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Kicking my desperation butt to the curb…

“She was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was imagesutterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed daily. If there was a chicken, she took the leg; if there was a draught she sat in it … Above all, she was pure.
She bothered me and wasted my time and so tormented me that at last I killed her.”
― Virginia Woolfe

If co-dependecy had a logo, a picture of my face, desperate and depressed, would be upon it.  It would be as infamous and recognizable as the Nike swish, Apple’s apple, Benz’ three pointed star…

I had heard the word “co-dependency” thrown around for decades before knowing what it really meant.  And, two years ago, the book Co-Dependent No More by Melodie Beattie, practically jumped off the library shelf at me.  The more I read, the more I saw myself, the sadder I became, the more I understood why being in relationships with men had been so difficult for the majority of my adult life.

I had always looked for reassurance and identification in stories such as “Romeo and Juliet” – where, young, foolish, and willing to give up the Self for the love, acceptance and care from the Other, my own picture of relationship was confirmed. (Of course, in the case of R&J, this ended in death – I never really acknowledged that part.)

And if there had been a soundtrack to my beliefs around relationship, it would have been Snow White’s “One Day My Prince Will Come.”  The idea that some One would appear to sweep me off my feet, was what kept me stuck, longing, yearning and, I now recognize, a victim.  It also kept me apart from that which I desired the most: intimacy.  Because, as much as I wanted this, I neither knew what it felt like, nor was willing to risk it all to get it.

But, my absolute lowest moment of powerlessness was had at a kitchen table about three years ago.

Being true to my co-dependent nature, I had given every ounce of what I had and who I was to my, then, boyfriend, thinking that the smaller I became, the more he might love me.  When he shut down and pulled away, I became depressed, suicidal, left my job, accepted one that would earn less than his (thinking the fact I earned considerably more was emasculating to him, and therefore I did not stand a chance of being taken care of…) and, for all intents and purposes, any semblance of who I was disappeared altogether.  Not a pretty sight – but, alas, I now understand, quite the normal route for one with my “affliction”

On that fateful evening at the kitchen table, I professed my undying love to him, sobbing, desperate, lacking any semblance of dignity.  I grasped, clung at the air, hoping that, in seeing the depth of my emotion (and in recognizing the truth of my “No one will ever love you the way I do.”) he might change his mind and our relationship could, somehow be salvaged.  I was certain my declarations would turn things around.  I was convinced that I was right.

I was not.

I was lost.

So, when embarking on my recent dating adventures, I was fully aware of my old functioning and patterns – and my propensity for forgetting myself.  In order to offset this, for the past three years, I had taken on the fierce practice of therapy, leaning into my community, tapping into pleasurable activity, acknowledged and acted upon my desire to coach, and recognized and lived out my own desires as they became evident to me.

I was following the next, and the next and the next track toward my own healing.

When my world got turned topsy turvy by card-asking man, I knew there was only one way to not go down the road I had traveled in the past: defensive dating.  Although I had never dated multiple people (shit, I hadn’t even really “dated”), I sensed this would be the only thing to keep me moving forward in a healthy way.

So I added two other men to my banquet table.

There was the one whose only purpose was to do “fun” things with: take me roller skating, to the movies, out to dinner, on a motorbike ride to the Vermont border to my fave English Pub for lunch, rowing on the Hudson, hang out at his beautiful home by the lake, watch him create his art….  He was the one I could count on a dime.  Always said “yes.”   One for whom I had a slight attraction (he was cute), was gobs of fun to flirt with, had some of the qualities I was looking for in a man, just not enough to make him a true candidate.

And then the was the one who took care of my other needs. Whom I had known for several years, who dropped over to my house unannounced just to say hello, who had expressed an interest in me for awhile, who understood I was just doing “research” at the moment – and would gladly be a part of it.  No commitments.  Just exploration and fun.

It was brilliant move on my part – dating three men at a time took the pressure off the one I actually was invested in.  I found myself no longer traveling the road of longing for card-asking man.  My table was full of different flavors I could chose from.  Depending on my mood, I could ask for what I desired.  I was satisfied.  Sated.  Able to take the pressure off.  Able to break the habit that had, for decades, shackled me to victimhood.

For the first time, I got it.  This revelation that, unlike Snow White waiting for Prince Charming to show and be in charge, I was the one responsible for my own pleasure.  I was the one responsible for my desires.  I was the one to ask for what I wanted.

When I claimed full responsibility for ME, everything changed.  And, because my needs were being met by not one, but three men, I could delve deeper into my own desires and begin to ask for what was scary, what was true to me, what I had kept hidden and had wanted…

Especially from the man who mattered the most.

In love, service and pleasure,

Joelle

 

 

 

 

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