This week marks the two-year anniversary of my Kindred Spirit’s death inside an abusive marriage and cult. This week I’m dedicating my posts to my friend and to talking about abuse and real love. This is a conversation that needs to happen. I hope my writing will make you think about yourself or people in your own life who may be in abusive situations.
In December 2010, I had a conversation with my Kindred Spirit on the phone. “Teryn, I think I’m attracted to abuse,” she told me. I, too, was going to counseling and really wrestling through some attraction to abuse in my own life. I encouraged *Becca to go to counseling, to seek help, to face whatever was going on in her. She was never truly given that opportunity, as she was already dating the abusive man she would end up marrying. Neither of us could see it then.
Two years later, my Kindred Spirit is dead (from alleged murder). Over the last two years, I’ve really wrestled with why both she and I were specifically attracted to abuse. Although I will freely admit that I never experienced what she experienced–my inner struggles were very similar.
Although there are no simple answers to why some people tend to find themselves in abusive situations–and every situation is different–I wrote these thoughts down that apply to my Kindred Spirit (and, in a much smaller way, me). Maybe it can help someone else process…
1. There are Givers in this world. There are people who take a great joy in giving sacrificially and serving others. They want to give, give, give. They want to heal and bring joy to people by loving and serving. It is one of their deepest joys to be there for others. They are extremely loyal friends and romantic partners.
2. There can be a dark side to giving so wholeheartedly. Because Givers love to give, sometimes it’s hard for them to receive. They feel bad taking. That means Givers have a hard time voicing their own needs or concerns or dreams and standing up for themselves. Their identity is in giving. It can become an unhealthy form of people-pleasing at the expense of their own hearts.
3. There are Takers in this world. There are people in the world who like to take. They have wounds and egos that go really deep, and it’s almost like they need to have someone’s full and undivided attention, time, etc., to cope with their own insecurities. They are usually great manipulators, and everything is about them all the time.
4. Takers often find the Givers and use it to their advantage. Takers can find the Givers, and when they do, it can become abusive fast. The Giver gives, gives, gives—and often finds joy or purpose in doing it for a long while, maybe. The Taker takes, takes, takes—and finds pleasure in the arrangement. The Taker may even compliment and appreciate the Giver’s self-sacrificial personality through flattery and manipulation. But eventually, the Giver gives, gives, gives until the Giver hardly recognizes herself/himself anymore. Things can deteriorate fast. All dreams, hobbies, passions outside of the Taker have been lost. The Giver has been consumed by the Taker. This can lead to darker and darker places.
5. It is very important for Givers to recognize this fact. It is so easy for a Giver to be attracted to a Taker (in both friendships and romance) because they find so much of their worth in giving. They must learn to stand up for themselves when necessary. Givers must learn to strike a healthy balance in their lives, or they will find themselves in unhealthy relationships. Givers also must be very careful to find a romantic relationship where the other person values that giving spirit, but doesn’t take advantage of it. They must find someone who will be sensitive to their giving nature and who will also give back to the Giver, and teach the Giver about receiving, too.
We can all have a little of the Giver and Taker in us. However, I do think there are humans who are extremely on the Giver side or extremely on the Taker side. I think it’s important to evaluate this in our lives, because it could be a matter of life or death.
This is the heart behind being a Giver: True love amongst two people is about mutual respect and love that encourages both to grow, thrive, and heal. True love is about spurring another human being on to be all they can be–emotionally, spiritually, professionally, physically. Love people around you with deep and loyal loving, but be careful to find those who will truly value your heart.
Being a Taker is about control. It’s about putting someone else in a cage like an animal so that they can entertain, pleasure, and fulfill you. It’s about seeing another person as less than a person. It’s making sure a person conforms to whatever version of the world you decide is fitting. It’s about making sure the other person’s dreams or goals are squelched because you feel insecure or intimidated.
We are meant to live lives of beauty, fulfillment, dreams. If you or anyone you know has lost the ability to dream, think, or function on his or her own without feeling afraid, threatened, or controlled by a Taker… please seek help.
This post is dedicated to my Kindred Spirit.
*Name changed for privacy.