Here is the most recent article written by Shrink4Men’s resident CrazyBuster, Micksbabe. As usual, she nails it:
One of the life lessons I’ve learned, through grievous trial and error, is the importance of Boundaries. Not just in interpersonal relationships, but in all facets of life. Some might consider me un-trusting. And that would be accurate. I trust very few people. My fortress walls are very fortified.
If you’ve spent any portion of your recent life living with a high-conflict person (HCP)/abusive personality disordered individual (APDI), you have no doubt had the walls of your fortress pummeled, blown up and decimated, to the point where you were completely vulnerable and became cannon fodder for the HCP. This is what HCP’s do.
And even though you may have “escaped” living with the HCP, whatever “radar” you may or may not have had before the HCP, was also decimated. Your bar of acceptable abuse was lowered. You have probably lost some sense of what normal/healthy/acceptable interactions are.
Unless or until you learn how to combat boundary infractions, you will continue to be fodder for HCPs – either from your ex (if you have children together and must remain in contact), or from future HCP predators who will sniff you out like wolves to a wounded rabbit. You must be retrained.
One of the best books I ever read on the subject of boundaries is a book called, “The Gift of Fear,” written by Gavin deBecker. His book touches on our inherent animal instincts and how we, as a culture and society, take great pains to ignore and suppress our animal instincts in order to maintain civility and avoid wars and conflicts. The problem with this is that, while we are resisting the urge to violate other people, we are also ignoring the warning signs that predatory humans (HCPs and APDIs) are sending us. HCPs/APDIs are NOT ignoring their animal instincts, but count on the fact that you are ignoring yours. HCP’s ARE PREDATORS.
Wolf in sheep’s clothing. One of the toughest things about identifying an HCP/APDI is that they wear clever disguises. Look at pictures of Casey Anthony. Does anyone think she looks like a child killer? How about your ex-HCP significant other? Would you have ever thought that she was capable of the manipulation, deceit and destruction that she inflicted upon you?
The problem with HCPs is that they usually don’t have fangs and claws. They look like computer geeks, piano tuners, executives, doctors, teachers, politicians, party girls and housewives. In fact, whatever disguise the HCP wears, they are, in many cases, very successful in their roles. People who are not burdened with things like conscience, guilt, remorse or empathy, can go very far in life.
Testing the fortress walls. An HCP will always begin assessing your fortress’ weaknesses by testing the walls. Have you ever met someone who immediately asked you a question or said or did something that made you feel uncomfortable? I’ve noticed that HCP’s are often “touchers,” meaning they will reach out and literally touch you, on the arm, back, or anywhere. Do they ask you your age? Your income? Your weight? Or do they start in on a conversation that sounds like an inquisition? Do they make sexual innuendos? Seem overly flirty? Ask for favors?
In all of these instances, if you don’t put up immediate boundaries (i.e., move away so they cannot touch you, ignore personal inquisitions, rebuff sexual advances and flatly veto demands for favors), then the HCP has found their next victim/host. And the boundary infractions will become increasingly more bold.
Reconstructing your fortress walls. I cannot stress enough the value of finding a good therapist who specializes in personality disorders. Beyond this, there are certain traits within YOURSELF that you can learn to recognize and work on, that will help you to reconstruct boundaries to protect yourself.
1. Learn to be OKAY with being the “bad guy.” Being the good guy is over-rated. “Good guy” to the HCP translates as “victim.”
2. Learn not to take things personally. So what if the HCP acts insulted when you rebuff her advances or veto her demands? You were right and she was wrong. The fact that she froths at the mouth and spins herself into a crater is her problem and is no reflection upon you. This is not your issue to own . . . or fix.
3. DEVELOP RADAR or CRAZY-DAR. NOT trusting everyone you meet does not make you paranoid or jaded. Tap back into your Dog Language. Once you’ve learned to trust your own instincts, you’ll be a better judge not only of who HCPs are, but also who your true friends are.
Thank you, Micksbabe for another slam dunk article. For those of you interested in joining the soon-to-be-built CrazyBusters Group, we’re currently looking for a developer who is knowledgeable with vbulletin CMS. If you’d like to help, please contact me (Dr Tara) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again, Micksbabe!
Shrink4Men Coaching and Consulting Services:
Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.