29 March 2007

Hostile Dependency

I used to feel that it was right and meet to stay with any person to whom I had opened my heart, 'right to the bitter end'.

It took me years to realize that I didn't need to suffer so for people who were unwilling to do even the smallest thing to help, please, or otherwise consider me; let alone for people who actually had a 'hostile dependent' focus on me, clutching me frantically with one hand while they stabbed away like mad with the [metaphorical] knife they were holding in the other.

I've become convinced that most if not all emotional abuse is hostile dependency in action.

When abusers are raising you to be psychological prey, which they do, they are very very careful to teach you that it is selfish and bad to consider your own needs.

Ever, at any time.

And they also make sure to teach you that you must, on the other hand, always, and without exception, consider everyone else's needs.

Thus you have an ingrained double bind from the moment you're old enough to be told anything. Everyone else matters; you do not.

Doesn't matter whether they do this from calculation or instinct. What matters is that they do it.

Hostile dependency is a complete no-win situation... nothing we can do will fix it, nothing will change it. The other person has a compulsion to act out against those close to them, while at the same time they feel a desperate need to stay near and hold on to the people they want to hurt. Their targets are powerless to alter that.

Because this is so bizarre, because every story and every myth that we are taught in our culture tells us that when we act lovingly towards someone, the response from them will be loving, it is very difficult to believe in this dynamic when it is happening to us. Thus, we're set up to doubt our own perceptions.

Normally I think that the only way out is through, but in this situation, I think the only way through is out. This type of interaction is one I will abandon in a heartbeat, because I have learned from sad experience that it is the seed from which stalking and scapegoating and domestic violence and 'mobbing' [group bullying] dynamics and many other bad things spring.

Re 'mobbing': in group dynamics there is a term, 'outgroup', and another term, 'enemy creation'. Underlying these two terms is the fact that some groups require an enemy, or outsiders to exclude, in order to preserve their own cohesion and their members' feelings of specialness. Gangs, for instance, and some middle-school cliques [which usually morph into water-cooler cliques when the middle-schoolers get older, if they've never really grown up] tend to require an external enemy in order to survive.

If that isn't hostile dependency writ large, I honestly don't know what else it could be.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm always confused because I wonder if my mother is abusive or not. Sometimes she plays so many mind games ... and I never understand what I did wrong. I know it sounds cliche, but I think if you know my personality it would make more sense. Ah well, your posts are very interesting to read. They teach me a bit more about myself, sadly.

18 January, 2009 00:27  
Blogger Stormchild said...

Learning about ourselves is only sad if nothing changes once we have the new knowledge.

Doesn't have to change instantly

Doesn't have to change dramatically

Doesn't have to change 'as specified by Stormchild' or anyone else

but you.

When you're ready.

When you feel up to it.

When you actually know what to do to bring about the change.

[This is the part that all self-help books seem to gloss over: they proffer wisdom, 'a miracle occurs', and suddenly behaviors you've never before performed are second nature. Learned 'em in your sleep.


When you reach the point where change would be the natural next step,

and you're pretty sure you know where to start,

but prefer not to bother,

because it's too much work or you might lose some perk or other,

that's when it will be sad.

For now...

hold on to hope.

18 January, 2009 19:16  

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