Sometimes resisting a bully makes things worse–maintaining boundaries while staying safe
I have a narcissistic mother who has absolutely zero respect for boundaries or my choices for my life. She runs right over them. If I try to resist, she pushes harder, and sometimes becomes enraged or even violent because she’s not getting her way. In early 2013, she had an especially bad episode that involved her triangulating with her sister and stirring up trouble until her sister, (who is emotionally unstable,) was beating on my door screaming that she was going to hurt me after my mom riled her up and told her to come to my home. I hadn’t even talked with her sister, but my mother had created a fight with lies and gossip. Again. When my aunt arrived, I asked my mom not to open the door because I could hear her sister going insane. My mom pushed me out of the way to let my aunt in and my aunt started trying to physically attack me.
I go to therapy to try to cope with my mother’s behavior because she enjoys creating drama and crazy-making. When I talked to my therapist, she told me I shouldn’t have resisted. Huh? That threw me off. I asked her why should I put up with my mom picking fights and inviting people into my home against my wishes? She pointed out that if I had just said “yes” because I knew my mom was going to do what she wanted to do anyway, I could have smiled and nodded, let these two wackos do their thing, then nicely ushered them from the home after playing along. I said to her, why should I have to do this? Shouldn’t they just respect my wishes in the first place and leave me alone? She agreed that I shouldn’t have to parent these two, but that’s the way it was. Yesterday, I woke up and really understood what she meant by not resisting. Obviously, my situation could have been worse, but it hit me: following the advice to “resist” would have saved me a lot of hassle and retaliation. Because I tried to stand up for myself, I went through a lot of crap from those two in the following days. I finally understand the point of not resisting. When people are trying to control you, despite the injustice of it, you sometimes have to play along to avoid their rage and escalated behavior.
It reminds me of the “turn the other cheek” verse in the Bible. That verse used to annoy me! Why should I let someone abuse me and then invite more abuse?! Shouldn’t the bully be held accountable? Well, in a perfect world, yes. But, abusive and bullying people do not want to be held accountable, nor do they feel sorry. If you try to hold them accountable or try to stand your ground in the heat of their moment, they will make you pay for it. I also discovered this when dealing with an abusive husband. When he was determined to rage and scream and attack me, if I tried to plead with him and defend myself, he got more mad. I finally learned to diffuse and escape when it was safe. If I’d gotten in his face and acted the way he did, he probably would have killed me. Sometimes pride isn’t worth it. You can achieve more peace in the long run by not playing their games. Let them get their crazy behavior out of their systems, then get out when the coast is clear. But here’s the important part: once someone has revealed themselves to be that kind of person, never, ever let them come back for another chance to attack! You can still be strong and maintain the boundary to keep them from returning, but you have to keep yourself safe until you can get away from them.