At this point I have already elaborated on three different factors that turned the guy I so ardently loved into a Mr. Unavailable. For some people each single one of these factors might have already been enough to make them opt out of a relationship. All of these factors combined would probably scare every person with a sane mind away. If you are a codepedent person, all of these difficulties won’t scare you away – on the contrary: we are drawn to difficulties and drama like a moth to the flame. So to sum it up, neither one of the three factors I’ve already pointed out made me flee from the relationship to save my own sanity and well-being. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that the fourth factor didn’t keep me from staying with him either.
On top of being immature, aimless, changeable, and still attached to his exgirlfriend, my Mr. Unavailable was at times also severely depressed. When we first started dating he managed to hide his depression quite well; he seemed to be jovial and high-spirited, had many funny and smart things to say, and there always was an unerasable smile on his face that made him really attractive and just fun to be around. I was immediately drawn to his easygoingness, his humor, the light in his eyes…Only later did it reveal itself that this was only one side of his personality – a side that would come to the surface only scarcely from a certain point onward.
With each following date I learned more and more about how conflicted his entire being was: he was severely sad because he lacked purpose in his life, because he was still so much entangled with his former girlfriend and didn’t manage to “entangle” from a situation that clearly wasn’t healthy anymore, because he didn’t know how to go on and what to do with his life, because he felt isolated in a country that didn’t offer him many opportunities and whose language he didn’t know at all, because he was, in general, a deeply anxious, worried and pensive person who took things to heart to such an extent that it was extremely painful and crippling, restricting him in his own personal development.
He was often completely distracted when the two of us met. His mind was somewhere completely else and I had to deal with the fact that I never got his undivided attention. I often lay in his arms, feeling completely content to be so close to him, feeling like nothing in the entire world could hurt me like this, only to have to realize that he didn’t feel the same way and that his mind was somewhere else. It was painful to realize that my happiness just wasn’t shared. He talked a lot about how sad and despaired he felt, about how unhappy he was as a child, how his parents screwed up, how he felt isolated and trapped in his current situation, how he felt responsible for his exgirlfriend but still wanted to get out of their shared apartment. I had to listen to his sad and depressing stories over and over again, and at one point I realized that those stories made up the bulk of the things we talked about when spending time together. I guess you can imagine that I was greatly affected by this…it saddened me to have to learn on a daily basis how unhappy he was with every little aspect of his life. And while I hoped in the beginning that I could have a positive influence by just being there for him and being loving, patient and understanding, I soon had to learn that I was completely powerless. It’s hard to accept your own powerlessness in a situation like this: it makes you feel useless, not good enough, to not have the power to lighten the mood of the person you love.
I would never turn my back on a person in emotional pain. I always feel a deep need to help them, to be there for them and lighten their burden. In this case I was without a chance. Nothing I said or did ever made a difference and it was incredibly hard to accept that. Still I was there for him, being all patient, empathic and understanding, thinking that if I couldn’t help him, at least I could be there for him and be a good listener. That I was getting depressed in the process completely escaped my notice. I was used to pushing my own wishes, feelings and desires away to be there for others, as it is a big part of being codependent.
As we don’t want to deal with our own pain and feelings, we immerse ourselves in the pain of others. It is a distraction that keeps us from having to come to terms with our own emptiness, our own deep-seated unhappiness. Dealing with the problems of others gives us the convenient opportunity to push away our own problems. It would be so much more painful to grapple our own conflictedness and so we plunge into the possibility to give all of our attention to someone else instead.
This is also true for my own case: I was so preoccupied with the sadness and despair of my Mr. Unavailable, thinking of ways to lighten his burden, that I totally forgot about myself. My entire being revolved around him and his problems and I completely forgot about myself in the process. Now that all of this is over I started to realize that I completely forgot myself, pushing my own problems far away from me, failing to deal with my inner emptiness and conflictedness. It is something that I now need to focus on.
Only if we manage to be good to ourselves first, to become strong and confident, and solve our own problems and conflicts first, can we be a part of a healthy relationship. If we aren’t good to ourselves we will always look for distraction in dramatic and painful relationships that keep us from engaging with our own problems and desires. It is perfectly noble to be there for someone in pain, but we should never lose ourselves in the process. So while I thought I was being a good, loving and caring human being, trying to lighten someone else’s mood, I was in truth trying to evade myself, my own emptiness and pain. It wasn’t healthy, it began to eat away at me and that’s why in the end, I must be glad that it’s over. Even though it is still hard to accept at times…