I admit it. I would leave then I would go back. Again and again. It was sick really. I blamed his sickness. Never mine. All I could see was his alcoholism and his abuse. He was the perpetrator and I was the victim.
Over and over and over again.
Believe me, there was a lot of sympathetic attention coming my way for a long, long time during that relationship. I enjoyed that sick attention. I convinced myself that I was a helpless victim. I know right? Me, a helpless victim. (Yeah, I don’t think so!)
Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I knew that I was co-dependent. I’d been taught to be that way – with an extreme narcissist for a mother. I was ripe for that type of push/pull relationship. And still, throughout the 15 year relationship, I blamed him.
It was all his fault that our marriage and our relationship was shit.
All my life I had been taught that if we could just talk it out, we could solve it. If we could just get to the bottom of the problems, we could move forward. Together.
That’s what I believed. And still, it was his fault that he couldn’t dig deep enough to help resolve the problems. The worse things got, the harder I tried.
One day I called my dearest friend. I launched into whatever that day’s tale of woe was about my husband. Only that day she didn’t respond like she always did. That day, she was fed up with hearing my nauseating, repetitive story. She said:
“Do you have anything new or different to say about GP today? Because if not, we need to change the subject. I’m not willing to keep having the same conversation about him anymore.”
I don’t recall what else was said during that conversation. My recollection is that I couldn’t get off the phone fast enough. I was stunned. See, that’s how you know when someone truly loves you – they will call you out on your crap. And she did. She always has.
Here’s what she taught me that day:
There is nothing that ever happens to you that’s not your creation. Somehow, someway. You were there. It’s on you.
After the first apology, other apologies don’t mean a thing. If you’re in a relationship with someone who disrespects you, mistreats you, ignores you, hurts you, etc., the first apology is the only one that counts. Accept the first apology, then expect it never to happen again. If it does and you choose to stay, everything that flows from there is on you.
The people who really love you will call you on your BS. When someone outside the situation who loves you sees you floundering and stuck, they will tell you the truth as they see it. I’m not saying they’re always right or that they know more about your life than you do. Absolutely I’m NOT saying that. All I’m saying is that they will tell you exactly what they think and feel. And they should. Your job is to listen, really hear what’s said, weigh it in your own mind & heart, then accept or discount their opinions with clarity.
You have to claim your responsibility in the situation before you can move forward. Whether you stay in the relationship or not, you absolutely must acknowledge your own role in it. You don’t have to do it publicly or even to your significant other, but you must claim it in your own mind. As long as you keep pointing the finger at someone else as the cause of your life, you will never have the power to change your circumstances.
Your life belongs to you. It is yours to do as you choose. No one else wields that power. If you choose to give that power away, you are still responsible for your choice.
It’s simple. It’s not easy.
I am so appreciative of that relationship for so many reasons. It brought out my ingrained co-dependency so that I could begin to unravel it. It shone a beacon into my people pleasing and my default behavior patterns. It gave me clarity in so many ways. It was truly a gift in my life.
And yes, it’s taken me a long time to understand all of that.