My paternal grandmother was the kind of cliche you think about when you think of grandparents. She treated me like her prize, her first-grandchild gem after raising four boys, her princess. She didn’t like many people, but she liked me and that meant something. She snuck me treats, bought me altogether age-inappropriate fashion magazines, showed me off, and let me watch movies I shouldn’t have. Movies that scared me though I pretended to be fine; movies that my mother would never allow.
For years I had nightmares about The Wizard of Oz after we watched it together. “A classic” she called it. The Wicked Witch of the West came to me in dreams and woke me up in an anxious sweat: her shoes under the house, her hovering over a rocking chair in our living room, her cackle and monkeys who did her bidding. I knew she wasn’t real but that movie scared me for years.
Only years later did I learn packs of flying monkeys aren’t always fictional, at least when it comes to narcissistic abuse. I have no idea who coined the psychological term “flying monkey” but it is a distinct variation of narcissistic abuse, inflicted by those in the periphery of the abuse — not the actual abuser themselves. Yes, there are people who will abuse you by proxy — and enjoy it.
You see, narcissistic personalities do not like to get their hands dirty. They prefer their indiscretions to be more, well, discrete. They like when others do their bidding for them, much like the Wicked Witch. Flying monkeys are enablers of abuse, plain and simple. These are the friends, family, and acquaintances of the perpetrator who believe the false storylines the perp has sold them — that they themselves are the victim. Because of this, the monkeys will do anything they can to harm, hurt, and control the victim so the victim has no support as they leave abuse, or so that the victim questions their decision to leave. They cause doubt, insecurity, instability, and fear. They participate in the abuse by further harming the victim.
These people believe they are doing the narcissist a big favor by “getting back” at the victim for them. They pretend to be like-minded or compassionate to the victim in order to get information they can relay back to the perp: they spy and they spread rumors and participate in smear campaigns. What they do not realize is that getting back at someone for someone else’s sake will never be a good deed, no matter how you slice it. They are under the strong energetic control of the abuser who will give them certain benefits if they do their bidding, including social standing, attention, favors, etc. so they play along.
Narcissism rests on a bed of secrets and lies. In order for the lies to continue, a group of accomplices must uphold the narcissists version of reality because the victim no longer is. “He’s such a good guy”, “She’s so religious”, “He’s so funny”, “She’s such a caring person” will no longer be believed if the truth about the mental, emotional, or physical abuse were to surface. So the abuser goes out of their way to create alternative storylines and insert others into these stories so they are not exposed. Because others care for the narc or again, receive some sort of compensation, they are willing to do their bidding.
Abuse does not exist in a vacuum. As such, everyone surrounding the abuse will be touched by it. As an empath, these things can be hard to reconcile because you want to assume the best of others, believe they will have your back, think they will help you, and you see the good in them. You will not understand how someone you loved and cared for would enjoy harming someone who is already a victim. But the reality is that many people get off on hurting others. Only when you have been through it can you see the sad, sick truth.
If you are considering leaving abuse, please keep these things in mind. It is not enough to escape your abuser. You must also escape the flying monkeys who will be sent after you. They will make things feel impossible. They will throw wrench after wrench in your path. As I have said before, pick them up and tighten the screws. Do not allow them to make you trip or fall. The monkeys are only sent to prevent you from resolving your karma with the abuser. They will trigger your core wounds. They will make you ask yourself “if this really worth it?” They will show you you are about to lose everything.
Abuse is a community issue and leaving the community as well as your abuser will be the hardest thing you have ever done. Let these people go. You deserve relationships with people who will not inflict pain on you for someone else’s benefit. They had the opportunity to resolve the karma in the situation but they chose to close their minds and eyes. They had the chance to develop their intuition and read between the lines. They didn’t. Let go of your karma with them. They were never good for you anyway.
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