March 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm #141031
I met a girl, and I don't want to mess it up.
I got divorced last year from a narcissist. Years of mental abuse had formed me into a wreck of a person. My empathy became codependency. During our separation and even after the divorce, my ex used her influence over me and the effects of trauma bonding to keep me around as a source of supply for her narcissism. I was always back and forth with her creating drama or building hope in me and it was messing me up pretty bad.
In July I met someone very sweet and who had gone through a similar experience with her divorce. I thought we were on the right track. We became a couple by the end of August, and I finally felt like things might be getting better in my life, but it didn't last. Because of her own insecurities after her divorce and issues she said she hadn't worked out yet, she told me that she didn't feel healthy enough to be in a relationship. I'm sure it didn't help that my ex was harassing her also, so we broke up the by the beginning of December.
I kind of took a step back myself after that. I was really sick of feeling so horrible. The codependency that I had acquired while I was married was constantly screaming at me and making me obsessive with the need to be in a relationship. It took awhile and it's been a constant battle with my emotions, but I'm finally getting into a better mindset where I prioritize myself, love myself and tend to my own needs in order to find happiness instead of depending on trying to make someone else happy in order to feel good about myself.
So I've met someone… Just out of the blue with no expectations! She's awesome, and seems so perfect to me, but I'm terrified! I don't want to put my heart back out there again and get hurt, but I'll never experience love again if I don't try. It's still very early, but I've seen that we communicate really well, I don't feel uncomfortable talking to her, I don't feel the need to overly impress her, she likes who I really am.
I'm also worried about my codependency coming back again! I don't want to smother or be clingy. I don't want to obsess and make her the center of my happiness. But I also don't want to appear distant or uninterested…
I just want to be normal for once after not even being able to remember what it's like!
How do I keep a good thing?
RamoneMarch 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm #141043
The first thing that came to mind is to talk about what's on your mind, specifically what you're calling codependency. Since you're just getting to know her, you go easy, not too much depth right now. But in a growing and healthy relationship, I think you'll want to say something like, “Hey there's this thing I've been working on. Sometimes I feel scared that people I care about might leave. I'm working on this by talking with a therapist to understand where it comes from, and I'm reading such and such books.”
See the two parts? 1) Gently and honestly sharing a personal challenge you have. 2) Sharing what you're doing about it so that you and she will know it's your goal to manage it. (If you get closer, she may even become a partner, but not a fixer, in supporting your work)
I think if you pretend this part of you doesn't exist, it may come up at a time when neither you nor she is prepared to deal with it.
Go easy, enjoy this new interest!March 21, 2017 at 6:39 pm #141047
Instead of looking into the vast future in front of you, worrying, cut the future into small, doable chunks of one phone call, one evening, one day at a time. Sometimes one moment, one hour at a time. Stay as present as you can during the small chunks of time that you spend with her.
Whatever you communicate to her, never put yourself down; you can share anything and everything you choose to share in a respectful way, respectful toward yourself. When you share a weakness, balance it with a bit of strength so that you present yourself realistically, vulnerable and resourceful.
Remember she is not … perfect (whatever it is, perfect), and it is okay for you to not be that either. As you share with her, ask her questions as well, gently, let her share, built a win-win relationship so that the two of you help each other.
Keep taking care of yourself, managing anxiety, using healthy distractions, keep your body active, and post here anytime, for more input, if you'd like.
anitaMarch 23, 2017 at 2:07 pm #141375
Thank you for your input! Solid, grounding advice from both of you.
Craig, I recently read a book called No More Mister Nice Guy. It was a very good book that helped me identify and begin to address a lot of the issues that I run into in my relationships. I reread things sometimes and I'm addressing my codependency by remembering to put myself first and taking control of what I thought I had no control over. I really appreciate your approach of being honest with what I would normally consider a weakness by presenting it in a way that shows I know it's a vulnerability, but i'm strong enough to be aware and work on myself.
Anita, thanks for reminding me to not put myself down. I've always felt like I'm not good enough and that I have to be this larger than life, perfect person in order to earn someone elses attention. I know now that it's not supposed to be that way. Just like you pointed out that she can't be perfect either.
We continue to talk daily. We both initiate conversations, so that makes me feel better that it's not just me showing interest. The conversation is great as we both discover common interests and share the uncommon ones. I guess I just feel good about the progress of everything even though inside I'm scared shitless!!!
I'll keep you guys updated… Thanks again,
RamoneMarch 23, 2017 at 6:56 pm #141415
You are very welcome. Since you are scared, better proceed slowly, thoughtfully. Maybe she is scared too… maybe when you learn about what she is afraid of, her challenges, you will feel better about your own fear and challenges. And best, if at one point soon, you can help each other and so, promote each other's well being.
Looking forward to your updates.
anitaApril 7, 2017 at 11:18 am #144083
So, I've been doing as you suggested and just going slow and keeping things manageable. One big plus is that this positive energy in me is multiplying and making taking care of myself much easier. Not too long ago the recovery was so bogged down by depression, sadness, anxiety, and lethargy. I was self medicating with alcohol on some days just to keep from falling apart. I'm feeling much more motivated and healthy, and for once I'm using this positive influx on myself instead of obsessing over her.
Things are going great though. I really like her, and she really likes me. We still chat or talk every day, but I don't see her every day and I've noticed that I'm not having that nagging need that I would usually have with my codependency. I'm actually enjoying my alone time or hanging out with my friends. I hope that I can maintain this positive change as things progress. For once I feel like I'm with someone without the expectation that they make me happy because I'm learning to be happy on my own. What she does is helps me stay motivated and focused on being perfectly imperfect!
I'll let you know how things are going… Thank you!
wishing you health and happiness,
RamoneApril 7, 2017 at 7:54 pm #144139
You are welcome and thank you for your good wishes. What a delight it is to read your update!
Keep doing what's working. And whatever is working is not going to work perfectly, so learn along the way, make little changes, experiment and keep finding and doing what is effective.
Keep being in charge of your life, this is your best bet!
Update anytime and for as long as you'd like, I will respond.
anitaApril 21, 2017 at 7:53 am #146159
I'm amazed at how a little education and understanding has made such an impact on how I approach relationships now! We are a couple now… Introducing each other to friends and family as “my person, or my girlfriend/boyfriend”. It's very nice and it feels very healthy. I don't have the usual overwhelming pressure I felt to impress and be someone I wasn't in order to “earn love and attention”. I also feel absolutely free to pursue my passions and goals, and she supports me, just like I support her. It's obvious we care about each other, but there also isn't that obsessive need to be with each other every moment of every day. I really have to say I'm happy with the way things are going. My circumstances felt so tragic just a few months ago, but I can honestly say that I needed for these things to happen so I could develop and grow as a person who loves and respects himself for a change and I've attracted a lovely person who shares this path!
Wishing you health and happiness!!!
RamoneApril 21, 2017 at 8:17 am #146163
I appreciate the update and thank you for your good wishes!
Isn't it amazing what a good relationship can do for us… Keep doing what works, keep it a Win-Win. Any challenge along the way can be an opportunity to make it more of a Win-Win. Keep the EAR going: Empathy, Assertiveness, Respect. Always respect, both ways.