These days I usually get excited by mail. I rarely get bills anymore: that stuff’s all paid online. So if there’s something in the old PO box it’s usually some skin care I ordered or a benefits update from the hubby’s job. Good stuff – stuff I like.
But there’s a new type of mail I’m learning about that’s way worse than any bill I could get, and it’s called Emotional Blackmail.
What’s worse than seeing it in others is realizing, “Holy shit, I think I’ve done that before, too.” 😳
If you’ve read much of my blog you know I’ve had big time issues with addiction. And addicts are prominent emotional blackmailers. They will do whatever they need to do to get what they want, and I was no exception to that rule when I was in the thick of running from my feelings and the trauma that created them.
But I’m doing much better these days. I’m sober. I’m doing what I love. Still have some things I’m working on, but generally speaking, grateful, which is why I’m doing so well. And I’m obsessed with healing rather than numbing myself by getting wasted, which is how I happened upon the book I’m sharing with you today.
It took me a while to start reading it because the title made it seem like such a downer. It sounds super depressing, right? And I don’t know about you but I want to focus on feeling good, not getting all bummed out thinking about terrible behavior.
But the process of getting good, not just temporarily feeling good, requires a bit of ugh.
It’s inevitable: if you want growth you need to be willing to feel sporadically less than great in the process.
This book has been extremely therapeutic for me. It got me realizing that some of the stuff that’s been going on in some of my close relationships isn’t healthy and I can’t keep ignoring it – it’s affecting my mental health. And It’s helped me take a fine tooth comb to the behaviors I felt weird about but dismissed in the interest of not being argumentative.
It’s teaching me that even though people are capable of being jerks it doesn’t mean I need to be a victim. I can stand up for myself in a non-aggressive way. It’s also got me thinking, “It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be true,” when I’m not getting the desired outcome right off the bat, ie, not reacting to emotionally manipulative behavior perfectly.
Here’s the deal about emotional blackmail tactics
Some people don’t know they’re using them, they’re just doing what they think they need to do – what they’ve always done – to survive. Some do get it, which is kind of scary, but still, they might not understand why they feel compelled to act so shitty.
As I stated before, I realized that I used to be an emotional blackmailer, and guess what? I didn’t always know I was doing it, nor did I understand what compelled me to act that way. Through the process of acknowledging my past and reading this book, now I do.
This book helped me understand myself on a deeper level. I’ve long felt uncomfortable about certain behaviors some people would religiously offer up but I couldn’t figure out why. Something inside would say, “Andrea – this isn’t right – you need to do something!” but I couldn’t fully comprehend or make sense of the feeling, so I didn’t pursue acting on it. At least not in a productive way. Getting aggressive with an aggressor just makes more aggression. Yuck to that.
This book is helping me understand bulldozing behaviors and it’s giving me the tools to stop contributing to them. It’s also helping me find some clarity in the relationships I feel compelled to step back from, which is something I’m in the process of doing right now, in the name of my own health and emotional wellness.
To be clear, figuring out who’s an emotional blackmailer is not about pointing out who’s an asshole. We all have it in us to take the prize in that department depending on the feeling we’re trying to process.
It’s about learning how to notice and stop contributing to the manipulative behavior.
Give Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward a read and let me know if you have any questions or comments about it.
I’m an email away: firstname.lastname@example.org.