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‘Crazy making’ drives me crazy

I think it is a testament to my current level of frustration that I am once again having to begin this post from the beginning having accidentally erased it when it was halfway done.  This is not the first time I have gotten so carried away with writing that I have accidentally deleted my work.  I am writing this blog on Saturday afternoon and on one hand I have had a lovely day playing outside with my kids in the snow, on the other hand I have been upset by a barrage of nasty emails and texts from my ex...  There's a tactic abusers use to unsettle you and thereby gain power, it's called 'crazy making' and even if I didn't need a reminder of how nasty it can be, I sure got one today.'Crazy making' drives me crazy

I first heard about 'crazy making' when I entered the women's shelter.  I had had no Domestic Violence education up to that point and as I began to understand that some of the things I had experienced were common amongst victims of Domestic Violence, it was like a light went on in the darkness.  'Crazy Making' is when an abuser manages to convince you or at least tries his or her hardest to convince you that you are crazy. You may get told you are mentally ill or he or she may dispute your version of events such that you inevitably wonder if in fact you are losing your mind.  Here's an example, just a little snapshot from my day:

Today is my ex's day for access to the children.  Usually he would have taken them yesterday evening but he had let me know that he would be having them today as per his access schedule.  I hadn't heard from him so I texted him this morning to say that I would be bringing the kids over soon.  Here is what I got back:

"You can try but I'm not even home. What makes you think you can just drop them off when you think you can?  Don't you think organizing a time works better?I want my kids but you play these stupid mind games with them and with me.  When are you gonna stop being a crazy lady".

Excuse me? I have dropped them off many times before around 10:00 am.  Next text :

" And I told you already that I was gonna get them this afternoon".

Ok so now I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out when he might have told me that, I then go back through texts and emails, nope can't find it.  By this time the kids are staring to pester me "When's dad coming? When's dad coming?" Aggghhh!

Next text:  "..I told you and I told the kids that I will get them Saturday evening.  Why do you have to do this to them? And yes I understand its' my weekend with them but the reason why I said Saturday night is so you could spend a little extra time with them til then.  So if that's me being selfish thinking of them spending time with you then I don't know what to tell you.  I thought you would like that since I'm gonna be keeping them til Tuesday evening You haven't wanted to spend any time with them over Christmas and now you are in a complete rush to get rid of them again.  I don't understand.  Please stop playing with the kids' heads and brain washing them.  It seems to me that you don't even know what the truth is anymore.  I will pick them up around 2 pm".

So there are a number of problems with the above text, (like what a great guy he is for thinking of me for starters!) but if you look at it as a classic example of the kind of thing an abuser says, you can see the tactics - it was totally designed to throw me off.  Accusations of abusive behaviour on my part (playing with their heads and brainwashing them), overt lies (eg. you haven't wanted to spend any time with them over Christmas)  and then the big finale:  the statement about my mental health (eg. I don't even know what the truth is anymore).  Please note I'm not even addressing the whole "get them in the afternoon" vs." the evening" confusion.

I did indeed see a text from him yesterday or the day before that said he would have them Saturday night and so after receiving the above little jewel I told him that I thought he had been referring to them sleeping over not that that's when he would be picking them up.  That fell on deaf ears because he had made his point:  I'm mentally ill, can't remember saying things, can't tell truth from fiction and worse of all, I manipulate my children and harm them.  If I didn't know better I could get really upset about this!  Truth be told, it did upset me, quite a bit actually.  There's no shame in saying it.  I have experienced this all before but it doesn't take the sting out of it. So be encouraged if this rings all too true for you, you're in good company. And by the way, he didn't show up til 3:30, didn't answer his phone and when he did, he told me maybe he would wait til tomorrow because I was causing so many troubles.

I'm glad I'm smiling about this now, sometimes you just need to step back a bit. 🙂

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About cjw

A mother of three and a survivor of domestic violence, I am passionate about helping women who feel isolated and alone, women who may have children that are profoundly impacted by the trauma of domestic violence and women who need to understand where they can go to get help for themselves and their families. I am a registered nurse who has worked for the last 16 years in a critical care area only to have to flee to a women’s shelter and have my whole life changed. I know fear, I know pain and I now know food banks…I’m in good company.

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