Complicated

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I had my first “date” since breaking up with my exboyfriend.  It felt too soon, but I had to remind myself that the romantic part of the relationship with my ex ended far earlier than our break up.  I had not been intimate with anyone (including him) in well over a year.

It was a guy I knew from high school, but not very well- more like we had mutual friends.  We both agreed we did not want a relationship, rather just a “friends with benefits” situation.  I am not sure why I thought that was a good idea for me because I overthink EVERYTHING.  But, I also knew this guy is not the one for me and I just wanted to put myself out there in an effort to move on from my ex, so I figured I had nothing to lose.

I was very nervous but everything went well and I enjoyed his company.  I was surprised when he continued to call and text me every day- I was not really expecting that kind of communication, but it was really nice.  We made a second date, which he canceled on the same day and then another second date, which he also canceled (one hour before).  Both times he canceled he blamed work (which I believe because he has a demanding job), but he never attempted to choose a different day.  It has been two weeks now and I feel like if he REALLY wanted to see me, he could have carved out some time.  It’s like that movie, “He’s Just Not That Into You”…if a guy wants you, he will find a way.  So, I did what I always do and started asking everyone’s opinion on what I should do- my guy friends, my girl friends and my sister and took their advice (which really ended up not being what I probably would have done) and maturely told him it wasn’t working out.  He was snarky back and said he “gets it, I don’t trust men” and told me he doesn’t “do complicated”.

I think calling me “complicated” was presumptuous on his part.  I mean, let’s be honest, I definitely AM complicated, but I did nothing during the time talking with him for him to be able to fairly make that assessment about me.  I didn’t call or text him and I was totally okay with the first cancellation.  I know I didn’t do anything “wrong”, but yet I feel like I messed up.

My sister asked me why I feel the need to ask SO many people their advice and opinions on what I should do and without even thinking I responded, “because I don’t trust myself.”  My answer caught me off guard, but I realize that it’s true.  I feel like I have made so many bad choices and ignored a lot of red flags in the past and now I am not comfortable trusting myself to make decisions .  She also asked why I was settling for this guy.  Not that he is a bad person or anything, but he does not have the qualities that I want in a partner.  Again, without thinking, I blurted out, “because I have low self-worth”, which I also realized is very true.

I was enjoying talking to someone new because it felt good and I liked the attention and it was a good distraction from everything that happened with my ex.  But then, I just started obsessing and worrying and analyzing and questioning everything about this guy.  I think I just need more time.  And I know that I need to focus on myself more and deal with some unresolved issues.

I don’t know why I think I do not deserve to be happy or to have a wonderful person in my life.  I sadly wonder who would really want to be with me?  I think my exboyfriend accepted me and the problems I have because he also suffered from mental illness and he was so sick himself.  I feel so flawed and damaged and…complicated.

My codependency

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Throughout the entire month my boyfriend was in ICU, I focused pretty much all of my energy, time and attention on him and his recovery.  Now that he is at his parent’s house, I am realizing that it was easier for me to do that than to look at myself in the mirror and reflect on my own behavior.  I feel like such a cliche…the daughter of an alcoholic who ends up dating an alcoholic.  As a child, I felt like I had no control over my father and his drinking problem, yet there was always that part of me that felt like if I was “good” or did not give him a reason, he would stop.  I knew deep down it was not my fault, but I consistently found myself playing the role of peacekeeper in my family and I was always the only one to try to placate him, hoping it would calm him down or avoid an altercation.  I did not feel during my relationship with my boyfriend that I was enabling him, but I have started to realize that I was definitely codependent.  Below I listed the top ten signs of codependency and they literally describe me to a T.  My boyfriend (I guess I should be writing ex-boyfriend, really) and I have been having a lot of heart-to-heart, honest conversations and he recently said something that really made me think.  He said that in some ways drinking was easy for him because he knew that I was responsible and would take care of everything.  It is really so true.  He knew that he could drink and pass out and I would feed the dog and let her out.  I catered to him so much, did so many things for him that my sister would joke that I was his secretary.  I know that was fulfilling some kind of void in my life, some desire to please other people, to feel needed and in control.  I constantly had expectations and was mostly always disappointed.  I would create scenarios in my head of us both getting off work and going to the mall and then out to dinner and then coming home and watching a movie.  And more often than not, he would be drunk or sleeping.  I would be upset and make excuses for him…he was stressed at work, his depression was kicking in, the dog was sick.

I knew deep down that he loved me- truly loved me.  I think he still does.  However, I felt unloved and unwanted and lonely a lot.  I was deprived of affection and of intimacy for so long.  I think that is why finding out he was unfaithful by texting another woman was so hurtful.  The attention and interest that I so desperately wanted from him for years he so easily bestowed on someone else.

It is really difficult to objectively look at our relationship since it just ended and the heartache is still so fresh.  He has a lot of work to do in order to get healthy and sober and I accept the fact that I cannot be responsible for him anymore.  It is time to focus on myself so I can become a stronger person.  I also know that I cannot hide behind him and his problems anymore as a way of avoiding my own.

TEN SIGNS OF CODEPENDENCY

From: https://www.recoveryconnection.com/top-ten-indicators-suffer-codependency/

  1. Feeling responsible for solving others’ problems. The codependent feels the need to solve another’s problems. They feel that the person in need cannot manage to make the right decisions or take the right actions to solve his or her own problem.
  2. Offering advice to others whether it is asked for or not. The codependent jumps at the opportunity to provide “much-needed” advice. 
  3. Expecting others to do what the codependent says.  Codependents often do not understand boundaries.
  4. The codependent feels used and underappreciated. The codependent will expend enormous amounts of energy to take charge of another’s life. This is all under the guise of sincerely wanting to help. When the help or advice is ignored or rejected, the codependent feels angry, abused, and unappreciated.
  5. Trying to please people so others will like or love the codependent. Codependents will go out of their way to please another person. They hope to receive love, approval or be accepted and liked. If the approval is not given, the codependent will feel victimized.
  6. Taking everything personally. Because there are little to no boundaries, any remark, comment or action is a reflection back upon the codependent. This makes the need to feel in control paramount.
  7. Feeling like a victim. Everything that happens either to the codependent or the loved one is a reflection on the codependent. Such people usually feel victimized and powerless and do not understand their role in creating their own reality.
  8. Using manipulation, shame, or guilt to control others’ behavior. Codependents will respond in a fashion that will force compliance by others. These tactics may be unconscious and it is important that the codependent feel in control.
  9. Lying to themselves and making excuses for others’ bad behavior. Because codependents do not deal directly with their feelings, they develop techniques to lie to themselves about others’ behaviors. Because they feel responsible for others’ behaviors, they will rationalize and blame others for their loved one’s poor behavior, seeking to maintain control.
  10. Fearing rejection and being unlovable. The codependent fears that if he or she is not successful at everything, or indeed expresses his/her feelings or needs, they will be rejected. In a codependent’s way of thinking, he or she will be unlovable. 

Uncomfortable much?

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One topic I hate to address is how inappropriate my father can be when it comes to issues related to sex.  In his emails, he will bring up how he and my mother are not intimate.  This is hardly a surprise considering he is drunk almost every day and he and my mom have had separate bedrooms for years.  My sister and I will sometimes tease my mom about this and she gets visibly grossed out.  As a woman, I can completely understand why my mother is not attracted to my father- both physically and emotionally.  As their daughter, I want to think about their sex life about as much as any one else would want to think about their parents having sex…AKA: NEVER.

My father, however, crossed the line recently.  Instead of a casual mention of my mother “not being a wife” (which is the euphemism he usually writes), he went into great detail about his libido, watching online porn, my mother refusing to have sex, him wanting to get Viagra and having erections during the night.  This was all in an email he sent…to his two daughters.  My sister and I were both completely disgusted and called my mother to tell her (she was horrified, of course).  She obviously yelled about my father about being so offensively inappropriate because we received an “apology” email the next day.  He seemed confused as to why my sister and I were so upset and stated that he would have thought that as his children, we would wanted to know about any medical issues he has.  Clearly if my father has a disease that affected his private parts or anything like that, we would be sympathetic, but being a horny old man is not a medical condition last time I checked.  What is almost worse than my father sending the email was his really not thinking that it was inappropriate.

When my sister and me (and my boyfriend) first read the email, we all kind of laughed it off, then got understandably grossed out.  It was only after an hour or two that my boyfriend and I talked about it in more detail and I realized how upset I was by it.  I have a lot of memories, some clear, some blurry, about my father saying and doing inappropriate things when I was younger.  One example that stands out is when I was a teenager and went to the mall with my friends.  I got home with a bunch of shopping bags from various stores, one of which was Victoria’s Secret.  My father insisted that I show him what I bought.  It didn’t come off like “I’m concerned that you bought age-inappropriate underwear so let your mom see and decide” kind of thing…it was creepy.  My dad was always a butt-pincher (like when we walked by him or stood in front of the open fridge), he made a lot of comments about my body (like calling me “thunder thighs”), he made funny, but sexual, jokes about waitresses and actresses on TV (“look at the boobs on her!”).  When he was drunk (which was most nights during my teenage years), my mother would ask my sister or me to go tell my dad dinner was ready.  He would slur that my mother had to put on a skirt, pantyhose and high heels or he wasn’t coming to eat.  He would lay out sexy lingerie on my mom’s side of the bed during the day (not exactly a subtle hint).  All of this is just to prove that my father has always been a bit perverted and there have been many times in my life that he has made me uncomfortable.

It is sometimes hard to reconcile all the different aspects of my dad.  I feel like if he read this, he would be genuinely appalled that I think these things about him.  During the two year period he was sober, my mother explained to him all the abuse that she and my sister and I suffered from over the years by him and he was flabbergasted.  I mean, unless my dad has Academy Award winning acting skills (doubtful) or is a complete sociopath (possible?), he truly did not believe he was capable of doing the things she told him he did.  If he was sober, I know he would not be saying the things he is about sex to my sister and me, especially not in the blunt, very descriptive way he did.  But him being drunk as an excuse is getting really old.