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Escape from intimacy
August 18, 2001
3:40 pm
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Cici
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I was recently reading a book on relationship, sex and romance addiction called "escape from intimacy".

Personally, I've always thought that the issue of codependency is really hard to deal with, and recovery is so hard, because it's such a pervasive social ideal: the idea that people aren't normal unless they're in a relationship, all those popular love songs (I can't live if livin' is without you....), romantic movies, wide-spread dysfunctional family relationships, etc.

But - if you chose to take the steps to recover, what about your current relationship? Is codependency recovery like recovery from alcoholism? And what if your partner is codependent as well, and you both want to seek recovery? Should you separate until you get into a more healthy mindset?

Lotsa questions, not alotta answers.

August 19, 2001
3:25 am
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malaikau
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Wow! What a thought-provoking thread, to say the least. . . It's so difficult to make a determination between what society feels is the "norm" and what an individual's "norm" might be. I guess what I mean to say is that I wonder if co-dependence falls into different boundaries for each of us the way other issues would. For example, there are people who can 2-3 beers a couple of times a week, and they could be perceived as alcoholics or not. Then there's the person who only drinks once every 4 years but when she drinks, she gets completely toasted, blacks out, passes out, whatever. This person could be perceived as an alcoholic or not. So, what would demonstrate co-dependence for me, might not be demonstrative of co-dependence for someone else. And if that's the case, then how do you define "recovery"? Is it abstinence from relationships, or is it learning to have moderation in them? Hmmmmm. . .

August 20, 2001
7:20 pm
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Cici
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I don't know...I mean, one would think that a period of abstinence would be necessary, because how do you get out of the "disease process" mindset?

Personally, I feel like our society fosters co-dependence in so many ways. We learn from a young age that relationships are about dependence, even though dependence is what contributes to unhealthy interaction.

I feel like it's almost addictive - an addiction in and of itself. Being in a relationship slowly becomes a way to avoid being intimate with anyone, once the original high wears off. It's about power games, and tit-for-tat, and no one is happy, so you break up/divorce, end up in another relationship and pretty soon it's the "same sh*t, different day" as my Mom always says.

I feel like I've always been unhappy in relationships, from the infantile co-dependency of my childhood best friends to the string of romantic relationships I've had as an adult. I know I expect too much, but I don't know how to change my expectations, or even what my expectations really are. I mean, there are periods of happiness, but always the lurking fear of what may come.

I've seen so many partnerships, but I can't really recall any that seemed "healthy" - I've never seen what "healthy" is, so how can I learn it?

One of the major problems of the co-dependent is the control issue. You feel out of control and seek to control your life in other ways, but you can't control interpersonal interaction, you can't control the way another person will react to you. So that's obviously self-defeating. So you shouldn't have any expectation. But I think everyone always does. How do you teach yourself to not have expectation?

August 21, 2001
2:23 pm
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Ladeska
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Cici - I think when one is satisfied with themselves....the expectation thing with others slacks up a little bit. We tend to project onto others - where we ourselves are having the problem because we don't want to face it. If we are malnutritioned - then someone is never going to be able to feed a person forever. You'll get tired, if nothing else, of their brand of peanut butter and jelly and it just won't satisfy you anymore.

Why? Because it's not what "you" want and just like Julia Roberts character in "Run Away Bride" she had to find out - what kind of eggs "she liked".... Separating yourself from the patterns that have been laid out for you, whether it is society or family or your own patterns of what you "should do/be" - isn't easy, but it is quite necessary.

Then the smile comes from within - from self knowledge, from self love, and allows others to be who they are as well without alot of expectation that they won't be able to fulfill.

Our high expectations are usually coming from our big girl still making the little girl in the attic tow the mark and make the grade....or else..

August 22, 2001
10:52 am
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Cici
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Sometimes you sit back and realize that even the thought of letting up control on your surroundings, including your loved ones, is a terrifying thought, indeed.

Terrifying because you've spent most of your life trying to control what happened to you, even though your mind and body were violated, each time it happened you tightened your grip, trying desperately to make the world make sense by controlling it. And each day you get more tense, more fearful, more angry.

We live in a society that pus a lot of stock in externalization. I mean, the basis of our entire society is that people in the U.S. tend to define their identity through what is external, through possessions, or relationships, or social status. Women have it hammered into our heads that what we appear to be is what we are, and our value is containted therein. Even if you are intelligent, you are still constantly judged by your appearance.

It's nice to externalize everything. It's easier on yourself. You don't have to take the blame or have any real accountability because God knows YOU didn't do anything, it was CIRCUMSTANCES that conspired against you, and what can you do against those?!

The thing is that if I stop trying to control things, I know my relationship WILL die. It's like a tree, already infected with the fungus of relationship addiction and codependency and enabling. If you don't cut off the limb, the infection spreads and the whole tree dies.

Because even as women are socialized to talk, to emote, to communicate, men are socialized to bottle up their emotions, to be strong. Did you know that statistically, men tend to define personal success through achievement, while women tend to define personal success through interpersonal relationships?

I see my husband trying to learn to understand and love himself. But he seems completely at a loss. In thinking about our situation yesterday I wondered, because I not only have dependency issues, I enable my husband's codependency. And he has dependency issues, but he also enables me. So we're just this massive tangle of personal emotional turmoil.

Focusing on my own process is really best I can shoot for now. But what about the people who try to ignore their process completely? The ones who never learned what intimacy was because their mothers withdrew from them? What about them?

August 22, 2001
11:08 am
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malaikau
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I always like to say that if you learn to meet your own needs instead of depending on someone else to meet your needs for you, then you can enter in to a relationship with the motivation of having something to offer your partner, instead of being motivated by needing something from him/her. I think this could change the whole dynamics of relationships, though I have yet to truly see for myself since (as many here well know) I'm better at preaching than I am at practicing. . .

I sure hope I can someday prove this theory to myself, though. . .

Mal

August 22, 2001
11:17 am
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Ladeska
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Good question...what about them? Some struggle and make progress, others don't. But, you are so funny, you always focus in on you and then pull out a question that throws the focus off of you. (smile)

So....back to you and not all the other people of the world....

It's a gamble when you have a cohesive pair who's relationship is built as you say - upon their codependency. But, to say if one or both get healthy - you will fall apart is like saying if two people are crippled and leaning in together in order to walk as one - that if one becomes healthy and can walk on their own and the other falters, but maybe down the road does the same - that this is destructive. How so?

Yes, we do cling to what is familiar and we can look at the status quo all day long and repeat statistics back to ourselves and quote the norm. We all know these facts, but that's just wasting time, isn't it?

Yeah, yeah, our society is screwed up, true enough. But, the people who stick out in this world, who do incredible things whether they are recognized for it or not, but the trail blazers, the inventors, the poets, the writers, the people who stop crap from trickling down their family lineage because - the will it so......these people - are in touch with a power we all have at our disposal. Our will in action toward what is life-giving, earth shattering and full of power.

We study our navels too much. Yeah okay, it's cute and all, but there's a whole road not travelled by us out there and instead of walking it, we go round and round in circles because we're too comfy in our dysfunction.

You're tired Cici, but you're tired of holding up the front, being the good little girl, doing what you're told, nursing him - while barely holding onto you, keeping your family happy, doing the external b.s. Good God, you should be tired! I would be and I have been before....got real tired and almost lost it.

But, you know what.....you have to get really, really tired.....so tired that you can hardly put one foot in front of the other sometimes. That's how us stubborn people find our truth and finally light a fire under our own butts. We have to wear out all other options before we choose the only one that works. Why is that? Who the hell knows? I don't. Just know it's true, seen it too many times. Guess we think we're "all that" and can beat the Mad Hatter at chess.

So what if you guys fall to pieces for awhile? I'm sure that's quite necessary if the foundation your relationship is built on is faulty. It's gonna happen. But, it doesn't mean disaster. It can mean - rebirth, reconstruction and....a healthy oneness - for the first time.

It won't feel good and it will like you've lost everything. Actually, you have to lose everything because what is erected - won't last anyways. But....what is pure, what is really love, what is truth, what is full of life - will remain. It may only be a few twinkling pieces on the floor, but that's all you need - because those small particles are full of tremendous power and put to shame the structure that was built before - regardless of how huge and looming it was and regardless of who put their seal of approval on it, too...

It's okay to stand naked in an empty room. Is rather freeing....to look at those walls and go...those are MY walls and nothing goes on them except what I want, what I approve of, what is healthy for me. Nothing comes through that door furniture wise that isn't something useful, something that is totally me and something I absolutely love....

Basically....I'm just sitting here waiting for you to get to that point...because I know you have that kind of energy.. You're trying to talk yourself out of it...but, you won't. (smile) However, if it feels good to sit and spin some more, by all means do it. I spent a few decades doing that one myself. Almost dug a hole to China a couple of times...

Just warn me when you do it, because I'll look for the explosion on the horizon where Cici - lit it off and blasted out of never-never land.

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