Posted by: frogstale | May 22, 2014

Sarcasm & Teasing – Verbal Abuse?

There is an article on Psychology Today about sarcasm Field Guide – Sarcastic Masters.

“People who use sarcasm don’t see themselves as being hurtful, they see themselves as being funny.  But recipients tend to interpret their remarks as hurtful.

Probably most of us are sarcastic occasionally, but if we are reasonable people and don’t set out to deliberately hurt someone’s feelings, if we are told that a person doesn’t like it, we stop.  Same with teasing.  We all have different tolerance levels for being teased and some are more sensitive than others, for a variety of valid reasons.  But if we tell the teaser that it isn’t funny, we hope that they will stop.

Teasing and sarcasm is also a form of passive – aggressive behaviour. Another article in Psychology Today ‘How to Recognise and Handle Passive Aggressive Behaviour’ says sarcasm and veiled hostile joking (over the top teasing) is disguised verbal hostility.

Disguised Verbal Hostility. Negative gossip. Sarcasm. Veiled hostile joking — often followed by “just kidding.” Repetitive teasing. Negative orientation. Habitual criticism of ideas, solutions, conditions, and expectations.

Patricia Evans in her book ‘The Verbally Abusive Relationship‘ lists 15 different categories of verbal abuse.  One of them is verbal abuse disguised as jokes.  This sort of abuse never seems funny because it isn’t.  I believe teasing and sarcasm come into the same category.

Hubbie # 1 with the personality disorder was a master of teasing and sarcasm that was designed to hurt and wind me up.  He would tease me by driving off just as I arrived to get in the car, just a few meters up the road.  I walk up again and he waits for me to reach out and open the door and drives off again.  When I got upset and refused to play the game any more he would tell ME off and say ‘you’ve got no sense of humour’ or ‘you just can’t take a joke’.  It might have been funny the first few times he did it at the beginning of the relationship, but 15 years later it certainly was no longer funny.

People who verbally abuse others just don’t stop.  There may be many reasons for it, because they want to hurt the recipient or because they just don’t understand that it is hurtful and how it feels.  Maybe they are doing it out of a feeling of being powerful and in control.  As the article points out, often people who are sarcastic have low self esteem and use the cutting remarks to bolster their own feelings of inadequacy.  They might have a personality disorder.

What they don’t have is respect.  If your friend or partner continues to say hurtful things and tease you even after you have asked them to stop over and over again – they do not have your best interests at heart.  They don’t care how you feel. They are not respecting you.  They are being abusive.

You don’t have to put up with it.  Walk away. Hang up the phone.  Refuse to accept their emails and texts.  You can take charge.  No-one should treat you like that.  Don’t keep putting up with it like I did, hoping that one day they will stop. It won’t.

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My children’s father, my ex husband James, has all the behaviours of a narcissist/sociopath. I still get angry with the things he does, but I have learned to deal with him and his nasty ways.

I helped that I got new orders 6 months ago which leave me out of the decision making about when the children spend time with him. It is now their decision entirely.

Or is it?

They both decided they only wanted to see him for 3 days this coming school holiday. At 17, with a girlfriend, a part time job, friends, homework and a band, my eldest is a busy boy. He wanted to spend more time at home with his mates and has got fed up of spending most of his holidays interstate with his father. Even the 13 year old, who still partially hero worships his father, only wanted to go for 3 days.

I encouraged them to tell their dad but I didn’t interfere – I left the phone calls up to them as I always do.

What did their father do?

Book the flights (only way they can see him) so that they have to go for 6 days.

His excuse?

There weren’t any other flights available. Yeah, right, I believe that one from the lying bastard.

Why did he do this?

It could have been many reasons:

  • The flights for the three days were too expensive – but he earns around $300,000 a year!
  • If they only go for three days it takes the nights he has them under a threshold and I could then apply for more child support.
  • He wouldn’t look good if they only went for 3 days, after all he has a part to play to his audience – father of the year
  • He wants to exert his power and control over someone, and as it is no longer me, maybe he has turned it towards the kids

Whatever the reason, my 17 year old was not comfortable saying anything to his dad about the extra days.

I don’t know how to help him. I can’t interfere. I don’t know what was said. I don’t know and can only guess they are being guilted and manipulated into this.

I can only encourage my son to speak up in future, give him moral support for his choices and talk to him about being assertive.

He is going to have to learn the hard way what his father is really like and how to deal with him.

I can share my techniques but he needs to be ready to listen.

Do you have any other suggestions?

Posted by: frogstale | May 12, 2014

My father is dying

I have been away from this blog for a while.  Life has got even tougher for me while I deal with the emotional toll of my father dying on the other side of the world.

I am starting to mourn many things and paramount is the choice I made over 25 years ago to emigrate to the other side of the world to be with my personality disordered ex husband.  Of course I didn’t know at the time that he was ‘sick’.  I was deeply in love and just wanted to be with him.

I couldn’t foresee the future, as none of us can.  I didn’t think about the day I would get the ‘phone call’.  For those of us living a long way from our family we know one day that call will come.  It will either be that one of our parents has died, or that they are sick.

I got that call in September and it has been a downhill slide for my Dad since then.

And amongst all the other myriad of feelings that are running around in my head and heart, is resentment – deep bitter resentment – towards my ex husband who is the reason I am not with my Dad while he dies.

I can’t blame him for the choices I made and for not being able to see the long term consequences when I was only 25.  Even though he sold me a lie and got me out here on false pretenses I have to take some responsibility for not being able to see through the lies or believing in his false self.

There are things I can blame him for though.  After I left him I wanted to take the children back to England to see my family.  They had never been there and met most of my family – only my parents who came over every year after they were born.  I needed his permission to take them overseas.  He agreed, at first, and then like most personality disordered exes, withdrew his permission and made it impossible for me to take them.  For those of you who know what this is like I don’t need to go into details, suffice to say it was a long drawn out nasty fight and I gave in.

I never asked again.  My children never went to London where my Dad would have delighted in taking them round all the sights, teaching them about London and giving them lasting happy memories of their Grandfather and his home.

Instead, I took them in January when he was in Hospital for the whole time.  We visited every day we were there but Dad never got to take them anywhere, only look at London with them from his Hospital room, which was on the 9th Floor.

The only reason I could even take them then was because I had been through nearly 3 years of family court and had only just got new orders that allowed me to take the children overseas without their father’s permission.  God was looking after us on the day I got those orders becase it was only 4 months later that I needed to take them over.

I am so angry at my ex now.  He robbed my children of that chance to spend time with their Grandfather when he was well and that can never ever be given back.

I am struggling to deal with my grief and feelings of loss for myself and my children and I have nowhere to direct that anger at my ex.

The effects of having to co-parent with a personality disordered ex never end and reach into every corner of mine and my children’s lives.

 

 

 

Empathy

Aspergers and a Personality Disorder. I have experienced the effects of both.  And that gives me a rather unique perspective.

Empathy, or rather lack thereof is, I believe, the common denominator.

Personality Disorders (Cluster B)

My first husband behaves like a narcissistic sociopath. This is not an ‘official’ diagnosis but over the last 4 ½ years I have learned that he fits the behaviours of both of these two cluster B personality disorders.

He doesn’t exactly fit the profile for a narcissist, nor does he fulfil all the criteria for a sociopath but his behaviour lies somewhere in the middle. Both of these personality disorders lack empathy and compassion.

One of the differences seems to be that Narcissists lack any sort of self-awareness and aren’t able to recognise that what they are doing is wrong whereas sociopaths know what they are doing is wrong but have no conscience and do it anyway.

Aspergers

People with Aspergers often do not understand their own or others’ behaviours – lacking self- awareness. But they are not heartless, compulsive liars or morally lacking as a group. Maybe some individuals are, because whatever ‘disorder’ people have, they also have their own personalities and differing upbringings that lead to them behave in certain ways, but I think it is fair to generalise that lying and having no conscience is not a behaviour normally attributed to Aspergers. (In fact most people with Aspergers are not able to lie – even when a white lie might save someone’s feelings!)

My second husband Chris, who was diagnosed with Aspergers at 48 after we had been together 2 years, is in every way different from my first husband except for three things:

  • How he handles conflict
  • His Lack of understanding of my motives, behaviours and reasons for saying and doing the things I do
  • His self – absorption

This normally mild mannered, genuinely caring and generous man turns into my nasty, verbally abusive, blaming, high conflict, egotistical ex-husband when we argue.

  • Constantly interrupts me
  • Blames me
  • Unable to accept anything that he perceives as criticism even when it isn’t
  • Goes on the defensive immediately
  • Kitchen sinks (brings up all past hurts/issues/problems and cannot stay focussed on the issue at hand)
  • Exaggerates
  • Discounts what I am saying and my feelings
  • Makes assumptions about what I think and feel and then proceeds to tell me exactly why I am doing what I am doing (and is so often completely off the mark)
  • Uses ‘always’ and ‘never’
  • Has double standards – eg tells me off for interrupting him while he constantly interrupting me

All these are classic mistakes people make in arguments and they escalate the conflict and prevent resolution from occurring. I so often end up never feeling heard or understood. Just like with the narcissistic ex.

I recognise that many people probably argue this way, and maybe they are ‘male’ traits – but these behaviours are so similar in my two husbands that I can only attribute it to their common lack of empathy and self-awareness.

There is one big difference though.

Aspie husband can’t see at the time that what he is doing is hurtful and only makes things worst. I think he would care if he was able to understand it but in the heat of the moment he just can’t.

Personality disordered ex husband didn’t care and  would deliberately act that way to upset me and wind me up – choosing to do things I have asked him not to just because he could.

Different but the same.

Posted by: frogstale | March 23, 2014

A Timely Reminder

I forgot that I chose to be with James, my character disordered ex, because we got on, had the same goals, enjoyed each other’s company and were in sync in many ways.  My 16 year old son reminded me of that today.

He wants to go to Europe for 3 months when he finishes High School and we were talking about travelling companions.

‘It is really important that you get on with the person you travel with.  You spend 24/7 together and if you don’t have the same habits and preferences it’s really hard.’

‘What do you mean Mum?’

‘Well, say you’re happy buying food in supermarkets and cooking in the youth hostel and the other person wants to eat out every night.  You’re gonna have a problem.’

‘Oh, I see what you mean.’

‘Take me and your step dad when we travelled to Asia last year – he doesn’t care where he eats when we go out because normally he is hungry and just wants to eat.  I like to browse first.  I look at the menu and prefer to find one with a nice atmosphere and a menu I like.  I am happy to walk round for ages before deciding.’

‘Mum, that’s just like Dad and Susan (his partner).  Susan always goes in the first one we come to, whatever it is like, and Dad prefers to take his time.’

I laughed.  Seems like partner #2 for me and my ex are more suited to each other than us in this instance!

 ‘You know something love, your Dad and I got on best when we were travelling together.  We never argued about where to go, where to eat, what to do.  We were always completely in agreement.  It was one of the things that was best about our relationship.’

It got me thinking.  Despite the years of abuse, infidelity and high conflict divorce, I realised that I had been with this man because we DID have lots in common, we DID have good times. I wasn’t just a fool choosing the wrong man for the wrong reasons. I had enjoyed being with him and travelling together, which we did a lot often and it was the source of many of  my happiest memories.

I was also glad that I could tell my son something positive about my relationship with his father.

It was a timely reminder that despite everything that has occurred, there were good times and they were what kept me there in the first place.

Posted by: frogstale | March 15, 2014

My house – my rules

“It was just a bit of fun, I understand.  I used to do things like that when I was young.  I just never got caught by the police because I ran too fast!”

That is what James, my Narcissistic/Sociopathic ex husband, said to our 13 year old son Charlie, on learning that he had been caught by the police in his old school and could be charged with Breaking and Entering. (See Wrong Choices)

“Your step mum and step sister (Carrie) did the same sort of things, everyone does,  it is just kid’s stuff.  Carrie nearly got expelled from Boarding School for stealing!  Don’t worry about it, and your Mum is just over reacting.  I know you better than anyone else in the world and you don’t have a bad bone in your body.’  continued his Dad.

Interestingly Charlie is in many ways very similar in character to James, and what James is effectively saying is ‘I don’t have a bad bone in my body.’

I had grounded Charlie as soon as we got home from his old school where the police had caught him and some friends in one of the previously locked classrooms.

Less than a week later Charlie called me at at work late on a Friday afternoon.

‘Mum, can I go up the shops for a few minutes?’

‘No – you’re grounded, you know that.’

‘Am I grounded all weekend too?  I will lose all my friends if I don’t message them.’

I had taken away his Ipad and he couldn’t contact his non school friends.

‘Yes you are grounded all weekend.  You are grounded until you earn back my trust and I unground you.  If your friends drop you after a week of not contacting them then they aren’t friends you want to have anyway.’

‘I’m gonna call Dad.  I’m gonna tell him you are too strict.  Will you listen to him if he tells you not to ground me anymore?’

‘No Charlie, you know I haven’t spoken to your Dad for a very long time and it doesn’t matter what he says anyway.  My house, my rules.  He does the same when you are with him and he would never change it after listening to me.  Don’t you remember I suggested getting you an iphone would be a bad idea and he went ahead anyway.  And look what happened then!’ (See I told you so)

‘I’m gonna phone him anyway and tell him.’

‘You go right ahead darling, it won’t make any difference – you are still grounded.’

I got home from work and although I probably shouldn’t have, I asked Charlie what his father had said.

‘He said you were making a big fuss over nothing but that he can’t do anything about it.  He said I could come and live with him when he or my step mum is here and I could go to school from their place if I want to.’

His father works one month on one month off in a fly in fly out job.  He only spends a weekend in our city each month off, preferring to live 1200 km away where his family lives.  They are hardly ever here but when they are it is an hour away from where we live.

So living with them for a week is hardly an answer, particularly when they have no discipline or rules in their house.

I knew that my ex husband would not back me up or be at all helpful in trying to discipline our son and teach him the right thing to do.  His reaction when Charlie first called and then again after this plea for leniency was not unexpected but so totally inappropriate.

When I first told him what had happened he sent me an email saying that Charlie would not get a criminal record and I should phone him if I wanted to find out why.

Yeah.  Right.  As if.

I wrote back

I will be taking my advice from Legal Aid, the Youth Liaison Officer  and the police at the PCYC. If you wish to verify the information I have been given is correct you can of course contact any of these people directly yourself.

In the meantime, Charlie lives with me, and while he still does it will continue to be ‘My house, my rules.’

Posted by: frogstale | March 9, 2014

Wrong Choices

choice

‘Is this Charlie’s mum?’ 

‘Yes’

‘This is the police, we have your son here, he has been caught with three friends in one of the classrooms at school.  You need to come down here and pick him up.  He may be charged with Breaking and Entering.’

We all make wrong choices but some have far greater consequences than others.

My Narcissist/Sociopathic ex-husband made wrong choices when he decided not to use condoms when cheating on me.  There are twin girls in the world without a father as a consequence of those choices.

Our 13 year old son has also made bad choices.  He chose to sneak out of the house at 3am and meet up with a girl and he got found by the police and brought home on that occasion.  (See I told you so)

He made another bad choice today.

He chose to go with a some friends into a locked classroom in his old school,  one of the friends who I won’t have in my house because he is disrespectful, rude and badly behaved.

He chose to go with him because ‘it would be fun’.

That choice led to him being caught by the police and the possibility of going to Children’s Court and getting a criminal conviction.

Just like his father, he is making wrong choices.

His personality is just like his father’s too and I worry that he has a personality disorder like his Dad.

So how much effect does my upbringing have on him?  I have taught him how important it is to tell the truth, that there are always consequences for his choices, what the right choice looks like and to think about how other people will feel with the choices he makes (empathy).

But it seems nature may be winning over nurture.

Is he destined to turn out like his Dad and nothing I do will make any difference?

Is it possible that this will give him a big enough fright that he will now start making the right choices?

Only time will tell.

Posted by: frogstale | March 9, 2014

Life is a classroom

Co-parenting, or in my case – Step co-parenting – is no easy task.  Throw in a biological parent with a personality disorder and a step parent with Aspergers and boy does life get interesting!

I have been struggling with both – an ongoing struggle with the Narcissist and sometimes a problem with the Asperger Step father.

I came across this article in Psych Central today –  Co-parenting with a partner with Aspergers.

It made lots of sense.

Stop taking it all personally…. Stop expecting more from your AS spouse than he or she can deliver.

When you can’t fathom what is going on with your Aspie, and they are accusing you of things you didn’t do, stress increases exponentially. It is bad enough to be misunderstood. It is quite another to have no frame of reference for the misunderstanding. Even though it is work to read a book and to attend psychotherapy, knowledge is power. Clear up the mystery around your Aspie’s thinking and behavior by educating yourself about autism and Asperger Syndrome.

When you understand that those with Asperger Syndrome are more tuned in to the facts and the “truth” than they are to your feelings, it is much easier to manage a conversation.

My Narcissistic ex husband understands nothing, blames me for everything and deliberately makes my life difficult on purpose.  My Aspergers second husband doesn’t understand either.  But there is a neurological reason he can’t understand feelings – and that is completely different.

So when he blamed me for my youngest son’s bad behaviour and said it was all down to my parenting – I got understandably upset and tried to reason with him….

‘But he is like his father, it is genetic, son number one is fine and I brought him up the same way…’

…. and the argument just escalated.

I am realising that he doesn’t understand the effect of his ‘pronouncements’ on me.  He isn’t deliberately upsetting me – he just doesn’t know he has really hurt my feelings.

I have learned to walk away when things escalate and leave the him the space and calm he needs to be able to process and digest the problem and the possible solutions.  When I do that, he often ‘gets it’ later on and we can discuss it calmly and rationally.

Life is one big classroom and the lessons keep coming.

Posted by: frogstale | March 8, 2014

5 things everyone should know about domestic abuse

Another great explanation about who people stay with their abusers. It is not a simple or easy thing to spot an abuser in the first place, and once involved it is even harder to leave.

Avalanche of the soul

This International Women’s Day, millions of women will continue to suffer domestic abuse in silence. Let’s tackle the stigma that prevents women from speaking out. Let’s challenge some of the biggest (and most unhelpful) myths – starting with these fateful five.

The world is talking about celebrating and empowering women. However, as the global epidemic of domestic abuse continues to devastate lives, millions of women will carry on suffering in silence. Many feel unable to reach out, fearing they will be blamed or misunderstood. As part of the fight-back against abuse, we must banish the misconceptions that fuel suffocating stigma.

MYTH #1 Only vulnerable women experience domestic violence.

TRUTH #1
It’s true that vulnerable women are at increased risk. According to the World Health Organisation, women who have witnessed domestic violence as children are more likely to be abused themselves in later life. Women who have experienced domestic abuse …

View original post 600 more words

Posted by: frogstale | March 6, 2014

Rise Above It

rise above it

I made a choice in the best interests of my children and because I love them.

I have struggled with making the right choices for the right reasons for a long time.

I don’t like feeling I have been manipulated into doing something by my narcissistic/sociopathic ex – it has happened too often over too many years.

I had decided that I would not be manipulated into dropping and picking up the children at the airport this time.

  • HE should organise that seeing as he organised the flights at some godawful hour in the morning
  • HE should not just assume I am going to do everything he wants/needs me to for the boys
  • HE should care about his boys enough to help them sort out getting to the airport
  • HE has tons of money and tons of time and don’t have nearly as much of either.

But when it came right down to it, I couldn’t just sit back and let the kids (16 and 13) get themselves up and to the train station at 5am and then another hour to get to the airport.

(See Narc Decoder)

So I made a CHOICE to take them.

  • Because I love them.
  • Because I am their mother and I could not with a clear conscience lie in bed and let them go off by themselves.
  • Because I am better than their father who thinks it is all a big game and really doesn’t care about them at all.  If he did he would have organised a shuttle car to pick them up and drop them back, pad by credit card and made sure they were fine.

But he didn’t.

After he told me the details of the flights with the expectation (not verbalised) that I would do the running around, I never heard another word from him.  I have learned not to respond or engage with him because it achieves nothing.

I didn’t write back.

So it came to a few days before and I realised that I would make the choices I wanted to make in the best interests of my children.

He didn’t ‘win’ anything even though he probably thought he did.

I won.

I won because I was able to take the high road. (See Staying on the high road while the low road is calling)

My children won because I didn’t place them in any sort of conflict and I took them and picked them up because I wanted to do it for them.

(See Despite not in Spite)

I have learned to rise above it.

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