Archive for April 3rd, 2009

I have previously written on the topic of mirroring other people’s behavior after child abuse. What do I mean by “mirroring”? People who “mirror” others will observe how another person acts. They will then incorporate those mannerisms into their own persona, resulting in a “mirror” effect.

The reason that child abuse survivors do this is because we were never taught social graces or how to be “normal.” As a result, we don’t know how to fit in with other people. So, we mirror what works for another person and, voila, we are suddenly less “freaky” in social settings. This type of mirroring worked very nicely for me in ninth grade, moving me from a social outcast to my peers recognizing me in a “senior superlative” (Most Courteous) in one school year.

While mirroring has its perks, it can also cause problems in relationships. I notice the problems most in my marriage. Throughout our courtship, I mirrored hub, which is probably one reason that he married me. We rarely disagreed about anything because I simply mirrored his own views.

I did not even recognize that I was mirroring him until he started poking fun at me for being his “parrot.” He would point out different phrases that I used that came from him. I truly did not realize that I was doing this. As I began to examine the phrases that I used in everyday conversations, I realized that I was constantly mirroring either hub or a TV show. That was disturbing.

As I have healed, I have gotten in touch with my own opinions on things, and that has not gone over very well with hub. His once “always agreeable” wife now has opinions of her own. Whenever we disagree, he will ask me, “Who put that thought into your head?” I take great offense at the question and pop back that I am perfectly capable of having an original thought.

I guess I can understand why he assumes that I am “parroting” another person whenever we disagree because I did it for so long with him. However, it is insulting because I am an intelligent and well-educated woman who does not need a puppet-master to pull my strings. I have thoughts and opinions, and I hear from those who read my writings that I express myself well. So, it is frustrating to have someone assume that I am not capable of original thought.

This is just one more area of my life that was influenced by the abuse.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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