Overcoming Feelings of Helplessness: You’re More Powerful Than You Think
My relationship with my long-term Narcissist was awful. I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, while he was allowed to frolic around, without a care in the world. Our friends used to joke about how selfish he was. It was so obvious to everyone that everything was always all about him and when he acted like a selfish bastard they would literally laugh hysterically. I would laugh too, because it was such a bizarre way for someone to behave. But there I was the long suffering spouse, taking it, with no thought of ever walking away.
His behavior was appalling, but mine was inexplicable. Sure, I was codependent, but there had to be a better reason for why I felt so powerless and why I was so devastated by the thought of him leaving.
Obviously, the biggest reason I put up with it, is because I felt like I didn’t deserve any better. His behavior fit in nicely with the programming I’d received as a child – I am flawed and unworthy of love and he sure mirrored those beliefs. Being in that environment felt normal, in a twisted kind of way.
Another gift of my manipulative Narcissist was his ability to erode my self-esteem. In his attempt to keep me where he wanted me, I kept getting the message that, you can’t do it without me and that no one else will want you. Codependents eat that kind of criticism up like candy.
My Narcissist drained me emotionally. He was the epitome of the emotional vampire. His incessant need for attention and need for approval and reassurance was exhausting. I had nothing left to give anyone else, not even myself.
I also didn’t think I was allowed to leave. In my mind, I remember thinking, “This is just how it is.” I thought it was my lot in life to persevere and make the best of it. I thought I was lucky to have him and that meant that I had to sacrifice, while he got to indulge.
In fact, it never occurred to me to leave. After it was all said and done, a friend of mine said, “If you would have had someone infatuated with you and kept whispering in your ear to leave, you would have left too.” I thought about what she’d said and the truth is, I don’t think I would have. My brain just didn’t work that way. I called it loyalty, but I think it had a different, more sinister name – dependency.
His neurosis fit perfectly with my neurosis. That was my dependency. His need to be irresponsible and be taken care of filled my need to be in control and to nurture. If I didn’t have him to focus on, who was I going to focus on? Certainly not myself. If he wasn’t my project I’d have to find another and I’d already put so much work into him. On the outside things looked pretty good. We had good jobs, a house and I wasn’t willing to pop the bubble of the fantasy I was living in.
I have described the feeling of being abandoned by him as being catatonic. I was paralyzed with fear and I couldn’t really describe why at the time. It was so much more than just feeling rejected. I was afraid of everything. I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to. I didn’t have anywhere to live, no job, no car – everything was gone.
I had never known depression like that existed. I called it – ground zero, because I had lost everything and I there wasn’t any lower I could go. What was the toughest to accept was that he never looked back to see what he left behind. I was just roadkill that he flattened by the side of the road and it was safer for him to not look back.
But I Can’t Leave
The number of individuals that I encounter on a daily basis, that don’t see leaving as an option, is pretty startling. They don’t see a way out. They cannot get past their fear and they feel completely helpless. I hear statements like:
- “He threatened to commit suicide if I leave. I can’t go.”
- “He won’t stop contacting me. What am I supposed to do?”
- “We have kids.”
- “Every time I leave he sucks me back in.”
- “I’m not working, what would I do?”
I’ve heard all of these comments just this week and more. They’re valid reasons, I get it, make no mistake, but they’re still excuses. It’s easier in most cases to do nothing, than to act and as intelligent beings, we can justify just about anything we want to.
You’re More Powerful Than You Think
What intrigues me about the concept of feeling helpless is that it is a barrier that we construct in our own minds. It’s the prison we make for ourselves. It feels real to us, but it’s only a mirage. Perhaps it is part of our early programming to believe that we are still that helpless child with no other option than to endure.
There are a few things that we all must keep in mind when we’re dealing with relationships. Below is a compilation of a few things I learned along the way:
You always have a choice: Your relationship ends when you say it does. It won’t matter how much effort, energy or promises, someone puts in to trying to win you back. If your mind is made up then nothing anyone says or does can change that.
Put things into proper perspective: Things are not always as overwhelming as they appear. Sometimes we can make things so much bigger in our minds than they really are. I find that the right things show up when you need them. If you make the decision and you follow through with it, the universe will conspire and give you what you need – if you need money you will find it, friends – they will appear, opportunities will present themselves – you just have to be in the right frame of mind. I can promise you, that once you are committed to leaving, things will fall into place and I am a living example of that.
Necessity really is the mother of invention: You will very likely find yourself in a difficult situation a time or two on your journey, but what you will find out about yourself is that you will always find a way, if it’s important enough to you. You find one or you make one – these are invaluable skills to learn in life.
Overcome your fear: All you have to do is take a tiny step, then another, then another and before you know it you’ve walked a mile. To overcome a fear of heights individuals are exposed to being elevated to a small distance, once they acclimate to that distance they go a little higher, then a little higher and so on. The same thing goes for fear of being alone – you will acclimate to it. Fear of not having enough money – like I said above – when you are committed to your cause things usually fall into place and you get very good at creating opportunities for yourself. It’s amazing how far a little ingenuity will take you. All you have to do is try.
It’s okay to give up: Just because you made the decision to date someone once doesn’t mean that you are stuck with that decision for the rest of your life. You’re allowed to change your mind. It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve already put into the relationship. If it’s not working – it’s not working and giving it another year isn’t going to change that fact. You have not only the right but the responsibility to walk away from anyone or thing that is harmful to your wellbeing.
Take back your power: Own who you are and start viewing yourself as an important, autonomous being. You are an individual separate from your relationship and you have every right to expect to be treated with kindness and respect by all that you meet. You have a right to have your needs met. You have a right to grow and learn. You have a right to seek happiness. And you also have the right to walk away from anything that tries to keep you from your rights.
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