Afraid of being like the abuser (not violently)

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goblinchild

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Afraid of being like the abuser (not violently)
« on: December 09, 2018, 11:35:53 PM »
I feel like I've ended up with maybe some really harsh ideas about what it means to be irresponsible. I'm not really sure though, I feel like the line I've drawn for myself is the only line I've ever known. Lately I've had an opportunity to experience other people being genuinely accepting and forgiving of other people's failures in a casual way. Like, it wasn't some big deal that they forgave them. They just did. Like it was a normal occurrence. It's just kind of like "Oh, they're only human" and no one's feelings are hurt or anything. That's pretty foreign to me.

I keep hearing that "Well, people are only human" or like I'll apologize for something or explain myself and people will be like "Hey, aren't you human?" I know there's been times before where I've gotten mad at someone and like they couldn't understand why I was mad at them for being irresponsible because they didn't think they were irresponsible, that thought they had just made an honest normal mistake. I know I've definitely been in awe of people who's "That's too much to expect of if me, I'm only human!" line is much lower than mine is.

I think deep down I'm just terrified of being like the incompetent adults in my life. I'm afraid of causing that kind of destruction to other people. But also, I feel like there's a flip side to this? I feel like those people are so awful, and most of them are alone. I feel so hurt by them, I feel like if I were to treat anyone even remotely like that it would be unforgivable. I would expect to be dropped like a hot potato! And that expectation is visceral. It's like the word "unacceptable" as an emotion that punches me in the gut. I can't see past it.
And I think there's a nasty catch in that every time, with every adult, they act as if they don't see that they're wrong. I've heard iterations of "They're just doing their best!" or "They did what they thought was right at the time" or "They're not evil, they had good intentions." my whole life and that's terrifying? That someone could be so toxic, what? On accident?? Unknowingly?

How do I know I'm not that damaging on accident? I feel like I'm responsible for every emotion I have. I can't lash out because something is confusing, I have to figure out why I'm confused! What am I, a toddler pitching a tantrum? Can I not navigate my own feelings? Can I not take care of myself and clean up my own messes? I would be ashamed if someone had to put up with me just because I can't simply manage my own emotions! But other people act like that all the time? Where is the line? I don't feel like it's okay for anyone to put up with me making any mistakes at all. Every mistake is a sign of incompetence that I haven't managed well enough yet.

I try to line up in my mind all the shortcomings that other people accept in each other and all the things that I feel are unacceptable from the adults that were in my life and I try to see if they meet anywhere in the middle but it feels so complicated. I feel like I never know where the line of what's acceptable lies in any situation about anything and it's all for the same reasons! I feel like no one raised an adult when I grew up, I'm just an amalgamation of broken pieces trying to hold water.

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Libby183

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Re: Afraid of being like the abuser (not violently)
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2018, 10:10:49 AM »
Oh, goblinchild, I understand exactly what you mean. I have posted very similar things in the past, and not really got much response. I don't know why, really.

It is such a huge issue to me, and causes me to be so confused by people that I prefer to avoid anything but superficial interaction.

The final straw, for me, was a therapist telling me I had to forgive my parents for their abuse.

I can't offer any helpful insights but am interested in anything more you would like to say about this. I think it really is a very real and important point that you are making.

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Rainagain

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Re: Afraid of being like the abuser (not violently)
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2018, 12:11:18 PM »
Goblinchild

There is an expression to describe some people, 'thick skinned', they aren't impacted by the opinions or actions of others.

Are you saying that compared to others you are the opposite and that its hard to understand others because of that difference?

It sounds like that, and if so I agree with you, I feel like that and like Libby it makes contact with others difficult.

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LilyITV

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Re: Afraid of being like the abuser (not violently)
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2018, 07:59:50 PM »
I think the line for me is whether the person who did it feels any sort of remorse for what they did.  It is true that we are human and we all hurt people intentionally.  The people I am angry at use the "I'm just human" line as an excuse to get out of having to apologize.  I find it easy to forgive people if they show the slightest bit of remorse.  It's the people who are so deep in self-protection mode that they can't bring themselves to admit that they hurt someone are the people who get to me. 

I suppose these people need a degree of understanding too, because if they've never been taught how to be empathetic people it may be harder for them.  But in the end, I think we all have choices and they're choosing themselves.  At some point, everyone is given an option to be better people or to keep on perpetuating the cycle of pain.  Even though it may be harder for some people, it doesn't absolve them of blame.

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Libby183

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Re: Afraid of being like the abuser (not violently)
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2018, 10:08:53 AM »
I think you are right, Rainagain, about some people just having "thick skins". It's probably a good thing to have.

For me, the problem people are not the thick skinned, but those who expect to be forgiven because they are only human, but, in the next breath, berate you for your human frailties. Very much as LilyITV talks about. I suppose it's self protection for them, but what astounds me is that other people go along with it. My SIL is rather unstable and throws tantrums if she feels offended. All my in-laws go along with her and pander to her. My parents in law even changed their wills to disinherit their grandchildren, because SIL and their son don't have children and she thought it wasn't fair. I so much as suggest I am feeling a bit down about nothing in particular, and they all shut me down as if I have committed a huge social faux pas. Is it them or me with the problem? It's all too upsetting so I just quietly take a back seat.

All I know for sure is that I am confused by human interaction!

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goblinchild

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Re: Afraid of being like the abuser (not violently)
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2018, 02:31:36 AM »
Thank you guys for all the support and good answers. What LilyITV said makes some sense to me but it all still feels raveled up. Rainagain, honestly I'm not sure if I feel that way or not. That might take some introspection.

LilyITV mentioned something about empathy which is a big thing for me. I believe my therapist would call it a "core issue". I also see what you mean about feeling remorse. An interesting thing that stood out to me when I read that was that when I think about it, for me it's easier to forgive someone when they both feel remorse and also take responsibility for what they did.

For example my mother, she feels remorse for things but she will skirt the blame. She'll feel sorry for blowing up at you but she'll blame it on hormones. She's sorry that the house is dirty but it's the fault of her job for making her too tired to clean. If you offer to help her problem solve it's just one excuse after another. If you ask her a day later, it's a different excuse than the first.

 
It's the people who are so deep in self-protection mode that they can't bring themselves to admit that they hurt someone are the people who get to me. 

I feel like this sums up her behavior too, even though I'm talking about taking responsibility and not empathy. (Maybe? I thought?) Whenever she's making excuses for things it's always stuff that seems like it would generate a whole lot of shame if she where honest with herself. It's like she just can't handle the thought of it.

I was thinking the day after I posted this topic, that I have the same attitude towards physical disability actually. I feel like people can't help their disabilities, of coarse, and they should be accepted, respected and given accommodations but I also have maybe some harsh ideas about being responsible for yourself and your disabilities. Especially about myself.

There's a core issue I've heard about that's one I know other people have because it's like a developmental thing or something. It's when a parent is unable to provide love and support and/or they're harmful in some way because of some shortcoming of theirs. Often because of mental illness. And the kid, being a kid, internalizes the parent's failings as a sign that there's something wrong with them. (The kid, I mean.)

As an adult, I logically understand that a lack of empathy can be due to mental illness and being in a self-protection mode as LilyITV puts it. But maybe I also rationalize my emotions by thinking that the adults should have been able to be responsible for their obvious problems. Most of the adults in my life were in positions where the could have gotten help if they really wanted to. Maybe I'm still trying to put the emotional pieces together about why they didn't.

It's difficult to comprehend that lack of empathy when you're on the other end. In my mind, I can still feel that internalized way of thinking. Why does the lack of empathy not seem obvious when it's happening towards me? I felt like if I were more important, they would do something about it.

As an adult though, I logically know that their "self-protection mode" was probably too strong to have been able to fully admit their problems and get help. But I don't feel that. It doesn't emotionally feel true even if it's true. Maybe this is what I've processed as "responsibility". Maybe I'm expecting responsibility in the face of the impossible from myself and others. Maybe I feel like I'll cause that much damage if I fail.


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Ayisha

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Re: Afraid of being like the abuser (not violently)
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2018, 02:52:22 AM »
Thank you guys for all the support and good answers. What LilyITV said makes some sense to me but it all still feels raveled up. Rainagain, honestly I'm not sure if I feel that way or not. That might take some introspection.

LilyITV mentioned something about empathy which is a big thing for me. I believe my therapist would call it a "core issue". I also see what you mean about feeling remorse. An interesting thing that stood out to me when I read that was that when I think about it, for me it's easier to forgive someone when they both feel remorse and also take responsibility for what they did.

For example my mother, she feels remorse for things but she will skirt the blame. She'll feel sorry for blowing up at you but she'll blame it on hormones. She's sorry that the house is dirty but it's the fault of her job for making her too tired to clean. If you offer to help her problem solve it's just one excuse after another. If you ask her a day later, it's a different excuse than the first.

 
It's the people who are so deep in self-protection mode that they can't bring themselves to admit that they hurt someone are the people who get to me. 

I feel like this sums up her behavior too, even though I'm talking about taking responsibility and not empathy. (Maybe? I thought?) Whenever she's making excuses for things it's always stuff that seems like it would generate a whole lot of shame if she where honest with herself. It's like she just can't handle the thought of it.

I was thinking the day after I posted this topic, that I have the same attitude towards physical disability actually. I feel like people can't help their disabilities, of coarse, and they should be accepted, respected and given accommodations but I also have maybe some harsh ideas about being responsible for yourself and your disabilities. Especially about myself.

There's a core issue I've heard about that's one I know other people have because it's like a developmental thing or something. It's when a parent is unable to provide love and support and/or they're harmful in some way because of some shortcoming of theirs. Often because of mental illness. And the kid, being a kid, internalizes the parent's failings as a sign that there's something wrong with them. (The kid, I mean.)

As an adult, I logically understand that a lack of empathy can be due to mental illness and being in a self-protection mode as LilyITV puts it. But maybe I also rationalize my emotions by thinking that the adults should have been able to be responsible for their obvious problems. Most of the adults in my life were in positions where the could have gotten help if they really wanted to. Maybe I'm still trying to put the emotional pieces together about why they didn't.

It's difficult to comprehend that lack of empathy when you're on the other end. In my mind, I can still feel that internalized way of thinking. Why does the lack of empathy not seem obvious when it's happening towards me? I felt like if I were more important, they would do something about it.

As an adult though, I logically know that their "self-protection mode" was probably too strong to have been able to fully admit their problems and get help. But I don't feel that. It doesn't emotionally feel true even if it's true. Maybe this is what I've processed as "responsibility". Maybe I'm expecting responsibility in the face of the impossible from myself and others. Maybe I feel like I'll cause that much damage if I fail.


I feel like I've ended up with maybe some really harsh ideas about what it means to be irresponsible. I'm not really sure though, I feel like the line I've drawn for myself is the only line I've ever known. Lately I've had an opportunity to experience other people being genuinely accepting and forgiving of other people's failures in a casual way. Like, it wasn't some big deal that they forgave them. They just did. Like it was a normal occurrence. It's just kind of like "Oh, they're only human" and no one's feelings are hurt or anything. That's pretty foreign to me.

I keep hearing that "Well, people are only human" or like I'll apologize for something or explain myself and people will be like "Hey, aren't you human?" I know there's been times before where I've gotten mad at someone and like they couldn't understand why I was mad at them for being irresponsible because they didn't think they were irresponsible, that thought they had just made an honest normal mistake. I know I've definitely been in awe of people who's "That's too much to expect of if me, I'm only human!" line is much lower than mine is.

I think deep down I'm just terrified of being like the incompetent adults in my life. I'm afraid of causing that kind of destruction to other people. But also, I feel like there's a flip side to this? I feel like those people are so awful, and most of them are alone. I feel so hurt by them, I feel like if I were to treat anyone even remotely like that it would be unforgivable. I would expect to be dropped like a hot potato! And that expectation is visceral. It's like the word "unacceptable" as an emotion that punches me in the gut. I can't see past it.
And I think there's a nasty catch in that every time, with every adult, they act as if they don't see that they're wrong. I've heard iterations of "They're just doing their best!" or "They did what they thought was right at the time" or "They're not evil, they had good intentions." my whole life and that's terrifying? That someone could be so toxic, what? On accident?? Unknowingly?

How do I know I'm not that damaging on accident? I feel like I'm responsible for every emotion I have. I can't lash out because something is confusing, I have to figure out why I'm confused! What am I, a toddler pitching a tantrum? Can I not navigate my own feelings? Can I not take care of myself and clean up my own messes? I would be ashamed if someone had to put up with me just because I can't simply manage my own emotions! But other people act like that all the time? Where is the line? I don't feel like it's okay for anyone to put up with me making any mistakes at all. Every mistake is a sign of incompetence that I haven't managed well enough yet.

I try to line up in my mind all the shortcomings that other people accept in each other and all the things that I feel are unacceptable from the adults that were in my life and I try to see if they meet anywhere in the middle but it feels so complicated. I feel like I never know where the line of what's acceptable lies in any situation about anything and it's all for the same reasons! I feel like no one raised an adult when I grew up, I'm just an amalgamation of broken pieces trying to hold water.

Hi Goblinchild
I hope i am posting in the correct area. I still haven't got a hang on how to work with this application.
I wholeheartedly agree with you. But after my CPTSD diagnosis I seem to be less responsible for a great many things. I was so tired of judgements and opinions because i took on the responsibility for most things. Yet on the odd occasion someone else had to be responsible and didn't measure up it was a very soft remark that was made. I used to get resentful and boy I'm glad I don't have that happening either. Let go...let God.