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Discovery: How Did I Get Here?

What you learn in this class: Help with identifying problems in critical skills Facing Reality, Staying Accountable, Focus, Addressing/Managing Vulnerabilities, and help with tackling the solution in critical skills Staying Motivated To Do NC, Facing Reality, Focus, Addressing/Managing Vulnerabilities

Part of what helps you to come to terms with the breakup and needing to do No Contact is having an honest conversation with yourself about how you got here. The purpose of this conversation isn't to beat yourself up, to pour blame and shame upon you, or to mete out punishment for you; you need to have this ongoing conversation to help you not only be realistic but to understand what is needed.

Doing No Contact is about responding to the facts of the situation not the story you tell you about the situation.

If you don't know how you got here or don't seek to discover it, you cannot understand how to change your habits and or avoid repeating unhealthy thinking and behaviour that may have contributed to your current position.

When you allow a story based on any unhealthy beliefs that you hold that involve you taking ownership of other people's feelings and behaviour, ignoring code red and amber issues, and beating you up when you can't 'make' that person be and do as you'd like, the story has taken over. You are allowing it to cloud your judgement.

When you begin to have an honest dialogue with yourself, it's important to listen with love, not with the ear of a harsh critic ready to slam down your judgement gavel. You've also got to leave out the blame because it's a useless emotion that causes an avoidance of responsibility as well as unnecessary pain.

You can be accountable for how you've gotten to this point but you mustn't be accountable for the other persons actions. Anything else is like torture - very painful and excessive.

It's time to ask "How did I get here?"

It's not just one thing - there are a sequence of events and actions that have led you here. It is amazing how many people who are struggling with an unhealthy relationship and/or moving beyond it and doing NC, that will come up with an arbitrary reason for why they're at this point.

"It's because I'm the wrong religion/colour/background/size etc" even though they met you exactly as you are right now.

"It's because of that time when I didn't take his/her call or reply to a text quickly enough." Really? If someone could turn on you over something like that, is this really the sort of relationship you aspire to? It would be like being Julia Roberts in Sleeping With The Enemy or a child scared of a switchy, violent parent who withdraws affection to keep you under control.

"It's because I haven't been patient enough. I could have been more understanding." After spending the best part of a decade writing Baggage Reclaim, I can safely say that when people use this argument, they're in a situation where they have been passive, the other person has controlled things on their terms and likely called them "needy", and if anything, they've been too understanding.

"It's because he/she is going through a lot. They have a lot of issues so it's not really them, it's their issues." When the issues get in the way of them being able to treat you with love, care, trust, and respect and to forge a relationship, they are the issue. The issue matters. Issues are a part of life - it's handling them that counts and weeding out serious issues that render a relationship a no-go (code red behaviour) and issues that with some mutual concerted effort and honesty on both parts, it can be worked out. The strong likelihood when you're contemplating / doing NC is that even if the issues can be worked at, they're not, especially because the other person has no desire to or is in denial.

I should point out that an issue created by two people is often tricky enough to deal with, without trying to jointly solve another person's internal issues. We can be supportive - it's part of a relationship - but if as a part of our support, we are sheltering that person from their issues by taking ownership of them, we are actually enabling a dysfunctional dynamic while also sheltering that person from the natural consequences. How is that person supposed to get real about their problems when someone else is taking the blame for it?

Your growth from this is going to come from using the insights gained from doing a little looking back to guide you on where you need to address your habits.

Press rewind and start from the beginning.

  1. What were your first impressions of this person? Based on what you know now, how similar are they to who you thought they were?
  2. If your first impressions weren't particularly positive, what specific thoughts and feelings caused you to proceed anyway?
  3. When was the first time that you felt uncomfortable in this relationship, even if at the time you regarded it as minor?
  4. Can you remember the first time you had serious concerns about this person or your relationship? What were the concerns? How did you behave? How did they behave?
  5. Bearing in mind the first time you had serious concerns and the end of the relationship, how much time has passed?
  6. Bearing in mind the first time you had serious concerns and the end of the relationship, and what may be your attempts at NC since then, how much time has passed?
  7. If you could think of 1-2 big reasons for the length of time, what is it?

For example, in a particularly traumatic relationship, I had concerns within a week, but all in all we were together for 2 years and by the time I finally cut him out of my life it was 3 years. Why? Because I was flattered by his attention and then I spent the rest of the time blaming and doubting myself. Once we broke up, I kept engaging out of guilt and my ego not having liked to fail, even though, truth be told, I didn't have a drop of good feelings left for him.

Using the NC checklist, take each statement that you agreed with and jot down:

1) At what point in your relationship did you become aware of it [the issue in the statement that you agreed with]? Try to remember a specific event and if you can get down to the month, week, or even date, even better. Do this for each concern that was flagged up.

2) Was it that you denied the concern, turned a blind eye, made an excuse, blamed you, or genuinely didn't recognise that something was a concern? Choose as appropriate for each statement. e.g. Statement "I feel like I'm losing my mind in this relationship" - denied the concern and blamed myself

3) Going with the gut answer (try not to overthink it but listen to yourself as you read each statement), what springs to mind as your reasoning for doing each of the things in #2? What was the payoff? i.e. What did you think you would gain, even if that gain simply meant preventing something you were afraid of or delaying something? e.g. Statement "I feel like I'm losing my mind in this relationship" - I denied the concern and blamed myself because I thought I was being too emotional, too impatient and that maybe I was making a big deal out of things that the 'right' type of woman either wouldn't be bothered by or wouldn't be experiencing because she'd be 'good enough'.

4) Bearing in mind that you've agreed with some of the statements on the checklist, what prevented you from doing something about each concern? There is likely to be different and in some cases similar reasons for each one, so answer each statement individually.

What you're looking at is a summary of how you got 'here': to a point of needing to do NC, to being afraid, to being hurt, to feeling devastated, confused, and possibly even powerless - beliefs, fears, insecurities, doubts and the subsequent actions.

These tell you what you need to address and most importantly, where you need to nurture you more, because all of this fear is actually a barrier to doing the right thing by you and treating you with love, care, trust, and respect, which of course erodes your sense of self and in turn has you feeling tethered to your current partner / ex or even blaming yourself for all of your relationships.

Remember to make their actions about them - regardless of whatever fears, beliefs, and actions, it wouldn't change who they are because their actions are about them. Them doing what they're doing is about their own beliefs, fears etc so they are doing what they're predisposed to do and feeling confident about continuing to do so, because the relationship is still continuing or you're still receptive to them.

What I do know is that you can go from 'here' to a better relationship with yourself and in turn better experiences.