The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School




The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School



Apology Without Change is Manipulation: a narrative


  I think the worst part of recognizing how others treat you is the fact that they chose to treat you like they did.

“If they wanted to, they would” is a phrase that I always think about when I process a situation with gaslighting and manipulation. 

  I would say all high school students at San Luis Obispo High School go through a phase of intense self discovery. I was so blessed when I started to slowly get over my social anxiety from my freshman year, with the help of my first therapist. When I couldn’t see her anymore, I underestimated how hard it would be finding a second therapist.

  I knew that I was settling for a new therapist, because I had such high expectations. My second therapist was one that let you lead the conversation, instead of them doing their job. The constant anxiety that you have to keep talking to avoid an awkward silence is common when meeting with a new therapist, so I didn’t know when to shut up. 

  My first therapist I had since I was 9, because of my parent’s relationship and how it affected me. So talking about real life problems about myself and not my parents’ impact on me in therapy was foreign to me. 

  “I feel like my mom says things to me that aren’t normal to be honest.” I was struggling  to create a sentence, my only hope was just talking about how I felt about it at the moment. She was still extremely passive, so I continued to drive the conversation like normal. 

  “Is it bad to feel like your mom is bullying you?” I asked her. At this point, I was prepared for the second round of awkward silence.

  “Yes… why would that be normal?” 

  “I mean I guess it’s not normal… why would I let one of my friends make me feel bad about myself? Why would I let someone have that power over me if they know what they’re saying to me hurts my feelings?”

  While this moment was not only eye opening to who I am as a person, it drove me to never take anyone’s emotional manipulation ever again. Even though my second and third therapists weren’t anything special, it was all meant to be. My fourth therapist helped me understand what person I want to be, and most importantly she taught me exactly how to identify manipulation.

  Apologies without change is manipulation. Gaslighting is manipulation, when you feel  like you’re going crazy because the other person can’t hold themselves accountable and they put the blame on you. 

  While this may seem like common knowledge, to someone like myself who was not raised in a positive environment, that behavior felt normal. The normalcy of gaslighting and manipulation were here to stay, and they transferred into other parts of my life.

  I would be in therapy talking about things that happened with my mom and I that week, and I would forget major details of what I was trying to explain. When I started to block out the emotional manipulation, I couldn’t hold myself accountable when people outside my family took advantage of me emotionally, because that behavior is so normalized to me.

  When it came to other people manipulating me, it was hard to identify. I promised myself to never have anyone hurt me on the emotional level my mother does, and I’m sad that I let myself stay in a relationship that hurt my feelings more than support my feelings. Thankfully, I can now recognize that if anyone distances themselves from me after I express my emotions, that they aren’t emotionally mature to handle anything. 

  My mother’s behavior has led me to become the person I am today. I constantly put in effort to radiate positive vibes, because I can understand how bad your day can be when your parents can’t emotionally support you. Learning to balance other’s emotions while taking care of my own has been a long journey.

  Setting boundaries is hard sometimes, but there’s no need to ever settle for anything less. Expressing your feelings is normal, life is too short to surround yourself with people that don’t respect you.

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