Dependency is a bad thing?

I’m learning about my behaviors related to growing up with a narcissistic mother.  Well, at least I call her that because I was sexually abused by my own brother and didn’t have a safe enough relationship with my mother to seek out her help.  She was in the same house when the abuse occurred and I always thought she knew but turned her head in denial.  But, perhaps, she was wrapped up in her own life and honestly had no idea.  Whatever the reason, I put the blame on myself and hid the shame from my mother.

My last post brought up some questions about whether my relationship with my husband is healthy.  According to the current book I’m reading, Will I Ever Be Good Enough?,  about daughters of narcissistic mothers, my relationship is far from healthy.  In fact, I am completely dependent on my husband and using him to fill the emotional void and emptiness left by my mother.   Should I feel bad about that?  Is it wrong that my husband fills the void?

Perhaps it is because this book says so.  I will end up stifling him with my overwhelming demands, jealousy, and insecurities. 

How true.  I do expect a lot from him and there are times when he can’t meet my needs and I pout like I was a little girl.  The exact same as when my mom didn’t know how I felt.  When I believed no one really cared.  But, I typically exile myself when I feel like this.  I know the emptiness and disappointment  is self-realized.  The third person in me can see myself acting immaturely.   30 years ago, I would cry to my husband (then boyfriend) and he would respond by doing anything to make me feel better.  He took me out to dinner all the time, bought me flowers, professed his love and fulfilled my need to feel his love through sexual intimacy.  Of course, we were in our prime but I desired more sex than is typical.  I’m embarrassed to tell this story but it is a good example of my dependency on him.

When we were in college, H. had an apartment with roommates and I lived in a dorm so we mostly hung out at H’s apartment.  But, we never came out of his room except to eat.  His 2 male roommates must have thought we were nuts, always having sex to the point of not socializing outside of H’s bedroom.  I had an insatiable appetite for him to love me continually.  I gave back what I got in bed and it kept H where I wanted him, which was all mine, fulfilling only my needs.  I suppose I caused him to become co-dependent, according to the author.

Fast forward 30 years and a few things have changed but not the dynamics of the relationship.  We have a home, kids, friends and jobs.  A few years back one of the old roommates came by with his family and we had a great time outside at our pool.  I recall H grilling steak and shrimp and being the perfect host while I was assisting, making sure the side dishes were out and everyone had a cold drink.  We were reminiscing about the past and as I stood behind H, rubbing his shoulders, his friend said, “I never would have guessed your marriage would last when all the two of you did was act like bunnies in college.  You never came out of H’ s room.”   Everyone had a good laugh at the memory but when he said this I felt a sense of shame.  I was once again, defective.  Not normal.  But, H laughed and squeezed my butt, which reassured me that it was not all my fault or doing.  He was there, too, and enjoyed that time of his life.  What 21-year-old wouldn’t want to have a 19-year-old woman with an unending desire for sex?

I know I rely on my husband for everything.  He has learned to complain if its way over the top.  He’s also learned to ignore my lists and nagging.  On the flip side, I’ve learned to not expect as much from him.  I let things go.  My world doesn’t have to be perfect.  But, admittedly, when I feel ignored, sad or unloved by my family I pout and complain to him.  H doesn’t like me to feel sad and will try to fix it.  Just this weekend, he booked 2 seats to take a fishing vacation with my oldest son.  When he told me, I walked away and cried, feeling very sad that I wasn’t included in the plans or the little excursion.  I wasn’t going to show him my pain but he brought me a hot cup of coffee and called out looking for me.  He found me, in the backyard, alone and crying.  He was also with our 11-year-old, who hates to see me sad.  It’s rare that I cry but since I started this blog I think I’ve been more emotional.  I’m recognizing when I feel disappointment or unimportant in ways I never did in the past.

I explained to H that our family hasn’t taken a “family vacation” in years.  We’re always going our separate ways with one kid or the other.  Next thing I hear, H booked 2 more flights and we are all going to Florida.  Now I felt guilty and mad at him.  My intent was not to change his mind, only to point out a problem.  He has this thing where he has to fix problems so when I still complained he got frustrated and said, “Well, it’s done.  We’re all going to Florida”  and he walked away.  I struggled with feelings of worthlessness.  He really didn’t want me there, I told myself.  He did this for me and I’m not worth it.  I worried that we really could not afford the additional 2 plane tickets.

But, what’s done is done.  We are going to stay with his sister and it’s turned into a big family thing where cousins and aunts and uncles are all going to hang out.  H will spend his day’s fishing while I get to go to the beach.  I felt sad that he made it clear he is going to fish so I can do whatever I want.  But, later on he offered me his hand and asked, “Will you come out on the dock and fish with me?”  I said, “You won’t be able to keep me away.”

So, there you have it.  My marriage is not perfect.  The next chapter in this book I’m reading will offer suggestions on ways to reframe the negative messages that I learned in childhood and develop and accept my own identity, feelings and desires.  And most importantly work to recognize my own narcissistic traits so I don’t pass them onto my children.  Sounds like a tall order! ♥ Daylily

11 responses to “Dependency is a bad thing?

  1. Sounds like a cool book! I bet everyone’s relationships and marriages are unhealthy in different ways. The important thing is to see the issues and work on them, the feeling of “working on them” is good enough, I find, for me at least. I admire you for doing that type of work and having the courage to look at these things and see how you can do what you need to while respecting your feelings and also changing your mind where it could use it. Very inspiring 🙂

  2. I have similar needs with my husband. I so appreciate you writing about this, as it helps me more than you know. I also fear I rely too heavily on hubby, fearing co-dependence, and feeling worthless and immature when I pout and he fixes it. But he says this is how it is supposed to be. He says he is “my one and only” and there is nothing wrong with that. I know I have used him to fill wholes from my past, and I try to be aware of those feelings to not put too much onto him now.

  3. Maybe he did realize that he was leaving you out and immediately wanted to make sure that was rectified. Us men don’t usually get into the depth of analysis, and so we do things that aren’t meaning to be negligent, like fishing with our sons. And it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut with patterns that have been repeated and reinforced over the years. (That’s why I try to really reach men when it comes to relationships early on, and not establishing the groundwork of their new relationships on sex or the physical, but rather connectivity in the soul, and letting everything else birth from there and within marriage, you know, all that stuff.) But many men just do what they know, and if they are well-meaning, then they are doing the best with what they know, which means their heart is good and true. 🙂

    • You are very kind to visit my blog and offer your perspective. I’m glad you are trying to teach men about connecting in the soul. It is not easy to connect with a person who has been abused and hurt because we keep our souls protectively hidden, believing we are damaged and no one would love us if they really knew us and how worthless we feel.

      I understand what you are preaching about God’s love and the purity of our souls. Intellectually, I get it. Sometimes I can feel the divine energy and all the negative stuff falls away and I’m left with a sense of wholeness where I’m not dependent on another. I wish I had that inner peacefulness more often but it is fleeting.

      • Yes, I know it may not be easy, but if a guy approaches the woman with a gentle and persistent patience, I believe that opening can be earned. I also believe it is wise for a woman not to give too much of her soul early anyway, whether having been abused or not. There’s a balance in there, but I think it mostly revolves around patiently earned trust from both parties.

        I hope I don’t sound too preachy in my ‘preaching’. I most certainly want to just come alongside people and encourage them, inspire them, not speak at them, if that makes sense. Sometimes I feel the divine strength too, but not all the time. But it’s enough to remember that it’s there and it’s real, right? That alone can inspire that thing called faith, which is actually far more powerful because it doesn’t depend on a fleeting feeling to exist and persist. It is the faithful friend that walks us through life. I think there’s a point where even resting in the knowing can bring that sense of peace in like a butterfly settling on our shoulders anyway, instead of always looking to catch it in its elusiveness.

        You’re doing great, much better than you think, and much more well than you realize. Truthfully. Remember to just stay under the firing lines when the crossfire gets too heavy…prostrate before the One…till the air above settles…stay there, don’t get up till He picks you up. 🙂 Blessings sister…

      • Faith, yes. I like that. I’ve got an embroidered saying framed and hanging on my wall, 3 feet from where I’m sitting, that says, “Faith Family Friends.” You renewed its meaning for me. Thanks. –Daylily

  4. Dependency is a problem? Well, of course I know it is. But so what? There are so many other problems that I don’t even tackle this one. Actually I do try. I give myself lectures and try to be independent. But, after 23 years of marriage yes, I am very, very dependent. We have love and to me that is the most important thing. Maybe it would be a purer form of love if it was free of dependency but there are so many other things to tackle in life.

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