One of the problems I've encountered as I reclaim life after abuse is unconscious manipulation. I learned some bad habits while living in dysfunction and abuse. Bad? Well, at the very least, they are habits that served a purpose formerly but now they interfere with intimacy in my most cherished relationships.
In an abusive situation, the person who wields power almost always gets his/her own way. We know that. We lived it. The bully got his/her way. Period. Or so it seemed.
In reality, the victim also got her/his way sometimes. Not with demands. Not with threats. Not with compromising or bartering.
Someone who has no visible power in a relationship has to use indirect and passive things to influence outcomes. She lies or omits information to influence the abuser's perceptions. He works slowly and poorly to urge the abuser to do something herself. She suggests a particular action, coating it in flattery or in self-belittling terms, so the abuser can easily claim the palatable idea as his own. She asks a question, not because she doesn't know the answer, but so the abuser can realize something. He agrees to do something and then "accidentally" breaks the tools or cannot begin because he "cannot find" what is needed.
We all want our way sometimes. It is human to want what we want. But I don't want to be manipulative. I want to continue learning the tools of equality. I want to believe, really believe, that I have the power to ask for my needs directly. I want to show my intelligence, without feeling that I must tone it down or hide it. I want to tell an important fact in a way that alerts the other that I am saying something true and important. I want make requests, without battling false guilt and shame-ruled embarrassment. I want to honestly state wants as well as needs.
I want to shed being a martyr or manipulator forever. The effort continues. It isn't easy to change lifetime habits, but change I must, for I deeply want the end result. But I am recognizing more quickly the times when I slip into indirect terminology or manipulative language. I am acknowledging why I do it. I am practicing saying things that are revolutionary for me. Things like, "Would you...", "I want...", "I need...", and "I like..."
If you can relate, I'd love to read your comments.
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