So you have had a really big fall out, and you are licking your wounds. Awful things have been said to each other, and you wonder if it’s all over. Does he really care, is he really sincere? Those loving things he said, those tender moments – were they real, or was it all a sham?
Thoughts go round and round your head, and you are confused.
It goes deeper than the argument. It’s also about your sense of self. If you feel someone is rejecting you, you feel there is something wrong with you. If this special person doesn’t agree with your thoughts, beliefs, or actions you feel your thoughts, beliefs, and actions are flawed. That you are unworthy and unlovable.
Withdrawal from the other person and the relationship
As a result of that sense of rejection, you are fearful of becoming close again, not wanting to become vulnerable, because it hurts far too much. But these feelings are not just about the pain you feel in this relationship, it is likely to go way back, even back to childhood. It triggers all the pain, fear and anxiety you experienced when you felt undervalued, unlovable, rejected. You felt this special person you had allowed into your life was different from all the others.
As a child your family system was the only one you knew, your only reality of the world. You most likely thought the way your parents behaved towards you was about you. So if they rejected you - for whatever reason, you thought it was because of you, the way you behaved, that you were unlovable, unworthy. So for example, if dad walked out and left the family when you were a child, it would have felt like he was walking out on you because of something about the way you behaved, said, did. You were left feeling rejected, and unlovable.
I really felt I was the problem!
I clearly recall feeling it was because I was an unlovable child that my father didn’t spend any time with me, that he never cuddled or hugged me, never had conversations with me, or made me feel special.
What I didn’t realise at the time was he was suffering from PTSD. Yes, I understood he had fought in the 2nd World War, and had seen and experienced some horrendous things. He had been captured twice and imprisoned in prison of war camps. But as a child I had no comprehension of how horrific those experiences were.
All I knew was that I just felt I was unlovable. Those feeling followed me into adulthood. I tried so hard to fit in and be liked. I became a people - pleaser. The problem was I tried too hard. Finally, I realised it wasn’t about me, these were my dad’s issues, which sadly he struggled with for the rest of his life, including a mental breakdown.
I know he did his best as a parent, and he had no idea of my feelings.
We have to accept our parents did the best they could, with the tools they had. However he was my role model, and as I started dating, I craved the love and affection my father was unable to give me.
My boundaries became blurred
Because I wanted to feel loved and accepted, I often tried to rush the relationships, and wanted to please the boyfriend at that time. I mistook sex for love. As a result, I got hurt very often, the rejection and sense of abandonment was so painful that I withdrew. I had made myself vulnerable, and then got rejected.
So, I seesawed between trusting too easily and showing my vulnerability too readily, desperately wanting that closeness and intimacy I craved, and then pulling away.
I created a protective wall around me
I was so scared of allowing anyone to get close to me in case they hurt or abandoned me. My character at the time was quite spiky. That protective wall around me had some really sharp points on it. I began to believe that the hard exterior of independence would protect me.
But it had the opposite effect. Because the people I attracted to me, weren't true friends. I really hadn't learned much about boundaries.
I knew something had to change
I realised things had to change as I wasn't happy. Those changes had to come from within me. I had to get to really know myself. I realised that my father struggled to allow anyone in and be close to him because of what he had been through. It wasn't about me at all. Even though that little girl hurt and felt rejected, I didn't have to carry that huge weight around with me any more.
My past didn't have to define me as an adult
That realisation was huge. I began to learn to let my wall down but to the right people. At the same time, I created healthy boundaries. I only allow those people into my life who treat me with respect and kindness. I no longer allow those who disrespect me. I have learned to love and respect myself. I am finally content in my life.
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