When I was barely walking, my Daddy chose me to be his special little girl. Any three year old is the center of the universe because that’s what 3’s are about. And, when parents are doing their job, they love them through it and teach them that though they are precious, there are others who share the world.
As they grow, the child feels her uniqueness and how she fits into a shared universe.
My “specialness “was different. Sadly, Daddy never felt special, loved or accepted for the wonderful child he was. He married a beautiful woman who needed the kind of love her parents couldn’t show her either. Their marriage was rife with trouble from the beginning. It included my father’s alcoholism, and my mother’s lifetime of battling depression. Two people desperately looking for someone to save them, give them what they longed for. Someone to fill the holes in their sweet souls.
My Daddy took me everywhere, even to the bars where I sat on high bar stools being fed pickled eggs while he gambled. Every night when he’d come home from work, I’d look forward to sitting out on the back stoop with him while he told me about his day…more than any 4 year-old should know. And, not a day passed that he didn’t tell me he wouldn’t want to live without me. Imagine that little girl feeling so important and “loved”.
Like many things in my life, I didn’t realize how a seemingly good feeling of being special was setting my relationships with men up to fail. There were many factors in why I struggled in those relationships, but I now know that I continued to seek that feeling I had as a little girl with each man I met. It was a set up for them, and for me. The good news is that over time, I did learn the difference between the need to feel “terminally special”, and real love.
Do you find yourself saying, “I’m looking for someone special”. Perhaps you feel, “He makes me feel special.” It feels wonderful and in healthy balance, it’s nice to get those flowers, have him pick up the check, or get a text asking how that meeting went you were worried about. That kind of special is fabulous. But there’s another kind that is deadly to relationships.
“You complete me”…a line from the movie, “Jerry Maguire” got into our souls and there’s no lack of reinforcement every day in our music, romantic comedies, books and magazines. But, here’s what happens when you need someone to complete you…
When we single someone out as the source of our happiness, it comes from the belief that we’re not enough, empty or that our own life is dull, meaningless or perhaps painful. Then, we give that person the responsibility or power to save us from our sense of wanting and lack and we then turn over our sense of happiness to them. When they do anything that doesn’t make us happy, it’s their fault. Do we know we’re doing this? No. It feels normal to most of us, but the pressure on our partners to make and keep us happy is a burden nobody should have to bear. The fatal flaw in “you complete me” thinking and feeling is that if someone has that much power to make you happy, you have also given them the power to render you incomplete and unhappy when they leave or don’t do things that make you happy every time you feel you deserve it.
I have been in relationships with men in which that pattern with my Daddy was the operating system. They made me very happy, I did feel special until their behavior turned cold and genuinely emotionally abusive. Even though that was painful, I often stayed in the relationships too long, put up with things no woman should…all because I loved the intensity I felt when they made me feel special. They knew how to do that really well. My little girl self remembered how wonderful it felt but I had to learn that the price I paid was too high. Specialness is rather like a drug. I had to learn one day at a time that I was special with or without a man in my life. I am enough whether alone or in relationship. And, that though I miss being in relationship, I remain complete while I open myself to love that I’ve yet to discover.
Real love happens when two people bring whole selves to each other. And yes, they do special things for each other. They also make mistakes, can hurt each other and are highly imperfect much of the time. And, they don’t assign the role of “Happiness Creator” or “Savior” to one another. Both have responsibility for their own happiness, and are always mindful of how their behavior affects their beloved. When things create unhappiness…they talk about it.
Don’t allow yourself to reside on a pedestal and be aware if you’ve put someone else up there. Pedestals topple and someone gets hurt every time. Keep your feet on the ground except when you tango or feel the wind in your hair when he surprises you with a weekend getaway. That’s really special!
If you’re tired of watching sunsets alone and want to find a completely wonderful person to share this next amazing chapter of your life, I can show you how!
Call me at 510-817-4242 or email me today at email@example.com
We’ll plan a Complimentary Session to talk about how to bring a wonderful love into your life!
Donna Bailey, MS
Coach, Speaker, Writer and Expert in Dating and Relationships for Grown-ups
Donna’s Big Red Chair
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