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I read today, and I thought it was written about me.


I have been struggling with this for years, basically since I've been old enough to date seriously (about 14 years old). I've been in a series of long-term monogamous relationships and when they each ended, I was devastated and lost. I feel the need to be with someone in order to care for and love them, to feel needed. I neglect my own wants and needs, I become self-sacrificing, and I get taken advantage of. In my most recent relationship, I enabled poor behavior and treatment, and felt rejected when he backed away. He started seeking out attention elsewhere, I began to have obsessive thoughts, I became manipulative. I became someone I don't like. I even became a liar.


I have never been able to find the strength or courage to leave my codependent relationship, I am terribly fearful of hurting someone, especially someone I love and I feel as if he needs me, I can't shake the compulsion to help. I know it's not good for me, I'm not happy. It's not fair to him for me to stick around either. It brings me a small amount of solace to know that I'm not alone.

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Have you ever thought about redirecting your desire to nurture, help, love, be needed, etc. to some causes, as in volunteering for several things? Basically fulfilling that craving in different healthy ways that actually work for you instead of dumping those desires on your relationships...because that is a huge weight and burden to bear for any one individual, not to mention that you do expose yourself to use and abuse...... There really are better ways to gain what you crave.....

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brie, if you resisted your urge to help, to save, what would that mean?


would it mean you were a bad person?

would it mean you were selfish?

would it mean you'd end up alone?

would it mean -whatever, fill the blank-.


if yes, what would THAT mean? if you are a bad selfish person, or a good person who won't be recognized as worthy of love unless she makes herself a beggar, a doormat, a dependent-- what would that mean for you?

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So, when I am alone, and I love to be alone and prefer it, I pour all of my energy into the things I love (art, hiking, writing, reading, volunteering, working), it is weird, I don't feel the need to nurture until I am already in a relationship with someone. When I enter the relationship, I immediately begin neglecting myself. I have been with my boyfriend for three years, he needs to spend every waking moment with me, believes he can't succeed without my help, and needs love and attention to help him through his chronic depression. At this point, I've neglected myself so much that I haven't been able to do anything I really enjoy besides reading for three years because I do what he wants instead. It's gotten to the point now where I feel that I have to sneak away or lie for alone time, to spend time with friends, because he might get mad or upset that I don't want to spend time with him.


I feel ashamed, but I also feel guilty. I feel guilty for lying. I'd feel guilty if I left him on his own, because in his eyes he needs me and that makes me feel like I should stay.


RainyCoast, I've thought about these questions a lot. In my head, I tell myself I would be a bad person, a very selfish person if I left. I'd be overcome with guilt, and I haven't been able to walk away especially because he begs, cries, pleads. I can't face it, I feel like I need to be a martyr for him. Here's the thing, I am very aware of my codependent and enabling status, I'm very aware that it isn't a good thing, and I'm also very aware that he would likely be fine if I left (after a while, because humans adapt), I can't figure out why I am so paralyzed by fear and inaction. I know I can change it, I just feel paralyzed and unable to do so, if that makes sense?

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it makes perfect sense because you described the person i've been for the larger portion of my life in eerie detail.


as far as the belief about being a rotten person for not self-sacrificing goes, my turning point was something like this:


-EVEN IF leaving would be a bad, even rotten thing to do (rationally, we know that it isn't, but we're disputing further until the emotional self gets it too), a bad and rotten deed doesn't equate a bad person.


-EVEN IF i did something horrible to him by leaving, i have not caused him any major harm because he has a choice to catastrophize his exprience or to not. so even if the deed is bad, it's half bad. the other half is on him.


-EVEN IF i am a bad person, what does that mean? that i should be sentenced to a miserable fate, that i should forever hate myself? that i will forever have (and deserve it too) the experience of being punished by people, life, fate for my badness, that i will (and should) psychologically flagellate myself as if offering an atonement for my badness? etc. now think of people whose actions are so bad and ill-conceived almost by default that you cannot help but think of them as bad. think of the parliament! think of a scheming but successful coworker or boss. think of the office womanizer, the high school narcissist. are they receiving punishment? are they punishing themselves? usually, they seem to be enjoying life and themselves far more than you. and noone stops to say to them, hey, you don't deserve this, here, let me dole out your punishment then go to your room and hate yourself for what you've done forever. so doing a bad thing (again, it's not actually bad, but we're arguing with the irrational emotional self here who does believe leaving would be a mean thing to do) doesn't mean you necessarily deserve bad things. the people you think as bad, you just pass them by and continue on your way because you prefer to not have much to do with them, but you don't feel entitled to stop and punish them. why, if you were a bad person, would the same not go for you? "leave me be in my badness" lol. if i am bad, i am still free to say "i refuse to endure that which i don't enjoy". when you're being sent to prison for murder, i'll change my tune.


-even if leaving is a bad thing to do, or makes me a bad person, i can forgive myself for being a fallible human being.


when you get to statements like i'd be a bad person, you can continue the downward questioning (and what would that mean? and what would THAT mean?) until you reach that core fear that keeps you paralyzed when you want to up and leave and then you dispute that one.


the root of this tendency is an abysmally low self-esteem, and when you're particlarly stubbornly codependent, it may be so low trying to strenghten it is too much of a task that would take a while. so instead, you can do away with self-esteem entirely (it's a self-defeating concept in a way because it's so conditional. it's always dependent on something. you always have to have something to prove you deserve it, and if you're convinced you're wortheless, nothing will do.) and replace it with self- acceptance. even if i am -enter whatever bad things you believe about yourself- i can still accept myself fully with all my flaws.

also, you don't have to have it all figured out (yourself included) to be allowed to take the next step. you don't have to grow into a bigger or better person or whatever to be able to just leave. always, always be content to do what you can with what you've got. i mean generally in life. us martyrs can sabotage ourselves in many areas with the excuse that we can't because of this and we can't because of that. flip that around and go well what can i do with what i do have, no matter how small?


as far as the guilt tripping goes. i told mine (when he accused me of the horrible things i was doing to him for leaving and what a horrible person i was) "you're absolutely right. and i liberate you of this pos of a person that i am". it's just an ego injury you fear. someone will call you bad person, or be convinced for life that you are one and choose to wallow in his victimhood "imposed on him by you". you say rationally you do know you're not a bad person so the only problem with his reaction will be this ego injury. you don't have to internalize it. so when they threaten your reputation, your ego, the qualitative description of you as a persona, remember that if you stay, they are damaging far more important things, that are much more real than an imago of the self. trust me, you can live with him believeing you're bad, and it's so easy it's laughable. i wish i'd have known sooner. you'll be free and happy. the price you pay is someone unwilling to look inside himself will project onto you the misery that he wreaks upon himself. many people will do it, you won't even need to be especially close to them to have that experience. just learn to mentally respond "oh really? lullz, i can live with that".


"i am bleep bleeping bleepitty bleep you say? oh lol, lookie here how that bleep pockets her freedom. b-ye."

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With my recent relationship and past relationships too (I haven't learned yet it seems like) this is exactly who I was as well. Losing myself and self-sacrificing to make my partner happy ultimately resulting in me being unhappy internally. It's because we are people pleasers and saying NO is not an option. I had that same pattern as you, I would enjoy my interests for awhile as a single woman (art, music, reading, etc.) and then when I would enter into a relationship, all of that faded away and I constantly would just want to do what my boyfriend would want to do. Unfortunately your situation is slightly worst, my boyfriend didn't have chronic depression, but I'm sure that's enabled you even more to be self-sacrificing. I think our problem is that we are not WHOLE individual beings when we enter a relationship. It's like we are trying to fill the void that ultimately only ourselves can fill. And because we are not whole, there ends up being resentment. I have to go to work but I have more to say on this.

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