Upside-Down & Inside-Out: A Blog About Abusive Relationships

Living with an abusive person means learning to live in a topsy-turvy world where normal rules do not apply. It is like the movie the Poseidon Adventure where the ship gets turned upside down and the floor is the ceiling and the ceiling the floor. Yet, somehow I did break out of the invisible cage my first wife had built around me even though it was the hardest thing I've ever done. So this blog is about how we learn to live with abuse and then unlearn; it's based on my personal experience.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

SELF-CENTERED BEHAVIOR: A Common Characteristic Of Abusive People

This Is Part Of The Website

In my opinion, the one common characteristic of abusive people is that they are self-centered. I have never met an abusive person who was not this way.

They see the world through a very different lens than the rest of us. Everything is colored with their own self-interest. People who can be useful to them are given more importance, yet vital matters that don't related directly to them are given little attention.

You would think that being self-centered would mean that they have a high opinion of themselves. Oddly it is just the opposite. These people have low self-esteem, but nevertheless everything revolves around them.

I believe they cannot be happy because they cannot get outside of themselves. They cannot see the world from another's perspective. They cannot belong to something larger or be a part of something bigger than themselves. They are in a sense trapped within their own selfishness. This is one of life's strange dilemmas.

This self-centeredness explains many of their contradictions. They expect a lot from others, for example, but others cannot expect much from them. They want friends and family to understand their feelings, but they do not understand the emotions of those they love.

They are abusive because they want you to do what they ask, do it immediately and not question their demands. Yet they do not want to help with things that you find important. They want you to be there for them; but they're not interested in being available for you.

Many self-centered people are depressed. When you think about it, it makes sense. Self-centered individuals live within narrow confines; they have no point of reference other than themselves; they are, in a sense, eating themselves alive.

I am reminded of the story of how monkeys can be trapped. A small hole is drilled into a coconut just large enough to insert a banana. This coconut is then attached to a tree. The monkey comes along, smells the banana, reaches in and grabs the banana and tries to withdraw it, but with his fist around the fruit, he cannot pull out his hand. Since he is unwilling to let go, he is caught.

Self-centered people are unwilling to let go of their selfishness believing that it is essential. Yet if they could let go, they could free themselves of their self-created prison.


Blogger Professor Zero said...

Hey - just found your website, liked it, useful.

What I find about at least some abusive people is, they actually do also love and care about you. My mother is this way: both the love and the abuse are real. We hear that love isn't abusive, which I am willing to believe, but it appears to me that both love and abusiveness can be present in the same person.

Recently I got out of an abusive relationship with a man who reminds me of my mother (yes--that is how he
got me involved, as I realized much later). It was the abuse vs. love paradigm which kept me stuck in the relationship. Finally I realized, yes, he does love me and wish things were working out differently and the relationship were better, but he also wants to continue the abuse.

Both he and my mother remind me of alcoholics: it's not that they aren't interested in other things, but they are also very interested in their drinks (or, in the case of these two, in being abusive).

11:14 PM  
Blogger Anonymous-woman said...


3:49 PM  
Blogger Anonymous-woman said...

Abuse is abuse. The "love" is an act only! One abuser I know summed up their thinking in very clear terms to me: "I do it because it GETS ME WHAT I WANT." I totally agree w/the writer about self-centeredness and may I add other descriptive words that describe these vampires who leech the total life out of you (being self-centered, there is no life coming into them so...): jealous, extremely arrogant, haunty, envious of ANY hint of happiness you may possess that they don't, extremely competitive towards you, cunning, ruthless, heartless, total and complete cowards, emotionally like a BABY, the damage they do to their victims is ENORMOUS. To top it all off, there seems to be so much sympathy for their plight from others, I have had so many people "explain" to me why they do it, empathy once again for the PERP while their victims are rewounded over and over again and dwell in deep silence, hurt and pain. Seems to be if you knowed the person, the crimes are your fault, but the damage is FAR WORSE as this person we TRUSTED, LOVED our crime was to do just that, trust and love them. How sad for us indeed:( Good posts, I find working on myself and staying away from intimate relationships for now has helped enormously in my recovery from severe verbal, mental and physical abuse of my ex. Hope it gets better 4 u also...a friend who knows.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Latoledana said...

Self-centered people [unless they can find someone to stay in an abusive relationship with them indefinitely] are lonely souls and can never figure out why. Instead of revealing their true feelings in honest communication, they prefer to prevaricate and invent excuses in order to manipulate everything to what they view as their own advantage. They are "users" par exellence. They never get the point that they are, essentially, cheating themselves out of a healthy relationship, too. As long as you are admiring and flattering them, you are on their "good list". Criticism they can't brook because in their deluded minds nothing is ever their fault. They don't want to change because they believe others are lucky to be with them, just as they are. Sometimes--quite often--self-centered individuals are very charming persons who fool others a lot. Since they don't have many scruples against lying [busy lying to themselves all the time, anyway], they manage to get the sympathy of others because they're only too willing to lay the blame elsewhere. If you get involved with a self-centered person and things don't work out [and they likely won't] be prepared to have them turn as many mutual acquaintances against you as they can. They know it works because they knew people are gullible. They count on it, after all. And they seem to collect a clique of people who are as phony and poisonous as they are and are willing to damage others by malacious gossip. So it goes. But imagine the life of a person who can't even be honest with himself, doesn't have a clue as to his shortcomings and couldn't care less. Happy only when the center of attention, no matter at whose expense. The problem is--no one can always be the focus of attention. Sometimes they are just left alone with themselves. Most of us aren't too bothered by that, can stand our own company. The self-centered ones can't. It must drive them nuts. Well, they are kind of "nuts", mostly, and I've seen few really self-centered folks who weren't a part of some dysfunctional family set up, too. The self-centered ones end up dying old and alone, unless they can find a classic victim who eats up abuse--or are wealthy. Wealthy people usually have someone willing to suck up to them up to the very end. As for actual love, self-centered people find that the big problem. They can't give it in a way that's any good--and have it given back to them in the same coin. Eventually.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Frustrated Mom said...

My ex-husband was just like this. I divorced him and got rid of that crazy problem, but my oldest daughter is displaying some of the same characteristics. I love her very much and want to help her, but I don't know what to do. She is only interested in herself. She finds it offensive for adults to correct her. If she meets new people but they aren't interesting to her, she sticks her nose up and wants nothing to do with them. This keeps me from having normal relationships with other people, because I can't go to other peoples houses because she will sit and pout and make it difficult because she withdraws and has a mad look on her face. I've started taking her to counseling. She also has cut herself before. It seems like when someone does something wrong to her its a big deal, but if she does something wrong its not a big deal at all. I would love to hear other peoples comments back, especially Rick Doble since he has personal experience with this. I can very well relate to his experiences because it was similar to my own abuse experiences when I was married.

9:58 AM  

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