“Your relationship to yourself is and always will be directly reflected in all your relationships with others.” ~Vironika Tugaleva
Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t know why this is happening to me?” or, “My ex is really crazy”? I have said myself, “It’s not my fault he’s a jerk.”
It can be so easy to play the victim. Surely some of us are indeed victimized, but being a victim is a whole new ball game. Pointing the finger was an art for me. Thing is, one finger was pointing at you and three were pointing back at me.
I wasn’t aware that all the things in my life were about me. Any friend, relationship, or job I landed was a direct result of how I viewed myself.
How I interacted with others and the dynamics of my romantic encounters were directly correlated to the deep wounds I developed in childhood. All my core beliefs were distorted, and I had no idea.
I believed that being in a relationship, no matter how painful, made me connected, alive, and whole.
I believed I had little self-worth and value, because my father taught me I just didn’t matter. I thought my sole purpose in life was having a man to love—showering him with admiration and adoration.
I didn’t love myself. I lacked a sense of self and I had no purpose or meaning outside of a cure-all relationship.
I subconsciously attracted into my life exactly what I believed I deserved. I didn’t know I was picking what I was picking.
I had a fear of abandonment, so I attracted a man who would leave me because the belief that I’d be abandoned had to be confirmed.
I believed I was in charge and all knowing, so I attracted friends who I could dominate and teach.
I thought men were not trustworthy and abusive, so I found jobs where my direct managers were men who were unjust and tyrannical.
I assumed my value, love, and worth were tied into someone else loving me, so I attracted someone who felt the same way about himself, and a toxic dance ensued. Neither of us met our own needs, but looked to the other to mask the wound.
I had no sense of self, so I enmeshed with you, and I adopted your life so I didn’t have to build my own.
These old beliefs were extremely difficult to unravel and rebuild. I suffered greatly in so doing.
The only way up and out was to shatter my old self, work to change distorted beliefs, and to begin living life in the darkness.
I felt like a child locked in a dark hallway, and all doors leading out were shut. I stood there all alone and threw temper tantrums, not knowing how to unlock the door. Slowly, gradually, the door began to creek open.
What I projected was simple. I projected all my feelings about myself onto you. I attracted into my life whatever I believed about myself, and because I suffered great internal pain growing up, I drew in painful relationships and circumstances as an adult.
We don’t have to suffer and stay in unhealthy relationships. There is a way out.
After recognizing my unhealthy cycle, I contacted a well known cognitive behavioral therapist that a dear mentor recommended to me and made an appointment.
Through our work together and my willingness to get better, I began to change behaviors and old distorted beliefs. I extricated myself from that tumultuous relationship, but not before embarking on another one. They both ended in 2013.
A bottom came, and the real work began. Learning to be with myself and not attaching to someone who would love me was the key to beginning to heal. Processing my childhood was also an integral part of my growth.
Today, I have a new sense of self. I have value and self-worth. I have a relationship with myself.
Nothing outside of me is filling the hole. I am meeting all my own needs. I am not living out of codependence and fear. I don’t believe today that I can be abandoned. Children can be abandoned, but adults can take of themselves.
I know now that some men are trustworthy and have my best interests in mind.
I am creative and learning to build a life of my own around my likes and interests. Some days are difficult still, but I try to remember that anyone I picked to make me happy in the past had the opposite effect. I wasn’t happy to begin with, so I didn’t pick partners who could contribute to my happiness.
As adults, we choose people and relationships that are familiar, in that they reflect our experience within our family of origin.
The people and events in your life bring with them lessons. My greatest lessons involved great pain. But my darkest days have brought me the brightest light. My soul mates were not men I was meant to marry or have children with, but were men who helped me see how I had to change.
No matter how many men cheated on me, left me, or somehow wronged me, I played a part. Sometimes it was simply participating in the dance.
As I changed my inner self, developed new beliefs, and found courage to stand on my own, I discovered that without these experiences that brought me to my knees, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am better; I am more whole and more aware of what I want simply by experiencing what I don’t want.
If you too have found yourself in a pattern of dysfunctional, unhealthy relationships, ask yourself: What’s my part? Why am I drawn to these same relationships over and over again? What’s the lesson? And how can I use these experiences to heal and make myself whole?
Angry couple image via Shutterstock