The Story of a Dependent Relationship

The Story of a Dependent Relationship
Angela C. Tobias

Written and verified by the psychologist Angela C. Tobias.

Last update: 13 January, 2023

“I loved him more than I loved myself”. This isn’t the name of a new romantic movie. If it was, it’d be a horror movie. It’s the story of a dependent relationship. The kind with actors who have no idea that they’re acting. They play their scenes on automatic pilot, following a script they never wrote.

There are usually many sequels to these kinds of ‘movies’. All of them are really bad with a similar structure. They’re repetitive and unnecessary. In fact, loving your partner more than yourself makes you completely forget everything else and you find yourself in the middle of a Dantesque hell. Here’s my story.

I listened to him more than to myself

I listened to him more than me. I lowered the volume of my voice, while theirs became deafening. Even today, my ears ring when I’m silent. I completely lost track of time. It happened over so many days, months, and years, that I no longer remembered how my voice even sounded.

We spoke different languages and didn’t even share the same alphabet. I even forgot what my own language was like. Today, I still often struggle to understand my own thoughts and to turn them into meaningful words. Sometimes, my voice doesn’t even come out. It’s like when you haven’t spoken for a long time and your voice is weak and only comes in fits and starts.

However, the words that I couldn’t say, my body screamed. My impotence turned into a knotted stomach, the boundaries I couldn’t set became chest pains, and my fear became a constant migraine. In fact, everything I couldn’t say, my body was saying for me.

Sad woman

I believed in him more than I believed in me

I believed him more than I believed myself. I gave up on my intuition which left a really bitter taste in my mouth. Like the first coffee in the morning after a sleepless night, it was a flimsy remedy for a far bigger problem. But I just took a quick sip and tried not to think too much.

I shattered my own compass and walked around blindly, tripping over everything and feeling scared to death. In fact, I couldn’t and wouldn’t open my eyes, even though I knew I needed them more than ever. I just followed him when, deep down, I knew I didn’t want to. Worst of all, I cheated and betrayed myself.

That’s right, I lied and deceived myself. I refused to listen and hid myself away even though my body was screaming at me. They were screams of anxiety, due to the fact that I’d been depersonalized. I forgot who I was and my reason for being. Sometimes, I still can’t really remember.

I lost my self-compassion

I had more compassion for him than for myself. I listened to his expressions of pain endlessly. Because I wanted to understand and embrace everything about him. I wanted to heal and love his wounds, even though he often wounded me. In effect, I forgot that his pain was his alone, and I stopped feeling my own hurt.

I tried so hard to understand him. It didn’t really matter what he did, he had everything he wanted. However, I neglected to remember that I mattered too. Now, I wish I’d had that compassion and understanding with myself and didn’t have to live in such torment.

The little empathy I did have for myself I saw as a cruel and despotic voice within me. Now, I realize my worst enemy was staring at me out of the mirror. My worst battle was the one I fought with myself when I recognized my weakest points and lashed out mercilessly at myself for them. As in all dependent relationships, I was my own worst enemy. 

Woman covering her face in front of a mirror

No longer a choice

I chose him before me, but not anymore. I forgot that I was so much more than what he saw in me. Now, I smile when I remember the enormous world inside of me that I’ll never finish discovering and exploring.

Yes, I loved him more than I loved myself. That doesn’t make me a better person, a kinder person, or a victim. I simply lacked love for myself and the courage to drop that flaming pan that was burning my hands.  But I don’t blame myself and I’m now filled with compassion for myself.

However, there were parts of me that died forever with that relationship. But I’m grateful to each one of them for having been there and, of course, for leaving and giving me space for a new way of being. Those parts were born in the face of the greatest fear of my dependent relationship, of not being able to live without him. Then, all of a sudden, a seed of self-love began to grow and showed me that life goes on and my life gradually became calm again.

While I’ve lost and forgotten many things on the thorny path I’ve traveled, I’ve also developed a firm commitment. The commitment to always put me first. Moreover, to find myself, no matter how hard I may be to find. In fact, I won’t stop looking for myself, even when I find myself thinking back to that dark place where everything hurt.

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  • Sierra-Siegert, M. (2008). La despersonalización: aspectos clínicos y neurobiológicos. Revista colombiana de psiquiatría37(1), 40-55.

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.