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MY disease is prevalent

Old 12-21-2015, 06:47 AM
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MY disease is prevalent

Over the weekend I had a few conversations with my BF and one of them centered around me and how he sees me present myself in our relationship. Well, the man sees right through me apparently. I was nearly in tears when I realized that he knew I wasn't presenting my full and honest self to him. That I was fearful of expressing anger or full emotion with him because I feared his judgement and criticism. He said it was clear to him that I had people in my life who were critical of me and he wanted me to know that he would not judge me.

He said he just wanted me to be ME, to not have to feel like I have to 'fake it until I make it'. He said he knew I wasn't being 'fake' in the relationship but he did say that he wonders often what my motive is because I hold back and he sees it.

Funny thing is; at first I was pissed that he said these things and that he was so matter of fact about them. He wasn't upset or emotional, he was just stating his own observations. We dropped the conversation and went to dinner and then I brought it back up again on our way home and I had a better perspective and I realized that he was absolutely correct. I do hide and cover up my emotions. I know I fear people's anger or responses to my feelings or attitudes. I have some old patterns of relating due to criticism and crazy making stuff from my XAH and I didn't realize how transparent it all was to my new guy.

So, I sat there and told him thank you for being honest with me. I asked him to call me out on the behavior if he sees it or questions my reactions or responses. I told him I might need some help and patience from him, but that I wanted him to know that I have never been fake. He said he knew that but that sometimes he thinks I was trying too hard or people pleasing above and beyond that which is normal and he wanted me to know it's OK to just be me.

At first, I figured it was the end of the relationship because what guy wants to be with a woman who can't be real or who puts forth a front? He made me breakfast the next AM and we sat and talked for a few hours again about other stuff. He moved a bunch of his collectable artwork to my house since he's moving in to a new house in April. So, as far as I can tell, he's not going anywhere anytime soon. And, if he does leave me, that's OK too, because I've learned so much already about myself and I'd be very grateful for just having had this opportunity to use a place of growth so that I can continue to grow and learn and move on.

My big question to myself is: HOW? How do I learn to just be me? Do I even know what that looks like after 20 years in an alcoholic marriage? And, why is it that I feel like my boyfriend knows me better than I know myself?
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Old 12-21-2015, 06:51 AM
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The how is by doing exactly what you're doing - being present and open in the world and stepping outside your comfort zone when the opportunity arises. The rest is all time. Try to resist putting pressure on yourself to move faster than you are. Recovery is a marathon with the occasional sprint thrown in here and there, and you're looking good, Liz!
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:02 AM
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You know, Liz, it's fine to realize that you do sometimes present a different "front" to people than what you are actually feeling. HOWEVER, little things like that also grease the wheels of social interaction. I don't think I'd care to go through my day with everyone acting exactly how they FELT at the moment.

It really depends on what it is--if it's something that bothers you deeply, you need to acknowledge it and deal with it. But if it's a petty annoyance, well, hell, I think most people swallow a ton of stuff every day without major harm to themselves and it can make interactions far more pleasant. There's a happy medium here, IOW. You may not hit it every time, but progress, not perfection, right?
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:08 AM
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Thanks so much for sharing this new part of your recovery journey w/us, Liz. It generates so much hope, to see how far you've come and how well you're doing.

I certainly have no experience from which to speak, but it seems to me that what SK said is true--you just show up, moment to moment, and do the best you can. It sounds a lot like Brene Brown to me. What we who have spent years w/A's and/or other dysfunctional types can't get our minds around is that other people (friends or partners) might actually be OK w/the fact that we are human, we will struggle, we will fail. We can hold space (with love) for each other to learn and grow in, rather than condemning or mocking those efforts. It certainly seems that you've found such a person, and you deserve this chance.

And this is just huge. Astonishing. I hope someday I can be in this place:
And, if he does leave me, that's OK too, because I've learned so much already about myself and I'd be very grateful for just having had this opportunity to use a place of growth so that I can continue to grow and learn and move on.
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Old 12-21-2015, 12:18 PM
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I had this same conversation with my guy friend of many years that all this time I don't know him. I don't know if this applies to you, and forgive me if I'm off. Maybe some of these things may help you to be you. Some things discussed were that he meet me halfway. Make some of the decisions. He's very passive and afraid of being wrong and making mistakes, ideas being rejected. Don't be afraid to disagree with him, express your own opinion. Don't imitate him. Let him know where you are coming from by expressing your emotion whether it be mad or sad. He'll respect that.He and the world won't fall apart if you're angry. If he really cares about you, he'll respect your differences and accept all of you, even the "less than desirable." Don't be a pleaser all of the time. Accept your own "realness" good and bad really is first and not trying to be so perfect. Don't judge yourself harshly for being authentic and human.
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Old 12-21-2015, 12:25 PM
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Am I the only one who is uncomfortable hearing the guy telling her how to act? I mean I am where I am. I don't want psychotherapy from a boyfriend and if I start to get it I get red flags all over the place.

I am certainly not putting myself in a position to ask for his "patience" with me. That smacks of him being in control of my very being.

Now, if I am becoming too people pleasing for him - well, that's his issue. I think it's pretty unhealthy to be in a romantic relationship where one person tells the other how to act or who talks down to them because of some character trait that is not theirs to fix.
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Old 12-21-2015, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by biminiblue View Post
Am I the only one who is uncomfortable hearing the guy telling her how to act? I mean I am where I am. I don't want psychotherapy from a boyfriend and if I start to get it I get red flags all over the place..
I know, it made me a little uncomfortable, too. Especially since nobody else seemed especially distressed about it, especially Liz.

And the idea of someone "calling me out" when I behave a certain way is troubling, too.

Be careful, Liz, that you aren't concentrating on pleasing him by not pleasing others. I don't necessarily see him as a control freak just because he made an observation, but just remember it's OK to say, "Thanks for the input, but I'm fine with my behavior."
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Old 12-21-2015, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by LexieCat View Post
I know, it made me a little uncomfortable, too. Especially since nobody else seemed especially distressed about it, especially Liz.

And the idea of someone "calling me out" when I behave a certain way is troubling, too.

Be careful, Liz, that you aren't concentrating on pleasing him by not pleasing others. I don't necessarily see him as a control freak just because he made an observation, but just remember it's OK to say, "Thanks for the input, but I'm fine with my behavior."
Thanks guys. Very important to remember. And, fyi, I didn't feel like he was telling me how to act. He was asking me to just be ME and not to try so hard at pleasing him. His premise was: I'm here, I care about you, I like you for you, so stop working over time and just let yourself be you. I didn't get the feeling that he was treating me like a child or asking me to do something I was uncomfortable with or even controlling me. I felt genuine sincerity and caring coming from him.

Also, I did defend myself and told him that I felt that I was always honest with him about who I am and that if he felt I was trying too hard that maybe his interpretation was skewed. It's not like I sat there and just smiled nicely and said, "Gee, thanks." I did thank him but that was after I said my peace.

We've been together for 8 months and I don't see him as controlling or manipulative. He does say whatever pops into his head and he definitely marches to the beat of his own drummer, but he's been up front about who he is from date number 1. I have a choice to use this as a lesson for growth. If he continues down this path, then I'll have a problem and may need to move on. But, this was the first time this has come up and so I'll take it as a chance to learn and to evaluate whether he's off his rocker or whether it's me.
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Old 12-21-2015, 01:45 PM
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do YOU like YOU today? are you comfortable being Liz? cuz that is all that really matters.
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Old 12-21-2015, 02:04 PM
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I think all of us codies are so good at interpreting others' moods and reactions and focusing on other people and their interests, needs and wants, that it often makes us very "likable" people. And we then sometimes use these "skills" that we have developed to manipulate people and situations because it is our talent and it feels good for us.

I am personally doing a lot more introspection and awareness when it comes to my relationships and my interactions with others. Instead into going into my automatic show pony routine, I try to reflect WHY I find it so important for any particular person to like me. I try to focus more on if I actually like the other person because whether they like me or approve of me, really is out of my control. I try to remain in my authentic self, so that if I end up having healthy relations with someone, it is because they actually liked authentic me and I actually liked authentic them, not because I added another notch in my belt, of "Oh, yay, another person thinks I am great. I have got to keep pleasing them to keep my fragile psyche intact."
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Old 12-21-2015, 04:29 PM
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My shrink once said: "everyone has problems. It just depends on which ones you can live with and which ones you can't." Do you feel free enough to say whatever you like? Are you people-pleasing? It's an internal job.
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Old 12-21-2015, 07:49 PM
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Wow I only read your post and no responses and just wanted to say it sounds like you've got a hellava guy! Sounds to me like he's helping you along in your recovery from being in something so toxic for so long. But kudos to you for not DEPENDING on someone for your recovery! You are VERY wise, Liz!
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Old 12-21-2015, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by AnvilheadII View Post
do YOU like YOU today? are you comfortable being Liz? cuz that is all that really matters.
I love me!!! I love my life today and I don't need a relationship or a man to define me at this point. My bf is just an added bonus to my life and I think it's one of the reasons we work so well together. He needs someone independent who doesn't need to be with him 24/7. He is building his business, has 2 very young children, and RA (an autoimmune disorder) that sometimes make life trying for him. He found that I was someone who fit for him.

I spend time with friends A LOT(both program friends and my tennis friends). I go to meetings and still actively work my recovery program. I'm looking for a career path but working 45 hours a week now and commuting 45 minutes each way, I'm still taking my son to tennis tournaments and part time home schooling. My life does not revolve around this man, trust me.

I can relate to what Double Dragons shared. I was constantly looking for red flags with my bf when we started dating and asking myself: do I actually like this man, or do I like the fact that he wants a relationship with me? I liked him. I still do. Actually, I love him. I'm physically attracted to him, we have the same values and belief systems, we see a lot of things the same but have differences enough that keep our conversations lively and engaging, we love our children, and somehow we put up with each other despite our shortcomings.

I am a people pleaser by nature. It's who I am. I give and I give and I don't think twice. I truly believe it's a blessing and a curse, only when people take advantage of me. I haven't seen that with bf yet. He gives, just as much as I do, and he's grateful constantly. Heck, the guy will thank me twice for just showing up and spending time with him. The man will wake up with me at 5: 30 AM and make me breakfast....just because, lol. We are both saying thank you so often that I wonder if we'll ever tire of hearing it from the other person, haha.

Thank you, Refiner, for seeing what I see....he's a helluva guy. He'll admit he's not perfect but he's never asked for perfection in return. He's very accepting, very laid back, has a good heart, is trustworthy, and reliable, and consistent with his behaviors and attitudes. I never have to guess how he'll be. He's always the same every time we talk, always happy to hear from me and always jovial and willing to engage in conversation.

My son likes him and sees him as a stable man.
I know that more will be revealed. I know that there are no guarantees. I don't think denial looks good on me anymore so I am in this relationship seeing it as it is in reality. I am grateful to program but also grateful that I have put the work in to get where I am today. I'm nowhere near perfect but I am so much further along than I was last year or the year before. I can't say enough how grateful I am to Al Anon and my friends here at SR.
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Old 12-26-2015, 03:56 PM
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Instead into going into my automatic show pony routine, I try to reflect WHY I find it so important for any particular person to like me. I try to focus more on if I actually like the other person because whether they like me or approve of me, really is out of my control.

"Automatic show pony routine" - boy, does that resonate with me! AKA "Let me entertain you. Let me make you smile." Why do perfectly okay people get the idea they are so "less than" that we are so tickled pink if someone likes us or a member of the opposite sex pursues us that we don't even ask ourselves if this is someone we need in our life. Been doing this all my life. Really. Came to the realization that ALL of my boyfriends/husbands have had alcohol/weed issues, and it never once crossed my mind to ask if that's what I wanted in MY life because - get ready - who was I to judge, and besides, I liked to have a glass of wine and occasionally smoke a joint, so why be picky? Shaking my head. Know what I think? I think they should make a course study on codependency mandatory in every high school. If they're going to teach sex-ed, they might as well teach head-ed. Maybe save some people a lot of wasted time and tears.
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Old 12-27-2015, 02:37 PM
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Hi Liz - not sure if you've already investigated CoDa - I found their handbook and work book (12-step based) really enlightening and helped me understand (and then work on) some of my people pleasing ways. (There are meetings in my area as well, which I sometimes go to, but they're not always easy to get to logistically, otherwise I'd go more often).
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