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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.

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!

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