A question which can come up any time you deal with an abuser, is, what if they change?
What if, through the court’s forcing them to cooperate with Social Services, Richard and Tracy turn their lives around?
What if they get education, get skills, get steady jobs, and that stressor is removed?
What if they go through counseling which eliminates the child and spousal abuse?
What if Richard decides not to be narcissistic anymore?
What if Tracy gets a diagnosis and treatment for whatever is causing her behavior?
That is a good question. I’m not sure what my answer would be. But unless someone who knows them tells me of these changes, or unless they come to me and demonstrate these changes, I have no way of knowing if they’ve happened, or if they’re for real.
Narcissists/Abusers are often able to pretend to have changed so they can suck the abused back in again. And Richard told me things like, he was violent in his past but turned away from that, and he abused the kids once or twice in the past but doesn’t do that anymore–only to demonstrate that to be a lie.
Not only did his violence in other ways begin to show itself here and there over time, in comments he would make about his feelings toward violence, but he nearly killed one of his children, a few years after he told me that he had turned away from past child abuse.
So would I even be able to trust him if he came to me and said that he’s turned away from violence and abuse?
If they did come to me and beg forgiveness for the things they did to me and for how Richard threatened and intimidated my husband, I would probably want to grant them that forgiveness.
But to trust them? to let them back into my life? That would take long, hard thought before doing it, and even if I allowed it, it would take a long time to trust either one of them.
Richard would no longer be my “bestie” because that trust in my best friend had been sorely betrayed and broken. Not only will he have been on probation with the state, but he would now be on probation with me.
And I even find their politics disgusting, now that the true nature of their political parties has come more to light, and I know Richard and Tracy to be rabidly partisan to the point where they insult the intelligence of people who disagree.
Would I really be able to let them back in again and hear them say things about politics that I find repugnant because of the way their parties treat the poor and elderly, and deny reality?
If they supposedly “change” but do not come to me asking forgiveness, then I will have no basis on which to put a belief in their changing at all.
If they “change” but continue to think I’m at fault for Tracy’s abuse and bullying of me–
–that I need to be the one to go to them–
–that Tracy can rage with filthy and belittling comments and accusations, yet I’m supposed to believe Richard when he says I did worse (just by being a quiet person and scared of her) and that Tracy is “not a monster”–
–then that will be incontrovertible proof that they have not changed at all–
–just pushed the abuse down deep where they can fool social workers and probation officers and friends that they have changed.
I know from the newspaper that Tracy has been inducted into an honor society at a local college, so that means she’s getting an education which would help her get stable, better-paying employment.
So if Richard and Tracy do get stable employment and start being nicer to their kids and each other, then hey, that’s cool for them. Maybe those kids will finally have a chance at a better life.
But if they never demonstrate to me that any change has happened, then all I have to go on is how they treated me in the past, how they abused each other in the past, and I will have no proof that they have truly changed at all.
I tried making peace with them before, only to find that their version of “peace” was for me to allow them to continue bullying and abusing me, without letting me have a voice or opinion of my own.
I can’t go by some fantasy fairy land dream; all I can go by is what I know from my own experience. And that means that all the world can tell me they’ve changed, but I cannot, should not, must not believe it without it being proved to me.
Otherwise, I’ll just set myself up for disappointment, and probably more abuse and bullying in future. And the first step for them to prove it to me, is to come to my husband and me and apologize for the bullying and abuse of me, and threatening and intimidating of my husband.
Here’s a blog post on this subject, just posted today, called Learning about predators from nature: leopards do not change their spots. Shrink4Men’s blog was timely, not just because I posted this blog before I saw that one, but because I’ve been doing it again–missing Richard and wondering if he and Tracy are not really so bad as all that. I have to keep reminding myself of the truth, lest I forget.
My trouble is, I’m way too freaking gullible. I knew about Richard’s past–violence, dog with women, fooling a whole congregation as a preacher by faking speaking in tongues–but I believed he had changed.
I believe the lies of predators far too easily, and sometimes the lies are some real howlers.
I have to stay strong and remember that I know what Richard and Tracy are really like, even if their friends think they’re awesome.
I have to remember how pleasant and peaceful it’s been without that nasty Tracy in my life.