Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Monday, October 27, 2008

Setting it Straight

I have mentioned before the wonderful blog Getting Past Your Past, an incredibly empowering resource for people who are grieving over their break-up and are ready to question why it went wrong and what they can do to end up in a good relationship next time. The site advocates using a tool called the "Relationship Inventory" to take stock of what went wrong and right in your last relationship, and what that meant in terms of your own satisfaction. Some of the questions are hard to answer, because they ask you to question your own beliefs and understandings. But when you finish, it feels good. Oh, so good.

These are some of the things I’ve discovered so far.

1. S was controlling, manipulative, jealous, passive-aggressive, inflexible and enormously self-centred.

2. I ignored S’s behaviour because I was busy being the ‘good’ girlfriend and enabling S’s behaviour because giving in to him meant that I was not being a brat.

3. This was an issue for me because I have struggled against a tendency to a volatile temper. I had formerly adopted crazy-making habits and was determined to defeat them, to the point where I failed to maintain basic standards about how I could be treated.

4. I also ignored S’s increasingly crazy-making behaviour because I did not have the self-confidence to admit that I could see that it was going wrong.

5. This was a self-confidence issue for me because I felt that being in a proper adult relationship was a validation of my own status as a genuine adult, meant that I was ‘keeping up’ with my partnered friends and cousins. These are two issues I have struggled with. By backing out of the relationship I would be going back to the ‘single and failing at life’ tag I’d ascribed to myself.

6. I have self-esteem issues for a number of reasons going right back to the first few years of school. One is the simple fact that having an Aspergers brain means that I have felt different, substandard and confused for much of my life. Another is my role of silent child / ‘the one who copes’ in my family structure. The latter has resulted in my aversion towards asking for help and a habit of belittling my own needs because, as a child, my needs were never as great as those of my brother. I have also developed the habit of belittling my achievements, because what I achieved in spite of my minor needs were never as impressive as what others (ie my brother) achieved in the face of his greater needs. This is a false perception, and a belief not shared by other people, who see my achievements independently to others’ and are really very proud of me.

7. In most of my relationships, I have repeated the pattern of accepting what I should not accept, because I lacked the self-confidence to draw the line at the risk of losing the relationship. In these situations I was clinging to the validation that being in any relationship provided, and doubted my own ability to distinguish between acceptable friction and unacceptable behaviour. I broke up with B because of his denigrating behaviour, then reneged and had to find it out again in the repeat relationship. I took it from E until my walk-over-ness drove him away. I caught it in time with N. With C, I allowed actual abuse to drag on for a year before finally refusing to accept it any longer, precipitating the breakup. D drove himself away by buying into his own crazy-making manipulation, but I had realised that the relationship was going to end because of it. With S, I pretended that I could accept and deal with the treatment I was receiving, and although I still have no idea exactly what precipitated the breakup on S’s part, the way he was treating me was appalling and I should not have been allowing it.

8. The key for me to have successful relationships in the future is to develop an unassailable feeling of self-worth, and to be absolutely clear with myself about what I will and will not accept from others. To do this I will need to unpack every layer of my self-doubt, address every false perception, reject every unwarranted label, and replace the falsehoods with positive truths that will support my belief that I deserve only the best treatment from only the best people. Then, and only then, will I be ready for another relationship.

So there it is. I have a LOT of work ahead of me. I don’t know how long it will take, and for some parts I don’t even know how I will achieve it. But I’m going to get there. No more crazy-making, no more doubt. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.


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