Hurt Me to Hurt You
Imagine a bunch of kids playing and one decides to sit in the corner. S/he sits there to ‘fix’ the other kids.
S/he doesn't realize the other kids are unaware. They are having fun, they don’t notice s/he is sitting in the corner.
However, for some reason, s/he thinks she matters so much that the others are effected by this. Despite the obvious evidence that they are oblivious, s/he is sure they are distressed by this.
Few people who practice this kind of behavior realize that it is less than pointless.
The only one being deprived is the corner sitter. The corner sitter, who experiences self inflicted punishment.
Only the most deluded of mentalities can not grasp this attempt at hurting others is a failure.
In Older 'children'
This behaviour can be seen in older children and even in adults , when, in the belief one is hurting another, a particular set of actions are launched.
For example, Geo wants to prove to Stella that he doesn’t need her. He ignores her.
Stella assuming Geo isn’t interested goes away. She goes away and finds someone who is interested.
Geo may feel, for those first moments he is ignoring Stella, that he is evidencing some sort of power and showing control. He has no inkling that Stella makes the perfectly logical assumption that he simply is no longer interested in her.
It is not a problem for Stella. She determines Geo is not interested, others are, hence associate with others.
This is how it appears in the ‘hurt me to hurt you’ paradigm.
Abusive Husband's Reasons
In many cases, this form of behavior is often the prelude to an aggressive action.
The Practioner of this behavior may sit silent in the corner. After a period of being unnoticed, angrily rise and maybe provoke a fight.
This provoking of a fight is usually the next step in the ‘Geo’ narrative.
Abusive husbands adopt this practice to give them a reason to go ‘ballistic’. The husband denies himself something he wants so as to ‘fix’ the wife.
The wife isn’t fixed. She doesn’t notice or recognize...”Husband is denying himself this.... to punish me.” Hubby, angry that Wife doesn’t respond as ‘expected’ he will say something which should provoke a response and give him a ‘reason’ to pummel her.
The idea that she could be totally unaware the really wanted X but denied himself to hurt her yet she can proceed to enjoy X without him is almost adultery in his mind.
Defining the Behaviour
Once this behavior is recognized so a parent can say;
“He is refusing to eat the chocolate to punish me...”
or an adult can say;
“He is trying to provoke a confrontation...” all the power is gone.
It becomes a sick comedy in which the target her is trying to hurt finds it almost amusing.
The kid who punishes himself, thinking he’s hurting others needs a quick wake up call. Needs to understand that he is not as special to others as he thinks he is.
This idea of being ‘special’ is a terrible mistake to imbue into a child. For although every child is ‘special’ to his parents, he is not special to other kids or the parents of other kids, or strangers.
The idea that people notice him or care what he does or doesn’t do must be removed so he will not have the belief that sitting in the corner while others play matters to anyone.
If the child is not aware that he is not the center of the universe he grows into the adult who thinks others will be hurt if he ignores them, not appreciating that most people are living their own lives not even aware he is breathing.
How It Hurts
What makes this behaviour so destructive is that it produces the opposite of the desired result.
For example, Frank had issues with his parents. He had this entire ‘narrative’ that they didn’t care about him and were self centered.
As an adult, his parents, (who were divorced) tried on separate and various occasions to explain to him what happened and that his ‘narrative’ was wrong.
Frank choosing his ‘hurt me to hurt you’ response shut the door on his parent's attempts to explain or clarify.
He did it when he was a teenager, he did it when he was in his mid twenties, and he did it in his early thirties.
His parents stopped. Stopped bringing their lives to a halt to reason with him. They assumed he 'hated' them and so, went off to live their lives with people who liked them.
Frank was in his mid forties when he suddenly realized he was the kid, sitting in the corner, while everyone else was playing.
His father had gone on to marry again and had children. His mother did the same. They had other children, now grown, whom they visited and spoke with every week.
Some how he realized that he had pushed them away.
Those who practice this kind of behaviour can often be helped by simply visualising being another person. Imagine being that boy who just threw that basket, or that woman who is being ignored.
Putting one's self in the shoes of another, seeing it from their side is all that it takes for one to abandon this destructive behaviour. Because it is destructive.
It hurts the practioner; and has everyone else shrugging.