hope for healthy relationships

Once upon a time, I became obsessed with a narcissist. All I wanted was for him to commit to me and me alone.  We had so much in common.  I loved him and he loved him.  This was my unconscious pattern.  I’d done it before in my past relationships.

I tried everything I could think of to control and manipulate the situation.  I tried different ways of saying things.  I tried different ways of acting around him.  I tried making him jealous.  I threatened to end the relationship if he didn’t give me what I wanted.  I tried to convince him he was better off without me in the hope that reverse psychology was still a thing.  It wasn’t. 

The truth is I was feeding his ego and like a vampire draining the life out of their hapless victim, he was sucking the life out of me. Still, I couldn’t seem to break free.   My mind knew the relationship was unhealthy and that I was torturing myself.  Every time I tried breaking up, I’d feel this awful emptiness and within a few weeks, we’d be back together. 

Little did I realize; I was teaching him how to treat me.  I was teaching him not to respect my boundaries.  I was teaching him that I didn’t follow through.  I was teaching him that I had no deal breakers, therefore he didn’t have to stop his selfish, hurtful behaviors to keep me in his life. 

I struggled over the fact that I kept staying in this harmful situation and could not seem to let go.  It was in the program of Co-dependents Anonymous that I found the answers I needed.  I learned about how the pain of my past relationships, childhood hurts, family dysfunction, and old beliefs created in me this fertile soil to grow the seeds of codependency.  I found the ironic truth that the pain of abandonment flared up even when it was me trying to end a relationship.  I couldn’t stand the discomfort of being alone.  Fear of never finding “love” again kept me hanging on to whatever I could get even if it was abuse or emotional unavailability. 

The support in the program helped me start my journey of learning to love the self.  I began dating myself and re-parenting my child within.  Gaining new tools and practicing with safe people in CoDA, helped me find a new way of living and freedom from the bonds of codependency.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still codependent.  I always will be.  But I have a new awareness in my life now and I am developing healthy boundaries with myself and others.  As I focus on myself, I’m attracting healthier people into my life.

Codependents often remain in harmful situations too long.  That was my pattern for most of my life.  Toxic love relationships, friendships, jobs. In recovery, I am committed to my safety and leave situations that feel unsafe or are inconsistent with my goals.  I am learning about detaching with love and letting others own the consequences of their own choices.  Best of all, I believe that I am safe and secure, worthy of love and respect, and can handle whatever comes next.  There is hope in the program of Co-dependents Anonymous!

In recovery,
I am committed to my
safety and leave situations that feel
unsafe or are inconsistent with my goals.

Welcome to Recovery From Codependency | The Phoenix Spirit

I had difficulty in my love relationships, friendships and relationships with co-workers and my family. Everything felt so difficult. Why did I keep getting
— Read on thephoenixspirit.com/2020/03/welcome-to-recovery-from-codependency/

why can’t I end a bad relationship?

The weird thing about abandonment is that I feel it even if I’m the one ending the relationship. This part of my codependency is a big part of why I tend to stay in harmful situations too long. 

Perhaps you are reading this because you are in a relationship with someone you wish would change.  Maybe, you have tried to do the changing yourself.  Or crazier still, you’ve tried to get the other person to change. 

It took me 19 years to leave my husband. They weren’t all bad years but a lot of bad stuff happened along the way. There were times I almost ended it but then again…what if things got better? I tried everything to get him to change so I could be happy. It didn’t work. When I finally did divorce him, I found myself continuing to caretake him and try to fix and control his life. I couldn’t just walk away.

I followed that with another destructive and dysfunctional relationship.  I would break it off but within a week or two…six at the most…be right back where I started.

WTF??

I suffered from the pain of abandonment trauma. 

Huh?

That fear of being left, of losing those you love, of being rejected, of never finding love again. Many co-dependents suffer with fear of abandonment. The roots may be in childhood when a parent or caregiver left, neglected or rejected you. Most of us don’t get to adulthood without suffering some losses. A loved one’s death, a relationship or friendship ending…it’s easy to get stuck somewhere in the process of grieving our losses.

Promise #5

For me it was my mom’s mental illness.  I understand it now.  How chaotic behavior, her periods of absence during hospitalization or incapacitation and times watching her walk out after an angry tirade left me with confusion, insecurity and self-blame. 

I had many of the common signs of abandonment fear including:

  • Being quick to attach, especially to unavailable partners.
  • People pleasing.
  • Staying in situations no matter how unhealthy it got.
  • Feeling unworthy of love.
  • Intense feelings of separation anxiety.
  • Overthinking things and working hard to figure out the hidden meaning in literally everything.
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism.
  • Repressed anger.
  • Big time control issues.
  • Self-blame.
  • Feelings of “otherness”, like I didn’t belong.

When I stay in harmful relationships or situations, waiting for it to get better and allowing myself to be hurt, it is self-abandonment. I’m so focused on fixing the other guy that I leave myself in the cold.

The healing started when I got into therapy, found my tribe in CoDA, and finally realized that when I fail to love and accept myself as I am and to protect myself with healthy choices, I am actually abandoning myself. This self-abandonment perpetuates my fears, insecurities and feelings of worthlessness. Then comes the people pleasing, approval seeking and other harmful, co-dependent behaviors…and we ride the crazy train back to the station once again.

If you’ve found this article and you are reading it thinking…wow, sounds a little like my life, then I have good news for you. My life changed when I found co-dependents anonymous. I found people just like myself who were actively working to heal. I didn’t feel like such a needy freak anymore. They were experiencing the promises coming true in their lives. There is hope. I was able to break the pattern of repeated, bad relationships and nurture a new relationship with a person who will never abandon me again.

Me.