When growing up in an abusive home, children end up learning that it is ok to have their boundaries invaded, it is ok to put their needs aside and their whole existence seems to depend on the mood of their parent.
Children of narcissistic parents were (and maybe still are) subjected to constant guilt trips, hot & cold emotions and insidious gaslighting. As adults, they don’t know any different and repeat the same pattern of toxic bonding from childhood, with new intimate partners or even friends. It is only natural for people to seek out what is most familiar. Unfortunately, when they once again end up in relationships with narcissists or emotionally unavailable partners, they get retraumatised again and abused again. Their needs are once again not met and they desperately want to believe that their unnhealthy partner will change. The cycle just continues until they reach breaking point and hit rock bottom. It is not easy to break out of the cycle of toxic bonding as it is extremely addictive. That is why healthy people can’t understand why a man or woman chooses to stay in an abusive relationship. I say man or woman because it seems like people forget that it’s not only men that can be abusive, but women also.
From the age of 19 until the age of 28 I experienced abuse in 3 separate relationships. My abandonment trauma was intensified and I eventually realised that I wasn’t going to form a healthy relationship, as I myself wasn’t ready to be truly intimate. I kept choosing partners that would cheat on me, lie to me and hurt me. I hadn’t properly healed my childhood traumas of narcissistic abuse and didn’t feel comfortable with ‘healthy partners’. I went on many dates afterwards and felt no connection to any of the nice, predictable guys I met. I thought that if there wasn’t an instant spark then they couldn’t be right for me. The reality was that I wasn’t right for them either, as I told them my whole life story on the first date. I was self-sabotaging any chance of there being a second date.
Fast forwarding to my 30th birthday and after more individual and group psychotherapy, I managed to keep dating my ‘now husband’.When I say ‘keep dating’ I mean that I was filled with extreme anxiety on each date and the more he fell for me and showed me with romantic gestures, the more I wanted to run and be on my own. He didn’t feel familiar like my previous relationships. I wasn’t addicted to him and I didn’t feel like I would die if I didn’t see him again. He wasn’t a ‘bad boy’, a sex addict or emotionally unavailable (like all my ex’s were). He was mature, confident, healthy and an incredibly empathetic man. Luckily he still is and I am incredibly blessed to call him my husband. The first year we were together however was a rollercoaster for me as I was struggling with depression, anxiety & intimacy issues. I had moved abroad and had my therapist on skype once a week helping me stay calm and pointing out my sabotaging behaviours. I had so many difficulties that I didn’t think I could overcome them. The unfamiliarity of this relationship was terrifying. Despite all the ups and downs of that year, I worked hard at my recovery and it paid off. We’ve been together for 4 years now and married for 1.
Just to finish off this post it is important to remember that
‘Actions do indeed speak louder than words’
When my husband tells me he loves me, he shows me by being there, supporting me and believing in me.
This is still so new to me but it is also assisting me to heal further and start believing that I won’t be abandoned again. I truly wish the same to you.
I wish that you are in a healthy relationship and are cherished as you deserve.
If by reading this post you realise you are not in a healthy relationship, then start preparing yourself to get out!
Believe me when I say that there is hope and that one day you will find a more suitable partner who will love you unconditionally. You just need the appropriate support, the right therapist and the right attitude. So work at it..You deserve the best!
Thanks for reading x