little girl looking out window

Since cutting contact with my abusive mother and enabling father, I have had to deal with a fair share of Flying Monkeys; people that want to pull me back into the vortex of emotional abuse. It has taken some time to find them all, but I think I am finally Flying Monkey free (not that I am switching of the Flying Monkey radar).

In my experience it has been far harder to deal with the Flying Monkeys, than with the actual abuser(s). I felt far more confused, hurt and unbalanced after encounters with Flying Monkeys, than I did for example in the aftermath of no contact. So how come these people mess with your mind so much?

No Love Lost

However painful it was to realize my mother did not (and had never) loved me, once I did it became easier to process her behaviors. I remember the first time I said this aloud. It was on the phone, to my mother-in-law. We were talking about my decision to cut contact, and she asked: ‘did you ever feel your mother loved you?‘. I was almost shocked to hear my own voice answer: ‘I don’t think she ever did‘.

However shocking and painful that realization was, it set me free. No longer was I burdened with the hunt for the answer to the question what I had done to lose her love. How could I have lost something I never had? Although the road to healing is hard, and the question why she never loved me still pops up (especially when I see cute baby pictures of myself), it is no longer weighted down with the concept of love lost.

The Betrayal of a Flying Monkey

Flying Monkeys come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are easily discarded. The people in my mother’s community that were fed the lies of her perfect life will likely be judging and damning me for breaking away from the family. I can live with that. These people served my mother by reflecting back her perfect image. It made her believe it was real, and it made us doubt that there was something wrong.

Then there are the Flying Monkeys that actually know me. My friends and even my siblings and extended family. ‘Surely they can see me for who I really am?‘ This is why Flying Monkeys hurt so much. You may at some point have had real, loving relationships with these people. Or at the very least, there was potential in those relationships. They were corrupted and sabotaged though. Corroded under the assault of the toxicity of abuse.

I have trusted people I thought I was close to, and they betrayed me in favor of my abuser. That is why it hurts.

They Left Me No-One

I realized recently that I have no-one left. I mean, no-one who knew me as a kid. They have taken every relationship, every friendship, every family bound and corrupted it. I burst out in tears in the middle of the bedroom floor when the thought hit me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a fantastic and loving Family of Choice, all of whom I trust with my life. It is not that I am lonely or alone. It feels more like… well like I am orphaned I suppose. Every positive memory I have of friends, aunts and uncles, siblings and cousins… they are now all tainted by the sense of betrayal.

It Does Become Easier

I know that I need to keep the Flying Monkeys out of my life. Bad things start happening when they enter the picture. It becomes easier to let go of Love Lost, when you realize that the choice you are facing is in fact: sink or swim? Even people who are kind of aware of the toxicity, may still capsize you with their thrashing.

It does become easier to recognize the Flying Monkeys when the come swooping down. It becomes easier to process the lies for what they are. It becomes easier to shut yet another door, sever yet another tie.

The one thing that I think will never become easier, is dealing with that sense of betrayal. Every time someone favors my abuser over me, my little inner-child says:

‘What did I do that they don’t love me anymore?

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Having gained experience while working for a variety of European non-profits, I am proud to now work with SwanWaters. My connection with the website is not only professional. I am glad to tap into my personal experiences to help those who are living in toxic relationships whether with parents, partners or in their professional life. We need to make the world more aware of the devastating effects of emotional abuse and help more people on their way to heal and thrive.

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