One of the most unattractive aspects of my divorce was the amount of emotional manipulation that I dealt with while trying to separate from my husband.
I never knew which one of us was going to fight for the position of: victim, martyr, or punisher.
Each time I thought of how he wanted to leave me, leave our relationship, leave our family, I would become angry and want to punish him for every transgression he had committed throughout our time together.
Each time I felt betrayed by him, and sought out comfort from family and friends, the role of martyr, the long suffering spouse, arrived on the scene to protect my fragile self-esteem and comfort my bruised ego.
And when I was full of despair or fear… I could blame my husband for my pain, feel sorry for myself, believe that other people had it so much better than me.
My husband played his part in the game as well:
He embraced each role as fervently as I did.
I learned through this addictive emotional manipulation, that nothing was getting solved; neither one of us was moving forward, because we were always so busy acting out our attachment to our particular roles.
I had to train myself to choose not to engage… to catch myself when becoming a victim, a martyr, a punisher and walk away from a fight instead of instigating one.
Over time, this became a habit, and once I chose to no longer participate, the manipulation ceased.
It was so easy for me to fall into a destructive pattern when I was suffering but, by doing the spiritual footwork to become aware of my shortcomings, I was able to move away from each role and focus on what was truly important: forgiving the past, finding gratitude in my present life, and moving towards my future.
“Dear God, help me to be kind and forgiving. Help me to move forward with love and compassion even when I feel unable to do so.”
Wow – when I read this it really hit me. My soon to be ex husband and I have been very guilty of this behavior – I own it, he would never. The emotional manipulation would last for days – he was very skilled at drawing it out, so in the end I would beg and plead for his forgiveness – it gave him power and took my self esteem to its lowest. But the good news – is I don’t engage anymore either, and I’m starting to feel like that lady I was over 15 years ago.
Carolyn, isn’t that AMAZING when you begin to feel like yourself again? It is great that you “OWN IT” in regards to seeing your part in the behavior. When you move on to a new relationship, you will be working hard not to repeat those same mistakes and unless your ex starts his own spiritual footwork he will continue on with his manipulations. It really does get better as time moves you through this. 🙂 D.