Awesome Tammy’s Burning Question: “Why do I keep attracting abusers? I have brilliant honest, open, respectful, loyal and loving relationships. The problem I have is they want to know why I am so nervey. I explain about PTSD due to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual abuse. They all become more loving. Then a while later things change and they then go on to abuse me. Currently my partner is an emotional abuser and cannot see it. My mum was abused my stepdad the abuser. At school I was bullied. At work people shunned me or manipulated me. I have high standards and time and again someone tramples on them when knowing about my past or just because of how I look (I am scrawny and have the body of a ten year old, but my face shows I’m in my thirties). No one, even total strangers, want to talk or listen to me. When someone rolls their eyes and pretends you don’t exist and looks above you to talk to the person behind you, you realize you are being blanked. Why do I attract abusers and how can I accept my true potential of amazingness when absolutely no one listens, ignores me, physically abuses me?
My daughter now copies this behavior. I do stand up for myself only for it to fall on deaf ears. I know I can control personal relationships to a certain extent but people you meet day to day. My daughter copies anyone because she is 2. She doesn’t listen to me anymore despite how assertive, angry, extremely upset I am. I don’t want her seeing this anymore. Please help.”
Dear Awesome Tammy,
Thanks so much for having the courage to write in and ask for help. I want to warn you right here, though. I feel like I need to do an intervention here, so I’m going to kick your butt a little bit. It’s time to stop the momentum you’ve got going, which requires me to be totally honest and well, quite frankly, just a wee bit on the blunt side. I’m going to assume that since you wrote me and not Dear Abbey, that you’re ready for it. Here we go:
Your daughter is not copying others. She’s responding to your vibration and mirroring back to you how you feel about yourself. So is everyone else. You keep attracting abusers because you see yourself as a victim. Pure and simple.
Are you a victim?
Notice that I didn’t say that you ARE a victim. You simply see yourself as one. And the Universe could not disagree more. When you ask people to treat you better because of the abuse you suffered in the past, you’re asking them to feel sorry for you. You’re not asking them to treat you with respect because not doing so is simply unacceptable behavior, because EVERYONE deserves to be respected and you don’t need any more justification than that, dammit. You’re saying “I’m weak and can’t defend myself, so please be nice to me.” Only, that’s just not true. You’re an infinitely powerful being with the power to create entire realities with a mere thought. And the way you feel when you insist that you’re a victim is your message that you’re not one. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
You don’t want to be treated badly. Of course you don’t. But you’re not successfully sending that message to the Universe, and therefore not attracting better behavior from those around you. When you send the false message that you’re weak and powerless, you will attract circumstances and people that will mirror that back to you. They’ll show you just how horrendous that powerlessness feels, so that you’ll hopefully get the message and change your vibration to one that feels a whole lot better. This is not done to punish you, or because you actually ARE weak. It is done precisely because you are NOT powerless, but strong and capable and not in any way obligated to put up with being treated badly. In other words, you don’t have to put up with people’s bullshit and it’s about time you actually said so.
You say that you’ve stood up for yourself, but I’m willing to bet money on the fact that you haven’t really. Not in a way that actually sets a boundary. You see, a true boundary is one that gets enforced. It’s not negotiable. If people treat you badly and you tell them to stop (not ask, tell), and they don’t, you have to be willing to walk away from them. You either have to fight or flee. You can’t continue to tolerate being abused and send the message that you’re no longer willing to be abused. You can’t back down. Only then will you actually be embodying the energy of someone who is worth being treated well, since you won’t tolerate anything less. You have to be willing to honor yourself enough to protect yourself, the way you would your child if someone were to mistreat her.
Which brings me to an excellent technique: Every time someone treats you in an unacceptable way, imagine they had done the same to your daughter. Would you react the same way? Would you timidly ask them to stop and then tolerate it if they didn’t? Or would you go after them with the vengeance of a Momma Bear? Chances are you’d cut anyone who made your daughter cry, but you’ll let people get away with far worse when it comes to how they treat you. It’s time for that to stop. Why do you not deserve to be treated equally as well? Why does your daughter warrant more protection than you do? And yes, I know it would be so much easier if only someone were to come along to protect you, but when it comes to vibration, only you can set the tone. You have to be willing to stand up for yourself first, before anyone else can.
Let go of the past
I know this is a lot to ask, but you’ll heal a lot faster if you’re willing to stop telling the story of your past abuse. I’m going to guess that you’ve told that story often enough. It’s time to move on and focus on the NOW. If you want to create a different outcome, you have to willing to tell a new story. How about this one: Once upon a time there was an Awesome warrior chic named Tammy, who realized that she was letting people treat her badly. So, one day, she decided that this was not acceptable anymore and no longer tolerated being the punching bag for anyone having a bad day.
Oh sure, at first the peasants revolted, having gotten so used to vomiting their nastiness all over her any time they felt like it. After all, she had never truly protested before. Like children, they threw tantrums and wailed and bitched and manipulated their hearts out. But when they realized she meant business, as she ignored their protests and gently yet firmly escorted them from the premises informing them that they would be welcome back only if were willing to play by HER rules, they quickly came around. Some, not yet ready to interact on a respectful level with anyone, stayed away. But many came back, humbled and with a much more respectful disposition.
And they all lived happily ever after.
That’s a nice story, isn’t it? Well, you can make that your reality, but just like the warrior chick, you have to be willing to stand your ground. This means, first and foremost, that you have to be willing to walk away. You have to be willing to let everyone who isn’t willing to follow your rules to gravitate out of your reality. You have to be willing to prioritize yourself and how you feel over how they feel. If they get upset, so be it. After all, they’ll be getting upset about the fact that you won’t let them be mean to you anymore. Honestly, is that something you want to cater to??
If you’re not sure what kinds of rules to set, here’s an example. Think of it like a dress code or rules of conduct posted outside a night club. If you post the rules and enforce them, all the people who do make it past the bouncer will have a great time. If you let just anyone come in, you’ll soon have a club full of douchebags and the awesome people won’t come anywhere near the premises.
1.) You must be kind to be in my life in any significant way.
2.) You must be respectful. You don’t have to love me or like me, but if you disrespect me, the conversation is over. I will assume that this is a sign that we are not meant to converse.
3.) If you are mean to me, the conversation is over. I don’t care if you have more to say. If you can’t speak to me like an adult, you don’t get to speak to me at all.
4.) If you start screaming at me, the conversation is over. We can talk about it after you calm down and apologize.
5.) If you say something nasty to me and then pretend it was a joke, I will call you on that shit. You are not funny and you were not joking. What you did was sling your own pain at someone else and then, too embarrassed to own it, pretend it was in jest. I will be kind in the way I call you on it, though, since I follow my own rules. I will simply calmly ask you “How was that funny?” Then I’ll shut up and will look at you until you explain your “joke”. Yes, it will be awkward. For you.
6.) My friendship is a precious thing. I don’t give it out easily. You must be as good of a friend to me as I am to you in order to qualify. No exceptions.
Do you see a pattern here? You have to be willing to end the conversation, walk away and stop the abuse immediately. The message has to be: “If you are not willing to respect my rules, you don’t get to come into my club.” People who are abusive don’t get to talk to you. They don’t get to engage with you. And that has to include your partner.
Your size has nothing to do with it
You may be petite, but trust me, that has nothing to do with how people treat you. Some of the most powerful women I know are tiny little spitfires. No one would dare mess with them. But how you carry yourself has a lot to do with how people react to you, since it’s a direct reflection of your energy. Walk proudly, with your shoulders back. Dress in ways that make you feel powerful and attractive (dress to kill). Stay calm (true strength is calm, violence actually represents weakness and insecurity.) Don’t yell but speak loud enough to make yourself heard (don’t ask for permission to speak with your tone. Just launch into it like you have every right to do so. Because you do.) Carry yourself with authority, like you run the place. Basically, get into the feeling of someone who is respected, someone who wouldn’t put up with even an iota of BS; become warrior chick Tammy.
You can actually visualize yourself as a warrior woman in order to get into this feeling. See yourself as tall and strong and yielding a powerful sword. You can even fantasize about lobbing people’s heads off in order to get rid of some anger. Get revenge in your imagination. Empower yourself.
You can also replay past events where people treated you badly and see yourself reacting differently. For example, if your boyfriend said something mean to you, see yourself telling him to fuck off. Yes, seriously. You can disagree with each other, but being mean is not acceptable in a relationship. If he’s not kind to you, there’s no reason for you to be with him. There is no justification for staying in an abusive relationship. Ever. Not even that “he doesn’t realize it”. Make him aware of it and walk away if he doesn’t apologize profusely and changes. He doesn’t have to agree that his behavior is abusive in order for it to be so. If you find his behavior unacceptable, you get to walk away. He doesn’t get a vote. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that emotional abuse isn’t “that bad”. It has the same root as physical abuse. Get out.
You don’t have to be a bitch
While a little bitchiness is preferable to being a doormat, you don’t have to become a total ballbuster in order to have boundaries. You can enforce your limits gently yet firmly. You can walk way, or kindly call people on their BS. Just as long as you don’t back down. But here’s the thing: you won’t have to confront for long. As soon as you become totally unwilling to put up with being mistreated, as soon as you respect yourself enough to really draw a line, as soon as you truly begin to see yourself as strong and powerful (for which you need no evidence. Just start looking at yourself that way), you’ll shift into a completely different reality where those who would abuse you no longer have access to you.
What you can’t do is worry about how people will feel. Or about what they’ll think. Or about fitting in. After all, would you let someone mistreat your child just to spare their feelings? Of course not. Be just as strict about protecting yourself.
Although changes in your behavior will have some effect, the real difference will be made by the shifts in your vibration. As you begin to honor yourself and your own boundaries more, you’ll begin to send the message to the Universe that you are now worth respecting. You’ll become an energetic match to people who feel good enough about themselves not to feel the need to abuse others. You’ll become a match to kindness and courtesy. You’ll feel stronger and more powerful. And your daughter will have a powerful female role model who commands attention and respect.
Remember: You are amazing. You are worth getting to know and spending time with. Those who don’t honor that or who abuse the privilege, don’t get to have access to your fabulousness anymore. Period.
Here are some additional blog posts and coaching calls that explore this subject: