Q I’m getting freaked out that my life seems like one of those programmes that gets repeated time and again on TV! I’m seeing the same pattern being played out – even though it doesn’t start out like that, or at least I don’t intend it to. I can’t see it happening until I get the old feelings kicking in. Feelings of boredom and feeling trapped and needing to escape so that I can breath again. I’ve had some counselling and now realise that my dad was like this and he kept leaving my mum and then she’d keep taking him back. I don’t want any of my own kids that I might have in the future to feel like I did growing up. So why do I keep repeating things?
A It sounds like you have already become aware of your ingrained pattern in relationships – and fortunately you can see that this won’t and can’t bring you what you want in the future.
The next big step – is what to do about it!
The main issue here is your feelings – and what you imagine a certain situation might make you feel like, and what you want to do in response to that feeling.
For instance, if being in a long term relationship brings up feelings of being trapped and stifled, or a fear of being attached to someone who might then leave you – what do these feelings then make you want to do?
Then ask yourself –
What are these feelings trying to tell me?
What are they trying to get me to avoid?
What would that avoidance bring me instead?
What feelings do I want to have when I’m in a relationship?
What would have to be in place for me to have these preferred feelings?
My guess is that you will discover deeper and painful feelings of rejection and abandonment by your father whose behaviour was emotionally abusive and toxic (because it has contaminated your relationships since then).
You may find that you’ve been trying to avoid being rejected or abandoned again, and instead you set that up first – and emotionally leave a relationship before you physically leave.
Perhaps you find fault and give yourself an excuse to leave – instead of allowing things to develop.
If so, you are still reading from someone else’s script – one which has been re-enforced and expanded by your own additions to it from more recent times.
You need to ditch that second-hand script and write your own. First you must be clear about what you want the outcome to be, then work backwards to where you are now. Be clear about the more positive steps ahead that will take you to your destination.
You have a choice…to keep replaying the old drama and stay fed up with the outcome or to deliberately write a new screenplay for you and a compatible partner to co-produce…with new cast members added along the way.
Just because your father was a runner you don’t have to be.
Boredom is not about the other person.
Relationships are challenging and bring up things that nothing else does. You can examine and learn from those things or you can play truant and never graduate.
It’s not easy – but you’re already part of the way towards change by realising the problem and having the desire to fix it.
Then comes knowing what you want instead, and creating a step by step plan to get you there, allowing for any stumbles along the way.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
www.maxineharley.com Where you will find FREE e-booklets and other free resources designed to help and inform you on your journey of self-knowledge and development