Tuesday, June 26, 2007

He Needs Me-A Distortion of Fact

Sometimes, I wish I wasn't so strong. It's one of the qualities that people mistakenly believe means that I don't need others or need supportive help. Strong women get dismissed sometimes because they are too capable. It's also the one quality I hear over and over from friends and acquaintances that they recognize. Strength doesn't come from being born with it. It comes from persevering through difficulty, even self-made trouble.

Codependency is when you enable someone else to continue in bad habits, harmful behavior, abuse, or errant beliefs because you want them to feel good, not hurt you, be loved, or whatever. Scenario: A needy man cries on a woman's shoulder and tells her that she is the only one who has ever made him feel loved. She buys it. She thinks he "needs" her and that she's the only one who can do whatever he is demanding to make him whole again. Thing is, he's always got another problem to keep hooking the woman. He spins his wheels in the past. Instead of moving into the future with him, she thinks of him as an underdog victim. Then she becomes the One Who Will Make Life All Better For Him. But again, life may get better in one arena until another pops up out of no where in another broken, little boy situation.

The mistake I see women make often, and I've made myself, is to try to be the needy guy's strength so you can make it "all better" because you are going to be the one who fulfills all his needs that the big, bad world has foisted upon him. That is called co-dependent. You cannot be someone else's savior. That is God's job. At some point you have to allow them to own their own life and their own experiences.

This type of co-dependent relationship can also include abuse in the form of manipulation, guilt, verbal attack, overly dramatic emotional displays, a sense of being emotionally smothered, inappropriate accusations, and other experiences.

Now, I am not advocating the absence of helping someone. I am saying that if you are noticing a long pattern of a victim's attitude, you might want to consider the facts. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize ourselves. It's easy to get sucked into a pattern of victim/savior roles without realizing it.

So how do you know? I can only suggest these possibilities...

1. Do you feel like things in your relationship are distorted emotionally?

2. Do you make excuses to others for his/her words or behavior?

3. Does he/she make you feel guilty?

4. Have you talked with friends or loved ones?

5. Better yet, have they mentioned something to you?

6. Do you feel like your emotional tank is always sucked dry and yet he/she demands more emotion or passion from you?

7. Are you afraid to leave due to suicide threats?

8. Does he/she have other friends or does he allow you to have friends?

9. Does he/she accuse you of doing something that was done to him/her "before", but it is false where you are concerned?

10. Are you suspicious that things are just a bit over the top?

11. Are you worn out from all the demands?

12. Are you spending more energy on this person than you should?

13. Is this person high-maintenance?

14. Does he/she spend too much money to meet their personal (not necessary) desires without meeting necessary expenses?

15. Does he/she need to spend an extreme amount of time pursuing personal pleasure to the exclusion of real needs or the needs in their family?

No, I haven't the answers for your specific situation. I would urge you to go to a counselor, pastor, YWCA, or trusted friend to discuss the answers you've discovered. This list is not in any way meant to be exhaustive. It can't be. There are too many different personalities in the world. I felt that the YWCA was hugely helpful to me. They have Power and Control Wheels to help you further recognize issues you may be experiencing. They have other brochures, counseling opportunities, and community assistance lists. Please, if you believe you are being abused, go see a YWCA counselor, your pastor, or your own counselor.

Needy people have their own problems to solve. Help where God leads you, but don't own the needy person's problems. They don't own yours. The more you take on someone else's problem, the more you continue to cripple their recovery. The goal is to minister in love, but not in being taken advantage of or manipulated. It can be a fine line for those who are capable, but have always managed to manipulate others to do the work for them.

It is your choice. Once you own the responsibility for your life and actions, you must choose if you will continue to enable someone else in their self-destructive/other-destructive behavior. Harsh, I know, true anyway.

May God be with you through this time. May God grant you discernment and wisdom. May God lead you if change is necessary. Please, don't be so strong that you do this alone. Turn to the appropriate people for help.

Please feel free to post comments or offer encouragement to other readers.

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