I could not figure out why I kept people around me I could not trust; people who did not care about me. People who had disasters in their lives and were addicts, or drinkers like me. I could see other people had loving, supportive friends, but my friends weren’t loving or supportive of what I did or wanted to do. Some were controlling, demanding, and manipulative. Some drained me of my energy. Later I learned about toxic emotional vampires and how they left their victims devoid of energy.
But not understanding my codependent behavior, I never thought they were the problem.
I thought I was. I didn’t pay them enough compliments or be there for them enough. Or I allowed them to direct areas of my life where they did not belong. Or I clammed up and gave them the silent treatment. I lived out how my abusers raised me: their needs came first because mine were immaterial. So inside me anxiety grew, and I did not know how to manage it. Again, I did what I always did: I got drunk and stuffed myself comatose.
Despite that battle, what connected us?
I’ll tell you: My body language screamed needy and insecure. How I carried myself, including my tone of voice, showed up on their radar. Not built on respect or a love for fun or reading or any common interests, I built our toxic relationships on my allowing them to disrespect me, and boss me around, cloaked in manipulation and disdain. Or keep me in line by giving me ultimatums, threatening to cut me out of their lives if I did not do things their way.
Not realizing what drove me to latch onto people who could not be good friends, I put up with far too much, plus I caused painful endings. I did not know I was passive aggressive; I did not know how to be direct about my wants and needs.
I did not know what my rights were.
I kept working on my mental health issues that fueled my depression; I kept healing. In that light, I grew to see toxic behavior around me. Some people I fought with, not knowing how to change my steps. Others I cut ties with little explanation, if any. Some fought with me, ending our “friendship”.
Furthering my healing on 10-18-2012, I started facing my fears, blogging about any anxious thoughts that crossed my mind. Back then, my clinical depression and complex ptsd were clear, so almost every thought that crossed my mind included my fears.
Doing that gave me strength because I faced those fears, accepting them as they were. Slowly, they stopped nagging me and I went on to my next fear. I kept going and kept going and kept going………. To this day, I do the same thing because as I stared down what scared me, my self-esteem healed. The thoughts my inherited fears dominated settled down and logic grew in their place. I developed common sense naturally, slowly and steadily. Solutions popped up in my head!
Now, I know what was going on. My loneliness and shredded self-esteem drove me to latch onto anyone who paid an ounce of attention to me. Desperate for someone to belong to and to feel secure and safe for the first time in my life, my unfulfilled needs drove my behavior. Desperate for human contact, I went along with what I knew were not good ideas. I didn’t know how to say no. I didn’t know how to read people or to set boundaries.
Now I ask more questions and to pay attention to their behavior.
How do they treat others?
Do they talk about people behind their backs, spreading lies?
What do we have in common?
How do they treat me?
Can I tell them no without them blowing up or bullying me into submission?
Do they respect my choices or try to talk me into doing something I don’t want to do?
So while we’re on the subject, how’s your self-esteem?