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By | April 7, 2010 198 Comments

RESOURCE PERSPECTIVES: When what you give is squandered

Editor’s Note: Resource Perspectives features articles written by members of Lovefraud’s Professional Resources Guide.

Re-thinking identity as a giver when giving too much can hurt
By Fannie LeFlore, MS,LPC,CADC-D

Fannie LeFlore profile in the Lovefraud Professional Resources Guide

If you’ve been victimized by someone, chances are the positive qualities you possess were viewed as an opportunity to take advantage of you — often by someone who lacks caring and concern, consciousness or character, usually in combination.

Being un-thoughtful and even callous in our stressed, hurried and often competitive and conflict-oriented society can become as easy as brushing one’s teeth. Taking time to listen or give comfort to another requires the kind of care and empathy that many good people demonstrate routinely, but later question the value of these qualities in the aftermath of being targeted, left confused or possibly devastated by an encounter with a sociopath.

If you’ve taken pride in being a decent, ethical, loving, conscientious and considerate individual, chances are you never contemplated in depth that dire consequences could result from being a giver — whether giving others the benefit of doubt or money, or otherwise offering a helping hand.

As someone inclined to give, you’ve likely taken pride in but rarely considered the costs in a world with many different people who have different motives and operate from different values and perspectives. Due to ignorance and ill will, toxic people generally view kindness as weakness — even though it actually is a strength.

People who embody empathy, who are accustomed to giving and sharing positive qualities with others in personal and professional relationships, may be tempted to turn away from these strengths after a bad experience or series of negative life-changing events. Instead, refining these positive traits throughout life — by challenging assumptions and setting boundaries — is a more productive approach for avoiding ongoing victimization, rather than taking a simplistic, cynical and bitter stance that inherently deflates the good and dismisses the beauty of life.

When you’ve been a giver in relationship with someone who feels entitled, you learn through painful experience that what you give can be taken for granted and squandered. It can be turned against you by toxic people who call what is good bad and what is bad good. It can become difficult to know how to balance innate empathy and also maintain a sense of well-being when another person or others around you are always ready to take or even exploit what you value in yourself.

Obligation to give

If you grew up influenced by Christian teachings, you’ve heard that it’s better to give than to receive. Others may have advised that you shouldn’t expect blessings to sprout from people you assist through investments of time and energy, because reciprocation or appreciation is likely to come from elsewhere. There’s also an embedded belief that, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” This can be interpreted to mean if you are financially well-off, have an abundance of understanding, intelligence, empathy and valuable experiences, you should willingly help and share your resources and resourcefulness with others whether they deserve it or not.

When taken to extremes, these and other admonitions can set people up for exploitive and abusive relationships, not just with sociopaths but with a garden variety of users and abusers, takers and fakers.

You might feel obligated to be more of a giver because you’re been trained from childhood for this role, and it’s habitual. You may feel guilty saying no to requests from even people who do not deserve your time or loyalty. You may tolerate extremely toxic situations and try to improve them single-handedly since people expect you to problem-solve while they go their merry way engaging in other activities or distractions. If you’ve complied so much that you no longer feel you have a right to object, or fear resentment from others if you attempt to change the circumstances with takers who willingly absorb all that you offer and yet are ungrateful, you are likely to become unfulfilled and depleted.

Boundaries are key

The best way to avoid being victimized again, even if you choose to continue giving, is to develop a more balanced approach by becoming more open to receiving and giving, and by practicing boundaries that become as routine and natural as brushing your teeth.

Boundaries involve defining what is and is not okay for you. You need to be flexible at times and rigid at times, even though practicing boundaries can become difficult since each situation may require a different response and different people may require a different approach. Some people, as the late author M. Scott Peck has written, can be invited into your kitchen to sit down and eat, while others should not be allowed past your front door. Among ways to determine this is whether the person you’re dealing with lacks boundaries himself, or whether she demonstrates respect for your concerns and needs without requiring constant vigilance and reminders.

Since we cannot control what others choose to do, the most important component is to re-think our own identity, which will allow changes for developing new boundaries and maintaining both self-awareness and integrity as life unfolds. Whether you take a lot more than you give or give a lot more than you take, it’s crucial to ask why and make a conscious effort for more balance. Too much giving or taking create problems when relating to others or seeking personal happiness. A proper amount of both give and take promotes less stressful and healthier living, according to various research on psychological and social well-being.

Out of balance

A very self-centered partner, friend or family member is likely to accuse you of engaging in tit-for-tat when you start expecting them to give back. They might say that what they receive from you is something they’re entitled to, or that you voluntarily offer what they gladly accept.

Over time, the erosion of your energy from takers and fakers, users and abusers, can make you feel so out of balance that your life feels less about your needs than catering to others — whether it’s what they want, what they expect or what they think you should do. This essentially is what feeling victimized amounts to: Somebody takes all you give and leaves you with little to nothing, or feeling used or abused.

Often, when you keep giving so much of yourself, it’s not simply to please and make others happy. Underlying factors also reflect a lack of self-awareness about your own needs, lack of honesty about what you really feel, not believing that you deserve things you want, and a lack of clarity about your own boundaries.

Time to change

When you’ve been burned in personal and professional relationships by users and abusers, takers and fakers, you’d be doing a disservice to yourself if you didn’t change. There are in fact toxic people and situations in life that do not serve your best interests. Even if the new knowledge feels threatening, it forces you to challenge previous assumptions. It demands understanding that a sense of personal safety and security can no longer depend on a just world theory or be based on whether you are considered a decent person or not.

Re-thinking the foundations of your identity as a giver require giving yourself permission to seek a more balanced approach in how you relate to not just others but yourself as well.

If you’re in conflict over past assumptions about what it means to be good, a giver, it’s important to redefine yourself — without needing permission from others. Making adjustments in your identity requires integrating new lessons for renewal of self-awareness. What others from your past told you, and how they defined you, needs to be challenged, despite hoping for understanding or wanting approval from others.

Own your reality

Start by owning, without apology, your present realities. You may have enjoyed accolades and other benefits from being viewed as primarily unselfish or a giver, but these roles may no longer fit. You may no longer have the same level of energy, time, money and other resources to share with family, friends and significant others. Even if you do, you have a right to change how you handle things when being a primary giver no longer works well for you. You have limitations and needs like others, or maybe you simply want something different in relationships, including more reciprocity.

While you share commonalities, you also are separate and so are others. You are different and so are others. To assume that someone else thinks and feels exactly how you do is a set-up for assumptions and coming to inaccurate conclusions. That’s why questions are important for clarification, since one person’s meaning may vary from another’s. Seeking clarification also helps us get a better picture of where others are coming from and, coupled with their actions, can provide clues about whether someone is more a giver, taker or combination of both.

Questions to ask yourself

Ask yourself these kinds of questions: Who says a good person or someone who considers herself a giver has to always give? Who says you shouldn’t challenge others’ perceptions of you, especially when they attempt to manipulate you in being someone they can take advantage of? Who says you have to be predictable in every way to prove to others they can trust you? Who says being loveable requires you to behave with consistency — as in (fill in the blank) would never do that, such as saying no? Who says you’re being phony if you don’t always agree with what others expect of you? Who says that someone who gives also should never receive anything back from those whom she gives to?

Here are some approaches to prevent feeling victimized or otherwise overwhelmed by potential takers and toxics:

  • Tell them that if they have expectations of you, you’ll have expectations of them.
  • If they hint about something, don’t focus on drawing them out. Let them find courage to ask directly for what they want from you.
  • Practice saying no more often, especially when someone has become overly needy and doesn’t know when to stop asking for help or favors from you.

Enforcing boundaries

Be prepared for what can happen when you start enforcing boundaries. Some people will no longer like you, nor want to interact with you as much. Learn to be okay with this. Embrace that you have a right to take care of yourself, redefine yourself and decide what is okay for you. You can determine when and what to give of your time, attention, money and other positive qualities and resources.

Keep in mind that whenever an individual no longer wants to deal with you because you’ve set boundaries, it is indicative of progress because you no longer have to engage in wasted time and energy. If someone cannot tolerate you saying no once in a while — despite knowing that you are cooperative and supportive otherwise — it’s likely they had their own agenda and less interest in reciprocation or other mutual benefit anyway.

Ask yourself what are you really losing? Remind yourself that your positive qualities have value. Just as you can appreciate good things about others, what you offer should not be viewed as license to exploit, devalue or take for granted. And if someone else chooses to view things otherwise, your evolving boundaries will make it possible for you not to participate in their distorted perspectives.

About the author: Fannie LeFlore, MS, LPC, CADC-D is an Entrepreneur, Journalist and Licensed Professional Counselor. These combined career areas are the foundation of the expertise and quality professional services provided by LeFlore Communications, LLC in Milwaukee, Wis. Areas of Expertise: Communication Skills, Codependency Issues, Counseling of Diverse Populations, Crisis Intervention, Abusive Relationships, Sociopathy and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, General Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Issues. Fannie also was Co-writer/Editor of The Road Less Traveled and Beyond by M. Scott Peck, MD.


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Ox Drover

GREAT ARTICLE!!!!!!! Impressive credentials! All I can say is WOW! And Please, more articles!

Rosa

Setting clear boundaries and paying attention to how you feel are so important to establishing healthy relationships.
Because a really smooth con artist will make you feel like you are acting on your own free will, when he/she is actually manipulating you into giving up your goodies.

As long as you are seeking approval OUTSIDE of yourself to support the fact that you are lovable and worthy of love, you will leave yourself open to gaslighting.

Even if you are in a relationship that seems to be “great”, if you are feeling angry, confused, depressed, depleted, then that means you are probably being gaslighted or manipulated in some way.
Pay attention to your feelings.

If someone is sapping your joy and undermining your spirit, then changes need to be made.

It’s never too late to go No Contact.

As long as you are willing to leave the relationship, no one will be able to gaslight/manipulate you.

It’s when we idealize our abuser and embrace their view of reality that we get into trouble.

Zen

Very interesting. But I do have a question that I’ve been unable to locate an answer to, sociopaths are capable of unwavering loyalty to some. What is the impetus for this loyalty? If they are emotionless then how is this explained? Any insight on this? thanks!

Rosa

Zen:

Can you give an example of this “unwavering loyalty”?

Are you sure it’s genuine loyalty, and not the APPEARANCE of loyalty??

In my opinion, if a sociopath is showing “loyalty”, then they are getting some type of payoff from it.

I think it might be sort of like their apologies.
They only say “I’m sorry” when it serves a purpose for them.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

Zen – this is a really interesting question. one that i have pondered also. i wonder if those people are in some way ‘unending supply’ or ‘great cover story’.

my next questions would be: who the recipients are, what they offer the spaths, do they themselves bring dysfunction to the table.

if it is that spaths have the capacity of true loyalty (coming from care and commitment) then we are in trouble….it will be so much harder to discern them, and so much harder to turn them into 2D caricatures in our minds and words- a process that seems to aid in disengaging from them.

Zen

It does seem to go against all we’ve read about sociopaths that they are unable to express loyalty or conscience but I have witnessed it and read it written by sociopaths that they do have a sense of loyalty towards some who typically are those who have been a pawn to a certain degree. Those who overlook the flaws of the sociopath and continue to give to them (not just monetary) in spite of those ‘flaws’.

I would like to understand if they cannot offer/experience emotion then what is this?

one/joy_step_at_a_time

kindred.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

i have been loyal to employers who i don’t care for. i do it to maintain a supply of a ‘pleasant’ work environment and the bi-monthly flow of money. it’s just part of the ‘game’.

i hear my spath has a little core around her….i find it hard to believe. but it seems it is true.

i think the question might really be – why have they not discarded these people.

i know that in the case of my spath she has some physical limitations and illnesses (unfortunately not the ones she tired to convince me she had….like, dying) and needs help. this will increase as she gets older. having folks around is just smart. if they didn’t give something to the psath or if someone came along who had more…would they be ‘loyal’?

maybe the discard trajectory is just longer.

zen – i would like to think the spath is capable – to make her more like me. but i don’t think it is true commitment, just self serving connection.

Zen

one_step_at_a_time says:

I don’t think it’s truly coming from ‘care’ but it is from what I’ve seen a type of commitment and I will say that in the case of the one sociopath I’m referring to it was extremely difficult to discern her, I knew there was something at her core very very wrong but couldn’t put my finger on it. It took some observation and then it was quite evident. Rather creepy honestly.

Rosa

Zen:

“It does seem to go against all we’ve read about sociopaths that they are unable to express loyalty or conscience but I have witnessed it…”

If you have witnessed it, then PLEASE give an example.
I cannot wait to hear this.

“Those who overlook the flaws of the sociopath and continue to give to them (not just monetary) in spite of those ’flaws’.”

Is this really loyalty….or is it just being a dupe????
To me, it’s being a sucker, and I’ve already been there.

Sociopaths are really good at selling us on their version of “love” and “loyalty”.

Zen

one_step_at_a_time:

I do believe it’s self serving and a good parallel re employers but it’s deeper to a certain degree than that they do have friends they can’t live in an entire vacuum they do need others but not in the same way ‘normal’ people do, it’s not reciprocal. What I’ve observed what the sociopath gives is far less than what she gets. She does nurture the relationship but in a way that is manipulative. Not from true caring it’s to get. With normal relationships people give because it’s because they genuinely care for the other person and want to make the other person happy. What we get from the relationship is the other persons happiness. With them it’s not the normal give/take. What she gives is time and her loyalty but what she gets in return is very much out of balance.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

zen and rosa – there was one moment, maybe it lasted a day – when i knew that the ‘boy’ hadn’t died (’cause he called) and before the other sock puppets started to threaten me, when i thought that i loved this person so much, enjoyed him so much that if he just came clean with me, maybe i would be with him anyway.

that’s before i realized spath = always lying and no morals.

(and long before i realized the extent of the big lie – ‘boy’ wasn’t a boy and that the whole crew of family and friends were all sock puppets).

Zen

Rosa:

This has been a point of difficulty for me. I have experienced this person and she tried very hard to make me loyal to her, told me I was the sister she never had etc etc, tried the typical flattery but I saw her for what she was, a user and exploiter. The loyalty is putting her ‘victim’ first before other people not herself of course she is very cavalier about time and money but what she exhibits is covering for the ‘victims’ back, finding out things to report to her victim. Not sure how to exactly describe it.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

zen – the ‘give’ to get, only to nurture supply, not a person and a feindship.

thanks for this…have to get to work now, but this question is important to me.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

zen ‘….but what she exhibits is covering for the ’victims’ back, finding out things to report to her victim. Not sure how to exactly describe it. ‘

tis sounds like she is trying to separate the victim from the herd by pretending to be her protector.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

i have experienced this being culled – and i know for certain that some of the protection being offered was from she that she herself was creating (via the sock puppets for sure, but also with other community members).

if the spath take care of you – they bomb you with such ideas of rescue, all others pale in comparison. it is part of them weaving the enchantment, aka grooming the dupe.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

okay, obviously i am not going to get back to work that easily –

i think if we view EVERYTHING that they do as PREDATORY then we will be able to see their goal in any situation.

i am getting into closer contact with the spath and her scams right now – so this is a VERY good maxim to maintain – to ALWAYS look for the predatory goal.

thanks!

bulletproof

Zen

What a burning question. I am thinking along the lines of people who are able to keep and overlook the flaws of a P…are they gifted in some way by seeing some humanity in them? because loyalty is a very human noble thing to display? and if we never give up on them then they can become human? it appeals to my romantic view of the world and If we love them unconditionally then they will turn into humans….Oxy get the skillet out, a big un……

Fannie Leflore

Thanks for the excellent post you say:

Be prepared for what can happen when you start enforcing boundaries. Some people will no longer like you, nor want to interact with you as much. Learn to be okay with this. Embrace that you have a right to take care of yourself, redefine yourself and decide what is okay for you. You can determine when and what to give of your time, attention, money and other positive qualities and resources.

relate to this. What I have noticed with horror as I assert myself more and say no and follow my own hunches…..I get RAGE from my family, friends and work associates, the atmosphere is this:

1) You are sad, obnoxious and I hope you meet with bad luck

2) stop acting like a victim, he was not a psychopath, you probably drove him way because you are obnoxious, sad, and I hope you meet with bad luck

3)a psychopath murders people! for God’s sake stop being so dramatic

If I stay with my own experience, and validate my own experience…you know I do not care what other people think anymore! I will not stop describing what happened, how I feel about everything and you know I will go out there and make sure I LISTEN TO OTHERS WHO HAVE BEEN THROUGH HELL BUT it is NEGATED by people who do not want to have to face….psychopaths are not just murderers they are in ordinary places, faking ordinary lives….wake up, loads of coffee

flowerpower

HELP HELP…need advise on ex now trying to harass my family. My cousin owns a cafe in our hometown. He has witnessed ex’s abuse of me and our 3 children. What to do if ex visits (he is calling and taking friends who are also harassers) my cousin does not want him there. Judge says by law he has to provide service.

Also is there a device that could be placed in my house that picks up phone or internet ? NEED to know…

Zen

bulletproof:

“What a burning question. I am thinking along the lines of people who are able to keep and overlook the flaws of a P”are they gifted in some way by seeing some humanity in them? because loyalty is a very human noble thing to display? and if we never give up on them then they can become human? it appeals to my romantic view of the world and If we love them unconditionally then they l will turn into humans”.Oxy get the skillet out, a big un—”

No I don’t think they’re at all gifted, just highly empathetic plus the sociopath in question has had a very long time to observe this person and sociopaths are experts in observation. She knows what makes him tick she knows where he’s vulnerable. I told her once prior to realizing what she is that she knows where he is insecure and that she encourages it. Little did I realize then what I was dealing with.

Zen

flowerpower:

“Also is there a device that could be placed in my house that picks up phone or internet ? NEED to know””

Would you please clarify what you mean? thanks!

bulletproof

Zen

What are you dealing with? HE IS VULNERABLE? just tell me where a P …ís vulnerable, I don’t understand,
oh wait the P is a she….ah yes okay. like I understand anything… sorry, drawing a blank other than GET THE HELL OUT A There!!!

Read the boundaries post and do not help peole randomly without knowledge, because knowledge is power,or so they say here on lovefraud.

Zen

bulletproof:

Sorry I suppose I wasn’t clear. The sociopath is a female and she knows where her victim, male, is vulnerable.

bulletproof

flowerpower

make a statement to the police, they will do nothing with it but at least it is a record of ‘harrassment’ plus the fact you are frightened …listen to that it’s a sign, it’s your intuition, its your inner alarm bell….WAKE UP NOW

Zen

“Read the boundaries post and do not help peole randomly without knowledge, because knowledge is power,or so they say here on lovefraud.”

To what are you referring?

bulletproof

of course she does. She is a people observer . What are you doing in the middle of this? what is your angle on this?

Zen

bulletproof:

She is my SO’s ex.

Zen

one_step_at_a_time::

“tis sounds like she is trying to separate the victim from the herd by pretending to be her (actually his) protector.”

You’re exactly right, she does a good BS routine. Funny she has said she views him now as ‘her brother’. She and her real brother are estranged, so this is supposed to be a compliment? LOL

libelle

Dear Mrs LeFlore,
thank you for your timely article! It seems that everytime I turn to this site for some relief there I will find an answer! Tonight I feel quite down, sad, disillusionated and confused.

I just brought back my 8 year old, only godchild to her mother (my sister), after a two day holiday I was allowed to have the child (the very first time in my life!). I did my very best to make a pleasant time for the girl, but got angry and devaluing phonecalls last night from my sister, as I suggested the girl should do a good night call to mummy (I was suggesting this, BIG MISTAKE)!

Yesterday we went to a water fun park, and I had allowed the girl to go alone on a somewhat wild water slide after having tested it myself with her in my arms, and with me always present. We had been to another waterpark in February where my sister got arrhythmia and had to be treated by me; it was FAR less dangerous and great fun). The girl told her the details after I was not so clear about where I was exactly when (it was like a cross examination, my sister is a lawyer after all), and my sister was telling me that I brought the child in acute danger of life! It would be the last time she gave the child to me as she could not trust me anymore. The child was desperate after that, hated me and wanted immediately to be brought back. It was of course all my fault because I was lying to my sister about my irresponsibilities and disturbing the child. (lots of cries from my niece afterwards until well after midnight, but finally she accepted another day with me at the fairground with horseriding demonstrations and merry go rounds; and mum had to work anyways. I was supposed to be the babysitter)

Today I did not go on a fair ground merry go round as I get seasick (my sister knows this) and I HATE merry go rounds. I got tonight a long look of disapproval, and the child must have the impression that I am the most unreliable person in the world. She treated me accordingly, thanked me hardly and was angry as I dared to disturb her on her Computer game to say goodbye.

Anyway I got a huge disappointment tonoght as my niece said to her mother constantly how sad she had been the whole time with me (I saw a happy child getting almost all the things she wanted).
Furthermore I am unemployed now and I have spent a considerable sum to make the child happy, just to get an act of angry phonecalls and tears and screams yesterday and a very puzzling devaluation today, as I have enjoyed the days and had the impression to make a child happy and was happy myself.

I really felt played by the child and her mother, it is so sad as I love them both, to some extent I must say now, and my sister was a great help to get away from the Ex-“Partner” who wanted to take advantage of my naivety.

Specially helpful and encouraging for me were your following sentences:

“Start by owning, without apology, your present realities. You may have enjoyed accolades and other benefits from being viewed as primarily unselfish or a giver, but these roles may no longer fit. You may no longer have the same level of energy, time, money and other resources to share with family, friends and significant others. Even if you do, you have a right to change how you handle things when being a primary giver no longer works well for you. You have limitations and needs like others, or maybe you simply want something different in relationships, including more reciprocity.”

“Be prepared for what can happen when you start enforcing boundaries. Some people will no longer like you, nor want to interact with you as much. Learn to be okay with this. Embrace that you have a right to take care of yourself, redefine yourself and decide what is okay for you. You can determine when and what to give of your time, attention, money and other positive qualities and resources.

Keep in mind that whenever an individual no longer wants to deal with you because you’ve set boundaries, it is indicative of progress because you no longer have to engage in wasted time and energy. If someone cannot tolerate you saying no once in a while ”“ despite knowing that you are cooperative and supportive otherwise ”“ it’s likely they had their own agenda and less interest in reciprocation or other mutual benefit anyway.

Ask yourself what are you really losing? Remind yourself that your positive qualities have value. Just as you can appreciate good things about others, what you offer should not be viewed as license to exploit, devalue or take for granted. And if someone else chooses to view things otherwise, your evolving boundaries will make it possible for you not to participate in their distorted perspectives.”

These words helped me a lot! Thanks!!!!

flowerpower

HELP..is there a device that can be placed in a home or otherwise to pick up signals for internet or cell calls?? I was told today that there is. My emails has either been hacked or a surveillance thing is happening. No way info could have been obtained by ex without that.

Any advice on how my cousin should handle visit to his cafe??he does not want ex there..

Ox Drover

Dear Flowerpower,

I am not sure how it is done butr there is a thing called “key logger” or something like that that logs every keystroke you make, I’m a computer dummie, but I suggest you take your computer to someone who is A COMPUTER SMARTIE and let them see what is going on. “Nanny (or spy) cams” are also easily hideable and can literally RADIO the signals to another reception area outside your home.

Audio signals are also transmittable so your house may be “bugged”—check it out. They will resort to anything. Don’t panic though….if he can hide it ytou can find it. (((Hugs)))

conomo

Flowerpower,

It is my understanding that if I pay rent, my business is private property, not public and therefore have the right to serve whomever I want.

I have had the unfortunate experience of asking a customer to leave for ranting totally off the wall stuff in front of other customers. This family was hurting financially, physically with a lot of health issues, and emotionally as a result. I gave them a lot of time and sometimes product when I could to help them out. I couldn’t help this time and was accused of racism, patronizing them because I wouldn’t allow a discount they had not earned yet.

Another time I took someone on through a rehab program and found this person just did not fit in the health food environment, so had to terminate the arrangement. I really did try to do it tactfully. The husband came in and threatened to expose me through the local paper. I bowed with hands in prayer and said do what you must, but you have to leave now.

Different circumstances I understand, but I think if he is uncomfortable in his home away from home, he has a right to ask them to leave. If not, can he have someone else serve them? Can he call the police and ask them to drive by conspicuously? At least give the police a heads up?

Libelle, your Godchild and her Mum treated you SHAMEFULLY!
what kind of thanks was this for your kindness in giving he r a lovely day?
Your siste r certainly sounds likea spath, and the little girl is obviously a spath in the making,-getting lessons from her Mum!
How horrible and hurtful for you.
As Oxy always says,”Dont cast your pearls before swine, they wiil trample on them, and then turn and rend[tear} you!!
The paragraph beginning,”be prepred, realy helps me too, thanks for that! Ive printed it out to keep close to hand. Ive starteda whole folder of LF helpful blogs, to look back on as I need them.
Your neice sounds like anunhappy mixed up kid, not surprising with a spath Mother like your sister!
{{HUGS}} gem.XX

kim frederick

Libelle, what a wonderful Auntey You are. Any child would be lucky to have you. I’m sorry your kindness was, “trampled on,” as Gem says above.

Assuming you r Neice is not a spath, but simply a spoiled and confused child, I think I would have taken the opportunity as a teaching moment, and told her that you were very dissapointed in her for lying about having no fun and being unhappy the whole day. I would have asked her if she understood what the word, “ungratefull” meant, and that your feelings were quite hurt. I would have gone on to explain to her that you had obviously made a mistake and misjudged her, when choosing her for such a fun day, and in the future certainly won’t make that mistake again.

As for your sister…it’s probably too late to teach her any manners, and she probably doesn’t care what you think anyway.

Sorry, again your fun day with your Neice turned out as it did.

libelle

Dear Gem and Kim! Thanks for the hugs and the validation. The child really enjoyed it, and she even called me “mom” once yesterday afternoon, but she also knows that she is completely dependent upon my sister (who is a single mom). It went all very well until the stupid phone call! (we even had a very nice walk in the sunset lasting over an hour and enjoyed it both!)

She put kind of a show for her methinks. She is quite gifted in the manipualtive department and my sister knows it, and it is a game the two play, the pity me my mom has no time and the pity me I have a bad conscience because I have to work hard to have the child; unfortunately I got “between the lines” of this symbiotic “folie à deux” I hate THIS!

I am now packing my apartment to move to the new location next week, and enjoy getting rid of all the dust, clutter and things I will not need anymore but I am glad to donate it.

Now back to filling those @*%&%ç* boxes!

Kind regards to all of you! And have a great sunny day!

Elizabeth Conley

Right or wrong, I’ve changed my giving habits. I don’t get involved with strangers any more. I give my time and energy to my family and old friends.

I’d consider getting involved with a ministry again only if the other workers were old friends. It would have to be at some point in my life when my children were grown and I was widowed. FAMILY comes first.

I have a great family and equally wonderful friends. They suffered quite a bit when I let myself be exploited by two “ministries” in a row. The hated seeing me depressed, anxious and exhausted. They missed the loving attention I normally lavished on them. Never again.

When I finally lost my patience with evil, I politely explained the limits to everyone who had been acting badly. Anyone who failed to respect the firm boundaries I put in place has long ago drifted off. With a narcissist and a sociopath setting the example for how I was to be treated, usually decent people had become rude, condescending, hyper-critical, greedy, petty, unappreciative and backbiting. The longer individuals had misbehaved, the less inclined they were to change. A change in behavior seemed to some like a tacit admission their previous behavior was improper. They were too proud to change, so we drifted apart. I couldn’t care less about cultivating a relationship with anyone who was slow to accept that my store of patience had run out. They were owed nothing.

It’s good to go on a date with my husband every week. It’s good be be addressed kindly by name. It’s good to hear the words please and thank you. It’s good to see my efforts to help my family and friends bear fruit. It’s good to have time for each child, and even a few hours a week to myself. I’ll never go back.

Ox Drover

Dear EC,

It is hurtful and feels that your efforts are “wasted” when you end up getting “spit on” for giving to others.

When Jesus healed the ten men with leporsy only one turned back to thank Him, so we can see that this isn’t “personal” just for US, but that 9 out of 10 people that you “perform a miracle for” are ungrateful. That doesn’t mean that what you DID is not wonderful though, just that people are people and some of the time (most?) people are not grateful for what they have received from someone else.

I definitely understand your not being willing to expend your energies on “strangers” now. You will not know what kind of response they will return to you for your giving. AFter my little episode last summer in taking in a “victim” (who turned out to be a psychopath herself masking as a victim) and giving her a place to stay, and an opportunity to have safety and a base from which she could have lifted herself up, she ended up by trying to scam me! Fortunately, I realized what she was before she had successfully either hurt me financially or emotionally. I was very VERY disappointed, but you know, I DID learn some things from this person.

We DO and SHOULD be cautious with our giving that it isn’t squandered on someone who is a con-person, so that we have MORE to give to those that will truly benefit from our gifts. I think that is just good sense. If we impoverish ourselves lavishing “gifts” on to people who misuse them, we haven’t helped anyone at all. We don’t have to “join” a “ministery” though, in order to GIVE to our fellow humans. We can GIVE to others every day with an example, with a kind word, a monetary gift to a “good cause” and so on. We can mentor a child, give a gift of love, take care of our family, and especially TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES.

sistersister

Wow, yes. Yes. This is just what I needed to hear validated in my thoughts and perceptions of myself.

My parents set the pattern for me, as really good and generous people who almost never turned anyone away. They’ve had to learn the same lessons about toughmindedness: Be generous, but have an exit strategy. Never give more than you’re willing to lose. “Lending” something, fully knowing you’re going to lose it, is noble in its own way — but you have to be aware of that choice.

I’ve learned over the years that it’s MY choice to give. Sometimes the thing I hoped to get back wasn’t even something from that person. Like professional experience or reputation, or making a difference for other people we were helping.

I thought I knew it already. But the final insult was my teen friend Chrissy dropping out and the nonprofit group squandering my gifts to support its members’ narcissistic fantasies of being cool “activists” who don’t actually have to do anything.

My gifts are expected, yes, but they are expected to be given wisely to spread their good energy in the world. Choosing to throw my gifts down a hole is neither spiritually enriching nor respectful of myself.

“Remind yourself that your positive qualities have value.” – YES. A member of the nonprofit group who died keeps telling me in my thoughts, “You are a beautiful, precious, valuable person, who deserves to shine.”

“To assume that someone else thinks and feels exactly how you do is a set-up for assumptions and coming to inaccurate conclusions.” — I guess that’s a kind of narcissism on my (our) part. Think about it. It takes two to tango. Our struggle to grow out of the victim pattern are really a swim upstream in a culture of narcissism: ours and theirs.

Having expectations of the other person: I recognized this when I was asked to work on a project recently. I asked for a clear deadline, and a clear scope for the project. They decided right then not to involve me; obviously, they were more interested in playing around with my mind than in getting something done. They knocked on that door, and I didn’t answer according to their script.

I think about sibling situations, such as what I’ve had with my sister. Usually the oldest tend to give, the youngest receive. Whenever I was tapped out, my sister would throw a fit. How dare I not give her more? In the end, it’s “my fault” I “ruined her life.”

sistersister

I have to say it again: Our narcissism complements theirs. Somebody returned that serve.

Nobody does anything without a payoff. What was yours?

There is only one payoff in this world: Being “right.” Feeling like you’re OK.

Because very few people really believe that about themselves to begin with.

Paradoxically, I think the best cure for narcissism is to actually think of yourself as great. You ARE great, but that’s no big deal. Narcissism is trying to prove something you don’t actually believe.

I don’t need someone who manipulates others to tell me I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread. But I keep putting the quarters in that machine, dont’ I? Ka-ching: “Pretty girl, pretty girl.” Ka-ching, ka-ching: “Good girl, good girl.”

sistersister

Hey, Flowerpower:

One trick I learned that keeps unwanted people from showing up is just to stop thinking about them — stop fantasizing about what they’re going to do, then what I’m going to do, etc. When they stop renting space in my head, they’ll stop renting it in my world, too. I acknowledge that I’ve “completed” everything I need to complete with that person, and we’re done.

I can’t guarantee this works every time, but it has worked for me a number of times, especially against a former roommate who was stalking me.

Elizabeth Conley

“Having expectations of the other person: I recognized this when I was asked to work on a project recently. I asked for a clear deadline, and a clear scope for the project. They decided right then not to involve me; obviously, they were more interested in playing around with my mind than in getting something done. They knocked on that door, and I didn’t answer according to their script.”

I’ve been through the same pattern. Asking for deadlines and a clear scope for a project definitely helps to figure out how serious the organizers are. If they’re not serious about getting something accomplished, then why bother to involve oneself? Better to wish them luck then to get involved.

I don’t think that poor organizers are always trying to “play with participant’s heads”. Often they simply have a goal in mind other than the stated one. To some nonprofits, just generating a group of excited, motivated people to draw from as a resource pool is a goal in itself. Unfortunately, that ulterior motive can really PO the more driven, results oriented volunteers.

Elizabeth Conley

Well Oxy,

Right now I’m blessed with a lot of very productive labor. If I give time and energy to someone, I take it away from someone else. Sometimes that someone is me. I need a few hours a week to unwind, or I get cranky.

Someday I’ll give to strangers again. My kids will grow up, our parents will pass on and my husband isn’t a particularly needy guy. There will be some to spare when I’m not focused on my golden-years career.

The thing is, no strangers. I mean it. Oh, I still change a flat, offer up my jumper cables, give to charities, donate to thrift stores and the like. I just don’t want to work with virtual strangers in a non-profit any more. I’d rather start something with a friend or two, people who I know for a fact are mentally stable and sincere.

In a for profit business, I don’t mind strangers so much. After all, a for profit business has a bottom line and goals that can be readily defined. Success and productivity are easier to define in such situations.

Ox Drover

“the road to hell is paved with good intentions” and we all know that. There are lots of really “nice” but INCOMPETENT ORGANIZERS in various organizations….they are not “goal oriented” or “driven to accomplish” something. Just like at work, I had to work with people who just weren’t able to organize themselves out of a paper bag, but that is part of the challenge is to work with these people and still accomplish something toward the goal. I finally saw that and realized I couldn’t change these people into goal directed, organized folks. So if I wanted to accomplish the goal, I had to do it in spite of their resistence sometimes.

Depends on how important to me that the goal is…and how set upon accomplishing it that I am.

I worked on a volunteer group after a tornado once and we spent our time (most of it) sorting through RAGS and DIRTY clothing that people had “donated” to the cause to find the fewer items that were worth giving to the people who lost their homes. I swear it made me so tooth grinding mad that people would be so….well, whatever word you want to apply!!!!!

The last tornado collection that was taken up here (I donated to but didn’t organize) was well done, they inspected what they took in, and things that they had too many of they either turned it away, or collected it for another group (DV shelter) Clothing and household and other items were organized and put out like a store in our community center where people could “shop” easily and pick out what they needed or wanted. WELL done.

after this last tornado a couple of years ago, I took in a homeless horse that ended up being a problem because the owner a) didn’t know how to take care of a horse b) couldn’t afford to adequately feed and pay vet costs for the horse c) the horse was DANGEROUS (bit her owner’s breast nearly OFF!) and I actually had to load (a BIG job for an adult horse that did not know how to even lead) and transport this horse to the next place for it to “live” before it hurt its owner again, her children or other animals here on the farm.

When extending a helping hand some people interpret that to mean you are taking responsibility for providing for them for the rest of their lives. I about did that with the horse! But we have to learn to set boundaries in our helping so it does NOT become “enabling.” That’s not always an easy “call” but it is what we need to work on I think, expecially the “WE that includes ME!”

Elizabeth Conley

…about those PO’d driven and results oriented volunteers:

A friend of mine just gently recused himself from a political action group because they kept holding pointless and unproductive “emergency” meetings.

Unlike the organizers, he was an educated, well traveled professional with many commitments to his family and friends. He joined the group not to talk about doing things, but to actually get things done. If they weren’t going to get anything done, then he felt he needed to pour his time, talent and resources into another group.

Needless to say, I heartily agreed with him. So did the rest of his friends. The stated cause of the organization was something we all agreed with, but no one among us felt we had time to waste. We would have done the same thing he did.

Ox Drover

Dear EC,

Ah yes, I agree with you there. That’s for sure!

I am learning to say NO to people who try to recruit me for things that I don’t want to do, too. Even when they try to “guilt” me into giving in. I wish I had learned to set boundaries a lot sooner, but “better late than never” I guess.

Cat

GREAT ARTICLE! Thank you so much for this! I found that when I started changing my boundaries, it DID have an affect, not just on my ex-spath, but on others around me as well. I was raised in a home where what you had, you shared. It was that simple. When I started saying NO to my ex, I found that I also had to start saying NO. His game was to go to those around me and paint me as this person who was cold and selfish. At one point, I quit communicating with anyone who had contact with him. It wasn’t healthy it crossed my boundaries.
Two simple little letters with such a powerful message! NO. It was hard for me to learn how to say it, but I use it now when I need to and I find that the more I practice saying it, the easier it becomes.

Ox, the “guilt” thing can be hard, but I’m learning on that one too! I pay close attention to the one pulling that on me and that’s a very helpful factor!

HeightofConfusion

Hi Everyone

But what do you do if you dont want to lose the person in your life who is using you?
Surely if you change your behaviour and stop giving them what they want they will leave and find someone else who will.
I would rather be used than lose the people in my life I care about – but I guess thats why I’m messed up

blueskies

:(I want to jump in commando style and kid-nap you …send you to Nepal and make you walk back…then you’ll see reason.xxx Sigh.

witsend

HeightofConfusion,
What about the person who is using you and you giving them everything they want, leaving you anyways when they find someone with something more to offer? What then? They will leave when they choose to leave, regardless of how you let them use and abuse you.

That is the thing about an abusive realtionship. You give. They take. And when he is done, he is done. Moves on. If he doesn’t kill you first.

Height are you still seeking therapy? You really need someone in real life to help you through this as well as venting here.
Your addmitance to let him use and abuse you, rather than “loose” him, is really disturbing and heart wrenching at the same time.
I hope that you are being as raw and honest to your therapist, as you are on this forum.

I wish there was something that someone could say to REACH you, so that you would UNDERSTAND that you are allowing yourself to be used and abused, by having the mind set that you have….And thinking this is “ok”. When it is NOT ok.

You deserve better. Even if you don’t think you do you do.

What keeps you there? Fear of him or fear of being alone? Can you answer this question?

libelle

Dear Hight, that is the state we all have been, I guess, at least I have been there. It is like going cold turkey with a drug being an addict to said drug, as they occupy the same region in our brain!! Stay here, blog and read BUT DO NOT RECONNECT!!! He/she is pure evil poison for you, you are in confusion and in the fog. Be nice to yourself, get out, do a walk, clean the windows, work out at the gym, BUT PLEASE STAY NC (NO CONTACT)!

Try to think something nice, what would you like to GET instead of GIVE! That you are a wonderful lovable and marvellous person who simply deserves the very best and not being sucked up and spat out at the discretion of a jerk at best.

Try to think of a special nasty moment when you had this feeling of a hot burning stone in your stomach, when he devalued you, maybe in front of people? You were embarrassed but put a happy face seemingly not noticing it because you deserved not any better because you never ever will meet his standards of the pedestal he put you in the first place, as hard you can ever try.

You are far better, and your thoughts of him are noble. But he is not worth your thoughts, because he does not care about your thoughts. He cares about food, shelter, sex, maybe accompaniment; business it is for him! (in exchange you are allowed to walk in HIS shadow and HE gracefully accepts your presence every once in a while until he gets tired of your existence and then you have to transform into a … enter favourite passtime without you).

When he wants to use somebody, there are services for a fee for every job. And you want to do it for free and get bad treatment??

Just say once the magic word “NO” and see what happens. The ones who like YOU will continue to show up and care for your wellbeing and vice versa, and for the others: I refer to this wonderful blog entry!

The bad thing is when my self esteem was low I could not allow myself to use the word NO, but it is vital to overcome this fear of using the magic word “NO”. Just think about when HE is using it (constantly, am I right?) The wonderful thing is that you can say it NON VERBAL! Just show NO REACTION! If you are in treatment maybe you can rehearse the situations with your therapist, or can you try to use the word NO in harmless everyday situations. Example: If someone is trying to force you to buy at the groceries something you do not REALLY want but you are too embarrassed to say no? Been there done that!

I wish you all the best and send you a big cyberhug! (((((( 🙂 ))))))

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