Controlling People

Since the breastfeeding painting episode, my lover and I have been
learning about bullying.  Not only do we want to be able to recognize
and protect ourselves from harmful behaviour, we want to treat our
daughters with respect.
We grabbed “Controlling People” by Patricia Evans from the library.  (Very insightful, readable and recommended)
In the first chapters she talks about controlling behaviour as a spell.
The perpetrators often don’t realize what they are doing and often the
victims don’t either.  The controlling behaviour comes from a real
need that isn’t being met, but the behaviour often ensures the need
will remain unmet.
In this case, my lover’s parents could have a need for intimacy and
closeness.  They could be afraid that differences of opinion will come
in between closeness.  In order to remain connected, they may feel
they have to force us to have the same opinions.
Another thing Ms Evans talks about in her book is that controlling
people try to define us.  They do not see the real us, but try to
force their perceptions on us.  If you say “I am hungry” and someone
says “no, you aren’t, you just ate!” they are trying to define you.
That is what Ms Evans calls invading psychic boundaries.
My lovers parents telling us that we didn’t listen and that we were
being disrespectful was defining us.  It wasn’t the truth; in fact, it
was reality being presented to us backwards.  If we listened to them
we would have to discredit our own experiences, intellects and
emotions.
I did this for years with my church.  I was told I was a sinner and
that nothing good came from me.  I was told I and others with a
clitoris were unfit for leadership.  I was told I needed to obey my
leaders because I was not capable of understanding god’s voice.
By letting others define myself, I was unsure of who myself really
was.  I still struggle with knowing what I want. Even for picking a
flavour of icecream.  I am not sure I can trust myself to know what
kind of icecream I want.  (Its getting better, but every so often I
find myself in a decision making panic.)  When you don’t trust
yourself, how you appear to others is the only way you have to
validate yourself.

8 thoughts on “Controlling People

  1. D'Ma says:

    I could have written this. I spent so many years in Church and in a patriarchal marriage that I often have difficulty making decisions or knowing what it is that I want. I’ve made a lot of strides over the last two years, but I still have a long, long way to go.

  2. ... Zoe ~ says:

    This is an excellent book Prairie and I too can’t recommend it enough.

  3. Mórrígan says:

    That’s so true; that book is going on my reading list!

  4. jen says:

    This book was SO helpful!!!
    Biggest thing it did for me was to understand why I felt upset when people were invading my psychic boundaries… I’d thought the problem was me – that I shouldn’t feel upset, when in reality it was healthy.

    And I totally identified with struggling to figure out what I want, what I think, etc… I’d listened to everyone else for so long… Getting better though.

    • prairienymph says:

      It is a process. Somehow I’ve told myself that if I’m assertive, I’m being a bitch. Although I appreciate my girlfriends who know what they want, somehow if it was me it would be bad. I’m getting better too 🙂

      • D'Ma says:

        “Somehow I’ve told myself that if I’m assertive, I’m being a bitch.”

        I feel exactly the same way. I think if I express myself in less than a “would you please with a cherry on top” way I’m being rude! I made a huge stride this weekend on something. Did I feel like I was being a bitch? Did I fee guilty about expressing myself? You bet! But it’s something that effects the rest of my life. It’s now or never!

      • prairienymph says:

        Congrats on your weekend goal! Funny how we admire other women who are assertive…

      • jen says:

        Go D’Ma! I get really excited when I hear of people learning to stand their ground. To be themselves and assertive. It gives me hope.

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