Usually adult males who are unable to make emotional connections with the women they choose to be intimate with are frozen in time, unable to allow themselves to love for fear that the loved one will abandon them. If the first woman they passionately loved, the mother, was not true to her bond of love, then how can they trust that their partner will be true to love. Often in their adult relationships these men act out again and again to test their partner’s love. While the rejected adolescent boy imagines that he can no longer receive his mother’s love because he is not worthy, as a grown man he may act out in ways that are unworthy and yet demand of the woman in his life that she offer him unconditional love. This testing does not heal the wound of the past, it merely reenacts it, for ultimately the woman will become weary of being tested and end the relationship, thus reenacting the abandonment. This drama confirms for many men that they cannot put their trust in love. They decide that it is better to put their faith in being powerful, in being dominant. Bell Hooks
Sometimes we have to
behave indifferent towards
people who proclaim
their love for us,
just to see if they
are really different.
Michael Bassey Johnson
Many victims of abuse dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they were engaged or living together. The abuser will often claim ‘love at first sight’, that you are ‘made for each other’, or that you are the only person whom he could ever talk to so openly, feel so at home with, could understand him so well. He/she may tell you that they have never loved anyone so much or felt so loved by anyone so much before, when you have really only known each other for a short amount of time. He/she needs someone desperately, and will pressure you to commit to him/her or make love before you feel the relationship has reached ‘that stage’. He/she may also make you feel guilty for not committing yourself to him/her. The abuser may expect you to be the perfect husband, wife, mother, father, lover, and friend. He/she is very dependent on you for all his/her needs, and may tell you he/she can fulfil all your needs as lover, friend, and companion. Statements such as: ‘lf you love me, I’m all you need’, ‘You are all I need.’ are common. Your abuser may expect you to provide everything for him/her emotionally, practically, financially or spiritually, and then blame you for not being perfect or living up to expectation. The abuser may try to curtail your social interaction. He/she may prevent you from spending time with your friends or family and demand that you only go places ‘together’. He/she may accuse you of being ‘tied to your mother’s apron strings’, not be committed to the relationship, or view people who are your personal friends as ‘causing trouble’ or ‘trying to put a wedge’ between you. He/she may want to live in the country without a phone, not let you use the car, stop you from working or gaining further education or qualifications. http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/warning_signs.html
Don’t judge yourself
by what others did to you.
Real love makes us feel vulnerable. A new relationship is uncharted territory, and most of us have natural fears of the unknown. Letting ourselves fall in love means taking a real risk. We are placing a great amount of trust in another person, allowing them to affect us, which makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. Our core defenses are challenged. Any habits we’ve long had that allow us to feel self-focused or self-contained start to fall by the wayside. We tend to believe that the more we care, the more we can get hurt. When we enter into a relationship, we are rarely fully aware of how we’ve been impacted by our history. The ways we were hurt in previous relationships, starting from our childhood, have a strong influence on how we perceive the people we get close to as well as how we act in our romantic relationships. Old, negative dynamics may make us wary of opening ourselves up to someone new. We may steer away from intimacy, because it stirs up old feelings of hurt, loss, anger or rejection. As Dr. Pat Love said in an interview with PsychAlive, “when you long for something, like love, it becomes associated with pain,” the pain you felt at not having it in the past. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201401/7-reasons-most-people-are-afraid-love Read more from Dr. Lisa Firestone at http://www.psychalive.org/author/dr-lisa-firestone/
Love takes off masks
that we fear we
cannot live without
and know we cannot
James Arthur Baldwin
Just as you have choices about how to interpret an event, you also have options about how to express those feelings you experience. Often we limit the range of our expressive options by erroneously believing that there are only two options: either directly expressing them to someone else (e.g., in a personal confrontation), or “swallowing” the feelings and keeping them to ourselves. In actuality, there are many ways to respond to your feelings and express yourself. To some extent, you express a feeling any time your behavior is influenced by that feeling, but the way you express that feeling, and the intensity of that expression can vary widely. This is where decision-making comes in. First, consider what your options are. For example, if a close friend is planning to move away, you may feel very sad about that. You have numerous options here. For example, you can tell your friend how much you will miss him/her. Also, you can make a special effort to spend more time with him/her. These options may be painful at the time, but they give you the opportunity to express your feelings to your friend. On the other hand, you can avoid the friend until he/she leaves town so you won’t have to say good-bye. Or you can stay busy making other friends so you won’t miss this particular friend as much after he/she leaves. These choices may allow you to postpone or avoid painful feelings at the time, but they do not provide the opportunity for closure with your friend. The point is that you have options, and it’s your decision. Here are some useful questions to consider when deciding how to respond to your feelings:
- Does the intensity of my feelings match the situation?
- Do I have several feelings that I need to pay attention to?
- What interpretations or judgments am I making about this event?
- What are my options for expressing my feelings?
- What are the consequences of each option for me?
- What are the consequences of each option for others?
- What result am I hoping for?
- What do I want to do?
- What if I do nothing?
Even doing something like taking a deep breath or going for a walk to think about it can be a way of responding to your feelings. Remember that you have many options when it comes to expressing emotions. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/self-awarenessself-care/experiencing-and-expressing-emotions/
The best and most beautiful things
in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.
One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying. A persistent schizophrenia leaves so many of us tragically divided against ourselves. On the one hand, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practice the very antithesis of these principles. How often are our lives characterized by a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds! We talk eloquently about our commitment to the principles of Christianity, and yet our lives are saturated with the practices of paganism. We proclaim our devotion to democracy, but we sadly practice the very opposite of the democratic creed. We talk passionately about peace, and at the same time we assiduously prepare for war. We make our fervent pleas for the high road of justice, and then we tread unflinchingly the low road of injustice. This strange dichotomy, this agonizing gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man’s earthly pilgrimage. From “Strength to Love” by Martin Luther King Jr.
Going to church doesn’t make you
any more a Christian than going
to the garage makes you a car.
Your beliefs don’t make you
a better person, your behavior does.
Your words mean nothing if your
actions are the complete opposite.
Having true faith in whatever it is
you believe must be shown through actions,
believing is only half the battle.
Let your dreams be bigger than your fears,
your actions louder than your words,
and your faith stronger than your feelings.
If you are in a relationship, and you recognize that it is heading toward the same negative outcome as past relationships, you can stop the momentum and avoid another tragic ending. You and your partner are most likely collaborating in creating the negative dynamics in your relationship. Not only is he/she the same kind of person you always end up with, it is most likely that you are the same kind of person he/she ends up with, too. Even though there are real qualities we love and admire in the people we choose to become romantically involved with, we must consider that each of us is also making sure that the negative baggage we each carry fits nicely into one another’s undeveloped emotional compartments. Talk with your partner about how your patterns of relating fit together and about how you may be playing out dynamics from your pasts with each other. As you discuss how they play out in your relationship, you will each have ideas of behaviors you can challenge and recognize that your relationship is not doomed. Remember that, in any relationship, you are going to face your own limitations as well as those of another human being. The better you know yourself and your partner knows him/herself, the stronger you will both be in dealing with these limitations. You can both evolve and grow in the relationship. As you each challenge yourselves and give up your old negative identities, you will discover new aspects of yourself and of your partner. Taken from an article by Lisa Firestone http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-firestone/wrong-relationship-choices_b_830989.html
Most people are other people.
Their thoughts are
someone else’s opinions,
their lives a mimicry,
their passions a quotation.
Healing essentially involves self-acceptance. This is not only a step, but a life-long journey. People come to therapy to change themselves, not realizing that the work is about accepting themselves. Ironically, before you can change, you have to accept the situation. As they say, “What you resist, persists.”In recovery, more about yourself is revealed that requires acceptance, and life itself presents limitations and losses to accept. This is maturity. Accepting reality opens the doors of possibility. Change then happens. New ideas and energy emerge that previously stagnated from self-blame and fighting reality. For example, when you feel sad, lonely, or guilty, instead of making yourself feel worse, you have self-compassion, soothe yourself, and take steps to feel better. Self-acceptance means that you don’t have to please everyone for fear that they won’t like you. You honor your needs and unpleasant feelings and are forgiving of yourself and others. This goodwill toward yourself allows you to be self-reflective without being self-critical. Your self-esteem and confidence grow, and consequently, you don’t allow others to abuse you or tell you what to do. Instead of manipulating, you become more authentic and assertive, and are capable of greater intimacy. By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT http://psychcentral.com/lib/recovery-from-codependency/00014956
Who looks outside,
who looks inside,
Carl Gustav Jung
We don’t always fall for someone simply because their positive qualities complement our own but also because their negative traits fit ours so well. Therefore, the first thing to do when entering into a relationship (or improving one, for that matter) is to take a look at yourself and at the history of your relationships. What are the qualities that you typically look for in a partner? Are there certain negative qualities that always seem to show up and eventually drive you crazy? Do you have a pattern of choosing a person with specific traits, only to end up dissatisfied with them? Do your relationships seem to always break up for the same reasons? Once you recognize a pattern, you have something that you can work with. By figuring out how you go about ending up with the same objectionable partner in every relationship, you will know what to do to break this cycle. With each choice you make and action you take in a relationship, it’s important to have a good sense of what is operating within you that’s motivating your behavior. When it comes to love, it is advisable to not only go into it with your heart; but to go into it with your head. That way, instead of automatically selecting the same type of person for the same negative traits, you can try selecting a partner who is entirely different. For instance, if you grew up feeling invisible or ignored, you may avoid someone who shows a real interest in you. Instead, you may feel more attracted to someone who is distant or withholding of affection. You can consciously decide to be open to the possibility of being with someone who is different from the people you typically choose, for example, someone who expresses a strong attraction to you. This change will most likely cause you to feel somewhat ambivalent. However, because you have identified your pattern, you can be aware of the negative factors influencing your decision. Perhaps your disinterest in this person may be largely motivated by the very interest that he/she is showing in you. When you consciously choose to break a pattern, you can establish a better relationship with a better, albeit unfamiliar, outcome. If you hang in there, and give this out-of-the-ordinary person a chance, you can become accustomed to this out-of-the-ordinary relationship. Yours could be one of those stories of friends who fall in love or unlikely seeming couples who live happily together. From an article by Lisa Firestone http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-firestone/wrong-relationship-choices_b_830989.html
Perhaps we can recognize
our way out of patterns
rather than repeating
our way out of them.
Love Addicts compensated for lack of nurturing as children by immersing themselves in fantasy. Fantasies of being rescued or being the rescuer abound. Knights, dragons, romance novels – getting high from fantasy becomes habit. When a Love Addict plays with fantasy, they can get high in about 10 minutes, and stay there for 2-3 hours. Endorphins are released into their system, relieving emotional pain. Love Addicts begin relationships by trying too hard to please and connect. They are driven to find someone to tell them they are loveable and loved; to find someone who will rescue them from their inability to care for themselves; rescue them from their loneliness, emptiness, lack of self-love, inability to feel safe in the world without someone to protect them. They look for a relationship to make them feel whole. By Mary Ellen O’Leary, MA, LPCC http://insidetherapy.com/codaloveaddict.html
I liked it. I craved it.
I wanted more and I took it.
I took it like I needed it,
like my life had a limit
and if I didn’t get as much
of it as I could I’d quit
breathing the next instant.
First, take a few deep breaths, relax the tension in your body (perhaps by stretching), and slowly count until you calm down, whether this takes 5 seconds, 20 seconds, or more. Imagine your parents and grandparents, a preacher or priest, a respected and well-loved teacher or boss, your counselor, or several policemen are watching how you respond. If you can’t use a calm tone of voice to respond tactfully and respectfully, start counting again and pretend the authority figures are watching. If this doesn’t help, take a time out. Leave and do something else until you calm down. Be sure to avoid angry thinking when you count or leave to calm down. Repeatedly thinking about the conflict only prolongs the upset feelings. If you tend to blame other people or circumstances for your anger, read or repeat every day, “Nobody makes me angry. I make myself angry over certain situations and only I can change this.” If a man’s anger is intense or explosive, don’t bother with counting: he should leave the situation immediately. If he has ever been violent, he should use time out often, at least several times a week for practice and to develop the habit, even if he feels only mildly irritated and doesn’t really need to leave. Avoid angry thinking during time out by getting things done or doing what you enjoy. You might work on a hobby, read a good book, or work on projects around the house. Practicing meditation or deep relaxation is an excellent way to calm down. Physical activities such as walking, jogging, exercising, or bicycling help by releasing tension. Don’t punish a loved one by leaving for much longer than an hour or two. Be very careful if you drive a car because angry people often drive dangerously. Don’t use alcohol or other drugs when you feel angry. If you return and can’t use a calm tone of voice to respond respectfully, despite pretending authority figures are watching, leave again and do something else. As you gradually improve in dealing with your anger, you should be able to reduce the time you need away from the situation to calm down.
friends are lost
enemies are gained;
anger destroys and changes
anger is blind…
Taken from “Anger”
by Johnny Nathan Botelho