Thursday, February 2, 2017

When the Friends Fall Away

One of the clearest signs you are in an abusive relationship: your friends fall away.

The one who seeks control does not want you to have any friends, no natural connections with anyone other than the relationships they control.  Oh, you can see their friends when they come over.  Sure.  But your own relationships?  Never.  Those lie beyond their power, and nothing beyond their power is permitted.

And so from day one of an abusive relationship, the abuser starts cutting away your friends and family.  They criticize them.  They create drama with them, going out of their way to be offensive, forcing you to choose between them and everyone else.  They convince you that those friends actually despise you, that the family members who express concern are really just trying to control you.

One by one, those friends fall away.  Or you think they do.  The odds are they still care, but you have more and more trouble perceiving it as you fall deeper into the abuser's dark spell.

The goal of the abuser:  destroy your sense of your best self, and gradually narrow your world until the only thing you can see is them.  The doors close.  You don't go out any more.  You don't see anyone any more.  You only see what you are allowed to see.  You stay safe and secure in the dark sanctuary of their control.

The abuser does this with an admixture of charm and fear.  They're the one who gets you.  They're the only one who knows all the answers.  The world is frightening, and you are weak and ignorant, and you need them to protect you.  They say this with absolute confidence, and it's hard to look away.

They seem so strong.  And the weaker you feel, the stronger they become.

This, for anyone who counsels, is what abuse looks like.  It is what we are taught to look for.

And what is true for individual souls?  It is, our world's dark history teaches, just as true for the soul of a nation.