We were standing in my parents’ dining room. They were away on a weekend trip and we were staying at their place. We were in a heated argument about our past and simultaneously our future. It wasn’t going well. In anger, my partner yelled, “you need to go to therapy!” It clicked. I did need to go to therapy. Not as a punishment, but to figure out how I got here.
When I started seeing my therapist, I assumed I would calmly explain why my partner was out of control and why I had absolutely no responsibility. I wasn’t forcing my partner to drink, therefore the feelings I felt were on him. It was a simple logic puzzle. He drank. I felt. His fault.
I gave this a valiant try. It was not fulfilling. It was, in fact, the opposite of fulfilling. My sessions, much like my thoughts, were taken up completely by my partner’s behavior. I hated that my thoughts were consumed by someone that I had absolutely no control over. It was as if a news ticker was lodged in my brain; a constant feedback loop of negative self-talk involving my partner. This constant loop began creating a haze filled with thoughts like:
- If I was loved enough, my partner would stop drinking and lying.
- If I was respected, my partner wouldn’t lie.
- I must be a bad person because my partner has a drinking problem.
- My partner is drinking to escape me.
It seems silly written down, but I truly believed these thoughts. I believed these thoughts because society tells us “love heals all.” So, in my mind it was a simple solution: Problem + Love= Healing/ Solution. If we love the broken people around us enough then our love will heal them.It’s just not true. What I find to be more fruitful is: Problem + Selflove & Respect= A Healing Solution. But it’s just simply more complex than that. People have to choose to love themselves. That’s the hardest thing to do for most of us.
The thoughts that racked my brain were negative and unrelenting. I knew I could fix the situation if I just figured it out. I knew that my partner would stop if I was just better. Yes, my partner was engaging in destructive behaviors that began eroding our marriage. However, so was I. The more we secluded ourselves from the world, the bleaker our outlook became. The more I wanted our marriage to work and the more I fixated on it, the worse I became.
I felt completely alone, and worst of all, I lost myself. I was so busy worrying about my partner, I never stopped to worry about me. I’m not sure when, but eventually I began to realize I was in charge of the negative news ticker. I had allowed the haze to form in my brain. Not my partner. So maybe it was actually my problem to fix after all. I started analyzing my thought pattern.
I wasn’t purposefully thinking these negative thoughts. It just sorta happened. I thought I was very self-confident and in some ways I was. However, I was willing to accept someone treating me poorly. I was willing to accept my negative thought patterns. And I was willing to behave in ways I didn’t admire. So, all of these realizations lead me to reexamine where I came from.
What did I do to help deconstruct these thoughts? Therapy. I’ll get more into that and the specific tools I used to get just a little bit better in later posts.
Next week on Better Bertie:
- Will I get just a little bit better?
- Will there be another adorable picture of Bertie?
Tune in to find out…