I thought I finally figured out why I was staying in the relationship; I was staying because I was afraid that if I left it meant that I didn’t try hard enough, or that there was something that I still had to prove to someone. And then it hit me…
I wasn’t staying because of that. I was staying because I was running away from the responsibility I had towards myself. By staying I was able to use the excuse that I had to take care of this person, or I had to prove myself to this person or that person. By taking care of, and helping others, I had a a sense of control. This was not the control over others; it was a different kind. It was a false perception that my life was under control. In other words, the belief that I had my shit together.
And from the outside, it seemed pretty believable to those who didn’t know me. I stayed and remained codependent, trying to help this person and make this person feel loved. I wanted to prove that I was worthy and great. I put up with things I shouldn’t have, and I stayed because if I left him I knew I would regret it and always wonder, “if I tried harder would it be different?” But somewhere deep down inside of me I knew I was lying to myself. I wasn’t staying for that reason. I was staying because I didn’t want to do those things to myself. I didn’t want to work hard for myself, or suffer for myself, or take care of myself… Why? Was it because I didn’t feel like I was worthy? No… It was because somewhere inside of me I wanted someone else to do that for me.
I longed for someone else to burn with passion to love me, take care of me, be patient with me, protect me, and stay by my side no matter what, like I was doing for so many others. I longed for someone to make me feel secure and accepted, because I didn’t get that as a child. Since I knew that wasn’t going to happen, I had to put those expectations and desires on someone else. I was subconsciously setting myself up for the greatest disappointment.
That was my codependency. That IS codependency. That was the root of the problem. I resented the fact that there was no one there to do all those things for me so I found a way to do that to others, and that was by being in a relationship in which I could guarantee I could do that (which meant being with someone who needed “fixed”).
When I finally realized that it wasn’t him that needed fixed- it was me- I finally realized there was nothing I could do to truly help him. No amount of “unconditional love and forgiveness”, no amount of patience, and no amount of me sacrificing my own needs for him would “fix” things for him. Now only did I NOT need to fix him, I didn’t need the relationship either.
Perhaps he did need “fixed” in many ways (Sex addiction is killing people daily and hurting people and crushing families, so yes, it has to stop) but, that wasn’t my job, it was his. My job was, and always has been, to love and care for myself. I owed it to myself to treat myself with the same unconditional love and acceptance I gave others. I owed it to myself to make good decisions for my physical, mental, spiritual, and financial health. I owed it to myself to give myself love, laughter, and smiles every day. I deserved it.
But I was so afraid that if I did that for myself it would mean that no one else would… and oh how I secretly wished, hoped, and prayed that someone else would… So I clung to this marriage half expecting, half hoping, that I could put that heavy and impossible burden on my spouse, because the thought of me loving myself and taking care of myself and doing what was right for myself horrified me.
For some reason, taking care of myself had the image of rejection, isolation, being alone, and missing affection. I clung to the marriage because I was afraid of what it meant to face myself and say, “I love you, and I’m sorry.”
I was afraid to look in the mirror and say to that beautiful woman staring back at me, “Hey! You! Yeah, you. YOU deserve so much better, and I’m going to make sure YOU are safe, loved, protected, respected, accepted, admired, and even adored. I am going to treat YOU well. I am going to give YOU what YOU need, because I love YOU.”