I am slowly accepting that I have done it again: I ended up in an unhealthy relationship. The third one. And maybe resisting admitting this was part of what kept me hooked (after all, I had my suspicions). I didn’t want to be “that stupid” (that’s my inner critic talking). The irony is that he tried to help me with healing from past unhealthy relationships. Only to hurt me again. Maybe not intentionally but painfully nonetheless.
What I want to focus on now, though, is what made me vulnerable. Sure, maybe it was just bad luck, as a former counselor had suggested after #2. And, yet, there might be something here that can help us learn and heal more effectively from past relationship trauma.
That is probably the first vulnerability: I haven’t completely healed. Although I am in the process of learning how to notice and experience my feelings, I am still often confused about what they actually mean.
My deepest vulnerabilities, though, stem from cultural trauma, the cultural norms that wound us. I grew up in an environment that was largely devoid of emotional expression and touch. Both left me with deep longings for being met emotionally and being touched (cuddled, hugged, caressed). So when someone waltzes into my life and seems to offer both (and at least the touchy part was genuinely and very consistently there), it hooks me. I avoid seeing all the other things. The weird beliefs. The outdated philosophy (a philosophy he criticizes failing to see that his valid critique is devastatingly undermining it, yet instead of letting it fall apart under its own inconsistencies, he bolsters it with more contradictions and redefinitions of reality). The political consequences we diverge on big time. The denial of reality.
My past trauma from an abusive marriage made me susceptible to getting triggered. I rage when I am faced with a denial of reality (and I am totally not proud of that!). What took me a while to realize: It wasn’t just the resurfacing of past trauma that was making the relationship toxic for me. It was the presence of so many triggers that stemmed from thinking problems on his part that had led to his strange view of reality.
I tend to also have a very open mind capable of setting aside differences between people and connecting on commonalities. I am also very curious, especially wanting to understand what makes people tick. I had never met anybody who was holding so many beliefs that made me shake my head in disbelieve that someone can believe something like that. Why? He seems very intelligent. So, in a way, I started a quest to understand. I have to some extend – and then saw the connection to the relationship I was in. What was leading him to believe these strange things was also leading him to avoid the relationship problems by instead planning for our future (a future we would likely never reach by ignoring present problems…).
That might have been what helped me start the process of disentangling. His twisted thinking was impacting me. And it hurt. A lot. This time, though, I am not stuffing my feelings. I mourn the disillusionment. Because I know that without that mourning, I cannot let go completely, which would likely make me vulnerable for yet another repeat.
Interestingly, some of the insights shared here stem from inner work he had suggested or encouraged me to pursue. The whole idea of focusing on my healing came from him. So there was a lot of good stuff in this relationship, too, which I cannot say about the previous two unhealthy ones. So maybe that is progress!