August 1, 2001
the CatBox knows
Theressa... With her biblical name, I can't help but
thinking of her as "Theressa of the Sage Advice..."
child-like at times, yet knowing and wise when called
to bat. Once I heard she posted to "My
Story," well, I just had to spotlight
this remarkable lady's tale. Here's what she
Tuesday, July 24, 2001
It all started along time ago
this co-dependent disease I have. But I didn't know about this disease
until 2 years ago when I started my recovery.
I didn't have the emotional
stuff when I was growing up, (much the same of the rest of us here).
Both my mom and my dad are co-dependents. Infact most people I know are
co-dependent. (I guess we all are in one way or another.)
I had a friend called "J" she
seemed so together, at first her home was basic and she seemed just
like me. I used to make up stories so she and her family would like me.
This was a talent I had since I had a great imagination. I went
everywhere with this family. There were problems at home but not
obvious ones. (Not to a child anyway.)
My friend "J" seemed to be
able to get her own way anytime she wanted it. I admired this (unknown
to me it would hurt me to soon), I never really thought I was right. My
friend seemed to be well liked and wear the right clothes. (Her mom
dressed up everyday), My friend soon should me her true colors. She
would say "DO this or I will beat you up on Monday, if you tell my mom
you'll be sorry". I did as she told me to.
I was quite bright
academically though she wasn't. She found reading hard, spelling,
mathematics. However, she was an excellent runner and good at sports.
(I wasn't so great at sports)
She'd always ask me to give
her ideas in English classes and always asking me to spell things for
her. She decided to become in charge of me. She told me I couldn't
dress like her (even though all the other girls did), she made fun when
I tried to grow my hair (my mom always had it cut short in case of
nits), she belittled me.
Inside I felt worthless, not
good enough, I didn't have a clue how to dress (to please her), I lost
my ability to decide for myself and ended up checking everything with
others. I felt I should appreciate what her family did for me. When my
father was very ill her family took me out on days out since we now
were short of cash.
(Before this my father had a very good job.)
I thought my friend "J"
family were so kind. I couldn't possibly complain when my friend wanted
help. Even though it meant I couldn't concentrate on my own studies.
When I was in the last couple
of years of school where you pick your examination subjects I prayed
that "J" wouldn't be in my class. AND my prayers were answered. Then I
met another friend she was much more physically stronger than "J". My
new friend "L" made me feel safe.
It seemed to be always me
though who still chased "J", if she didn't ring me up for a while, I'd
ring her. I'd play games with myself challenging myself to see how long
I could go without ringing her.
Though I'd give in, in the end.
I wanted to be liked. I
eventually grew my hair and had a perm and a mass of curls. At last I
looked like a teenager. Though I still found it hard to choose anything
for myself. I just had no confidence. (EVERY SCHOOL REPORT said: "lacks
confidence". Though they never helped me to gain any did they. Oh well
that is the past.
I always wondered why I
pushed guys away. I would sit saying "No one ever fancies me." Then
when I look back lots of guys who treated me too darn good for me to
want them I pushed away. I always felt I didn't want to be used. Some
of my new friends had babies at 15 years old. I didn't want one. So I
stayed clear of guys. Most of them wanted only s*x I saw enough girls
being used. They weren't using me.
Though as I say there were
some nice guys but I thought they were wet lettuces since they didn't
treat girls harshly and use them, that must mean they aren't real men.
Yes, but contempt for those perceived as
weaker than themselves is exactly the dynamic expected in victims of abuse...
fI ell for the trap once or
twice, but I'd emotionally beat myself up after. Then I met a nice
Catholic boy. He lived in London. I thought he was a nice guy too, he
didn't force me to have s*x when I met him. Even 6 months later he
Though it didn't feel right.
I just was chasing a fantasy. I didn't really want to be with him. BUT
I wanted the boyfriend to have the "be wanted" feeling. I refused to
sleep with him telling him that he'd never come to live in my town so I
wasn't risking getting pregnancy, we ended the relationship on that
Then a few months later
"PRINCE CHARMING CAME AND RESCUED ME ON A WHITE HORSE" He was a real
man. Or so I thought!! He knew how to live, he looked secure, he taught
me lots of things, he was always there when I felt unsure. He approved
clothes for me, he made all my decisions. He mothered me.
GOSH was this guy real, was
he a god send, since now I felt safe, protected. WOW is this guy
special. "YOU BET" he came to teach me the lessons I needed badly to
learn to heal from my co-dependency.
I felt so unsure after the
last guy from London "Was there something wrong with me being with a
guy for 6 months and never sleeping with him, maybe something is wrong
with me." With that I decided I was gonna sleep with this guy after 4
weeks. Did I know him?
Not really, No, but I
couldn't have the irrational belief that something wrong with me being
true. SO sleeping with this new guy, my prince charming would prove I
am okay, wouldn't it!!
SO I did, I had fun, and to
hell with the consequences. I was so fed up of being goody two shoes.
So I threw caution to the wind. If I got caught, then my fantasy would
be complete. I'd have the perfect little family, prince charming and
the little house with the pretty thatched roof. WOULDN'T I?
Dreams hey, they usually come true!! Don't they?
My prince charming I will call him "P".
"P", trained me up. He
belittled me when I got things wrong. He made me feel so bad. How on
earth is it possible that a mother could be so useless at being a
Well that is easy. She had no knowledge of being a mom. Though lots of people who there with advice. SO
confused, I tried to please them all. Though I never measured up. More criticism. I
dreamt of getting back to work. I was good at being a worker. I got praised and got that right.
SO I went back to work. I put
my head in to doing one course after another. I felt so guilty that I
was so bad at being a mom. A rubbish housewife, partner. I began to
feel resentful. What was the point in doing things if they never
SO I reacted as a means of
surviving and trying to protect my shattered self esteem. I acted out,
and did as little as possible around the house. IT never valued up to
what my partner did, so why bother!! why indeed!!
So the battles went on the
less I cleaned, the more he criticized, so the less I cleaned since I
felt no value in cleaning to be criticized.
Things hit an all time low
many times. I would leave but find it so hard to stay away. As soon as
he pushed the right buttons and told me he loved me. He'd treat me so
nice for a few weeks, and then slowly back to where we left off before
Then to complete my initial
dreams, we bought our first home, after years of working and living in
rental properties. The funny thing is all my friends apart from one (my
now closest friend) didn't know the truth about "P" and "ME". They
would go on about how lucky I was having a intact family. They never
knew I'd left him.
I left after a burst of
counseling and went to stay with my grandmother. Though I seemed to
spend every weekend with my partner. Though after 6 months I went home
to my partner again. This was in 1998. Therapy helped me see what was
wrong, but I didn't have a clue how to deal with my anxiety and fear of
being alone. Nor how to change my poor traits (people pleasing etc), so
the same old resurfaced and continued. I still thought all of the
problems were "P's" problems/issues.
Then in January 2000 I left
and went to my mom's house. We'd only had the house five months. I was
miserable. He complained about how I fixed the curtains. I really
started to try. This was our new home. SO I wanted to be a perfect
housewife. BUT with working I found it hard. IT never measured up. "P"
would tell me how he did more.
One evening he went on about
the way I pleated the curtains. I stood in tears. Another he left me to
try and shut the back door which was very stiff. I couldn't and I sat
up crying. Telling my self if at first you don't succeed try, try
again. NO ONE told me this is not true if you find you don't have the
strength. (we do have weaknesses and this is okay)
Anyway I read "The
emotionally abused relationship" and left. I went to my mom's. I felt
scared rigid. How could I stay away. I wrote a letter to "P" telling
him I didn't want to come home, unless he could accept me as I am. I
wasn't gonna change for him anymore.
He came and got me from my
mom's full of promises. On both sides. Though he couldn't stop
criticising and I acted out more than ever. I became so defensive. Life
became so hostile. I was so scared of enforcing boundaries. I didn't
know how to sort out my own anxiety, poor traits. Infact I still was
unsure of my role.
We sold the beautiful house
and went into rented once more. After going to buy another dream house
after my partner landed his dream job. Even though we knew things were
from we kept thinking as we'd done many times before that it was due to
family pressures, (our extended family interfering), to job pressures,
where we lived, everything BUT OURSELVES NEEDED CHANGING. Really???
So we moved into the rented
house. Things were hostile. I did nothing "P" asked and denied anything
was really wrong. I detached in an aggressive manner. (Acting out
fashion), We stopped sleeping together.
Funny thing is all the years
before this time I'd gone into a fantasy world about s*x when we did
it. Though now I didn't want to, so I could do it, couldn't perform.
(not surprising, the body never lies - my body knew the way things
were, was not okay)
Anyway I decided to leave. I
made the plans with the help of a good friend who does hang out on this
site "Gordon". I faced my biggest fears of being alone. And then I
I cried for a few months. I hated being alone. My child was playing up big style. I read every parenting book I could find,
but it only added to my guilt of not being a good enough mom.
I joined the catbox
team, they have helped me come on in leaps and bounds. As soon as I
left I had a counselor. Ron my therapist I thought was NUTS. He told me
to stand up to "P" and start living my own life. The only trouble was I
realised that some of the time the things I was doing were still
"ACTING OUT". I'd not be on time when "P" wanted to pick up his
I was in a state of confusion, some were saying live your life stop reporting to him. I was
confused whether this was ACTING OUT. I think it was. "P" seemed to come around
allot though, never really letting go.
Then in October 2000 two
months after I left he asked me to go out on his birthday. I did with
his family and friends. He looked miserable as I was having fun. He
stormed out and then ruined the birthday gift I gave him. He wrote to
me saying "You can't love me... you'll never understand me blah blah.
It is definitely over blah blah etc..."
I cried allot that week, then
I decided to move on. It was hard, my daughter still played up. Then
Christmas came, my lowest point. I went to stay at my sister's house.
"P" doesn't like her or her partner. (They've never got on!!)
My sister's partner helped me
do the DIY jobs. "P" came around a few times and didn't look pleased.
On boxing day I was late bring our daughter to "P" he was livid. I told
him it was how it was. Then on her birthday I was late home and he
missed her. (THIS REALLY HURT HIM, subconsciously I think I did this to
Then on Christmas night I met a guy and we had a one night stand. I didn't care. My family were shocked.
I ate none stop. I had, had
"P" go on about weight control for years, so why should I care (ACTING
OUT SOME MORE!!!, I'll get him, by getting me!!!)
Then on New years eve I met
"C". He was charming, he pushed the right buttons, he listened to me,
he was fun, and he wasn't bothered about my weight. We tested each
other, sat up all night chatting. THOUGH the RED FLAGS, he was always
unreliable. He'd call and change arrangements at the last minute, I
always sacrifice and arranged my time to accommodate him, even getting
minders for my daughter just so we could be together then he'd cancel.
I told him I didn't want to
go fast. I was confused again, my therapist said "There was no harm in
fulfilling our needs" I took this on board and slept with "C". I told
"C" "Okay, why not we are both adults, lets have some fun" I enjoyed it
fully, but later I was plagued with guilt. I felt cheap, I was angry. I
blamed my therapist.
"C" didn't ever ring me
again. I felt used. USED more than I'd ever been before, or so I
thought. BUT the truth is this guy never implied he wanted to be with
me for good. Infact it was me who said "what I thought he wanted to
hear" BUT didn't think was it what I really wanted.
I wanted someone to save me.
Someone to love me. The day after "C" got his friend to tell me it was
over. "P" sent me a letter asking could we try again. I decided No, I
didn't want anymore heartache.
Though one sentence in that
letter said "We never know it could work out". And I was hooked. Though
this card was hidden. This was my anxiety card that I was soon to play.
I asked "P" to come to my
play. I felt empowered and told him, it is over for good, I don't want
to know anymore. "P" got up and left.
THEN I played the anxiety
card. The words "You never know" rung in my ears. I went around to
"P'S" and said "We can't leave it like this" We spoke and decided to
still live separately but take things slowly.
SLOWLY now there is a good
word. Did I follow my own good advice. What do you think? Did I No
certainly not, I was far too excited building a new dream.
The excitement of another
chance to fulfill my dream why would i take it slow. I had two holidays
booked within inside a week, and a weekend away for our anniversary of
8 years together.
My family told me things were going too fast, so did my friends. WHAT did they know!!!
I have a habit of assuming things. (IF in doubt check it out) I never use. SHOULD
/ DO I KNOW!!
Ron my therapist saw my
energy levels plummet. As I tried once more to please "P". After a
month or so though I realised what I was doing and attempted to get out
of the denial. I regained my strength. I could stand up to "P" and I
started to get my needs met. I learnt to accept No and look at my sane
options. The funny thing is the more I did this the more "P" said yes
when he felt he had a choice.
Ron was relieved. Though my
fears were still there helping me to keep my head in the heap of sand
(denial), my body was yelling out when things were unacceptable but I
didn't want to hear. THE REALITY WAS TOO PAINFUL.
"P" disappointed me and
rained on my parade many times. He spoilt days out. I was ever so
defensive. He wasn't gonna rule me again.
I made assumptions about things he'd said.
THOUGH on the whole things
looked brighter, "P" helped me to mind our daughter now, he was
supportive of my college course. We went out and "P" paid since he knew
I couldn't afford it.
Though the assumptions played
on. So this person who before making this assumption about something
that was said was having fun in bed, now found it hard to focus, or be
motivated to sleep with "P".
"P" said "he thought today's
men and women were more casual" I assumed he meant he was just using
me. I never checked this out, I just shut down.
It didn't feel right. Though
I wasn't about to speak up. I have read many books, that have helped
me. Manipulation, Fear, obligation and Guilt (DOC'S book list), has
taught me to say NO. To take care of myself.
Then recently I read Co-dependent No more by Melody Beattie. A GOD SEND.
Anyway I plodded on and I
told my pals in the catbox how the sparks had gone. BUT I didn't dare
tell "P" what if he said "Lets call it a day!!"
I forgot to mention a couple
of times in the last two months "P" tried to end things. I begged him
not to. I sent him a text "Are you sure" YUK
Then I wrote him a letter
saying "If that is what you want, but I am going to therapy so I can
love your more." BEGGING, BEGGING BEGGING!!
Though as always REALITY
catches us up eventually. A fortnight ago the facade was up. "P" told
me he thought things were wrong. That he could go on like this. (YIKES,
he realised!!!), At first when he phoned me to come to see him. (I put
the phone down and cried), then I looked in the mirror and said "FIRMLY
- You can cope".
When I went to see "P" he
told me "two weeks ago you stayed at my house for four days, I realised
then I couldn't ever handle living with you again. You still seemed to
depend on me and check everything with me. You still didn't take
responsibility for cleaning your environment, it felt like going back
in time, I do not want to mother you anymore"
I started to agree with "P".
I agreed we needed to be apart. It hurt but I knew I had to accept what
he wanted. AND I knew deep inside it is what I needed to do. I knew
what he was saying was true I was still being dependent on him. AND I
still wasn't trusting myself instead of asking him to rescue me.
I still had work to do.
That night I stayed at my best friends "CL" She told me she thought we were not meant to be.
The next day "P" told me
maybe it wasn't over for good, maybe if we just sorted out our own
stuff then maybe we could try to live together.
I said "Ok, we can see how things go and just be friends."
I have had fears that maybe
we might never get to the destination of perfection. Infact I know it
is impossible to. AND today I read Robert Burney's site www.joy2ume.com
and realised the goal is not to live happily ever after. The goal is to
enjoy each moment, and to learn.
SO it is okay to enjoy and
not have future expectations. So it was okay to enjoy my time with "C"
and not feel guilty, if it is what I chose. It was my expectations that
I wasn't honest about.
I recently realised my thoughts, how I define things produces my feelings and emotions about things/people.
I realise all we can do is
live in the moment. Make sane choices, enjoy life. Allow our feelings
to teach us what thoughts we have about things, and to change them if
they are unrealistic. YES it is okay to enjoy things without living
feeling guilty. We need to not buy into Fear, obligations or Guilt WE
should only say YES if we are not tired, ill, have no other
arrangements. Not saying yes because of Fear, obligations, or guilt.
AND ESPECIALLY NOT because of a score card. "I did this for you so you
must do that for me"
Score cards do not work, do things because you can.
The trick is this, you are
given a certain amount of energy, how do you want to spend it? How does
it benefit you? How will it improve your life.
I found out giving and giving
when it doesn't benefit you, makes you feel used. Then you beat
yourself up for allowing others to use you.
AND the biggest lesson I
learnt is mistaken are opportunities to grow, not times to beat
yourself up emotionally. WHEN you berate yourself you waste energy.
When you let others berate you, you give away your energy (power), set a boundary and don't let anyone treat you bad.
"Please calm down". "I will
leave if you continue" and also I learnt to not waste energy on
unimportant things, instead if someone is being awkward I go and do
something else instead.
Such as if my partner acts
out and turns over the TV I don't bite I just find something else to
do. He only wins if he gets my energy, and doing this he isn't.
I know I have along way to go yet, and I've been using the
Co-dependent No more list of co-dependent traits to help me get rid of them.
The other thing I am learning is to MIND my own business and not start trying to run others lives. OR JUDGE THEM.
"I realise they have a choice
of how to run their lives, and use their energies. It is not up to me
to judge others. Also I need to accept rejection. It is always another
choice how they respond.
e.g. if "P" doesn't want to share my energy and chat that is his choice.
Life really is about choice.
It isn't easy. BUT the best way I learn is I look at the interactions I
have each day and I see if they are working.
I used allot of anxiety
(people pleasing traits to survive), I bend the truth sometimes so my
partner doesn't go mad. He ends up doing anyway.
I add on things during
conversations so things seem better than they are. I compare myself and
others. Instead of praising or receiving praise in its own right.
AND I find it hard to detach. BUT i am learning.
So it is possible to feel
rock bottom and to climb out, though at times it feels like one step
forward and two back, I know the lessons keep coming until they are
YOUR MATE IS YOUR MIRROR. (You can only attract what your are, if you are insecure you attract an insecure mate)
**I know it is best to
improve for yourself, cuz you deserve to. AND it is not a good idea to
act out and not take care of your home, self to spite others, you end
up spiting yourself.
Well That is my story. I feel I've come along way. The thing that got me here was support. Therapy (RON), and the
Take care, thanks for listening
Thank you dear,
sweet, sage Theressa.