I need to interject something here. It’s so important, I’m creating today’s post as a page as well.
Never before has there been such a wealth of information on the various forms of covert abuse — personality disorders such as clinical narcissism and psychopathy, relational aggression, emotional, verbal and psychological abuses.
You can find countless articles, entire websites and ever growing numbers of online support communities throughout various social media. Wherever there’s the ability for groups to form, you’re more than likely to find not one but many self-help groups. And new teachers and authors, certified or self proclaimed are cropping up everywhere.
And that’s wonderful. A large part of my own healing has come from reading the stories of other women in my situation, and their kindness and generosity in answering my questions or validating my experiences. In turn, I have become one of many who have stepped into that stream of self-help on the internet.
It’s a wonderful opportunity for growth and discovery. It’s also a cause for caution.
There are two areas in which one could find oneself in potentially harmful situation: well-meaning support groups turn bad, and a predator’s snare. Well-meaning support groups can turn into ugly group dynamics from people who are still dealing with their own issues. And predators, well, they are there for one reason — to prey on the vulnerable.
I’ve witnessed both.
My point is simple. Trust those who have earned your trust. These are people you know.
Respect all others, learn from them, be inspired by them, and give them the general benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise, but trust is personal. Trust God to guide you. But do not trust others to be godlike to you. They are flawed human beings, and as such, in the end you must always take responsibility for discerning what is right for you.
Take me for instance. Do you know me? You may like my writings, you may enjoy my music, but do you know me? Have we ever sat together and spoken eye to eye, heart to heart? If not, you’re missing a critical evaluation tool.
You know even if you meet someone in person or have spent time with them, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily trustworthy. Why throw caution to the wind online?
Now, having said that, I will say that even in support groups that evolved into disruptive dynamics and articles written by shady teachers, I have found helpful material. That didn’t mean I accepted everything without a critical eye or dismissed everything I learned without taking what was helpful.
But when it was time to leave, I left and found sources of information that were more inline with the principals I hold. It’s just that initially, it took me a while to leave, and I consequently suffered more wounding at the places I had come to for help.
But I learned, and what I learned was to ask myself this:
Am I becoming more and more empowered from those who offer to help me or am I becoming more and more dependent?
Whether it’s inadvertently on those who genuinely want to help or those who genuinely want to help themselves to you, the bottom line is your level of empowerment.
Don’t throw it away or be seduced to part with it.
[Second part of this article coming this week.]