Be Her Support Not Her Medicine

I was reading an article recently about the worst relationship mistakes you can make. I must say that it offered me a new perspective.

“The point of being in a relationship is not being your partner’s happy juice.”

I was of the thinking that it was my responsibility to be my partner’s happy juice. Not to fix them but to work at making things better for them. What this article brought out was that doing so allowed room for your partner to be enabled in not working at their own emotional maturity. If I am there every time something feels bad when are they required to figure out how to feel better for themselves?

“If you always come to the rescue when your partner is unhappy, you will weaken your partner’s capacity for high frustration tolerance, an essential attribute of emotional maturity and determinant of success.”

I know that I am responsible for being supportive but my mistake was thinking that being supportive meant helping them fix whatever hurt. Instead I must learn how to be supportive along their journey of fixing the boo-boos themselves. In other words, be actively inactive.

“As a positive term, enabling references patterns of interaction which allow individuals to develop and grow …. In a negative sense, enabling is also used to describe dysfunctional behavior approaches that are intended to help resolve a specific problem but in fact may perpetuate or exacerbate the problem.” —Wikipedia

This article was really enlightening. It also helped me to see that I am guilty of shutting down when I am hurting. My mind set is that no one can fix it but me (ironic, I know) so I shut down in an attempt to not seek solutions from my partner. What it seems I am actually doing is alienating them. All the while demanding they allow me into their moments of pain.

“To practice high frustration tolerance, you put reason between an impulse to escape discomfort, and discomfort dodging actions. That step can make a big difference. Once you delay reacting, you are in a position to start choosing.

Part of this imposing reasoning process involves accepting—not liking—that it is important to live through the discomfort if you expect to overcome barriers. This acceptance is like building emotional muscle. The more you work at it, the stronger you get.

By working at building high frustration tolerance, you are likely to solve more of your immediate problems and reach more of your longer-term goals.” —Dr. Bill Knaus, Ed. D, Psychology Today

This new perspective has helped me to adopt a separate but together outlook on relationships. There is a huge difference between cheering someone up and taking responsibility for their emotional well-being. I have routinely done the latter. Not that it was asked of me, that’s just what I thought was supposed to happen. That explains why I always felt so taxed and worn. There was no emotional boundary. I was beyond empathetic and absorbed their pain.

Breaking this habit will require work. When I hear a problem I want to solve it. I want it to be done and removed. I have to learn how to step back, let them process and trust them to tell me what they need. Be available. That’s my responsibility.

Here are some critical behaviors to learn if you desire a strong partner and a strong, healthy relationship:

Learn to accept your partner’s feelings—both happy and sad.

Learn that you can’t change those feelings, and that trying to change them is not your responsibility.

Learn to allow your partner to experience discomfort and work through it with his or her own tools.

Learn to trust your partner’s emotional capabilities, resources, and resilience.

Learn to allow your partner to do the necessary work of self-soothing and restoring emotional equilibrium.

Learn not to immediately apologize when your partner’s mood may have nothing to do with you.

Learn to distinguish between kindness and empathy, which strengthen a relationship, and catering and coddling, which weaken it.

And learn not to substitute managing your partner’s emotions for the all-important work of managing your own.

My level of guilty is epic for this last one. I have a history of throwing myself into whatever is going on with my partner in a subconscious attempt to validate myself. Earning my keep, so to speak. If I’m helping, I have a reason to be loved.

This article really pushed me along my current journey of self discovery. I appreciate the perspective it offered and the result of furthering my growth. I encourage you to read it and see what it has to offer you.

What are the Signs of Emotional Abuse?

Abusive Expectations – Makes impossible demands, requires constant attention, and constantly criticizes.

Aggressing – Name calling, accusing, blames, threatens or gives orders, and often disguised as a judgmental “I know best” or “helping” attitude.

Constant Chaos – Deliberately starts arguments with you or others. May treat you well in front of others, but changes when you’re alone.

Rejecting – Refusing to acknowledge a person’s value, worth or presence. Communicating that he or she is useless or inferior or devaluing his or her thoughts and feelings.

Denying – Denies personal needs (especially when need is greatest) with the intent of causing hurt or as punishment. Uses silent treatment as punishment. Denies certain events happened or things that were said. Denies your perceptions, memory and sanity by disallowing any viewpoints other than their own which causes self-doubt, confusion, and loss of self-esteem.

Degrading – Any behavior that diminishes the identity, worth or dignity of the person such as: name-calling, mocking, teasing, insulting, ridiculing,

Emotional Blackmail – Uses guilt, compassion, or fear to get what he or she wants.

Terrorizing – Inducing intense fear or terror in a person, by threats or coercion.

Invalidation – Attempts to distort your perception of the world by refusing to acknowledge your personal reality. Says that your emotions and perceptions aren’t real and shouldn’t be trusted.

Isolating – Reducing or restricting freedom and normal contact with others.

Corrupting – Convincing a person to accept and engage in illegal activities.

Exploiting – Using a person for advantage or profit.

Minimizing – A less extreme form of denial that trivializes something you’ve expressed as unimportant or inconsequential.

Unpredictable Responses – Gets angry and upset in a situation that would normally not warrant a response. You walk around on eggshells to avoid any unnecessary drama over innocent comments you make. Drastic mood swings and outbursts.

Gaslighting -A form of psychological abuse involving the manipulation of situations or events that cause a person to be confused or to doubt his perceptions and memories. Gaslighting causes victims to constantly second-guess themselves and wonder if they’re losing their minds.

Love, Salem

 

That moment when you read this to self assess and realize it wasn’t you.

Apologies & Applesauce

I guess what I am learning along this journey is that love isn’t about what you receive, it’s about what you give. But for that love to be healthy, to be balanced, you have to love some one who has that same understanding. Otherwise, you tread dangerous territory and risk losing yourself by giving too much with no balance, no reciprocation to keep you upright.

We are not people who are meant to be alone. We made to give of ourselves. Vulnerability is difficult because when given freely, to the right person, it sets you up for a bond that can be described by mortal words. The reward is indeed greater than the risk.

When we begin to fear that our love is returned, that our vulnerability is in vain, that fear can be paralyzing. How we respond to that fear can make or break a relationship. It’s built that way. Some relationships need not survive the test. But, there are those that do. But, it absolutely take two people coming together and deciding the worth of that investment.

I do not blame love for pain. I do not believe love hurts or that love abuses. Love just is. People are the carriers. We masquerade our actions as love but love exists without action. In some cases without recognition. We can fight it. We can ignore it but dwells. What we pass on is our reaction to love. What we give people is our response to loving them. Our excitement, our fear, our frustration, our cheer, our exuberance. These are our responses.

Hopefully we’re responsible enough to be aware of how we carry and respond to love. Moreover, prayerfully we have people who choose to understand us enough to see through our responses. Love is an investment. It can be a calculated gamble. Some of us get high off the gamble alone. It doesn’t matter what the actual cost or the dividend, it’s the chase of the high. Some of us just want the security. Some of us want the complete pay off.

However you see it, I encourage us all to be brave enough to fight for what matters. Within ourselves and those we love.

 

Sidenote

My mother, the woman who birthed me, calls me mean on a regular basis. How do you really think I feel about you saying it?