to hang around pretending they weren’t there.

    Oh well, it gives me a chance to do a whole lot of soul searching…not that that has been a walk in the park. There’s a whole lot of cognitive dissonance. I also walked on egg shells around my father…we all did. And I ended up being the so-called target patient being the one to exhibit depression, being aware of problems and not being able to really put my finger on most of it.

    Anyway, I’m rambling I guess. I have a tendency to try to make it all cut and dry but when it comes to emotions and life it just never is.

    As for emotional stuff manifesting itself physically, there is a book called “Scared Sick.” I have not read the whole thing yet but I read enough to know that there have been studies done to prove this. It’s really interesting and a good piece of knowledge to have, using it in your own favor.

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    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      I too was always the one trying to mend fences in the family, smooth ruffled feathers, keep the peace but if I tried to express my feelings I was told I was too sensitive, reading things into it, or like my brother said when I told him I was not talking to my dad any more. Well you know sis you are a bit if a flake.
      He grew up with my dad calling me a flake and I became the family joke. But when the chips were down who was always there for everyone? me of course.
      And then they wondered why I kept forgiving James and going back.
      But I don’t think they liked the fact that I was no longer there for them because it wasn’t that they lacked empathy, they were down right angry at me for being abused. I remember saying to James I don’t know why you and my mom don’t like each other because you both think I am a nut case and think it is all my fault. You and her should do drinks.
      When things get too intense for my mom she just checks out, she just doesn’t deal with it. She will say, I can’t deal with this I don’t want to hear about it.
      I can’t do that, I guess it is her choice and it is mine also, and no one gets angry with her but have no problem getting angry with me for caring.
      I don’t understand how people do it. I can not not care, especially when it is my family.

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