Yesterday I went out for a walk around Memorial Park after months of avoiding people, following the advice of our infection disease experts and epidemiologists worldwide since this whole nightmare started in the US, somewhere around mid-March.
I put my Ipods on and set out to walk while listening to Who’s Pulling your Strings? on Audible. The book, written by Harriet Braiker, is the typical self-help narrative by PhD psychologists on dealing with narcissists, manipulative personalities and passive aggression. I say “typical” because I’ve been through a few of those. The description of my problem is accurate. The solutions on offer are more diversified. Yet, it all helps.
As Braiker starts discussing strategies to deal more efficiently with those “pulling our strings”, she first discusses the importance of removing yourself from the immediate pressure or accepting the manipulator’s requests or wishes. Right after that, she recommends an exercise involving meditation following an intensive write-up of an episode in which your manipulator made you experience anxiety, fear or some other intense negative feeling. The technique is aimed to desensitize you and help you detach your memory of the pain your loved one and manipulator inflicted on you from the actual words that were uttered by him/her or the way circumstances developed during the traumatic episode. I am not sure if the technique is effective yet, as I haven’t tried it, but at least it seems intriguing.
I haven’t tried it yet because, as I was walking back from the 3-mile walk to my car, I realized that some of the most intense feelings of despair and pain I have felt over the past decade (even longer) around my manipulator of choice have softened significantly. In fact, I have to admit they have weakened to such a degree that I can probably start talking about them openly without really feeling their intensity, not in the way I used to.
In view of that half-conclusion, perhaps it is time for me to start writing the pain completely out, recalling what I may or may not have done to lull it over the past year or so. Perhaps it is time to understand how to let the truth I was always capable of seeing take on a stronger role in my exit strategy, whether I leave the situation or the person.
I do not know if there might be someone out there who could eventually read this and say, “wait a minute, I know what she’s talking about”…but I can try for myself. In the solitude of a foreign country and with my friends more than a phone call away from me, I know I would have loved to chat with someone other than a random YouTube psychologist about the abuse manipulators can subject us to and our complicity in making it happen.
Perhaps I will.