I belong to 2 CPTSD/PTSD groups on Facebook. I don’t remember which one posted the question but a woman asked how she could help her little girl be happy again because they were going on a mother/daughter trip and the daddy said he would be sad while they were gone. The little tender hearted girl felt sad. I walked away from the comment because I had a strong reaction to it that I couldn’t place. I realized that I am so familiar with this manipulation “If you do this or that you will make me sad.” “If you do this or that you will make me happy.” Emotional manipulation Bing Bing Bing….We got a winner. I realized two things the mother was actually the target. Hurting the little girl was just fall out. And I realized any decision to stay home won’t make him happy.
As I sat thinking about it, no matter what I did I could not make my mother love me. But guess what? I didn’t make her hate me either. Her emotional reaction towards me was NEVER (yes, I used all caps) about me. The only way emotional manipulation works is dependent on the false belief that I can make the other person feel some emotion. I can not make the other person happy. Happiness is an inside job. I also can’t make them sad. Their sadness is also their emotion. I feel like the World just shifted on its axis. All those sessions where all of my counselors were trying to get me to see, I do not control other people’s emotion.
I still remember one discussion with my second counselor. He suggested that I try some different things. I was very worried. I said, “If I do that DH (darling husband) might get mad at me.” I still vividly remember his answer, “So.” That was it. His whole answer to my fear. As long as I believe, falsely, that I can control someone else’s emotions, they will always have power to manipulate me. This is what my first counselor meant when he told me to stop giving away my power. Wow.
I feel like running outside and shouting it was not about me. I am so excited. This is seriously cool. I can’t make people mad…..Now I can do dumb stuff and get a negative reaction but I can’t make them feel any particular feeling. Wow. Just wow. I think I’ll spend the rest of the evening basking in this splendid thought. Can’t make them happy, I can’t make them angry, I can’t make them sad….those are their choices. I can choose how I behave based on what feels right to me, not walk on egg shells wondering if I might “make” someone else unhappy, mad, upset, angry, crabby, all that stuff is not my power to create. Cool.