When Guilt Becomes Weaponized

There are some people in this world that only care about one thing, and that is being in control. Being in control of their lives is not enough for them, they also want control of your life and anyone else’s that they are able to get their claws into.

With the right technique they can use you and abuse you, leaving you distraught but none the wiser. Most of the time the manipulative individual is aware of what they are doing, and other times they may not be aware. Everybody screws up and acts inappropriately at times, but there are some people out there who make a lifestyle out of being careless with the well-being of others.

Have you ever had a person in your life that was absolutely toxic to your well being?

Did you try your best to satisfy them and earn their approval?

Yet every time some issue was addressed another one would crop up leaving you constantly feeling on the defensive and inadequate.

Usually these individuals that deploy such manipulative techniques rely on negative reinforcement. They won’t often compliment you, take a deep interest in your life or support you when your goings get tough. They’re only interested in kicking you when you’re down and keeping you obedient. They want you to be reliant on them for approval and to overlook their own hypocrisy.

The sad truth is that it’s usually the best kinds of people that end up falling victims to these manipulative tactics because moral people tend to first look inside and pass judgement on themselves before anybody else. I know because I’ve been one of them.

They don’t mean to hurt anyone and if someone was offended by something that they had done or said, than it makes them feel upset about that. If you had a narcissistic parent growing up, it’s even harder to break free from that cycle of self-loathing because you’ve been trained to feel that way your entire life.

I’ve had my share of experiences with these cruel and selfish people in my lifetime. Up until a few years ago, I was sort of a martyr in my own life, putting the happiness of others before my own. I had been taught by certain members of my family that my own feelings, needs and wants didn’t matter as much as the needs and wants of others. I was made to feel guilty about being myself and wanting for myself.

It’s typical of narcissistic individuals to project and to use guilt as a manipulation tool to deflect from their own short comings. They devalue others so that they can appear superior to themselves, others and if you fall for it, to you as well.

A person who weaponizes guilt will constantly try to keep you off balance. They can compliment you one moment and then be running you down in the next with offhand remarks. They’ll be grateful when you give them what they want, and they’ll be scornful if you refuse.

It’s a method of control, and it works fantastically on very conscientious and empathetic individuals. That’s why it breaks my heart to hear about it.

I’ve had more than a few of these people in my life and I was really unaware as to how I was being manipulated. I figured there must be something wrong with me that I was becoming so irritated by certain people in my life and the things they’d say or do. Why can’t I just be happy like everyone else? Why can’t I just be left alone? Maybe if I try harder to be better I can finally just be happy!

After all, life’s not worth living if you’re chasing anything other than happiness. Fact.

On some level, I was aware that these people were in the wrong, but I just figured they were kind of stupid or ignorant if you prefer. So instead I became resentful, angry and did my best to hide my true self from them so that they couldn’t hurt me anymore. Don’t give them anything to criticize, I thought. I just assumed for the longest time that there was something wrong with me because I felt that I lacked real unconditional love and support in my life.

My father was extremely narcissistic. Conceited, grandiose, unapologetic, controlling and traded love for accomplishments rather than giving it freely. He was never diagnosed because he never thought he had a problem that needed fixing, what a surprise.

I can’t recall a single moment in my life where he had apologized for anything that had hurt me. I remember going through a stage of my life in high school where I was sporting black eyeliner and dyed black hair. Thanks to the likes of Green Day the ladies dug it. He made sure to mock me and ask me if I was gay. There were many months that I just refused to visit.

photo-1528999556660-bbf0d3fca270 (1)
Not me, but this picture gives me flashbacks

I used to find it funny that the family members I had who talked the most about the importance of family were the ones who stirred up the most drama and chaos. What ever happened to leading by example?

Family seems to be a wonderful facade sometimes to conceal abuse and to reinforce obedience in a hierarchy suiting people with control issues. Unfortunately, you can’t choose your family.

Aside from my relationship with my father I was also involved in an extremely toxic relationship with a French woman whom I had met while working in Australia on a working holiday visa. We had the ideal relationship at first, or so I had thought, minus a few experiences that seemed childish or inconsiderate. Yet that’s common in all relationships, no?

After we ran out of time in Australia, I had decided that I wasn’t ready to give up on the relationship but I wasn’t ready to live in France either. She was interested in coming back to Canada because she said it was a sacrifice that she’d be willing to make. This was music to my ears, I was starving for love and I brought her home with me where things began to change.

I helped her find work, supported her when she was unemployed and took charge of the immigration process. We were married just after a year back in Canada, she shed no tears at our small ceremony but seemed to find it amusing which bothered me. We were fighting by that point, but I had hoped that we could turn things around. I mean, surely we both loved each other!

I wanted things to turn out the way that I was dreaming so badly, that I was overlooking the effect that the relationship was beginning to have on me as a person. I was never one to cry, but I was beginning to cry a lot more lately. A few years later she had finally received her permanent residence in Canada. I helped her to get a job with me at my factory and shortly after she had wanted us to take a break to find ourselves.

*Insert long and dramatic eye roll*

It didn’t take long for the curtain to fall on all of her lies. I discovered that she was sleeping with one of my coworkers. Not only that, but she was spreading malicious rumors about me to justify her behavior.

After speaking with a girl from school who had been working with her at her first job in Canada, I had found out that she was sleeping with other men there too before we had even been married. She had also spread malicious rumors there as well. All of this while I was bending over backwards to please her and support her. 

Upon reflection after the relationship, I could recall her having male friends over to our apartment while I was working. I wasn’t really comfortable about it but she was quick to guilt me by labeling me as jealous or insecure. So I allowed it hesitantly. I was played like a fiddle many times over. Near the end of the relationship, I had even discovered that one of her friends she had been seeing weekly likely never even existed. This friend, according to her, had even been nearly beaten to death by a jealous boyfriend and then died in hospital over the course of many months. At first, I was never able to meet her because of a jealous boyfriend and later because she had supposedly developed a fear of men. She borrowed my vehicle for the funeral. I even left work early to support her on the day she said she had died.

Later, an old guy at work told me he couldn’t find anything about the assault in the paper, the death in the obituaries or the funeral at the funeral home she claimed to go to. The length of that relationship was just a straight up nightmare and I wasn’t even aware of it. In fact, I figured if she fell out of love with me, then I must have done something wrong.

There were so many moments where I had wanted to leave that relationship but I was reeled back in with a barrage of tears or an insincere apology to play on my empathy. Guilt was also weaponized to make me think I was the bad guy and it worked for a few years. She had packed her bags to leave me about half a dozen times during the course of our relationship and it didn’t stop until finally I told her that I agreed with her decision to leave. Then it was no longer what she wanted.

I was left absolutely jaded.

When I had finally revealed everything that had happened to my father and his wife, I was treated as if I were crazy. They encouraged me to work harder for her approval, seeing her behind my back and encouraging me to be more understanding towards her. She knew how to butter them up and compliments took precedence over family support.

My tragedy was an opportunity for my father to beat me down and display his dominance over me, but it backfired because it was the last time he would ever get that opportunity. In that moment I realized how little love there was in our relationship and decided to protect myself by cutting them out of my life entirely. Thanks but no thanks.

Years of therapy have helped me to deal with some of the scars that these relationships have left upon me. It took a while to free myself of the unworthy feelings of guilt that I possessed. I struggled for a while to remain empathetic with others because I felt that my empathy had been a weakness for exploitation.

All I felt was an overwhelming sense of betrayal and it took me years to develop the ability to trust again, although I still struggle with trusting entirely and leaving myself vulnerable people I hardly know. Sometimes I think I’ve been nearly turned off by relationships entirely.

I suppose I just wanted to write this post to warn others like me that it’s not always best to blame yourself first, even though it is a noble act to constantly strive to be better. Scrutinize the source of the criticism as well!

Are they supportive and caring or are they harsh and cruel?

Do you feel good about yourself when you’re alone or with others and terrible about yourself around them every time?

It may be time to question their motivations and the value of the relationship.

Remember that in every relationship, respect, consideration and understanding should be mutual, and nobody is perfect, but a good person will sincerely feel remorse when they mess up. Others may be incapable.

Some people will judge the value that you bring to their life based on how you make them feel. Others may value you based on what they can take from you.

When it comes to life, guilt should never be used as a weapon to hurt or control.

No person should ever want to make you feel bad. If anything they should be looking for understanding and amendment which leads to a positive way forward and healing for both parties. It’s admirable to surround yourself with those who will tell you when you have made a mistake, but beware of those who repeatedly rub them in your face.

Love is more concerned with healing than with suffering.

“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.” ― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

3 thoughts on “When Guilt Becomes Weaponized

  1. Thank you for sharing! I feel like I know you a bit better now. I’m sorry for the narcissism that was once a big part of your life. Hoping you have moved on to a better, happier life, my friend. Much love to you! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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