How to deal with flying monkeys
As I mentioned in my last post, N's are really schoolyard bullies with carefully crafted armies of henchmen... I prefer to call them what many ACoN's do... flying monkeys. The image really is universal as very few people have never in their life watched The Wizard of Oz. Most of us can identify the mental image of a lime green witch sending out her troops when Dorothy and her friends are on their quest. Much the same can be said for N's. As an ex-ACoN or ex-victim, you probably are in search of simple things- sanity, peace of mind, physical and mental safety. Many of us are on a quest to find such things for ourselves after the abuse from the N's. But, like Dorothy and her pals, there will be obstacles along the path the N's set to trip us up and make us fall right back into their grasp.
N's hardly ever work alone. Take a look at many N family dynamics and you will often find there is at least one enabler (if not a silent majority) that seeks to be the middle person between the ex-child or N-victim. There is also the golden child or children, the scapegoat and others in the mix as well. In an N-family, the golden child can do no wrong, these are people who are golden to the N's and thus made exempt from the wrath of the N, possibly because they are also selfish, conceited and full of it. The N is drawn to this toxicity like a moth to a flame and fuels this child's immaturity and behavior. Often infantizing the golden child in the process, grooming them to be a perfect little tattle tale and companion in crime. On the other hand, the scapegoat is usually not a partner to the main N or N's. Usually the scapegoat is the child most relied upon. They are forced to grow up quickly in order for the N's to command them to keep the family 'together' and cover up after golden child's righteous butt. The scapegoat is unappreciated and overworked. Made to feel like they are loved, but this love is entirely conditional. They are the ones required most of in the family and given so very little. They are also the ones who usually break free from the family after hitting rock bottom, leaving fingers pointing and blame in their direction from the N's. If only they stayed. If only they listened. But they didn't and the family unravels and it's all their fault. (N's never take responsibility, you know!)
And so... the scapegoat is seen as an evil child, a harmful adult, an abusive adult. One who (N's would like others to believe) turned against their loving and wonderful parents and needs prayer and conditioning to return to the family fold. In building the huge wall of no contact, many N's only see the brick wall. They do not see that every brick you used to build it was given to you by THEM. The name calling, the abusive manipulation, the lies, the hatred... all of their issues provided the bricks you used in shutting them out of your life for good. And while the N sits on the other side of the wall and grieves crocodile tears, you try to move on with your life and await the forces of evil sure to be sent your way.
Release the monkeys!!!
As a child, I remember being thoroughly frightened by the blue flying monkeys the wicked witch sent out for Dorothy. It's a scary thought, isn't it? Random blue flying monkeys able to snatch you up as you go about your way? Taking you right back to the hideous black castle where the witch resides. It gives me the creeps. But not nearly as much as thinking about the real flying monkeys the N's have sent to carry their messages.
"You're hurting them. Why are you putting your parents through that? What are you thinking? I'm angry with you for doing this to her/him. Fix it. Make it better. They didn't mean it."
Really? Nothing is more pitiful or telling of the N's childish behavior than to suggest or outright ask others to deliver comments and 'concerns' for them. Keeping tabs on you while you are no contact with the N's. Reporting back to base for gossip and slander with all the juicy details they've probably made up from reading in between the lines. I can only imagine the monkeys are patted on the heads and given monkey treats in the form of 'love' or 'appreciation' from the N's. And oh-how-good you are not to be like the scapegoat! How wonderful you are to me! I appreciate you! (when really all the N appreciates is their ability to fuel the fire of anger against the scapegoat)
What can we do to protect ourselves from such people?
I believe the answer has to deal with our relationship to them and to the N. Blood is thicker than water and no matter what, I will never be blood to the N's. Their loyalty does and never will lie with me regardless of the wrongs done against me. I am fully aware of this.
For my husband, it's a little different. The flying monkeys are people he knows, his siblings his extended family. Chances are someone MAY side with him eventually, that's my thought anyway, after the N's slip up again and make their real intentions known through more abusive behavior.
I've found the most helpful thing to do with flying monkeys is something my best friend told me,
Trust ... but verify.
IF you are comfortable enough to trust an outside party with any information about your life during the no contact... feel free to give information- and yet be sensible and verify (face-to-face if you can) that this information they kept to themselves and in no way what you told them will get back to the N's. They are aware of your no contact, maybe part of your reasons behind it and respect that.
As a spouse, related by marriage-only to these people, I found the easiest thing for me to do for myself was to take myself out of the middle. This meant deleting them from my facebook and social sites where they could friend me and follow me silently, any and all information I felt may be used against me. Now no one who knows the N's directly has access to my profile or any information online. At first I felt bad about doing this because after all the monkeys didn't do anything to me and I wasn't sure if they were passing on my information. But I followed my gut instinct on the matter and knew in my heart I would rest easier knowing they were not privy to my social life in any way.
Whether I will open up communication with them again, I am not sure. I can't say in the past few years anyone has ever made me feel welcome or welcome to be a part of the family, even extended family. DH and I have talked about setting up another email, non personal for the both of us for his extended family who cares to contact us, probably only his one aunt who doesn't seem to feed into the drama. Even so, I can't imagine sharing details I wouldn't want the N's to know, just in case.
After I blocked them on my facebook, NSIL emailed hubby to say she wanted to be my email pen pal. Out of the blue, only after I'd made it look like I deleted my account. Flying monkey? Maybe. Right now I'm just enjoying planning ahead for our baby and really not caring to open communication with any possible flying monkeys. It's just not worth the drama right now. Maybe some day... when I WANT to talk about the weather to someone via email and keep things shallow. But right now... well, I'm perfectly happy being ME. Uncensored. Free to say and do as I like with my life with no care in the world as to what information gets back to the N's. I've never felt so liberated. For me, cutting out the flying monkeys as well was the best choice.
To those still living with the flying monkeys- trust.... but verify. You can never be too careful. If cutting them out or keeping contact to a minimum is best- don't feel guilty for doing so. You're simply giving yourself the freedom to be YOU that should have been yours in the first place. Living life after being enmeshed with N's is really all about reclaiming the sanity, comfort and peace of mind that should have been yours all along had the N's been a healthy family.
I read this quote the other day and found it especially meaningful as it pertains to those involved in the N-family, the silent majority and the enablers:
“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ― Elie Wiesel
When applied to flying monkeys and the like- there are no excuses. If they are not part of the solution they are part of the problem.