Emotional Manipulation #6 – Snide Comments
One evening while sitting at the dinner table with our children my daughter mentioned that they needed a judge for their upcoming DECA (Distributive Education Club of America) state competition. Excited, I offered my services, having been the President of my club when I was in high school. Immediately Scott started laughing out loud in front of our children stating, “You don’t know anything about business,” among other not so flattering comments about my intelligence.
After dinner when the children were in bed, I expressed that his words hurt my feelings, belittling me in front of our children. Rather than showing any concern or empathy, instead he claimed I was overreacting. I then went on to defend myself, reminding him how much I was contributing to the family finances through my years working in the corporate sector and most recently doing various projects and side jobs while being a full-time mom.
His response, one that I’ve heard one too many times over the years was “She is so talented, too bad all her projects are failures.” The fact was I didn’t fail. While I wasn’t generating the income I would have liked, it was substantial and I was proud of my work until he made me feel otherwise – always knocking me down a notch.
On another occasion, one morning during our divorce while I was in the kitchen brewing a cup of coffee, trying to wake up, Scott walked in. The first words out of his mouth were, “Why are you always so angry?” I wasn’t angry at that moment; in fact, I had woken up in a relatively good mood that day, albeit groggy. We hadn’t spoken a word, and now he was accusing me of being angry?
That’s what a narcissist does. A narcissist will even go so far as to say that you are delusional, crazy, too sensitive, exaggerating, or making a big deal out of nothing. They plant those seeds time and time again. When those snide remarks eventually take root, a person begins to believe what they say, making you doubt and question your own sanity, “Am I always angry?” Am I a failure?
A snide comment undermines the actual content of a statement with a negative. It is disguised as a random thought, observation, or simply wondering. These comments wear on people when made as frequently as abusers do. Abusers fail to see the positive in praising you. They can’t do so without making sure to remind you that you are nothing to them. When you continually hear that you are nothing, worthless, a failure, it’s impossible not to start believing it to some degree. Your self-esteem will take a nosedive. Mine sure did.
While in church recently the Pastor spoke about verbal abuse. I felt as if he was speaking directly to me as I listened intently to his engrossing and insightful tale: Imagine that each time you spoke you were spitting seeds that over time took root. Each and every one of those seeds has consequences. Eventually, those seeds grow and produce a fruit tree. Good seeds grow into healthy trees, bearing good fruit. Bad seeds grow into sick trees bearing bad fruit.
A person is deceived if they believe that harsh words will reap positive results. Instead, one’s tongue has an incredible ability to destroy what was once even a healthy tree; me, for example. You know the old saying, “sticks and stones…?” Well, words hurt more than any physical pain. Having survived both, I can testify to that! Unlike daggers, wounding words pierce your heart and soul. Scott battered against my true inner spirit and eventually devastated me with his mean, hateful, and offensive words.
Once a confident woman ready to take on the world, I was now a shell of the person I used to be after years of tongue-lashings. I realize now that he took a great deal of pleasure belittling me, insulting me, and being critical of me with his harsh words and snide comments. All the while simultaneously beating me up with words, depriving me of anything that would make me feel special and worthwhile. It was control – his control over me. A narcissist’s snide comments are destructive, shattering a person’s self-esteem into bits and pieces.
Recovery is all about dissolving the influence of negative comments and demeaning treatment, as well as underlying feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem that such abuse over the years generates. Listen to your gut. You are not overreacting, exaggerating or crazy. Recognize that the abuser is using snide comments in attempts to keep his control over you. Don’t give the abuser that power by listening to those negative comments. You are a mighty Oak.