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Looking Back on Relationships

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

Something I’ve been thinking about for a while now is how my abuse affected me in the area of relationships and how I chose relationships.

The abuse left me feeling worthless. Without really articulating it as such, I had the feeling that my only worth to another person was as a sexual object. Hence, when I met someone I was interested in, or who seemed to like me, I assumed it was for sex.

That left me feeling shameful and guilty, so I gravitated toward people I felt were worse off than I was. If someone was attracted to me and they seemed too nice, I’d discourage any further interests. If someone who was a mess was drawn to me, I cultivated the friendship. I felt in some cases I could benefit them, but with others I had the advantage or power in the relationship and it would feel safe for me.

Even though the situation might have been less than ideal, I felt that it was more than I deserved. Those relationships didn’t last long and ended badly.

It’s taken me years to sort this all out. Now I understand why I did what I did. And that helps. But as I look around at the people in my circle of friends, I notice others doing the same thing. They see someone they’re attracted to but won’t go after them. When questioned, they usually look down and shrug.

I know that look and that shrug. They belong to a person who doesn’t feel worthy, who doesn’t think they deserve that kind of happiness. They won’t say it, and may not even understand what’s going on, but I can see it in their faces. I’ve seen that same face in my mirror.

Things are different now. I have a wonderful wife, but when we met, I once again wrote her off as too good for me. Over time, though, it began to feel right. She’s terrific and exactly what I needed. I thank God for her every day. Some days she annoys the heck out of me, but I need that. I’m glad she does. She’s been the engine of change that I think God has used to make me the man I need to be.


Larry Clemson said...

Thank you Roger! So much of what you write I can relate to. It helps me understand I'm not alone with how I feel about myself& others.

D8a said...

The rejection of my cousin and the betrayal of my parents did not leave me much room in my marriage. I fully expected her to leave me or betray me. I saw any hint of negativity as a sign of something bad to come. 23 years later and after counseling, I realized that I was turning into my parents, and betraying her emotional needs. We are working on it daily, but it is a struggle.