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Women who love too much - Robin Norwood. It could have been written about me...anyone else identify with it?

(64 Posts)
msshapelybottom Sun 28-Jul-13 09:23:24

I have seen this recommended so many times and I've always thought "that's not me"!, but for some reason I bought it last week and read it in 24 hrs.

It was uncomfortable reading at times because I could see patterns of behaviour that I recognised but it was actually very comforting and illuminating too, to know that my childhood was, in fact, totally fucked up! I've always denied that things were too bad growing up (with an alcoholic, wife beating father and a cold, controlling religious mother, who I would guess borders on narcissistic).

Reading this book is helping me to start unravelling my own attitudes to men and relationships. I've been married twice, the first time to a man who was a misogynist and who was emotionally and physically abusive (but who had a dreadful childhood himself) and the 2nd to an alcoholic who was emotionally distant. He also had a traumatic start in life.

I've had a number of flings in the 4.5 years since me and exH separated, always with unsuitable men. I think now that it was deliberate so that I could avoid intimacy. I even posted a few weeks ago about not wanting a traditional relationship but I wonder now if that is because I just cannot relate to what a normal, healthy & loving partnership would be like?

Thankfully, for the past 11 months or so, I've been sworn off men, because I realised that I was just going to keep repeating the same old routine, and I have been working hard for a few years on developing a good spiritual/inner life and learning to love myself. I am a lot more grounded, but still scared of getting involved with someone incase I choose another "broken" man!

I'm terrified that I'm passing on the same issues to my 3 kids, but deep down I think I know that I am different to my mother.

Can anyone relate to this book? How have you started on the road to healthy relationships? It would be really great to chat with any other women who are affected by this.

Change2013 Sun 28-Jul-13 16:08:35

I read the book a long time ago and need to read it again. I had what I can now see was a very dysfunctional long term relationship partly because I didn't have an example of a healthy relationship from my parents.

Like you, I've spent the last year working on myself, my weight, fitness, self-esteem, spirituality. I was sleepwalking through a lot of my marriage and had forgotten who I am. I haven't been involved with any men and am not sure whether I have the courage, though I would like to think I could have a healthy relationship one day.

I know there are good men who also get badly treated but the number of seemingly lovely women on MN who are treated badly, cheated on etc makes me despair.

msshapelybottom Sun 28-Jul-13 17:07:03

I found it comforting to read the steps that were described in the 2nd half of the book towards wellness. The writer said that every woman who followed her recommendations found they could break the old habits. I hope I can be one of those! It sounds as though you are naturally trying to work on yourself too. That's really positive smile

I know what you mean about all the women who get treated badly on MN. It makes me wonder sometimes about how many truly healthy relationships there are out there. I was so sure that I was not affected by my upbringing, and there I was following the exact pattern written about in the book. How do we know who the good guys are? I have always been attracted to men who give me that "butterflies" feeling, which I have mistaken for love/lust, but which was probably my body saying "run"!

I know what you mean about not knowing whether or not you have the courage to get involved with someone. I feel exactly the same. I don't know how to trust the right kind of person. I think I need to spend a lot more time alone. I just don't want to make the same mistakes over again!

RockinD Sun 28-Jul-13 18:14:10

I bought this book in 1991 and couldn't read it - it was just too painful, but I went back to it eventually and it probably saved my life.

Happily married ten years now to a man who is not emotionally unavailable, gay, violent, addicted, in thrall to his mother.

mcmooncup Sun 28-Jul-13 19:00:55

Marking place sad

MoreThanWords Sun 28-Jul-13 19:15:27

This could be my summer read while my counsellor is on holiday!

msshapelybottom Sun 28-Jul-13 19:42:03

Rockin, I'm glad that you have found a way through it and that you are enjoying a healthy relationship...that gives me great hope!

mcmooncup, have you read the book? You're definitely not alone if you think you might be able to relate to it.

MoreThan, I'm so glad I read it - I've read countless self help/spiritual books, and this one is the one I least wanted to read, but it actually holds all the answers of "why". I'm sure you will find something helpful in the book.

I feel funny today after finishing the book (at 4am!)...I know now what has been behind the choices I've made and it's difficult to acknowledge that I have no idea what a good relationship is like and that I still have a lot of work to do. I feel sad for my parents, too, because I know they both did the best they could with their own "stuff". I am hopeful now that I can break the chain for my own kids and myself.

ParsleyTheLioness Sun 28-Jul-13 20:33:59

I read it a long time ago, and related to it. I too had a dysfunctional childhood, so I had funny ideas about love and duty and responsibility, and am divorced twice...I was on my own for about 18months, didn't jump into anything (unlike last time) and have recently started seeing someone who so far seems a really nice chap!
He is not someone I would have 'gone' for a few years ago. If I say that he seems really straightforward, uncomplicated and nice I mean it as a compliment. Its early days yet, but I see it as an indication that I have moved on from the shallower motivators of my past.
I think/hope that I have learned, and want/expect to be treated well now, rather than just have mainly sexual attraction with someone, that I mistook for more of a connection, who from the start would treat my feelings more dismissively, and it only got worse rather than better.

Woodlicence Sun 28-Jul-13 21:07:34

I am just reading this after nearly throwing away my first really good relationship. It has already seriously opened my eyes to my behaviour. Basically I was always looking for a relationship that mirrored those that I had early on in my life which were a bit crap and unless men were crap I was uninterested and I didn't fancy them!
I had come across the book before but didn't read it as the title didn't really sound like something that could help me, bit misleading I think.

Also was looking into a support group or something similar I could go to, I think that could be really helpful, haven't found anything so far except group counselling. Has anyone come across any women's support groups?

msshapelybottom Sun 28-Jul-13 21:13:14

Parsley, that's so encouraging to hear smile I hope your new found wisdom will take you far!

It's funny that you mention you are now seeing a guy you wouldn't have been interested in before because I've never been the slightest bit attracted to the nice, normal chaps. I always thought they were utterly boring. I go weak at the knees for the ones with brooding eyes and a bit of passion about him. Sometimes the bad guys pretend to be normal and I get fooled (probably cos I got confused with good sex and reading more into it - gak!) I thought you had to have a "spark" with a guy for it to mean something. I know better now, (in theory!). I think the feeling I mistook for chemistry was actually stress and fear.

Did you find that the 18 months you spent by yourself was helpful? I think I will be on my own for a while yet, I think I'm only just scratching the surface of who I am and what makes me tick.

I wonder if just being made aware of the "loving too much" dynamics is enough to stop the process in its tracks?

msshapelybottom Sun 28-Jul-13 21:18:48

Woodlicence, crossed posts! Snap on the fancying the bad guys, I don't know how to undo who I am attracted to.

I too, am curious about support groups, it seems to be integral to the process of recovery (doesn't that word sound serious!) but I have no idea what is available in real life. I have found an online group, I wonder if that would work as a substitute?

I agree that the title is misleading. To me, it's more about hating yourself than loving someone else too much, although I do understand where the author is coming from. Until recently, I've only ever known how to hate myself, so I'm not sure that any of my relationships (even when I was married) have been based in genuine love.

mcmooncup Sun 28-Jul-13 21:41:41

Yes, same for me as you guys are describing.
I thought my childhood was normal and nice, however after my abusive marriage failed I started to realise that I had totally mirrored the bad relationship model from my parents. My dad was an EA possible narcissist and I have subjugated my feelings all my life. Literally no demands on anyone ever - total co dependent. I always thought I was "easy going" but actually was just totally devoid of any esteem in asserting myself as my emotions and feelings and needs had been crushed all my childhood.

I sometimes think even now as I have had the last 2 years single-ish, that what the hell am I on about...everyone has their stuff going on......and have to remind myself that I ended up in an abusive marriage so it is pretty bad stuff.

I have dated in the last 2 years and only once have I nearly fallen for a bad un again. It was so hard because he LOOKED like my dad, acted like my dad, treated me so badly emotionally in the exact same way as my dad did and I was intensely attracted to him. But I managed to walk away. Just.

I am really starting to undo who I am attracted to. I really value kindness mostly. There is a guy I've been dating who I know is normal and I feel great when I'm with him, but I still get triggered by idiotic things, like he will take a genuine interest in my feelings and what I've been doing - no put downs and snide remarks - and I can't quite trust it is for real yet. One thing that has really helped me is to notice how different I am with men and women - so I have amazing friends, really trusting fun relationships, and would never ever let a woman treat me badly. So I try and take the gender red herring away from my male relationships - would I let a friend speak to me like that? Would I not believe my friend when she paid me a compliment? Would I expect my friend to ask how I am doing and how my big day was? etc.

The difference I have in relationships between men and women is so marked it is ludicrous and I am simply trying to get my male relationships like my female ones. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone else.

Change2013 Sun 28-Jul-13 22:02:49

Really interesting to read replies to this thread. Like others I've read a ton of self-help books and also saw a counsellor for almost a year. I like the idea of a support group, I wonder if there are any.

I was 20 when I met ex and had only had a handful of non serious boyfriends before that. I was the rescuer and responsible person in the marriage and was exhausted by the time it ended.

Trouble is that over the years it's ended up that I don't have any male friends and actually feel quite uncomfortable around men I don't know. I suppose I don't trust but I don't know how to change that. I'm quite happy for the moment being single (have two of my three children still living with me). But I really would like to eventually have a normal, healthy relationship.

MoreThanWords Sun 28-Jul-13 22:11:47

Parsley I can identify with so much that you have written above.

My counsellor thinks I have never had a positive male role model in my life (probably true) and this is hindering my ability to have a healthy relationship. Build in crap self-esteem and the tendency to jump into bed if I think the conversation is drying up and that's all I've got to offer, and bingo - not a recipe for a relationship based on mutual respect!

msshapelybottom Sun 28-Jul-13 22:13:46

mcmooncup, your post makes so much sense. How insightful that you have noticed a difference in how you relate to men and women...I don't think I would have even thought about that until I read your words.

It must be encouraging for you to be working through any uncertainty with the guy you are seeing. I am sure that awareness must make a lot of difference. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to let the bad one go.

I had a brief fling with a guy I felt the most intense attraction for last summer. Well, I thought I had fallen for him, but I think it was all just so familiar. I thought there was so much chemistry but there was no depth or indeed proper shared intimacy. He treated me terribly, and I kept going back for more. And yet, in my day to day, non dating life, I have high self esteem and wouldn't let anyone walk all over me.

Looking back to my early years, the thing which has affected me the most was when my mother would ignore me, yet at the same time, lean on me for support from a very young age. I still feel very uncomfortable asking for what I need (like you describe).

One thing I am getting better at, is making sure I don't hang onto any negative people any more. I have ended 2 friendships this year which were draining & utterly exhausting and I am proud that I was able to stop 2 relationships which were hurting me. Baby steps! I keep people around me who share my outlook. Sadly, one of the people I now keep at arms length is my mum. I actually live in a different country from her, and I think this has saved me from going completely down the pan, so to speak. Any contact is by e-mail only, which gives me time and space to sort my emotions out before I reply!

I wonder why we model our parents when their influence has been so damaging? I suppose it's the whole nature/nurture thing. We must be programmed by the behaviours we are exposed to so deeply that it takes years to unravel. I'm terrified that I am affecting my own kids, but I try every day to show them love & acceptance no matter what has happened between us.

Has anyone done the exercise from the book which involves writing down everything that we have had difficulty with, to try and trace back the behaviours and infuences? It sounds like a very time-consuming project but I think I am going to start on that, beginning with my parents.

It's so helpful to read everyone's views but it's painful to know that there are so many women who understand, in a way.

msshapelybottom Sun 28-Jul-13 22:21:40

Change - I find male friendships can be a minefield as a single parent, even without the trust issues! I'd love to figure that out too.

Morethan, how do we enter into a healthy relationship if we've never seen one? Is it something we can learn by instinct once all the crap is worked through I wonder?

Really interesting discussion. I would love to be able to relate to guys as friends without sex getting in the way. I tend to use my sexual energy as a tool to get noticed, possibly because I have a hard time feeling valued in any other way. It's not a very healthy way to get to know people, really.

wileycoyote Sun 28-Jul-13 22:30:41

I completely relate to what is being said on this thread. I must look up the book. I think my mum might have a copy!!

Change2013 Sun 28-Jul-13 22:31:47

Msshapelybottom, Thank you, you've inspired me to reserve the book at the library and I'm excited to find there is a book called Letters from Women Who Love Too Much as well. This appeals to me as I'm a reading addict and also love to hear other people's stories.

After counselling, I've got a good idea of where some of my issues come from - good dad but he found it hard to talk about emotions. My mum was bipolar and from an early age I felt I had to look after her. Consequently I felt unable to express my feelings and wanted to look after people at my own expense.

I am getting better and have also ended a friendship that had become negative.

mcmooncup Sun 28-Jul-13 22:33:39

Yes, I've just realised that my attractions are just familiarities kicking in. It took the 'dad' guy for me to realise this in it's harsh reality. And familiarity in my case is just NOT good smile

If you have ever seen Brene Brown's work - that has really helped me be brave. To embrace the feelings of vulnerability as a good thing for change. So when nice man, asks me how I am, I answer honestly. Even if I am pissed off.....I would never ever ever tell a male I am pissed off 2 years ago. So odd. But I still can't say I am completely comfortable with it, I am actually VERY uncomfortable with it and feel like a "a pain in the arse", but the fact I do it and nice people expect you to be able to do this is progress beyond belief !

I am actually in no doubt that I will always either be single or in a healthy relationship. I won't be in a shit relationship, I just know now and that in itself is very freeing.

I too appear to be amazingly confident.....and the weird thing is I am......I have no problem with myself in any way. Odd.

<I am watching American Psycho right now and thinking how in the past I could quite easily of been one of his women in it sigh >

Change2013 Sun 28-Jul-13 22:40:47

Agreed mcmooncup, there is no way I would be treated badly in a relationship ever again and that is freeing. I'm confident in most aspects of life except for relationships with men.

What I have found difficult is the fact that I did stick with a crap marriage for so long. I think a large part of it was wanting our children to have a better childhood than I did which doesnt make sense really because the marriage was a terrible role model for relationships!

mcmooncup Sun 28-Jul-13 22:41:02
Change2013 Sun 28-Jul-13 22:43:02

Have to go to bed now but will have a look at those links. I hope people keep posting on here.

mcmooncup Sun 28-Jul-13 22:51:46

Snap to the sticking at a bad marriage Change

I try not to dwell on that too wink

MoreThanWords Sun 28-Jul-13 22:54:36

* I tend to use my sexual energy as a tool to get noticed, possibly because I have a hard time feeling valued in any other way*

^^^THIS^^^^^ in bucket loads! But now I'm peri-menopausal, putting weight on, boobs growing and sagging, joints aching too much to want anything except a quick missionary, I need a Plan B!

I read so much excellent advice on the Relationships board - I often find myself thinking "What would AF say?" - both in terms of my own behaviour, and whether I should accept the way men treat me.

It's a huge, belated, and hopefully liberating learning curve.

msshapelybottom Sun 28-Jul-13 22:56:30

Wiley, if this thread feels familiar I'm sure there will be lots in the book you will be able to relate to!

Change, I will be interested to hear your experience of the book after your 2nd reading, with the insights you have already. I have a feeling it's the kind of book you can get more out of each time you go back to it.

I think having to emotionally support a parent actually stunts childhood development. You are instantly elevated into the position of adult, without the wisdom and experience. It's not healthy, is it?

Mc, oh I LOVE Brene Brown! Her TED talk really helped me realise what direction I wanted to go in to explore the whole spiritual side. It was also the first time someone suggested it was ok, actually, necessary to be true to myself! I have one of her books upstairs, I must read it again, thanks for the reminder.

Yes to no more shit relationships. I would rather be alone forever than put up with that again. It's a revelation to me just how happy I feel as a single woman.

Susan Jeffers' books were also really helpful in getting past some uncomfortable times...she deals with getting through uncertainty, and learning to sit with feelings might otherwise try to squash down or ignore.

Another book I go back to often is called "In the Meantime" by Iyanla Vanzant. It talks about taking the time in between relationships to heal yourself and work through issues which have been sticking points. I find her way of looking at life quite refreshingly honest.

Going to check out schema therapy tomorrow...must get to bed now smile

msshapelybottom Sun 28-Jul-13 22:58:36

Change, in a way there is a lot to be admired in trying to make a marriage work. I did the same thing because I really thought for a while that it would be better for the kids to have 2 parents living together. Thankfully, almost going mad from stress/worry and frustration gave me the push to end it!

msshapelybottom Sun 28-Jul-13 23:03:37

MoreThan, glad it's not just me grin and now that I've put on a couple of stone I'm working on accepting and loving my body whatever shape it is. Being heavier has certainly curbed my confidence a little which is no bad thing when I have been throwing myself about sexually for so long!

Yes, it's a steep learning curve...and ongoing. Every day I like myself a little bit more, and I can feel the difference in how I respond to life. I am never going back to who I was, that's for sure!

ParsleyTheLioness Mon 29-Jul-13 16:30:26

I think some time on my own was a good thing. I've been semi-available for a while, but the offers coming my way indicated I was going to get messed about longer-term, so rather than going for it, then sorting it out later when it was much messier, I held off until I got a better offer grin
I laughed at MoreThan's description of the sex thing, with a kind of recognition. I always said I used to love Willy Nilly, and in my case it was more Willy than Nilly.... Old age, extra weight and a fear of taking my clothes off whilst not alone have curbed that somewhat.

BloomingRose Mon 29-Jul-13 16:49:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Change2013 Mon 29-Jul-13 18:24:06

Blooming Rose, I think a lot of women would identify with what you've said, including me. The counsellor I went to suggested that I do the eight week mindfulness meditation course and I'm looking for one near me. She also recommended a book called 'Legacy of the Heart - the spiritual advantages of a painful childhood'.

Another book I've read is 'Home Coming' by John Bradshaw and I remember crying my way through large chunks of that. On MN, I particularly look out for comments from AnyFucker and Cogito and feel they have helped me a lot.

Still sometimes I do think, why has all this happened to me, I've always tried so hard to be a decent honourable person. Why do so many people think its ok to treat other people in such a crap fashion? I didn't have proper boundaries but establishing them is difficult as when you have been a giving person, many people close to you don't want you to change.

Woodlicence Mon 29-Jul-13 18:35:23

I spent 10 years with an emotionally distant man then I met my lovely partner. It didn't feel right though and I kept breaking up with him I realise now that I was looking for the eros sort of love rather than agape. (if you google "women who love too much eros agape" you will find the pages from google books) When I read the book I instantly realised what had been going on with me I am just wondering if it will translate into real life and I can stop acting like a jerk and convince dp to take me back sad

I have being doing headspace meditation for a while now, it's such a simple way into meditation. It has really helped clear my whrlpool of a mind and as an added bonus I have more patience.
I signed up for group therapy as well which I hope will act like a support group, bit scary though! maybe we could all go for a "women who used to love too much" weekend which would involve wine and cake and wouldn't be so scary smile

Change2013 Mon 29-Jul-13 19:00:58

Yes, I had an emotionally distant/abusive husband - just didn't realise it at the time.

I found great benefit from counselling but due to cost and moving 80 miles away had to stop. Would be really interested in group therapy if there is some local to me.

I like the idea of a 'Women who used to love too much' weekend!

BloomingRose Mon 29-Jul-13 19:07:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

strongerandstronger Mon 29-Jul-13 19:36:54

I also had a bad childhood that was physically, emotionally and sexually abusive. I have been in an abusive relationship for the past 11 years and that abuse again has been physical, emotional and sexual. I'm 27 and am trying to concentrate on myself. I've had counselling, at the moment I'm having CBT therapy for anger and self esteem. Thank you for talking about this book, I will get a copy.

Overtheraenbow Mon 29-Jul-13 20:23:56

Having read this thread I ordered it on my kindle and I think this is me too. But I don't seem to fit the criteria, I had a stable upbringing with parents who loved each other and us dearly. But when I was 16 something happened to me a d I think it may be that that made me this way.
Recent started dating a guy but found myself obsessing over texts / no texts etc so when he said he wasn't certain I broke it all off . So maybe I am not like this as much as I think . But my marriage certainly became like this .
Interesting reading others experiences on here.

MoreThanWords Mon 29-Jul-13 21:06:44

Did someone mention wine and cake? grin

msshapelybottom Mon 29-Jul-13 21:23:36

Parsley, I'm smiling wryly at "Willy Nilly" smile Well done on not leaping at the lesser offers! That takes a lot of self knowledge I think.

Blooming, are you finding that working on yourself is helping give you the courage to leave your current relationship? Are you ok?

I know what you mean about how some of the book could be seen as taking responsibility away from the men (actually, the theme was definitely more weighted towards how and why the women "choose" these relationships). I actually read one by Melody Beattie whilst I was still married - about co-dependency - and I wasn't able to accept so much of the responsibility for my ex drinking like the she suggested...and I hated that book so much I threw it in the bin (I consider binning a book a heinous crime, but I felt justified in this case!)

I so get you on finding validation from within, there really is no other lasting way.

Change, going to have to check out those books later! My kindle is bursting at the seams with self help and spiritual books now smile

It's very hard to let go of wanting to understand and explain why other people behave the way they do. I would have been eaten up with bitterness had I not decided a few years ago just to focus on myself, and not hold onto other peoples' bad behaviour. It's not always easy though I have been able to forgive both my exes and I myself for what has gone on in the past. It's harder to come to the same level of acceptance towards my mother, but I'm working on it.

Wood, you are so brave with the group therapy thing! Meditation is lovely, it's great when you find something that works. I keep a gratitude journal and it's been instrumental in turning my way of thinking around.

Blooming, I am worried that I will never be able to spot the good guys, because all I have ever listened to is that "butterfly" sensation. Perhaps the more we get to know ourselves the easier it will become to listen to our true inner voice?!

Stronger, I hope you are ok. You are definitely not alone in this journey...I wish I had your wisdom when I was 27 smile. It took me a extra 9 years to realise I had to work on myself!

Over, sometimes just one nugget of useful insight from a book can start you thinking about your own situation. Even if this book doesn't fit your situation 100% it might give you ideas about a different direction to look for inspiration.

Going to check Amazon now for those book suggestions!

msshapelybottom Mon 29-Jul-13 21:24:08

MoreThan, how did I miss that one? grin

msshapelybottom Mon 29-Jul-13 21:26:13

God, sorry for all the mistakes in my tired tonight!

MoreThanWords Mon 29-Jul-13 21:27:13

See post at 18.35 smile and make mine a large one!

msshapelybottom Mon 29-Jul-13 21:36:59

oh yes I'm all for a wine & cake weekend smile

MoreThanWords Mon 29-Jul-13 21:57:27

I actually feel better just knowing I'm not the only one who has behaved like this, thank you, fellow tarts posters who love too much smile

ParsleyTheLioness Mon 29-Jul-13 21:59:01

An alternative title for a book would have been Women who Shag too Much... I would've bought that one too.

msshapelybottom Mon 29-Jul-13 22:00:46

HAHA. At last I've found my spiritual home grin

msshapelybottom Mon 29-Jul-13 22:01:48

If I'd have seen that book Parsley I'd have thought to myself "Does not Compute"...

ParsleyTheLioness Tue 30-Jul-13 09:30:51

But would it now? I know what you mean tho. Me too! Not suggesting you are a mad shagger btw grin

msshapelybottom Tue 30-Jul-13 09:51:07

You're right, I'm a reformed character in the making. Haven't had a sniff of a shag in months...which I think is progress grin

Extensive shagging=complicated emotional disaster!!

Capitaltrixie Tue 30-Jul-13 11:52:48

Great thread msshapelybottom..and I can't thank you enough for making me feel less abnormal or strange given my relationship history confused

Xp was EA with a frightening temper but as is common, no indication of it at first. Very unhealthy relationship history before that if I'm honest.

Digging deeper, I've always had problems accepting/liking myself..but having a loving (albeit very controlling overprotective) mother, I couldn't figure out why I found it simply impossible to have any semblance of a healthy functional relationship. But reading your post BloomingRose ('a relationship with my mother where I had to continually prop her up, and was told things that you wouldn't dream of telling an 8 year old') that was my childhood! my mother used to treat me as her complete emotional prop, her confidante, she said things I wouldn't dream of saying to my 2 dd's. Aside from the relationships with my children I have definite issues with receiving unconditional love; I always question it.

What's also true is that guys I've been out with have always though how great it is that I'm always 'up for it'! (I just thought I was sexually liberated ha!)
Maybe I wanted them to like me more..(or maybe I was bored and couldn't think of anything better to do!) though now I am also trying to be a reformed character! ('Women who shag too much' big grin)

SO at the moment I'm in a new relationship with a nice man (first time ever!), 4 months in and going well..I'm just hoping I don't push him away & mess it up shock sad

Also what you said msschapelybottom about forgiving ourselves and others for our/their part in prev relationsips in very poigniant.

Capitaltrixie Tue 30-Jul-13 11:54:57

sorry about typos in last bit!

msshapelybottom Tue 30-Jul-13 12:16:18

Capital, I'm glad you are finding this thread useful...I am finding it so comforting to know that I am not on my own in this type of history!

Blooming has it absolutely spot on - emotional incest - perfect description...I think my natural childhood ended when my mother started using me as an emotional sounding board. There is no way an 8 year old should be having that kind of pressure heaped upon them. Funnily enough that was about when I remember my mum began to confide in me about adult matters too. She would discuss her issues with me, ask me if she was a good mother etc, but at the same time she seemed to be envious of me and if I tried to have ideas or needs of my own, she saw it as a threat and immediately thwarted my individuality.

I have always had a problem relating to authority figures too, (not so bad now, but in my teens and 20s I was terrified by bosses and anyone in a senior position to me) and I think it stems from the fact that I was so over-controlled by my mum.

I'm feeling so encouraged that there are a few of us who have found a new, genuinely kind & loving relationship. I feel hopeful that I will be able to spot a "good 'un" some day too smile

Oh, and I have always thought I was liberated sexually too. Now, I'm not so sure. Perhaps it's just been another method of people pleasing!

Capitaltrixie Tue 30-Jul-13 13:07:45

That's so strange msshapelybottom; I must've been around the same age as you when my mum used to have these big long chats with me about how low/tired/unhappily married she was. I remember those memories much more clearly than any of playing with friends or having childlike fun sad (...probably why these days I'm always clambering on the softplay apparatus along with my dd's ha!).
Emotional Incest, in a weird way it really helps to have a name for it! Now I just need to work on forgiving my mum..

Same as you with authority figures; I've always found them intimating too and only very recently (at 35) have I learnt how to express my emotions and that it's okay to do so (ie it doesn't make me a bad person).
This thread has left me feeling so encouraged too..there is no reason whatsoever why you won't find a 'good un' for sure smile
and um yes..with the sex thing, thinking about it, probably was people pleasing in my case!

msshapelybottom Tue 30-Jul-13 20:46:30

Isn't it fascinating that there are so many similar experiences on this thread? I'm sort of amazed, in a way, that there seems to be a prescribed outcome to having a certain type of upbringing. I was convinced for so long that my childhood hadn't really affected me, but in a way there is a certain amount of freedom in owning the bad stuff.

I have spent a lot of time learning how to enjoy "now" and have tried not to dwell too much on the past, or worry too much about the future. I do feel that this is the most important link in what I've been trying to learn about myself, but I don't want to start obsessing about it.

It's such a gift to be able to share it on here though!

Now, where is that cake? grin

Olderkidsaremine Wed 31-Jul-13 10:43:27

Bought this on my kindle and oh my god its me to a tee!! Thought sex would make things right, that if the men had sex with me then they would love me forever because you only have sex with people you love don't you??!!

Just finishing it with a man who I've been seeing a couple of months - he's not 'nice' but the chemistry was there, I realise now he's not interest in me apart from having a regular shag buddy and when I said I wasn't up for that anymore he replied with 5 words over two texts. I know he expects me to come running when I fancy some sex but he never asked about my sexual history and doesn't know that I went for 12 years without sex so although is important I can go without!

I realised he wasn't nice when I went away by myself for a few days and met some lovely people including a man who texts me everyday - just what's happening at work and whether he is going out etc, we spent a lot of time together and he is a nice man unfortunately for me he is married, I'm not out to break up a marriage and so am accepting that its friendship only. But I thought if he can text me everyday and doesn't expect anymore from me why does the man I am supposedly in a relationship (haha) with not bother to find out what's going on in my life? An example I went for a hospital appointment (which he knew what it was about and could have resulted in a surgery date) it took him over 24 hours to ask how I got on and then when I was deliberately vague to prompt him to carry on texting he never asked any other details.

After reading only the first couple of chapters I know this is all from my childhood, my Dad was in the forces and so used to come and go regularly and I moved schools a lot so the only way to cope was be very much a loner and then as I got older to play the role of a caregiver to try and give my life some purpose because if I look after you you have to like/love me right?!

If I have realised this in 2 chapters what will the rest bring!

msshapelybottom Wed 31-Jul-13 13:40:19

Olderkids, it's weird to read a book that accurately describes you ins't it? There were so many bittersweet moments for me reading it, even down to sentences a couple of the women said which I had heard myself say in the past!

I hope this won't come out the wrong way, cos I'm pretty crap at putting what I mean into words sometimes, but I recognise myself in some of what you wrote in your text...every time I got involved with a guy I'd be on tenterhooks waiting for him to text/call and validate me. I was completely unable to find any value by myself. If he contacted me, then I was an ok person, if not, then I was obviously boring/too fat/unattractive etc.

This is part of the reason I decided to take a break from guys. I wanted to find out if I could find my own sense of self worth. For the most part, I am getting there, although there are times when I feel terribly lonely, but those times are few and far between these days (thank god!!)

The married man: how do you feel about him texting you? I know that I would be very uncomfortable with a married guy texting me, even if its purely business, although I don't know if I've gone too far the other way by putting up too many barriers, but I just keep all guys who are already in a relationship at arms length.

It's partly because I have pretty high self esteem now, and don't want to be some married guys confidence boost, and partly because I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression of me. BUT a few years ago, I did have a couple of text things with married guys, and I told myself that we were just "passing the time of day" and that there was no harm in it, but looking back I can see that I was using these texts as an ego boost and to try and fill a gap in my life.

Forgive me if I've stepped out of line and feel free to ignore smile

I haven't tested myself since I began my "man break" to see how I would cope with the texting/wondering what if etc. I hope that the next time I venture into relationship territory that any contact will be a bonus to my life and not the only thing to give it meaning...(I have high hopes haha)

The book gets better!! The 2nd half is also really good, she gives lots of examples of how to stop the patterns of "loving too much".

MoreThanWords Wed 31-Jul-13 14:12:19

There is definitely a common thread in how we've behaved/low self esteem/looking for validation via sexual encounters. I'm not knocking fuck-buddy arrangements etc, but it's the need for validation that's unhealthy (not levelling this at anyone - just thinking 'out loud').

However. I'm with MsShapely about the texts from the married man, Olderkids - he's only just met you, and is texting every day about random, everyday things? My spidey-senses are tingling, and not in a good way. I wouldn't want my dh doing this, and tbh, my first reaction to what you wrote was "No, he is NOT a nice man if he's doing that!"

Olderkidsaremine Wed 31-Jul-13 19:17:58

Thanks to the previous two posters about concerns for me but I talk to him the same as my two male work colleagues with whom I share an office and who are both married, and the same as my friends who are women. Its just general everyday stuff and I am as confident as I can be that this man is just a friend same as I would count my work colleagues as friends. I also made it quite clear to him that there was no way I would have a relationship with a married man and no I don't feel that I am his confidence boost he seems to have a good relationship with his wife. As for him giving me an ego boost I don't wait for his texts if I hear from great if not no 'biggy' as the kids would say - I don't talk/text with my female friends everyday.

As for having a man break I did that for 12 years when my kids were young and then again for about 6 years, it was only about a year ago I started dating again so I know I don't need to have a man in my life, I know I can cope on my own. I just need to choose the 'right' man this time! Here's hoping!

Olderkidsaremine Wed 31-Jul-13 19:29:26

God reading that back I sound so defensive! I don't mean it to sound like that but I geniunely feel that we are friends and nothing more.

msshapelybottom Wed 31-Jul-13 20:11:06

You don't sound defensive! It's good that you have clear boundaries set up...and kudos on your man break smile

msshapelybottom Wed 31-Jul-13 20:16:21

ps. I wasn't suggesting that you were his ego boost or that you were sitting waiting for texts, just that your post reminded me of a time when I was doing that kind of thing. I didn't realise how much energy I was pouring into these guys who weren't really into me!

melbie Fri 02-Aug-13 02:02:53

Thank you so much for this recommendation- I just finished this book and it is almost terrifying how familiar some of it seems. I am not sure if it makes me feel better because I am not alone, my behaviour is understandable and it is good I recognise it or sad that I have wasted so much of my adult life screwing up my relationship choices... Strangely man breaks don't work for me- when I am single I feel strong and empowered and happy and look forward to the future and think I am sorted but get in a relationship and I am immediately crap. Need to use this time to make sure next relationship is better if it does happen

msshapelybottom Fri 02-Aug-13 09:39:31

Melbie, I hear you! I wish I knew what the answer is. I have a suspicion that I would revert to "needy" if I were to meet someone just now, which is weird because I am so independent in the rest of my life.

It does say in the book it can take years to break the old behaviours. I don't know how I feel about that really. Cats? grin

How do we make sure the next relationship isn't the same as all the rest? I hope that this slow, chipping away at the old negative stuff, and being aware of why is what changes us inside.

Apologies for dragging the conversation into the gutter, but I have been aware that I am extremely "erotically charged" (thank you Friends!) lately and usually I would go off and find a bloke to have a tussle with, but I don't think that's a good plan this time. At this stage, even the sight of a manly hand holding a steering wheel is enough to make me feel faint.

Gah! Stupid hormones.

melbie Fri 02-Aug-13 16:11:20

Not sure how we make sure. I guess we don't know if we are ready until we try and then if we realise it is too soon we are screwed again! I get so needy. And now I know exactly why!

I think I am just trying to keep thinking about it all. Not in an obsessive way but just reminding myself regularly of the issues and of what needs to change. I am reading lots of books like this one and using baggage reclaim a lot. I also really want to make sure my life is full and busy before any other man comes into my life just so I feel I have the emotional strength of me

Also having the same issues as you. Was so much easier when I was 21 and a student and you could sleep with anyone you fancied! Not helped by fact last man was amazing in bed and my brain just drifts back there knowing how good it was (although now I know why and that it is not necessarily good) and how long it is likely to be before there is any more naked time especially with someone I like... I feel your pain!

ParsleyTheLioness Fri 02-Aug-13 16:28:49

I am refusing to have Sexy Time until there is some sort of relationship established. Not like in my youth, but this feels like a way of protecting myself to some degree.

msshapelybottom Sat 03-Aug-13 08:29:01

melbie, baggage reclaim is a brilliant site isn't it?

Your plan sounds sensible. I know what you mean about keeping it in your mind...otherwise I think it would be too easy to forget about it and just carry on as normal. I am at the stage now where I've read so many books that I need to start taking action...making time to meditate every day is something I must start doing...for some reason I haven't made this a regular thing yet, but I know it really helps me. A more long term plan is to study but that's not going to happen immediately. Its good to have a focus away from men though. It makes my life feel more "rounded" and less 2 dimensional. Christ I sound like I've been taking something writing that!

The sex thing is such a bugger isn't it? The physical desire doesn't go away just because we are working on ourselves!

Parsley, I get you...I've never been very good at waiting to sleep with someone, and when I do I get all emotional about it, so this is part of the reason I'm off blokes just now. It's just easier without the complication!

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