I Want You to Want Me

My kids this year are great – happy, funny and generous. Unfortunately, they’re also generous with their germs. Thursday night, those lovely little bugs finally got the best of me and led to a feverish Friday on the couch. My mind was too scrambled to focus on a book, so I ended up reading through the thousands of posts backlogged on my Feedly reader. And, as so often happens on the internets, one click led to another and another.

Until I ended up here on Penelope Trunk’s blog (possible trigger warning – domestic violence).

I’ve subscribed to her blog for years through my RSS reader, but only read the occasional post. I thought she was all about business and start-ups.

She’s not.

The post in question made me very uncomfortable. In it, she displays a picture with a bruise on her hip and tells an accompanying story about her husband shoving her into the bedpost. She is writing from a hotel room with her two kids, where she has sought refuge for the night.

But she doesn’t want to leave him. In fact, she claims in another post that domestic violence is a question of boundaries and that the abused can alter the dynamic alone. Like with so many inflammatory statements, there is a sliver of truth. There are patterns that tend to be in play that lead someone into an abusive relationship. And those (usually childhood) issues have to be addressed for that person to be in a healthy relationship. But, and here’s where my view differs, the first boundary that has to be enforced is getting away from the abuser. And then work on yourself. Get safe first (and get your kids safe) and then get healthy.

Her last sentence in the bruise post seemed to explain it all:

“That’s why I can’t leave. I want someone to miss me.”

Ah, now that’s a sentiment I think we all can understand in some form.

It’s human nature to want to be wanted. From being an early pick for the kickball game in elementary school to being tagged on Facebook from a friend, we all get a little thrill when we are chosen and feel the sting of rejection when we are not.

It’s natural. We’ve evolved to thrive in a community and, at the most basic evolutionary level, those that are not included are less likely to thrive as they struggle alone on the outskirts.

But as is so often the case, a basic drive can also go haywire. We can be so focused on being wanted that we ignore our basic safety and our own boundaries and beliefs. We can twist ourselves into parodies, subvert our true nature or ignore red flags just to save our spot as a chosen one.

The pain of rejection is real. And it is powerful.

But sometimes the pain incurred by avoiding rejection may be even worse.

Especially when you’re rejecting yourself in hopes of being accepted and desired by another.

 

We all want to be wanted.

But don’t compromise yourself just to be picked.

And make sure you’re wanted for who you are.

Because who you are is enough.

I’d pick you for my team any day:)

 

 

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9 thoughts on “I Want You to Want Me

  1. It is amazing the lies we tell ourselves when in an abusive relationship. Almost every woman I talk to has the same belief, we are special and our special love is going to save him and the relationship. “They” say that a woman will continue to go back until she is convinced she has done everything she can to fix it. She has to exhaust every possible avenue. And the abuser can always come up with another, “:If you would only………… I wouldn’t have to get so angry” or the woman thinks “If I could just express myself in a way he can understand he would stop hurting me.”
    Outsiders looking in think it is so easy, just leave. Usually the woman has left, many times but invariably the abuser is so sorry, admits to everything they did wrong and makes all kinds of promises and the longer the victim is in the relationship the more they have invested, more time and more of their soul, they keep thinking; this time all her work is going to pay off, he finally “gets; it and he is going to appreciate her dedication, her undying love and devotion and she is going to get her “happily ever after.”
    What women don’t realize that boundaries are all interconnected and once you allow one to get broken it is easier to break another one because the abuser thinks, “I got away with that I wonder what I can get away with next” and she is busy making excuses why that boundary didn’t matter, or why it wasn’t really as bad as it seemed and before she knows it there are no black and white boundaries, her world becomes grey with no well defined boundaries. How can you defend unclear boundaries?
    Invariably abusive relationships start out as the most romantic soul mate connection, a love like no other, the abuser is a dream come true, the knight in shining armor and has some sob story about all the psycho bitches that abused him in the past and the new love is special, she is not like the others. The abuse starts slow and insidiously, undetected by the victim, a form of brain washing.
    It takes a lot of support for the victim to leave the pull is so great.
    I never understood it until at 42 I met my “soul mate” and spent the next 10 years being systematically destroyed by him. I never would have left on my own. I owe my life to his sister who stayed with us and saw the reality of the situation and told me she feared being around me because he might kill her too.
    I was a strong, independent woman who was a single working mom for years prior to meeting my abusive ex. No man would dare to be abusive with me. I couldn’t understand why women stayed. I left a shell of the woman I once was, with my dog and $5.
    Sorry for the novel, I guess it was triggering

  2. I read this post from Penelope Trunk and then read other ones, including “Divorce is immature and selfish. Don’t do it”.

    This has upset me somewhat. I have recently separated from my husband of 19 years after finding out he has cheated on me, again. We have been to couples therapy and spent hours discussing issues, mostly at my arrangement. In my mind our marriage was not actually that bad, and I truly believed that it would all work out in the end, he would see sense and we would get through this… it was just another bump on the road of life.

    However, after months of being in limbo, he finally acknowledged that he didn’t want to be with me. So it’s over. We are doing the very best we can to ease the transition for our two teenaged children (they occupy the house all the time, we take week about) and there is no doubt that the kids are very much loved by both their parents.

    But now I feel bad. If divorce is so bad for the children, should I have tried harder to save the “dead horse” of a marriage? Should I have given in more about needing some sort of remorse for the lies and infidelity? Should I have just put up with the cheating and carried on playing happy families? On the whole he is not a bad man, a little arrogant for sure, but not violent or anything.

    I acknowledge that it was partly my responsibility that our relationship drifted apart, but I wasn’t the one to go outside the marriage, and I was prepared to work at fixing it. But I can’t fix a marriage on my own, it takes two.

    Can someone please reassure my that it will be ok and that I have not ruined my children’s lives by not “sticking it out”?

    1. Please keep in mind that Penelope’s view on divorce is extreme. She doesn’t even consider it an option in cases of physical abuse.

      As an adult child of divorced parents, my short answer is that divorce impacts kids but it doesn’t have to damage them. There are ways that you can support them through the transition. Terry from Moving Past Divorce has some great pieces on divorcing with children. Here’s a good one to start with: http://movingpastdivorce.com/2013/09/building-resiliency-in-children-after-divorce/

  3. “I want you to want me” Truer words could not have been spoken in my marriage! I worshipped the ground my wife walked on, adored her morning, noon and night. All for 20 years with no return of affection. I thought I was the problem. Constantly seeking her love and attention but that went elsewhere. My therapist opened my eyes that this was abuse. Abuse? Neglect is abuse? At this point I knew I wasn’t the problem. After 1 session she refused to continue couples therapy. Making up my mind to stay or leave is getting easier.

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