To Forgive Or Not To Forgive Your Abuser – The Unintended Fallout: Possible Emotional Abuse or Exploitation Of Your Codependent Friend or Family Member

To Forgive Or Not To Forgive Your Abuser – The Unintended Fallout: Possible Emotional Abuse or Exploitation Of Your Codependent Friend or Family Member

I was watching a video today by psychologist Dr. Ramani, who I like very much, and I agree with her most of the time.

I even agree with most of her comments in this particular recent video she made that I will be discussing in this post, but it brought to mind one over-looked aspect pertaining to volatile or abusive relationships.

In the video (link to that video here, and I will embed it below, the title is, “Is there virtue in forgiving a narcissist who doesn’t apologize?”), Dr. Ramani expressed that she pretty much disagrees with the concept that people should have to forgive others, or that forgiving others makes a person stronger, etc.

Dr. Ramani rightly points out in that video that continually forgiving pathologically narcissistic persons is a waste of your time, for various reasons I shall not explain here (you can watch her video for explanations). I do agree with her on that.

If someone in your life keeps hurting, abusing, or mistreating you, no matter how many times you’ve forgiven them and given them a second, third, etc, chance,
you need to accept the fact this person is more than likely NEVER going to change and that they merely view your willingness to always forgive him or her as a weakness to repeatedly exploit.
So cut that person from your life, or limit time around them.

It’s not that I disagree with Dr. Ramani’s comments in the video on the face of things, but, I am concerned for Codependents.

On a similar note, in years past, I’ve also read books or seen videos about how people can help their abused friends.

I’ve seen videos by women who divorced their abusive husbands who reel off a list of tips on how you, the friend, can be supportive towards the friend in the abusive marriage.

These videos, books, and online articles, contain lists of things to say or to avoid saying when trying to help someone who is currently in an abusive relationship or someone who was abused in childhood.

Many of these books, videos, and web pages (most by therapists, psychologists or recovered abusive victims) often stress that you, the friend, should just sit and listen to the friend – just validate the friend, do not give advice, judge, or criticize.

I am a recovered Codependent (I wrote a very, very long post about that here).

I am also an Introvert. Introverts naturally make better attentive listeners than Extroverts.

So, as someone who is an Introvert and a one-time Codependent, I was very adept at giving the sort of emotional support a lot of troubled people seek out and find comforting.

For over 35 years, due to the parenting of my mother and the guilt tripping-, sexist-, Codependent- pushing- teachings under “gender complementarianism” of the Southern Baptist church I was brought up in, I had no boundaries, I was not assertive, and it was implied it is my job or responsibility in life to rescue or help other people, whatever format that came in.

All of that was taught to me as I grew up under the false, gender complementarian assumption (and my mother and father bought into some of this thinking too) that God created women to be more caring than men, it would be un-feminine or selfish for a woman to have boundaries, and I was taught that it was women’s “duty” to be care-takers for the hurting.

For me, most often, the support and care-taking my Mom and church taught me to engage in came in the form of “Emotional Labor,” and it made my already bad mental health in years past even worse.

(I was diagnosed at a very young age with clinical depression, I also had anxiety disorders and had low self esteem for many years. I no longer have depression.)

If you are an abuse victim, or if you’ve been bullied at a job, or you were abused in a marriage, or you were sexually or physically abused as a child by a family member,
I know it can be helpful, now, as an adult, to sit and talk to an empathetic listener about it, it can feel so good for that listener to sit quietly while you do most of the talking, and for that person to validate you and your experiences.

It can be very healing and feel like a tremendous relief for that listener to refrain from victim blaming you, offering advice or platitudes.

It can help in the healing process for another adult to believe you and just offer non-judgmental emotional support as you relate your trauma and pain to them.

I realize all that.

But have you ever considered that the caring, non-judgmental, empathetic person you keep turning to, whether it’s a friend or a family member, might be highly codependent and your repeated use of that person as your emotional support system may be damaging to THAT PERSON?

Because I was that person, for over 35 years.

I was the sweet, caring, understanding, supportive listener that many people – co-workers on jobs, family, neighbors, friends –
would call, e-mail, snail mail, or text with their problems, because they KNEW I would always listen to them rant (for hours on end, if need be, over months and years), I would NEVER put time limits on their rants, and I would ALWAYS respond in a timely fashion to ranting or sad e-mails or texts.

I spent over 35 years giving a lot of non-qualified, no-strings-attached emotional support to a lot of emotionally wounded or abused people over my life.

Some of these people called or e-mailed me over job stress, health problems, troubled marriages, financial issues, or, they were single and were lonely – they couldn’t get a boyfriend (or girlfriend).

None of these people who called or texted me to complain or sob to me ever once considered how their regular, negative phone calls (or letters or face to face chats) was impacting me. For the ones who considered it, I suppose they didn’t care.

If you choose not to forgive your abuser, that is your choice to make, but…

Be aware that if you choose to not forgive but to also hold on to your hurt and anger, and to choose to ruminate on the abuse,
and should you choose to deal with and vent that anger and hurt by regularly calling your Codependent friend to listen to your rants or sobbing – you are abusing your Codependent friend or family member, which is not acceptable.

In all the years I granted emotional support to hurting people (including but not limited to co-workers who’d stop by my cubicle during work hours to bend my ear for an hour or more about their divorce or health problems), I was never once thanked.

The non-stop support I gave was never acknowledged. And giving that non-stop support was exhausting and taxing for me, as I know it can be for other Codependent persons.

A “thank you” once in awhile from these people who came to me to dump their problems on me would’ve been appreciated. I never got one.

Reciprocation would’ve been appreciated and helpful too, but the people who were abuse survivors, or assorted chronic complainers who used me to vent to, very rarely to never asked about ME and MY struggles in life.

Continue reading “To Forgive Or Not To Forgive Your Abuser – The Unintended Fallout: Possible Emotional Abuse or Exploitation Of Your Codependent Friend or Family Member”

Pathologies of Victimhood by R. Gunderman – The Danger of Victimhood Mentality

Pathologies of Victimhood by R. Gunderman – The Dangers of Victimhood Mentality

I wanted to explain a few things before I paste in excerpts from the article about victimhood by Gunderman, so nobody will misunderstand my views upfront.

I do think there are actual victims out there in life, including in the Christian church context. I am not denying that.

I recognize that sometimes painful or unfair things happen to all of us in life, and sometimes those painful things are due to other people’s cruelty, incompetence, negligence, or sins against us, and not due to any personal moral failings or choices we make.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people through no fault of those people. One can be more sinned against than sinner.

A few years ago, there was a guy on Twitter with several accounts (he seemed to be a Christian), all of which were disgustingly used to mock victims of church abuse or of sexual abuse whose churches tried to cover up the abuse.

I think he later deleted these accounts, or his accounts received so many complaints from others that Twitter deleted them all.

One of his Twitter accounts used the name “Victim Princess,” as if to suggest that any and all women who spoke out against abuse they received by their churches or by Christians was nothing but entitled, petty whining with no merit. I was appalled by his account.

This guy would do things like actually tweet rude or nasty comments at Christian women on Twitter who discussed how their church covered up their abuse by other church members.

Politically, I am a conservative, and I do not agree with the vast majority of liberal or progressive “woke,” intersectional identity politics, which is largely based on victimhood mentality.

In progressive identity politics, different identity groups end up competing for “who is the most oppressed and biggest victim in life,” which creates (not solves) all sorts of problems.

However, while I do think that the “woke” go over-board with their grievance culture mentality, that does not mean that people who complain about having been hurt in life are always lying, exaggerating, or trying to get special accommodations.

Out of Knee Jerk Dislike of Wokeness, Among Other Factors, Sadly, Too Often, Too Many Conservatives Minimize Actual Abuse

While some progressives over-play the “victim card” to exploit and manipulate others, it is still wrong for conservatives to deny, minimize, or to reject altogether that churches do usually cover up sexual abuse in their midst or by their members.

It is wrong for conservatives to fail to acknowledge the reality that most pastors and churches do in fact fail domestic abuse victims and constantly enable abusers.

I do think that most churches are insensitive and incompetent at handling abuse among their members, and that should change.

There is such a thing as a victim. People can be exploited, hurt, and abused by other people – that is not something that “woke” liberals and progressives are making up.

I’m a conservative who has been taken advantage of and bullied through my life by school mates, my ex fiance, siblings, co-workers on jobs, etc., and this through no fault of my own.

Victims do actually exist.

Conservatives can and have been abused and mistreated on an individual and group level, whether by liberal and progressive persons and policies, or by their spouses or bosses on jobs.

At one time or another, we’ve all been bullied, abused, harassed, exploited, or on the receiving end of rude or cutting comments, regardless of our identity or political beliefs.

It is therefore unrealistic and cruel for conservatives to act like any and every person who claims victim status is a sensitive snowflake or is lying about it.

Flip Side of Coin: People Who Choose to Stay in Victimhood Status (yes, it’s ultimately a choice), Refuse to Move Forward

However, I have seen people, and groups of people, who – whether they are actual victims or not – wallow in victimhood status and victimhood mentality, and this is not acceptable, either.

Some of those still participating in the “exvangelical” (ex-evangelical) tag over on Twitter in 2022, which has been going on for several years now, are one example of this.

I’ve seen so many people, under that “exvangelical” tag,  as well as non-ex-evangelical people I once befriended online,
or people (including family members I’ve had, real life friends and co-workers) who may have been honestly victimized and wounded in childhood or adulthood, but they remain “stuck” in their rage, anger, and hurt – they still think of themselves as victims, and they want to be viewed as victims.

They want to be endlessly coddled and validated.

These are people who are very resistant to, or who refuse to take, the only avenue out of the pain, regret, anger, and disappointment and into joy, peace, and happiness – which includes, after a period of grieving and anger (that comes to an end and does not go on indefinitely),

  • accepting, once for all, what happened to them,
    realizing that remaining focused on external causes and other people (ie, their abuser or abusive church) is keeping them “stuck,”
  • to make a deliberate decision at some point to move forward, whether they “feel like it” or not
    (i.e., to no longer stew in anger, to ruminate, stew in past wrongs done against them, to dwell on how life is unfair, to dwell upon the idea they are a good person who didn’t deserve the abuse, etc),
  • to realize in order to change their life for the better, they will have to look inwards,
    which will allow them to get to the next healing point…
  • take personal responsibility for their life, healing,
    and realize if you want your life to change,
    you will have to get active and make changes yourself
    – sitting around all day doing things like watching TV or complaining to people on social media about how life, your former church, God, or your abuser, treated you so unfairly
    (even if any and all those things are in fact true, ie, you WERE treated horribly and unfairly)
    – won’t ultimately help you in the long run, it won’t make the necessary changes;
    complaining frequently, and receiving validation that, yes, what happened to you was horrible and wrong, and yes, you were a victim who didn’t deserve abuse, will only offer temporary emotional relief but will not produce long lasting inner peace and happiness

Stewing in anger, hurt, and regret and enjoying or wanting to receive validation that one did not deserve to be abused, is all but a step in the overall journey of healing.
It is the first step… but too many victims want to stay in Step One forever and ever, rather than moving through the rest of the steps.

Yes, there should be time limits on how long you are angry, ruminating, and upset and wanting to receive validation – a lot of therapists and victims (and former victims) get upset when this view point is stated, but it’s true.

Maybe that time limit is different for each victim and should not be rushed – which is fine.

HOWEVER, I do not support any person staying mired in “victimhood land” perpetually.

Staying in step one – never getting over or past the anger and hurt, refusing to let go or from even considering to do so, being addicted to external validation like it’s a drug one craves and needs – is one huge component of what keeps people trapped in depression, anger, pain, and from enjoying the rest of their life.

If you feel perpetually wounded, hurt, or angry, as long as you keep shifting blame towards those outside you (even if yes, those others deserve that blame), as long as you continue to dwell on being angry at your abuser, at God, life circumstances, or former churches that treated you like trash, you’ll never be able to move on and enjoy life again.

You have to look inwards in order to move forward, and that is a choice one has to make, because it won’t instantaneously happen.

Furthermore, your emotions will never magically change on their own; you will never “feel” like getting up, making changes, and moving forward. It’s a matter or choice and self discipline.

So if your mindset is, “I will make changes and move on when I feel like it, when my emotions change,” that is never going to happen.

Moving on is more a matter of will.

While I do think there are actual victims out there (and anti-woke conservatives need to be sensitive to these persons),
I’m also aware of legitimate victims who cannot or who refuse to move on,

-and there are persons with Covert or Vulnerable Narcissism (a personality disorder – more about that on this blog (Link): here and (Link): here), a hallmark of which is holding a life-long self-pitying, victimhood mentality – these people, of their own accord, are mired in depression and misery of their own making, because they refuse to look inwards and take personal responsibility.

Covert Narcissists, for one, prefer to point the finger of blame for their misery at their family of origin, God, and / or their former church, ex-spouses, and so on. They never want to look at how their attitudes or actions keep them in a limited, unhappy situation.

Sorry for that very long intro, but I didn’t want anyone to get to the following link and excerpts and think by posting it that I am in denial that yes, at times in life, sometimes people have legitimate pain and grievances and can be honest to goodness victims.

I do believe there are honest- to- goodness victims out there and that these victims deserve compassion, empathy, and justice,
but – however –
I am also aware that, unfortunately, some people, whether legitimate victim or not, will milk and exploit a “victim” label to lash out at others, to demand special treatment (at the expense of others), and that  clinging to a “victim” identity and view of themselves will cause them to remain stuck in unhappiness.

I have more commentary below this link with excerpts:

Pathologies of Victimhood – the Essay

(Link): Pathologies of Victimhood by R. Gunderman – Victimhood Mentality

Excerpts:

by Richard Gunderman
November 13, 2022

[Piece opens by discussing the late Sacheen Littlefeather, who claimed to be a Native American but who was actually of Mexican descent. She wanted to be viewed as a Native American to depict herself as an undertrodden member of a victim class.
As someone who actually is part Native American, I don’t view myself as a victim, so I find her ploy strange]

…Everyone has experienced genuine victimization at some point in their lives. Some have been the victims of political persecution and violent assault, while others have suffered lesser slights, such as bullying, verbal insults, and interruptions when speaking.

Most of us have also experienced situations where presumed victimhood stemmed from a mistaken assumption—for example, a driver who “cut off” a fellow motorist by abruptly changing lanes might appear to harbor malicious intent, but it might turn out that he was merely attempting to get to the hospital as quickly as possible to be with an ailing loved one.

Some among us, however, have a habit of adopting a posture of victimhood too easily and too often, a tendency that can damage communities, interpersonal relationships, and supposed victims themselves.

Continue reading “Pathologies of Victimhood by R. Gunderman – The Danger of Victimhood Mentality”

Experts Can Sometimes Be Wrong On Their Topics of Expertise, and Experts Sometimes Disagree with Other Experts in the Same Field – It’s Okay To Disagree with Experts

Experts Can Sometimes Be Wrong On Their Topics of Expertise, and Experts Sometimes Disagree with Other Experts in the Same Field – It’s Okay To Disagree with Experts

People or organizations who are regarded as being experts in one field or another can be incorrect at times; therefore, one should not uncritically accept anything and everything “experts” have to say.

Sometimes, experts disagree with other experts in their field on the same topic.

When such situations arise, which expert should I believe, Expert 1 or Expert 2? And who is to say?

If you say I should listen to Expert 2 on topic Z and ignore Expert 1, why should I take your word for it?

What makes you the final arbiter on who is right or wrong on an issue, and why should I automatically bow the knee to what Group X says on Topic Z, just because you believe that Group X are experts or that Group X are even generally regarded by others as being experts?

One has to use critical thinking as one goes through life.

I do respect giving some amount of credence to people who have higher education and/or life experience regarding a topic, so I am by no means an advocate for applauding ignorance or for totally ignoring and disregarding what “experts” have to say on whatever subject matter they have chosen to specialize in.

Experts Sometimes Have Political (or other) Agendas and Will Use Their Platform and “Expert” Credentials to Lie About, Distort, or Omit Facts

I am not opposed to taking into consideration what so-called “experts” on a topic have to say, but I’m old enough, with a college degree and enough life experience accumulated, to know that sometimes experts are wrong – and sometimes, experts have agendas.

An example or two here:

Covid-19 Virus

Progressives and liberals often slant scientific news and findings to bend to the will of the Democrats and progressive values and causes: Covid is a good example of this.

Progressives have politicized science and medicine to determine how and who should wear masks, should schools be closed and for how long, who should be vaccinated (they press even those who are not likely to get or die from Covid to get vaccinated).

Continue reading “Experts Can Sometimes Be Wrong On Their Topics of Expertise, and Experts Sometimes Disagree with Other Experts in the Same Field – It’s Okay To Disagree with Experts”