My husband and I were enjoying a leisurely breakfast this morning when the subject of character disordered people came up. My husband works with a man whose wife is a bit on the fucked up side. They have been having problems for months and my spouse has been kind enough to listen to his co-worker vent, because he went through the same kinds of things with his first wife. Somehow, as my husband was talking about his friend, the conversation drifted again... this time to wondering how people with character disorders end up in control of situations and turn them into problems for everybody else.
I commented that my husband's ex wife seemed to have a way of causing people to abandon logic and rational thinking. When people are around her, she somehow manages to get them to surrender their brains in the interest of "not rocking the boat". Take, for instance, the Christmas debacle of 2004. My husband's ex tried to set up a Christmas gathering from hell. She demanded that we all get together for the biggest holiday of the year at my husband's dad's house. She expected that everyone would comply, mainly so the boat wouldn't rock. No one wanted her to get pissed off, throw a fit, and possibly withhold visitation with the kids/grandkids. I was expected to suck it up and cooperate because she figured, as the new wife and family member, I wouldn't want to make a scene or upset the family. She never thought I would opt out of the Christmas from hell and, I'm told, she was very upset about it, even though she doesn't even like me.
Indeed, my absence from that gathering did cause a rift. The in-laws were pissed at me for a good, long while. But I eventually had the opportunity to talk to them about what happened. I explained to them my reasons for not taking part in that nightmare of a party. It wasn't because I was looking down at them or hoped to upset anyone. It was because I knew the gathering would be a disaster and would serve no one. I felt that showing up would ultimately be disrespectful, because I couldn't promise that I would stay on my best behavior. I knew that no matter what I did, I would be cast in a bad light.
My husband's ex wife erroneously believed that I would care too much what other people thought of me. I think she thought I'd be too weak to resist her bullying tactics and "rock the boat". She made the mistake of thinking that my self-esteem was as fragile as hers apparently is. What she didn't understand is that I'm quite used to people not liking me. It used to matter a lot more when I was younger and less secure. But I went through lots of therapy and eventually came to the realization that my mental health is worth more to me than gaining a few fake friends. People who are my genuine friends know me very well and understand that what you see is what you get. I don't act for anybody and I don't expect anyone to act for me. I may not always say and do the popular thing, but I always try to do the right thing. I would much rather have a few genuine friends who love me for me than masses of fake friends who expect me to always get on their bus to Abilene.
I think a lot of people end up enslaved to people with character disorders because they have been trained to keep the peace at all costs. They don't want to do anything that would upset that apple cart because they fear confrontation and being alone. But can you really have genuine peace if you're always swallowing your feelings, wants, and needs in favor of what other people want? Can you really be happy if you always give in to others-- especially those who are mentally or emotionally crippled-- just to avoid a scene?
I mentioned before that somehow many people seem to lose their ability to think logically when they spend too much time with my husband's ex wife. The ex has a twisted sense of logic and somehow she gets other people to identify with her warped logic. In a letter to my husband, she declared that their two daughters didn't like me and didn't want to have a relationship with me. My husband's daughters have met me once. When they were with me, they seemed to have a good time. But apparently, now they hate me, and she's kept them away out of "concern" for their well-being and "respect" for their wishes... And yet... this same, "loving", "caring" mom of five wanted me to spend Christmas with those kids who supposedly "hate" me. Why would a loving mom who cares about what her kids want to force them to spend the biggest holiday of the year with a person she says they can't stand? It makes no sense.
When you bring up these kinds of logical discrepancies with a person who has created their own warped reality, they tell you you have no right. They expect you to handicap your thinking and just agree... because if you don't agree, there will be hell to pay. Anyone who refuses to surrender their logic is seen as a threat, a bad influence, or a bad person. But those who surrender their ability to be rational don't get rewarded for doing so. The character disordered person will just view them with contempt, seeing them as stupid and weak. There's even less respect for those they can manipulate.
Years after the Christmas debacle, my husband's former stepson tried to put one over on him. My husband had thought of this young man as his son for most of the boy's life. He willingly paid child support for him, gave him a car free and clear, and loved him as if he were his own. And yet, this young man tried to screw over the man he's called "dad" for most of his life.
When we found out about what this boy was up to, we kept quiet about it for a few weeks. We wanted to see if the kid would come clean on his own. When my husband did finally bust him, the young man acted like the whole thing was my husband's fault. He accepted no responsibility for what he'd done. Just like his mother, he expected my husband to just accept his twisted reality. When my husband refused, the boy decided to punish him by cutting off communication. And I bet they all think I'm the reason my husband is suddenly so keen to stick up for himself. After all, when they knew him, he always capitulated and accepted their warped reality.
I want to ask this kid... is it really punishment for us that he's cut off communication? Why should we want to have anything to do with someone who thinks nothing of screwing over other people, especially people who showed him nothing but love and acceptance? But again, we're bad people if we don't surrender our logic and accept their fucked up sense of reality. If we dare to confront them, we have to be cut off... because our logic and confrontations don't fit in with their fantasies. We have to indulge their bullshit because they've been hurt and abused. And because they've been hurt and abused, they have the right to hurt and abuse other people... and goddammit, you better shut up and accept it... or else there will be a reckoning.
Many people who want to be liked and don't want to make a scene will acquiesce. They fear being alone. I would submit that I would rather be alone than subject myself to continuous cognitive dissonance. I would rather maintain control of my sense of logic and rationality than surrender it and subject myself to more contempt and disrespect. It really is better to be alone or have just a few friends than swallow a bunch of Kool-Aid and have masses of fake friends who expect you to handicap your mind.
There is danger in wanting too much to be liked and accepted. Don't ever let another person hold your mind hostage.