I was reminded yesterday of how difficult sometimes it is to have relationships. Things can go along just great for a while and then WHAM, there is an impasse that happens. I have had difficulties with relationships over the years because of looking to someone else to give me what I never received as a kid.
I think that things have improved a lot through Al-Anon. I have lessened expectations and have felt happy doing those things that I like to do. Yet, there are times that I know that I look for reactions from another in order to validate feelings about myself. I enjoy closeness and intimacy but know that too much of that can seem smothering.
But like all things in recovery, I'm still a work in progress. I believe though that loving someone doesn't have to be like walking a tight rope. Being around someone too much can be irritating and not allow them to have their own life and things that they want to do. I never thought that displaying affection had to be measured.
I've read in the book Compelled to Control that controlling can be insidious. The controller doesn't know always when it is happening. That's because it has been a behavioral adaptation that has been around since childhood. It stems from fear of loss and abandonment.
What I've learned is that having too much focus on another or having expectations of affection can be irritating and an affront to another's freedom and space. At worst, it can result in loss of love and damage to the relationship.
In recovery we learn that healthy boundaries are good. And that it is important to respect another's boundaries. It is a question of changing attitudes, not just behavior. It is about a persons attitude of self acceptance. No one can make another feel worthwhile because we have to find value inside ourselves.
I know the progress that I've made but there is always room for improvement. I am going to resolve to set more careful boundaries and enforce them, even when it isn't comfortable or convenient. And I'm going to be respectful of the boundaries of others. I have to deal with the feelings of resentment that plague me when I'm reminded of breaching boundaries. And I have to remind myself that just because there is love in a relationship, there still needs to be space for personal growth.
And in considering boundaries I have to inventory myself about my resentments that stem from my own unreasonable expectations of relationships. No one can make another feel good about themselves. We have to build our own self-image and deal with the distortions that are present due to poor parenting or whatever else had a hand in how we interact with others. This isn't an easy process. But through the program and the help of my sponsor, I am able to see that backsliding into neediness isn't the end but something that I can work on through awareness.
So much of what I call my codependency is fear and panic because I spent so much of my life feeling abused, trapped, and not knowing how to take care of myself in relationships.