Dear Fearless Love,
A few months ago, I went through my second divorce, a marriage that lasted about 3 years. I admit, I am attracted to women who need me more than those who are my equal. I took my time before I got married again and I thought this time I really had the right one.
I have a demanding and successful career that provides a comfortable lifestyle for my family. I have full custody of my children from my first marriage and they are good kids who seem to have adjusted well. I have always taken care of my parents due to my father’s alcoholism. I have paid off their home and make sure they are taken care of.
I don’t usually have a lot of time for myself, but when I do I may visit a gentleman’s club. At night, I spend a few minutes on an adult site to take the edge off and sleep better. On the outside, I have everything but when it comes to relationships, I feel like a failure.
It must be very confusing to have so many things the world would deem as successful yet having a successful marriage isn’t one of them. On one hand, the skills you learned in childhood to manage the chaos and survive the traumatic events surrounding your family have served you well. On the other hand, these survival skills have left you fighting years of negative imprinting that work against intimacy and happiness in adult relationships.
Take a look at some characteristics of codependency and see if you can relate:
1. As a child experienced parental abandonment due to addiction, illness, etc.; subsequently, experienced reversal of roles with your parent(s) forcing you to grow up quickly.
2. Choose unhealthy, toxic partners where you become the co-dependent or love addict; consequently, involved in high conflict relationships, break ups and/or grief.
3. Need full control of the relationship; experienced by others as controlling.
4. Have a high lust and sex drive, which is used to soothe anxiety and validate self-worth.
5. Sublimate personal needs and have low self-esteem, plus a performance orientation, leading to over-functioning in relationships and compulsive work habits. These in turn lead to external success, sometimes confounded by a high burnout rate and/or compassion fatigue.
6. Have a shadow life surrounding a secret, which masks fear of abandonment, insecurities, fear of rejection, fear of being alone, and constant worrying.
7. A strong sense of inadequacy leading to taking things personally, fearing authority figures, and quickly blaming others for their inadequacy, all of which are perceived by others as arrogance.
8. Tend to be overly serious and perfectionistic, masking feelings of unworthiness.
It will take your full commitment to personal growth in order to find the balance you so need and crave. Unlike in childhood where you had to figure it all out alone, today you may start by creating a support team which may include: a psychotherapist, a spiritual mentor, a spiritual practice, a 12-step group, supportive friends, and educating yourself thoroughly about this topic. Expect this to be a journey that will take its time, but at the end you will have your heart’s desire to love and be loved.