Q. I need help. No one believes my behavior. My friends have pulled away from me because I have been in a four year relationship with a man who has cheated (with a childhood friend), he is an alcoholic and has a gambling problem. I am educated, healthy (at least physically) but I can’t leave. I don’t even believe I am writing this to you. Is there any hope for me?
A. I addressed this issue in an earlier column but because it is a “disease process” that runs rampant and affects so many people, lets talk about it again.
You are right, I am sure your behavior is perplexing to your friends. They process your behavior from a cognitive, analytical basis and don’t see how many other issues create your codependent behavior. You may not even grasp how your childhood experiences primed you to stay connect to this man for four years.
Cheating, lying, drinking, gambling, mistrust………hardly the foundation for a healthy relationship.
You also shared that you have given up activities that you enjoy to be with this man. You stopped going to church because he did not want to go. You enjoyed working out at the gym and running at the lake but stopped because you just didn’t have the motivation. When you started gambling as a together activity you shared you didn’t even want to do it but HE did. Now you are going alone and spending hours, leaving with bigger and bigger losses.
You appear to be extremely loyal to this man. You have put aside your own interests to do what HE wants and picked up new behaviors that make you feel worse.
This man appears to be totally unavailable to you, both physically and emotionally. You continue to seek a relationship with a man who has proven he is not there for you. Cheating, drinking, gambling appear to be his priorities. He may not say this to you, probably would deny it but his behavior speaks volumes.
This would be a great time for you to learn about codependency and love addiction. What goes on in the brain with love addiction is the same as drug addiction. It doesn’t just go away.
I encourage you to attend 12 step CODA and counseling. There is a reason you cannot leave this man, AKA “YOUR DRUG!!!!!” Its as complex as his drinking and gambling.
Take a break from the crazy train you are riding. Wait until a healthier train comes along.
Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City
If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org