Years ago, I received a phone call late at night from a friend who asked if I could pick her up from a gas station in Hollywood. She was stranded there, after her boyfriend had hit her and kicked her out of the car. What followed were another three years of abuse in which he broke her nose twice, ruined her credit, threatened to kill her, and got her arrested. Each time I tried to interfere, she would tell me “but I love him.” It was heartbreaking for me, because I, too, had used the same reason to stay in relationships with guys who were clearly no good for me or downright abusive. After all, I am my mother’s daughter, and she taught me that it was ok to be abused, neglected, cheated on and broken by someone who “loves” you. We all know that cycles have a way of repeating themselves.
I remember spending year after year, or month after month with narcissistic, sociopathic, selfish, dishonest and cold-hearted guys, because I wanted to “love the bad out of them.” I had learned as a child that I was worthless; that no one would ever stand up for me or protect me, so I decided to do for others what no one had done for me! In my opinion, everyone was a good person deep down inside, and I was the one who would bring it out of them. Time and time again, I fell in love with “potential” and the illusion of what could be, versus the reality of what actually was and would be!
I have an amazing imagination, and I was so desperate for someone, anyone, to pay any attention to me or love me, that my heart was up for grabs – and not for the highest bidder, but any bidder! All one had to do was show up. I wouldn’t even censor. I firmly believed that everyone is a good person, and that some just hid their “goodness” from the world because they had been hurt so much/endured bad things; some, apparently, have to hide it really, really deep down inside! So no matter what heartless stunt was pulled, I generally still stuck around. I would focus on “the good sides” and imagine whatever I wanted, which was much easier than facing the bleak reality of how unloved I truly felt. I thought that if I could prove my love, loyalty and devotion enough, he’d sooner or later stop being the jerk that he was. It never even occurred to me that I had absolutely no power over another person’s actions or choices! It never occurred to me that some people will never learn, have no desire to change, and are truly selfish or simply dishonest. In my mind, it was always my fault that another was behaving the way they did; which meant that I had control over it!
I can highly recommend two tools that worked to rewire my “hard-drive”; cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy. Neither one necessarily requires that you have to lay down on the couch of a therapist and talk about your “sad stories.” Instead, even if you’re not willing to dig into the deepest, darkest secrets of your past, a good therapist will still be able to help you to disconnect the old, self-destructive behavioral patterns and teach you new and healthy ones.
When one is in this situation, it seems impossible to survive without him. It seems that you will never, ever be able to “love” someone the way you love him, or be as attracted to someone the way you are attracted to him. However, with the right tools you can learn to love, honor and respect yourself enough to recognize what true love is, versus an unhealthy obsession and addiction. Loving yourself will be the best thing you’ll ever learn, and the most important one in choosing that which truly makes you happy all the time, not only in the five minutes he chose to be nice to you, before he disappears, cheats, leaves or is mean to you again.