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Doc@DrIrene.com

Advanced Abuser Recovery: Bumps along The Way

Advanced Abuser Recovery: bumps along The Way

by Dr. Irene


"The work will teach you how to do it." -Estonian proverb 

April 10, 2001

Throughout the site, I make repeated references that what abusers and victims both need to learn are the same lessons, though the order they are presented in will vary according to the individual. 

The  writer of the letter below has come a long way in his recovery. Yes, he is having the same assertion difficulties that any victim can identify with.

Advanced abuser recovery is about taking care of the Self while struggling with the MeMeMe entitlement thinking he is fighting/his tendency to give it all away (resentfully, of course).

A breakdown of some of the "ingredients" needed to cultivate productive Self-caring assertive behavior are:

Impulse control skills. 

bulletAbility to tolerate pain - without doing anything reactive about it such as scoffing at it, blowing up over it, or otherwise acting out in response to feeling hurt / angry. 
bulletAbility to sit with the situation long enough to identify exactly what bothers you. Your anger is your signal about what's wrong.
bulletAbility to control impulsive behavior for extended periods of time.

Personal Responsibility.

bulletAbility to take responsibility for one's own perceived "errors" - without wasting energy bashing the Self and ending up in the unproductive Pity Pot (for long anyway).
bulletEven better: Ability to take responsibility and factually assessing what actions that went right or wrong. No value judgment at all. 

Self awareness. 

bulletRecognition of how other people see you.
bulletClear view of yourSelf.
bulletEmotional objectivity.

Assertive skills Acquisition.

bulletMonday morning quarterbacking of what I coulda, woulda, shoulda said. (This is productive use of energy: problem solving rather than non-productive self bashing.)

Relative freedom from irrational thinking.

bulletThe ability to identify and correct the distorted underlying MeMeMe and other irrational thinking that gets in the way and has led to frustration, resentment and subsequent unproductive  behaviors in the past.  

 

Hi DOC and Trubble:

I guess things are changing on the web site. Are the Yahoo groups new? Yep. Anyway, I am turning a NEW page in my Victim/Abuser recovery. But I am stuck and feel desperately un-empowered. on feeling stuck and un-empowered. You know, you're doing well with those impulse control skills! 

I have been working for a particular company since Sept. At the same time, my boss promised me the moon about a salary and a mgmt. position. Since I really wanted to learn this business and perhaps start one on my own someday (something I've since started part time) I told him I would work for whatever he would pay me, just to learn. Sounds good so far.

He scooped me up so fast You feel used. Part of the MeMe... Also underlying thinking you buy into, which is really irrational since nobody can use you unless you let them! and has only started to think about it, as I have started to assert myself more and more as I gain in skill levels and competence at the jobs I do. He tells me he has grandiose plans for me with the company, telling me if I just hang on, we will go far together. at the same time he tells me that he can't yet hire me full time because, they can't afford it, but they hired a new office person. 

My boss will say that others in the company have nameless personality problems with me and that I don't have the technical skill level of my co-workers. But then he tells me how he counts on me, that I am a 'people' person that he values, that he is glad that I am the one handling a certain job, etc. OK, so you took on a job as almost an internship, working for little payback in exchange for job skills.  But, you're quick to feel used!. Your job is to care for yourSelf while not losing sight of your goals. You're not only getting a paycheck, you're getting training! Yet, the underlying thinking, "he's using me" is making you so angry, you can't achieve the emotional objectivity you need to solve the problem.

At present, I am a part time employee, (although he insists, and my accountant tells me otherwise, that I am an Independent Contractor) that gets a verbally agreed upon salary per week of work. Once we agree on price and schedule, he insinuates subtle changes that take advantage of me. When I point them out he starts to berate me, de-value me or even blow up full scale until I appease him. I feel like the abused spouse who wants things to work out, wants to make him happy, seeks his approval, afraid to leave him (cause then where would the $ come from?) and am completely flustered and blown away when he pulls his stuff on me. Especially when he does so in front of others.

My former wife pointed out that this is my karma, but I have to realize that doesn't mean I have to take it, but change it. Yes. I cannot yet integrate the defense and assertiveness mechanisms I need to. I am trying to start my own business, he knows this, and is amping up his tactics which sap my energy, clarity, etc.  STOP! HE'S not doing this. YOU are doing this! I wake up with a nameless sense of dread, foreboding and anxiety. Your ex is right. This is the lesson you need, and you can change it.  You are letting your fears get to you. Better look at your underlying thinking. If you lost this job, you would find another. Don't get so attached to a job - or anything else! Better to stay in the mix too long than jump the gun getting out.  Yes.

The more I think about it, his patterns are those of a manipulative abuser. Sure looks that way... I am sure these situations are prevalent in business, and all types of organizations, especially religious. Addressing them could go a long way towards opening the door for discussion of, treatment of and acceptance of domestic abuse and its' pernicious reality. Sure, but that won't address your individual concerns - and that's where you need to go!  Let someone else be the crusader. You've got to spend your energy taking care of the Self.

I am reprinting one of your paragraphs and will intersperse what I see as viable Self-caring options you may want to explore learning how to do:

"At present, I am a part time employee, (although he insists, and my accountant tells me otherwise, that I am an Independent Contractor) that gets a verbally agreed upon salary per week of work. Once we agree on price and schedule, he insinuates subtle changes that take advantage of me. You don't have to agree to these. When I point them out Good! he starts to berate me, de-value me or even blow up full scale until I appease him. Appeasing him won't work for you. You'll just get resentful. Instead, reply calmly and objectively to each point, one by one. 

Counteracting the assumption of being used

bullet Keep in mind you're getting lots of good stuff out of this job too.
bullet  Keep in mind that he cannot make you agree to anything you don't want to agree to. 
bullet Be grateful for what you have rather than resentful for what you don't. The latter is MeMe think and does nothing more than make you angry.

Stuff to say and do

Calmly though firmly find a way to tell him in private that you find his communication style unprofessional at times. Ask him to get a handle because there are project details that need to be discussed. If he starts berating you in front of others, say "Excuse me" and leave, but not in a huff.  

For example, "Ed, we negotiated that I complete this project. Dropping off the work to the client will be extra. If he starts getting hot under the collar, tell him you'll finish this discussion another time. It probably won't get brought up and he will expect you to drop off the work. Don't. "I'm sorry Ed. I thought I was clear on that point. But, for XXX, I'm happy to deliver it right now!"

Or, "It was not my understanding that my fee included door to door delivery to the client. But, delivery won't be a problem. We just need to negotiate a fee." As he gets angry, "Please calm down." If he doesn't, "Let's finish this discussion later." and calmly leave.

What if nothing I does works?

It may not. Recognize that all your calm, assertive requests may go unheard. If your boss is unable or unwilling to control himself, accept that which you cannot change and instead focus on not letting his anger manipulate you into doing what you don't want to do. Ask yourself why his mis-behavior bothers you so much? What are you telling yourself that gets you so terribly upset?

You underlying assumptions to his anger (with rational thinking in parentheses): 

bulletI can't stand it that he's angry with me! (You can stand it, though you may not like it.)
bulletIt's not fair! I don't deserve this beating up. (You don't, but you can't make him stop it. And that's fine. You'll just leave until he chills.)
bulletThis always happens to me. Why, why, why? (Because you haven't yet learned to stop it.)

Healthier assumptions to his anger:

bulletIt's OK for him to be angry.
bulletHis anger has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with him. No need to personalize his moods!
bulletThere is little I can do about his anger except control myself: set limits, not participate, and not push his buttons with my behavior.
bulletThe calmer and more rational I am, the closer I come to negotiating each problem.
bulletJust because he's angry doesn't mean that I have to be angry. I don't have to bounce off his mood!

Can you see how much simpler it is to deal with all this once you've stopped making yourself so emotional with your underlying - and irrational - assumptions?

I feel like the abused spouse who wants things to work out, wants to make him happy, seeks his approval, afraid to leave him (cause then where would the $ come from?) and am completely flustered and blown away when he pulls his stuff on me. Especially when he does so in front of others."

Yes, you are like the abused spouse. Similarly, you sometimes forget that while you are earning money and learning a business, you are also valuable to him! He needs you! Your intimidation over losing your job freezes you,  but, if you don't begin to calmly set limits and not engage emotionally with his silliness, your frustration and anger will only increase. Then you will do something dumb. Easier said than done though. You need some skills.

Take a look at : Tongue Fu! How to Deflect, , Disarm, and Defuse any Verbal Conflict and/or You Can't Say That To Me!  Oddly enough, another source to look at is for victims and it targets the irrational thinking part, The Secret of Overcoming Verbal Abuse: Getting Off the Emotional Roller Coaster and Regaining Control of Your Life

Don't rush though.  "Get" this stuff before you act. Expect to pull your hair out figuring out what to say to him when you Monday morning quarterback a situation. But, be just a little more patient. Don't act before you know what you want to say to him and have practiced what you're going to say. Empowerment is around the corner!  Hang in there, Dr. Irene  

Hope all is well, but I'm going through hell. At least I have the site and Trubble.

LOVE, Geoff 

Yeah! You have *Me*!  Don't you go putting up with your boss' junk! Forget what FakeMommy tells you. Listen to me: First you coat yourself with flea powder. Then you collect a jar of prime, No. 1 Hungry fleas... Hehehehehe!  Love, Trubble

 I want to read the posts.