Tag Archives: tactics

Affection withdrawal as an abuse tactic… conquered

I’ve waffled and whinged and whined in this blog a lot about my aversion to hugs and tactility. I’ve bored you all with my 2017 Eureka moment where finally the Ice Queen thawed and being touched no longer makes me wants to recoil in horror and turn into a statue.

What I’ve not really dealt with though is why I’m like I am .

It’s odd; life after abuse. You have so many lingering behaviours once you’ve left , even years on some habits stick (one of these days I’ll take my phone off silent mode) Some ideas still float about your head unquestioned ,until you realise that actually those ideas are not your own ideas ,they were a seed another person planted in your head so gently that you took them and everything that grew from them on as your own but they never ever were yours. Sometimes one day , everything clicks into place and you realise that your behaviour still mirrors that of that abused woman ,and then…well then you have the power to get rid of it .

I had a bit of a Eureka moment like that over this week. I know where my hatred of affection came from , I know why I’m like I am and now I do I can banish it for good.

When I met the man who abused me I was going through a tough time , I was vulnerable . I must have been a gift to him! Now I’ve never really been a hugger ,that I can’t say is down to anything other than I’m not naturally a tactile person. He came along though and showered me with affection. At that low point in my life I soaked it up. Cuddling , touching, all the affection and compliments and kind words and gestures wrapped me up completely. I liked it , I liked being the focus of all this love and I was flattered .

Over time emotional abuse became the norm . I was manipulated and coerced into behaving a certain way. He was charming and I am a people pleaser so it probably wasn’t that much hard work to get me to do as he wished. However on one occasion I resisted . I didn’t play along with his games . I stood my ground and didn’t give in . I can’t even remember what it was that was the issue now but that day he withdrew affection and kindness and compliments and they never returned. Those strokes of the arms as he passed me , the hand squeezes that I’d relied on ,am arm around me or a peck on the cheek all disappeared immediately along with compliments and encouraging words (even only now as I write this do I realise why I hate compliments too)

As I mentioned above I am a people pleaser by nature and I’d grown to like the affection he had lavished me with. He had already done enough ground work on my head to ensure that the affection withdrawal would have the desired affect. It did. Then you see I was always striving to get that back. I was doing anything he wanted to try and pull back the affection , only now I was so very grateful for the tiniest scrap of approval he only need offer the occasional hand on the shoulder or feeble words of praise to make me feel better. I was altering my behaviour and character to get this guy to go back to his love bombing of the beginning . I was absolute putty in his hand , easily moulded to be exactly what he wanted at any given time.

I think we’re joining dots now to find out why I then became the girl that hated hugs and affection and touching. I always knew it had to be a defensive thing and it absolutely was. In my mind I could never again give anyone that kind of power ,that hold over me . I couldn’t settle in to enjoy affection because I knew how horrific it was to have it removed.

Years away from toxic relationships , therapy and this blog though have been my trio of weaponry against the damage done mentally. They’re pretty solid too these days. I talked here last week about my need for patience and yes I do absolutely need that understanding and trust if I’m going to be close to people , physically and emotionally.

You know what though ?Around someone I trust , who has proven themselves to be consistent and worth that trust and whose company I can totally relax in I DO like hugs . I like hand holding and little kisses to the face and my hair stroked. Physical contact is a primal human need and I’d deprived myself of that for way too long .

Kate on thin ice

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