The Relationship Myth - part 2
This is the second instalment of my ‘Relationship Myth’ series. You can read the first instalmenthere.
The following extract is taken from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom.’
I wrote two chapters focussing on relationships, as I have found that for alcoholics (drunk or sober) relationships are particularly troublesome.
And the most troublesome of all, are the romantic variety.
I was three years sober when a break-up brought me to the point of suicide. I was about thirty at the time, and there was nothing I could do, but watch another promising relationship disintegrate. Whilst that empty black hole appeared within me again.
This wasn’t meant to happen.
I was sober now. My life was meant to be on track, things were meant to be working out for me.
But the exact same things that happened in my relationships drunk, were happening sober.
And I was scared because I didn’t know how to make them stop.
It was then that I realised I didn’t want to drink or pop a pill, but I was making a decision to not kill myself today.
Which is when I realised I was in trouble.
You ‘see the ‘myth’ part was that I believed a relationship would save me. I had bought the ‘lie’ that a romantic relationship would be my salvation.
Instead they crucified me.
And at that point I knew I was either going to die or I had to find a way to solve this.
So I worked harder on myself then than I had ever done before.
This is what I learnt:
Relationships: our life task
The thing about human relationships is that they are always moving, changing and growing. They are organic in nature and just because we are in a relationship right now doesn’t mean we always will be. They are a task we have to work at constantly.
Different circumstances and events can have an impact on our committed relationships, as we learn new ways to respond to these changes. It’s not just romantic relationships that we need to work on, but also relationships with our friends, families, colleagues and acquaintances. They can all be improved. This requires conscious effort on our part.
Identify your relationship patterns
If you look back over the last few years, what are the patterns you’ve ‘acted out’?
Disapproval, abandonment, rejection, possessiveness, intensity followed by apathy? Are you a serial monogamist or a serial adulterer? Uncommitted/overcommitted? Look at all of your past relationships objectively and see if you can begin to identify a pattern of behavior on your part.
By identifying our patterns we become more intelligent, more informed, more self-aware. When we wake up to ourselves and get honest we can see that we often knew what we were doing, we just chose not to acknowledge it. We lied to ourselves, and we did this because we were scared, scared we wouldn’t be loved, so we clung onto relationships that weren’t right for us.
Not only do we have to deal with the stuff from our family of origin, but we have to clear the wreckage from our past relationships too. All of our past relationships, no matter how bad they were, have great lessons that we can take from them and grow from. By doing this we then have a chance of creating the relationship we want, instead of just repeating the same pattern.
Many of us have a relationship pattern. This is the behavior we repeat over and over again with different people. At first we might think it’s the other person who’s doing this to us, but in reality it’s something we are doing. If we can uncover it, we can change it. It’s much harder to do keep on doing something when we see what it is we are doing that harms us.
My pattern in relationships was this: I would meet a guy who would be completely dazzled by me. He would pursue me and tell me how amazing, beautiful and incredible I was. We would have sex and I would think we were in a relationship. He would then become indifferent to me and eventually push me away, and I would be heartbroken.
This happened every time.
And every time a little piece of me broke inside, to the point that I seriously considered a life of celibacy and aloneness, because I simply couldn’t go through that level of pain again.
Of course, I was repeating the abandonment I had experienced from my father, but even knowing this didn’t prevent me from continuing the pattern.
By becoming spiritually fit I began to see that I attracted insecure men into my life who were at first very attracted to my confidence and exuberance – even when drinking I could come across this way. But because they felt so insecure with themselves, they couldn’t handle my being this way, so they pushed me away. And because I used to interpret everything personally, I thought it was because I wasn’t good enough. It came as a revelation to me that it wasn’t because of me that they backed away. It was because of their own failings and inadequacy that they had to leave.
I also realized that I had been settling for kitchen boys, not princes. I was damn well good enough, but I had to see this first. And when I finally believed that, my behavior changed accordingly. Through changing my behavior, the results changed, and that is the reason I finally became someone who could give and receive love.
Common relationship mistakes
The key to having a healthy relationship is to recognize the reasons for going into it. If you’re going into it for the wrong reasons then the result is usually an unhealthy relationship. If you have a pattern of unsatisfactory relationships, then it is important to look at your co-dependency issues. A common mistake is looking for someone to save you or fix you. Firstly, you are not broken so you don’t need ‘fixing’, and secondly, by creating that belief system you give all your power away and take on the role of a pathetic victim.
Only children are victims, adults volunteer for the role.
Unconsciously, as adults, we start playing out the same pattern again and again. People volunteer to be victims in relationships, because this is all they are used to. They have learnt to be treated this way. This isn’t their fault, as they don’t know any better. However, at some point, as an adult, they have to stop and look at themselves, and take responsibility for changing. Nobody can fix you or save you, simply because no other human being has that kind of power.
Only you can do that for yourself.
Behaving as a victim will attract two types of people. The first one believes their purpose in life is to find someone to ‘fix’ or ‘save’. It’s how they get their needs met and self-esteem raised, by becoming a ‘rescuer’. Someone who has this belief system is often ‘using’ the person they are ‘saving’ in order to distract themselves from looking at their own issues. By allowing someone to save you, you ‘give yourself away’.
The second type will be attracted to ‘victims’ they can abuse. Victims attract abusers like magnets.
The only way to have the relationship you want and deserve is to become the kind of person you want to have a relationship with, and then you will attract that person into your life.
Like attracts like.
Become the kind of person you want to attract.