The Onion

I am in school. I don’t know if I have told any of the readers that or not, but Monday was the first day of classes. I am going back to school to complete my degree to become a marriage and family therapist.

That should be a fun degree for anyone that I date. Lol…anyway.

Why marriage and family therapy? (I have had people ask this question.)

Here’s the thing, I want to help people like me figure things out. Like Dana said in my post last week, unravel the ball of yarn that is our thoughts and emotions. So, while the technical degree plan is marriage and family therapy, I am going to concentrate on the CoDA set. Yep – Codependance.

If you read my post on agony you know that I have had some experience with addiction. Well, it’s as the wife of an alcoholic. Open a psych textbook and look up codependant and I was the definition. Or should I say am…I don’t know…I am learning. Perhaps like alcoholism you don’t get over it, you just learn new ways to cope and you learn HOW to form boundaries.

As hard as it is for an addict or alcoholic to admit when they have a problem; it is just as hard for the partner in that relationship to admit that they’re a more than a little messed up too. It’s a tourturous dance of abuse and neglect.

Like peeling an onion. Addicts pull back your layers until there is nothing left. Starting with that protective boundary that keeps anything bad from penetrating. Then the thin inner layers, those would be self-respect, self-reliance, and self-confidence. Then instead of continuing to peel they just grab a knife and start hacking away at the rest of you. You know what you are supposed to be, but you’re unrecognizable.

You’re no longer whole.

It’s a pretty pathetic sight to see and even harder to recognize – if you’re the onion.

I have read countless books on becoming whole again. I have read the Courage to Change book from Al-Anon every day. It sits on my coffee table so that when I feel weak I can open it up and soak it in for a while.

Slowly you start to put yourself back together. Grasping shards of who and what you once were and hope that it’s enough to form a whole person.

Clinging to this knowledge, you try to put that outer shell back on, knowing that it is the only thing that will save you. Save you from being hurt. Save you from being tortured. Save you from feeling worthless.

Only you DON’T KNOW HOW. You try repeatedly and you can’t.

Just when I think I have got this figured out. This life post-husband, I realize that I am still trying to put the pieces together. I am not even to the point of finding that outer boundary. That solid form that keeps me whole.

I allow the self-doubt and unexpected confusion to cloud new friendships and relationships by constantly questioning “Why?”

The thing about what I have been through, and anyone else who has been through this knows, is that you never feel good enough about yourself to allow yourself to think you are worth being part of something good, something worth trying. Even if it ends in utter misery you don’t allow yourself the freedom to try.

So, this weekend as I am reading through my weeks assignments and trying to find the pieces of myself. Please, for the love of all that is holy, remember (as I will try) that we may be learning to cope and learning to try, but we will come out the other side. We will some day be whole. Someday we will allow the people that make us feel special to know that we aren’t complete psychopaths for not knowing how to love.

Not yet.

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Lightbulb

My sister-in-law had a moment of clarity today that I am loving. 

“Just because someone needs you doesn’t mean they love you.”

How true is this?! My goodness! How often do we fall for the wrong people? How often do we look at what they can do for us instead of at the quality of their character?

I seem to think that if you say “I love you” in the first days and weeks of a romance you’re really saying “I need you.” Sure it could blossom into something more, but you are really just reacting to the things that they have done for you.

Need and love can feel the same when you are infatuated with someone. I don’t want to think that I am with someone out of need. There is something crippling about that. It just seems to me that you wouldn’t have anywhere to grow if you were in a relationship based on needing what the other has got whether that is monetary, emotional, or psychological.

I have been in a codependant relationship for my entire adult existence. I know what it is like to be the person needed. I know what if feels like to feel inadequate. I know what it’s like to want to try to be what this person needs but falling short; and being blamed for their shortcomings. This is not a relationship that I recommend. This is not a relationship that I want to continue, ever, no matter the phone calls of anger, desperation, or uninhibited sorrow.

I have grown.

I think that if you are not allowed to grow you will die. There are many styles of growth personal, interpersonal, professional, and mental. As we age and have experiences we evolve. We follow different paths and make choices and learn from all of it. How are you going to remain the same if you go through all this?

The expectation to remain the same at 30, as you were at 20, is unrealistic.

This reminds me of one of my other favorite quotes from Lillian Gershwin. “People change all the time and forget to tell each other.”

That is something that in a codependant/alcoholic/addictive relationship you don’t understand. You must communicate with your partner, and if your partner is in a stupor for 90% of your time together there is no communicating. One day 10 years later they wake up and expect you to be the same person. It’s just not reality.

I was writing my story down the other night just so that I can have a reminder of the hell I have gone through, and it is so ridiculous that I even stayed for as long as I did. (No this isn’t meant to slam him.) This is just a statement of fact. So many times I should have cut my losses and left and yet, I couldn’t.

I didn’t see that all that was going on was him NEEDING me. He needed me to pay the bills and make sure life was in order so that he could live in his unconsciousness. I was pathetic thinking that was all I deserved out of life.

This leads me to my lightbulb. This leads me to thinking my sister-in-law’s moment of clarity was just amazing today, because I have been thinking about that relationship a lot lately.

I don’t want to be needed. I want to be loved. I deserve to be treated with kindness, respect, and gratitude. For that person, who ever they may be, I would give the world. I would take care of them better than they could comprehend.

Don’t we all deserve that though? Don’t we all deserve to be treated with kindness, respect, gratitude, and love?

I hope that my little lightbulb helps you examine your own relationships and see if there is some way that you could improve them. Either improve them or understand that there is nothing you can do that will improve them. If you are where I was a year ago realize there is so much more out here.

There is life. There is love. There is hope. There is happiness.

Love and hugs to you this Wednesday!