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.

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5 thoughts on “When Co-Dependence Rears it’s Ugly Head

  1. As horrible as experience with my narc has been, I don’t think I would have learned how damaging my patterns (co-dependancy) have been. My 1st husband has narcissistic qualities and I put up with his unemployment and drinking for a long time. My next relationship was with my narc and I feel like it was the universe saying, “ok, you obviously didn’t learn your lesson with your ex husband so now it’s time for a huge wake up call.” Was it worth it? I don’t know, the pain persists but I’m hoping the experience will pay off and I’ll finally get it. I think part of the reason it’s so hard not to freak out and work extra hard when a partner is mad with us is because we know how sucky loneliness is and how hard it can be to find somebody we’re interested in that we are willing to do whatever it takes, including putting ourselves second just to make sure it doesn’t end. Then again, if we have to work that hard to make sure they don’t break up with us, it’s probably not the right person. I hope things work out with this new girl, but if it doesnt, at least you know you can find someone you like and hopefully know your worth, that you don’t have to be perfect to be loved. You did all the right things, maturely took responsibility and apologized. If she’s a keeper, she’ll accept that.

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    • There’s a lot of truth in your comment. The loneliness does suck and it seems to return pretty quick too. With that said, I am going to do my best to control it and not let it control me. You’re also right when you say we shouldn’t have to work so hard to ensure someone doesn’t break up with us. I kind of feel that way with this woman. I was hoping things may get more even as time went on, but that never happened.

      So far, she still has acknowledged anything and I haven’t heard a word. Sadly, I am not surprised. I am not sure if she is “making me pay”, or if she is so righteous that this mistake means I don’t measure up. It is what it is and I don’t really like it, but I will not succumb to begging and pleading and I certainly won’t be with someone that doesn’t really, really want to be with me.

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      • Maybe she needs time and not having you chase her will make her panic a bit. Dang, it just sucks, doesn’t it? If she does come around, she’ll know that you won’t allow her to walk all over you and you’ll still be there. Like they say, “what you allow is what will continue.” I guess if she is going to be someone that is quick to jump ship, better to know that now before you really are in deep. Still, it doesn’t take away the crappy feelings. Rejection hurts, plain and simple. Good for you though for making changes from old patterns. I look forward to hearing an update. I really, really hate the whole silent treatment /being ignored. It’s just mean and immature. Even just to text to say “I need some time” or something is respectful.

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      • To be perfectly honest, I think there are some people that don’t respond to not being chased, i.e. they don’t care and in fact it may make her even madder. Regardless, I have no intention of reaching out. With that said, I still haven’t heard a word. Nothing.

        Even though it has been only a handful of days, I can feel the loneliness creeping in. This time, I am going to try to maintain my sanity and learn about me during the quiet time.

        Funny you mentioned the silent treatment thing. I had just told a friend she could at least simply say she isn’t ready to talk. Worst case, she could say we are done, which I would prefer to the silence. Who the hell does that? If we had only gone on a couple of dates, that would be one thing. But after this long and all the things we’ve done, going ghost is just not right. Right or not, that is what she is doing and I just have to live with it. At this point, I am just going to assume she is gone for good. I will survive (and now I know even more about her).

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  2. You are so right, normal people with good character don’t ghost someone. Taking a day or two I get, anything beyond is rude. Like you said, if she wants to break up, at least give the courtesy to say so. If you need time, say so. I think people who do things like that think they “have the upper hand,” like they can’t even be bothered to respond but really, it shows lack of maturity and weakness. My ex sent me an email after 5 years to break up. Real men don’t do that. I know how bad the loneliness sucks, especially when you liked her, but you’ve found 2 people you’ve been interested in and even though things didn’t work out, you know you’re capable of connecting with someone. I’ll be curios to hear what happens with this girl. I could see maybe a XMAS text?

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