Selective memory

man-computer-628Using the web, on computer or smartphone, to find love, approval, instant sex or another partner is unwise before you begin to consider repairing past relationships. That old adage ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result’ certainly rings true. Time for a check-in surely on past and present behaviour, after all, when you drive a car without lessons you often end up in Accident & Emergency. What makes you think that driving a relationship without help is wise? Look at your track record.

When you scour over the past like an anthropologist scraping away with a trowel, to find the jewel to make all the emotional pain worthwhile, memory can be selective. The most heard quote in relationship repair coaching is likely to be ‘the sex was really good’, followed by ‘after a row’.

Some partners need a row, to feel the fear of loss, before the sexual act brings bonding, capture, safety and security back to the fore. If a relationship lasts, and many do, it does not mean its functional, for without support, education and confrontation, all you get is what you think a relationship is : a laboratory of battle, let down and discontent. Resentments you thought you had drowned eventually learn to swim. Unconditional love defies battle but in order to achieve this level of bliss, battle needs to leave the heart.

9781439117699_p0_v2_s260x420When you are knee deep in self-help books, in recovery or therapy it takes a while to dig deep, to find the innocent perfection that occurred before life became scarred, disappointing or laden with guilt. 
One thing is sure – doing it alone is difficult – many read books or attend group but few do the exercises as a path to emotional progress. Sharing pain, fears and selective memories in the beginning of any therapeutic process is like having a romance with the mind . .  it’s light, new and inspiring. After a while the concentration wavers, remembrance becomes painful and fight or flight turns up with a smirk to test your nerve. In her latest book THE NEW CODEPENDENCY, the Queen of Coda Recovery, Melody Beattie writes, in the chapter called : Healing what hurts, the following :
” As codependency hit the mainstream, people not in recovery talked about ideas such as self-care and limits. We recognised that if a problem or illness – from Alzheimer’s Disease to a spinal cord injury – affects one family member, it affects the whole family too. What affects one part affects the whole. Support groups for caregivers spread like wildfire. Caregivers need care, too. Internet groups and chat rooms have been added to the list of resources. ( There wasn’t a self-help section when Codependent No More first came out ). Groups, therapists, treatment centres, support and information saturated society – from OPRAH to the news-stands. Less self-help? There’s never been more. ”
But having this level of support available does not mean it will be picked up. Most pick up information in a crisis, while self-care really involves prevention to avoid crisis. The first point of reference in self-care is to ask for help and stay the distance, so journey on and avoid selective memory. It’s easy to use selective memory to convince that it ” wasn’t that bad ” looking back over past and present relationships in appraisal. 
Many air brush over truth, romanticise the pain and people please, rather than re-experience or even own the battle within. This is what I call ” can’t leave/can’t stay ” bungie jump relationships, because when partners hit the wall of denial and fear, they bounce back to a space of familiarity, even one saturated in low esteem and fear of abandonment. The easiest way to begin healing the hurts, in my experience, is to find another person in therapy, recovery or in groupwork. It’s harder to be in denial when you hear someone else telling your story.Then it’s more likely that the light bulbs will come on, when you realise and accept, the patterns of pain you can’t let go of.
sex-addictionHealthy relationships avoid babysitting, parenting and distorted truths.There is no point clearing the wreckage of the past, only to create another archaeological dig decades later. So it makes sense to tell the truth faster, to find your voice, emotional equality and create a union worthy of remembrance.
Today’s ‘New Codependencies’ and attachments in the internet age are as plentiful as the self help groups available to help and heal, so it makes sense to combat one with the other. Many LGBT groups exist online if your locality offers no support, as well as telephone Helplines, so reach out. In the early 80’s I was Art Editor of a Computer Management magazine, way before home computers were de rigueur. At the interview I said ‘but I don’t know anything about computers’, their reply was concise ‘ You don’t need to, be creative, all you need to know is that computers solve one problem and create another!’ Who would have thought that smartphone, sexting, gaming and porn would become some of those problems over the past decade, in maintaining a relationship?
Owning your own part in relationship breakdown is halfway to ending a destructive cycle like ‘blaming the partner’. That rarely works. Nor does blaming yourself, so eradicate blame, it only breeds resentment and we know where that leads. Living a healthy emotional life means letting go of  negativity and  working on emotional clean-up as you go along. Selective memory serves only a codependent mind, for truth precedes peace, clarity precedes serenity and unconditional love is the result.

Don’t treat me like a child

Spend a few minutes thinking how many times you acted like a child in a relationship, when you couldn’t get your own way. Maybe you still act like a child in a present relationship. Adult childishness occurs in many unconscious forms, getting treated like a child by a know-all partner, making you feel like a dog when they say ” FETCH “, and patting you on the head in a patronising way, is one way. It’s OK to be trained as a pup as a fetish set-up but tiresome to be controlled by a partner to the extent you feel inadequate or trapped. When it comes to acting out control, the reality is that a person who feels victimised often needs a controller, as much as control freaks seeks out other kids to bully. Many still believe that a good relationship consists of finding a babysitter lover or substitute parent which is why protection, safety and security are high on the emotional agenda disguised as ” Love” or” Being in Love “. I know of many gay men who wait to be ‘rescued’, the low esteemers who people please in order to be loved, but when you don’t love yourself it is also difficult to receive love when it comes your way. The core of co-dependency is fear of rejection or abandonment, so it’s no surprise that many internet profile addicts gain love and acceptance from how many messages they receive in the morning before work. Fewer messages means less attention, and while an adult accepts this situation for what it is, a codependent adult in a child’s mind sees it as total rejection of self. The sexual attention we got in our twenties wanes as we age, while the need to be noticed can increase as hair recedes and bellies expand. Such is gay life. Off course we have to thank the Bear Brigade for changing these viewpoints, but not every 45 year old wants to wear a tartan shirt, a beard and go TONKER till 2am.
 Melody Beattie’s take on the subject is this –
” Codependent’s experience quite a few intense emotions about current events that are not mature adult feelings but stem from other sources. For example, a codependent may easily pick up and carry feelings for others taking on board misguided responsibility. Codependents are also prone to harbour feelings picked up during childhood from parents and to project them onto others in adult life. In addition, codependents can quickly sink into a child ego state when current events trigger a child feeling reality that was not sufficiently dealt with during childhood. When we sink into the child ego state, we feel small, vulnerable, and often defensive. Even in recovery, however, these old feelings will continue to come up to a certain degree. The difference is that when they do come up, you can unload them with a therapist/counsellor or aftercare support or with friends who are mature enough to listen to them. This will prevent you from using these strong feelings from childhood to create intensity within your relationships. “
Recovery from codependent patterning means responding to your partner or situation, rather than re-acting  or reacting like a child who can’t get their own way. This reaction seldom works long term in a relationship, because the partners mind and mouth clam up as an act of survival, in much the same way that a mother reacts to a crying child night and day. She switches off until she can’t stand anymore. Constant nagging of a partner just takes them back to childhood, to those previous times of emotional silence when they felt helpless, victimised and controlled. When one partner is in recovery from Love Addiction and the other is not, a re-written script gets acted out when patterns change and reality is faced. Partners often refrain from adhering to the new regime because it means growing up and taking responsibility for themselves, which defeats the object of the exercise in starting the relationship in the first place. This is why it takes courage to change. Just because you may be excited about a new way of thinking, working and expressing yourself, others may not, but the reality is that when WE make a stand of change others are challenged to follow. Without this level of challenge we dig deeper into our own emotional graves – and stay there.