Shift away from the question – does he want to marry me to do I want to marry him

I think I am not exaggerating much when I say that women are taught to be obsessed about male approval. I mean, look at the journals – seven ways to cook delicious dinner for your boyfriend, sex tricks to keep him hooked etc etc. I wonder when we will see the day that one male magazine will start talking about how to impress women with seven course dinner or at least recommendations on which kind of restaurant to take the wife. One could argue that men impress women differently, through making money etc etc, but I would still assert that there is so much stress around will he like me and nearly not enough stress on will she like me.

I read relationship blogs for fun. I like to analyze people and forums are the perfect place for this. Once in a while you get a woman asking questions like – my man cheated on me with another woman and now he cannot make up his mind as to with whom he wants to be, what can I do to make him stay? Again, at this point alarm bells should start ringing, because the real question should be, what can and should he do. By rewarding his bad behavior – cheating, you are just going to send out the message, that this is a good strategy to get you working harder.

This all is of course very personal, because I have dedicated my life to being liked by guys. My own relationship has not moved much during the last couple of years and we have had many heated discussions on family and kids. All this time I was trying to figure out how to make him commit, but to be honest, that was the wrong question to begin with. The real question is, do I want to commit to him. Is he measuring up to my standards?

Now this is a question which presumes that you do not have strong abandonment issues. My abandonment issues made it impossible for me to ask this sooner. They also made sure that my boyfriend felt like he was in total control because I would never leave him. I am currently working on my abandonment issues and to be honest as a result I understand how tired I am. I am so tired of guys who cannot make up their mind and drag the relationship on and on. I am so tired of guys who assume that of course it is woman’s dream to have a family and marriage and hence it is the woman who needs to impress him and sell him this idea. I guess I am in general tired of convincing someone of anything. In the end if the commitment is so difficult to make for one side, what is the value or the point?

Ode on bullying

Can I talk to you? Can I trust you. To be honest I just feel so scared. Everything scares me. The world, the knowledge that I have to be brave enough to go outside and face it, it scares me.

It is easier when I am anonymous. It has always felt safer for me to be anonymous. I like living in big, unrevealing block buildings. Thousands of other people like me. More weirdness. More others to judge. Nobody notices. People not knowing and noticing feels safe to me.

I like to run away when I notice a familiar face. I have taken parallel streets just to avoid facing familiar people. I have literally escaped. What is so scary about those that know me?

Maybe it is the expectations. Disappointing them. Knowing that they judge me. Knowing that they can see me. I am suddenly not part of cityscape anymore. I have been noticed, spotted out.

When you are anonymous, you have the invisibility coat. Nobody can hurt you because nobody cares. But suddenly you have become a person. They have noticed you and singled you out.

Thousands of eyes on you. Everybody agreeing that you deserve to be picked on. That you should be casted out. That you do not belong.

As long as you are invisible, then maybe you can still enjoy the warm feeling of being surrounded with people, imagining that you are not alone. But suddenly you are put on a spotlight and your aloneness becomes apparent not only for you, but also for those around you. It is like a signal – she will have nobody to protect her. It is safe to attack.

Deciding and becoming the person you want to be

One of the most fundamental events in my life was no doubt meeting and breaking up with my ex boyfriend, lets call him here Paul. See Paul was this committed, hard-working, responsible, wise etc etc guy. I idealized him. Among other things Paul was however also very perfectionistic and I never felt that I measured up to his standards. Not really. A familiar feeling which had sent me my whole life with my mother.
Breakup with Paul devastated me. In my mind he was someone the kind I would never find in my life. After Paul I met Greg, my current partner. Greg seemingly at least in the beginning appreciated me the way I was. The problem was, I did not like myself very much at this point. I did not respect myself much.
Now all the self-help books tell us about affirmations and all the other bullshit. In my opinion telling to yourself six times a day that you are lovable does not really change much. And I am going to also make a really harsh statement here – sometimes you have some work to do with yourself in order to be at least more lovable. I know everybody keeps telling how one’s partner needs to accepted them for who they are, but frankly, if you partner is obsessive gambler – would you really want to accept them this way. Or furthermore, would it do them any good if you did? In my case I was irresponsible at the point I dated my ex. I did not take responsibility nor for my life nor my feelings. I just kept believing that a man could solve all my problems. I just shifted all the responsibility to Paul. Now mind me, but this is not a very lovable behavior.
During next years Paul’s words kept haunting me in my self-development. He was my staple for male ideal and I guess partially I wanted to become worthy of him. Now on some level it sounds sick and twisted, but on another level I think it is a good idea. It is similar to having role models in life. Paul to me helped to define who I want to be.
So who do I want to be and how has therapy helped me to reach there? Well, I want to be someone who does not complain about her life, but actually does something to improve this. I want to be someone who dares to show other her real colors. I want to have integrity in all parts of my life. I want to be faithful to my commitments.
I think the previous pretty much describes the most important values for me. So with five years in therapy I have lost quite a bit in my easy-goingness and my lust for life. I am also not the center of parties. I am not this cute, smiley and innocent girl. But instead I have become someone who I think if I met today, could respect.
I will never meet up with Paul again, I think. But I suspect that he as well, would be proud of me today.

Wanting someone to fight for me

I am realizing that part of my addiction towards unavailable men or men who blow hot and cold is, that I finally want someone to come for me. Instead of chasing my unavailable parents, I want them to chase me. I want to prove to myself that people do care and are willing to go extra mile for me.

Never before have I realized how much it hurt that my mother was willing to threaten me with abandonment during our fights. I felt like I was a commodity that could be easily cast away. Just as long as I am useful and compliant I am worth keeping, but as soon as I am not useful anymore, well – bye bye.

So I want to reverse the pattern. I want someone to care about whether they are losing me or not, instead of me constantly fighting for their love and care. I want for the first time in my life feel that I am in control, instead of constantly worrying about others abandoning me.

Quite ridiculously though, I am seeking this feeling of control, appreciation and loyalty from all the wrong sources. I am seeking this for people who are unavailable or used to being in command themselves. I am repeating the old patterns of chasing someone’s love and loyalty. No, not only in love relationships, but also in friendships. My desire to have someone fighting for me has lead me to people similar to my parents (yes also my unavailable father who kept showing up once in a while, wanting me to convince him to visit me more often). Somewhere there is a hope that once I get these people to chase me, all the evils of my childhood will be undone.

Expectations and the fear of expectations

They say that one of the reasons behind commitment phobia is a fear of expectations. I can honestly admit that I have kept my partners away from my life in order to avoid facing their judgement. I did not want them to witness what a mess I was. Eventually I had to still let someone see this mess – my current boyfriend and even he agrees that I was a hot mess when we started living together.

The funny thing about this fear of disappointing others is hence that it is completely justified. You do not want to go into a relationship warning your partner about you not having your life together. So when is the good point to tell them that well, actually……you have a depression or you are bad at housework etc etc.

In my case I am slowly facing the fact that I will never become a good family person. I believe that ship has sailed. I can try to compensate as much as I want, I can go to psychologist and I can heal my wounds, but there are some things I cannot change anymore. At least that is how I feel.

I grew up on my own. Or as my boyfriend likes to say – among cats. He has on multiple occasions compared me with a girl from a jungle – the one that has no idea how a family life should function. I have no idea how to conform to common meals. I still struggle cooking regularly. I have a tendency to hide myself behind my work. I struggle spending intimate time with my boyfriend. There is just too much to compensate for.

Family matters. Not only for psychological health, but also for our lifestyle. I have spent 30 years living like an hermit. The fact that my boyfriend is not the greatest fan of family life does not help. I feel that for any random guy I would be a complete disappointment in terms of my household skills or the lack of those. I terms of what I cannot do.

I can feel quite confident today in my skills as a social being. As a seductress. Even as partially independent woman. But I am not sure if I will ever feel confident as a housewife. And the fact that I am so painfully aware of all my misgivings in this area does not help.

Feeling unwanted as a distorting lens

My whole life I have felt unwanted. This feeling has been following me in life for so long that it has completely clouded my judgements about what is going around me. For instance I never entered to the relationship fully believing that these guys actually wanted to date me. I rather thought, well I could somehow trick them there, but wait until they find out who they are actually dating. Similarly, I felt major insecurity in social situations, where I would always assume that any moment now someone will ‘find out’ who I really am. That I am just pretending to be confident and having my life together.

This feeling of unwanted has also naturally motivated me to engage in series of relationships which were non-commitmental and long for guys who never had equal interest in me. The trouble is, I have real difficulty distinguishing when a guy is unavailable and when I am just based on my deep feeling of unwantedness over interpreting things. For instance I cannot to a date say if my ex boyfriend actually was serious about me and if he was only pushed away by my neediness and my beliefs that he does not love me or if he actually indeed did not love me. The same applies to a degree to my current relationship. I cannot understand if he is serious about me or not.

I have spent so long time believing that people do not care about me nor would choose me if they have a choice that well, all my life has basically been molded around this belief. The trouble is, this belief did not come from thin air. Naturally I spent years of hearing my mother telling me in various forms how I was unlovable and I spent years being bullied and casted out by my peers. These are painful memories which still seem so recent. Every time I feel somewhat left out of some social circle it feels way worse for me than for other people, because it just awakens all these old feelings again. Every time I suspect that my boyfriend never has had an intention to commit to me, it feels like I am not going to get out of this hole ever.

I am not sure how much of the healing has to come inside of me and how much of it has to actually come from changing the outside environment. I am starting to acknowledge that in fact several of the unavailable guys that I chased actually in fact did not want me. I am starting to acknowledge that my last visit to my boyfriend’s home was colored by his friends ‘testing me’ and being in general less than welcoming. I am also starting to acknowledge that many friends have forgotten me and many who I thought were friends cared very little for me to begin with. So everything feels somewhat a mix right now. I am trying to push through, but sometimes the pain is quite overwhelming.

Co-dependency from the perspective of dependant

I have thought about the topic of dependency quite a lot during the recent days, both in relation to my mother and my boyfriend. This post hence is somewhat a follow up to my previous post on martyrs.

I think it is fair to say that I and my boyfriend once formed a co-dependent relationship. He was the care-taker and I was the dependent. Today I am going to comment on the whole tango from my perspective.

See, I grew up with the knowledge that I was helpless. After all, my mother had built a solid ground for that in the hopes of keeping me dependent on her forever. In return for favors and occasional care-taking, she wanted the obedience and admiration.

I would say that very similar pattern existed between me and my boyfriend during the first years of our relationship (no there was no addiction there). He made it clear to me that he does not depend on me in any way and could leave at any point in time. This naturally pushed me towards more people-pleasing behaviors as I was desperately trying to keep him at my side. The knowledge that I am so dependent on him and he is so independent (at least so I thought) made me loath myself more. I knew I was dependent and I hated myself for this. He knew as well that I was dependent and that this gives him the freedom to dictate the terms of the relationship.

Not only was my boyfriend setting the terms of the relationship, he also had little respect for me. I was the needy one, the child, the dependent, who needed to be taken care of. This was a hassle, but had its benefits, because all kinds of problems in the relationship could be put on me. So I wallowed deeper in my dependency role thinking that with so many flaws and being so helpless, he was the only person who would ever going to want to be with me anyways.

If anybody has viewed a show named Californication then there we have a perfect example of co-dependent relationship. Many people might wonder why Karen keeps going back to Hank, but the answer is the same – she gets the sense of power from being the parent, being in control, being admired and dictating the terms. She takes pride in her role as a martyr. Hank and Karen are equally messed up, even though for the viewer, Hank might seem the dysfunctional one.

Why am I saying this – because there is a lot of empathy for co-dependents in our society. However, the dependents are seen as the seed of evil. Having been in this role myself, I would say that such an attitude sfurther reinforces the sense of shame which the dependent feels. From my own perspective, I can say that coming out of the role of dependent can be really difficult and often times your co-dependent partner is trying hard to keep you in this role through criticism, relentless offers of favors and by underlining their superior role.

My unconscious programming around love

My parents planted an idea in me that once you love somebody, this person will have the power to treat you like shit. Loving means being weak and letting yourself take advantage of you. This is why I never liked dogs. Part of me found it disgusting how these animals would run after their master and stay faithful even if the master was the worst asshole ever.

The message in my childhood was clear – if you love someone, they are going to hurt you. SO better not to love someone so fully. You do not want them to have all this power over you, because people…they cannot be trusted.

This message became even clearer in my therapy when I started enforcing borders. In the middle of the process I cut myself loose from my mother. Suddenly this woman who had treated me like a loyal dog my whole life showed me that she has the capacity to take me into account. The magical shift in my mother furthermore strengthened my idea that love is for weak people. I never made the connection that my mother perhaps was not fully capable of loving anyone and perhaps what made a shift in her behavior was not love but fear.

So I learned to keep my distance. Use push and pull to keep men hooked. Flirt and tease. Anything to not to let someone too close. My boyfriend saw me without borders in the beginning of our relationship. The loyal and the dedicated, doormat kind of love. The only one I knew. Long and behold, he also treated me like shit at this point. Once I finally started distancing myself from him, he began working on the relationship. So once again I took the wrong message home – there is no need to love anyone, they are just going to abuse you.

my experience with fearful-avoidant attachment

Fearful avoidant attachment pattern was the latest addition to the attachment theory and apparently describes only about 4% of people. I can quite confidently say that I have fearful avoidant attachment pattern. As I go deeper into my psyche, I am discovering more and more distortions from my childhood. My boyfriend often functions as a sounding board for that.

So the latest discovery for me was that I never believe that people can be consistently there for me. According to my boyfriend, my mother shows very little motherly instinct. Growing up with her, I got used to the fact that she can totally forget about my existence for weeks. When other parents go away for trips and miss their small children (we are talking about 4-5 year olds), then my mother does not. No, I am not exaggerating, she really does not or well, she has buried these feelings so deep that it does not even occur to her that she might. She avoided building emotional closeness with me so that she could have this freedom of not being tied to anyone else.

Avoiding this emotional closeness also meant that my mother could throw me out to the street and wait for my apology. She could go away from home and sleep somewhere else just to frighten me. So I got used to the fact that she could disappear any moment now. There was no warrantee. She did not have any strong ties with me which could not have been replaced by someone else. I was replacable as a child.

So, my habit of running after emotionally unavailable guys is completely understandable. They do avoid building this bond. These guys can disappear for months and for me this is all part of normality. This is how I imagine love. I never questioned that these unavailable guys must really love me, because questioning that would have also meant that perhaps my mother did not love me.

SO there it is, my idea of love is completely twisted.

Proud of myself

Most people around me these days have not had to fight the battles I have. They have no idea what it means to have their father yell at them for calling him father in front his colleague. They have no idea what it means to grow up with a mother who has anger issues and is neglectful.

Over last five years I have had to struggle a lot. When other people spent their money and time on exotic vacations, I was going through therapy and some pretty disturbing emotions. This is the route that the people around me will never understand. They will never understand how difficult it is to relive all of what happened in your dysfunctional childhood.

I am proud of myself exactly because I am not a drug user or being in a violent relationship. I am proud of myself because I am not on a regular basis feeling bad about myself and trying to compensate it with external validation. I am so incredibly proud over where I have come. The people around me and their healthy childhood just extenuate this fact. If I was still struggling with extremely low self-esteem and social phobia, I would never become friends or acquaintances with such people.

I know, I still have a way to go. I know I still have issues to tackle. But I can also see the immense progress I have made throughout the years. So, again, I am so proud of myself!