If the first rule is “Don’t negotiate with terrorists,” the second rule is this: “Whenever possible, limit your meaningful interactions with manipulative people.” Even though almost no one does so, it is equally true that we should pay the price as soon as possible with such people. That we’re going to have a go-to-Hell argument with them at some point is a certainty; delaying it wounds us incrementally and perpetually until we lunge toward the chance to pay the price and break the bond.
A friend of mine has struggled for years with someone who masterfully whiplashes people around her. She gaslights and triggers. Rarely, however, does she leave a smoking gun that her victims can point to in protest. The subtlety is akin to a razor blade cutting the skin sufficiently to cause bleeding and persistent minor pain. The accumulation of such cuts, however, turns even the most compassionate person into a cauldron of irritation.
This segues into a post I started yesterday morning.
From Madam Anon, the anonymous commenter who sometimes writes to me.
Madam Anon sent me this list, asking if it would be helpful:
Do you feel like they try to control you?
Do you feel like the person is good for your mental health?
Do you feel like the person lets you be you?
Does the person ask how you are?
Do you feel the person responds to you with enthusiasm or with an obligatory response?
Do you feel like you can let your guard down with them and not think about their response to you?
Do they pop into your head when you hear stories of positive care people or the opposite?
Would you characterize the person in question as “good,” however you define the word?
If you’re otherwise a good person, you should trust your instincts about a person. Ask yourself the above questions. Since all of human behavior exists on a sliding scale and a fluid Venn diagram, you have to take the variables into account and decide for yourself how toxic the person in question is to your well-being.
Above all, if you get a letter or card signed “Love, Jerry,” pour holy water on it. Once it stops sizzling, bury it in the backyard under the light of the full moon.
Life’s too short to endure manipulation, even if it is due to familial obligation. If you can’t beat them, be creative. Their unavoidable presence in your life at least presents you with the opportunity to try unusual methods of repaying them for their unkindness.
The link below is in the same ballpark of observation: