She loves to wrestle with her dad. That’s one of her favorite things to do and something by both enjoy. And she loves eating crabs and watching a good movie. That’s one of his favorite things to do.
It’s also what makes being verbally and emotionally abused so hard. Any abuse any time is difficult, but when it’s intermittent, not matter how frequently it’s like having your hope dashed over and over again. It becomes a series of “little deaths” so that eventually you find you’ve become a zombie.
Narcissism is insidious form of torture. It rips your heart apart in ways that are difficult, if not impossible to heal. Not just within the relationship but within your self.
That’s what makes me worry the most. It’s not what she has to go through day in and day out when she’s with him. It’s what it’s teaching her about love, about trust, about men.
I don’t just listen. I talk to her a lot. My main goal is to help her to become aware of what’s going on inside her, so that she can make empowering choices for herself. So she can discern and determine whether a particular dynamic is working for her or not, if she wants this in her relationship with men.
Knowledge, Awareness and Choice
But I know from experience how your emotional reality can be so different from your intellectual one, and how deep seated psychological dynamics can put you on the auto pilot of selective vision, rationalization and justification. You wind up heading toward a destination you never wanted to go.
But I didn’t have anyone spelling things out for me, when I was younger. And dd is already showing that she has an awareness and insight that it took me decades to arrive. So I am very hopeful…and I need to hang around, be there for her as long as I can. Even as a woman, she will need me. When her hormones kick in and biology exerts its very strong pull on her, she will need someone with a little more clarity to help her navigate those sometimes very murky waters. Because even though we’re not ducks, there is a very strong force, a kind of “imprinting” that goes on in children with their parents.
They say you are attracted to your parent in your partner. Some quality, characteristic. And it doesn’t have to be the opposite sex parent.
So, I ask her to be conscious of how she feels when she’s with me and how she feels when she’s with him, and ask her what emotional state of being does she prefer. She always says the way I make her feel. She likes feeling like she’s being heard, loved and cared for. She likes to be respected.
I tell her then these are the qualities to look for in a relationship with a man – someone who makes her feel like that and to run – not rescue – from any man who makes her feel like her father does.
Perhaps that is the most powerful gift I can give her. Awareness not only of the dynamics that may be affecting her, but awareness that she has a choice.