I promise, I will try to keep this backstory short. When I was 18 I fell MADLY in love with my first serious boyfriend. We had been together for 4 months when he told me lied about his age. The night we met, he said he got kicked out of the club for drinking underage when really he’d just purchased alcohol for someone underage. He turned out to be 7 years older than me, and just “afraid of losing me”. He wasn’t scared when he told me that he was going to desert me at HIS friend’s house (who was younger than me!) to go to his other buddy’s spot for a small get together.
Being the devious “adult” I was, I called my divorced parents and made them both think I was staying the night at the other’s home. I went to the party with my boyfriend at the time, trusting his lying/cheating/way too old for me ass with my entire life. Literally, my entire life that night. When we pulled up to the condo complex, he made me swear I wouldn’t get mad at him or judge him for what he was going to try. It never crossed my mind, until he told me in that moment, that it would be heroin. I told him out of spite that what was good enough for him to try out of curiosity, was good enough for me. I caught the short end of that deal and fell madly in love with heroin for a while. I promise I’ll dive into this subject someday, but for now it just proves a pattern.
I’m co-dependent. I fit the stigma of a druggie to a T. Even being clean since 2011, I still struggle with the underlying issues that led me down the path in the first place. My two biggest struggles are codependency and self esteem. I have zero ability to set boundaries because I think I’m undeserving of them. I feel ashamed for my past. I feel ashamed for my upbringing. I was never asked my feelings on anything. I was expected to be “the trooper” my entire childhood. Don’t share your feelings, it will just “guilt trip” or “manipulate” others into giving me what I “wanted”. I didn’t understand that expecting respect, care, validation, encouragement (etc.) should have been what I was allowed to express the need for. But whenever I was asked how I was doing or if I was ok, I would just say, “yes, [insert family member], I’m fine.” Then I would be left to my own devices and usually drew or watched TV.
This has carried over into my adult life and it infuriates those closest to me. My family of course understands that it’s my (our) repercussions of my upbringing. My chosen family looks at me like a martian as they’re trying everything they can think of to get me to have an opinion on ANYTHING. It can be my birthday dinner, and instead of just saying what I actually want, I carefully weigh each person’s likes and choose the most common of the group. While this can be courteous, it shouldn’t be like that EVERY time. I will happily say, “I don’t care”, and be SO relieved when someone else makes the call and has to “deal with the complaining” of whoever isn’t made happy by the decision.
I’m tired of that though. I’m tired of accepting derogatory behavior or back handed compliments. I’m tired of those close to me talking so down to me, then asking why I’m not smiling or joking around like they “were”. I use the quotes because I’ll be told something like, “you’re such a bitch, you can’t even laugh at my joke about how your hair reminds me of the shit color your hair is.” Or another example from today was when I played a song on the radio and then was berated with “playing this song for a reason? You don’t think I know you’re telling your friends what an asshole I am? I’m going to take your phone and chuck it out the f*** window! Oh no, why do you look alarmed? I was just joking! I wouldn’t actually do that on the freeway.” A few seconds would go by silently and that statement would be followed up with, “I mean it would probably hit someone else’s car and then you’d have to pay to repair it because I know I’m the only one passing everyone going 90mph!”
I’ve made mistakes (and have much better examples of this treatment than the above, but those are the softest ones I can think of) when I first got with a boyfriend, and I felt for a while I was deserving of the punishment. Of being controlled, to prove I was sorry and worth loving still. I truly feel everyone’s care for me is conditional and I’ll someday say or do the wrong thing and be as alone as I feel inside after treatment like this.
How do I set boundaries with people I’ve allowed to mistreat me for so long? I feel like once I figure out how to set standards for how I expect to be treated, that I will have found the key to happiness. I am one of the most loyal, generous, and caring people around. I’m taken advantage of often, not that that is anything to brag about. I just want to share that, but I also want to be treated that way. I’m tired of accepting the consequences of something I’m told I was forgiven for almost 8 years ago now. I just want those I care about to treat me with the same love I so quickly and willingly give. I want them to know I DO value myself and I DO expect to be treated fairly, and I DO know that one day I will. I just need the clue to start…