There are certain things people will say or do when going through addiction recovery that simply drive me insane. I want to shake these people and say, “do you hear yourself?! You will not recover with that kind of thinking!” Of course, the reason these things drive me insane is because I am or was guilty of ALL of them. That which you do not like in others is really what you don’t like in yourself. So, as I post these comments and false beliefs from others, let it be known that they are really a reminder of my own unhealthy thinking at a time in my life when I just didn’t think I could get better. Here they are…
- “He took away my self-esteem and ultimately my dignity.” No he (or she) didn’t. No one takes away either of those things from anyone. You give them away, willingly for the sake of having a relationship, and then, when you realize the relationship has failed, you blame others for the loss of your personal characteristics, because, let’s be honest, taking ownership and responsibility for holding on to your self-esteem and dignity is much harder than you thought. It’s easier to blame a “bad guy.”
- “I can’t move on.” Yessssss you can! Sheesh. You moved on from becoming a toddler to a tween, didn’t you? You moved on from being a teen to an adult, right? When things are too tough, or too impossible or too hard or we “can’t” do something, it’s because we do not believe that we CAN do something and that we CAN change and create a new life for ourselves. Can’t works more efficiently for people who never learned how well Can works. And believe me, it’s a hard thing to learn if you weren’t raised in an “I can do it” family. But it takes a little pain and pressure and action in the opposite direction to make this change. Start training your brain to think like this: your hand is resting on a hot plate and you can stay there all you want by saying “I can’t move,” but turn the hot plate on high to the point that it burns you and I bet you CAN move pretty quickly. Be your own hot plate. Be your own spark under your arse that gets you to move and change your behavior.
- “Why does he like her better? Why doesn’t he love or want me?” You’re asking the wrong questions. Instead of focusing on him and his needs, and his wants and choices, start focusing on you by asking, Why do I want to stay with a man/woman who neglects me, disrespects me, avoids me, uses me, [fill in the blank]? Ask yourself what role you play in your own destiny. And try to realize that when someone chooses you or rejects you, it’s NOT PERSONAL. Why do you like strawberries but not blueberries? Does this mean that all blueberries are bad or unloved or inadequate? Of course not. It means people have personal preferences for one thing (or person) over another and it really has nothing to do with who you are or what you offer. It has to do with the fact that this particular person doesn’t like blueberries. Go find someone who likes blueberries. And then, be the best blueberry you can be!
- “He was the only one for me. He was my soul mate.” Oh, the stories we tell ourselves to make something right and good. Oh the insanity of “soul mate” thinking. In some Native American cultures, soul mates are usually your children, or favorite animals. They aren’t boyfriends or husbands, which, according to some tribes, are a dime a dozen (if English isn’t your first language, that idiom means that men are everywhere and can be found relatively cheaply and quickly). When we think with “soul mate” thinking, we are telling ourselves that our options are extremely limited. That NO ONE ELSE can fit the bill or be able to love us like this person can. And more importantly, we are telling ourselves that we are difficult and hard to love, and that only one person can seem to do it. Soul mate thinking (because there can only be one soul mate), fits in nicely with low self-esteem thinking. The two work together nicely. But the truth is, if you are loveable, if you BELIEVE you are loveable, then you can be loved by MANY people, not just one. Yes, it takes lots of work to throw yourself back out into the world to meet people, and it often seems like there’s no one out there. But there are 7 BILLION people on this planet. And according to the US Census Bureau, there are 96 million singles over the age of 18 living in the USA alone. My point? You’re a love addict. Soul mate thinking is not realistic thinking. Now that I’m 46, I can no longer count on two hands the number of “soul mates” I thought I’d met. Doh.
- “If only he would [fill in the blank: stop cheating, focus more on me, not be so anti-social, spend a little more time with me…].” It’s not going to happen. He’s not going to change. Why? Two reasons: you allow and permit his behavior. Oh sure, you may whine and complain that he doesn’t give you enough attention, and you may scream blood murder that he hurts you every time he cheats on you. But you stick around anyway. And that fact alone allows him to continue his behavior. What’s a little confrontation from you if he gets to be an asshole AND keep you around at the same time? And second, you can’t change your behavior for your own benefit, so, what makes you think he can so easily change his to suit YOUR needs (not his own)? If there’s one lesson you learn in life let it be this one: you cannot change people. You either accept what they’re offering and be happy about it, or move on. A bird will never be a fish. Have realistic expectations of people. And, believe it or not, there are people out there who are more compatible for you. You just need to believe in your own self-worth enough to trust that this is so.