My last relationship ended for a whole list full of reasons, but it all boils down to the guy needed a lot of help that I was not qualified to give and he wanted to do it alone. There were patterns of addiction, and it manifested itself in various ways from the obvious to needed validation from everyone around him including another woman.
It is some deep, troubling baggage that he needs to unpack and work through. And I know what any logical person would say “Thank God that’s not your problem to deal with anymore, Single Gal.”
And I would agree. Thank God indeed. Thank God he did not want my support because then I was given permission to be selfish and to look after myself first. But that isn’t what I wanted to do at first.
When I put all the pieces of his bad behavior together and saw the really big problem, I offered to help. I offered to be there as a support if he was willing to do all the hard work to get better. I basically said “I see you stuck in the hole down there and you are stuck in a pile of shit. I will jump down there with you and hold your hand if you are willing to get yourself out. I will go be stuck in shit with you, for as long as you need me to.”
I didn’t do it to be valiant or a martyr. I did it because I really loved this person and I cared so much about him being healthy that I was willing to put myself through hell to help him get to the other side.
I am so grateful he turned my offer down (which is actually very much in line with my understanding of people that suffer from addiction. He pushed away the person that could see the truth so that he would be allowed to live his lie longer. He would rather not go through the pain of looking at and changing his behavior which is a shame). I am so grateful because in the months after the breakup I have made huge strides forward in my life because I had all this extra space and energy that I could create with. My mind was not distracted with his major problems and my energy was not drained by supporting him.
My situation is an extreme example of choosing someone else over myself. If I had gotten what I thought I wanted, who knows where I would be right now. In the last 6 months I created a play and raised funding to take it to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. That took up so much of my time and energy, and I don’t know what would have happened if I had someone around that I felt responsible for.
I have recently met a man that I more than I knew I could ask for in a guy. And I don’t know where that path is going but I never would have met him if I was dating someone else.
I think about how easy it was for me to choose him over myself. And maybe that I partially why he turned down my offer, because he recognized that I shouldn’t have to go through that shit with him. That he was the only one that should deal with it and that I had more important dreams for my life. Maybe he knew he couldn’t let me make that sacrifice by choosing him over me.
Apparently it is something women do very naturally. We put the needs of others before our own. It’s is actually a really big problem because every time we do that we are programming our brain to work against ourself.
Luckily this can be rewired. Part of the rewiring process is doing exactly this. Bring attention to when you chose someone else instead of yourself. Look for triggers and patterns. Where can we make a different choice next time?
I know that something like regularly choosing myself is going to feel unnatural at first. I will have to make a conscious effort to do it, and I am probably going to mess up. Big change can be hard, but not impossible. But I am confident that choosing myself has the biggest payoff in the end and I am not willing to sacrifice myself any more.