• Pam Del Franco aka ASK NANNA

Sacrificing your needs for another.

When you focus on making your partner happy and sacrifice what you need – it’s not because you love him; it’s because you’re giving from a place of past trauma that hasn’t healed.

You think things like,

“I love him, so of course I’m going to do all I can for him.”

(Translates into things like, running the whole household so he can climb the ladder. Setting aside how crappy you feel when he doesn’t do as he promised…again.  Settling for his words, “I’m sorry” that carries no action around improvement behind them.)

Or, “He feels hurt and unheard, so I need to be there for him.”

(Translates to listening to his issues at work or his health, but the conversation is over when he’s satisfied. You didn’t discuss your problems. He dismisses your feelings of frustration, and you agree with his (incorrect) assessment to keep the peace. He’s arguing that it’s somehow your fault and so you back off.

Or, “I’m ok giving him more than he gives me because I have more to give. He’s just in a bad place right now.”

(Translates to being in the “I’m more forgiving in nature” mode or “he needs me” mode when your crying inside.)

You do love him, and you’ve done some work around loving yourself on mental, emotional, and physical issues. You used self-improvement seminars, motivational books, and maybe even spiritual/energy healings. You’ve done a whole host of other inner work, with and without a coach.

You feel successful elsewhere in your life. But when it comes to your partner, you lose yourself…again. It shows up in different ways:

At the end of the day, you lay your head on the pillow and cry silently.

You have bursts of anger, and you’re not sure where they come from.

You wonder what went wrong in your relationship – how did it end up here.

You feel exhausted.

You set aside the things you want to do for “later,” which never comes.

You over give.

I get it, I’ve been there and did all those things and more. (In fact, I only write from personal experience. You can see how messed up I used to be if you’ve read a few of them.) I used to need to be everything to him all rolled up in one loving package. Even when I was aware that I was doing more for him than myself, I couldn’t stop. I needed him to be happy, so I could be.

My warped thinking around my rewards were –

Getting the extra attention from him because he knew he had been a jerk earlier.

Hearing him say he’s sorry, which gave me hope that he wouldn’t do it again.

I was like Pavlov’s dog – willing to receive pain to get the reward.

If you’re relating or thinking about similar things, your perception is skewed. Yes, he may need you when he’s feeling bad; he may come around when he’s been a jerk and may require nurturing. But when you give and don’t receive, it’s not a healthy relationship.

You haven’t drawn a line in the sand.

What’s happening is you’re connecting a deeply felt need to be needed, or loved, or accepted. You’re go-to is thinking if you give to your partner, it will automatically be reciprocated.

Something in your past created this “Pavlovian need” that is still there. Unconsciously, you might feel that if you are nurturing, loving him through thick and thin, how could he not want you even more? If it means you sacrifice yourself a little, but he finally came around, it would be worth it. But that little slowly becomes a lot and then quickly slips into too much.

You’re not noticing how this way of thinking is destructive. You can’t see what you don’t know is a problem.

Suffering is not a requirement for improving a relationship.

You just need to do some work around your past hurt, causing the constant replay in your relationship.

From all the work you’ve done on yourself, you might have a good idea of what pain is still there. Maybe your mother said or did something hurtful, or your ex was emotionally abusive, and you remember it pretty clearly. Even perhaps dealt with it to a point. But, unwittingly, you still haven’t dealt with THE ‘event’ that gets repeated through your relationships.

You need to pinpoint the experience that created the ripple effect that caused you to think that you need to sacrifice yourself to make things work. Then you can transform those ideas you held on to for too long and move into who you are at your core – a powerful, strong woman.