I had a very illuminating therapy session last night.
Illuminating in a number of ways. First because I realised I was expecting to be ‘told off’ for seeing my ExP. Told off and critisised, and possibly end up feeling that I had let Angela (my counsellor) down. That feeling, that I had ‘let her down’ comes from having spent the last 14 months working hard with me, only for me to go and sabotage the efforts by revisiting the very person who cause so much pain and heartache.
The expectation that I would be critisised, because I had dome something ‘wrong’ and ‘stupid’ comes straight from my childhood- and that attitude from my mother persists in the way she treats me to the present day.
Of course that’s not what happened, and the acceptance from Angela that I am an autonomous person, and not an idiot, that there are many nuances to any story gave me the courage to examine my motivations in more detail.
We looked at my feelings about the early days of the relationship, and my conviction that I had met ‘the’ person; and what that meant, how his strength and conviction provided me with the courage to stick to my beliefs and move forward from my marriage. How my extreme fragility at that time(even though I wasn’t fully aware of it) attracted me to his emotional support We talked about how my lack of self confidence and need to ‘rescue’ set me up to be the financial ‘giver’ and how that met some needs in me. The very low self esteem I have written about before meant that, in some ways, by providing something that he indisputably ‘needed’ (money) made me feel more secure, in a way I might not have with someone more independent.
We talked about co-dependency / interdependency as a framework for looking at why this relationship met so many of my needs as well as his. Co-dependency is a word used to describe an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. Co-dependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior. Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity. This is me exactly. Codependency does not refer to all caring behavior or feelings, but only those that are excessive to an unhealthy degree. One of the distinctions is that healthy empathy and care-giving is motivated by conscious choice; whereas for codependents, their actions are compulsive, and they usually aren’t able to weigh in the consequences of them or their own needs that they’re sacrificing. Some codependents often find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of rescuer, supporter, and confidante. These helper types are often dependent on the other person’s poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs. I think I was, to some extent, dependent on his lack of income, to make myself feel secure: why would he be with me otherwise?
Alongside that come a fear of intimacy / trust issues on both sides. I don’t mean trust as in infidelity, but deep trust, that you partner will care for you and support you whatever – and we both came with baggage; his from a broken marriage which was very damaging, and me from my past and my marriage to a drug addict.
I have also recognised how very, very much I am afraid of being ‘alone’ . No on a day to day basis, on the contrary, a ‘day to myself’ is a luxury I enjoy at the moment – but in the long term, being without a partner to do stuff with, to go on holiday with, to build a future with. Angela raised this with me ages ago, and because ‘day to day’ I am happy alone, I couldn’t see that I HATE the idea of being alone for ever. This is undoubtedly a pull back to the familiar being in a ‘relationship’ scenario.
Also featuring in there somehow, is the complete lack of ‘drama’ in my life as it is now. Nothing bad, but nothing very good either. Its all a bit humdrum. No drinking removes the highs (and lows) from a drunken evening, Its hard for me to relax in social situations without alcohol, so although I can do it, I don’t enjoy social gatherings as much as I once did. For someone who has lived the majority of the last 30 years with some drama of another – some extremes of emotion featuring quite highly in the picture of my life, the humdrum / lack of anything to get excited about, is hard; I feel ’empty’ with no way of crawling out of the shade into the sunlight.
Talking about this stuff, in a non judgmental way was so helpful. I don’t have any answers yet, but I do at least have a framework of thoughts and behaviours to look at. The future is still unknown and the issues haven’t gone away, but perhaps I am understanding the drivers behind my feelings rather better….