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“Perfectionism is the unparalleled defence for emotionally abandoned children. The existential unattainability of perfection saves the child from giving up, unless or until, scant success forces him to retreat into the depression of a dissociative disorder, or launches him hyperactively into an incipient conduct disorder. Perfectionism also provides a sense of meaning and direction for the powerless and unsupported child. In the guise of self-control, striving to be perfect offers a simulacrum of a sense of control. Self-control is also safer to pursue because abandoning parents typically reserve their severest punishment for children who are vocal about their negligence.” 

~ Pete Walker 

The first sentence of Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina is: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” As you can infer, not everyone is as elated as they demonstrate they are. Everybody has something they keep under wraps so that they are not judged by the world around them as it is drummed into their heads from infancy that it is against the decorum to talk about the tribulations that afflict them. Such a dreary feeling to feel indeed that in order to present their best to the world, they, more often than not end up harming themselves beyond repair. This is precisely why I desired to author something on this subject as I have watched ample people suffer in abject silence, howbeit, it is here, again, that I wish to underline that people who do not want to acknowledge the reality that the pot is as much a part of our daily lives as is perfume, and try best to snub you if you attempt to reach out to them with your problems are not worthy to remain in your lives despite how dependent you are on them, or how intimate they pose and pretend they are with you.

Many flower in families where the seniors are riding horses at alarmingly dangerous speeds. In such homes you are bound to be crushed under the hoofs, unless, of course, you acquire the art of being around the horses, (occasionally even in the direct corridor) and yet know how to keep out of being (critically) harmed. The majority of such stories seem to share a common thread: we have individual A in a household, this individual A has had trouble with one or both of their parents. He or she observes that the low level of cohesion between his/her parents tends to, in some manner or the other, spill over on them, and they directly bear the brunt of the inefficient disparity between the battling adults. When that happens, they are evidently incapable in handling the frustration and fury of the attitudinal bickering, and as a consequence individual A mushrooms, but with an innate reservation, a subdued anger even, as they have not been able to rebuild themselves positively. As the trajectory of life steers ahead, individual A gives birth to a kid or kids. And still incapable to have found closure to their wounds, individual A ends up wounding their child/children in similar or even an augmented manner. Fast forward: as individual A’s kids are blossoming, they evolve feeling unloved or being micromanaged to cater to the whims and fancies of individual A’s mood swirls, and this anxiety, on an innocent mind, leads to an overwhelming scar – and only in some instances the kid/s manage to rise above the haranguing by mending the cracks in their minds, knowing perfectly well that their parent/s are/have been damaged. For the kid/s who are unable to recover from the mental disfigurement that their parent/s have thrust upon them, they turn into insecure, controlling, hateful brutes, and woefully, the vicious circle continues. This is where I would like to pause and urge every couple to introspect and focus on anything at all that has been unpleasant in their lives. I would urge every individual to seek assistance, and level the hurt and misgiving so that they can avoid committing the same high-handed mistakes before they embark into the next step of producing children. Remember that children need abundant care and love. That they are raw and impressionable, and that they should not be the receptacle of the traumas that you were unable to overcome. Children may not ask for it, but they covet the cordiality that only a parent can provide them. Hence, if you have zero interest or intent in wanting to raise a healthy and happy individual, be childless, but do not bring a life into the world and mutilate it before it can spread its wings to fly. 

There could also be instances where one of the parent is more abusive than the other, and when the dormant parent chooses to remain quiet, this furthermore, wrecks the child who can go on to become a vulnerable adult. Under such given psychological uncertainties, especially if you aren’t resilient enough to arise to atrocities or injustices at home, or in your immediate surroundings, it would be advisable that you reconsider marrying to begin with; as a broken brain cannot adjust healthily with their respective better halves, just as they are unqualified to take care of any offspring.   

We are all living at a fundamental level with a separation anxiety, and that is one reason why we subject ourselves, sometimes willingly, to the discriminations in our families. We each feel deeply disconnected from ourselves, from each other, from nature, and it is a wound that we haven’t really inherited from birth, it starts to surface in early childhood based on the behaviour meted out to us. As we navigate through life, we realise that we have a system that caters to that anxiety by helping us buying our way out of that separation anxiety through forms of acute distraction, and if that is not enough to deal with, alongside that, we develop a sense of a stunted freedom. People are free, theoretically, if you happen to live in the West, particularly in the legal sense or in a civil sense, but not on a deep psychological sense, and you observe how very much imprisoned they are by their superego, by social norms, and by constructs, and they look at ways and means to find an outlet to soothe their mind, and what a community offers is a chance to experience a reconnection, and a communion to something greater than us, but also an opportunity to break free from our conditioning and experience ourselves anew. Anyone who has gone through such damage and has looked for an escape knows that there is no rulebook to list down the harassment that people are subjected to within the four walls of one’s property, or even the walls of one’s mind. And drawing from those around me, owing that I am not an expert, I have endeavoured to make an inventory of some points here; points that I feel may help you deal with your pressure as nobody can unfetter you other than yourself. Once you have read this, do write to me and tell me what you have learnt from your own experiences. Who knows, I could perhaps pen a new piece highlighting the same that could benefit others who need restoration of their cognitive faculties. 

Conditions Apply In Order To Be Accepted 

To be recognised by the dominant member of the family, one is supposed to comply with the family narrative and value system. Any indication of being different or thinking autonomously is instantly rejected and you are left being polarised. 

Uncontested Obedience Is The New Normal 

A cruel element of life is that people who are in love with power thrive on berating you, they will try to nit-pick on you, to demoralise you, call you an utter disappointment. Every member of the family has to obey them without questioning them regardless of how illogical, ignorant, horrid or hurtful it is, and if you do not conform, then they will find fault in everything you do, and anything you do will never be good enough. If you are unlucky to have someone with such an injurious nature in your household, the best you can do is keep cool, and most importantly allow such intimidating digs at you pass. Reacting is of no use really as these type of individuals await such opportunities to unleash their terror. The more they know they have needled with you, the more they feel satisfied, and, if you are clever, you would know not to walk into such traps voluntarily.  

Bow And Take It

Irrespective of how right you are, or how rationally you have reacted, if it is not in compliance with the view of the dominant family member, you are unnecessarily targeted. It is here that you have to choose if you want to remain a doormat, or endure the brutalities until your threshold cannot take it anymore. It is here that you have to build up courage to react when faced with irreverent resistance. Word of warning: do not be a rug that others can clean their shoes upon, but engage your strategy discreetly as you are still under the cover of the reproachful family member.  

Render You Powerless

The dominant individual knows you are incapable of any reaction and hits you  where it hurts, and so, reacting or resisting can result in unimaginable levels of tension as these people, who are not used to being stood up to, cannot take a challenge, no matter how minuscule. At this juncture you have to be brave, and do what you have to do in order to preserve your sanity and maintain your self-respect. 

Humiliating And Discouraging 

Humiliating someone for no reason speaks about the insecurity, jealousy, envy and inability of the dominant family member. Little things like someone else being appreciated before them is something that they cannot digest. Remember here that it is not about you, it is about them; they are so drowned in their ego that they become livid when someone else is given credit for something else before them. Give them a wide margin as their highbrow development is constituted such that even if they haven’t done something, they ought to be applauded for it – they think it is their fundamental right. For example: if I had not brought you up the way I did, you would not have done what you did, and when you were being praised, the least you could have done was acquaint people that I was the one who truly warranted the credit or gratitude. You failing to do so, would result in highlighting your drawbacks before everybody; anywhere, anytime.  

When incidents like these occur often, do not be threatened by them. Let them shame you for as long as they wish, and as far and wide as they want. Don’t forget that people know what you are, and who you are. 

Taking Sides 

Any family who has had a dominant family member is not unfamiliar to the fact that such people prosper on ego greasing, and one of the biggest irking behavioural traits they cannot, and will not accept, from the rest of the family is when something is said by them and the family members do not take their side. 

As adults we can reason as to why the particular person is behaving in such an abhorring fashion, but children, alas, are not fully equipped to discern the difference, and it affects them most severely. If it is within your means, do not let the family member belittle you or your little siblings. Make it clear that you will not take such matters lying low. Once again, their magnified ego would not be able to accept opposition from you, and you will be blamed and shamed. Be level-headed by refraining to engage in a verbal duel with them, and where you feel you need an outlet for your disquiet or anger, talk to the people you trust. Do not take refuge in habits that could prove deterrent to your growth. 

Respect Me Or Else

Demanding family members choose the meekest or the strongest and make them their favourite people in the family. They do so because the meekest will respect them without disagreement, and the strongest (their idyllic flagbearers) will help spread their philosophies. 

Balance Is Another Name For Bunkum  

If you speak of equality or balance, if you attempt to reason, setting aside how sane your arguments may be, you will encounter aggression and be branded as idiotic or Machiavellian. This happens largely because the dominant family member is well aware that they stand on shaky grounds, and in order to preserve their power, by hook or by crook, the simplest weapon they would use is to deem your word as pure hogwash. Ignore, ignore, ignore, such ignorant oafs! 


When abused and disparaged at nearly everything you do, and yet they notice that you are going strong, the ego of the dominant family member seems defeated, and you are bound to be the target of fresher and fiercer forms of hatred. To break your fibre is the ultimate motive of the tormentor, and although it is easier said than done – keep quiet. Losing your temper is giving them the contentment of having accomplished what they had set out to achieve, so the secret is to be as unruffled as possible. 

Rage Can Be Rage Or Something Else

Anyone who has lived with someone who is overriding and egotistical knows that a small argument can snowball into anger, and anger into uncontainable rage. 

Sometimes, rage is a temperamental trait of a faulty upbringing. The person in question may not have been educated to behave correctly while coming of age, and thus, such indecorous behaviour would have become second skin. Uncommonly, rage can also be a medical condition that the family is far too frightened to address considering that it is next to impossible to get the dominant individual to be subjected to a medical assessment or examination. I had read somewhere that the euphoria brought about by overpowering someone can become a source of a rapturous addiction to the dominant human being. They relish seeing how someone trembles with fear, and it is an enchantment to their ego when one is unable to do anything about it. The flip side to something like this is that such distasteful behaviour, early enough, demolishes the dominant person’s own harmony and rhythm, and it is prudent that you desist from upsetting yourself on something that is beyond your control. 

Emotional Scraping

Abuse can have a lasting impact on people, and it takes years for such ill-treatment to relax in the absence of the dominant person. Sorrowfully though, in certain instances, the emotional scraping is so vast that some of those who have been abused seldom recover from it, and such angst hinders with the daily workings of them having to lead a normal and joyous life. If you feel that you are one of those who has been inflicted with such hurt, it is judicious that you solicit professional help in order for you to unchain yourself from that which is holding you back from breathing free. 

Standing Up To Them

Verbally questioning the actions and reactions of arduous individuals is still manageable, but not adhering to their impractical demands can lead to you being beleaguered further. When containment with words would fail, matters could lead to physical abuse by the dominant person. The said individual would (in all probability) concoct a scheme to keep you constantly under distress, and if you are young and dependent, then you could be arm twisted to levels of being made to feel most helpless and miserable. If you are an adult and are caught between the devil and the deep sea for some unforeseen reason, you have to discover ingenious ways to divert your mind from such unfitting behaviour since you know that there is no way out of it. Besides, do not presume that you are being defeatist or a coward if you are submitting to the bully in order to keep yourself sane. Tell yourself that not every day is a Sunday, and you would find a way out of the predicament if you apply your mind to it. What’s more? Being a scapegoat can teach you never to be like the very ones you dislike, and, as a blessing in disguise, you may become gentler, refined, and realise in the long run that the final winner is undeniably an affable demeanour; because, eventually compassion and truth prevails as opposed to ego and insolence. 

Neglect And Safety 

When things do not go by the book with uncivilised individuals, the other tactic they tend to emanate cheerfully is neglect. Neglect, they believe, will break one little-by-little. In numerous instances it does result in breaking people, but you should take that conduct as something of a benediction –as it gives you the time to do more with your life since you are not being subjected to repeated mental and physical torture. Utilise that time of inattention instead to enrich your abilities. Moreover, that you are in a safety zone, rouse in yourself ways and means to uncover who you are. Trust a mentor, friend, girlfriend for open-minded criticism and ways and means for you to improve yourself. Do not clasp onto harmful dependences; such as finding solace in sex or drugs, particularly in the instance where you are unable to deal with either the cold abandonment, or the upsetting disparagement at home. Remember that safety is in being safe with someone who understands you, and such people don’t merely fall from the sky, you have to have patience, and if you are fortunate to find the accurate fit for each of your natures then you would have to nurture such relationships to a level of nourishing fruition. When something like that happens you will see that your life is far more jolly than the dark and demonic life that you would have faced at the hands of the very ones who had to actually protect and love you at home. 

Nobody Is Perfect 

No family is ideal and no two human beings are alike. Everybody has somebody who can push them against the wall, and every individual’s limit to deal with adversities greatly varies. There would be sufficient permutations and combinations wherein we can convince ourselves that by surrendering to obedience we are perhaps losing our identity, and that by warring we are winning – those are convenient ways of fooling ourselves. As kids, if we oppose problematic people, it spells nothing short of misfortune, and as adults if we do not stall adversity, we will find ourselves dead even before we are dead. With life being horrifically short, the last thing you want is to live it pleasing others who care a rats arse if you are happy, alive, or dead, so take no risks if you are mature enough to understand that what you need is a way out, but are still a dependent on the family, and as an adult, see if you can push it to the best of your abilities, and under the circumstances where you see even a flicker of hope, then iron out your differences. However, in the eventuality of figuring that there is nil scope for any improvement, move out for good, and move on with life. 

Think About This

When people come from difficult families, they tend, once again, to ferret about for life partners who are proportionately difficult. Do not make that mistake. Wait, weigh, watch and decide if a person blends warmly with you. A friend once told me, ‘What a partner looks for in a another partner is to de-stress and not add on more stress’, and those were rather effective words.

At times we may handpick someone whom we let cling onto us because, one, we carry within us the inherent misgiving of having been neglected, and, ergo, to have someone cling onto us seldom appears like an invasion of one’s personal space, which, under common conditions, would be most exasperating, and two, as creatures of habit we are accustomed to being under constant tension, and we find consolation in someone who clings onto us as an emotional reimbursement for the weight we are missing when we were back home. On both counts let us strive not to cling, or let anyone cling onto us. Let us unshackle – it is only then that one would find oneself stress-free and one can love and behold someone else for good or for worse, in sickness and in health. 

Finally – Is There A Way Out Of This?

Yes, definitely. The key is to stop being the victim for the betterment of your own health. 

Next, one does not have to reach the above conclusions in a haste. Think, analyse, discuss matters that mandate tinkering or reclamation, and give it adequate time. Albeit, if you think that matters are actually irreversible, set out then to carve your independent path in life as I suggested in a paragraph before. 

Third, once you move out of the nest, it would be dreadfully hard in the beginning as you will be smacked with a spasm of isolation, segregation, quarantine, and this is because people get so accustomed to being battered that such a bearing becomes a part of their behavioural DNA, and when sheer freedom is obtained, they find it taxing to adjust to things going on rather smoothly. This is exactly where you have to pacify yourself that the gnawing feeling of missing being tormented is now finally over. And once you adapt to the physical and cerebral equanimity, and when joy becomes a day-to-day pattern as formerly compared to a rare luxury, you will find an indescribable comfort, an intrinsic awareness of an utter release and relief. Until then, please be patient, and, yes, abstain from being hard on yourself by GIVING YOURSELF TIME.