I’ve been speaking with a number of readers recently who have found that in spite of knowing that the person whom they are involved with was no good for them or a relationship, struggle to let it go. A lot of this has to do with something I wrote about recently, normalising bad behaviour.
“You have adapted to the whims and idiosyncrasies each time you have been with these men, so what was abnormal has become totally normal.
This is how you end up becoming distanced from yourself and forgetting who you are, what you need, what you want etc.”
But there’s another offshoot of all this that causes you to feel stuck and helpless, and it’s isolation.
Because you have strayed so far from everything that you thought you believed about yourself and professed to want and need, and because you have internalised a lot of what has been taking place or being said, you have ended up becoming isolated.
When you have no boundaries and keep trying to accommodate the other person in the hope that you will get the relationship you want and the validation that you seek, you end up losing yourself en route.
Often we don’t spend as much time with our families and friends because we fear what they will think of our continued involvement with the person. In some cases though, the person who we are involved with has eroded so far into our sense of self, saying things that have taken root, that we also convince ourselves that if we keep friends and family in our life that he (or she) hasn’t approved of, it will create further problems for us. All it takes is repeated comments or arguments about you talking to/spending time with certain people and you start to distance yourself because you think it will make them happy.
We misguidedly believe that it’s because they love us so much and so passionately that they really want to spend as much time as possible with us and not have us be ‘lost’ to someone else. Or…we believe that they will be able to love us if we do what they want because we believe that we are currently flawed.
We then attempt to please them throwing all of our attention and ‘love’ in their direction only to find that we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t, and often left alone, anyway.
Obviously when we make this one man our focal point, everything else suffers so this only amplifies our dislike of ourselves and also our dependence on them because we start to believe that everything will slot into place and be ‘right’ when you get the relationship you want with them.
So we keep analysing and looking for reasons to blame ourselves for their behaviour or the fact that the relationship is not how we want it to be, and whatever we can seize upon, we’ll use that as another reason to stay invested and morph and adapt further to accommodate the other person.
There are two types of isolation going on here:
The things you assume and seize upon as reasons to propel your fears and distance yourself from ‘you’ so that you can hopefully get the relationship and validation you seek, and,
The all pervasive comments and behaviour by the other party that often amount to bullying and control that ended up stripping away everything you know about yourself – these people can end up stripping away your friends, family, work, your sense of self so that even when you recognise how dangerous and wrong they are, you haven’t got anything familiar left to hold onto, so you keep holding onto them.
I spoke with someone recently whose guy can’t even cope with her being affectionate with her child. Someone else had a girlfriend who felt ‘hurt’ when he spent time with his friends. Many readers have been back and forth with their guy so many times that they feel that they can’t be around their family and friends so much because they don’t think they can be honest about their continued involvement with their assclown or Mr Unavailable.
All of this compounds the feeling of isolation…and dependency.
Because you have tried to redefine yourself based on what you think they want and need you to be in order for you to be ‘right’ for them or because they keep telling you about how if only you weren’t being or doing X,Y, and Z, you could be the perfect person for them, this ‘new’ you needs this other person because you and they have stripped away everything that is familiar to you.
The unfortunate thing about this is that these men, like Mr Unavailables and assclowns, is that they often end up leaving you alone so you basically end up up sh*t’s creek without a paddle because you no longer have anything familiar left to hold onto.
You then think that the only way you can find your way back, is to use them as a life jacket to hold onto, to effectively bring you back to shore. They on one hand represent why you’re so miserable but because everything has been sidelined and abandoned to be with them, they also now appear to be the source of your happiness.
Trouble is, clinging onto someone like this for support is about as much use as a chocolate teapot…
Now think back over all of the relationships that you have been involved in and the morphing, adapting, changing, and shifting that you have been doing in the quest to be loved. Now imagine you have been doing this with each person, shifting for each of their idiosyncrasies and perceived requirements for nabbing a relationship with them – is it any surprise that in redefining yourself for each person and internalising all of the crap en route that you no longer know who you are?
Remember in Pretty Woman when he asks Julia Roberts character what her name is and she says ‘Whatever you want it to be’?
Well for each and every person that loses themselves in other people, if you imagine that someone is asking you who you are each time, you’re saying ‘Whatever you want me to be…if it means you love me and validate me’
It’s no wonder you can’t let go of the relationship and you end up feeling isolated because if you opt out of the madness, they’ll take your latest version of you with them.
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