How hard do you find it to let go of the things that hurt you? Do you keep trying to make it work even when there is pain? Do you keep on thinking maybe if I just did this things would be different? Maybe if I only try harder?
While we have to develop resilience in order to recover, its so important that we have a strong sense of who we are and that we have value as who we are. Those of us raised in neglectful or abusive homes don’t get to develop this. We may also, if we had difficulty in bonding or attaching, not ever have developed a sense of basic trust, in ourselves, in others and in life. We may associate attachments that were hurtful or painful with love, for example if parents hurt us emotionally and were insensitive and then claimed to be doing it “for your own good”.
That expression is actually the title of an excellent book by Alice Miller which speaks of how conditioning can damage and warp us, in our perceptions and self concept. We then associate love with abuse and with trying harder to turn ourselves out of shape. The analogy that Alice Miller uses is of a plant bending itself out of shape to find the light, even if that light is pain it may have been associated with the necessary attention that was our only means of survival and so this is the pattern for our relationships.
One of the many characteristics of so called ‘borderline’ conditions is an unstable sense of self or identity. When you consider that narcissists and borderlines often attract each other it makes sense. Ross Rosenberg deals with this attraction in his book The Human Magnet Syndrome : Why We Love People Who Hurt Us. An unstable sense of self and lack of basic empathy and trust leaves us without a solid foundation of self and a sense of powerlessness. We may then look to those who seem to have a solid, fixed sense of self and power in order to learn something or survive. But often these people will be set on rejecting their own vulnerable self and so are attracted to us for that reason. We may find ourselves re-enacting or re-creating painful patterns from our own childhood. Or we may attract a narcissist even if we are basically sound and be completely gobsmacked by their behaviour. We have not been subject to those who never got their own needs met in childhood and now want to use us to meet them. We have some waking up to do because this kind of behaviour is just not on our radar.
Ideally if we had a sense of trust in ourselves we would leave as the signs of hurt and damage got bad, instead of hoping things would change. When we do not do this we are abandoning ourselves for the relationship and no relationship is worth abandoning ourselves for.
The concept of letting go is very much on my mind today. We can hold onto things for too long that are painful for us, I know I have. We may keep wishing and hoping things may change but then the time comes when we know we have to save our own lives as no one else is going to do it. But for this to happen we need to have a sense of basic trust in ourselves, we cannot allow ourselves to be ravaged by an inner or outer critic who blames us for accepting abuse which is often what happens with the narcissist. We may have injuries ourselves but this does not mean that we don’t deserve healthy love and support. When the cost of staying and being hurt gets too high to pay, our soul gives us the needed push and we must let go.
We have healing to do after we leave. We may feel angry or sad for some time after. All of these wounds can only be healed by self love. By looking as honestly as we can at our past and making a commitment to create a happier, healthier present moment where we feel safety and love living inside our own skin.
The following may help some readers.