Opal finally gave up trying to teach her husband and one of her adult daughters the meaning of polite, caring, loving behavior. They never got it. She’d loved them unconditionally, given them everything and tried every method she’d read about. She tried dragging them to every therapist she could find who promised to change the attitudes and behavior of bullies and narcissists.
But her husband and daughter resisted every attempt; they never changed. They were convinced they were right and demanded whatever they wanted. They changed their demands at a moment’s notice and told her she was forgetful, stupid and lying. If she didn’t jump immediately she was a failure as a wife and mother. She should feel guilty forever. They even seemed to enjoy tormenting and abusing her. They were uncaring and unloving. She was their servant and wasn’t allowed to have any wants or needs of her own. She simply didn’t matter as a person.
“Have I done enough? Have I done everything?” are the wrong questions; they’re guaranteed to keep us slaves forever.
Opal had wanted to stop waiting on them but had been unable to resist her own discomfort at doing that. She gave in to her childhood training. She bullied herself with self-doubt. Maybe she hadn’t done enough or been good enough? If only she’d kept trying, maybe they’d finally change? She couldn’t stop hoping. To give up on them would be a sin.
Although “Have I done enough? Have I done everything?” seem like questions, actually, they are not. Questions are questions because there can be at least two answers. But there’s only one answer to those questions. We can never know we’ve done enough; we can never have done everything possible. The answers to those questions lie in the unknown future and maybe something new and different might work in the future. Or maybe, for some reason, the old methods might work in the future. We can never know.
Why do we call changing the hearts of bullies or narcissists, “a miracle?”
We are very accurate when we say that to change the hearts of bullies and narcissists requires a miracle. Think about what a miracle means:
- The probability of a miracle happening is really low. Make your own guess. One in a billion? One in a trillion?
- Making miracles is not in our control. Making miracles is above our paygrade. No matter what we do, we do not make miracles.
A better question is, “Do I want to keep going on that roller coaster ride?”
We get to answer that question. We decide. Opal was clear. Something inside her had snapped and she was done trying to educate and convert her husband and that daughter.
The pain of their roller coaster ride was too great. She wanted to go on different rides for the rest of her life. She wanted rides that might bring her joy; rides which she could share with people whose behavior showed they loved and appreciated her.
Who am I to decide what’s good enough for me?
As soon as Opal decided to leave them, her heart leaped with joy. She felt that a huge weight had been lifted off her back and the forever knot-in-her-stomach relaxed. However, she rapidly began running the old guilt-tapes she’d carried since childhood. She was scared by the thought of throwing the old tapes away and being on her own. It would be arrogant and disloyal; she’d be alone and unloved.
But she was an adult now and could decide her own rules for life. Especially when that meant throwing out rules from her past that had always made her life miserable. Those were the old rules that kept her accepting negativity, criticism, sarcasm and many other demeaning behaviors. Those were the rules that kept her chained to her abusers.
Once she dedicated herself to try different rules, what to do was clear. How to do it wasn’t going to be easy. So what?
Do we have to give up hope?
Not at all. But we do have to give up being responsible for making them happy. They’d have to figure out how to do that by themselves. Opal still had hope they’d change someday. She wished them happier lives. But if they hated her all their lives, too bad for them. They’d have to answer for their hate as well as their hate-filled behavior.
What can we do while we’re waiting for a miracle to occur?
- Opal could now distinguish her husband and that daughter’s spirits, their Souls, the potential she saw in them, her hopes for them from their selfish, lazy, entitled personalities. They chose to let their mean, nasty, vicious personalities were. They’d sold their Souls to the worst of their personalities.
- From a safe distance, Opal could light candles and pray for them. She could wish them well. And she knew she had to protect herself from their greed, power and control. Her continued slavery would be bad for them.
- If Opal had leverage or power over them, she might have been able to change their behavior, even if she couldn’t change their hearts. But she didn’t.
- She could create a wonderful life with people who cared for her in ways that made her feel good. She could replace guilt and self-flagellation with appreciation that she’d finally started becoming the person she’d always wanted to be.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
- Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.