When People Treat you Like you are Crazy, Stupid or Frustrating

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poster centerd rightWhen people treat you as if you are crazy, it isn’t because they think you are crazy, it is because they want YOU to think you are crazy.

When people treat you as if you are stupid, it isn’t because they think you are stupid, it is because they want YOU to think you are stupid.

Their purpose or motive for the way that they treat you is actually about what serves them much more than it is the way that they see you. These people have a motive and it isn’t a motive driven by love, it is a motive driven by the desire to have control.

Understanding this made all the difference in the world in my recovery and in overcoming the false definitions of “me” that had been put on me by abusive, uncaring, controllers and manipulators who felt entitled to treat me like I didn’t matter. The ways that I was treated by these people communicated to me that they were more important than I was. Part of the way that they convinced me of my lesser value was through the subtle or obvious messages that something was ‘missing’ or ‘wrong’ with me and with my reactions to life.

When I was a child and my teacher yelled at me saying that I wasn’t paying attention because I didn’t have the right answer, and then she rolled her eyes and added that I was such a frustrating child, I reacted by trying harder.

I didn’t like being shamed in front of the entire class. I didn’t like the disapproval that was communicated to me. I didn’t like the feeling that I was such a disappointment; as long as I was trying harder, the teacher felt like she was in control.

And as long as I was trying harder, she was in control…

Remember the kids in school who ignored the teacher and didn’t seem to be affected by the reprimands and just kept doing the things that made the teachers angry but kept the rest of the class giggling? Those kids seemed fearless. I remember being afraid for them! I didn’t even consider being one of those kids.

I hated the way she defined me as “a daydreamer” and “lazy student” and how she would say “oh what am I going to DO with you Darlene?” I would never risk being even more of a disappointment by continuing to frustrate her.

As long as I was trying harder, her actions against me were validated; if I was trying harder it proved to her that she was right. It served her purpose to define me as frustrating and difficult or lazy and exhausting. As long as I was feeling shamed and trying to please her, she knew she had the power.

People like that have their power mixed up with their worth.

It served her purpose to make me feel guilty. When I felt bad, I tried harder to please her; when I tried harder, she felt better about herself. It served her purpose to define me in ways that hurt my self-esteem because I would focus on HER and on pleasing her.

If my teacher had ever validated me (like a confident, healthy, teacher who was secure in her own self-esteem might have done) I could have relaxed and flourished in the warmth of her approval. In a healthy and functional relationship this is a wonderful thing! But in her world, I was the object of her self-esteem.

In her mind, if she had enough power to make me feel guilt or shame, then she felt better about herself.

If she could cause me to ‘try harder’ she felt worthy. She felt better by tearing me down.

And because my trying harder didn’t give her ‘real’ worth, the abuse tactics never ended. She needed a little more of this false self-esteem booster, all the time. She had to keep me in the spin of always getting me to keep looking at myself to see why I was such a disappointment to her so that she could keep feeling the little buzz she got from having that power over me.

That teacher had her power mixed up with her worth. She could only feel her own worth when she overpowered other people.

When people treat you like you are crazy, lazy or stupid think about what their motive might be. Slow down long enough to think about why they are reacting to you that way. Why would a healthy person be responding to you as though you are crazy or stupid? Think about what I have shared here and notice what tearing you down can do for them.

Do these people that constantly ask you to jump through their hoops want to empower you to be who you really are or do they want to overpower you because getting you to do what they want, be who they want and act how they want you to makes them feel some sense of worth?

Is the way that they regard you, or define you, really about you or is it about how they want YOU to feel about you?

Think about this. Oftentimes realizing the motive provides the most clarity when someone is talking down to you.

We all have power however there is a proper use of power and the proper use of power is to empower ~ NOT to overpower or disempower. The sad truth is that a lot of people who have low to no self-esteem have been taught that power IS worth and they can’t seem to let go of the need to overpower as a means to ‘proving’ to themselves that they have worth.

My mother had her power mixed up with her worth too. It would never serve her purpose to tell me how wonderful that I was. If I ever stepped out of the spin of trying to figure out how to make her love me and approve of me, I would have seen her for who SHE was and I think she knew it. I think that was her biggest fear.

Her biggest fear was that SHE would be exposed so she kept the finger of blame, shame, guilt and failure always pointed at me. As long as I was spinning around in fear, shame, guilt and failure, I would never see her for who and what she really was.

As long as I didn’t know my true value I would never see that her treatment of me was wrong and that her treatment of me only proved HER lack of self-worth.

When people treat me as if I am stupid, crazy, frustrating or as though I am less important than they are it isn’t because they think I am stupid, crazy, frustrating or less important than they are ~ it is because they want ME to think I am. As long as I am looking at me I will never look at them and as long as I am not looking at them I won’t see the pathetic person behind the abusive, controlling belittling and self-important attitude. As long as I am busy trying to prove that I am worthy, and that MY motive is NOT for harm, they have me right where they want me; under their spell.

This is one of the most important concepts to cement into your new belief system going forward in the healing journey. Please feel free to share your thoughts and discoveries or your struggles and frustrations in the comments.

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time,

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken bookThe Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

Related posts ~ “Why People discount the Adult Child and Defend the Abuser”

“Dealing with People who Talk Down to Me”

346 response to "When People Treat you Like you are Crazy, Stupid or Frustrating"

  1. By: Nadia Posted: 9th December 2015

    We are all on a healing journey and we need to be gentle with ourselves. We have all been thru so much negativity from the people who were supposed to be our foundation and our support system. They weresupposed to guide us and love us unconditionally. They were not supposed to be doing any of these things for their own benefit or because they wanted to mood us into their own Personal Servants.
    I tired and tried for over 30 years to tend to her every need and demand and it was never enough.
    Even after finding the love of my life and the one who loved me and still loves me “no matter what”. Things got worse because he took away her “servant” ( couldn’t think of another word). 30 years of confrontations and temper tantrums because of jealousy, and things no going her way, and also because it wasn’t about her anymore. I had a husband and children and friends and extended family. The attention was not about her anymore. I was learning how to give my love and attention to other people and she could not handle it. She was no happy and she wanted me to be just as miserable as her and sit with her forever in that world of negativity. The last phone call was the worst. It was the worst meltdown of my life and my kids were afraid, my husband was DONE and that was all I could take. Enough.
    We are not crazy…don’t let anyone make you feel like that… No one knows what you have been thru but you…take care of you….walk away…it’s okay…mother father brother sister…it doesn’t matter…I thought it was a sine until I realized that it what they were doing to me was the SIN! Take care of You.

  2. By: Nadia Posted: 9th December 2015

    Darlene thank you for giving us the opportunity to try and heal and learn. By writing, I have discovered some things about my NM and myself that I wouldn’t have, if I didn’t have this forum to express myself. It’s our safe place and I thank you for that.

  3. By: Lora Posted: 12th December 2015

    Hey Darlene! well I’ve called you a super hero and now I’m calling you my guardian angel. I’m having this exact issue at work right now and I feel like your message is to remind me that it’s not me that’s crazy or stupid.

    I just had a performance review at work and one of my issues I brought up was that I am having a tough time handling the personality of a women that I work with in our HR Department. She’s not my boss but she acts like she is and she behaves exactly how you are describing in your article. I’m in the payroll department and sometimes our worlds collide. She points out my mistakes in a belittling way and i walk away feeling like shit and then I end up beating myself up because my boss doesn’t want me to rock the boat.

    My boss is just like my dad and the women is like my mom, how is this for a powerful trigger? My boss told me not to let my mistakes define my self worth and that I need to have more confidence in my abilities. he’s happy with my work but not to let her get to me. He acknowledges that she’s been this way for 15 years and a lot of people have the same issue with her. She makes the company money because she deals with WCB and keeps the claims down. she treats employees like crap but no one stands up to her.

    The theme of keep the peace at all cost seems to be coming up for me and at least I am aware how my pattern is to stay small so she can stay superior to me. It’s clear to me that if I stay in my job my self esteem will suffer. I feel sad and disappointed that my own boss doesn’t even want to rock the boat because he doesn’t like conflict.

    Our mission statement at work is about how they value their employees blah, blah, blah and yet they have a tyrant in the HR department. Once again it’s all about power, control and the old mighty dollar and us little peons have to suffer. I guess the Universe is trying to gently me guide me out of my job and into something that will serve me better.

    Just wanted to thank you for this post because I really needed it right now and I need to remind myself that I have value even those around me would be more comfortable if I just stayed quiet and small. Sorry for the language but Fuck That! I’ve worked too hard on myself to put up with this crap, I’m so glad I’ve come so far in my own healing journey to recognize this dysfunctional pattern and the only person that can change this situation is “me”. You always say what I need to hear at the right time, thank you for being so good at what you do, hugs!

  4. By: d ch Posted: 12th December 2015

    Lora, you say….I’ve worked too hard on myself to put up with this crap, I’m so glad I’ve come so far in my own healing journey to recognize this dysfunctional pattern and the only person that can change this situation is “me”.

    Working with people that trigger the Abusive Parent crap is sucky. If you want to keep your job and earn a paycheck, you MUST “play along (in your defined role) to get along”

    Add to that racist attitudes towards you and really head towards the deep end! Stand up to them, or question…..Suddenly you are not capable or cut out to do that job anymore.

    Bullshit! Narcasstic people/parents pull their demon role crap at work, if they can’t get to their kids enough. Or they reall get off with torture of family and employees.

    If nothing changes, what to do? Silently suffer, or speak up, document the incidents, file formal complaints, then wonder about consequences?
    Sad we are constantly worrying will our actions “Cause Punishment for us”

    Try to Stay strong, easier said than done sometimes. 🙂

  5. By: Alaina Posted: 12th December 2015

    Hi Lora, I hope you don’t mind me putting in my two cents. I’ve quit my last two jobs because of dysfunction and something I’ve been thinking about is what you said about there being multiple people having a problem with this woman. I imagine that if there are multiple people fed up, if you all gathered together as a group and made it clear to the boss that this was an issue important to all of you and you wanted the boss to do something about it, then it might be effective (i.e. if he felt the threat of losing multiple people—even if it wasn’t directly stated—that might jolt him to take some action). That is, if you wanted to stay working there. Sometimes understanding what you have to do just to get respect is embittering because you shouldn’t have to do it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 13th December 2015

      Great comments Alaina. And Lora, I wanted to add that if you don’t want to take any action, ask yourself why not. (not as a judgement against yourself, but for an opportunity to digg a little deeper into the belief system) ask your self what you are afraid will happen if you take a stand. (sometimes the fear itself if identified is enough to give us that validation we need to act or decide not to act.)
      Hugs, Darlene

  6. By: S1988 Posted: 13th December 2015

    Lora,

    Also keep this in mind: Unlike minors, adults can take steps to leave toxic situations. It’s not always easy, but it can be done. Remember, you’re an adult, not a powerless child.

  7. By: d ch Posted: 13th December 2015

    Well, I survived Thanksgiving with a little bit of sadness. I chose NC in March 2015. (with Nmother and stepfather)

    My husband and I went to his mom’s house, then to friends home. I met new people and felt so good being accepted, talking, giving my opinion, laughing, feeling good, not on edge, not hearing depressing family stories from the past. No bitching about relatives, neighbors, etc. No pretending to enjoy myself. No guilt trip when we chose to leave.

    I also have a few new female friends, and don’t feel I have to be “nice and good” to make them like me. I have had to set a few boundries with one.
    Just being myself is so liberating!

    I may feel a bit sad at Christmas, but I have so much to be thankful for.
    My husband said he admires how I have endured A Mastectomy and Radiation treatments, still having a positive attitude, my sense of humor, and caring about others.

    2015 Family trouble, marriage,having to move at NMothers request, health issues….And I am still here! Stronger, freer , and so much wiser!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th December 2015

      Hi d ch
      All the ‘firsts’ were hard for me. (first christmas, first birthday etc) You sound great though! Yay for being stronger, freer and so much wiser!!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: d ch Posted: 14th December 2015

    Thank you Darlene. Happy Safe Holidays, and continued success in 2016!

  9. By: DXS Posted: 14th December 2015

    From Julie:

    I’m so angry today, I’ve been exploring my feelings from a distance for so long and woke up today furious that I’ve being made to feel so bad for being me my whole life. I should of guessed my emotions would eventually surface since I’ve been exploring my past. I’ve tried for so many years to be passive as believed it made me a better person but it was another way of suppressing my feelings, I was such an angry child/ teen and used to scare myself with my emotions but didn’t realise I have to process this feeling and learn from it rather than blow a gasket and apologise. I can feel grief is coming soon but it will be a release for me as I won’t be fighting to hold it all in.

    And when your emotions DO surface and you want to talk about it, all you get is DENIAL DENIAL DENIAL or “quit living in the past.” My experience is that people who give you the “quit living in the past” are hiding something. Yes, persecuted for being “you.” Did you grow up in a small town? I did. I didn’t “fit” in the small town society.

    I’m doing like you, exploring my past. I’m trying to get Mom to share hers, as I did force her into revealing a “tip of the iceberg” and I think this “tip” colored how she treated me. Plus, I was a bit of a “precocious” kid and Mom didn’t know how to deal with “precocious.” In fact I begged to go to a boarding school as a kid. I got Mom to admit her reason for not letting me do this was “what would the neighbors say? (And never mind that a family that practiced the Adventist religion in this same small town sent ALL of their kids to an Advent boarding school….That didn’t seem to matter! It was “ok” because of their religion.)

    Mom never says what she means, nor does she mean what she says.

    I feel for you, Julie.

  10. By: S1988 Posted: 14th December 2015

    DXS,

    The process of trying to mold a person into someone they’re not isn’t just limited to small towns. I spent the first half of my childhood in a big city, then the other half in a medium-sized twin city area where I’m residing now (and doing my best to hope I don’t run into my mother when I go out). In both areas, my mother indoctrinated my siblings and I with many narrow-minded ideas and threatened to hurt us if we told any “family secrets”. Plus, adults at my schools saw my introverted behavior as something to fix rather than just my way of being. Thank goodness my K-12 days are over. Sick parenting can happen anywhere.

  11. By: d ch Posted: 18th December 2015

    People that think I’m Crazy, Stupid or Frustrating, would not appreciate my creative writing, so I share it with you, my fellow emergers!

    ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A BETTER WORLD NEXT YEAR
    SAFETY, PEACE, LIFE, LIBERTY, THE THINGS I HOLD DEAR

    LESS VIOLENCE, MORE CHEER
    MORE FAITH, LESS FEAR

    HOPE FOR THE MASSES
    DREAMS COMING TRUE

    HOPE FOR THOSE THAT FEEL HOPELESS
    I KNOW SOME, DO YOU?

    ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A BETTER WORLD NEXT YEAR
    LOVE, UNITY, COMPASSION AND JOY

    MY WISHES, ARE THEY SELFISH, NOT FOR MATERIAL THINGS, OR WEALTH?

    I’M THANKFUL NOW FOR SHELTER, FOOD, AND A PORTION OF GOOD HEALTH!

    BEST WISHES FOR YOUR GOOD WANTS….. AS WE ANTICIPATE THE NEW YEAR!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th December 2015

      Hi d ch
      Bravo!!! Thanks for sharing your writing with us! I realized while reading your post that this is what I have been (and to some extent have accomplished!) creating for myself this past 8 or 10 years or so. I have created a better world for myself, and that is what we are all trying to do here.
      And that is pretty awesome!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Jo M Posted: 21st December 2015

    I’m new to this site, found it by accident. I have read many of the posts. I was a battered wife and didn’t even know it until I received inner healing and counseling I’m sure now I looked it too. Denial…I took classes on Codependency and that helped. I agree, children learn what they see modeled. I can see the generational abuse filtering through my kids now and I’m beside myself with grief. He was abusive, a womanizer, and a drunk. They say he doesn’t drink as much now and seem to idolize him, 3 of them. People wonder why i don’t want to live near my children and my grandchildren. It’s like the years go by and people forget how awful things were. Sometimes I would like to contact his girlfriends and tell them I knew. They all said I was not a loving Christian when I started to confront. I lost my family home, my community, my friends, and now my children.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st December 2015

      Hi Jo M
      Welcome to EFB ~ I am so glad that you are helming now. It’s sad how people use “he’s not as bad now” as if that makes it all go away. And it is sad that people mistakenly think that “christians” put up with crap as thought crap is related to love. How quickly everyone forgets the actually message of Christ.
      Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  13. By: MTR Posted: 3rd January 2016

    I have been broken for over 40 years and struggling with trying to figure out what was wrong with me. My family has been mentally/emotionally abusing me since I can remember and for just as long I have been trying to figure out a way to make them see/appreciate who I really am.

    I left home when I was 14 because no matter what I did (or didn’t do) I was blamed for any problems going on in my families life. I couldn’t deal with it and had no support from anyone inside or outside the family. My parents chose to live/raise four children in horrendous squalor in an unfinished basement. When I was pushed through the court system and charged by my parents with being unstable and a child in need of services, not one person cared to explore the root of the issues. So that left me unable to defend myself and left with the insurmountable task of learning how to BE in the world.

    Needless to say, it has been an extremely difficult uphill battle to overcome seemingly simple life/social skills. I managed to find my path to continue my education (after having to drop out of high school) and have had a great professional career for the last 20 years, which has been my only saving grace to realizing my true worth and ability to live to my highest potential.

    The past few years I have been solely taking care of my grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. I became her legal guardian to help with making medical decisions, financial management, assisted living arrangements, etc. and during this trying time for me, my family has refused to help out in any way. Their war cry against me is “you wanted to take 100% control of everything”, but yet they are very adamant to get their hands on things in her estate.

    I’ve been juggling many aspects of my life (marriage, self-employment, studying toward Masters Degree, overseeing my grandmothers life) alone with no support except from my wonderful husband. I “fall down” sometimes into depression, but seem to have a super resilient spirit and am gratefully able to pick myself up.

    I have decided to cut ties with selfish, abusive family members, because I have finally realized that their only motive is to bring me down to their miserable level.

    I am ecstatic to have stumbled across this community of other broken people on the mend. Its very comforting to know there are people who understand. Thank you!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd January 2016

      Hi MTR
      Welcome to EFB! I can certainly relate to your statement “I have been trying to figure out a way to make them see/appreciate who I really am.” Freedom for me came when I stopped trying to convince ‘them’ and to prove my worth to them. It was when I finally heard me, and saw me and appreciated myself for who I really am, that the definitions they put on me, fell away.
      Glad you are here! Thanks for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Ruthie Posted: 19th January 2016

    OMGoodness! This is exactly what I’ve experienced for so long. I was raised by an emotionally abusive Aunt who to this day attempts to make me feel as though I’m insane. She even had me put on medications I DO NOT (and a psychologist evaluated me as being normal) need. I got a huge welt on my skin and had to stop taking it. She needed to be in a straight jacket herself.

    Every time some Twitter or Disqus troll goes on a tangent, the first thing that comes out of their mouth is “you’re a nutjob” or an idiot. I used to get offended enough to close my accounts down. Now instead I let them know that I’m not crazy. They just don’t possess the intelligence it requires to understand me.

    I’m a fearfully, wonderfully designed, marvelously complex, yet amazing human being. And God didn’t make one mistake on me! I love being me. 😉

  15. By: Sandy Posted: 30th January 2016

    I am so glad to have run across this article. I have struggled with these same issues my whole life. Starting with my teachers. And being bullied as a child. They formed me into who I would be my whole life. I have forgiven all in the passed. But I continue to be belittled especially in the work place. And am constantly asking myself and others what is wrong me. I search myself and find that I’m not stupid. And kind and considerate to others. I am now 52. And I want to take control of who is really me.

  16. By: Carlos Posted: 4th February 2016

    I might have just landed myself a job in a restaurant (I might start tomorrow, opening day yikes). When my Dad found out about this a few weeks ago the words of wisdom were: “Careful those jobs can be hypnotising, you might find yourself there for a long time.” Carlos’ rebuttal? “Dad it’s not the be all or end all of my.. Dad: “Son the job is hypnotising”

    As to why I am pissed? One he cut off my rebuttal to regain control of the conversation and two I really can’t help but feel that what he was trying to say, is that he thinks that I am not capable of steering out of this particular job to venture for bigger opportunities in the future. Sorry but this is just the starting point of greater things, not a be all or end all Dad. (On a side note, if I get the job I am actually scared!)

  17. By: S1988 Posted: 4th February 2016

    Carlos,

    I think you’re showing great initiative in what you’re doing. You’re paying for school by taking on jobs. That’s very responsible. I don’t know why your father and grandmother are giving you flak for it. Besides, a “lowly” job is better than being unemployed. (I don’t believe in “respectable” and “lowly” jobs because all jobs are important.) It’s not like you’re like some adults who live with their parents, and do nothing except watch television and play video games while mooching off their parents’ money. Would they prefer that?

    Have you ever thought of getting a roommate since it seems expensive to live on your own? You can scan your local classifieds or the Internet for roommate ads. Be careful with this option, though. You never know who you might end up living with. It’s risky, but it may turn out better than staying with your father and grandmother.

  18. By: Lee Posted: 29th February 2016

    I only just come across this article but better late than never.
    You’ve put into words something I’ve battled with from a young age yet been struggling to find the words in order for me to be able to explain it all this time.
    To say it hit an emotional chord in me would be an understatement.
    This is the answer I needed to a question I had no idea of even how to begin to ask.
    You not only summed it up perfectly & exact,
    You’ve helped set me free. Thank You.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th February 2016

      Hi Lee
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken,
      I am so glad that you are here and that this article resonated with you. Please share often,
      Hugs, Darlene

  19. By: Ellie Posted: 19th March 2016

    It’s taken me some time to find your blog, and it’s a pity I didn’t discover it sooner… Still, I’m now finding it VERY interesting reading.

    With personal experience in mind, I must confess that there are many points on which I agree with you. This issue – the need for some people to make others believe they are stupid, or crazy, lazy, frustrating, or ugly – is one of them.

    I’ve lived much (indeed, most) of my life hearing comments such as these. Being told I am any one of the things I’ve listed above – stupid, ugly, crazy, lazy, frustrating… These comments began as far back as I can remember, around the time that I commenced Infant School. I feel doubly hurt, in that I was bullied both at home, and at School. At home, my parents would compare me negatively to other family members (usually my cousins), saying things like “Why can’t you be more like… she’s the pretty one?”. They also began to put a lot of emphasis upon my getting high grades at school, and this felt like I had to “jump through hoops” to please them. The bullies at school attacked me for my good grades. I was told that “I must have a Tutor”, or “I must be cheating”. Other kids made comments like “Oh, everyone got those grades in the exam”, even though we ALL knew this was NOT the case.

    As I got older, and moved to High School, it got worse. My parents endlessly argued with me over what career I wanted, and whether I would go on to further education, and what I might study. I was good at English, and English Literature, it was my favourite subject, and I got “A” grades in it. I hoped to study it at University. My father told me that it was “piss assed”, and “would not get me a proper job” (whatever a proper job is?!). I had become somewhat withdrawn and lacking in confidence because of the bullying at school – which my parents gave me NO support for. I began to dress a lot in black, baggy clothes because I thought I was unattractive. Girls at my new school were very much into forming cliques, and unless you were blonde and busty, you NEVER got to be one of the “popular” girls. I was NOT blonde and busty – I was brown-haired and flat-chested! So, I got told I was “plain”, “ugly”; people called me names “fried-egg tits”, “witchy” (because of my long dark hair), “swot” or “teacher’s pet”, or “nerd” (because of my good grades).

    It does NOT feel at all good, being bullied simultaneously at school, and at home. It really strips you of all your confidence, and even if you are doing well in life, you start to question yourself and your abilities and achievements. I have noted that the bullying often followed a patterns – that it was triggered by particular incidents. You might guess what such incidents were… They were times when I DID SOMETHING SUCCESSFUL, times when I ACHIEVED. I have noted, throughout my life, that the people making the nasty comments (including my own parents) were people who had NEVER achieved the things that they bullied me for achieving.

    The kids who bullied me at school were ALL in lower academic groups than me, and did NOT get good grades. NONE of them got good enough grades to go to University. When I look back on my time at school, I also realise that these girls who bullied me (they were all girls, no boys) were no prettier than I was – they just THOUGHT they were. Indeed, later life has shown that what they tried to have me believe at school was nonsense. Of the girls who bullied me at school, telling me I was “ugly and nerdy”, NONE got a place at University. I am now doing POSTGRADUATE study, and already have 2 University degrees. THREE are divorced (TWO of them have had multiple divorces, being dumped each time by the bloke). I am married, and have been with my husband over 20 years. THEIR marriages lasted on average no more than 3-5 years! ONE of them has had THREE broken engagements behind her (and now cannot get the man she is with to marry her). ONE was married at 18 and divorced at 20. At least TWO of these girls (now women) are very overweight…

    Yet these are the girls who thought they could bully me at school, and tell me what “rubbish” I was! As to my parents… MY father left school with NO formal qualifications. The “great man” who thought he could pick on his own daughter!

    I cannot help but agree that it serves a bully’s, or abuser’s purpose to try to make the victim believe awful things about him- or herself. I do believe that sometimes this is because the bully or abuser has low-self-esteem. In such cases, however, the bully/abuser CANNOT admit to having low-self-esteem, and instead seeks to feel better about him/herself by picking on other people. This is the power game you rightly describe. My brother- and sister-in-law are excellent examples of people who pick on others to make themselves feel better. My sister-in-law is morbidly obese, and has always picked on me for being thinner than her. My brother- and sister-in-law are also incredibly materialistic, and constantly compare their possessions to other people’s, always trying to infer that they have “the best”.

    Still, I do not think that this need for “one-upmanship”, and desire to put others down, always comes from a lack of self-confidence. I believe that sometimes it is a symptom of NARCISSISM. That the bully or abuser is a full-blown NARCISSIST, who inherently sees him- or herself as better than anyone else. You’ve talked in other posts about ENTITLEMENT, this is a symptom of narcissism. The narcissist does NOT see other people as people, but merely as “things”. Narcissists have no empathy, and are self-absorbed to the point of expecting that others will always put them first. They CANNOT understand other people’s needs, so relationships with narcissists are generally one-sided. THEY expect something of YOU, but YOU need not expect anything of THEM. They make “fair weather friends” at best; at worst, they are complete “users”. They “use” people, and then discard them.

    I think it’s likely that people who try to make you feel bad about yourself fit into one of these two categories. They are either lacking self-confidence, but cannot admit it, and so project all their failings onto somebody they envy, trying to tear that person down, in order to make themselves feel better. Or else they are narcissists, to whom de-valuing other people comes naturally.

  20. By: Victoria Coura Posted: 14th April 2016

    Thank you so much for this. Someone who I really care about just made me feel like I’m a real stupid and moronic person. I was even looking up “how to be smarter” on Google when I came across your article. Made my day!

  21. By: Patrice Posted: 15th April 2016

    This was so very refreshing to read. Awhile back I read a book that a therapist recommended to me. Its called the Four Agreements. It really helped me get through some tough times and over some of the negative things that various people were saying about me. The most powerful thing it did was to allow me to stop being so hard on myself. I followed the teachings in the book and it worked like a charm.

    After sometime I got a new job. it was in a fast paced stressful environment. At first I was able to meet the “new Negative” people head on and shrug off the poison they were spreading about one another and eventually about me.It wasn’t long before I became overwhelmed. My assignment here is ending in June. I can’t wait! But over the past few weeks I have started coming to some conclusions on why these people behave they way they do toward me and I was able to see with unclouded eyes again that they are in fact hiding their own pettyness by redirecting/refocusing attention on others/me.

    of course it didn’t start with them. I had a father who was a very harsh person when I was growing up. He suggested a lot of negative things to me which became strongholds in my mind. I wrestle with them still. its a lot less than it was years ago before I read the Four Agreements but its still here. I still doubt myself and hesitate. I still sometimes feel unworthy. The worst part of it is that the preditors like my father out there can sense it on me. and thats when they take their shots.

    Thanks for your article it buttresses everything that I have learned regarding self esteem and self efficacy over the last few years.

    Best regards!

  22. By: Conner L. Posted: 18th April 2016

    I am so glad I read this. In my life, my entire family experience has been about control and people manipulating each other. I have struggled so much trying to understand others and love and what it is supposed to feel like. I am constantly used and have had my emotions torn apart by those I am supposed to consider close. My parents got divorced when I was 5. The way it happened is my dad one Sunday just got up and left, saying “You won’t be seeing me anymore” and he walked out the door. I personally was crushed by this. I have always been a smart individual the kid who would get all the homework done at school, and move up 2 grades cause I was smart. I come from a Mormon family and all my life I have been taught that family is important and must be upheld, with me becoming a priesthood holder and having to look after my sister. I foolishly at my age took it upon myself to try and fix our family. My Grandma gave her life and health for my family. She literally said “Let me have children and raise them right, and I will give anything” She gave her whole life to become bedridden, and have horrible diseases, mainly being Lupus. I was at this point raised at her house with my mom and sister, father having abandoned the Church. I thought that I could be smart enough and brave enough to give everything to fix everything else. My childhood life was committed to trying to fix others. I did this for age 5-14…. It crushed me. I had no friends, the entire time being rejected over and over, being used over and over. I let people do whatever and whenever. I gave everything I could to make them happy. They spat in my face so many times, praise really given, comfort none. I broke at age fourteen… I cannot remember almost all my 14-18 years. I am now almost 18 years old, my birthday is in 2 months… I became crushed and I still am. I cannot bring myself to trust anyone, and I only have one friend, by pure them being persistent enough to dig to where I hide. I now lie so easily and bury everyone far far away underneath lie upon lie. I am still smart and all my brain power changed from goodness for others to me setting up a net so deep it drives me mad. Even now, my family still does it. No comfort, no one to say good job. They still use me, and manipulate me. I am glad that I learned of this site and this post…. I am still struggling but the fact that people are out there that can sympathize is all I want… So thanks and I hope to read more soon…

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th April 2016

      Hi Connor
      Welcome to EFB!
      This website is about to undergo a major update ~ The Server is being migrated to a whole new server this morning and the site is going to go down in about 10 min from now, so I have to make this a quick comment (and hope it all gets saved before the transfer today) You are not alone! Keep reading ~ there are about 450 articles all with discussions and I am sure you will find lots of insights and hope here!
      Hugs, Darlene

      • By: Gabriel Posted: 17th May 2016

        Thank ypu darlene your words really is the truth and what i needed in my lige. People are cruel to use this tactic. Even my own fam use this. Friends my school days at jobs… gonna do my best not to believe them they want us to suffer. And yes i believe their words are constant it is like spells and you did mention that word. They curse us unknowingly but they believe it that why it can cause havoc in our lives. These people are driven by evil. I walked down the road two people was gossiping abt me sayin ooo looks like he is going crazy. With no tests or any research. They are idiotic satans little helpers

        • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th May 2016

          Hi Gabriel
          Welcome to Emerging from Broken
          Yes this is horrible! Thanks for sharing, glad you are here!
          hugs, Darlene

  23. By: AG Posted: 23rd May 2016

    I can connect to this! I have a Family like this!! I was married by an arranged marriage to an abuser who used to act innocent in front of my parents (far relative) before our marriage and once married, he used to abuse me starting from initial months of marriage itself (which I didn’t even realize that it is abuse as he always used to show me reasons I said something wrong so he was doing that!), I told my parents & due to so called ‘society’ fear they just used to tell me ‘just adjust, he will change’ etc..had a kid (he demanded that his parents want grand kid, later who never took care of my kid even for a single day!) & his abuse increased even further (both verbal and physical), it gotten to a point where he used to throw things at me to hurt me (my daughter was toddler by then), he used to say “I (him) would have killed you (me) it’s just that going to jail that I am (he) worried about”!, he used to push me to ground, kick me, hit me, hurt me, choke me, literally I went through hell !!!…I had to plead for help with my parents and in-laws about his abuse but no help!…

    Finally, after repeated raising hands my family (including my sibling) was like..do what you want, we will support you..I had to approach law and he was proven guilty of domestic voilence, he broke protective order so got arrested for few days!(I had to fight all this in court all on my own with no major help from my Family again!)…after all this, my family still thinks I should have stayed with him for my entire life due to society fear!..as a single mother had been raising my kid, struggling to provide good future for my kid…and in recent years, not feeling well and hospitalized couple of times, had couple of surgeries (working so insurance covered but due to lay offs had to change jobs)…no support from Family at all! especially from my sibling or his family who stays in US.

    moreover, my sibling after his marriage changed and verbally abuses me, bullies me, teases me instead of supporting/helping me and my mother supports his actions and shows same kind of bahaviour towards me!..the only question I have is..what did I do wrong?! I never interfere in my sibling life or said anything bad to them!! still like outsiders, my Family behaviour towards me suprises me!! more than that, it really hurts me when I hear rude words/comments from them!!!…today is one of those days for me, rude words by my sibling towards me when called to check how their daughter doing after a small surgery for her today! and this is what I get at the end of the day!!! why?!…my fiancee does not say anything to my family and stays neutral (playing safe?), again not sure why!

    God, please be continuously fare to people like us!..atleast you give us support, health and courage to fight back this beast called ‘abuse’!

    – AG

  24. By: Sara Posted: 27th July 2016

    This totally resonated with me regarding a controlling, hypercritical parent I have. I am 45 years old and no decision I have ever made has ever been good enough for him. he can’t just say congratulations when I buy a house or get a good job. He has to point out the flaws and ask if I have done my research, trying to get me to question my own judgment and provide answers to him. I recently got in an email battle with him and just gave up. Let him think he won,he is a narcissist and I am never going to talk to him again. It’s just not worth it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th July 2016

      Hi Sara,
      Not engaging actually makes them crazy ~ it makes them feel like they are losing the object of their control and it is a great way to begin to get our lives back.
      Hugs, Darlene

  25. By: Anon Posted: 4th August 2016

    The saying in the picture, “It took years vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself and half believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as if I belonged here” is so good.

    This article tears away the confusion about exactly what happens to people when those they are vulnerable to those who mix power and worth.

    I have dealt with generational power and worth problems in my family. I tried to define that issue to my mother and family over the last sixty years and they don’t want to hear about it.

    I have concerns for myself and my child who keeps me at a distance because she thinks I am a covert narcissist and has treated me accordingly for many years. I can see the potential for that with the incredible harm that happened to me as a child. It also eventually affected her, though it is not in my core personality to be hurtful, though she believes I am and enjoyed hurting her.

    It is how she defines a problem. She wants to keep from being wounded just like all of us do. I accept what she says because I know how this happened. I would never shove it back down her throat and tell her to shut up. That’s what happened to me and I won’t hurt her that way.

    After many years of therapy, it is very well established I am not a narcissist. My current therapist wrote her thesis on “Ordinary People” a story that is all about maternal covert narcissism. She say, no. I am definitely not a narcissist. For one thing, narcissists generally don’t go to therapy, and if they do it is for a short period of time. Fifteen years is highly unlikely. Plus, I have now become a mental health care worker helping people recover from things like narcissistic injury.

    But my child has hurts and I accept her complaints because to not do that would cause her pain. I was assured by a counselor she saw for a while that I had done a wonderful job raising her. I know there were issues. I cling to that. I believe I did a very good job, though I have shed a lot of tears due to the estrangements. I accept them as part of the growth process in my child.

    I had cognitive difficulties after I had taken a very hard blow to the head in a car accident when she was a baby. It was hard in ways to gauge if people understood me, how long I had talked to her, if she understood me. I had amnesia and aphasia and other typical manifestations of brain injury. Every noise, distraction, flashing light, etc can be agonizing at times. I had a migraine headache for many years. All of this caused me distress. TBI can make you impatient and revert to what you knew as a child as coping mechanisms because you cannot tap into your natural self. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that is what caused me to guilt trip her and be very inconsistent and irritable at times. It was out of my control.

    But when you are a child none of that matters. And it didn’t help that some of my siblings claimed I was faking brain injury. My physical therapist I go to now, thirty years later, can tell the exact path of impact to my brain, skull, and neck and the compression path down my spine. This was not a small injury. I came very close to dying.

    But for some reason she won’t assimilate this information into the story. It hurts that every word that comes out of my mouth is seen as narc talk by my adult child. I have no control over that.

    I only got an inkling one day she told me I made her feel guilty. And a different day when she said I was dysfunctional. I was in a perpetual fog. I wish I had known to take us to family therapy, but I couldn’t come to that conclusion. She had retreated into a different life by then that didn’t include me. She was about fourteen.

    I am a completely different person now. Narcissist do not grow. My life has been nothing but growth the last twenty years. Not perfection, but growth, and now I help others to grow.

    So, I am very heartbroken over my child thinking I am too toxic to be close to. I had struggles with my mother, but I never estranged from her or snapped at her. I always treated her with respect. I call her several times a week. I have forgiven her. She loves me. I love her. I accept her limitations and the things she did that hurt me.

    I wish I could get a second chance to be a mom. The way I am today it would be so much better. But you don’t get to do those things.

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