Dealing with Emotional Blackmail – Phase 3
CHANGING THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT.
Quite simply – stop engaging.
Some phrases you can use to head off an emotional blackmail attack are:
“No”. “I can’t talk to you now.” “I’m not giving into your demands any more. I’ve done that in the past – but now, I’m done with that. It’s finished.”
Don’t enter into discussion because that cunning Spider will always win; you may think you’ve scored a point and then your son comes back with three, four, five other points that are cunningly aimed to get under your radar and stir up that guilt and fear. So give yourself a break and practise the art of walking away. If you are in the same room or somewhere outside when he starts with his nonsense, literally walk away. If you wish, you can tell him before you walk away that you will not be taking any more of this manipulative behaviour; but it’s not compulsory. You can also make this new strategy part of your Plan of Action and if you wish, you can send your son a letter outlining how things will be between you from now on.
The main thing is that you own your power in this situation. (I deliberately am not using the word ‘control’ here because we need to steer clear of that. Remember that we are powerless to change other people – so control is not an option).
No-one is going to get you out of this rut except you. If you can find a counsellor to coach you in this – great. Otherwise, Al-Anon meetings are CRUCIAL for reminding ourselves to stick to our guns. We go, we share, we listen to others and how they have set their boundaries. Gradually, imperceptibly at first, we find that setting the boundaries and sticking to them becomes easier. It’s like strengthening a physical muscle.
But the fear is still there, I know.
Now the thing that keeps us from carrying out this plan and setting our boundaries is FEAR. And that of course, is what Addiction relies on. And it’s what our son knows to be his greatest weapon. That 2am terror when you wake up and the mind starts with all its ‘what ifs’. Your son may even be ringing you at this ungodly hour and guilt-tripping you when you are at your most vulnerable…
2am terror strategy
Don’t answer that phone.
If you find you’ve answered it ‘to make sure it’s not a call from the hospital’ then – as soon as you can gather your wits about you – tell your son that you will not talk to him at this hour of the night. He has no right to disturb your sleep – and put the phone down. Put it somewhere that you can’t hear it when he rings back.
Light a candle – or several candles. Say the Serenity Prayer. Imagine a cloak of light around you. Imagine a cloak of light around your son. Remind yourself that a Higher Power is looking after both of you and everyone in the family. If you ‘do Angels’ – ask the Angels of Light Love and Healing to take care of your beloved son. Make a hot drink and then sleep again if you possibly can.
With time, you will work out your own strategy for these deeply challenging episodes. My heart goes out to you.
This is what every parent dreads.
Addicts are master-manipulators. Right or wrong?
Yes, they manipulate us for all they’re worth. And yet No – it’s not them so much as Addiction itself that is the manipulator.
Suicide threats are often just part of the emotional blackmail, because the Addict knows that’s how she can hit you hardest – in your core. At the same time, we cannot overlook them.
So if your Addict makes suicide threats, tell her that you will seek professional help to deal with this as you are concerned for her. You can say you will go to the GP if she won’t. You can say that if you become worried enough, you will call an ambulance and she will be admitted to hospital for her own safety. That tactic is likely to sort out just how authentic the threat is. You’ll be able to tell by her reaction.
Unfortunately, it’s very often the case that people who really are contemplating suicide don’t tell anyone of their intention. Bear that in mind – but at the same time, please listen carefully to your intuition. Look into your son or daughter’s eyes. If their eyes are ‘blank’, lifeless and empty-looking, that is telling you something ( I have seen this in my son’s eyes once, and I knew something was terribly wrong). Call an ambulance if you feel in your gut that your child is really in danger.