In my last post, Student Mama talked about how counseling helped her realize that she was capable and able to make decisions for herself. She also realized how much she kept people at a distance and that had played a role in her husband’s infidelity. Here’s how she describes it.
I had always been the sort of person who wanted to be with somebody all the time and I wanted them to fawn over me. But even though I had all of that emotional need, I was putting up a barrier between myself and my relationships. It came in the form of many things, like just not being my full self or feeling like I had to play a part.
Even my husband said he never felt I had really opened up to him, that I was never really receptive to his love and that I made him feel closed off. I think I pushed him away because I didn’t like the feeling of being vulnerable, of giving somebody the power to hurt me. It was also a lack of self-awareness – a lack of knowing myself, what I needed, what I wanted, how to ask for it. Not knowing myself led me to be a little closed off because I resented that I wasn’t getting what I wanted or needed.
What helped me understand my own behavior was an ebook, Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, from the blog Baggage Reclaim. It talks about the relationship pattern of latching on, finding somebody you sort of connect with, latching on to them, milking the relationship and building it up in your head. That’s what I always did.
It wasn’t that I looked for the right guy who treated me really well. It was that I found a guy who probably did a few nice things for me and then I built him up in my head to be this Prince Charming. It was always a disappointment because it was sort of a cycle of behavior where he’d be really nice and then he’d be really mean. The Fallback Girl, which is me, holds a level of emotional unavailability because if she didn’t, she wouldn’t want a relationship with somebody who couldn’t commit to her.
That was my a-ha moment!
I was playing a role in all this.
I did have control over it.
I wasn’t a victim.
Nobody’s doing this to me.
I’m doing it to myself.
My emotional unavailability contributed to his unhappiness and I take responsibility for that. (I don’t take responsibility for his infidelity because he could have made different choices.) I’ve realized I need to learn to be more open and expressive and not to latch on to people so much. I’m learning how to be vulnerable that’s not just giving everything to somebody but is being vulnerable in a way that’s healthy to the relationship.
The Divorce Coach Says
It would be easy to lay the blame for infidelity solely at a partner’s feet and leave it at that but Student Mama’s approach reminded me of an earlier interview with Anka in Betrayed.
There is no doubt in my mind that after a relationship ends, for whatever reason, chances are there’s some learning that can happen from that relationship…. Usually the learning has to do with us rather than the partner which is wonderful because that’s actually something we have control over. It is within our power to learn about ourselves from the relationship we’ve just had.
I think Student Mama is looking at a much brighter future.
Photo Credit: Flckr: goldberg