I got a note from one of my friend Lily’s daughter’s friends, Erica, who agreed to let me share it:
“Dysfunctional relationships is all I’ve ever seen and especially at the moment I have my doubts if I will ever be able to have healthy relationships.
I am still looking for a source of happiness outside myself…even though I know that none of the sources I’ve tried so far (smoking, eating, alcoholic boyfriend, not eating, sex, attention) ever worked out, I still find myself escaping from everything to try another short cut. It is like fast food….you know you will feel worse afterwards but it tastes good for the moment.
Right now, I am separated from my ex…He cut off all contact with me. I try to eat normal, I stopped smoking…I had an affair witch turned out to be just a substitution for my ex- relationship…It’s the same communication (or lack of it) same unhealthy patterns same feeling of rejection and I am desperately looking for attention…behaving in a compulsive way and I can’t stand myself.
I am very desperate at the moment and I really don’t know how to deal with myself….”
You did great getting all that out.
We have to fill our own well. Sometimes we grow up in families where we don’t see appropriate ways to do just that. So we turn to anything: people places and things to fill ourselves up. Eating, not eating, going after unavailable men, going after inappropriate men, waiting for someone to rescue us…
We think if we change the outside environment we can change the inside environment but it is the other way around. We have to change our insides first and then the outsides change. We have to learn to take care of ourselves each day. If we don’t learn this, then every relationship we have is sick – we become codependent on others, we stop being authentic, and we feel miserable and desperate because those behaviors are all temporary fixes.
Women often use relationships men to avoid the pain of our aloneness in the universe. We crave the attention. It soothes us for a few moments but it still can’t fill our well.
Every day when we get up we can ask for the strength and direction to take care of ourselves just for today.
We can remind ourselves: Just as we are taken care of today, we will be taken care of tomorrow.
We can think of how we can be of service to someone else. This gets us out of our own problems. We can find one thing to do each day to help.
We can find something – one thing, anything – of beauty to focus on. Even a pebble. One that is smooth, one that is full of chiseled cracks.
We can eat right, get rest, get exercise, get prayed up, get to work on our goals just for that day.
We can consider therapy to get the individual support we need. We can attend a 12-step group meeting – OA for over- or under-eating, AA for having our arms around the alcohol, Alanon for having our arms around someone whose arms are around alcohol. That goes for drugs, too.
The pain doesn’t disappear overnight. But that pain won’t kill us, either. Remember, when we feel like shit, we’re being fertilized to grow. Wisdom and suffering go hand in hand. That’s the only way our spirits grow. Sometimes our pain seems endless and meaningless and unfair. But we can reach out to others and be comforted and recognize we’re not alone.
At night, before we go to sleep, we can find at least one thing that we can be proud about that we accomplished that day.
I know it is possible for you to find a healthy relationship–but first we have to develop a healthy relationship with ourselves. We’re all cheering you on. You can do this!
All you other wise women and men out there, what would you say to this dear young woman? The community forum is now open for your ideas and suggestions.