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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.

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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