I wasn't sure where to put this thought/question or what to title it. But I have a feeling some of the wise folks here can help me understand this.
I'm reading a book recommended here, and I have just been thinking a lot about this.
But there are those of us who were harmed by what seems to be a subset of people (usually starting in childhood with a parent) who I'll try to describe.
The first characteristic as far as I can tell (of this "harmless harmer") is they don't think they need help or that they're the problem.
Beyond that, they may know they need help but can't take ownership - it's too threatening.
They usually think other people are the problem.
They are sort of sweet, seemingly big-hearted/good hearted, there is something lovable/sympathetic about them, almost child-like.
But they can do so much harm.
Does this ring a bell? I'm trying to think of a few more characteristics . . .
They are probably their own worst enemies
Kind of like addicts - they are sucked into their own darkness/demons -
They can be childlike in many ways. Definitely not in a grounded, adult space. Sometimes very young child, sometimes rebellious teenager.
They are usually very dependent on others but don't necessarily acknowledge that.
On their own, they would probably spiral into depression or living in a very messy house, not taking care of themselves.
They basically really need others to help regulate them - but often they can be avoidant/shut down.
They really don't have a lot to give - and yet they have children or partner and therefore really impact those around them.
There's definitely self-loathing involved.
And they seem to be either alone or surrounded by enablers who "only see the good" in them or hope they can change.
They are not full-blown anything - not full-blown addicts or full-blown abusers - but they can definitely *behave* abusively, even if by omission - not really being able to compliment, or show love. Not really being able to connect or be available. And this can do a lot of harm to the people around them. They can be verbally or emotionally "abusive" but it's subtle - like you can't even put a finger on it. Which is why it makes the people around them so confused and hurt because it's not like they can ever say "This person hit me/called me a name, left me on the side of the road."
In fact, they think that they are harmless and seem to have a hard time understanding how people can be so hurt by them and sort of act like the other person is sensitive or something is wrong with them (though not always on that last part) - it's like they are altogether clueless about how their behavior impacts other people (maybe because they are so caught up in their own world/survival).
But like addicts, they can literally take everyone around them down in their wake. And cause a lot of damage.
Does this sounds like "something" - I haven't been able to put a finger on it, but I've seen it over and over and have a few people in mind in my own life who fit this bill (and my daughter's) and see it with clients of mine... or is it just "run-of-the-mill" dysfunction?