I have been in a lot of relationships. They have mostly been failures. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I’m not sure why I feel shame when a good love is something we’re all searching for. I just happen to take the scenic route.
I’m codependent and it sucks. I have tried figuring out where this comes from for so long and it always comes back to my childhood trauma. Any fragment of self-esteem I possessed, any sense of safety and security was stripped away when I was raped. No one protected me, and it was around this time that my dad left to move to another state. I have an overwhelming fear of abandonment and I find my validation in being wanted or needed. This leads me choosing dysfunctional men to share my life with. Most of them being narcissistic. It’s such an obvious pattern.
I have chosen men who are charming, very confident, even boastful and I’m attracted to that. They spend months building me up, making me feel like the most special woman on earth. They spoil me with flowers and gifts. They provide me with a sense of security that I am desperate for. They keep me safe. A few have even told me that no one will ever love me as much as they do. Sadly, I believe it. They become close with my children (which later will haunt me). I’m blinded by my feelings that this could truly be it. I’ve found the one. I’m the luckiest girl in the world! But over time, every time, the flowers stop, the compliments stop, the romance stops, the courting stops. Before long they start digging away at my confidence, making me believe that I NEED them.
Then there’s the little white lies, but I tell myself that we’re only human and we all fib. They talk about other women and they love it when I become jealous. They play mind games with me to get me all riled up and then tell me I’m crazy. Eventually I reach my breaking point and try to break away from the insanity. I know it’s not healthy. But then I’m reminded that no one will love me the way that they do. (If I only had a dollar for every time I heard that). They make big, empty promises to keep me. Yet I still wonder if it’s all my fault. I ask, “what can I do to fix this?” because I believe that someday they will be like they used to be with me. I must be doing something wrong!
Being an empathetic people pleaser doesn’t really serve me well in this scenario. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to approach the subject because no matter what I say, the narcissist will make it about himself, twist and manipulate my words, confuse me about my own feelings and leave my head spinning. Plus, there’s this little part of me that just doesn’t want another failure. I have already succumbed to the belief that my kids need them in their lives and that moving on without the narcissist would be detrimental to their wellbeing, because I’m not the best mother. Yet another manipulative lie I was told to break me down.
The cycle has got to stop. If this is all too familiar to you, please listen to me.
You are worthy of all the love your heart can hold. The moment that someone makes you feel otherwise, is the moment you need to say goodbye. It will be very hard, and you’ll doubt yourself many times. You’ll even feel some remorse and regret. You’ll spend a lot of time questioning yourself. But it will not get better if you stay. Narcissists know how to use our weaknesses against us. They will pull out all the stops to convince us to give them just one more chance. They will treat you well for a short time before you’re entangled in the web of deceit again. They miraculously become who they were in the beginning, but it won’t last and it’s not real. I know you’re hopeful. But if you give in, you will be back in the same place before long.
Don’t believe for one second that no one will ever love you as much as they will. First, this is blatant lie. Second, what a horrible thing to say to someone. He’s telling you that you are unlovable, but he is so special that he’s the chosen one, capable of loving you. This infuriates me. Third, this is the ultimate manipulation. He needs just one more chance to knock you down, knowing you were already too far down to begin with. This is his way of reclaiming control. This needs to go in one ear and out the other. Because there is no love in that statement whatsoever. Someone WILL love you, truly love you for who you are. Love does not want ownership of you. Love doesn’t feel like, “damn. He’s the only one who will ever love me. I really am awful.” Love is the opposite of that.
Don’t view your giant, soft heart as a liability. Yes, you’ve been hurt, used, taken advantage of, the list goes on. But that’s because you believe so strongly in love. You are willing to get back up, every single time you have been knocked down, and say “ok, let’s give this another try” because you won’t give up and you know that happiness will be yours someday. That is strength. That is not a weakness. Focus on those strengths. When the narcissist makes you feel crazy, unlovable and worthless, remind yourself that you have gotten through so much already and with each heart ache, you’re becoming stronger. Your heart doesn’t need to turn cold, ever. You were created with a warm, kind and loving heart, easily breakable, but also resilient enough to keep going.
You can break these cycles. Your past trauma does not have to define you. It took me a lot of therapy to be able to recognize my codependent patterns. I know now that I am drawn to the feelings of safety and security that I lost as a child. I have low self-esteem so when someone makes me feel special, I grab on with both hands. Then I become the care giver to feel needed and validated. But before long, the giving and taking becomes very lopsided and I’m left with nothing except confusion and shame that it happened yet again. This cycle can be broken. Whether it’s therapy, books, friends or family; use whatever resource you can to remove yourself from this toxicity. I know you can do it. Let’s do this together. We can heal and send the users packing!
And always remember you are not alone. You can google “codependents and narcissism” and find an endless supply of resources. This is all too common. Along with “trauma and codependency”. It is all connected. Let’s start a new cycle. Let’s recognize real love when we have it and treasure it. It is out there. Even if it takes you many long and exhausting years to find it. Never give up. And the moment you start to wonder if you’re being lied to, or if you’re overthinking, or if you’re worthy, or when your gut tells you to run, just listen to Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” super loud. And then run. Take back control, cut ties completely and know that you can always start fresh. The best part about these hearts of ours is that they hold an immeasurable amount of love. And once you give that love to yourself, you will be unstoppable.