One of Ralph’s daughters tried to bully Ralph into giving her everything she wanted at every moment to make up for the sins she felt he’d committed years ago. Ralph and the other children thought his only fault was giving her too much. She tried to rally the other children to beat Ralph into submission or she tried to manipulate them into hating Ralph. Everyone in the family knew it was her way or the highway; there was no in between, no peace except through taking her side. They knew disagreement started a war to the death with her.
Rachael’s parents always controlled her. When she was growing up, if she didn’t do exactly what they wanted, she was abused physically, mentally and emotionally. Her most important job was to be obedient, to submit and to serve. Even though she was now grown and had her own family, they told her she had to honor them by doing everything they wanted immediately. If she ever protested or refused, they got everyone in the extended family to threaten her. They also got everyone in town and in the Church to pressure her.
Bullies and narcissists create cults. Some of the characteristics of these cults are:
- You don’t know what’s right or true; you can’t trust yourself or your judgment. That message to Rachael created great self-questioning and self-doubt all her life. She lacked self-confidence and self-esteem. She couldn’t trust her intuition. For example, when she was tormented by her parents, they said those were acts of love. She should feel guilty if she disagreed or was angry.
- They’re right; they know everything; they can justify everything; you must submit to their wisdom and authority. Ralph’s daughter knew the truth about every voice tone or facial expression she didn’t like. Everything Ralph did showed he loved the other children more. Nothing he did was ever right or good enough, even when she changed her mind every moment about what she wanted. It was all-or-none, black-and-white; she knew everything, he knew nothing.
- You must believe everything; you must follow all the rituals the way they want. Rachael’s parents insisted she never doubt or question their authority. All family holidays and birthdays must be done exactly the way they wanted or else. Rachael’s parents insisted she shun anyone they didn’t like at the moment, including her husband’s parents. She was not allowed to be nice to them.
- You must be their slave or servant. Ralph must sacrifice everything for that one daughter and leave everything to her. He must rescue and enable her whenever she wanted. His wishes didn’t count, only hers were important. He must submit to her verbal beatings with a smile and grovel for her forgiveness. He could show he was sorry and took all the blame by giving her everything. She treated him with contempt.
- You are held hostage; if you try to leave the cult you’re an infidel; people who are not in the cult are infidels. Anyone who didn’t agree with Rachael’s parents were bad and sinful, and whatever was done to them was deserved. Minor infractions could be treated with major punishment. If Rachael ever tried to leave the cult, they would pursue her, ruin her; she would fail in life, starve, be alone forever or be damned to hell. Everyone should attack her because that’s what we must do to infidels. They used force, emotional blackmail, manipulation and guilt.
Ralph and Rachael felt stuck.
They correctly saw they were being presented with all-or-none choices: submit or lose everything. Ralph would never see one set of grandchildren and might be estranged by his other children also. Rachael was haunted by guilt and fear if she didn’t give in to her loving and needy parents.
Both Ralph and Rachael faced their choices and decided they would not be slaves or servants to bullies or narcissists, even in their own families. They would not accept the abuse; temper tantrums were not acceptable; no excuses. They required high standards of behavior.
They were surprised.
When they took strong stands, many people took their sides, including Ralph’s other children and Rachael’s husband and children. They’d simply been waiting for Ralph and Rachael to stand up for themselves and for high standards of polite, civil behavior.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
- Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.