Unconditional love and abuse


The thing about Gaslighting is that it can make one’s thought processes, decisions and life itself look far more complicated that is actually the case – and even the thought of love can seem like a complication better avoided.

My act of adding the word ‘deserve’ to a post which was about love may well have startled some readers; it may even have got one or two people’s backs up. The ploy was deliberate. It was done to make two, very important, points, one overt and the other subliminal.

The first was an assertion of my own will and my right to decide who I want to befriend, love and keep in my life. The second was a triggering, possibly subconsciously, of something too many of us experience with certain other people: Only being loved conditionally; having our lack of perfection held over us – like, as one of my regular readers said, a Sword of Damocles – with the rider that, if we don’t come up to scratch, that attention and love will be withdrawn and the sword of rejection will decapitate us.

Long term abuse produces such uncertainty and fear in the mind, such lack of self-esteem and such a need to please that it is only too easy for almost anyone to dictate the course of an abused person’s life with chilling ruthlessness – simply by using the precision tool of emotional blackmail: If you do/say/think that, I won’t love you anymore. You do not deserve love because you are A, you think B, you do C. In other words, ‘You have to be an A* standard human being in order to merit my superior form of loving.’

One of the real tragedies of sustained abuse is that it wears away the natural angry response to such an assertion. The abused ones come to see the abuser as a kind of God – certainly a person of superior powers and unquestioned authority. His or her beliefs, needs, rules and utterances have the same kind of power the Bible has over Believers. Just as many Christians secretly believe that they will go to Hell if they do not abide by the laws of their church, so do the abused come to believe that they will face the hell of being unloved – and completely unlovable – if they do not do as their abuser says, in everything. Instead of anger when faced with a clearly ridiculous, and harmful, rule, they often feel terror – the terror of imminent loss and rejection, of being replaced by someone else, if they do not do as they are told.

Instead of a healthy, ‘Oh, using the old Sword of Damocles Ploy, are you? Don’t bother: I’m not playing!’ the abused grovel and weep and do anything they can to turn the abuser’s wrath aside, to make those magic words of forgiveness and ‘love’ appear, to be back in the other’s favour.

Now, I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I am not intending to become an abuser myself. I do not wish to hold others to ransom in this way, or to demand the impossible in terms of their behaviour in sick exchange for my love. But, by the same token, I am no longer prepared to have anyone offer me the weak skimmed milk of their manipulative ‘love’ in exchange for my unquestioning obedience and reverence.

Yesterday’s post, which made me cry, was an acknowledgement, finally, that some people in our lives harm us; that their influence is malign and that our constant attempts to please them, calm their anger, prove that we are good enough actually backfire because we are feeding into a psychological bottomless pit. Such people never feel that they have enough. No matter how rich they are, they feel that they are on the permanent bread-line and deserve more as their right. No matter how beautiful/handsome and loving/sexy their partners are, this is never good enough: There are always flaws which, until sorted, cause a cooling of the ardour; there are always areas of over-spiritedness, of going against the rules, which need to be crushed and removed from the relationship dynamic. Until the ‘loved’ one has been reduced to little more than a grey and obedient slave, the abusive type is not satisfied – and, of course, once the other’s spirit has been reduced to hopelessness, then the self-proclaimed God figure will complain that the slave never laughs anymore and has stopped showing any sexual enthusiasm!

My boundaries now exclude manipulators, Narcissists and other borderline personality disorder types – and, yes, if necessary, I am quite happy to see a metaphorical Sword of Damocles descend upon their self-satisfied heads! Gaslighters are incapable of love as most of us know it – and giving them our love is unwise at best, dangerous and enormously destructive, even fatal, at worst.

Yesterday’s post represented the start of a very clear stance. I have now, after bitter experience, come to recognise the signs of the Gaslighter – and I am not prepared to entertain the fuckers in the precious rooms of my life.  Why should I? I am not a masochist! I have finally seen that I did not deserve to be manipulated in this way; that it was not a flaw in me (other than my empathy and compassion for others) so much as a condition enjoyed by others. And that trying – as I have done for so long – to get these people back as friends/loved ones when they are, once again, punishing me with silence and disapproval, is an act of wanton stupidity and lack of self-respect.

To only love another when that person finally becomes perfect is sad. If I love someone, I am loving who they are – and that includes flaws. But there are some people it is dangerous to give unconditional love to. We all have flaws and imperfections in this life. Most of us are aware of them and make at least a rudimentary attempt at sorting out the most damaging of them. Those who habitually indulge in Gaslighting simply do not care. They recognise flaws, sometimes, but have no interest in, or intention of, changing the way they are because, in their eyes, they are the perfect/enlightened/sorted people and it is others who have to live up to their impossible standards. Besides, it is far more fun, for such people, to play endless mind games than it is to actually have recognisably human relationships!

My capacity for unconditional love, which is huge, no longer embraces life’s Gaslighters!


22 thoughts on “Unconditional love and abuse

    1. Yes, indeed, Walter – and, unfortunately, it is the kind of learning experience which only hits home once one is already under the influence of the person concerned. It would be a lot easier if abusers arrived with horns, pitchforks and clear warning signs.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes, I think you’re correct, gaslighters (and narcissists) are more common than we think and it takes courage to take the plunge and deliberately withdraw from their games. You took that plunge and are growing in strength every day….and deserve only the people in your life that love and support you. Drop the manipulators, let them bask in their own gaslight whilst you, me and the others who have woken up, refuse to be the ‘scenery’ for their insidious poisonous dramas….Sekhmet! X

    Liked by 2 people

  2. EXCELLENT! “Unconditional love” was never meant to encourage unconditional approval and attention. If another’s behavior toward us does not merit our engagement, we owe it to OURSELVES to find a way to get out from under their influence.

    Good for you for choosing to overcome abuse and walk away from abusers – and those “gaslighting” narcissists represent some of the trickiest quicksand to avoid, in my experience. They certainly do NOT deserve your time and good thoughts.

    Onward and upward!
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks for this, Madelyn – I deliberately avoided using the term ‘Narcissist’ in this piece, but the Narc behaviour, which is so closely tied up with Gaslighting, was at the back of my mind as I wrote. Too many people, labouring under the illusion that abuse only counts if it includes physical bruises, continue to engage with Narcissists for years, even decades. xx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s hard to pin down narc abuse AS abuse, even among those who are well-aware that not all abuse is physical – like me, for example.

        Although it was logistically difficult, I “escaped” rapidly once I clearly identified the dynamic in one of my own relationships some years ago now. Still, I stayed far too long before I left, falsely believing that I could improve our interactions with coaching communication skills (encouraged by friends to do so, “trying harder” – sadder still). One excuses this man’s “unhealthy” behavior as toward me to this day, missing the point entirely.

        I have a colleague who remained for several decades in what I would have easily and quickly identified as an abusive situation, because “when he was good he was very, very good” – only identifying what was going on years after her divorce, after reading several books about it (the dynamic continues, sadly; 20-something kids involved who tend to defend the Dad).

        The best solution is to get away and refuse to engage further. But FIRST we have to see clearly that we do not deserve to be abused in ANY fashion! And that is not as easy as it sounds.

        Brave posts both – and I’m sure they will help others come to similar conclusions.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Can totally identify with what you have said here, Madelyn. The ‘when he was good…’ bit, which is so true of these people, sent shivers of recognition down my spine – even though I can now see that it is Love Bombing more often than not. People still think that abusers wear horns, carry tridents and have an easily-identifiable psychopathic look; they fail to realise that 99% of abuse occurs behind closed doors, precisely because the abuser does not want witnesses! xx

          Liked by 2 people

          1. True, but I wonder about 99%. I have seen the signs in public often enough it makes me doubt that figure – most, yes, but not close to all (unless we are speaking strictly of physical abuse).

            Public signs of other types of abuse are subtle – frequently with an attempt to pass off belittling as “humor,” or apologizing for a public slip-up with an excuse about a toothache or no sleep or something, expecting the target to immediately become conciliatory (a cue they often take, btw).

            As an onlooker, it’s tough to know what to say, and awkward (for me, at least) to remain silent. DOUBLE win for the abuser! I especially find the “no sense of humor” rejoinder most offensive – unless it is, “Hey, lets not spoil everybody else’s good time here.”

            I no longer accept holiday invitations from one particular family – and have been as honest as I can with both wife and adult daughter as to why, essentially, “… because I don’t want to spoil the evening but I can’t trust myself to remain silent when ‘Bob’ starts in with comments I find abusive, no matter where they’re aimed.”

            I’m sure ‘Bob’ is just fine with that – but it breaks my heart. I wish I could jerk a knot in his tail, duct tape his mouth and teleport everyone else out of his reach, but allowing him to infect my thoughts is playing (and I don’t chose to).


            Liked by 2 people

          2. Totally get where you are coming from in all of the above, Madelyn. Belittling as humour is a particularly egregious one, in my view, as is the whole projection, ‘YOU are the problem!’ type scenario. The conciliatory knee-jerk reaction is also very familiar: Stems from the whole walking on eggshells terror. xx

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true, Julie. But worth bearing in mind that friends and siblings and co-workers can also be abusive; it is not just marital or live-in partners. My own view is that Gaslighting, as a technique, is far more widespread than we perhaps realise, and many people are at the receiving end of it without knowing: Scary. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Chris. I feel this too, oddly enough – and, for the first time, have written these posts without feeling the immediate need to delete them. I know that there will be many people out there being emotionally abused one way or another who have bought into society’s prevalent belief that only physical abuse counts. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ever make concrete? No figured not… Thing is making a concrete slab is easy enough. Sand, cement, gravel and a little water. Shutter the area mix the concrete and pour. Just like a cake! It will set and look mighty strong, but if the slab is unsupported it will break with a good blow or enough weight applied. The trick is to add some inner steel bars (rebar as the Americans have it). These little baby’s give much more strength to the slab if used in an unsupported manner (maybe a step over a stream or ditch). The moral of all this is fairly transparent. One needs support or inner steel, either will suffice and make one strong enough to bear all weight. (Or in my case be far to stupid to notice the monkeys swinging and talking gibberish in their trees…). t

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent point, Ted – love your analogy. I have been very lucky in my close friends – and my inner marshmallow is, gradually, being replaced with something stronger and more enduring, though perhaps not steel as yet! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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