Updated: May 21
Hey, me too.
Not only do I have a penchant for dating my dad and reliving childhood abuse, but I've historically been a total idiot when it comes to all healthy attachments, boundaries, and independence in every category of relationship.
I've both expected others to heal me and taken it upon myself to act like a defensive mother to grown adults. I've been unaccountable for my own mental health and unwarranted reactions to other people - blaming them for making me "feel a certain way."
I've wound up in relationships so thoroughly located up each other's butts that it's hard to know where one person's dysfunction ends and another begins. I've taken things personally, pushed people away, and destroyed more mutual "I can't live without you" connections than most folks ever experience.
In short; I'm good at forming codependent relationships where mutual care to the point of martyrdom is the name of the game. Things get serious - fast - and then blow up beyond repair later when people are feeling controlled, suffocated, unsupported and misunderstood. Through in some control issues, obsessive tendencies, and emotional abuse for good measure.
Ahhh, it's been a fun ride.
I've beat myself up over it for a long time; I'm not proud of my past relationships or their dissolution. But I've accepted where my insecure attachments have fucked me and resolved to be better with every new relationship.
Turns out, that shit is really hard.
I require a lot of learning to even understand what a healthy relationship is or how creating one is possible; I never had one modeled for me. It's something that I'm deeply immersed in right now, attempting to build a healthy romantic partnership for the first time in........ no, probably for the first time.
Take my word for it - if you're similar, these resources will help:
Thankfully, there are podcasts and educational courses out there for relationship-challenged folks like me. This one is from the Relationship School (a 9 month course you can pay for) and it's called the Smart Couples Podcast. But don't worry - it isn't all about romantic love and it costs nothing. If you're fucking things up in any relationship, I recommend giving this a listen.
Psychologist Jayson Gaddis has psychology experts and science-based research on every episode for long, in-depth conversations about what we're collectively doing wrong. You'll learn about partner psychology, effective communication, and forming proper boundaries - in any association. Not to get hokey - but you'll also learn a ton about yourself, your expectations, and managing your mindset. Just wait until they call out one of your regular behaviors as abusive and destructive. Ugh. Uncomfortable and enlightening.
Quick take aways:
For me, finally, I can understand where two people come together to form a third entity - a relationship. Both parties continue to exist. Both are still responsible for their own lives and experiences. But there is a third element - the space in between the two; the relationship. Hey, now I finally know what I'm responsible for (my contributions to the relationship) and what me/my partner have no right interfering with (each other). We can accept each other and contribute positively to the space in between both bodies... or leave each other alone and keep searching.
That's a lot more simple to regulate than my prior understanding of deeply enmeshed, entangled, and boundless relationships.
Now I know, I can't blame my partner for my own misery, my unsettled life, or for their ability to upset me (if they couldn't upset me, I probably wouldn't care about them very much).
I can only be mad if they fail to uphold the agreements of our relationship or purposely cause me harm. And even then, all you can do is communicate, set new boundaries, and give it space.
Cool. Got it.
(Still easier said than done)
Hopefully, I'll be able to report less traumatized relationships as I keep learning more and giving myself new challenges. At least I have some resources for the days when I want to blame, shame, and retreat.