In any group of abused women there’s almost always at least one who is extremely attractive; well groomed, well presented and the complete opposite of the kind of stereotypes that people normally harbour.
At one domestic violence workshop, I met a stunning young woman. Blond, slim, stylishly dressed and beautifully made up, she looked as if she divided her days between working out in the gym and nibbling delicately on a lettuce leaf (undressed, of course).
Her image could not have been more deceptive. In fact she had spent years cooking, cleaning and servicing 2 households; her husband’s and her parents’. She was a true, 21st century Cinderella; a designer clad, trophy domestic drudge, a woman whose worth was defined by the amount of cleaning, ironing and fetching and carrying she did.
Somehow she had found the courage to leave her violent husband, but in the process she had acquired a new torment; she had been labelled ‘a bad daughter’.
By leaving a situation that was hellish for her, she had inconvenienced and disappointed her abusive parents.
Now this young woman had spent most of her life falling over herself trying to please her parents. Needless to say, she had never quite succeeded. Her parents’ approval was always held out just in front of her, just out of reach.
It’s a particularly nasty technique that is typical of all abusive relationships: it’s like the childish prank of tying a string around an object and then yanking it away, just as the person tries to grasp it. You can see it, you can tiptoe towards it all you like, but you’re not going to get it.
And this is where the 100 Laws come in.
In an unconditional relationship you are loved for yourself. You may burn the dinner, scratch the car, put on weight, say something you may regret, but you remain lovable and loved. You are, quite simply, good enough.
In a conditional relationship, you learn the things that provoke the person whose love you crave. You become extraordinarily talented at keeping the 100 Laws of acceptable behaviour.
There is a law for every possible situation and you make it your business not to infringe any one of them. You expend enormous emotional energy picking your way through the 100 Laws as carefully as you would a minefield. You may even congratulate yourself, briefly, on how well you are doing. And then, BANG, Law 101… the one nobody told you about.
The thing is, there always will be another law, because the underlying principle is that you are being set up to mess up. This justifies the lawmaker taking his fury out on you. (That’s how the lawmaker gets to feel good about himself.)
In the fairy tale, everything turned out happily ever after for Cinderella… allegedly… when the Prince rescued her. (Either that or she didn’t care to admit publicly that she was a sucker for Charming’s delightful public face.)
In the case of our 21st century Cinderella, well, she’s coming round to the idea that a Rescuer is only an abuser on a white horse. Things will turn out happily for her now she is starting to rescue herself.
She’s learned that the best way of doing that is by replacing the 100 Laws with her own simplified Constitution, which reads: “I am good enough”. Period.
(C) Annie Kaszina, Joyful Coaching.
An NLP Practitioner and Women’s Empowerment Coach, Annie specialises in helping women heal the trauma of the past, so they can enjoy the present and look forward to the future.
Email:[email protected] To subscribe to Annie’s twice monthly ezine, or order her eBook ‘The Woman You Want To Be, go: to http://www.joyfulcoaching.com.