The Dilemma of Parataxic Distortion – The Lie of the Soulmate

c9a84a64-3cfc-41ff-a7f3-79fd159ee6fc

It’s funny how you come across terms that fit your life, especially when you are experiencing something unpleasant, a situation.  The last several years of my life have been full of relationship strife, what with the departure of my narcissistic wife four and a half years ago, and then the on again off again two plus year relationship with my now ex-avoidant girlfriend.  I want to place blame somewhere so I don’t have to accept responsibility.  I blame it on “parataxic distortion”.

What is Parataxic distortion you may ask?  According to Wikipedia, it is a psychiatric term used to describe the inclination to skew perceptions of others based on fantasy.  We create an image of someone based not on reality but rather on a fantasy that we create.  We essentially take who we are with and we build them into something they are not.  We create our soulmate.

9da9382d-73e2-4878-8a65-8550c077ab22

I believe that I have found something that I am expert at.  I most certainly did this with my ex-N.  She was the most magical person on the planet.  Where is she now?  She is long gone (for the fourth and final time) and we haven’t spoken a word to each other in over two years even though we pass one another within inches quite frequently.  How’s that for a soulmate connection?  I never would have or could have imagined it in the throes of the awesome parts of the relationship, but it is FACT, and I cannot dispute it at this point.  What I thought was in fact wasn’t.  Yep, sure sounds like it fits the Parataxic distortion definition.

Same thing with my ex-avoidant girlfriend Suzy, only this one was even worse.  I knew from the second date there was something not quite right, but I hung in there, convincing myself that it wasn’t that big a deal, or that we could work through it, or that I was just imagining things.  Wrong!  This last breakup is the fourth and final time that we have split up in a little over two years, and I have had NO contact with her for nearly fourteen weeks now.  And let’s not forget that she clearly told me that everything wrong in the relationship was MY fault.  Yessiree, I know how to pick a soulmate (or at least create one in my mind).

337429cc-33b8-4fc8-aeea-d65885d43f02

The problem, for me at least, is that I want to have that incredibly close relationship so bad that I am willing to do almost anything to have it.  Sadly, I end up creating something in my mind that simply isn’t real.  Even worse, I consciously know that it isn’t real, but I stuff it down, convincing myself that it is okay, that it will get better, that I just have to keep trying harder and to just keep being “the better person”.  At some point, my significant other will recognize how great I am and that they could never want to lose me.  The issue with that is I cannot control or dictate their thoughts and they are unaware of the fantasy.

The result is my current life.  I sit here alone with an iPad recording my thoughts, wondering when that will ever change.  As you are probably thinking, I know the first thing that I have to do is stop creating fantasies in parallel with choosing the wrong relationships.  I wish it was that easy, I really do.  In fact, the thought that got me looking into this fantasy phenomenon in the first place is my questioning of whether it is simply better to just be alone.  That is a discouraging thought for me, but at the same time it is a logical question that begs to be answered.

622c5633-500e-4887-89b8-38885f5d3ecb

I have quoted the Bible on several occasions in the past where it says “It is not good for man to be alone” and, based on how I feel most of the time, I believe that to be true.  With that said, I am also growing weary of the disappointment that accompanies the breakup of a relationship.  I’m weary of it to the point that I just don’t want to do it anymore.  The reality of parataxic distortion is that, at some point, the true nature of what your significant other is rears it’s ugly head and no amount of fantasizing or distorting the truth can change it.  The result is having to accept you were wrong, the other person is not who you “wanted” them to be but are rather who they really “are”, and you simply cannot change that no matter how much you might want to.

So where does that leave things?  Based on reality, it leaves them where they should have been from the beginning, dissolved and non-existent (and I have the years long proof of that).  Take the fantasy away and you are left with what is or was real, and it isn’t pretty no matter how lovely our mind tried to make it.  In hindsight, it is easy to look back and see all of the evidence, all the signs, red flags, and events that provided a clear indication that what I “wanted” in fact wasn’t what “was”.  I have accepted that truth and also accept my responsibility for creating the fantasy.

90f2f8b3-ba98-43ea-9f67-6e4f42fb389f

You can’t change narcissists, and you can’t change avoidant attachment personalities.  THEY have to want to change if there is going to be change, and that is a rare thing indeed.  I have learned a lot of lessons in the last 5 years or so, but I still have more to learn.  I do want to change, to get better, to stop making the same mistakes.  I need to add the need to stop creating soulmates or fantasy relationships to my list of lessons learned.  It really shouldn’t be this hard.  Sadly, it is.

Advertisements

It’s the Avoidant Girlfriend Hidden Thoughts that cause Trouble

CD9098D1-BE73-4E2D-8023-7CCECC1EF355

I have concluded that being without my avoidant ex-girlfriend is the right place to be, the correct thing to do, but that doesn’t always stop the thoughts.  No matter how logical I am, no matter how I try to convince myself that things will get better, I continue to think the things that I don’t want to think, and don’t think the things that I should.

Do you want proof?  It has been just shy of 3 months since there has been any contact with “Suzy” (the fake name I assigned to her).  The first month or so was pretty even keeled and I actually felt a sense of peace about things.  Looking back on our past, the number of times (four in total) that we had broken up over a little over a two-year period, combined with the freshness of her last deed (accusing me for the 5th time of seeing someone else in a short time period which I was NOT and had no interest in doing) made it pretty clear that things needed to end (again).  She was pushing me away really hard, and it was impossible to miss.

D7945349-FD79-4C5A-8A8D-BFB9579165A9

The breakups consistently occurred as things got too close, although this last one was the most bizarre in that she had actually allowed herself to get close enough to tell me that she loved me (after a combined 17 months or so of dating in between the breakups).  Obviously that was a huge win for me, but it clearly put her in a place where she positioned herself WAY too close to me.  After she said it for the very first time in July of this year, it really did change everything.  After saying it that first time, she struggled to get it out in the few weeks that followed, even after I would set her up for it, looking her in the eyes during a nice moment and telling her that I loved her.  She would just sit there and look at me with a little smile.  That happened so many times that I finally quit trying.  Things continued to go downhill.

So where am I going with this?  Our first breakup occurred in late October, 2016.  On New Years Eve of that year, after not hearing from her for a couple of months, I get an unexpected text essentially telling me that she was thinking back over the year and was thinking about me blah blah blah.  Long story short, I didn’t respond for a couple of days and when I did, I got the expected sarcastic response (how dare I not immediately respond).  There was a little back and forth about this stupid book of hers that I had that she wanted back and that she wanted to meet me to get it.  I pressed a little further and determined that not only was she seeing someone else, but they were going to Chicago for a few days the next weekend.  That killed any desire that I had to see her and we didn’t speak again until she reached out to me again 6 more months later.

03A0C609-4E22-4BB5-9A90-E9EAE48C4AFC

Sadly, I fell back into the trap following that simple text 6 months later, the text that contained no words.  She sent me a photo of a freeway exit on the way to her up-north cottage, a place we had been and had fun at previously, and I took the bait.  That was the start of round 2.  Anyway, I need to get back to the end of round 4 and the real intent of this story…

expected a text from her last night.  I really expected a text.  I didn’t get it.  For several days leading up to yesterday, I calculated that based on her history, there would be a new attempt.  I kept it hidden below the surface, telling myself that it may not happen and, even if it did, I could not reply to it.  It was almost as if I was unconsciously yet with full disclosure trying to prepare myself. Obviously, the weak me, the co-dependent me (what is left anyway) was clearly desiring a text.  I have thought about her far too much in the last few weeks with the holidays and all (doing them all alone yet again) and figured that maybe, just maybe, she was thinking about me too.  That it didn’t occur, that I didn’t receive a text, was at a minimum disappointing.  With that said, it wasn’t good for my ego.

0E90AF0D-EBF8-4053-984E-34976579F0E0

Maybe that is the final exclamation point on the adventures with my now ex-avoidant girlfriend.  I cannot begin to understand how her mind really works.  Yes, I have read and read and read all kinds of data on avoidant attachment, but that’s like saying I could read medical journals and know how to do surgery.  I simply do not and cannot ever know how her mind functions.  I am better off for it.

So here I am starting off 2019 just like I did 2018 (and 2015, 2016, and 2017) – without a significant other in my life.  The one difference is that it doesn’t create a panic in me like it used to do.  I know there is someone out there, someone who won’t be a “seasonal” partner like I have had for the last 2.5 years.  My impatience and emotionally driven need to have someone in my life all the time isn’t as strong as it was just a couple of years ago.  I am really hoping to make an intelligent choice going forward versus an emotional choice like I have so many times in the past.  I have learned a few things by being so close to both a narcissist and an avoidant (with significant narcissistic tendencies).

0CA3C0AA-E107-44C6-B3CE-4BC66DD77774

Oh, one other related item that added it’s own perspective to the New Years BS – December 31 was the wedding anniversary date with my ex-narcissistic wife.  I do my best to bury that too, but it still pokes it head out and screams at me occasionally.

I am putting a lid on 2018 and welding it shut.  I am also praying and hoping that at the end of 2019, the year will simply flow right into 2020, that there will be no need to seal up another year of struggle and confusion like the last couple.  It can happen.  Everybody pray for me please.

Revisiting the Past. It’s Okay. Just Don’t Get Stuck There.

CDE222B7-E6A5-4EB1-B96B-9241AE3D43AC

I had an opportunity to return to a place that I love very much, only the circumstances were very different.  This is a place that has been very good to me, an almost magical place that I have only been to as a vacation spot, a fun spot, an escape.  This is a place that I have been to many times with my narcissistic ex-wife, as little as 4.5 years ago.  I have also been there with my avoidant ex-girlfriend back in July of this year.  Clearly, I have to be careful with my thoughts.

The reason for returning there was to take my mom back home after Christmas.  It is a several hour trip and my sister and I agreed that one of us would pick her up, and the other (me), would return her home.  She lives in a resort town in a very beautiful area with lots of fun, exciting, and memorable things to do.  Over the years, I have experienced it over and over, the expansive waterfront areas, the vibrant and fun downtown, the minor league baseball stadium, and a host of other fun and entertaining activities, especially for someone in love.

E2659325-9E88-4800-BA74-C20269DB85B0

Here’s the thing… I had never been there without a significant other (either my ex-N or my ex-avoidant).  I certainly had never been through the town or the area ALONE.  Part of me was regretting the trip before it even started as I knew it was going to have some difficulty associated with it.  Even the drive up tended to be loaded with recalling the little rituals, things that we did, especially the ex-N.  Luckily, my mom was with me in the car on the way up, so I was at least partially distracted and was forced to maintain some level of control over my emotions.  No matter, as I would drive past or through areas of interest or past ritual, I could feel the emotions welling up.  I would tell myself this is where we always jokingly said something funny about the name of a town or this is where we would consistently stop at a certain place, or even where we did something only one time.  My mind never stops remembering.  I kept it to myself.

D477126B-FB60-4DB1-9337-540799C6BB01

I must admit, I probably set myself up by thinking about it so much prior to the trip, but I have been full of emotions lately, with the fairly recent breakup and all.  It has been 11 weeks since I last saw or spoke to my now ex-avoidant girlfriend.  What I realized on this trip is how different my recollections were of that place between my ex-wife and my now ex-girlfriend.  Thoughts concerning the ex-narcissistic wife were overwhelmingly positive.  Memories with the ex-avoidant were much more subdued, as if she wasn’t really there with me at all but rather was simply along for the ride.  It actually made me feel a little angry.  It’s almost as if I were trying to relive the happy times that I had with my ex-wife by doing the same activities with my ex-girlfriend, and they simply did not feel the same.

The risk in all of this is that I don’t focus simply on all the positives, that I don’t again place one or both of them on the pedestal as they do NOT belong there.  The emotions are clearly hidden just below the surface, waiting for an opening, any fissure to bubble out and wreak their havoc.  I tend to keep that place locked up and don’t pay much attention to it, but I have to be careful.  I need to remember all the bad characteristics they both displayed, even though part of me doesn’t want to remember the “bad” them.

A9422E3E-C55E-4C7F-9DC1-CA1CBA6092BE

Those emotions escaped with massive force on the drive back home.  As I said earlier, I have NEVER been in that area alone, and after dropping my mom off, I had no distractions, nothing to keep me from venturing through all of my memorial spots completely alone.  It was harder than I expected, and I had expected it to be difficult.  I was able to initially minimize the impact by calling a good friend that understands me and my history, but the call was relatively short.  There really are no answers to what I was feeling, nothing he could say that would help or offer any kind of relief.  I just had to experience it.

One place after the next I would talk to myself about.  Remember this, remember that?  Again, my feelings were so different depending on who I was remembering being with.  As I was passing the minor league baseball stadium, I actually lashed out at the ex-avoidant girlfriend, recalling how different it felt being there with her (only 1 time), that she simply wasn’t “fun”, that it almost felt like a chore being there with her.  To a certain extent, she ruined some of my incredible memories of the place, bruised them somehow.  That the facility was recently sold and will be used in a different way added yet another dimension to my thoughts, as if the old relationships were dying just that much more.

3A0C6E2F-F660-4826-8B01-36F31FD9C4FB

With that said, I am getting to where I’m not sure how to feel.  I look positively toward the future, knowing there will indeed be someone new in my life at some point.  I am so hopeful that it will be someone who I can feel similar to how I felt with my narcissistic ex-wife, with that level of giddiness and excitement.  Yes, I realize she was a narcissist, but there were indeed some overwhelmingly good times during the relationship.  But the danger of becoming emotionally attached to the wrong person yet again looms large.  I have learned a lot over the past few years, but is it enough?

In case you are wondering, I have had no contact with my avoidant ex-girlfriend.  Out of loneliness, I have been tempted at times to reach out, but I know what the result would be.  On top of that, I am able to go back and revisit my journals which are full of questions and issues, with me telling myself over and over again that the relationship didn’t “feel” right, that I needed to get out, with all kinds of indications of where things would ultimately end up.  I know without a doubt that she is wrong for me and would be difficult for anyone.  I am also convinced (and I hope it is not wishful thinking) that she will reach out to me once enough time has passed and she forgets whatever it was that I did to annoy her.  She has so many times in the past, and she’s not going to change (I have proof of that).

F1CF5623-44C6-4F0C-8C71-58986047F8F7

Like that emotional ride through town, I have to keep my thoughts and emotions in check as much as I can.  Like that baseball stadium that is changing, our lives must change too.  There is no going back, no reliving the past minus the bad stuff, no matter how much we might want to.  If I do things right, hopefully the next person I take to that place (and all the other places that I enjoy) will be someone who truly enjoys it with me and will want to return again and again.  I need to invent some new rituals along the way.  I’m looking forward to that.

Be Wary of the Mind. It Tries to Fool You.

C3D1A8BE-9868-42A8-8A2F-BCA5F1269285

My mind tries to take me places that I really don’t’ want to go, places that I know I shouldn’t go.  It doesn’t give up easily.  Whether it likes it or not, I am winning.

It has been nearly 3 months since I last saw or spoke to my avoidant girlfriend.  This is the one that I have split up with on 4 different occasions in the last 2 years, with several months typically in between each reunion.  The last split occurred after she again accused me of seeing someone else (multiple someone’s actually).  No, I wasn’t and, in fact, I didn’t want to be with anyone else.  Regardless, that was the last straw for me, I took her home, and we haven’t seen each other since.

A781241E-E3F4-4BED-A0DB-6F88E3B309D3

With that said, I believe (but I have no proof) that she was projecting, i.e. she is the one that was actually seeing someone else.  I believe that because she had accused me on 5 separate occasions within a few week period that I was seeing someone else, and she had never done that before.  Additionally, a couple of weeks after taking her home that last time, in a moment of weakness I had sent her an email taking responsibility for some different errors on my part, along with expressing some things I thought she might do differently to improve the relationship.  It was a very heartfelt and long (page and a half) expression.  What I got in return was a short paragraph telling me that I was wrong on every count and that there was no way forward (after being together for nearly 8 months during this stint).  I never replied to it.  There was no remorse, no sadness, no regret on her part.  It was a very insensitive way to end a relationship.  Then again, she never really put much into the relationship anyway (just read some of my earlier posts on the avoidant girlfriend for answers to why I say that).

Given her quick and dirty response, and knowing that she doesn’t like to be alone, combined with the fact that we are going on 3 months with no contact, I have concluded in my mind at least that she has indeed gotten involved with someone else.  To further substantiate my conclusion, she did the same exact thing on one of our earlier breakups, and then lied to me about it when we subsequently got back together.

A2D09DD1-758B-468F-8A44-0C40F928A927

Regardless, my mind has been working overtime to remind me of what I no longer have.  Not only is it telling me the avoidant girlfriend is no longer around, it is trying to get me to miss my narcissistic ex-wife and she has been gone for 4.5 years.  BTW – I did walk past my narcissistic ex on a sidewalk just last week (at work), barely inches apart coming face to face, and it was as if we had never met.  I looked at her at the last second and she was staring straight ahead.  It has been that way ever since I went no contact on her a few years ago.  How dare I do that?  Her response was to do the same.  It doesn’t matter, but it feels very strange to have been that close to someone for so long and now to not even acknowledge one another.

I believe that both of the last two relationships that I have had (the narcissist and the avoidant) were such strong personalities (though wildly different) that I have a hard time not having a never ending supply of things to remember.  Of course, the pleasant memories are the ones that bubble to the surface, and there were plenty of those with both (and especially the narcissist).  My mind tries desperately to get me to reach out, saying to me “C’mon, was it really that bad?  Remember all those fun things, and the touch and the passion and the…”.  Sometimes, I want to agree and ask myself “why not, how bad can it be?”.  I know the answer to that.

C0C4C7C8-8FF3-4179-B168-2324912BD884

Luckily, I have grown a bit over the last few years, grown to understand about co-dependence and narcissism and avoidant attachment styles.  I am able to make the right (although difficult) decision to do nothing, to continue to patiently wait for the right person to enter my life.  My mind doesn’t stop trying though.  It is an addiction being with these kinds of women that I know are wrong for me.  I am doing my best to break the addiction.  So far, even with the recent and overbearing thoughts, I haven’t come close to reaching out.  In fact, I have done pretty good at convincing myself that if my avoidant ex reaches out, which I believe she will, I am in a pretty good place to tell her that she gave me up for the last time.

Why do I believe she will reach out again?  She has EVERY single time we have broken up, typically after she has dated someone else and I have become “the one that got away”, the idealized boyfriend the others can’t seem to measure up to.  A few months after our first breakup, she actually sent me a text telling me to “never change”, that I was “perfect”, and that she was “unintentionally being cruel to me”.  Let that sink in for a moment as one can create a lot of questions out of that one profession of truth.  Hey, I guess I’ve got that going for me, being “perfect”.  I just need to find a “normal” person that will feel that way about me.

E0C827E6-CE91-4AAC-A341-28B6AA81A699

This will be the 6th year that I have gone through the holidays without a “significant other”.  I’m not panicked by it like I once was, but I don’t want to get used to it either. I have to continue to control my mind, to reign it back in when it starts thinking stupid thoughts, egging me on to repeat mistakes from the past, knowing full well how it would turn out.  I absolutely take pride in realizing how much I have learned, being able to make the “right” decisions versus letting my emotions rule me.  I won’t be alone forever.  I’m “perfect”, remember?

Finding the Positives in a Breakup.

0830B60B-0AD7-47D1-B2B9-1B14B25DD071

For those that are experiencing or recently experienced a breakup, there tend to be a lot of questions.  Oftentimes there are very few, if any, answers.  If we allow ourselves to go there, we can end up down the rabbit hole, lost, and looking for a way out.  As hard as it may be to believe, there are positives associated with nearly anything that happens in life, including the breakup of a relationship.  Do your best to find them.

I broke up with my avoidant girlfriend 2 months ago now, and haven’t heard a peep since her last email 5 weeks ago.  This was an email that I never responded to as it essentially put all the blame for any issues on me, and I knew that simply wasn’t true (and I do “own” my contributions to what occurred).  Because we had been going through the peaks and valleys of an avoidant/anxious attachment relationship for a couple of years, I wasn’t “shocked” by the breakup, but I certainly wasn’t happy about it either.  I essentially skipped the shocked phase and went straight to the sorrowful or sad phase.

6468F417-1B0F-47B2-BA46-22AA16D1C167

Like most, I have had the desire to reach out many times.  Funny how going from being in a relationship to suddenly being alone can do that to you.  Most of us have been there before and, as much as we didn’t like it, we lived through it, myself included.  So what do you do during that period?  You can ruminate, you can justify, you can get angry, as well as involve yourself in all kinds of other non-productive activities.  Me?  I decided to try to consider the positives.

Everybody’s case is different, but in mine, some of the things I identified include:

  • I was able to stop wondering when the bottom was going to fall out, as it finally had.  My job during the relationship seemed to be to keep things going, and I did that very well.  In fact, if I had chosen to respond to my girlfriends last email, I am sure that I could have smoothed things over enough to have yet another go at it.  I didn’t do that and I feel some level of respect for myself as a result.
  • I believe this door was closed for me because I wasn’t strong enough to do it for myself.  In other words, God (and this can be whatever higher power you believe in) said “enough”, I’m taking over, and that was that.  Again, I would probably still be kissing her finely shaped behind if things hadn’t ended the way they did, but figured I would leave that door closed this time (and it’s possible I may not be able to open it even if I tried).  Take this break as an opportunity to love yourself, to identity and accept  that you do have worth and do so many things well (no matter that some may try to convince you otherwise).

BDA8F164-5DC1-4994-8D68-33886CD34A7F

  • I am pretty certain that my silence is deafening, and I take some pleasure in that.  The fact that I was the driver of the relationship and did whatever needed to be done to keep it going, that is not lost on my ex.  She very well may be seeing someone new already, but that doesn’t mean she’s not looking at her phone waiting for that “I miss you” text which I would have sent in the past.  I am absolutely convinced that at some point in the not too distant future, she will reach out to me in a non-romantic way (i.e. a happy birthday, Merry Christmas, or “did I leave my coat at your house” text) in an attempt to re-engage while not being overt about it, just in case I choose not to respond.  I admit, that will be a challenge and a true test.  It’s coming.
  • I have a lot more money.  This is the same woman who in a 15 or 16 month period spread over 2 years (due to all of our breakups) never spent a dime.  That was part of the reason for the most recent breakup as I had the audacity to ask about that.  Through my recent evaluation of what and how things happened, I have been able to discern that she was an incredibly selfish person, and not just with money.  She wasn’t a cheap date either, which leads into the next item…

A2DD936E-FB7F-47B2-AA56-1842DB1F92ED

  • …I don’t have to constantly be discovering new and interesting places to go.  Seriously, this was a huge challenge as she had to be entertained.  I was running out of ideas as we had done the Vegas thing, a cruise, countless weekend trips, shows, movies, comedy clubs, and on and on.  I think we had dinner in every fancy restaurant within a 100 mile radius.
  • This one is difficult, but is huge – take the opportunity to believe there is somebody better out there.  There is someone who you don’t have to force fit, someone that will appreciate who you are rather than what you can do for them.  I had gotten so carried away in trying to make her happy (and always realizing that I wasn’t making her happy AND that it really wasn’t my job), I had lost track of the fact the relationship was supposed to be a 2-way street.  Instead of give and take, it had turned into “I” give, and “she” takes.  That had become the routine and I simply accepted it.

I am sure there are more things than what I have listed and, yes, there are certainly negatives associated with the breakup.  With that said, dwelling on the negatives does no good and they cannot be changed.  Finding that sliver of hope, that silver lining, that ray of sunshine is necessary at this point.  It is all too easy to slip into a frenzy of negativity, blaming oneself for all of the things that happened.  Don’t do that (and yes, I am still convincing myself of that very thing) as it does no one any good and doesn’t change a thing.

DB390415-3437-472A-A7D9-C6761357F8C1

One last thing – don’t try to move on too fast.  A week or so ago, I revisited the online dating world and I have already blocked my profile.  Not only did I determine that I am not really ready to be dating again yet, I got a quick reminder of what a s@#t-show the online dating world is.  Don’t go there until you are truly ready.

Breakups are tough.  You have to go through it as there is no way around it or over it.  Once we get to the other side, all of the other positives will become clearer.  No one said that life is easy, but there are always good things if you take the time to look for them.

A Little Different Take on the Avoidant Ex-Girlfriend

3547D0E8-99D2-4879-B576-1664F518EE6B

I love it when something finally comes together.  Just such a thing occurred for me this morning. An epiphany essentially, and better than that, a bit of relief.  Let me explain.

It has been 6 weeks since I was last with my avoidant ex-girlfriend.  The last time we were together was pretty unpleasant (as I have indicated in earlier posts), and her final email to me (3 weeks ago) was just as unpleasant, essentially putting everything bad about the relationship on me.  No, I never did reply to it (and I feel pretty dang good about that!).

This morning, I actually woke up in a bit of a panic, knowing that I was once again alone and had the rest of the weekend to continue being alone.  I leapt out of bed rather than laying there wallowing in my loss, and all of a sudden my thoughts started changing.  I asked myself specifically what it was that I was panicked over, what I was missing, and the answer was very interesting.

8C3D6FEF-9A79-461C-8D5F-6A6DA229DFA0

It seems to me that when we are in the throes of a relationship, the goal is to make it better, to make it last, to care for the other person and have them care for us.  It seems that having such a lofty goal is where things went off the rails in my relationship.  Interestingly, the fact that she was avoidant didn’t really matter and, in fact, helped me to get to the place that I needed to get to.  Confused yet?  If it wasn’t that she had an avoidant attachment personality and that I had an anxious attachment personality (that I am working on) that caused things to proceed down a bad path, then what was it?

Answer – it was all of the other things that we simply didn’t see eye to eye on, that we had gaping differences about, that I didn’t see because my eyes were basically shut!  When I really thought about things, I came up with so many reasons that we shouldn’t have been together, so many differences in who we were and what was important to us as both individuals and as a couple.  These are really important things that make or break a relatioship and that I chose to overlook including:

  1. Selfishness/Kindness/Greediness.  I have talked over and over in previous posts how in 2+ years, she never paid for a thing, but there was so much more to it.  I never saw her share anything with a stranger, never saw her provide to a charity, never saw her be truly kind to anyone, even her own kids.  She was not a generous person, i.e. ensuring her needs were met always came first.  I ignored it.  In fact, I supported her weakness in all of these areas by ensuring they were taken care of for her, with me making up the difference in her lack.  Her beauty, sadly, could not hide her selfishness.
  2. Bitterness.  She was a very bitter person.  While she rarely spoke about her ex-husband, when she did, it was full of hate and bitterness, almost scary.  Nothing wrong in their marriage was ever her fault, and he was just a horrible, distant (ironic, eh?) person.  The dislike in her voice was crystal clear, and brutal.
  3. Addiction.  She couldn’t be without her vape.  Even when we would go on trips that included air travel, she would bring a mini-vape that she would sneak out of her purse and use while we were in the air.  She did the same thing in restaurants and bars, even though it is illegal in our state.  She was never without it.  And don’t ever try to tell her that it might be unhealthy.  I only initiated that discussion once.
  4. God.  I am a believer, she is not.  In fact, in parallel with her bitterness, speaking about God, or Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit would be met with anger, dislike, and all of the reasons that He had done her wrong.  Again, I learned to avoid the subject.  This one is actually THE most important of our differences as it would have caused many more problems as time progressed.  I believe HE is the one that closed the door on this relationship because I was too weak and scared to do it myself (even knowing that I should).
  5. Romance.  She expected EVERYTHING to be about her.  She wanted (expected) flowers, loving emails and texts, her car door opened for her, my phone screensaver to be her, photos of her in my house, looking her in the eye and telling her that I loved her… it was a one way street.  She did not go out of her way to make me feel special or desired.  None of the things that I did was ever reciprocated.  In fact, it seemed as though her goal was to keep me at arms length, craving her attention, wanting more, like a drug dealer taunting an addict.  To be blunt, the only thing she ever complemented me on was my penis.  Talk about feeling a bit cheap.  I guess I had that going for me.

2ADD8673-273C-4C07-B1FD-25DDA6D3A964

I realize what I have stated is a fairly ugly picture and, yes, she certainly did have some positive qualities.  I need to qualify that statement, as her positive qualities would appear and disappear at will.  I never really knew for sure who I was going to get.  I also understand that we are all broken, every one of us.  We are imperfect and needy creatures, myself included.  What I failed to recognize however is that in my own neediness, I was willing to accept things that most other people probably would not have accepted.  That she was physically beautiful, available to do things (and we did share several interests, especially lake/water related activities) AND willing to do them with me, that was all that I expected.  Sadly, that wasn’t all that I needed (or wanted).

A2AC1ED0-52BB-4C36-BA1A-599BFD5092F0

It is humbling to realize just how shallow I was being.  She was gorgeous, she was available, and I had time.  On the surface, those are great.  But there is so much more to us, and to a relationship, than what is on the surface.  It is uncomfortable to look at things realistically, to identify where I had no barriers, or where barriers were just mowed down, and to admit that was just wrong and was not going to work in the long run.

I will overtly and strongly admit, I DO miss the relationship.  Going from always busy to basically an open schedule (and for 6 straight weeks) does tend to get ones attention, to ensuring that I am overwhelmingly aware of just how empty I allow and have allowed myself to be when there isn’t a significant other in my life.  Sadly, for the most part, I do not miss her.  That is a very sobering thing for me to admit, because I really, really WANT to miss her.

16197F13-9064-4EE1-AA24-C9DC620EE522

Looking at the list of not so pleasant differences identified above, it makes it brutally clear to me just how much I overlooked, just how much I changed my own behavior, my own needs, how much I accepted mediocrity to ensure her needs and desires were met.  That’s not a relationship.  I need to keep working on me as I am clearly not where I need to be.  She will also need to work on her.  It is time to stop trying to change her and accept that is not something that I can ever do.  I can only better myself.

Recollections of the Avoidant Ex-Girlfriend. Funny How They Change.

6DCE680C-42EE-4718-B361-AAC7924AA750

It has been 5 weeks now since I was last with my avoidant ex-girlfriend.  I have had plenty of time to ruminate and evaluate and do all those other things that end in “ate”.  My recollections of her and the relationship aren’t so good, and I’m a pretty fair guy.  Funny how that happens.

First off, I will admit that I feel some level of relief at this point.  Yes, there are still times where I miss her, but it is more likely that I am missing doing things rather than specifically doing them with her.  I have had little difficulty accepting that I am alone again where, in the past, I would have been panicking and/or figuring out how to get her back (again), or how to move on to someone new.  Instead, I am able to sit back, look at where I have been, and really think about how to make it better going forward.  That leaves me feeling pretty good about dealing with my anxious attachment style and co-dependency (which I have been working on getting better at for a couple of years).

D51538D0-3C69-436B-8CAD-CC46BBB57389

No contact.  That’s where things are with my ex-girlfriend and I am okay with that.  Just like with my narcissistic ex-wife, there is no other option. Given my ex-girlfriend’s avoidant attachment style, I am certain whenever she thinks about what happened, her recollection is that I abandoned her.  In all of my studies on avoidant behavior, once an avoidant gets too close, they become even more convinced that they are going to be abandoned.  It’s a sad thing indeed when getting close to someone means something bad is going to happen.  In her case, she told me for the first time that she loved me in mid-July of this year, and that’s about as close as one can get (whether she actually loved me or not).  It has been all downhill since that time.

To elaborate on the downhill slide, on 5 different occasions since July of this year, she accused me of seeing someone else (which I was not doing).  Sadly, each time she accused me, I would become more and more disturbed by it, not realizing that she was likely forcing the abandonment (her mind – “see, I knew he would eventually leave me, they all do”).  The very last time that she forced the same scenario, which WAS what caused our final “event”, I was more direct and likely a little louder and more aggressive in my response to her.  That is yet another trigger for the avoidant, seeing how they avoid conflict and don’t like aggression.  That I essentially reacted during that final episode (and after the fifth time in a just a few weeks when there was no basis, who wouldn’t) and took her home immediately, and haven’t spoken to her since, “I” abandoned her.  Her self-fulfilling avoidant prophecy was complete.

D7FBC21E-F897-4196-8FC4-E60C66918BDB

With all my extra time recently, I have looked back over the last couple of years at our time together and figured out a number of things.  The biggest thing – I was trying FAR too hard.  Oh, I get it, my anxious attachment style wouldn’t have it any other way, and I accept that.  I would rather say I tried hard and lost than saying I didn’t make any or a half-hearted effort.  Realizing there wasn’t much more I could have done got me into recalling her contributions to the relationship.

As much as I hate to admit it, I was (or at least felt like) a customer.  It was almost as if she were providing an escort service.  I paid, and she supplied.  Reading any of my past posts, it was clear that 1) She was beautiful, and 2) I paid for everything.  I have a hard time finding contributions that she made to the relationship other than being there (not necessarily present) during the things that we did.  During those times, I can never recall a time or an event where I would describe her as jubilant, joyful, giddy, or even happy.  That may have been on purpose to cause me to try even harder next time, which I would in fact do.  Her grandiosity and sense of entitlement were off the charts too (an avoidant with narcissistic tendencies – I know how to pick’em).  Sadly, the more time we spent together, the longer the relationship continued, the more intent she seemed on finding a way to achieve the ultimate insult, something that would finally result in her being “abandoned”.  She knew how much the lack of trust thing bothered me, so she kept it up.  Sadly, lack of trust is another fine point of the avoidant, so it wasn’t like she had to convince herself.

DD087B4C-D6D3-4E54-8A7B-EE27D736CC91

In the last 2 months we were together, she continued to ratchet up the undesirable things.  These included her unknowingly snooping through my phone, actually asking me for it a second time (and I gave it to her after knowing she snooped through it the first time), and also abruptly and unexpectedly leaving my house without saying a word because she did some gardening here while I was at work and I didn’t “gush” enough over what she had done (her own words).  As mentioned previously, she accused me 5 times during that period of seeing someone else (which I wasn’t doing and didn’t want to), and she also told me we were done because I wasn’t making her happy (although she didn’t give me any indication of how I might be able to do that, not that it is my job or duty to make HER happy), she returned again just to repeat it once more, and clearly, she didn’t feel that she had done anything wrong in any of these instances.  They were all my fault.  I was simply destined to abandon her.

2093F0CB-D8C6-4E31-BAF7-1A35118A0914

This breakup, I mean abandonment, it’s not what I wanted at the time but it feels okay now.  Only through sheer effort did it last as long as it did and, being realistic and with hindsight being 20/20, it never should have lasted so long.  I do have some good memories, but she certainly was not who the anxious me made her out to be.  Being able to see and say that makes me feel like there is some hope for me, that I am becoming more of a secure type in my old age.  No more wasting time on dead-end relationships.  Gotta keep swimming.

Are You Afraid of Being Alone? I’m Not. Sometimes.

EBE26767-6F50-4B17-9A66-8F31A9F6C0C2

Interesting question, isn’t it?  There are many people who are not only unafraid of being alone, they actually prefer it.  Me?  It depends on when you ask.

This exact question was posed to me recently, as I have made it abundantly clear in previous posts that I am not a big fan of being alone, or more pointedly, of loneliness.  I really hadn’t given the reason I didn’t like being alone much thought, instead just assuming that it is what it is, and that I prefer to not be alone just because.  Then I forced myself to really think about it.  Just what is it about being alone that I don’t like?

First of all, I will state that it doesn’t bother me nearly as much now as it did right after my narcissistic ex-wife left me a little over 4 years ago (although my dislike for being alone goes back way further than that as you will see).  I have to admit, when my narcissistic ex left, I was nearly paralyzed by it.  But why?  More recently, after the first and second times that I stopped seeing my avoidant girlfriend, I didn’t care for being alone either, although it wasn’t as debilitating as when the narcissist left.  Again, I asked myself, “why”?

01E1EE5B-FD32-4072-85FA-1C7F93F7AE0D

Now I’m no therapist, and I’m not the brightest guy in the world, but after really thinking about why being alone tended to bother me, I came up with a number of possibilities:

  •  Most issues that we have as an adult resulted from something in our childhood.  Both of my parents worked when I was a child (even prior to entering school age).  This meant that I was dropped off at a babysitters house in the morning and picked up in the afternoon.  My recollection of that time is not very agreeable and I remember the angst and discomfort I felt during that time period.  My babysitter was not particularly nice, didn’t provide any entertainment, and I remember feeling more like an annoyance than someone she was supposed to be caring for.  It was quite lonely, yet there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.  My mom and I have, in recent years, discussed this issue, and she clearly had no idea that I felt like I did at the time, or that the babysitter wasn’t really doing a good job.  Pre-school kids aren’t really good at communicating such things.  Thinking back, there was some level of rejection associated with this whole process.  I believe this is a big contributor to why I didn’t/don’t like being alone.  My co-dependence and anxious attachment style started early.

F49424F1-3C0A-4BCA-A098-AE76DA131777

  • In addition to that early rejection and loneliness, I wasn’t the most manly or macho kid when I was growing up.  In fact, I didn’t realize I was attractive in appearance at all until I turned about 20, after I was in the military.  As a result, I felt like I didn’t measure up through most of my pre-teen and teen years.  Any girlfriends that I had during my youth ended up breaking up with me at some point, adding to my rejection and self-worth issues.  It was no one’s fault but my own, and was really a continuation of me thinking that I wasn’t desirable, which added to my loneliness (self-induced as it was).  It really wasn’t true, but to me, it felt true.   I never really communicated it with anyone, instead keeping it to myself.
  • After I realized I wasn’t so bad looking and, in fact, was a pretty decent looking guy with a few good things going for me, I had some level of confidence, ultimately leading to getting married (at a pretty young age) and we were married for many years.  Please realize how shallow that statement is.  For me, clearly it was what was on the outside that mattered, yet on the inside I still lacked self-worth and acceptance of myself.  Regardless, my wife and I had three kids which pretty much guaranteed that at least I wouldn’t be alone.  Things were pretty good, at least on the outside.  On the inside, I was still unsettled and lacked worth, no matter how successful I looked.
  • Fast forward and I was divorced and alone.  I do believe that occurred because again, I felt “less than”, didn’t believe that I was worthy of love, and sought more or better proof from somewhere else.  If you’ve read my posts, you will know how that turned out.  After spending the majority of my life with others around me, I was suddenly alone, not once, but multiple times.  Not only was it brutally quiet, I was left to think about all those things that I never resolved, including self-love and self-worth.  I had spent my life obtaining those values from others and what they thought of me.  Suddenly there was just me, and I wasn’t feeling it.

0F5FA281-0DE6-4DAA-BDCB-5934A0EFDE69

Now I am certain there is a lot more to it than that, but I do think the unresolved feeling of rejection I chose to carry with me for years and years, ultimately impacted many bad decisions that I made.  I absolutely acknowledge those decisions were bad, and were made solely by me without considering others.  Ultimately, being alone was horrible as there was no one to give me worth and value from the outside.  It was just me, and I knew better, that there was no substance to what I was thinking or feeling.  Or was there?

At this point in my life, I am actually able to look back at all those things, all the way back to pre-school, and tell myself that what I was thinking was wrong, that it was a self-induced illusion, that in fact, I had and have incredible value, whether I am alone or not.  Who I am with and what I have are not true indicators of my value.  With that said, there are some people who would lead you to believe that the superficial things do indicate your value.  Sadly, I have surrounded myself with them over the last few years.  Narcissists and avoidants are not good at instilling value in others and that is where I have been.  In fact, they are expert at manipulating your low self-worth, using it for their own gain.  With that said, it is just those types that have forced me to be alone enough to reconsider what is important and what isn’t.

66642B24-47A3-4EED-9F42-803817FDC08F

No, being alone is still not my favorite place to be, but I don’t avoid it at all costs like I used to and, at times, I do actually appreciate it.  Learning about myself over the last few years has been invaluable in being able to move forward.  I still have more work to do, but I am definitely not where I used to be.

The Avoidant Fat Lady has Sung. How to Move On. Again.

0BF3FE8B-6A08-46C8-8CCA-F85193643B7E

The leaves outside are certainly falling.  It’s been 3+ weeks now since I have seen my at least semi-narcissistic and most certainly avoidant girlfriend.  Our last time together was marred by what appears to be a “fatal” relational event, with her yet again telling me without actually telling me that I am cheating on her (which I wasn’t and didn’t) and that she doesn’t trust me.  My response was, in hindsight, not how I would have done it given a chance to do it again, but the result would be the same, no matter what I might have said or how I might have said it.  Yes, we are not seeing each other again, for the 4th time in an approximately 2 year period.

I did receive a short, semi-cryptic email from her earlier in the week essentially saying that she has done nothing wrong, that there is nothing that she needs to change or do differently, and that everything bad in the relationship is and has always been my fault.  Essentially, it is nothing different from previous communication regarding arguments past, and I am not surprised.  However, it was also written in a way that seemingly left the door open, if I wanted to try even harder to please her (and maybe I am reading into it, but I don’t think so).  Her egregious and overwhelming sense of entitlement presents itself yet again.  I never responded to her and have no intention of doing so.

502712E0-6A82-41BF-8299-4DCB47B14E9D

I have made it clear since my relational difficulties began a few years ago that I believe there are no coincidences, and that everything happens for a reason.  I don’t necessarily like it as once again I am alone, but I feel it is appropriate and correct.  In fact, when I step back and look at the relationship from the outside, I can see how lopsided it really was, and that I allowed it to get that way.  Trying to find a way to please someone who doesn’t know “how” to feel happy OR satisfied is a stretch at best, and impossible at the worst.  That describes my ex-girlfriend and, sadly, she will likely always be that way.  Whoever is next in line will likely experience the same difficulties.

Knowing the next person will not meet her needs or desires means she will repeat the cycle again and again.  This is one of the main reasons why there are so many avoidant attachment types in the dating pool as they continue to fail at being in a long-term committed relationship, so they keep looking for new opportunities over and over.  It also likely means that she will AGAIN have fond memories of me as time progresses and future relationships don’t work out either, and she will reach out to me to give it another go.  When, not if, that happens, I have to stay strong.  Just like my narcissistic ex-wife, a relationship with my now ex-girlfriend will always end the same way and I’ll constantly be going through the ups and downs and never find a stable, loving, long-term relationship.  I do understand in the throes of loneliness it is going to be hard to resist.  I’m going to give it my best.

7301F25F-6FF3-47B3-802B-7F922EE3719D

Now here’s the other struggle – like I said above, I believe there are no coincidences, that everything happens for a reason and it is part of our destiny.  Personally I do believe in God, and no matter what your belief system, most of us think there is some kind of higher power out there.  For me personally, the Bible makes it quite clear in Genesis 1:18 “and the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper” and woman was created.  I tend to stumble over the “it is not good that the man should be alone” part, and this is where I tend to make my biggest mistakes.

Whether it is rushing out to find someone new using whatever means are available (online dating, friends, going places, etc.), I haven’t always made the best decisions as I am indeed not so good at being alone.  That is part of the reason that I ended up back with my narcissistic ex-wife and now my avoidant ex-girlfriend so many times. I get so caught up in being alone that I will do almost anything to NOT be alone, even if it entails doing something that I know is the wrong thing to do.  That summertime is over and the possibility for activities that I actually enjoy the most being long past only makes it that much worse.  I know there are many parts and pieces associated with my current circumstances turning out for the best, even though it may not feel that way all the time.

 

3391EBF1-2C88-491C-8D2F-DDDD5F8B8B92

First, I must be patient.  I cannot hurry into anything no matter how difficult that is for me, and I know it is going to be difficult.  If I truly believe that all things happen for a reason and that God says it isn’t good for me to be alone, then eventually, if I am patient, the right thing IS going to happen.  I have to focus on that instead of focusing on my loneliness or the fact that I am not actively involved with a romantic partner or companion.

Second, I need to be more intelligent in my future decision-making instead of being driven by my emotions.  I know the bad signs to look for and I have to not allow beauty to overcome the other important intangibles.  No, that doesn’t mean that I am going to lower my expectations but rather I am going to make sure I know what it really is that I am dealing with before I pull the trigger and jump in with both feet.

 

8A1907FD-8686-49EE-9A78-F9EC5A5EFD49

Third, once I am in a relationship again (and I am convinced there will be another one at some point), I will need to step back periodically and assess what is really going on instead of plowing forward in a bad scenario, not realizing how bad it is until others looking from the outside ask me “what ARE you doing?”.  I am thinking right this moment that all of this is easier said than done, but I am also tired of repeating my mistakes.  I MUST do better the next time.

So, there it is, me acknowledging I need to be looking forward to “the next time” instead of wondering how I can fix “the previous time”.  Part of me is dreading moving forward yet again, but it is really the only option as we know how it will turn out if I do choose to try to fix what I had yet again.  Indeed the Avoidant Fat Lady has Sung.  Now it is time for me to heed what I have heard and know to be the only way forward.  As difficult as it is going to be, here’s to moving forward.

Avoidant Girlfriend. No Change is Good Change. I Can Finally Recognize That!

A6E73FA2-49AD-452A-A7C7-9718699D5A78

I haven’t had any contact with my avoidant and now apparently ex-girlfriend in two weeks.  I realize it is the right way for things to be, but it sure doesn’t feel like it most of the time.  Or does it?  Let’s break that down a little bit.

First of all, that first sentence above is fraught with indecision.  Me identifying her as my “apparently” ex-girlfriend implies that I have given her control, that I still have not taken complete ownership of what has happened or what is to happen in the future.  That is not entirely true as I have not reached out to her and I have no intention of doing so.  What if she reached out to me?  Sadly, I have no good answer for that right now.  I would really like to say that I would ignore it, but lets face it, for someone like me (recovering co-dependent with an anxious attachment style – although I am making positive strides fixing both), it would be a “win” for me.  Essentially, that would be like forcing her out of her comfort zone to engage me, which is a bit of a shift in roles.  Not that it really matters.  Anyway, there are more important things to consider here.

36248C9C-120D-4463-8C01-1541DED12D46

With all of my free time lately, I have had the opportunity to do a lot of thinking and inward reflecting.  I have discovered a lot of positive things relative to my response to how things have occurred this time, different than the previous occasions (and remember, this is the 4th time her and I have split up).  These include:

  • I have been quite comfortable being alone.  No, I would rather not be, but I am not in panic mode like I was after my narcissistic ex-wife left a few years back.  This enables the other positive attributes to unfold.
  • I have been able to see how I made this relationship pretty one-sided, meaning I again lost myself in the needs of someone else.  I was so focused on NOT losing her that I essentially did everything and anything to please her, whether it was in line with what “I” would want in my life or not.  That is not a relationship.  That is an act, a play, a pretend relationship.  Such a thing would never last and, in fact, would get worse as time progressed.  Recognition is good.
  • Regarding the bullet above, acting in such a way as to always respond to her needs and desires, when that became the priority, it caused a lot of anxiety and even anger in me that, 1) She didn’t recognize how much I was doing for her,  2) Since she didn’t recognize it, she clearly didn’t appreciate it, and 3) She didn’t feel the need to reciprocate in any way.  In fact, acting in such a way is what the relationship itself became.  Why “should” she do anything different?  I did the work, she reaped the benefits.  Again, being able to see what was happening instead of being so lost in it that it wasn’t recognizable is a good thing.
  • I clearly understand now that I was “facilitating” the relationship, doing everything that I could just to keep it going.  Why?  The easy and obvious answer is so that I didn’t have to be alone. That is not a good or valid reason for cheating myself and rewarding someone else for bad behavior.

 

C9867110-226C-45A5-8CAB-62BFBD6CDCAA

So I continue to ask myself, what is next?  There are several answers to that, the first being that I have to stand my ground and not allow myself to be sucked back into the relationship just because I am lonely.  My neediness is definitely not what it once was (another good change from my old co-dependent self).  I am certain that she will reach out at some point, especially given that I have a glass bakeware dish of hers at my house and at some point, she will use it as a conduit to get back in.  Yep, that is all that is here at my house that belongs to her and she is going to want it back.  Remember, this is the same girl that, following our first breakup, was adamant that I return her book that she loaned me, the one that she couldn’t find a replacement for (the same one that I found on Amazon, EBay, Barnes & Noble and several other places for $3).  Of course, there are all the clothes that I bought for her here and several other things that I got for her, but I have already stashed those away where I don’t have to look at them or think about them.

Something else I am going to do is be patient and not rush into the “next” relationship.  I have made some good progress in my journey to eradicate my co-dependency and I would really like to finish that up.  Time is the best thing for that.  I still have opportunities for further improvement in front of me and I acknowledge and accept that.

926CD358-A194-4C81-9E4B-93BA88946C17

Finally, I would really like to find a “secure” person next time, whenever that might be.  I have to eliminate the thought that if the relationship is not loaded with passion, then it is not going to work out.  There is good passion, and there is bad passion, and I am finally getting to a place where I can recognize the difference.  Of course, being able to recognize that in the throes and excitement of a new relationship makes things more difficult,  but I am going to really try to take it slow and “see” what is happening before plowing forward, before I get to a point where I have to ask myself just what it is that I am doing and why.

Life certainly is a journey.  My ongoing journey needs to be on a path without insecurely attached partners, without avoidants or narcissists.  Yes, I know nobody is perfect and that we all have our problems and our baggage, but I would really like to find someone who can at least be a participant in the relationship, that will give as well as take.

C00EE91E-5646-485A-9A10-02A88DB650A6

For now, I will continue to minimize the analyzing, the rumination, and the continuous questioning of what happened and why.  In the past, I didn’t have the ability to do that.  I do now.  In this case, strangely enough, no change IS good change.