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Codependency & Loving Too Much

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SI Staff posted 1/24/2017 06:16 AM

For those with direct experience

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 06:59 AM

A huge thank you to the staff for giving us our own topic in ICR!!

I wanted to open up a discussion about codependency for both the BS's and WS's on SI, where those of us who have been aware of our own codependency for a while, and those who think they may be codependent, can share how codependency has (or is) affecting their lives and what they are (or plan on) doing to change this in themselves.

One thing I know for sure is that codependency keeps us stuck in situations and relationships that are not good or safe for our mental and emotional health.

In my own life and experience, I had a sense that I was codependent at different points through the years, but I didn't think it was that bad and I certainly didn't think I needed help for it. Denial was a powerful tool in my life! It wasn't until I began researching and reading books about codependency that I realized just how codependent I really was.

The reality for me is that my codependency progressively became worse and worse, until I was severely mentally ill, violent and suicidal.

As part of my own healing journey from this hell of infidelity, I have began addressing my codependency and feel that I have made some pretty good strides in my recovery.

There have been two books that I have found to be absolutely life-changing and that I highly recommend to anyone who may be questioning whether they are codependent or anyone trying to work through their codependency:

Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie

and

Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood

Another book, The Human Magnet Syndrome by Ross Rosenberg, is also helpful.

ETA: because I only copied over the information from the original thread and not the conversations, I am including the link for anyone who wants to read the previous discussion (in case it gets archived)

http://www.survivinginfidelity.com/forums.asp?tid=573775

[This message edited by onlytime at 2:37 PM, March 7th (Tuesday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 07:00 AM

So one of the first things I wanted to share (that really hit home for me) and that I am hoping will generate some good discussion is this:

Characteristics of Men and Women Who Love Too Much

1) You come from a home where your own emotional needs weren't met. Alcohol, drugs, compulsive eating or working, constant arguing, refusal to talk, and/or extreme rigidity were the norm.

2) Having received little nurturing, you try to fill this unmet need vicariously by becoming a care giver (especially to people or projects that in some way appear needy).

3) Because your parent(s) could not be turned into warm caretakers, you respond deeply to emotionally unavailable people whom you try to change.

4) Terrified of abandonment, you will do anything to keep a relationship from dissolving.

5) Almost nothing is too much trouble, takes too much time or is too expensive if it will "help" the person or project you are involved with.

6) Accustomed to lack of love, you are willing to wait, hope and try harder to please.

7) You are willing to take far more than 50% of the blame, responsibility and guilt for what happens.

8) You do not believe deep down inside, that you deserve to be happy. You believe you must earn the right to enjoy life.

9) Having experienced little security in childhood, you have a desperate need to control people and things. You mask this by being "helpful" (offering unasked for advice, opinions or criticism).

10) You are much more in touch with your dream of how things could be - than in touch with the reality of the situation.

11) You are addicted to emotional pain.

12) You may be predisposed emotionally and biochemically to becoming addicted to drugs, alcohol, and/or certain foods (particularly sugary ones).

13) By being drawn to people with problems that need fixing, or by being enmeshed in situations that are chaotic, uncertain, and emotionally painful, you avoid focusing on your responsibility to yourself.

14) You may have a tendency toward episodes of depression which you try to forestall through the excitement provided by external chaos.

15) If female, you are not attracted to men who are kind, stable, reliable and interested in you. You find such nice men boring.

(excerpted from "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood)

[This message edited by onlytime at 7:00 AM, January 24th (Tuesday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 07:01 AM

And, from the preface of "Women Who Love Too Much"...


* When being in love means being in pain...we are loving too much

* When most of our conversations are about him/her...we are loving too much

* When we excuse his/her moodiness, bad temper, indifference and we try to become his/her therapist...we are loving too much

* When we read a self-help book and underline all the passages we think would help him/her...we are loving too much

* When we don't like many of his/her basic characteristics, values and behaviours, but we put up with them thinking that if we are only attractive and loving enough he/she will want to change for us...we are loving too much

* When our relationship jeopardizes our emotional well-being and perhaps even our physical health and safety...we are definitely loving too much!

Loving turns into loving too much when our partner is inappropriate, uncaring or unavailable and yet we cannot give him/her up - in fact we want him/her, we need him/her even more.

[This message edited by onlytime at 7:01 AM, January 24th (Tuesday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 07:09 AM

How many of these items can you relate to?

Care Taking

Codependents may,
1. Think and feel responsible for other people---for other people's feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, lack of well-being, and ultimate destiny.
2. Feel anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have a problem.
3. Feel compelled --almost forced -- to help that person solve the problem, such as offering unwanted advice, giving a rapid-fire series of suggestions, or fixing feelings.
4. Feel angry when their help isn't effective.
5. Anticipate other people's needs
6. Wonder why others don't do the same for them.
7. Don't really want to be doing, doing more than their fair share of the work, and doing things other people are capable of doing for themselves.
8. Not knowing what they want and need, or if they do, tell themselves what they want and need is not important.
9. Try to please others instead of themselves.
10. Find it easier to feel and express anger about injustices done to others rather than injustices done to themselves.
11. Feel safest when giving.
12. Feel insecure and guilty when somebody gives to them.
13. Feel sad because they spend their whole lives giving to other people and nobody gives to them.
14. Find themselves attracted to needy people.
15. Find needy people attracted to them.
16. Feel bored, empty, and worthless if they don't have a crisis in their lives, a problem to solve, or someone to help.
17. Abandon their routine to respond to or do something for somebody else.
18. Over commit themselves.
19. Feel harried and pressured.
20. Believe deep inside other people are somehow responsible for them.
21. Blame others for the spot the codependents are in.
22. Say other people make the codependents feel the way they do.
23. Believe other people are making them crazy.
24. Feel angry, victimized, unappreciated, and used.
25. Find other people become impatient or angry with them for all of the preceding characteristics.

Low Self Worth

Codependents tend to:
1. Come from troubled, repressed, or dysfunctional families.
2. Deny their family was troubled, repressed or dysfunctional.
3. Blame themselves for everything.
4. Pick on themselves for everything, including the way they think, feel, look, act, and behave.
5. Get angry, defensive, self-righteous, and indigent when others blame and criticize the codependents -- something codependents regularly do to themselves.
6. Reject compliments or praise
7. Get depressed from a lack of compliments and praise (stroke deprivation)
8. Feel different from the rest of the world.
9. Think they're not quite good enough.
10. Feel guilty about spending money on themselves or doing unnecessary or fun things for themselves.
11. Fear rejection.
12. Take things personally.
13. Have been victims of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, or alcoholism.
14. Feel like victims.
15. Tell themselves they can't do anything right.
16. Be afraid of making mistakes.
17. Wonder why they have a tough time making decisions.
18. Have a lot of "shoulds".
19. Feel a lot of guilt.
20. Feel ashamed of who they are.
21. Think their lives are not worth living.
22. Try to help other people live their lives instead.
23. Get artificial feelings of self-worth from helping others.
24. Get strong feelings of low self-worth ---embarrassment, failure, etc...from other people's failures and problems.
25. Wish good things would happen to them.
26. Believe good things never will happen.
27. Believe they don't deserve good things and happiness.
28. Wish others would like and love them.
29. Believe other people couldn't possibly like and love them.
30. Try to prove they're good enough for other people.
31. Settle for being needed.

Repression

Many Codependents:
1. Push their thoughts and feelings out of their awareness because of fear and guilt.
2. Become afraid to let themselves be who they are.
3. Appear rigid and controlled.

Obsession

Codependents tend to:
1. Feel terribly anxious about problems and people.
2. Worry about the silliest things.
3. Think and talk a lot about other people.
4. Lose sleep over problems or other people's behavior.
5. Worry
6. Never Find answers.
7. Check on people.
8. Try to catch people in acts of misbehavior.
9. Feel unable to quit talking, thinking, and worrying about other people or problems.
10. Abandon their routine because they are so upset about somebody or something.
11. Focus all their energy on other people and problems.
12. Wonder why they never have any energy.
13. Wonder why they can't get things done.

Controlling

Many codependents:
1. Have lived through events and with people that were out of control, causing the codependents sorrow and disappointment.
2. Become afraid to let other people be who they are and allow events to happen naturally.
3. Don't see or deal with their fear of loss of control.
4. Think they know best how things should turn out and how people should behave.
5. Try to control events and people through helplessness, guilt, coercion, threats, advice-giving, manipulation, or domination.
6. Eventually fail in their efforts or provoke people's anger.
7. Get frustrated and angry.
8. Feel controlled by events and people.

Denial

Codependents tend to:
1. Ignore problems or pretend they aren't happening.
2. Pretend circumstances aren't as bad as they are.
3. Tell themselves things will be better tomorrow.
4. Stay busy so they don't have to think about things.
5. Get confused.
6. Get depressed or sick.
7. Go to doctors and get tranquilizers.
8. Become workaholics.
9. Spend money compulsively.
10. Overeat.
11. Pretend those things aren't happening either.
12. Watch problems get worse.
13. Believe lies.
14. Lie to themselves.
15. Wonder why they feel like they're going crazy.

Dependency

Many codependents:
1. Don't feel happy, content, or peaceful with themselves.
2. Look for happiness outside themselves.
3. Latch onto whoever or whatever they think can provide happiness.
4. Feel terribly threatened by the loss of any thing or person they think proves their happiness.
5. Didn't feel love and approval from their parents.
6. Don't love themselves.
7. Believe other people can't or don't love them.
8. Desperately seek love and approval.
9. Often seek love from people incapable of loving.
10. Believe other people are never there for them.
11. Equate love with pain.
12. Feel they need people more than they want them.
13. Try to prove they're good enough to be loved.
14. Don't take time to see if other people are good for them.
15. Worry whether other people love or like them.
16. Don't take time to figure out if they love or like other people.
17. Center their lives around other people.
18. Look for relationships to provide all their good feelings.
19. Lost interest in their own lives when they love.
20. Worry other people will leave them.
21. Don't believe they can take care of themselves.
22. Stay in relationships that don't work.
23. Tolerate abuse to keep people loving them.
24. Feel trapped in relationships.
25. Leave bad relationships and form new ones that don't work either.
26. Wonder if they will ever find love.

Poor Communication

Codependents frequently:
1. Blame
2. Threaten
3. Coerce
4. Beg
5. Bribe
6. Advise
7. Don't say what they mean.
8. Don't mean what they say.
9. Don't know what they mean.
10. Don't take themselves seriously.
11. Think other people don't take the codependents seriously.
12. Take themselves too seriously.
13. Ask for what they want and need indirectly --- sighing, for example.
14. Find it difficult to get to the point.
15. Aren't sure what the point is.
16. Gauge their words carefully to achieve a desired effect.
17. Try to say what they think will please people.
18. Try to say what they think will provoke people.
19. Try to say what they hop will make people do what they want them to do.
20. Eliminate the word NO from their vocabulary.
21. Talk too much.
22. Talk about other people.
23. Avoid talking about themselves, their problems, feelings, and thoughts.
24. Say everything is their fault.
25. Say nothing is their fault.
26. Believe their opinions don't matter.
27. Want to express their opinions until they know other people's opinions.
28. Lie to protect and cover up for people they love.
29. Have a difficult time asserting their rights.
30. Have a difficult time expressing their emotions honestly, openly, and appropriately.
31. Think most of what they have to say is unimportant.
32. Begin to talk in Cynical, self-degrading, or hostile ways.
33. Apologize for bothering people.

Weak Boundaries

Codependents frequently:
1. Say they won't tolerate certain behaviors from other people.
2. Gradually increase their tolerance until they can tolerate and do things they said they would never do.
3. Let others hurt them.
4. Keep letting others hurt them.
5. Wonder why they hurt so badly.
6. Complain, blame, and try to control while they continue to stand there.
7. Finally get angry.
8. Become totally intolerant.

Lack of Trust

Codependents
1. Don't trust themselves.
2. Don't trust their feelings.
3. Don't trust their decisions.
4. Don't trust other people.
5. Try to trust untrustworthy people.
6. Think God has abandoned them.
7. Lose faith and trust in God.

Anger

Many Codependents:
1. Feel very scared, hurt, and angry
2. Live with people who are very scared, hurt, and angry.
3. Are afraid of their own anger.
4. Are frightened of other people's anger.
5. Think people will go away if anger enters the picture.
6. Feel controlled by other people's anger.
7. Repress their angry feelings.
8. Think other people make them feel angry.
9. Are afraid to make other people feel anger.
10. Cry a lot, get depressed, overact, get sick, do mean and nasty things to get even, act hostile, or have violent temper outbursts.
11. Punish other people for making the codependents angry.
12. Have been shamed for feeling angry.
13. Place guilt and shame on themselves for feeling angry.
14. Feel increasing amounts of anger, resentment, and bitterness.
15. Feel safer with their anger than hurt feelings.
16. Wonder if they'll ever not be angry.

Sex Problems

Some codependents:
1. Are caretakers in the bedroom.
2. Have sex when they don't want to.
3. Have sex when they'd rather be held, nurtured, and loved.
4. Try to have sex when they're angry or hurt.
5. Refuse to enjoy sex because they're so angry at their partner
6. Are afraid of losing control.
7. Have a difficult time asking for what they need in bed.
8. Withdraw emotionally from their partner.
9. Feel sexual revulsion toward their partner.
10. Don't talk about it.
11. Force themselves to have sex, anyway.
12. Reduce sex to a technical act.
13. Wonder why they don't enjoy sex.
14. Lose interest in sex.
15. Make up reasons to abstain.
16. Wish their sex partner would die, go away, or sense the codependent's feelings.
17. Have strong sexual fantasies about other people.
18. Consider or have an extramarital affair.

Miscellaneous

Codependents tend to:
1. Be extremely responsible.
2. Be extremely irresponsible.
3. Become martyrs, sacrificing their happiness and that of others for causes that don't require sacrifice.
4. Find it difficult to feel close to people.
5. Find it difficult to have fun and be spontaneous.
6. Have an overall passive response to codependency -- crying, hurt, helplessness.
7. Have an overall aggressive response to codependency -- violence, anger, dominance.
8. Combine passive and aggressive responses.
9. Vacillate in decisions and emotions.
10. Laugh when they feel like crying.
11. Stay loyal to their compulsions and people even when it hurts.
12. Be ashamed about family, personal, or relationship problems.
13. Be confused about the nature of the problem.
14. Cover up, lie, and protect the problem.
15. Not seek help because they tell themselves the problem isn't bad enough, or they aren't important enough.
16. Wonder why the problem doesn't go away.

Progressive

In the later stages of codependency, codependents may:
1. Feel lethargic.
2. Feel depressed.
3. Become withdrawn and isolated.
4. Experience a complete loss of daily routine and structure.
5. Abuse or neglect their children and other responsibilities.
6. Feel hopeless.
7. Begin to plan their escape from a relationship they feel trapped in.
8. Think about suicide.
9. Become violent.
10. Become seriously emotionally, mentally, or physically ill.
11. Experience an eating disorder (over- or under eating)
12. Become addicted to alcohol or other drugs.

(This list can be found on the Dr. Irene website)

[This message edited by onlytime at 7:10 AM, January 24th (Tuesday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 07:14 AM

Next I thought I would share Robin Norwood's more in-depth discussion of the characteristics of those who love too much (directly from her book).


1) Typically, you come from a dysfunctional home in which your emotional needs were not met.

* when parents are fighting with each other, or caught up in other struggles, there may be little time/attention left for children and this leaves a child hungry for love while not knowing how to trust it or accept it and feeling undeserving of it.

* perceptions and feelings were largely ignored or denied rather than accepted or validated.

2) Having received little real nurturing yourself, you try to fill this unmet need vicariously by becoming a caregiver, especially to those who appear needy in some way.

* in general, we become caregivers in most, if not all, areas of our lives

* those (especially women) from dysfucntional homes are overrepresented in the helping professions

* we are drawn to those who are needy, compassionately identifying with their pain and seeking to relieve it in order to ameliorate our own

3) Because you were never able to change your parent(s) into the warm, loving caretaker(s) you longed for, you respond deeply to the familiar type of emotionally unavailable person whom you can again try to change through your love.

* whatever was wrong or missing or painful in the past is what you are trying to make turn out right in the present

* we are attracted to those who replicate for us the struggle we endured with our parents, when we tried to be good enough, loving enough and worthy enough, helpful enough and smart enough to win the love, attention and approval from those who could not give us what we needed, because of their own problems and preoccupations.

4) Terrified of abandonment you will do anything to keep a relationship from dissolving

* everyone who loves too much has at least experienced profound emotional abandonment, with all the terror and emptiness that implies. As an adult, being left by the person who represents in many ways those people who first abandoned us brings up all the terror again.

5) Almost nothing is too much trouble, takes too much time, or is too expensive if it will "help" the person you are involved with

* the theory behind all this helping is that if it works, the man or woman will become everything you want and need them to be, which means that you will win that struggle to gain what you've wanted so much for so long

* while we are often frugal and even self-denying on our own behalf, we will go to any lengths to help them

6) Accustomed to lack of love in personal relationships, you are willing to wait, hope, and try harder to please

* we assume that if it isn't working and we aren't happy then somehow we haven't done enough yet

* we see every nuance of behaviour as perhaps indicating that our partner is finally changing

* we live on hope that tomorrow will be different

* waiting for him/her to change is actually more comfortable than changing ourselves and our own lives

7) You are willing to take far more than 50% of the responsibility, guilt and blame in a relationship

* we are experts at carrying the burden

* we grew up fast and became pseudo-adults long before we were ready for the burdens that role carried

* as adults we believe it is up to us to make our relationship work and we often team up with irresponsible, blaming partners who contribute to our sense that it really is all up to us

8) Your self-esteem is critically low, and deep inside you do not believe you deserve to be happy. Rather, you believe you must earn the right to enjoy life

* if our parents cannot find us worthy of their love and attention, how can we believe that we really are fine, good people?

* very few people who love too much have a conviction, at the core of their being, that they deserve to love and be loved simply because they exist.

* we believe instead that we harbor terrible faults or flaws ad that we must do good works in order to make up for this

* we live in guilt that we have these shortcomings and in fear of being found out

* we work very hard at trying to appear to be good, because we don't believe we are

9) You have a desperate need to control your partner and your relationships, having experienced little security in your childhood. You mask your efforts to control people and situations as "being helpful"

* family is often a source of threat and harm rather than a source of security and protection

* because this kind of experience is so overwhelming, so devastating, those of us who have suffered in this way seek to turn the tables, so to speak. By being strong and helpful to others we protect ourselves from the panic that comes from being at another's mercy

* we need to be with people we can help, in order to feel safe and in control

10) In relationships, you are much more in touch with your dream of how it could be than with the reality of your situation

* when we love too much we live in a fantasy world, where the person with whom we are so unhappy or so dissatisfied is transformed into what we are sure he/she can become, indeed WILL become with our help

* because we have very little experience with having someone we care for meet our emotional needs, that dream world is the closest we come to having what we want

* if we already had a person who was everything we wanted, what would they need us for? A major part of our identity would be out of a job. So we choose a person who is not what we want and we dream on.

11) You are addicted to men/women and to emotional pain

* an addictive relationship is characterized by a desire for another person's reassuring presence...the second criterion is that it detracts from a person's ability to pay attention to and deal with other aspects of their life

* we use our obsession with the men/women we love to avoid our pain, emptiness, fear and anger

* we use our relationships as drugs, to avoid experiencing what we would feel if we held still with ourselves. The more painful our interactions with our partner, the greater the distraction they provide us

* a truly awful relationship simply serves the same function for us as a very strong drug

* without a man or woman on whom to focus, we go into withdrawal, often with many of the same physical and emotional symptoms of the state that accompanies actual drug withdrawal:

* nausea
* chills
* pacing
* sweating
* shaking
* obsessive thinking
* depression
* inability to sleep
* panic/anxiety

* in an effort to relieve these symptoms, we return to our last partner or desperately seek out a new one

13) By being drawn to people with problems that need fixing, or by being enmeshed in situations that are chaotic, uncertain and emotionally painful, you keep from focusing on your responsibility to yourself

* while we are very good at intuiting what someone else feels or figuring out what someone else needs or should do, we are not in touch with our own feelings and are unable to make wise decisions about important aspects of our lives that trouble us

* we often do not really now who we are, and embroiled in dramatic problems keeps us from having to hold still and find out

* we are not able to use our emotions to guide us in making the necessary and important choices in our life

14) We have a tendency towards episodes of depression, which you forestall through the excitement provided by an unstable relationship

* if you are someone who struggles with depression, you will unconsciously seek situations that keep you stirred up so that you stay too high to feel low

15) You are not attracted to someone who is kind, stable, reliable and interested in you. You find these people boring

* we cannot "fix" someone who is fine just as they are, and if they are kind and care for us, then we can't suffer either


What are your thoughts and feelings after reading this?

[This message edited by onlytime at 7:19 AM, January 24th (Tuesday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 07:22 AM

In the third chapter of "Women Who Love Too Much" the author says:

"To be without a relationship - that is, to be alone with one's self - can be experienced as worse than being in the greatest pain the relationship produces, because to be alone means to feel the stirrings of the great pain from the past combined with that of the present"

How many of us can relate to this?? How many of us have stayed in horrible relationships just so we did not have to be alone?

She also goes on to say...

"Suffering for love is romanticized in our culture and so we accept that suffering is a natural part of love and that the willingness to suffer for the sake of love is a positive rather than a negative trait".

So true, right? Books, movies, songs...we are exposed to this idea that to love = suffering everywhere we look.

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 07:27 AM

In Chapter 4 of "Women Who Love Too Much", the author discusses "The Need to be Needed".

She says:

"Most of us grow up and continue in the roles we adopted in our families of origin...those roles often meant that we denied our own needs while trying to meet the needs of other family members."

and

"Perhaps we were forced by circumstances to grow up too fast, prematurely taking on adult responsibilities because our mother or father was too sick physically or emotionally to carry out that appropriate parental functions, or perhaps a parent was absent due to death or divorce and we tried to fill in , helping to take care of both our siblings and our remaining parent"

She goes on to say

"Our own needs for love, attention, nurturing and security went unmet while we pretended to be more powerful and less fearful, more grown up and less needy than we really felt"

And so

"Having learned to deny our own yearning to be taken care of, we grew up looking for more opportunities to do what we had become so good at: being preoccupied with someone else's wants and demands rather than acknowledging our own fear, and pain, and unmet needs"


The author also says

"Growing up too fast, with too much responsibility, can create a compulsion to nurture"

and

"For people who have grown up in deeply unhappy homes, where the emotional burdens were too heavy, and the responsibilities too great, what feels good and what feels bad have become confused and entangled and finally one and the same"

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 07:32 AM

Here are some of the highlights from Chapter 5 which is entitled "Shall We Dance"

In this chapter Robin Norwood discusses how we, as codependents, end up with the [dance] partners we do.

She talks about how we find partners with whom we are able to feel the same feelings and face the same challenges that we encountered growing up.

So "we are able to replicate the same atmosphere of childhood already so well known to us and use the same maneuvers in which we are already so practiced"

She says that this is what, for most of us constitutes love.

She goes on to say

"We feel at home, comfortable, exquisitely "right" with the person with whom we can make all the familiar moves and feel all our familiar feels, even if the moves have never worked and the feelings are uncomfortable, they are what we know well".

and

"We feel that sense of special belonging with the person who allows us, as their partner, to dance the steps we already know and there is no more compelling chemistry than this feeling of mysterious familiarity when a man and a woman come together whose patterns of behaviour fit like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle"

She continues on to say

"If, added to this, the person offers an opportunity to grapple with and try to prevail over childhood feelings of pain and helplessness, of being unloved and unwanted, then the attraction becomes virtually irresistible. In fact, the more pain from childhood, the more powerful the drive to reenact and master that pain in adulthood"

So once begun, why is it so difficult to stop these relationships, to let go of the partner who is dragging us through all the painful steps of this destructive dance?

Norwood says that

"A rule of thumb is, the more difficult it is to end a relationship that is bad for you, the more elements of the childhood struggle it contains. When you are loving too much, it is because you are trying to overcome the old fears, anger, frustrations and pain from childhood and to quit is to surrender a precious opportunity for finding relief and rectifying the ways you have been wronged"

and

"It is this thrilling possibility of righting old wrongs, winning lost love, and gaining withheld approval that, for those who love too much, is the unconscious chemistry behind falling in love"

She also says that

"A sympathetic and understanding kind of person simply cannot offer us the drama, the pain, or the tension that feels so exhilarating and right. That is because, for us, what should feel bad has come to feel good, and what should feel good has come to feel suspect, foreign and uncomfortable. We have learned by long and close association, to prefer the pain"
.

and

"A more healthy, loving person cannot play an important part in our life until we learn to let go of the need to relive the old struggle again and again"


Does this dance seem at all familiar?

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 07:38 AM

So continuing on...

I am going to move on to Chapter 7 which is entitled "Beauty and the Beast". This particular chapter really hit home for me, as I am sure it will for some of you as well.

The author begins with

"This theme of women redeeming men through the gift of their selfless, perfect, all-accepting love is not a modern idea by any means. Fairy tales have for centuries been offering versions of this drama"

" 'Beauty and the Beast', like every fairy tale that has endured centuries of telling, and retelling, embodies a profound spiritual truth in the context of a compelling story. Spiritual truths are very difficult to comprehend and even more difficult to put into practice because they often go against contemporary values. Accordingly, there is a tendency to interpret the fairy tale in a way that reinforces the cultural bias. By doing so it is easy to miss its deeper meaning altogether".

"The cultural bias that 'Beauty and the Beast' underscores is that a woman can change a man if she loves him enough. This belief, so powerful, so all-pervasive, permeates our individual and group psyches to the core".


"Reflected again and again in our daily speech and behaviour is the tacit cultural assumption that we can change someone for the better through the force of our love, and that, if we are female, it is our duty to do so"


"When someone we care for is not acting or feeling the way we wish, we cast about for ways to change that person's behaviour or mood".

"We are taught that it is our duty to respond with compassion and generosity when someone has a problem. Not to judge, but rather to help; this seems to be our moral obligation"

"When we love too much we make these choices out of a driving need to CONTROL those closest to us. That need to control others originates in a childhood during which many overwhelming emotions are frequently experienced - fear, anger, unbearable tension, guilt, shame, pity for others and for self"

"A child growing up in such an environment would be wracked by these emotions to the point of being unable to function unless they developed ways to protect themselves. Always, these tools for self-protection include a powerful defense mechanism - DENIAL, and an equally powerful subconscious motivation - CONTROL.

"All of us unconsciously employ defense mechanisms such as denial throughout our lives, otherwise we would have to face facts about who we are and what we think and feel that do not fit our idealized image of ourselves and our circumstances"

"The mechanism of DENIAL is particularly useful in ignoring information with which we do not want to deal."

"Denial can be defined as a refusal to acknowledge reality on two levels: at the level of what is actually happening AND at the level of feeling"

"In a dysfunctional family there is always a shared denial of reality. No matter how serious the problems are, the family does not become dysfunctional UNLESS there is denial operating. Further, should any family member attempt to break through this denial by, for instance, describing the family situation in ACCURATE terms, the rest of the family will usually strongly resist that perception. Often ridicule will be used to bring that person back into line, or failing that, the renegade family member will be excluded from the circle of acceptance, affection and activity".

"No one using the defense mechanism of denial makes a conscious choice to tune out reality, to wear blinders in order to stop registering accurately what others are saying and doing. Nor does anyone in whom denial is operating, decide not to feel their own emotions. It all 'just happens' as the ego, in its struggle to provide protection from overwhelming conflicts, burdens and fears, cancels out information and input that is too troublesome"

so...

"We are more comfortable in denying the truth and avoiding that which may threaten our defense against pain. We do not want to feel he shame, fear, anger, helplessness, panic, despair, pity, resentment or disgust. Rather than contend with strong and conflicting emotions if we let ourselves feel anything, we prefer to NOT FEEL AT ALL, and this is the source of the need to control people and events in our lives"

"Through controlling what goes on around us we try to create a sense of safety for ourselves. NO SHOCKS. NO SURPRISES. NO FEELINGS".

"It is not easy or comfortable for us to consider that selfless behaviour, "being good", and efforts to "help", may actually be attempts to control and not be altruistically motivated".

"When efforts to help are practiced by people who come from unhappy backgrounds, or who are in stressful relationships in the present, the NEED TO CONTROL must always be suspected".

[This message edited by onlytime at 7:40 AM, January 24th (Tuesday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 07:49 AM

This next part really resonated with me and helped me to see things a little more clearly, and it is something I still work on every day:

"When we do for another what he/she can do for themselves, when we plan another's future or daily activities, when we prompt, advise, remind, warn or cajole another person who is not a young child, when we cannot bear for them to face the consequences of their actions so we either try to change their actions or avert their consequences - this is CONTROLLING".

"Our hope is that if we can control them, we can control our own feelings where our life touches theirs. And, of course, the harder we try to control them, the less we are able to. But we cannot stop".

"A person who habitually practices DENIAL and CONTROL will be drawn into situations demanding those traits. Denial, by keeping them out of touch with the reality of their circumstances and their feelings about those circumstances, will lead them into relationships fraught with difficulty. They will then employ all their skills at helping/controlling in order to make the situation more tolerable, all the while denying how bad it really is".

DENIAL FEEDS THE NEED TO CONTROL AND THE INEVITABLE FAILURE TO CONTROL FEEDS THE NEED TO DENY!

"The pattern of developing relationships in which your role is to understand, encourage and improve your partner, is a formula often employed by those who love too much and IT USUALLY YIELDS EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF THE HOPED FOR RESULT. Rather than a grateful, loyal partner who is bonded to you through devotion and dependence, you find you soon have a partner that is increasingly rebellious, resentful and critical".

"When this happens and the relationship crumbles, the person who loves too much is plunged into a deeper sense of failure and despair. If they cannot make someone so needy and inadequate love them, how could they ever hope to keep the love of healthier, more appropriate people. This explains why often such people follow one bad relationship with another that is even worse - because they feel increasingly less worthy with each such failure".

So a little onto recovery...

"Part of recovery involves letting go of the intellectual analysis of the self and our lives and beginning to feel the deep emotional pain that accompanied the tremendous isolation that has been endured".

"Recovery means holding still with yourself, without a partner to sidetrack you and to feel your feelings"

"Recovery also requires learning to relate to and trust oneself"

"No one can ever love us enough to fulfill us if we do not love ourselves, because when in our emptiness we go looking for love, we can only find more emptiness"

"What we manifest in our lives is a reflection of what is deep inside us: our beliefs about our own worth, our right to happiness, and what we deserve in life. WHEN THOSE BELIEFS CHANGE. SO DOES OUR LIFE."

"Recovery demands that you face the pain, PAST & PRESENT, that you have attempted to avoid"

"We need to recognize that the practice of DENIAL and CONTROL, called by whatever names, does not ultimately enhance our lives, or our relationships. Rather, the mechanism of denial leads us into relationships that allow for compulsive reenactment of our old struggles and the need to control keeps us there, striving to change someone else rather than ourselves".

So what is the point of Beauty and the Beast?

It is ACCEPTANCE.

"Acceptance is the antithesis of denial and control. It is a willingness to recognize what reality is, and to allow that reality to be, without a need to change it. Therein lies a happiness that issues not from manipulating outside conditions or people, but from developing inner peace, even in the face of challenges and difficulties"

"Remember in the fairy tale, Beauty had no need for the Beast to change. She appraised him realistically and accepted him for what he was and appreciated him for his good qualities. She did not try to make a prince out of a monster. he did not say 'I'll be happy when he's not an animal anymore'. She did not pity him for what he was or try to change him. And therein lies the lesson. Because of her attitude of acceptance, he was freed to become his own best self."

"At the bottom of all our efforts to change someone else is a basically selfish motive, a belief that through THEM changing we will be happy. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy, but to place the source of that happiness outside ourselves, in someone else's hands, means we avoid our ability and responsibility to change our own life for the better".

"Ironically, it is this very practice of acceptance that allows another to change if he/she chooses to do so".

"Most of us have the ability to be far happier and more fulfilled as individuals than we realize. Often, we don't claim that happiness because we believe someone else's behaviour is preventing us from doing so. We ignore our obligation to develop ourselves while we scheme and maneuver and manipulate to change someone else, and we become angry and discouraged and depressed when our efforts fail".

"Trying to change someone else is frustrating and depressing, but exercising the power we have to effect change in our own life is exhilarating".

"When you let go of trying to change someone and redirect your energy to developing your own interests, you will experience some measure of happiness and satisfaction, NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO. You may eventually discover that your pursuits are fulfilling enough that you can enjoy a rich, rewarding life on your own. Until you can begin to accept people for who they are you are frozen in suspended animation, waiting for them to change before you can begin to live YOUR life".

[This message edited by onlytime at 4:15 PM, April 9th (Sunday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 07:56 AM

Chapter 8 discusses addictions to both people AND substances/things. I am not going to get into that here but there is a quote from the chapter that I absolutely love and want to share:


"There is a great deal of pain in life and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain"
R.D. Lang


Moving on to Chapter 9, which is entitled "Dying For Love"...

Those of us who love too much use our relationships like a drug and we will

"have fully as much denial about that fact as any chemically addicted individual, fully as much resistance and fear about letting go"

We need to know that

"We are addicted to the pain and familiarity of an unrewarding relationship and it commonly has its roots in disordered relationships in childhood".

As we talked about earlier

"People who love too much come from FOO in which they were either very lonely and isolated, or rejected, or overburdened with inappropriately heavy responsibilities and so became overly nurturing and self-sacrificing, or else they were subjected to dangerous chaos so that they developed an overwhelming need to control people and situations"

And

"It naturally follows that a person who needs to nurture or control, or both, will be able to do so only with a partner who at least allows, if not actually invites this kind of behaviour"

"Inevitably the person who loves too much will involve themselves with someone who is irresponsible in some important aspects of their life...then begins the struggle to try and change the person through the power and persuasion of love"

"It is at this early point that the later insanity of the relationship is foreshadowed as the person who loves too much begins to deny the reality of the relationship. The dream of how it COULD BE and the efforts to achieve that end, distort the perception of how it IS"


"Every disappointment, failure and betrayal in the relationship is either IGNORED or RATIONALIZED AWAY...

'It's not that bad'
'You don't understand what he/she is really like'
'He/she didn't mean too'
'It's not his/her fault'

...these are just a few of the stock phrases that a person who loves too much uses at this point in their disease process to defend their partner and their relationship"

At the same time...

" This partner is disappointing and failing the person who loves too much and the emotional dependency on the partner increases. This is because at this point the person who loves too much becomes tightly focused on the partner, the partner's problems, the partner's welfare and perhaps most important, the partners feelings for them"

"The person who loves too much is sure that if they can make their partner happy then the partner will treat them better. In her/his efforts to please she/he becomes the careful guardian of his well-being, each time the partner is upset she/he will take their reaction as a failure and feel guilty"

"But perhaps most of all he/she feels guilty for being unhappy himself/herself. DENIAL tells the person that loves too much that there is nothing really wrong with the partner, so the fault must be all his/hers"

"If the partner is unfaithful, the person who loves too much asks why they aren't good enough, accepting the situation as their fault and not his/hers"

"Things are getting worse. Because the partner thinks that the person who loves too much may become discouraged and be pulling away, he/she tells them they are wrong, that they are imagining things, that their situation is improving but he/she is too negative to see it`...and the person who loves too much believes it because they need to so much. The person who loves too much accepts the view that they are exaggerating the problems and as a result they become further removed from reality".

"She/he tries to make him/her look better than they are, to make them as a couple appear happier than they are. She/he rationalizes away his/her every failure. While she/he hides the truth for the world, the person who loves too much also hides it from herself/himself".

"The person who loves too much experiences a profound sense of having failed in all of their energetic attempts to change the other person, and their frustration erupts in anger and there are battles, sometimes physical, initiated by the person that loves too much in their impotent rage at what appears to be the partner's deliberate thwarting of his/her best efforts on the partner's behalf".

"Just as he/she once excused the partner's every failing, the person who loves too much now takes everything personally, feeling as they are the only one trying to make the relationship work"

"Guilt grows in the person that loves too much as they wonder where the rage is coming from and they question why they cannot be lovable enough for the partner to WANT to change for them"

"By now the person who loves too much is so consumed by this bitter battle that there is no time or energy for anything else. If there are children they are certainly emotionally neglected, if not neglected physically as well"

"Social activities come to a standstill. There is too much acrimony and too many secrets to keep to make public appearances anything but an ordeal. And the lack of social contact serves to further isolate the person who loves too much. Another vital link with reality has been lost. The relationship has become the entire world of the person that loves too much"

"By the time a person who loves too much is at this point, there will be physical problems as well as emotional ones:

*digestive problems
*skin problems
*allergies
*high blood pressure
*nervous tics
*insomnia
*constipation/diarrhea (or both)

"Periods of depression (if they have already been a problem) may lengthen and deepen alarmingly"

"At this point thinking has become so impaired, it is difficult for the person who loves too much to be able to assess their situation objectively. There is a gradually progressive insanity implicit in loving too much"

"By now the person who loves too much is totally unable to see what their choices are in terms of the life they are living. Much of what the person who loves too much does is in reaction to their partner, including affairs, obsession with work or other interests or devotion to causes in which the person again tries to help/control the conditions of others around them. Sadly, even turning to people and interests outside of the relationship is by now part of their obsession"

"As the ultimate attempt to control their partner through guilt, the person who loves too much may threaten, or actually attempt, suicide"

"When the person who has begun by loving too much finally realizes that they ave tried everything to change their partner and failed, perhaps then the person who loves too much is able to see that THEY must get help"

And so can begin the road to recovery..

[This message edited by onlytime at 8:00 AM, January 24th (Tuesday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 08:10 AM

So, according to Norwood, what are the steps to recovery?

1. Go for help

* check a relevant book out of the library
* make an appointment to see a therapist
* make an anonymous call to a hotline
* contact agencies that can assist with problems you are facing (codependency, abuse, incest, etc)
* self-help groups
* calling police (if necessary)

Going for help means DOING SOMETHING; taking the first step; reaching out.

"It is very important to understand that going for help does NOT mean threatening your partner with the fact that you are thinking of doing so. Such a move is usually an attempt to blackmail them into shaping up so that you don't have to publicly expose them for the terrible person they are. Leave your partner out of it, otherwise, going for help is just one more attempt to manage and control your partner. Remember, you are doing this for YOU.

What going for help requires:

* giving up the idea that you can handle it alone
* realizing that you are not able to solve the problem
* becoming honest with yourself about how bad it really is
* sticking with a good IC and following their recommendations

"Going for help does not require that yo be willing to terminate your present relationship if you are in one. Nor is it a requirement at any time during the process of recovery. As you follow the steps of recovery the relationship will take care of itself. One of the most feared implications is that the relationship, if there is one, will end. This is, by no means, necessarily true, although, should you follow these steps the relationship will either improve or end. It and you, will not stay the same"

Do you deserve better than your current circumstances? What are you willing to do to make it better for yourself? Begin at the beginning, and go for help.

2. Make your own recovery your first priority.

What it means:

* it means deciding that no matter what is required, you are willing to take the steps necessary to help yourself

* turn the energy you have had to make him/her change and help him/her recover and FOCUS IT ON YOURSELF

* use your power where it will do some good - ON YOUR OWN LIFE!

What it requires
:

* a total commitment to yourself. Make yourself show up and the healing process will begin. Soon you will feel so much better that you'll want to continue

* to help the process, be willing to educate yourself about your problem (with understanding comes choice, so the greater the understanding the greater your freedom of choice)

* Also required is the WILLINGNESS to CONTINUE to spend time and perhaps money too, to get well (the list of ways you have spent time and money staying sick is probably long enough to make you very uncomfortable if you look at it honestly - recovery requires that you be willing to invest at least that much in getting well, and as an investment it is guaranteed to give you considerable returns)

* a total commitment to your own recovery also requires that you severely curtail or entirely suspend your own use of alcohol or other drugs while in the therapeutic process. The use of mind altering substances during this time mitigates against you fully experiencing the emotions you will be uncovering and it is only through deeply experiencing them that you will also gain the healing that comes with their release.

3. Find a support group of peers who understand


What it means:

* a good support group is dedicated to helping all who attend get better ad includes some members who have achieved a measure of recovery themselves

* in order to receive what the group has to offer, YOU MUST SHOW UP

Why a support group of peers is necessary
:

* as others share their stories, you will be able to identify with them and their experiences

* they will help you remember what you've blocked from your awareness - both events and feelings

* you will become more in touch with yourself

* as you find yourself identifying with others and accepting them in spite of their flaws and their secrets, you will be able to become more accepting of those characteristics and feelings in yourself. This is the beginning of the development of SELF-ACCEPTANCE, which is an absolutely vital requirement for recovery

* when you are ready, you will share some of your own experiences and in doing so you will become more honest and less secretive and afraid

* you will see others using techniques in their lives that work, which you can try for yourself. You will also see people trying things that don't work and you can learn from their mistakes

* along with the empathy and shared experience a group provides, there is an element of humor that is also vital to recovery. The understanding smiles of recognition at yet another attempt at managing someone else, the happy cheering when someone has gotten past an important hurdle, the release of laughter over shared idiosyncrasies - all are truly healing

* you begin to feel you belong. This is critically important for anyone coming from a dysfunctional family, since that experience produces strong feelings of isolation

* to be with others who both understand your experience and share it produces a sense of safety and well-being - which you need

4) Develop spirituality

* developing your spirituality can mean pretty much following whatever path you choose

* even if you are 100% atheist , perhaps yo get pleasure and solace from a quiet walk, or contemplating a sunset or some aspect of nature

* whatever takes you beyond yourself and into a broader perspective on things is what this step is all about

* learn to let go of fear (all of the "what ifs") and despair (all of the "if onlys") and replace them with positive thoughts and statements about your life

What it requires:

* willingness

* using affirmations to overcome old patterns of thinking and feeling and to replace old belief systems

* repeat the positive affirmations silently or out loud, every chance you get

Why it is necessary:

* spiritual practice calms you and helps change your perspective from being victimized to being uplifted

* it is a source of strength in crisis

What it implies:

* you are freed from the overwhelming responsibility of fixing everything, and controlling the people in your life, and preventing disaster

* no one has to change in order for you to feel good

* your life and your happiness come to be more under your own control and less vulnerable to the actions of others

5) Stop managing and controlling him/her

What it means:

* not helping and not giving advice

* assume this other adult has as much capacity as you to find out/determine what he/she needs

* he/she may not have as much motivation as you to find these things for him or herself, or to work out their own problems, but when you take on trying to solve their problems for them, they are freed from taking responsibility for their own lives. You are then in charge of his/her welfare and when your efforts on his/her behalf fail, YOU will be the one that he or she blames.

* not managing and not controlling them also means stepping out of the role of encouraging and praising him or her. Chances are you have also used these methods to try and get them to do what you'd like and this means they have become tools for manipulation

* think about why you are lauding him or her.

Is it to help raise their self-esteem? - That's manipulation

Is it so he/she will continue whatever behaviour you are praising? - That's manipulation

Is it so that he or she will know how proud you are of him or her? - That can be a burden for him or her to carry. Let them develop their own pride from their accomplishments, otherwise you come dangerously close to playing a mothering role with them and you don't need them to be your child

* it means to stop watching. Pay less attention to what he or she is doing and more attention to your own life. Their troubles are theirs to work out, not yours. Let them take full responsibility for their problems and full credit for their solutions. Stay out of it

* it means detaching. Detaching requires that you get your ego disentangled from his or her feelings and especially from their actions and the results

* it requires that you allow them to deal with the consequences of their behaviours, YOU DON"T SAVE THEM FROM ANY OF THEIR PAIN

* You may continue to care ABOUT them, but you don't take care OF them. You allow them to find their own way, just as you are working to find yours.

What it requires:

* learning to say and do NOTHING. This is one of the most difficult tasks you face in your recovery. When his or her life is unmanageable, when everything in you wants to take over, to advise and encourage, to manipulate the situation in whatever way you can, you must learn to HOLD STILL, to respect this other person enough to allow the struggle to be his/hers, NOT YOURS.

* it requires facing your own fears regarding what might happen to him or her and to your relationship if you let go of managing everything - and then going to work on eliminating your fears rather than manipulating him or her

* it requires a hard look at WHAT IS, rather than what you hope it will be. As you let go of managing and controlling, you must also let go of the idea that "when he/she changes I'll be happy". He/she may never change. You must stop trying to make them and you must learn to be happy anyway

Why it is necessary

* as long as you are focused on changing someone over whom you are powerless you cannot bring your energies to bear on helping yourself

* most of the insanity and despair you experience comes directly from trying to manage and control what you cannot

* think about all the attempts you've made: the endless speeches, the pleading, the threats, bribes, maybe even violence, all the avenues you have tried that haven't worked. And remember how you have felt after each failed attempt. Your self-esteem slipped another notch, and you became more anxious, more helpless, more angry

* the only way out of this is to let go of the attempt to control what you cannot - him/her and their life

* finally, it is necessary to stop because he or she will almost never change in the face of pressure from you

* even if he or she does attempt to placate you with some promise of changing their ways, they will probably revert bak to their old behaviour, often with much resentment toward you when they do

REMEMBER:
If you are the reason he or she gives up a behaviour, you'll also be the reason he or she resumes it

So what are the implications:

* he or she may become very angry and accuse you of not caring about them anymore. This anger generates from his or her panic at having to become responsible for their own life. As long as he or she can fight with you, make promises, or try to win you back, his or her struggle is outside with you and not inside with him or herself.

* you may find there is very little to talk about once all the cajoling, arguing, threatening, fighting and making up stops. It's okay. Say your affirmations quietly to yourself

* it is very likely that, once you truly let go of managing and controlling him or her, a great deal of your energy will be freed up that you can then use for exploring, developing, and enhancing yourself

* one of the implications of letting go of managing and controlling others is that you relinquish the identity of "being helpful", but ironically, that very act of letting go is frequently the single most helpful thing you can do for the one you love. The identity of "being helpful" is an ego trip. If you really want to be helpful, let go of his or her problems and HELP YOURSELF.

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 08:26 AM

Continuing on...

6) Learn not to get hooked into the games

* the concept of games as they apply to dialogue between two people comes from the type of psychotherapy known as transactional analysis. Games are structured ways of interacting that are employed to avoid intimacy. Everybody resorts to games in their interactions, but in unhealthy relationships, the games abound

* they are stereotyped ways of responding that serve to circumvent any genuine exchange of information and feelings and allow participants to put responsibility for their well-being or distress in each other's hands

* typically the roles played by people who love too much and their partners are varieties of the RESCUER, PERPETRATOR and VICTIM positions

* let go of trying to make it turn out the way you want it to by being nice, being angry or being helpless

* change what you can, which means change yourself! Stop needing to win. Stop needing to fight or make him or her give you a good reason or excuse for their behaviour or neglect. Stop needing them to be sufficiently sorry.

What not getting hooked requires:

* not getting hooked requires that even though you are tempted to respond in any one of the ways you know will keep the game going, YOU DON'T. You respond in a way that will end the game. It's a little tricky at first but with practice you will master it

* It's kind of like a game of ping pong, when you are both doing the rescuer-persecutor-victim thing. You keep hitting the ball back when it comes your way. In order to not get hooked into playing, you have to learn to let the ball go right past you, off the end of the table

* it is an empowering experience to not get caught up in the struggle implicit in the rescuer-persecutor-victim kind of exchange. To not get hooked, to maintain your centeredness, your dignity, feels wonderful...and it means you have taken another step in your recovery

Why not getting hooked is necessary:

* to play any of the rescuer-persecutor-victim positions, whether in conversation or in life, keeps the focus off yourself and holds you in your childhood pattern of fear, rage and helplessness

* you cannot develop your potential as a fully evolved human being, an adult who is in charge of their own life, if you do not give up each of these restrictive roles, these ways of being obsessed with the others around you

* once you have let go of the games, you are left with total responsibility for your own behaviour. Your own choices and your own life. In fact, when the games stop, your choices become more obvious, less avoidable

What not getting hooked implies:

* you must now develop new ways of communicating with yourself and others that demonstrate your willingness to take responsibility for your life. Less of "if it weren't for" and lots more of "Right now I am choosing to..."

* you will need to learn to live without the excitement of the heat battles, the time-consuming, energy-draining dramas in which you have been co-starring. This is not easy to do. Many people who love too much have buried their feelings so deeply that they need the excitement of the fights, the partings and reconciliations to feel alive. BEWARE! Having nothing but your own inner life on which to concentrate may be boring at first, but if you can hold still with the boredom, it will metamorphose into SELF-DISCOVERY

7) Courageously face your own problems and shortcomings

* facing your own problems means that, having let go of managing and controlling others and of the games, you now are left with nothing to distract you from your own life, your own problems and your own pain

* this is the time when you need to begin to look at yourself deeply (with your support group or therapist)

* it also means that you look hard at your own life in the present, both at what you feel good about and what makes you uncomfortable or unhappy. Write it out in lists

* also, look at the past. Examine all the good and the bad memories, the accomplishments, the failures, the times you were hurt and the times you did the hurting. Look at it ALL (again in writing)

* Start at the beginning and write. Lots of writing, yes, but it is an invaluable tool to help you sort out your past and begin to recognize patterns, the repeating themes in your struggles with yourself and others

* Just let your memories, thoughts and feelings flow. Don't examine your writing for patterns as you go - do this afterward

What it requires

* You will have to do a great deal of writing, making the commitment of time and energy necessary to accomplish it

* do not worry about doing it perfectly, or even well. Just do it in a way that makes sense to you

* you will need to be as completely honest and self-revealing in all that you write

Why it is necessary:

* most of us who love too much are caught up in blaming others for the unhappiness in our lives while denying our own faults and choices. This is a cancerous approach to life that must be rooted out and eliminated and the way to do so is to take a good, hard, honest look at ourselves

* only by seeing your problems and faults and your good points and successes as YOURS, rather than relating them somehow to him or her, can you take the steps to change what needs to be changed

What it implies:

* first, you will very likely be able to let go of secret guilt connected with many of the events and feelings of the past. This will clear the way for allowing more joy and healthier attitudes to be manifest in your life

* when you let go of blaming others, and take responsibility for your own choices, you become free to embrace all kinds of options that were not available to you when yo saw yourself as a victim of others

* this prepares you to begin to change those things in your life that are either not good for you, not satisfying or unfulfilling

8) Cultivate whatever needs to be developed in yourself

What it means:

* it means not waiting for him or her to change before you get on with your life

* it also means not waiting for his or her support - financially, emotionally, or in practical matters - for you to start your career, or change your career, or go back to school, or whatever it is you want to do

* instead of making your plans dependent on his or her cooperation, make them as though you had no one but yourself on which to lean

* cover all the contingencies - child care, money, time, transportation - without using him or her as a resource (or an excuse)

* if you are protesting as you read this that without his or her cooperation your plans are impossible, consider by yourself, or brainstorm with a friend, how you would do it if you didn't even know him or her

* you will find that it is VERY POSSIBLE to make life work for you when you stop depending on him or her and instead make use of all your other options

* take risks

- encounter new people
- go into a classroom for the first time in years
- take a trip alone
- look for a job
- whatever you know you need to do, but haven't been able to summon the courage for

* this is the time to plunge ahead. There are no mistakes in life, only lessons, so get out there and learn some of what life wants to teach you

(DO NOT TURN TO YOUR RELATIONSHIP OR TO THAT DYSFUNCTIONAL FOO FOR ENCOURAGEMENT. THEY NEED FOR YOU TO STAY THE SAME, SO THAT THEY CAN STAY THE SAME. DON'T SABOTAGE YOURSELF AND YOUR GROWTH BY LEANING ON THEM)

What it requires:

* to begin with, do two things each day that you don't want to do, in order to stretch yourself and expand your idea of who you are and what you are capable of doing

* stand up for yourself when you'd rather pretend it doesn't matter

* make that phone call you'd like to avoid

* learn how to take better care of yourself and less care of everyone else in your interactions

* say NO to please yourself, rather than saying yes to please someone else

* learn to give to yourself. Give time. Give attention. Give material objects

You will have to face the terrible emptiness within that surfaces when you are not focused on someone else. Sometimes the emptiness will be so deep - allow yourself to feel it, in all it's intensity. Embrace the emptiness and know that you will not always feel this way and that just by holding still and feeling it you will begin to fill it with the warmth of self-acceptance

What it implies:

* cultivating yourself enables you to grow up. As you become all you are capable of being, you also take full responsibility for your decisions, your choices, your life and in this way you embrace adulthood. Until we take responsibility for our own lives and our own happiness, we are not fully mature human beings, but rather remain dependent, frightened children in adult bodies

9) Become selfish

Healthy selfishness means:

* you put your well-being FIRST instead of LAST - BEFORE, instead of AFTER, everyone else's needs are met

* you expect and even require that situations and relationships be comfortable for you. You do not try to adapt yourself to fit uncomfortable ones

* you believe that your wants and needs are very important and that meeting them is your job. At the same time you grant others the right to be responsible for meeting their own wants and needs

What it requires:

* you must learn to tolerate other people's anger and disapproval - these are inevitable reactions from those whose welfare you have heretofore put before your own

* Do not argue, apologize or attempt to justify yourself. Remain even-tempered and as cheerful as possible and go on about your activities

* the changes you are making in your life require that those around you change too, and they will naturally resist. Unless you give credence to their indignation, it will be fairly short-lived. It is just an attempt to push you back into your old, selfless behaviour, into doing for them what they CAN and SHOULD do for themselves

* you must listen carefully to your inner voice regarding what is good for you, what is right for you, and then follow it. This is how you develop healthy self-interest, by listening to your own cues

* becoming selfish finally requires that you recognize YOUR WORTH IS GREAT, that your talents are WORTHY OF EXPRESSION, that your fulfillment is AS IMPORTANT AS ANYONE ELSE'S and that YOUR BEST SELF is the greatest gift you have to give the world as a whole and most especially those closest to you

Why it is necessary:

* rising above all the difficulties you have encountered isn't enough. There is still your own life to be lived. Your own potential to be explored. It is the natural next step as you gain respect for yourself and start honoring your wants and your wishes

* taking responsibility for yourself and your happiness gives a great freedom to children who have felt guilty and responsible for your unhappiness (WHICH THEY ALWAYS DO). Seeing a parent fully embrace life gives the child permission to do the same, just as seeing a parent suffer indicates to the child that suffering is what life is all about

What it implies:

* your relationships automatically become healthier. No one "owes" it to you to be other than they are, because you are no longer being other than you are for them

* you free the others in your life to take care of themselves without worrying about you

* you now can say yes or no when you want to

* as you make the dramatic shift in roles from caretaker of others to caretaker of yourself, it is very likely that your behaviour will be balanced by shifts of roles throughout your relationships

* if the role changes are too difficult for the man or woman in your life, they may leave, searching for someone else who is the way you used to be - so you may not end up with the person you began with

* on the other hand, it's ironic that as you become better able to nurture yourself, you may find that you have attracted someone who is able to nurture you. As we become healthier and more balanced, we attract healthier and more balanced partners

* as we become less needy, more of our needs are met

* as we give up the role of supernurturer, we make space for someone to nurture us

[This message edited by onlytime at 6:52 AM, April 9th (Sunday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 08:38 AM

A powerful poem from "The Human Magnet Syndrome" by Ross Rosenberg

fused at the wound
is it love or is it addiction
why not both
she knows tears + I know anger
together we almost made a whole person for a while
fused at the wound.
but our little house of lies isn't big enough to hold us now
she won't stand up for herself + I can't stand up
for both of us at the same time anymore
so we ride the broken lover's seesaw of staying + leaving
one foot in + one foot out
we dance in the kitchen like unloved children + wait
for fulfillment of old pain's expectations.
so anxious to leave so anxious to be left
so anxious to be right so anxious to be hurt
so anxious to be disappointed
so anxious to be alone again.

when this whole thing started
I wanted us to be immersed in each other
I wanted us to fix each other
I thought that is what people were supposed to do
I don't want that anymore
I don't need that anymore
but I still don't know
how to love someone I don't want to fix.

[This message edited by onlytime at 8:38 AM, January 24th (Tuesday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 08:43 AM

Now on to some material from "The Human Magnet Syndrome " by Ross Rosenberg

"Because codependents are oriented in personal relationships toward the care of others and the emotional manipulator towards their own needs, they are considered opposite, compatible and dysfunctional relationship partners. Because the emotional manipulator and the codependent are compatible in a romantic relationship, they are likely to form an enduring or stable relationship (defined in the book as one that is able or likely to continue or last, firmly established, enduring or permanent). Stable, dysfunctional relationships are not desirable.

The codependent/emotional manipulator relationship is paradoxically considered a mutual and reciprocal relationship because both partners fulfill each other's emotional needs - the "caregiver" takes care of the "care-needer", while the "care-needer" is allowed to be narcissistically engrossed with his or her life. Because both are inherently emotionally and psychologically deficient, they share a distorted belief that the other will make them feel whole.

Emotionally unhealthy or psychologically deficient individuals can never create an emotionally healthy or psychologically stable relationship.

The codependent-emotional manipulator relationship is naturally resistant to break-ups because neither appreciates or likes being alone. The state of being alone or not with their dysfunctional romantic partner often triggers inherent and deeply embedded feelings of inadequacy and shame. Being alone simply brings them closer to their lonely emotional core. Since being alone makes them feel lonely, and loneliness is a painful and unbearable emotion, the relationship remains intact despite shared unhappiness and negative consequences (which are mostly for the codependent).

It is their opposite personalities or self-orientations that bind the codependent and emotional manipulator together in an enduring dysfunctional relationship. Despite their history of unhappiness, resentment, conflict, and repeated break-ups, the two remain together. Consequences such as hurtful and protracted divorces, emotional harm to their children, spousal abuse, or restraining orders are often not enough to permanently separate these two. Paradoxically, their dysfunctional relationship provides them both with a distorted sense of security and safety. For the codependent and the emotional manipulator, pain and safety are often fused together".

[This message edited by onlytime at 8:44 AM, January 24th (Tuesday)]

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 08:47 AM

Continuing on from "The Human Magnet Syndrome "...

"If the codependent-emotional manipulator couple were to break up, one or both are likely to use guilt and manipulation as a tactic to reconnect. Insincere promises to change, reminders of good deeds, threats to relapse on a substance they are addicted to, or threats of emotional or physical harm to self or others, are some of the many manipulative ploys used to reconnect.

A common manipulative maneuver is triangulation, or using a third party, to facilitate reconciliation. The emotional manipulator, as a last ditch effort, may offer insincere but convincing promises to participate in psychotherapy.

If the two do break up, it is typically short-lived, as the two are pulled back together by a magnetic-like dysfunctional love force.

If the codependent and emotional manipulator do manage to decisively part ways, it is likely that both will unconsciously and unknowingly repeat their dysfunctional attraction pattern with their next romantic partner, someone who will feel exciting and different at first, but will ultimately have the same dysfunctional self-orientation as their previous partner. They will begin another dysfunctional relationship "dance" with a new partner, but will sadly dance to the same old song."

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 08:51 AM

More from "The Human Magnet Syndrome"

All relationships are created and maintained by conscious and unconscious factors. The conscious preferences create the foundation on which the unconscious dynamics unfold.

Although conscious choice and personal preference are important in choosing a romantic partner, they are clearly secondary to unconscious preferences.

'Chemistry' or an intense attraction experience occurs when both conscious and unconscious attraction dynamics come together to create a formidable hypnotic-like love force. With conscious and unconscious compatibility, the new and exciting romantic partnership is often beyond the conscious mind's capacity to regulate it. Although these deep feelings have a conscious 'voice', they are often muted by the more powerful unconscious drive to merge emotionally, personally, and sexually. The instinctive attraction experience results in a rush of powerful euphoric feelings that will convince any two star-crossed lovers that they are perfectly matched. Even when there are signs of incompatibility, they still fall victim to their instinctual urges. This is the Human Magnet Syndrome.

According to many psychological theorists, we unconsciously gravitate toward relationships that are familiar and reminiscent of those experienced during our childhood. Without positive experiences in healthy relationships, both emotional manipulators and codependents ironically felt awkward and anxious when their romantic interest is healthy or emotionally balanced.

When codependents meet a prospective healthy lover, they feel anxious and nervous because they do not know how to participate in a mutual discussion or a dating situation that involves an equal amount of sharing, and giving. They simply do not know how to be an equal participant to a relationship. Hence pushed into a mutual and reciprocal relationship, codependents quickly move toward the 'relationship exit door'.

When a codependent and an emotional manipulator consciously experience each other as attractive,they are magnetically drawn together because of their instinctive knowledge of dysfunctional environments. The feeling of attraction is extraordinarily deep - almost trance-like. These unconscious feelings of familiarity and comfort bring about feelings of safety and security. In actuality, the feelings of safety and security are only an illusion. They are directly connected to unconscious memories of their childhood dysfunctional relationship with their emotional manipulator parent.

Because codependents and emotional manipulators really dysfunctionally compatible, they experience intense excitement in the beginning phase of their relationship. The emotional manipulator's confidence, charm and need to be the center of attention will create a barrage of emotional fireworks for the codependent. The great listening skills, patience and accommodating nature of the codependent, as well as their unconditional acceptance, endless support and empathy will stoke the fire of the emotional manipulator's romantic fantasies. These two are likely to be instantly bonded by virtue of their compatible dysfunctional traits/personalities. Love will bloom as these two lovers experience their new relationship as a perfect fit.

Codependents instinctively react to the emotional manipulator's narcissistic traits in a positive manner, finding them intensely attractive, desirable and strangely familiar. They are reflexively attracted to narcissistic individuals who match up with their submissive, giving and sacrificial nature.

Codependents take great pride in their natural and well-developed abilities to be compassionate, patient and giving. Since codependents feel at ease and are comfortable with the role of sacrificing their own needs, while tending to the needs of others, they are naturally attracted to individuals who responded favorably to their caretaking role. Their selflessness and ability to absorb their partner's problems, making them the perfect sounding board for someone who is self-centered and self-consumed. They experience a form of pseudo self-esteem when they are in a relationship in which they feel needed and appreciated. It's as if they were born to help, solve and sacrifice.

Because the codependent is beguiled by their prospective partner's charismatic personality, they are unable to recognize the potential harm that these individuals can cause them. Despite the fact they do not intentionally seek narcissistic romantic partners, they unfortunately find themselves perpetually in their company.

NOTE: Use of the term narcissistic does NOT mean the romantic partner has NPD.

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 08:56 AM

The author of the book discusses his "Continuum of Self Theory" in Chapter 5 of The Human Magnet Syndrome , here is what he says:

"The continuum of self theory was designed to represent a personís "self-orientation". The term, self-orientation, represents a distinctly human personality characteristic. It defines the manner in which a person expresses or does not express their emotional or psychological needs when in a romantic relationship. There are only two self-orientation types: the first one is the "other" self-orientation. This is an individual who tends to be naturally and reflexively oriented toward the needs of others. The second is the "self" self-orientation. This is a person who is naturally and reflexively oriented to his/her own wants - or the needs of self.

The continuum of self measures the full range of the self-orientation possibilities. The dichotomous self-orientations are measured in degrees from healthy to dysfunctional. On the far ends of the continuum lie the most dysfunctional manifestations of the "others" and "self" self-orientations. The middle point on the continuum represents a self-orientation that is equally balanced between the needs of others and the needs of self.

Codependents have the most severe and dysfunctional form of the "others" self-orientation. Conversely, emotional manipulators have the most severe and dysfunctional form of "self" self-orientation.

The continuum of self utilizes 11 numerical values, or continuum of self values (CSVs), to represent the full-range of self-orientation possibilities. At the center of the continuum is a CSV of zero. The zero represents a hypothetical perfect balance of one's "self" and "other" orientation. The highest number to the left of zero is negative five, which represents codependency - a self-orientation that is defined by the complete focus on the needs of others while neglecting one's own needs. The highest number to the right of zero is a positive five, which represents one of the emotional manipulator disorders - a self-orientation defined by the complete focus on one's own needs at the exclusion of others. The self-orientations progress in varying degrees of severity; a negative or positive five (-5/+5) is the most severe or pathological. The CSVs increase or decrease in a series of single digits, i.e, zero to negative five or zero to positive five. The closer the CSV is to zero, the more a person is able to "give and take" when in a romantic relationship. The further from zero, the more a person adopts a relationship pattern of selflessness or selfishness.

The zero value does not signify an absence of self-orientation. Instead, it represents a person who demonstrates an equal amount of "self-care" and "other-care" when in a relationship. The zero point, the middle of the continuum, represents an exact balance of love, respect and care (LRC), given and received. It is possible, but not common (in the author's experience), for a person to have a zero or neutral CSV. Although having a zero would be ideal, in reality, the vast majority fall somewhere on one side or the other of the continuum."

In the next post I will give the author's examples/descriptions each Continuum of Self Value.

onlytime posted 1/24/2017 09:01 AM

The following list matches each of the 11 Continuum of Self Values (CSVs) with a general personality description. These examples are only intended to illustrate the range of general personality possibilities according to the Continuum of Self Theoryís self-orientation concept.

-5 CSV: A codependent is completely absorbed with the love, respect, and care (LRC) needs of others, while completely ignoring and devaluing their own. This category of individual is often powerless, unable and/or unwilling to seek LRC from his romantic partner.

-4 CSV: A person with codependent tendencies. He is almost always focused on the LRC needs of others while only intermittently seeking to have his own LRC needs reciprocated or fulfilled. This person is able, albeit unmotivated, fearful and/or inexperienced in seeking LRC from his romantic partner. He often chooses not to ask others to fulfill his LRC needs, as he doesnít want to upset others or cause conflict. If asking for some semblance of LRC from his partner, he does so nervously and with distinct feelings of guilt or neediness.

-3 CSV: A person who identifies with his caring and giving nature. He is predominately focused on the LRC needs of others, while often diminishing, delaying or excusing away the fulfillment of his own needs. This personís identity and reputation is fused with his helping and caretaking nature. He is typically in relationships in which there is an imbalance between his partnerís and his own LRC needs Ė giving much more LRC to his partner than receiving. This individual is capable of setting boundaries in relationships while also asking for what he needs, however, he tends to feel guilty or needy when setting such boundaries or when asking for help from others.

-2 CSV: One involved in relationships in which his caretaking identity is valued and appreciated, but not exploited. He enjoys relationships with others in which he provides ample amounts of LRC, without wanting equal amounts reciprocated. He is able to ask for what he wants or needs from others, although is slightly uncomfortable doing so. He is comfortable with a partner who needs more LRC than he is willing to give in return. He is able to set boundaries and ask for what he needs when the LRC balance goes beyond his comfort level. He might experience mild feelings of guilt or neediness when asking his partner to meet his own LRC needs. As much as is possible, he avoids individuals who are narcissistic, exploitative or manipulative.

-1 CSV: A person with a healthy balance between loving, respecting and caring for self and others. He typically seeks life experiences and relationships in which he is able to satisfy his own LRC needs. He tends to participate and appreciate relationships that are based on a reciprocal and mutual distribution of LRC. Although he derives meaning and happiness when helping and caring for others, he does not tolerate a selfish or self-centered romantic partner. He often enjoys caring for others, but does not identify himself as a caretaker or helper. He do not experience guilt or feelings of neediness when asking for LRC from others.

0 CSV: A person who participates in relationships where there is an equal distribution of LRC given and received. They easily ask for what they need from their partners, while being open to their partners LRC needs. With their LRC-balanced relationships, they easily fluctuate between being the recipient and giver of LRC.

+1 CSV: A person with a healthy balance between loving, respecting and caring for self and others. They tend to participate and appreciate relationships that are based on a reciprocal and mutual distribution of LRC. This individual values personal and professional goals and ambitions, which they confidently pursue. Although they derives meaning and happiness through the pursuit of his own goals and ambitions, he is also cognizant of the necessity to love, respect and care for his romantic partner. He effortlessly provides LRC to his romantic partner when necessary or requested. He may identify with both the role of a caretaker or helper while wanting to fulfill his own goals and ambitions.

+2 CSV: A person who prefers to be involved in relationships in which the pursuit to fulfill his own ambitions, desires and goals is encouraged and supported. In a romantic relationship, he actively seeks attention, appreciation and affirmation. Although he is a go-getter and may be consumed with ďgetting the spotlight,Ē he is willing and able to fulfill his partnerís needs. He is neither exploitative nor selfish. As an individual who is more oriented toward his own LRC needs, he periodically forgets about the inequity of LRC distribution in the relationship. He responds favorably and non-reactively when his partner asks for higher levels of LRC. Although he can be comfortable in a caretaking role, he doesnít maintain it.

+3 CSV: A mildly selfish and self-centered individual. He is predominately focused on the LRC needs of self, while often diminishing, delaying or excusing away the fulfillment of his partnerís needs. This personís identity and reputation is fused with his need for attention, validation and recognition. He identifies with the persona of the go-getter and success-driven individual. He is typically in relationships where there is an imbalance in the distribution of LRC needs, expecting or taking more LRC than giving. If confronted about the LRC inequality, he may get defensive, but will be able to make corrections. He can modulate or control his self-centered and seemingly selfish attributes. Although he may be perceived as self-consumed and self-centered, he is willing and able to love, respect and care for his partner; they just need frequent reminders.

+4 CSV: A narcissistic individual. This individual is absorbed and preoccupied with the LRC needs of self, while rarely seeking to fulfill the LRC needs of others. He comes across as being entitled, self-absorbed and self-centered, as he are driven to seek LRC from others, while giving very minimal amounts of the same in return. He is comfortable with the LRC disparity, believing his needs are more important than his partnerís. Although this person is overtly narcissistic, he is still able to give nominal levels of LRC to others. If confronted about the LRC inequities, he will characteristically get angry and defensive and are quick to justify his actions. He, however, does not experience a narcissistic injury or exhibit narcissistic rage when confronted.

+5 CSV: An Emotional Manipulator. Unable and unmotivated to love, respect and care for others. He is consumed with fulfilling his own LRC needs with no intention of reciprocating. He has great difficulty in exhibiting empathy, unconditional positive regard or love. When he does give LRC to others, it is typically conditional, with strings attached. He is not able to comprehend or accept his pathological levels of narcissism. When confronted about the LRC imbalances, he will often strike back with either direct or passive aggression

Matching or compatible continuum of self values can be categorized into three relationship groups:

* Normal or healthy

A matching positive and negative zero, one or two CSV.

* Problematic
A matching positive and negative three CSV.

* Unhealthy or dysfunctional
A matching positive and negative four or five CSV.

Except for the emotional manipulator how has a personality disorder, a person's self-orientation or CSV is neither fixed nor permanent**. A personís CSV typically ebbs and flows throughout a lifetime. It is possible, albeit not typical, for a person to move from one side of the continuum to the other.

This is where psychotherapy is so very crucial to one's mental health. With motivation, emotional fortitude, and good psychotherapy, both self and others self-oriented individuals are unable to change their unhealthy self-orientation.

** According to the author , individuals with an emotional manipulator personality disorder are capable of psychological growth, however, the probability for such is very low.

Romantic relationships become healthier when the equal inverse CSV's move closer to zero on the continuum. With the less severe matching CSV's, the relationship is defined by more equality, reciprocity and maturity.

If one partner's CSV moves in a healthier direction and the other's doesn't follow, then the relationship is likely to be in jeopardy. Relationships with unbalanced CSV's are inherently unstable and subsequently prone to conflict, discord and break up.

[This message edited by onlytime at 11:11 AM, January 24th (Tuesday)]

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