2016-12-01 by Object of Contempt
In a normal relationship, closeness and reconciliation happens by being open about our hurts and flaws. Not so with an emotional abuser. The openness itself is a weakness in the abuser’s eyes. They use it to strengthen their grip, and weaken a victim’s resolve.
The natural, reasonable outcome of emotional abuse is anger, grief, and shame, among other emotions. They are not wrong. However, expressing that pain to an abuser and expecting empathy is futile. In terms of narcissistic supply, the expression of these feelings usually represents one of several things. Among them are:
A) Feelings and expressions that tell the abuser they got away with something… The victim hasn’t left, and all he can do now is say “ouch”.
B) Feelings and expressions that are provoked to exert control, or for pay-back.
The abuser will always get satisfaction. If the victim expresses his pain, the abuser knows she has the upper hand. If the victim is quiet, then the abuser can go on abusing without any consequences at all. And of course, the victim (particularly a male) can be easily portrayed to others as the abuser simply by exhibiting anger, no matter how reasonable.
Abusers do not provoke their victims all the time. Regardless, after the idealization phase is over, happiness will definitely be suppressed. This isn’t a matter of forbidding happiness, but one of “managing down” the victim’s expectations. “Happiness” is allowed when it fits the abuser’s expectations and desires.
The victim rides a rollercoaster of provoked anger without resolution, and expected happiness while being emotionally starved. The outcome is numbness.
Part of the victim’s cognitive dissonance involves believing that this is all normal. It is a surrender of self that allows us to think we are happy, and not really so miserable after all. For a while, perhaps a long while, this may enable a victim to cope. Unfortunately, this also means staying stuck in the abuse.
Victims can convince themselves that this numbness is actually the absence of pain, rather than a loss of sensation. For a while, I was convinced that this numbness was part of a regular, good life that I should just be grateful and happy about. This was a delusion. I couldn’t stay that way.
Emotional starvation leads to emotional emaciation.