The Birthday… and the Avoidant Girlfriend

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Yet another birthday, and this one came with a surprise.  I’ll get to that in a minute…

First, this is the fourth birthday that I have had since my narcissistic ex-wife left for the last time.  I can honestly say I have either overcome, or at least gotten used to, the emotions of being alone.  While I am not necessarily “happy” to be alone, I am not devastated by it either.  Sadly, it has gotten to the point where birthdays feel simply like another day, albeit one that is a bit more noticeable because I am indeed alone.

Speaking of the ex-wife, I did have the opportunity to come across her at work this last week, although luckily she was in her car (yes, the one that I am still paying for).  I was walking and she was clearly looking for a parking spot up close to the building since it was 18 degrees, cold and windy.  She started driving toward me directionally, although she was about 20 feet away.  As has become my routine since going full No Contact a couple of years ago, I paid her no attention, while at the same time I am certain that she noticed me.  I have talked in the past about asking her nicely when I purchased that car for her if she could park it away from other cars to keep it from getting dinged or scratched (as it is a “premium” luxury car – nothing but the best for my narcissist).  She reluctantly agreed at the time, as she is one of those that will drive in circles trying to get as close to the door as possible.  As I continud to walk after seeing her, I am wondering where I will find the car parked upon my return.  There was no doubt she was searching for a spot close to the door.

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Upon my return, I can’t seem to find the car.  As I get to the far end of the lot, lo and behold, there it is, on the very END spot, parked over the line to be as far away from the car next to it as possible.  I honestly laughed out loud.  I still haven’t figured out if she does that just to mess with my mind or what.  She does NOT care about that car and it is now approaching 6 years old.  I guess I will likely never figure out the mindset causing that (and probably shouldn’t).

Lets get to the avoidant ex-girlfriend that I haven’t seen or heard from in exactly 8 weeks.  That is how long it has been since we had an unfortunate and unplanned “event” following a fun night of partying and hanging out with friends.  There was no physical altercation or sexual misconduct involved and it was purely something that shouldn’t have happened and was the result of us both drinking too much.  The following day, I immediately apologized for my role and also took responsibility for what occurred (even though it was shared).  I never heard a peep other than getting a request and a $10 bill in the mail to send her a coat that she had left at my house.  How strange that felt.

I did mail her coat to her, along with a “love letter” of sorts, telling her how much I adored and cared for her, along with another apology.  That was approximately 4-5 weeks ago.  Again, I received no response, not even an acknowledgement that she received the “package”.  8 weeks passed with absolutely NO contact from her. That ended yesterday…

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About 9:50 PM, I get a text from her.  It starts out with “Hi John (a fake name I am inserting) I wanted to contact you sooner but I thought to be quiet until things made more sense.  It still doesn’t make sense c’est la vie.  I miss you John, but unfortunately I still haven’t figured out how to navigate with regards to us after that incident.  Albeit I appreciate the apology, the result was reoccurring nightmares which led me to the conclusion that my mind is still disheveled with regards to that mess.  I wish things were different.  I just wanted to say thanks for the apology, tell you that I hope you are well and I hope you have a great birthday.  Donna (again, a fake name I am using).

Again, I am baffled.  Reoccurring nightmares?  WTH?  Here’s the thing – I don’t know what happened after her and I parted ways that night since she NEVER told me.  We never spoke after that, so I have no idea why she is having reoccurring nightmares or what that even means.

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What baffles me more is why, after not A WORD for 8 weeks, my birthday would mean anything to her.  To be absolutely honest, I wasn’t even sure if she knew when my birthday was.  No, I didn’t respond to her, and I don’t expect that I will.  I also wonder what she expects at this point.  Am I supposed to be glad or thankful that she sent me something, i.e. does she think she is taking the higher road?  This comes after “ghosting” me for 2 damn months, for not uttering a word for almost 60 days.  I didn’t really think I would hear from her again, so this is somewhat surprising, but then again, so what?  As weak as I am emotionally (and yes, I was/am incredibly attracted to her and care for her deeply), I can’t be with someone who is capable of simply disappearing for 8 weeks.  That is unacceptable, especially considering 2 formal apologies and several texts that went completely unanswered.

So, here I sit, contemplating what is next, what is yet to come.  I have several dating possibilities underway that I am not really excited about (although maybe I should be).  I guess I have reached that point where I am starting to get used to being alone and actually seeing the benefits of it.  No, it doesn’t make me feel happy to be alone necessarily, but being with someone hasn’t ultimately resulted in being happy either.  Yes, I do expect to hear from her again.  As the memories of our “event” continue to fade and as summer and boating season approach, I believe her avoidant personality will seek what she gave up, convincing herself that she wants to be close to me again, although she will also flee yet again when she gets too close.  The real question is this – what will the improved and educated co-dependent, anxious attachment style me do about it?

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Each birthday that goes by, I am a little smarter about my old co-dependent self, the one that is more secure in his wants and needs.  I’m pretty certain my ex-girlfriend isn’t trying to improve herself (or even feels a need to).  I think my answer is in there somewhere.

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Seriously, Am I Really That Bad?

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Is it ever possible to get past all of the mistakes?  We all go through different phases in our lives and in between those phases, we (at least I) have time to think.  I am in an entirely new phase for myself, and I am finding far too much time to think.  It leaves me feeling a bit vulnerable, and also asking myself, “am I really that bad?”.

Being in this phase has pluses and minuses.  I have been given (forced into…) the opportunity to reflect on where I have been, and also where I want to go.  I am desperately trying to be patient, to just let things happen instead of trying to force them like I have consistently done in the past.  With that newfound patience (or at least a semblance of patience), I am finding that essentially nothing is happening, that one day is simply bleeding into the next.  It is actually a bit painful.  No matter, I am taking the opportunity to read, to learn, and to reflect on where I have been and what I can do differently going forward.  Of course, the hope is that I am a better person as a result, with that change positively impacting any future relationships that I might (hopefully) have.

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At the same time, I reflect on so many different poor choices that I have made, although at the time they didn’t seem like such poor choices and in fact I was typically trying to do the “right” thing.  To make matters more destructive, I have had so much time to think that it seems as though almost anything that I see or read about, that I can make some kind of connection to someone significant in my past.  Case in point, I was just watching a documentary of a certain famous hotel, a structure, a building.  This immediately brought back vivid memories of the fact that I have been there with both of my ex-wives and also my recent girlfriend.  The hotel is still there, my colorful memories are still there, yet the women are all gone.  No matter, I will always have those incredible memories from that place with each of them and I don’t want to eliminate those memories just because they are painful at this point.  I can’t help but think, “what went wrong”, and will I ever be able to go there with someone and not simply add them to the list of memories?

In my past significant relationships, I didn’t start off with the intention of failing.  Despite the things that I have clearly done wrong, I had a deep underlying desire to meet the needs of my significant other, to go above and beyond what they were used to experiencing.  Yet, I have proof of my failures, given 2 ex-wives and a recent fairly important girlfriend that I didn’t really want to lose.  In every one of those relationships, I can honestly admit that I tried so hard to meet the needs of that person, to add to their happiness, to go above and beyond and make them feel special and loved.  I believe at times that I was successful.

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What I was also successful at was losing myself in the process.  With the fairly recent discovery of my co-dependence following the discovery of wife #2’s narcissism, I have really focused on correcting (and have made pretty good progress) my neediness and my expectations for others.  I also recognize that I always expected something in return for my efforts.  Real love doesn’t expect something in return, and I know that now, but as a result of not receiving what I thought I should have gotten for my efforts, I would withdraw into myself, wondering what I was doing wrong and sulking because my hard work wasn’t being acknowledged.  Then the mistakes would really begin.

I can’t specifically put my finger on the things that I did that ultimately resulted in the failure of the relationships.  I am also certain that the relationship failures weren’t just because of me.  However, because I am the common denominator in all of them, I can’t help but place considerable responsibility on myself.  Again, my co-dependency wants to ensure everyone else is happy, thus, the blame for bad stuff must be mine to own.  No, I don’t totally believe that (now), but no matter what, it doesn’t change the fact that they are gone and I am here alone.

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Being as sentimental as I am doesn’t help either.  I tend to focus on the positive memories in my life, and I have some vivid ones regarding that famous hotel noted above with all 3 of those significant women that I was there with.  Having either minimized or blocked many of the bad memories prior to the failure of my relationships only adds to my confusion over why I am alone.  If things were as great as I remember them to be, there would be no need for me to be writing this post?  Yes, I am aware that bad things did happen as much as I don’t want to remember them, but I clearly prefer to remember the good stuff.

It’s tough to provide your own point/counterpoint, but that is the hand I have been dealt recently.  I am alone for a reason and, as tough as it is, I need to learn what I need to learn.  The biggest lesson is how hard it is to be alone when you really haven’t been alone in your entire life.  The other tough lesson is acknowledging your past mistakes, forgiving yourself as well as those that were involved along with you, and figuring out how not to repeat those things.  Going forward, I will certainly consider my own needs in any new relationship in addition to the person that I will be involved with.  I’ll try to do that early on instead of focusing on how to win them over at my own expense.

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I also need to acknowledge that I am not “bad”, but rather that I am simply human, with things that I can do better.  With that said, in order to live a positive life, I need to remove the negativity, and removing it from myself is a good place to start.  Here it goes…

The Realization That I am NOT in Control

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It has taken several years, but I have finally reached the conclusion that I am not in control of my life.  Yes, there are certain things I can control, like choosing what channel to watch on the TV, or what I am going to have for dinner, but not the big things, the important things.  For instance…

I have been divorced from my narcissistic ex-wife for nearly 3 years now, and she has been gone for 3.5 years.  This is NOT something that I wanted to happen.  Yes, there were certain aspects of the marriage that were less than ideal, but for the most part, I was living the dream.  I can still feel the “special” way that things seemed to be when I was with her.  I never experienced it before, and haven’t experienced it since (yes, there is learning in knowing that and how her narcissism impacted the special feeling).  It lasted several years before things really started to become bizarre and go downhill rapidly, and even to this day, I wish the “her” that I knew and the life we had built still existed, but it does not.  As much as I thought I did, I had NO control over what was and would occur.  She was going to leave and nothing that I could have done would have prevented it.

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That departure was only the beginning.  Since that time, I have dated far too much.  This much later, I do realize that my insecurity and adverse reaction to rejection simply fueled my need to quickly find someone else.  I did absolutely learn about my own co-dependence as a result of learning about my ex’s narcissism, so that’s good at least.  Of course, the brutal manner in which my narcissistic ex departed didn’t help things.  Regardless, I have went out with many different women, determining almost immediately (sadly, within seconds in some cases) with each one whether there was any chance of something meaningful.  That I met so many and walked away from so many again caused me to question whether any of it was under my control.  What I mean by that is, there seemed to be so many possibilities… until we met in person, at which time I would realize what I thought I was seeing wasn’t really what I was seeing. I had no control in equating the cyber-world to the real world and how that would turn out.

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There were a few that I went out with several times, but the fire that I was hoping for, that feeling, it just never materialized.  Suddenly, my now ex-girlfriend came into the picture, and I mean that figuratively.  I can still remember seeing her approaching for the first time, begging “please, please, please, let that be my date”.  Things took off quickly and lasted several months.  With that said, while we experienced a lot of different things, enjoyed each other’s company, and made a lot of memories, that magical “feeling” that I had been searching for still was not there, but it was closer than it had been for a couple of years.  If you have read my last few posts, you will be familiar with the fact that my girlfriend and I had an “incident” in mid-December 2017, and I haven’t heard a word from her since then.  That is, other than a piece of snail-mail asking me to send her coat back to her, which I did and, no, there has been no acknowledgement that she ever received it or the letter that I sent along with it.  Again, I had NO control whatsoever in something that appeared to be going fairly well.  This was sudden and unexpected.  NO control.

Since the breakup, I have been out with 4 different women.  Again, no special feeling and nothing that I wish to pursue.  Worse than that, it is almost as if the prospects are drying up, i.e. there aren’t even any that I consider to be attractive opportunities.  Yes, there was one that I found particularly appealing and we had done the emailing, the texting, even the phone calls.  All that was left was to meet and schedules were being looked at.  I haven’t heard from her in 2 days now.  Again, NO control.

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With the literally billions of single women in the world, you have to ask yourself, how can things be this barren?  Is it that I am not supposed to be with anyone?  Yes, I have and continue to have that thought over and over.  Unlike shortly after the departure of my narcissistic ex, I am no longer despondent when alone, although it certainly isn’t my first choice either, to be alone.  But that the possibilities have become so seemingly non-existent begs the question, are my circumstances being dictated for me, and for a purpose?

I do believe in God, and I do believe He want’s what’s best for me.  Maybe He is tired of watching me make the same stupid mistakes over and over and is pulling back on the reins a little bit, as if to say “you can’t seem to get this right no matter how I have tried to help you, so I am going to help you a little more”.  Now THAT would be the ultimate experience of having NO control, and that is essentially how I am feeling right now.  It is quite possible that I have been moving at such a rapid pace that I am not seeing what I need to see and not learning what I am really supposed to learn.  Instead, I am soothing my ego, nursing my loneliness, and simply staying busy to avoid having to confront the things that I need to change about myself.

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No control.  I am certainly feeling it right now.  Despite that, I do still have complete confidence that the “right” person for me is out there somewhere and it is only a matter of time before I come across them (or they come across me).  I would prefer a divine intervention rather than my forcing of the issue to find someone.  The chances of the relationship surviving would certainly be better than my repeatedly failing approach.  No matter, it is still incredibly difficult to give up any level of control (even knowing that I really have none).  I need to admit that my sense of control has borne no fruit, that I really have nothing to show for it other than a divorce followed by a pile of dinner receipts and some historical photos.

Control is defined as “determine the behavior or supervise the running of” and also as the “power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events”.  I have definitely failed to “control” many of the events of my own life.  I need to try a new approach.  I will let you know how that turns out.

The Finale of the Avoidant Girlfriend

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Well, I believe the final nail has been placed in the coffin.  It has been a bit of a disturbing week, surprising, yet not surprising.

Four weeks ago, my girlfriend of 6 months suddenly decided to stop communicating with me after “we” experienced an issue in our relationship, one that was created by both of us during an evening that started out extremely fun, but that also entailed too much alcohol for both of us.  No, there was no physical altercation or sexual misconduct.  It was just a stupid thing that shouldn’t have occurred.

Upon sobering up, I immediately apologized (via email with a text backing up the email as face-to-face communication was not appropriate at the time).  It was an extremely sincere and heartfelt apology taking responsibility for the event (even though it was not all mine to take).  I made up my mind at that point that I would not reach out any further, that the ball was in her court.  I honesty did not expect to hear anything, and for four weeks I didn’t.  One day this week however…

2EA29CDD-F4E5-4264-85F1-BCB39EE8DB45Let me preface what happens next with the fact that my GF had mistakenly left a coat at my house.  I knew it was here, but I wasn’t sure that she did.  Regardless, I figured I would use it as a conduit to communication if I needed to.  In addition to telling myself that I wouldn’t reach out to her, I also semi-convinced myself that, no matter what, I was not going to allow her back into my life.  I have had too many recent experiences where I allowed my recovering and improving co-dependent self to reenter into relationships that I should not have resumed.  I had myself 99% convinced that this was over no matter what she did.

With that said, sometime last week, I decided to write a letter that essentially memorialized all of the things that I did actually like about her and our relationship. The letter was more for my own satisfaction than anything else, and it contained a partial list of the things we had done, the experiences that we had lived, the places we had been too, etc.  It was only a partial list because we had done so many things in such a short period of time that I likely couldn’t even remember all that we had done.  It was therapeutic for me in that there were some really enjoyable experiences and, right up until the end, things had been quite fun and entertaining.  While typing the letter up, the fact that my GF had an avoidant personality was always in the back of my head, reminding me of how hard I had to work (and it did seem like work quite often) to keep her engaged and to observe any closeness and positivity from her.  I’ll come back to this letter in a moment…

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It had been four weeks with no contact whatsoever (and yes, I was pretty proud of myself).  No texts or phone calls or engagement of any kind.  One day this week, I retrieved my mail from the mailbox, finding the typical three or four envelopes.  It appeared to be normal junk mail, with one of them having a hand written address with no return address like they do nowadays to fool you into thinking it isn’t junk mail.  I nearly threw it away, but for some reason decided to open it.  The first thing I noticed was a $10 bill and then a short handwritten note on a cut piece of stationary that said “John, please return my coat.  Mary” (and I inserted fake names there).  It also had one of those address sticky’s with her name and address on it affixed to the note.  Seriously?

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I was pissed!!!  First of all, does she really think that I don’t know her name and address.  Honestly, I have sent flowers to her address at least 10 times in that 6 months we were together.  I have been to her house over and over.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the significance the sticking of an address label on the INSIDE of the envelope was supposed to signify.  There was NO discussion or acceptance of my apology, there was no apology on her part, and it was as if I was receiving a bill or a late notice telling me to send something to a business.  I wasn’t surprised, but yet I was.  I expected to be asked for the coat, but I figured it would be in a few more weeks or even months via text or phone call, not via regular mail.  I guess I apparently don’t rate any type of regular communication, that I don’t even garner that much value or sentiment.

At first, I wasn’t going to do anything with the coat and was just going to ignore the whole thing.  After further consideration, I decided that I really didn’t want the coat here and also had a couple of other things of hers that she had either forgotten about or was going to wait until later to re-engage me about, giving her an excuse to reach out to me later, which I am almost certain she would do.  So I boxed all of her things up and took them to the post office yesterday.  She will receive them next Tuesday.

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Here’s the thing – I also included a copy of the letter.  My reasoning is that, even with her avoidant attachment style, she seemed very sentimental.  She had kept things that I had forgotten about and she would show them to me occasionally.  I am not even sure how many momento’s she has retained.  She may not even read the letter when she opens the box, but eventually she will.  While I don’t want her back, I want her to remember all the things that we did and that I DO have feelings for her (“did” have feelings by the time she gets around to responding, if ever) and that she really allowed something to slip through her fingers.  Her angry need for independence and isolation due to this event, which occurred after she had started to open up and allow herself to get just a little close (based on her avoidance of intimacy), cost her a pretty good relationship.

No matter what, I know that she did have feelings for me despite her attachment style.  If nothing else, maybe she can fondly look back at some point and think things weren’t so bad, that we did have some good times (because we certainly did).  Maybe I am just experimenting, I don’t know.  Regardless, I don’t want her back and feel that with my learnings over the last few years, that I am getting my co-dependence firmly under control and have made vast improvements in my anxious attachment style.  All because I had been married to a narcissist for 5 years, a narcissist that brutally left me, causing me to evaluate what was happening in my life and to improve myself.

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I know myself a lot better now.  While I am not necessarily happy about what has happened, I am better equipped to deal with it.  At this point, I am certainly curious about what will happen next week when she gets the package.  I highly suspect nothing will occur, and that come spring, she will begin to reminisce and long for what she had.  That is when the real test will come.  I must stand firm, and fight the urge to remove the nail from the coffin.  I am confident.

Moving On. Again.

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In the world of relationships, I find myself here again, and maybe it’s a good thing.  Nope, it’s not necessarily where I want to be, but it appears to be where I am supposed to be.

The real question at this point is, what do I do differently so the result isn’t the same?  The answer to that question needs to be my focus and is something that I need to take seriously.  This is the third serious relationship that I have had in the last few years that has ended.  As recently posed to me by a fellow blogger Zombiedrew2, I need to look at these not as failures, but rather as relationships that have run their course.  I like that, although I am really hopeful that one day I can find one where the course lasts a little longer.

In trying to move on from my recent girlfriend breakup, I listed out the positives and the negatives associated with the relationship, including her personal attributes.  Whether it was me just wanting to find fault or whether it was an accurate listing, a quick review indicates the relationship was doomed to failure as there were a LOT more things in the negative column than in the positive column.

The results of that list caused me to do a little more research on relationships and I did come across something that I found extremely interesting and something that is apparently a particular problem for me.  The subject that I came across is called the “attraction rating scale” (different names in different places – this was just one).  This scale tends to explain how important various features of our mate, companion, spouse, etc. measure up.  It looks at things like physical attractiveness, personality, intellect, character, and a few other attributes that factor into our selections.

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Not surprisingly, I have consistently been drawn to women that are over-the-top beautiful or physically attractive.  Yes, I believe I am a fairly attractive man, I’m in good physical shape, I have a full head of hair, blah blah blah, but I tend to reach well above my means even knowing that I am far from perfect.  That’s where I run into a snag, and where the results of my relationships seem to make sense.  If a beautiful woman has ALL of the attributes that the ideal man desires, then why would she still be available?  I have already indicated that I am not the perfect physical specimen, so why would the perfect or near perfect female specimen want to be with me?

The answer is because other than physical beauty, the women I am choosing tend to rate low in those other areas of desirability.  For the most part, they have tended to have character flaws that my desire to ignore, that my attempts to gloss over by providing undying love to them, can only cover up for so long.  I am so busy looking AT THEM that I fail to look IN THEM.  Only after some period of time do those other attributes begin negatively impacting the relationship.

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Everything is new and fun and exciting in the beginning.  A lot of imperfections can be overlooked or simply ignored in the beginning.  There are too many distractions, fun and exciting things to keep one from focusing on any potential issues.  But over time, the newness wears off and the underlying, permanent, unchangeable traits start to rise to the top.  This can result in the woman realizing that she can do better physically than what she has in me.  When the fun starts wearing off, her underlying emotional baggage pushes it’s way to the surface, causing her to see things in me that she has seen in her previous failed relationships.  The downhill slide begins.

Something else that can occur is I begin to feel ripped off, that I am putting far more effort into the relationship than she is, just so I can be seen with someone who causes others to go “wow, look at that lucky guy?”, or “what is she doing with that?”.  Even with my preoccupation with physical beauty, things seem to eventually head toward that place seen on posters depicting or having a photograph of a beautiful woman with the caption at the bottom that says “Somewhere, someone is sick and tired of taking her shxx”.  Honestly, I don’t get to that point very often, at least not consciously, but I can see how it would impact the relationship.

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The bottom line is that I am consistently putting physical beauty at the top of my priorities, with the ultimate result of the relationship being just as consistent.  I have to figure out how to stop doing that.  Just considering it makes me cringe as I simply don’t know any other way at this point.  It is something that I have always done and thinking about not being with a beautiful woman makes me not want to even try.  Yes, that is vanity and selfishness at it’s best right there, maybe even a little bit of narcissism mixed in.  Of course, it is possible that maybe, just once, I might get lucky, hit the jackpot and find a beautiful woman who does have all of the other positive qualities without the baggage.  It could happen.

No matter what, I need to do something differently.  This moving on thing is getting old, and so am I.  That doesn’t help my chances.

If Patience is a Virtue, What is the Lack of Patience?

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What a trying and reflective week or so that I have had.  With the recent, sudden, and unexpected departure of my girlfriend of nearly 6 months (departure followed by complete ghosting, which I never would have expected), I have been forced to take yet another look at myself, who I am, and what I am doing.  My fairly new found knowledge following the departure of my narcissistic ex-wife 3 years ago, including my issues with co-dependence and my ongoing fixes, is paying dividends.

Having been quite busy over the last 6 months, the sudden reversal in activity is quite noticeable, and quite deafening.  That I didn’t expect to be in this place again so soon just adds a little something extra to it.  Luckily (maybe gratefully), having learned so much about human behavior, narcissism, and co-dependence in the last couple of years, I am much better able to process what is happening, recognize what my emotions want me to do versus what I should do, and essentially not overreact.

So far, I have not reached out to her and in fact, I haven’t really had any desire to.  Rather than freak out and force some kind of communication, any kind of communication, I have been able to reason that her reaction to an event resulting in her ghosting is simply wrong and tells me a lot about her.   Sadly, it simply confirms some suspicions that I had for several months, and puts an end to something that I probably should have terminated on my own.  With that said, we did have a lot of fun over the summer and it certainly helped to move me along, to help me to get to where I am now.

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That tomorrow is going to be the start of a new year is not lost on me.  It leads to all the normal banter about starting anew, having another chance, and all that other crap.  I get it and, yes, I am certainly going to continue to move forward (with the occasional step or two back), but I would prefer that stuff like this stop happening for a while.  I can’t help but wonder what the ex-girlfriend is doing tonight.  Clearly, I am doing nothing but writing a blog post.  I don’t think she is doing the same.  At this point it doesn’t matter and I am not going to ask, but thoughts like that are something I would rather not deal with or be forced to suppress.

Something that I am doing that I do need to deal with better is attempting to move on too quickly.  In the last few days, I have revisited my good old friend called online dating, and it is causing more stress than it is relieving.  I suppose it is a multi-faceted corrective approach, trying to prove I am desirable and also eliminate the quiet and loneliness all at the same time.  I have already been on one date (which went well) and have another different date scheduled for tomorrow.  That I didn’t expect to be doing this at all and then to be doing it with such alarming quickness is something I need to evaluate a bit more.

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That brings me to the subject of patience.  While I am much better at controlling my emotions and not panicking or overreacting, I am clearly still reacting in a not so positive way.  While dating isn’t necessarily bad, my reasons certainly are not the best.  That my thinking isn’t yet very clear, that I am still questioning what has happened, and that I am still trying to recover from the loss, dating is a selfish thing for me to be doing.  Yes, there’s part of me that has the thought that just maybe I will fall into the “right” person given the circumstances, but after this long, I have concluded that is a long shot and not likely to happen.

I have proven to myself that I am worthwhile to others just based on the interactions I have had this week.  The real dilemma is this – why can’t I accept that I am worthwhile, i.e. why can’t I seem to accept that I have value?  Why do I need those outside of me to prove that, to validate that I have desirable attributes and qualities.  Clearly, rather than be alone with myself and figure that out, it is easier (is it really?) to engage in busyness and distract myself by seeing what kind of attention I can get.

Being off work all week has only made the silence and lack of activities that much more obvious.  That it is 5 degrees Farenheit outside (has been and is continuing to be) has also played a role.  But more than anything, being rejected once again has left me feeling a bit needy and has set me back a few months.  At least now, I am able to recognize that and deal with it to a certain extent without engaging in trying to determine WHY this is happening and how to undo it.

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The bottom line is that I am alone again and I have accepted that.  I don’t like it, but I also am at least aware that I didn’t deserve what my ex-GF has done and I am refusing to engage her.  That is a major accomplishment.  Now, I need to refocus on being patient and knowing there are better times ahead.  I have learned a lot, and clearly I have more to learn.

Here’s to 2018 being better, and to learning more.  Oh, and maybe, just maybe, to finding the right person, at the right time, leading to the right outcome.

Another Disorder! Is Anyone “Normal”?

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Well, I am surprised, but I’m not surprised.  While trying to understand the quick, recent, and apparently final departure of my girlfriend of just shy of 6 months, I came across some interesting data that explains many things.  At the same time, it makes me wonder 1) If I will ever find anyone, and 2) If I will be with them a year or more later.  Let me explain…

Having gone through a painful divorce from my narcissistic ex-wife almost 3 years ago, I learned a lot about narcissism.  I didn’t even know such a thing existed until she left for the fourth and final time.  It also allowed me to determine that I displayed co-dependent tendencies.  As a result, I have worked on eliminating the co-dependency issues from my life over the last couple of years.  I thought I had figured out what I needed to know to move on and be successful.  Not so much.

 

My girlfriends unexpected “ghosting” a little over a week ago caused me to do some more research, as things just didn’t seem to add up.  The internet is an amazing thing, and I came across something that I do NOT recall seeing during all of my research on narcissism (and I did a LOT).  Apparently we all have an “attachment style” with the main 3 being (and I am summarizing – there’s lots of data available by searching):

  1. Secure – This is the most desirable style where all is pretty much good
  2. Anxious – This isn’t so good and can be seen as needy or clingy, desperately seeking intimacy and needing validation from a partner
  3. Avoidant – This isn’t so good either and is seen as being independent and not really needing anyone.  In fact, the avoidant fears intimacy and will do almost anything to escape it

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Being a recovering co-dependent, I recognized my underlying style as “anxious”, although with the work I have done to curb my co-dependency, I am sliding into the secure style.  I proved this to myself during the recent breakup by sincerely apologizing to my girlfriend once, and then not calling or texting again.  It has been 10 days.  There’s been no pleading, no begging, no “just one more chance”.  I feel a bit helpless, but I know its the right thing to do (or not do in this case).

Here’s the thing – Once I started researching the Avoidant style, I determined that it fit almost all of the attributes of my girlfriend.  Some of the attributes include:

  • Refusal or inability to acknowledge your feelings
  • Secrecy
  • Emotional stinginess
  • Constant emotional highs and lows

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I have been keeping a journal ever since the crap with my narcissistic ex began several years ago, and I have kept one while dating this woman too.  It is fraught with confusion and questions.  First off, she never acknowledged or indicated that she loved me and, in fact, never even acknowledged that she even really liked me.  Yes, most of the time she acted like she did, but she essentially refused to communicate it.  She clearly knew how I felt about her as I would tell her how I felt, how she looked, what I loved about her, but she would just look at me.  Hmmm…

 

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In hindsight, I knew little about her.  Yes, I met all of her family (father, sisters, brother, her kids, friends, etc.), but I knew little about her past, other than her hatred and contempt for her ex-husband.  She simply didn’t say much, and pressing her for data would be met with either silence, changing the subject, or an indication she didn’t want to talk about it.  I figured eventually she would talk about it.  Knowing what I know now, probably not.

We already talked about her inability to share her feelings and thoughts.  It goes further.  She would never compliment me, whether it was on how I looked, something I had done, some little success that I had that I shared.  Actually, once in a awhile she would give me a tidbit, but you could tell it was hard for her to do.  On top of that, I used to massage her and rub her and touch her all the time.  I always wondered why she didn’t return the favor (and we are talking months and that I was touching her constantly).  Now, knowing they cannot be intimate as it challenges their independence and their need to not let anyone get too close, I can understand.  Touching someone in that way is a sign of intimacy.  Strangely, she loved for me to do that to her, but there was never any reciprocation.

I am sad and almost embarrassed to say that I simply got used to the emotional highs and lows.  I never quite knew who I was going to get on a given day.  She would sometimes go on a rant about some subject that I had broached (God for example), and I would just sit there wondering what just happened.  A few minutes later, it was as if it never happened.

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Sadly, most of the data on attachment styles say that a relationship with an avoidant is not likely to survive more than a few months as they start to feel things getting too close and simply jump ship.  Research also indicates a good majority of potential online dates are avoidant, as “secure” types are already in good relationships, and that avoidant’s simply continue the “find and dump” process, resulting in them repeatedly ending up in the dating pool.  Isn’t that great news?

Right now, I am at a loss.  I do not really know what to do differently.  The silence in my life (once again) is deafening.  No, I am not as needy as I used to be and I am able to control my urges to engage when I know that I shouldn’t.  No matter, being with someone for 6 months pretty much non-stop only to have them disappear due to a mutual mistake that we both made is hard to understand and even harder to overcome. Sadly, I now know that this relationship was destined for doom before it even started.  Even sadder is knowing my now ex-girlfriend is likely to repeat this over and over as I do care for her a great deal.  I miss her and I certainly didn’t see this coming.

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I think I am going to stop researching things now.  It gives all the indications that my chances for success in a relationship are getting smaller and smaller.  Yes, I still believe there is someone out there, and I am also getting smarter about recognizing what may and what may not work, but I really wish it wasn’t this hard.  Stupid disorders.

Me and My Co-Dependence – Part 2

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Last week, I wrote a post about the recent and sudden departure of my girlfriend of several months and the impact that was having on me.  At the time, I was proud to say that I was going to control my reaction(s), given that I was now aware of my co-dependent tendencies.  I was aware due to being married to a narcissistic woman for several years, learning about narcissism, and also about my own issues with co-dependence.

With all of that said, I continue to be proud to say that I haven’t given in, I haven’t panicked, and I haven’t reached out to her since communicating a formal apology.  I am also sad to say, there hasn’t been any contact between us whatsoever in the last week.

This is not where I thought things would end up.  I can’t say that I am totally surprised, but I’m also a bit taken aback as well.  Because I am an introspective person, I tend to evaluate over and over what happened, what went wrong, how I could have done things differently, and how things may have been averted.  Sadly, no matter how much I think about and evaluate what occurred, it doesn’t change anything and I still sit here alone, believing that somehow, I just don’t quite measure up given the fact that I haven’t heard a peep from her.

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I will admit, given the circumstances, I don’t want her back at this point.  I can honestly say that for the past 5.5 months, I essentially poured myself into this woman.  It is probably safe to say that is how most co-dependents would respond, going all in and giving everything they have.  Because I can’t sit still, there were plenty of activities (pretty much non-stop actually), trips, dinners, boat rides on the lake, sun bathing, Las Vegas, up-state mini vacations, just an endless list of things done.

Without reservation, I can say that I planned those things, paid for those things, and was over the top nice and caring to this woman.  If we were together, I was touching her somewhere, whether holding her hand, massaging her back, or rubbing her head, there was no doubt that I cared greatly for her.  There wasn’t a day that we were together that I didn’t tell her how beautiful she was.  In hindsight, I can’t say the same for her, that she reciprocated even in the least.  It is almost embarrassing looking back, as she paid for nothing (and I sincerely, honesty mean NOTHING when it had anything to do with the two of us), didn’t go out of her way to make me feel comfortable or secure or attractive…

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Here’s the thing – At the time, I took note of those things, accepted them, and thought at some point, she would recognize them or acknowledge them.  Don’t get me wrong, she was affectionate and never pushed me away or made me feel that she didn’t want to be with me, but she also didn’t make me feel “special”, or that she felt lucky to have me.

Yep, the co-dependent me was definitely involved in the relationship.  Was it because she was over-the-top attractive that I was willing to go above and beyond just to keep her interested?  Did I know that it was just a matter of time until I slipped and she left OR that I realized maybe she wasn’t where I belonged in the first place?  I am not really sure.  What I definitely didn’t expect was for ALL of the positive things that I have done, that have occurred over the last several months, and the list is endless, to be eliminated in a single instance.

Is she sitting at home remembering all of those good times, all of those memories that we made?  Is she regretting simply closing the door and not even acknowledging that I exist?  Sadly, I think not.  I suspect that she feels totally justified at this point.  I apologized formally and several times informally, asking for forgiveness and how I might make amends.  Not only has she not accepted her responsibility in our little event (which was aided, if not caused, by too much alcohol on both our parts), she hasn’t even acknowledged my apologies, let alone forgiven me.

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Being the co-dependent that I am, I have already forgiven her for her role.  I really have, even knowing that I will likely never see her again.  Sadly, again because I am co-dependent, I don’t know how people are so willing to accept no communication, the lack of consideration of anyone else’s feelings or understanding of a situation, and have the ability to simply walk away.  That is the nightmare scenario for someone like me – complete rejection and the resulting loneliness that accompanies it.

Happily, I recognize why I feel and act the way that I do, and I am controlling and learning from it.  I am sad, but not depressed.  I also accept that just like the feelings following the departure of my narcissistic ex-wife, these feelings too will pass.  There is someone out there that will appreciate me in a way that I can accept and embrace.  Until that time, I will continue to push forward, evaluating what is happening in my life, but not allowing it to control me like it used to.  No, I am NOT looking forward to dating new women yet again, but that is the hand I have been dealt.  I will continue to learn and get better.

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Moving on, and up, once again…

 

When Co-Dependence Rears it’s Ugly Head

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This post is a bit of a new direction for me in that it won’t specifically be about narcissism or my narcissistic ex.  This is actually about learning about yourself as a result of being with a narcissist and how that plays out over time.

I didn’t know about narcissism or co-dependence until I was seeking therapy following my narcissistic ex-wife leaving for the final time a couple of years ago.  Now that I am aware that I have co-dependent tendencies, I am able to see it and feel it under varying circumstances or conditions.  I guess if there was anything positive about living with a narcissist, it is that I was forced to learn about myself and why I do some of the things that I do (or did).

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Getting to the point and, on a bit more somber level, knowing the past 24 hours have resulted in my co-dependency coming to the forefront and wreaking a little bit of havoc on me once again.  I have been dating the same woman for about 5 and a half months, and things have been going fairly smooth and positive during that period.  With that said, last night resulted in a bit of poor judgement on both our parts, but more so by me, and now I am not sure what is going to happen.  This is where I now am able to detect what my emotions are trying to do, and to not necessarily act upon those emotions and desires.

At this point, I haven’t heard from her at all today, and yes, that is not normal.  As a result, my co-dependent self is in a semi-panic, acknowledging over and over my role in the crap that occurred and urging me to act immediately.  I have in fact sent her an email telling her how sorry I am for what occurred, that I accept responsibility and am identifying learnings from the issue, but I haven’t allowed my panic to take over.  In the past, the old me would have been on the phone non-stop begging for forgiveness, likely coming off as some kind of emotional nut case, but I have resisted it so far.

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Yes, I do continue to relive the issue over and over, evaluating how it happened and what could and should have been done differently, but I am not allowing myself to overreact, to accept ALL of the responsibility, even the pieces that are not mine to own.  In the past, the thought of losing someone would have instantly sent me into a reactive mode where I would have done anything to turn things around.  Not this time.  I believe I have done what is right in apologizing, and it is indeed a valid and sincere apology where I am owning my mistake(s), but it isn’t an overwhelming and pleading apology.  It is caring and kind, versus screaming “please don’t go” over and over.

At this point, I have no idea what is going to happen and what direction things are going to go.  It is very possible that I may never see her again.  Based on what I now know about myself, maybe that is the right thing, i.e. to let her go rather than beg and plead for her to stay.  I am lucid enough to know at this point in my post-narcissist life that it takes two to make things work and, if she doesn’t want to, then that tells me something about her, that maybe she isn’t where I belong.  Yes, I occasionally will feel a moment of panic at the thought of being alone again, but I also don’t want to be with the wrong person yet again.

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So here I am, waiting and wondering and trying to remain calm and patient.  It is a struggle, but I am doing much better with it than I would have a couple of years ago. I can now easily see how my narcissistic ex-wife used my co-dependency to her advantage, how she would create issues just to enable her to get more of what she wanted.  I have to do my best to stay the course, to not allow that old controlling panic to take over and cause me to do things that I will regret later on.

No matter what, I do hope things turn out for the best, whatever that ends up being.  I am able to admit that right now I feel sad, I feel a bit angry at myself, and that I don’t want to stay in this place for an extended period of time.  Like Dory says, “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”.  That’s what I’m going to try to do while hoping for a positive outcome.

There Is Life After the Narcissist

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For those of you suffering the woes of the post-narcissistic relationship, I’m here to tell you that it does get better.  Yes, I know, right after the devaluing (devouring is more like it) and that final discard, the feeling is so devastating that you don’t think you will be able to survive.  You will.

I will admit, 3 years ago right now, I could barely function.  The woman of my dreams, that just happened to be a narcissist (something I wasn’t aware of at the time), decided to leave for the final time.  Of course, I fell right into her little trap, begging and pleading for her to return, telling her how perfect she was for me (and this is after she had already discarded me on three previous occasions – yes, some of us learn slow).  What I didn’t know is that she was already seeing someone else, although quite honestly, I had questioned the possibility of that over and over for several months before she left.  I knew what she was doing – I just didn’t want to admit it.

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Throughout the divorce, she continued to lie to me, feeding me just enough BS to think there may be a chance for her to return once again.  Unknowingly, she was milking me for everything she could get.  The more I thought she might return, the more I gave her to show her how good I was, how nice I could be.  Being the actress that she is, I had no clue that she had no intention of returning, that she was lying to me, or that there was much more to the story.  There was even a period where she started having yeast infections (no, we had NO physical relationship whatsoever after she moved out – clearly she was having one with someone).  I remember thinking, “hmmm, she never had that occur the entire time we were together”.  I continued to believe her lies.

Once the divorce was final, she continued to act as though she wasn’t seeing anyone AND that she was my best friend. That is when I learned about narcissism and started putting everything together.  It all started to make sense, and that’s when I knew she must have someone in the wings.  Shortly thereafter, once she had a few months of pity from her friends for being the poor single divorced woman with nobody, she “announced” the new guy with great fanfare.  Even though I figured that was the case, I was crushed all the more.  NOTE – A friend of my son saw her with this guy on two separate occasions before our divorce was final.  He didn’t tell me as he knew it would be horrible.  I wish he would have told me earlier…

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The next phase had me numb and crushed for several months.  At the same time, now knowing about narcissism, I absolutely ignored her.  I wouldn’t give her the time of day, wouldn’t look at her, wouldn’t say a word to her, wouldn’t even acknowledge her presence.  This definitely had a negative impact on her as it indicated to her that I no longer “belonged” to her, and once you are with a narcissist, they believe you are their’s until death, no matter how many partners they have, have had, or will have.  The silence has been going on for over two years now.  It is as if we never met.  It has become my new normal regarding her, but I am sure she is still really bothered by it.

She has attempted to call me on a few occasions, but I act nonplussed, answering in one word answers (yes, no, bye).  She has pretty much given up at this point and now treats me like a stranger too.  How dare I stop treating her like the princess that she is?  She just doesn’t get it.

At three years since she left for the last time (and it’s likley the last time only because I haven’t given her the opportunity to engage or come back), things have gotten better for me.  I am finally able to be alone and actually enjoy it.  I have dated a few too many women (sadly because for the longest time I was looking for a duplicate of my ex), but have finally settled down and have been seeing someone for 4+ months now.

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With that said, I still think about the ex-narcissistic fairly frequently.  Given the non-stop and relentless activities that we did (knowing now that she had to be busy ALWAYS so she didn’t have time to think about how empty she really, truly was inside), I have a myriad of memories regarding my ex.  For several years, I absolutely loved my life with her.  In her narcissistic way, she really did make herself into exactly who and what I wanted, and I adored everything about her.  Sadly, the mask did begin to slip once I said “no” to her a few times.  How dare I?  Luckily, I can now balance the good that occurred with the bad, acknowledging that a lot of what I witnessed wasn’t what I thought it was.  She would have been just as content with anybody, as long as they provided her with what she wanted.

Yep, she ruthlessly discarded the poor bastard that came after me, and she has moved on to yet another poor bastard.  This is after her dumping 3 husbands before me (yes, I was the 4th and that should have been a bigger red flag – I just figured I could do better than the others).  At this point, I don’t really care.  I feel sorry for her (and for the new dudes) as she continues to be a mess and they don’t know what they are in for.

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Me, I am fine.  I have learned a whole lot about narcissism (although I wish that hadn’t had to), I have met a lot of attractive and interesting women, and I have one that I am having fun with, something that evaded me for several years.  There are a lot of phases that are necessary after the narcissist leaves,  but I did get through them.  I can even think about my ex without becoming so depressed that I can’t eat.  In fact, she has become more of a lesson than anything else.

What is that lesson you ask?  There is that old adage “If it feels to good to be true, then it probably is”.  Think about that.  I wish that I had.