I never understood “projection,” in the psychiatric sense, until the last year of my marriage.
Why would anyone project? It just didn’t seem intuitive to me. Just because I like ska or kimchi, I reasoned, doesn’t mean everyone else likes ska or kimchi, or that I’d approach people with the mysterious assumption that they do.
But it isn’t like that. Per a Healthline article, projection is “unconsciously taking unwanted emotions or traits you don’t like about yourself and attributing them to someone else.” And per my experience, it’s not a disconnected belief about random, isolated activities. It comes from the person’s very worldview. It comes from his inability to imagine that others don’t share the same worldview, and the resulting assumption that others can naturally be expected to do what he, himself, does.
For example, my ex told all of our mutual friends, several times over the course of several years, that I was stalking him.
He thought I was stalking him because he was stalking me. Once, when we were still married, he walked behind my chair, took notes, chased down my online activities, complained about them (and admitted to finding them via snooping). After we divorced, he performed advanced searches to find posts on various forums and blogs I’d made with completely anonymous screen names and profiles. Once, he actually made a software bot (it’s still out there) to find out when I came up on a popular message board service. That’s stalking!
By contrast, I saw public posts he made on Facebook while we were still “Facebook friends.” Not stalking.
Stalking is not like ska or kimchi. Stalking comes from a deeply engrained, very entitled, very male way of looking at the world. To him, wondering what your ex is doing, and feeling entitled to find out, and getting mad about whatever that is, is the most natural thing in the world. Of course it is. Men are raised with the belief that they own women–however subconscious, however modern liberalism thinks it’s stamping this out. Men find it infuriating when their “property,” or “ex-property,” isn’t where and how they left it. They want to know it. They want to protect their reputation–for men, it’s embarrassing when you’re disobeyed. They want to correct the infraction.
This isn’t a woman’s thing, bruh.
At least three of my other exes (all male) have stalked me. Often for years, just as my ex is doing.
My ex also tells people I abused him. I don’t know what he’s referring to–probably “misgendering,” which I didn’t even do while we were married. Probably disagreeing with him. That sort of thing.
To the class of people who always gets their way, not getting your way feels like abuse.
I don’t really like to say my ex abused me, because I don’t have a victim complex. In general, I tend to consider it partly my fault if I’m putting up with bullshit. Maybe that’s a failure to protect my own boundaries. Maybe that’s female socialization.
But when I read about the signs of emotional abuse, I see it clearly. Stalking is one of the classic ones, for example. So is accusing the other person of being the abuser. Actively working to turn others against you–wow. The evidence of this last one is piled to the sky. His social media history since the divorce. The ultimatums he dropped on our mutual friends–they could be friends with him or me, but not both. The blatant lies about me, right down to putting words in my mouth I didn’t, and wouldn’t, say.
Shutting down communication. For the transgender person, there are lots of socially-sanctioned ways to do this one: claiming to feel “unsafe.” Claiming to feel “triggered.” Declaring a whole host of topics off limits–transition plans, motivations, surgery, pronouns, women’s rights, feminism.
Outbursts, feigned helplessness, dismissiveness, using people, separating the partner from her friends. Check. He even undermined my attempts to make friends before the final meltdown and divorce.
Anyway, projection. Yet another way in which this male person shows his male socialization and male worldview.