Friday, March 31, 2017

How Can I Trust You Not to Hurt Me, When You Can't Trust You Not to Hurt You?


I’ve realized in perusing prior blogs that I need to correct one statement:

“To me, love is not only when you can put the welfare of someone else above your own needs—you don’t love someone if you will cause them pain to get your needs met—but also when you just love who they are.”

Well. I don’t need to correct it. I need to amend it.

The reason I need to do that is, Chi would have read that and said, “But I AM putting the welfare of someone else above my own needs! I won’t cause them pain to get my own needs met!” while at the same time sitting there with a wife who’s on Facebook for hours all night and doesn’t even appear to notice he’s in the house. 

So, let’s be a little clearer about that.

It’s important to include yourself among those whose needs count. And it’s important to make your needs AS important as other people’s. NOT, “more important than,” AS important AS. There’s a difference, and it makes a big difference to the quality of your life and to all your relationships.

The codependent says, “I can’t do that, because other people ARE more important than me. I can’t see it any other way because I know that I am not good enough. I am subservient to other people’s needs and wants because I am so unworthy that this is the only way I can make myself attractive enough to other people to even have any other people around me.”

But there’s a problem with that.

And that problem is: If you are doing that, you are hurting yourself.

And this is how it works. You have a lifelong dream, say it’s to write a novel. You’ve had this dream almost twenty years. Yet, you’ve never done it, because your significant other does not support that. When she wants to go do social activities or participate in some club you first met in, you WANT to say no, “I really want to stay home and write.” But that person attacks you in some way. “What do you need to do THAT for?” Or, “But everyone will really miss you. What about X, Y, and Z that we used to do together? I will really miss you.” And you go, Why am I doing this? I am just being selfish. (Especially if
you’ve just had an affair. Now you really feel guilty.) And you put the pleasing of the other person and the fulfillment of their needs above the pleasing of yourself and the fulfillment of your needs. 

And you and she agree that in so doing, you are a good person.

And the problem with that is: You’ve just hurt yourself. 

That lifelong dream meant something to you. It was really, really important. It was fun, it was fascinating, you’ve been collecting research for that project for years. You’re not going to be here forever. When are you going to get to DO it??

If you keep saying yes when you need to say no, the answer is never.

Sometimes it may be that you come upon that carton of your old research on the floor, shoved up into a corner. And when you see it, it hurts. Oh, well. I guess that will never be me. When will I ever get to do that? I guess never. Others want me to do other things instead, and I don’t want to hurt them, so I guess that will be never.

Now, let’s get real, here. Is your relationship getting a bit one-sided? And who really is being hurt the worst? Yep, I did the same thing, but my husband was dying. Dying. This is a little bit different. What the two of you are trying to do is live. Harmoniously.

Think of your relationship like a seesaw. In the perfect marriage the seesaw balances in the middle. My needs; your needs. They balance on the fulcrum. When you give up your lifelong dream so the other person gets to have you around in the way they want you to be, you move a weight from their side of the seesaw and add it to yours. Now the other person feels “up” a bit more in their life, and you feel a bit more “down.” Look at the gift of understanding you’re giving. That person is sad not to have you with them. You feel the empathy with that person’s sadness. But when you ask for some empathy: “But this is my lifelong dream. I’ve been wanting to do this my whole life,” what are you met with? “What do you need to do THAT for?” With the subtext, Don’t you know you are supposed to be just like me? Like what I like, want what I want? Be my absolute companion in absolutely everything? Be me with me, and sometimes even FOR me??

You’re not getting back that empathy you’ve just shown. Another weight moves to your end of the seesaw. Now you’re even lower. That person doesn’t understand me. I guess I’m really not worth caring about. Down goes your end of the seesaw again. 

Would it really kill that person to go to an event by themselves? “My sweetie is home writing their novel, they’ve wanted to do it their whole life and I’m so proud of them. Multitalented, that one I married!” 

What a gift that would be! But they can’t give you that gift, the gift of being yourself. You give them the gift of being themselves, but in this area it isn’t returned. And their end of the seesaw goes even higher, and your end goes even lower.

Now imagine you are doing this EVERY time there is a decision to be made, in EVERY area of your life with this person. What are you going to do for a living? Other person’s favor. Where are you going to live? Other person’s favor again. How is the inside of the home to be kept, and who performs what labor? Other person’s favor AGAIN. Do we have sex or not? When? How? Other person's favor A-G-A-I-N.

YOU call this “being kind.” “I can’t hurt that other person by saying no.” 

But at the same time, your end of the seesaw is going waywaywaywayway down. And you feel bad all the time.

Does the other person care that you feel this bad? You don’t know, because you won’t tell. If the other person really doesn’t care about your feelings, is this a relationship you should be in or stay in? You don’t know, because you won’t tell. 

You aren’t talking up, and in any relationship, talking up is your job and your responsibility, and this seesaw example illustrates the reason why. 

You are hurting yourself. And you can’t trust yourself to speak up for yourself, be the real you, and stop your end of the seesaw from hitting the dirt.

Let me tell you a little secret. When your end of the seesaw is deep in the mud, that’s when you decide to have an affair.

And that really hurts the other person, more than it ever would have hurt if you had spoken up about all those million little decisions all those months and years before. 

Some of those decisions hurt you way more than they would have hurt the other person to let them go your way. They really, really did. And you let it happen. Worse, you lied about who you were and what makes you happy and what doesn’t. That person thinks they know you when really they do not. Now you’re trapped in a lifetime of role-playing.

That really hurts.

And you can’t trust yourself not to hurt yourself. In a new relationship, when all these little moments come up, you’re still doing the same thing. “I must make this new person happy. I must make this new person happy. I’m no good if I don’t.”

And your seesaw is going down again.

Let me tell you that no one who really loves you wants either YOUR end or THEIR end to go down. And if you give a living shit about your relationship, YOU DON’T WANT EITHER END GOING DOWN, EITHER. Because the end of that road is, somebody’s seesaw seat is knee-deep in mud, and that person in distress finds someone else.

If you can’t trust yourself not to let your end of the seesaw go down, they can’t trust you not to have an affair.

Which is why I named this post, “How Can I Trust You Not to Hurt Me, If You Can’t Trust You Not to Hurt You?” 

Let David Flynn tell it, if you don't believe me.

And Jane's side of the story... 

Friday, March 24, 2017

I Will Accept It If


So I’m listening to Jerry Wise talk about the stuckness of the marriage after the affair. 

After the affair, the betrayed spouse remains permanently in a tizzy. “What happened? Why did it happen? Will he ever do it again? Who’s that texting him on his phone? I’m going to make him let me into his email and I’m going to read it all before he reads it. Oh, no, he’s going to hurt me again. When will that be?” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Not that they don’t have reason to worry. If you’re Rory and you don’t stop behaving the way I’ve described in this blog, you are creating in your partner active unhappiness and the desire to get away from you.

And if you’re a guy like Chi, and you had an affair out of extreme codependency and the inability to talk up, be heard, and fight for your needs in the relationship so your end of the seesaw doesn’t end up all the way in China somewhere, chances are high that you are going to repeat the same thing in the next relationship, should you somehow manage to get yourself out of this one.

Which gives both the betrayed spouse and the affair partner pause. It doesn’t matter WHO gets him, or if neither gets him and some unknown third party ends up with him down the line. This is a codependent person who will bury himself in untold misery and have an affair before he tells you anything.

If he leaves “her” and you’re the new wife, how the fuck do you live with:  “What happened? Why did it happen? Will he ever do it again? Who’s that texting him on his phone? I’m going to make him let me into his email and I’m going to read it all before he reads it. Oh, no, he’s going to hurt me again. When will that be?” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

For that matter, if he stays with you and you’re the OLD wife, how the fuck do you live with:  “What happened? Why did it happen? Will he ever do it again? Who’s that texting him on his phone? I’m going to make him let me into his email and I’m going to read it all before he reads it. Oh, no, he’s going to hurt me again. When will that be?” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

So you adore the guy and you still want to be with him.

Daunting, isn’t it?

How would I live with that?

That’s when I understood: This kind of situation, should you elect NOT to pass this one by and wait on the next car, requires a very distinct and solid fortitude. You have to be able to say, “I knew this, and I chose this anyway because I loved him and I wanted to give it every chance. I knew the risks. I also know that if worse comes to worst, I can and will just pass it by gracefully and live the rest of my life peacefully all alone. I thought it was worth it to me to take the chance, I took it, and this is how it turned out. Now I’m going to do this, this, and this, and this will be my new life all by myself. And there’s no upset, there’s no devastation, there’s no make-wrong, because I saw this with cool eyes and a cool head, this was one of the outcomes, and now it’s the outcome I’m in.”

I’d NEVER have had to do that with Simon, because Simon was a whole different animal. He’d have stood toe to toe with me forever, fighting like a tiger for what he wanted me to give him in the relationship, but he would NEVER have cheated. (I had other problems with him.) 

Chi will cheat rather than fight. It’s called, Codependency and Low Self-Esteem, and it’s raised and trained in. Obviously I’d require that both of us be in treatment for the rest of our lives, but that may fail. I’d have to totally adopt that credo up there if by some chance I ever married this guy. 

So then I thought, Why don’t I just do that now? If I’m so sure I can do it then, what’s the matter with now? Why am I so sure I can do it then when I’ve spent the last two years completely devastated after having him in my life only four months?

Neil Strauss has written this wonderful book, The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships. In it he describes his years-long recovery from sex addiction (and some very raunchy and damn near fatal episodes.) Near the end, he finds himself longing for his one true love, whom he left behind after cheating on her, because he wanted to try an open relationship and she didn’t. He’s understandably nervous about crawling back to her and begging her forgiveness, and anticipating how horrible it will be if she says no and he has to face the fact that he’s lost her forever.

Strauss writes,

     Accept what is.

     With one army vanquished, the next attacks, the terror of self-doubt. What if this is how I sound     when I see Ingrid? What if Ingrid thinks exactly what I’m thinking right now? What if she’s right? 

     What if…Today I will expunge those two words from my vocabulary and replace them with, I will accept it if.  

     I will accept it if this is how I sound when I see Ingrid. I will accept it if Ingrid thinks exactly what I’m thinking right now. I will accept it if she’s right.

And I will accept it if this guy leaves me for someone else.

He’s already left me to go back to Rory. It’s already happened. Two years ago. If I can’t accept it now, I surely won’t be able to at any other time in my/his/our/anyone else’s short time on this earth.

And if you can’t accept it, do not allow it back into your life.

And the KEY to accepting it is turning, I’m just going to die if he cheats on me again, it will tear me to shreds, into, I am strong enough to get through it and I know I will be okay.

And if you’re the wife, this same stance might also be useful for you.

And, yo! 

If you’re the codependent, get yourself into individual therapy with the goal of developing a solid core of self-esteem and childhood trauma recovery so that you don’t do this again to yourself or to anyone else.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Look Out! Your Ghost May Linger Forever...


I knew more about affairs, marital problems, adult child issues, and codependency than most people, at the time that Chi happened along, I think.

But there was one thing I was naïve about.

I thought that if the married guy rejected you, he and the wife would be hunky-dory, would close ranks against you, the enemy; and henceforth their marriage would be strengthened, and your name and memory would be forever mud. 

Turns out that's not entirely the case.

If I had known this when I started up with Chi, would I still have done it? 

I might have. 

On the one hand, I had such qualms about what I knew Rory would go through that I put myself in the hospital having a one-hour panic attack. (Yes, that was all about Rory. I never told Chi that.) On the other hand, I was very angry with Rory. Her behavior was appalling and reprehensible, and worse, Chi did not know that all marriages were not like this and that he did not deserve it. 

I was angry enough at Rory that if I had known I was potentially damaging the marriage forever, I might have done it just to have that extra bit of leverage at wresting him from her. I also faced the possibility that, if I didn’t give Chi the (limited) experience of love that I did, and he went back to Rory and nothing ever got better, he very well might climb into his grave at ninety and a half never having known any better treatment from anyone.

Oh, no. HELL, no. NO WAY was I risking that one. Not with a sweet, smart, good-hearted, lovely, absolutely darling guy like this one.

But now I do know that, and (I know. Horoscopes again. Bleah.) But, should they be correct, I have to consider this if there’s a change in circumstances in the near future.

Do I want to use this fact to, in effect, drive Rory half nuts and force her into pushing Chi away? Because, dear sisters in harlotry, that is what we are doing. Now you know.

For my part, I don’t think so. If I win, I want to win fair and square, not simply because I drove Rory insane. (Especially if I was mean enough to actually do it on purpose.

 And if Chi leaves, he learns and matures a great deal more if the decision comes from him and is enforced by him, rather than if he’s forced into it by someone else, or lets the women in his life make (yet another) major life decision for him.

If he shows in my section ever again, it’s going to be Healthy Self And Healthy Relationship Boot Camp or the highway. He’s gonna need those skills for that.

For your part, recognize this. If he leaves you and goes back to his wife (or she leaves you and goes back to her husband)—and the odds are overwhelming that this is exactly what will happen—YOU HAVE DAMAGED ANOTHER PERSON’S MARRIAGE POSSIBLY FOREVER, and you still lose the person anyway.

Do you really want that on your conscience, besides the broken heart you could be nursing, oh, for the next two or so years??

Friday, March 10, 2017

Codependency Runs the World (Or, at Least, MY World.)


I saw my middle stepson recently. I also purchased The Everything Guide to Codependency. I thought I was just reading Reasons To Stay The Fuck Away From Chi Unless And Until He Applies Himself In Codependency Therapy And Is Legally Divorced, but I also saw two other things, especially after seeing my middle stepson.

One, that boy has serious problems, and blames his dad, my late husband, for EVERYTHING. It really is something else to hear him talk about a family life that apparently was absolutely HORRIBLE, and bears very little resemblance to the guy I fell in love with, married, and spent my happiest years with. I already knew Simon's first wife was diagnosed with BPD. But, I also know that BPDs often pair off with extremely controlling people, including narcissists. In reading TEGTC, I can see how the narcissistic traits can come from codependency. I know Simon's father left the family when he was very young, and the mom, the older sister, and Simon all had to work as soon as the kids were old enough to get jobs. Simon used to joke about having enough money meaning the lights and the water were both on at the same time. And apparently he was a drinker and a compulsive gambler in his other life. In things he said about his background, it was clear that he was working EXTREMELY hard at a very young age. And you can see in his books, how his family was supposed to reflect back to him a perfect view of himself. His son says that, too, and he didn't even read his dad's last book. He said they made him mad. (I used to tell Simon they'd sell better if the main characters had a little deeper and more defined imperfections. And he was sort of getting there in the new series he had started.)

I think his life task was overcoming the narcissism. He had traces of it with me, but NOTHING like he had in his first family. I seem to be attracted to codependent men, and they seem to be attracted to me. My boyfriend before Simon had these tendencies, too. By the same token, Chi seems to be attracted to women whose fathers died when they were very young, leaving their overwhelmed mothers to manage multiple young children alone. The difference between Rory and me is that Rory's mother was high-functioning (held a job outside the home, etc.) and Rory turned out low-functioning (doesn't know her own feelings, only works one day a week, sickly and dependent on Chi for everything); and my mother was low-functioning and I turned out the opposite. Interesting.

It seems as if, all my life, people come to me when they're ready to do better. Look at my grandparents. They royally screwed up raising my mother and her brother and sister. Both girls were seriously psychologically messed up, and I know my uncle had his problems, too. My grandfather even knocked my brother around some when he was little. (When no one else was present; I didn't even know about it until we were grown.) But my grandparents treated me the way my mother should have. I think they are a big reason I have been able to make the strides that I did and why I've been able to make steady progress in my life. I hear the stories and think I must have had a charmed life: "Am I the *only* person these people didn't hit or molest??"

And Simon was a way different person with me than he was in his first family, too. I'll never forget him in the bathroom, barely able to stand up, wiping pee off the toilet rim while trying not to fall down in the last days of his life--something I had been begging him to do since he moved in. I had to stop him and tell him he didn't need to do that anymore. One of the things he said to me was, "I haven't been much help to you, have I?" in the last months of his illness. Interesting.

Out of all the people Chi could have picked to have a "flirtation" with, he picked me. Somebody committed to wellness. He must have actually considered getting well at some point.

BUT HE NEVER WILL IF I'M STILL CODEPENDENT MYSELF. (Neither, for that matter, will I.)

It's as if the relationship with Simon was a sort of cosmic break. "Okay," said the Universe. "You've been having too tough a time, here, and if we don't throw you one, you're never going to make it. So here's this 'easy' relationship, where the bumps on your head fit the holes in his, you're aimed the same way in life together, you've got the love he needs and he's got the humor, fun, and optimism you need, and all your interests are the same and you'll be best friends...juuuust long enough for you to gain some confidence in yourself and your ability to get along in the world alone, and then, we're taking him away and we now return you to your regularly scheduled program...

CODEPENDENCY! Now, here's the weakest, sickest codependent you could ever find, so you can go back and fix the last few codependency problems you got from Mom. 'Cause they NEVER would have shown up with Simon, and you thought you were fine!


Oh, that Universe. What a tricky little fucker.

I'm studying hard. I thought I had all the reasons I need to stand firm if the person in question does, in fact, make a reappearance as scheduled. Nope. Didn't have them all. I sort of feel like I'm taking a final exam.

Maybe this is one reason I'm all alone and can't seem to find the right people. Life doesn't always give us what we need. Especially when we're old, many, many, many, many people find themselves all alone. It's sort of like being a hermit in the wilderness or something. If you can't survive on your own, you may be a codependent. I'll need to be able to do that very, very well, or else I'll just fall prey again to Chi or any other codependent male who happens down the pike. Or, if Chi could otherwise do better, I'll be the one who messes him up!

I'm learning a lot about codependency I never knew before. People think if they've read Melody Beattie they know it all, but, um, no. That isn't the case.

If there's Some Great Fate that's assigned me and Chi to each other, only we have the choice to Do It Poorly, or to Do It Well, I need to know this stuff. If he's never going to get well and I Need To Run For My Life, I need to know this stuff. If I Just Go And Pick Out Another One, I definitely need to know this stuff.

Life was a lot happier four years ago. But if Simon had lived, I never would have progressed in the curriculum, here. That aspect of life really, really blows some stinky, green CHUNKS.

I hope wherever he is, Simon knows I'm thankful for who and what he was in my life.

@ Chi: Are you ready to progress in the curriculum, here? 'Cause if you're not, we need to never see each other again.

That would be a sad waste.

But I can't change that.

That would be codependent.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Fear of the Future


2017 is here. In my horoscopes, it coincides with the entry of a very difficult relationship into my life. One that sounds suspiciously like the one that left in 2015. It could be anybody, but when I look at Chi's horoscopes, they are showing me the same thing at the same time, from the other side of the fence.

At first, I was happy! 

And then I went, Now I'm expecting this, and fall will roll around and it hasn't happened. And I'll be dejected.

Then I went a little bit further. Apparently, in whatever dysfunctional relationship that's supposed to present itself--and yes, it's two girls and one guy--in a few years, I win. 

And it's a disaster.

He's disappointed with me. I'm not what he expected. And I am the recipient of some very unsettling behavior *I* never expected. 

Reality sets in, and in this case it truly does bite.

I didn't know WHAT to make of all this. I've known Chi for almost twenty years! He isn't like this!!

And then I just happened to stumble upon a video by the Fabulous Jerry Wise of Family Tree Counseling, about "Being Married to an ACoA." Halfway through the video, the horoscopes all made sense.

NOW I see why the horoscopes look so bad. 

He has mood problems I don't expect, more than likely occasioned by PTSD-type reactions to things in the present that seem like things that happened in his childhood, and I don't know what's going on. I enter the relationship believing that now that he's FINALLY left Rory, everything will be hunky-dory--and then I get hit with these, possibly intractable, mood disorder-type problems, and I don't know what hit me. And I'm determined to stay with him, because I've promised myself  and him that he's my whole life and I love him forever and ever and he's the only one for me, and now I'm all enmeshed and he's all enmeshed and the problems don't get addressed properly, and I'm not taking care of myself.

I MUST NOT grab an arm and pull if he shows up again with Rory still on his other arm.

IF I DO, I damage him irreparably, and I'm only doing it because I'm damaged myself. Because I'm soooo attached to my initial fantasy of him that I can't move on. Because I can't see any other way to be happy in my life and I'm depending on him to "make" me happy. 

If you ask my charts, anyway, I wear Rory down and get him, but I'll still be so obsessed with him "making" my life and me being able to think of myself as a hero for it; and he'll be so destroyed by the seven years of angsting and back-and-forthing, instead of being in treatment, that he won't get well. 

And it all ends in hell and disaster.

So, what needs to happen is: If he melts down suddenly and comes back. I'll say no. I'll have to tell him all this. And he'll go back to Rory, and either it will be so bad he'll leave her, or he'll make the compromise to stay whether he is or isn't happy.

And I have NO timeline as to how THAT will go, so I'll need to assume I've seen him for the last time and just move on with my life. It's entirely possible we never see each other again. 

Unless he surprises me, which I doubt. If he does, I have a guidebook for the rest of the relationship. And I know I can't be there unless both of us are much, much healthier.

WHEN I refuse to take an arm and pull, whatever outcome happens, just happens sooner. He'll see Rory is a mess and leave sooner than seven years, or I'll meet someone else sooner, and that will turn out to be the right relationship.

If he comes back this year, all it really means is I get a do-over...a chance to DO THE RIGHT THING this time, send him back to his marriage, and walk away. I have that job to do, and if he shows up again, it's my responsibility to do that job to the best of my ability, then see what my next assignment is, him or someone else.


But it may very well be that my assignment really is to just spend the rest of my life alone. I'm forty-eight, and I'm getting fat and losing my hair. I don't meet many--make that ANY--people who even look remotely suitable. Ever.

So let's just get on with spending the rest of my life alone.


The whole reason I did this is I'm afraid of being alone. I was left alone emotionally my whole life, with an emotionally unstable mother who turned me into a mini-her and cruel schoolmates who made me feel like dogshit. So I envisioned a beautiful life where everything would one day be perfect and make it all up to me, where I would be vindicated as a better person than all those who had wounded me and treated me so terribly, and where I would finally find the love and the good relationships I had always needed.

But I got older, and life wasn't working out that way. I was having problems in my career, and I was terrified of being unemployable and homeless. When Simon came along, it looked like my dream was finally coming true!

And part of it did. I really did have that supportive, perfect-enough, happy, wonderful, loving relationship, but other things didn't go right in the world. I got stuck with the care of two mentally ill, handicapped people. We didn't have much money. And then cancer happened, and my Simon died and left me.

And I was still convinced I couldn't make it in the world alone, and I was still scared of being alone.

And all that got dumped onto Chi.

Poor Chi.

If the relationship ever happens again, it needs to be two people committed to honesty and becoming healthy, not two people committed to achieving fantasies of perfect meeting of needs. That's not the real world. Either we're two authentic people committing to growing and working on health--while also enjoying life--or I need another relationship that works like that.

And if I don't find one, then I'm alone.

There's no point being scared. Unless you die first, someday you're going to be all alone no matter what. Just like I am now.

It may be that I am only with him for as long as it takes to learn this lesson, and once I've learned it, he's gone and I never see him again. My horoscopes only look as awful for as long as they do because I originally intended to take my entire lifetime to learn this lesson. 

(Boy, is THAT a frightening thought.)

I'd SO much rather than he can get well and I can get well, and we link hands and choose to get well together. Assuming Rory doesn't wake up and do this sooner. (She's not healthy, either.)

Guess we'll find out.