When someone you respect and value calls you “crazy” on a regular basis, you will start to believe it.
The word “crazy” is used so often in our language, it is common to laugh it off.
Yet, being treated dismissively will subconsciously chip away your ability to trust yourself.
Continuing to accept this treatment will erode your personal foundation, your confidence and your knowledge of who you are.
When you value another person’s opinion of you, you will mirror their attitude toward you.
If they underestimate you, you will underestimate yourself.
No matter how the demeaning treatment is delivered – jokingly, with a smile, angrily – there is a process here to break you down. You lose confidence and begin to second-guess yourself at every turn.
The person delivering the insult will take your power and become the filter in which you make your decisions.
I experienced this for several years. First, it was in a teasing way, or so it seemed. The delivery of “crazy” would be included with something humorous.
Laughing along with me, left a trace of laughing at me.
I ignored the feeling and thought I was being self-conscious.
The joking subsided, and the delivery became more direct, often with eye contact and only a hint of a smile. In many conversations, once I shared what I thought or felt about the subject I was met with some form of “you’re crazy, that doesn’t make sense, or that’s crazy.”
I started noticing a pattern.
Once I expressed personal opinions or insights, I would receive words diminishing what I said.
This became a regular occurrence, I became irritated and would ask “how is that crazy?” to which I was ignored. There is nowhere to go in conversation when the other person will not engage further.
This is a power play in abusive relationships – treating someone with demeaning behavior and not allowing them to be heard or expressed.
I internalized the message I was receiving, that I didn’t matter.
I began to second-guess my perceptions, feelings, and ability to make decisions.
Slowly, I was breaking the bond with my own intuition. This is a very dangerous aspect of toxic relationships and emotional abuse. You stop trusting yourself and place your trust in others.
When we no longer trust ourselves, we are incapable of functioning from our instinct and inner knowledge. We don’t recognize signs that something is wrong.
Our personal power diminished, we hand control of our life over to the perpetrator. It’s a slow process, often invisible as it is taking place.
The ways being called “crazy” (or other dismissive insults) breaks down your power:
- At first you may accept it as a normal remark in conversation. The word is not associated with mundane or boring, it is edgy and a little wild. It may be perceived as a compliment when delivered with a flirty smile and eye contact.
An unspoken permission has been given, you are ok with the term applied to you. When you accept this with no pushback, you’ll hear it more often.
The smile and eye contact may go away. You may hear it in a more dismissive manner or interrupting you mid-sentence. You are unable to complete what you are saying.
- You may feel like you are fighting to be heard, because you are. Or you may let it go and now believe your thought is not important. You have started to absorb the insult on a subconscious level.
The person may even walk away or change the subject leaving you unable to finish what you are saying.
You are being set up to be guarded about what you share. The abuser gains control.
- This turns into prefacing what you are about to say with “maybe I’m crazy, but…” or “I know you think I’m crazy, but…” You seek approval more and value yourself less. This is a way of asking permission to be acknowledged.
Mirroring their attitude toward you places you in a diminished role. Your personal foundation suffers cracks.
- You start to believe it. Maybe you are a little “crazy,” because now it is part of your inner dialog toward yourself. Second-guessing your decisions trickles down to the simplest of tasks.
Things you’ve never thought twice about cause hesitation.
You feel a bit off (not like yourself), confidence and security are impacted. The abuser now becomes your decision filter. “What do you think?” You find yourself confirming with them, and it feels unsettling.
- You look to them to validate your decisions and choices. They may even express agitation or get upset when you make decisions without consulting them. You no longer trust yourself, and now there is the added stress of not making them upset.
Nothing you do is good enough. You feel incompetent and start entirely deferring to them. Your world feels out of control because you feel powerless. You are disconnected from yourself.
If you need help trusting yourself and connecting to your willpower after leaving toxic relationship abuse, I am here to help.
Get the F*ck On with Your Life: Healing After a Toxic Relationship
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