I know you love him. I know you pour your heart and soul into loving every part of him. Even the parts that hurt you and leave you with emotional and sometimes even physical scars. But you are not in love with him.
To be in love, you cannot be alone in your feeling. While he may have told you he loved you, his actions spoke volumes. And at times you felt he loved you. But that was the euphoric feeling of being addicted to a narcissist.
Some days he is like a dream. You cannot imagine life without him. Other days, the two of you end up in long arguments that feel like you’re going in circles. Round and round, it’s like talking to a brick wall until eventually you apologize for telling him how he made you feel. And as long as it’s you who cracks first, soon comes peace. The calm after the raging storm. Your world will put itself back together and you will make a mental list of the things you should do better. You won’t hold him accountable for his harsh words, and your feelings will never matter to him.
Some days you find yourself more honest than others. You confide in a friend, and saying the words aloud makes it more real to you. As soon as your loved one expresses concern, you defend him relentlessly. You wish you had never said anything. How does he have so much power over you all the time, even when he is not present?
The bond between the two of you started long before you met. He sought out someone like you because he’s addicted to being able to manipulate his way out of facing his fears. He is so afraid of lacking control, and you are afraid of having it. When you were a child, chances are you were raised in an environment where you performed for love. You may have gotten a B on a test you studied long and hard for, and then you were told, “That’s nice. Maybe next time you can make an A.” Or maybe you endured more serious physical or emotional abuse at the hands of the ones who were responsible for molding the way you would love.
Someone somewhere taught you that love was not freely given to you, although you freely give it to others, wholeheartedly and unconditionally because you were taught that you come second to anyone you value. You don’t matter to yourself. Everyone else comes before you — second to him, but somewhere before you. There isn’t an ounce of selfishness in your blood.
The pressure to perform and the pressure to be good enough have haunted you from childhood into adulthood, and the time to break the cycle is now. Relationships with people we are dependent on are organically complicated. When we are children, we don’t get to choose who these people are. As women, we do get the option. You may not realize that you have a choice, but you do. You are no longer obligated to give your all to someone who will never appreciate you.
The giver in you will attract many takers. The selfless soul you have will attract the selfish. They find comfort in knowing you will never steal the attention they need for survival. You will never give up on them. And you will always be there to blame on the bad days. They will always underestimate your strength. They will ultimately leave you for something shiny or someone new when they get bored.
But that’s your power. You don’t need anyone. When the world falls apart, they are dependent on you to cower down and hide your strength so they can dominate. You can take your heart away. What he offers in the face of adversity isn’t love. You deserve more.
You have to break the unhealthy bond. Cold turkey is the best method. You don’t owe him an explanation. You owe yourself this freedom. Someday you will be in the arms of the love you deserve, and you feel the difference. You will love yourself for allowing your heart to be stronger than your addiction.