Photo credit: http://www.heyjosh.com/
I’ve been reading David Viscott’s, “Emotional Resilience: Simple Truths for Dealing with the Unfinished Business of Your Past.” After reading it over twice, I wonder about the subtitle, because for me there is nothing simple about dealing with the past. It's painfully complex, tiring, tedious and elusive. It requires questioning assumptions and coping mechanisms -- if that's at all possible. However, Viscott compensates for what I consider this initial slip through his deeper understanding of the undercurrents of human interaction.
When Viscott refers to emotional dependence, he describes my family background with accuracy. As a result of this unsolicited “heritage” I have a mix of avoidant and co-dependent issues. Today, in this post I've jotted some reflections from reading Viscott, dividing my thoughts and feelings in two categories: In the first paragraph I mention the dependent traits that hit me hardest in my marriage while in the second category I deal with areas that still affect me in the present.
My wish to be close to my ex-wife caused me to disregard my safety and best interests, holding on to the relationship long after experience had revealed the truth. Once committed and enmeshed, I put up with considerable abuse. Maybe a list can help show how dependence led me down the dark alley of emotional debilitation: 1) I neglected self care. 2) I let down my guard in exchange for a few crumbs of affection. 3) I admitted wrong when I had no reason. 4) I did not see self-reliance as an alternative.
In the present, my main concern as Viscott states is that "others see me as loveable". Everything I am hinges upon this "need: 1) I suffer from guilt and as a result have difficulty expressing hurt in a timely fashion. 2) When others do not feel good about themselves, I take responsibility for it. 3) In my subconscious I still believe I need another person to be complete -- again quoting Viscott "to be my best, to assuage my hurt, to be comforted and loved". 4) Because I'm obsessed with the idea of diminishment I can slip into a scarcity mode. 5) I avoid "taking actions that may cause me to lose favor with others". [I'm aware how I fall prey to others' opinions, being vulnerable to changing my initial belief. For example, I have to guard against reading hardcore conservatives that defend marriage at all costs, who view the institution above the individual]. 6) Doubting my lovability and needing reinforcement, I have to work double hard to act on my own. For instance, several years I resisted the idea of initiating the process of divorce, putting it off in my mind until I had a new love in my life. To think of the brutal task of divorce without someone supporting me from start to finish seemed too unbearable. Fortunately, I found the resolve to finish what I started, but it wasn't easy and still have bouts of ambiguity. Part of me is thankful I'm out the relationship, while the other part of me questions whether I was too hard on her.
By nature then, I’m a people pleaser. I care what others think and this fear of being rejected often compromises my judgement. Sometimes I get emotionally blocked when I need to be in tune and aware. This makes me susceptible to being blindsided. Rather than defend myself, I tend to display my injury, as if doing so will cause the person who is hurting me to repent.
̴ Intuitive Feeling