I have seen many times a situation that is very frustrating for me as a therapist. Working with codependents, it is often advisable to ensure their recovery is not hampered by contact with an abusive, manipulative ex-partner. As we know, moving away from such a relationship is hard for many codependents but maintaining that stance is the next big challenge as they struggle to move on and avoid becoming supply.
If you have been in this situation and have managed to get “that” person out of your life, there is no earthly reason to be found for allowing them back in. However, this is exactly what I see too often. Women (especially) who are finally free of abuse, constant criticism and manipulation refusing to block social media and telephone numbers, sometimes even lying about doing so. There are many creative reasons given for this:
“I want to check my progress by exposing myself to his/her social media” (In truth, I want to stalk him constantly to see what he is doing and with whom)
“I want to keep him in my phone in case his mother/children/sister/dog needs me” (reads, I can’t let go and hope he needs me)
“I had a bad week” (usually means I have had contact with him/her and it’s my/our secret)
“I don’t see the point in no-contact, I am recovered” (says, I am going through the motions and as soon as he contacts me, I will go running)
“He needs me and he is not as bad as I have reported (means I need him and I fear being alone)
These relationships mirror childhood experiences with caregivers who were emotionally distant, neglectful or abusive. They may have been caregivers for addicted or sick parents or had to take on a parental role for parents who had no idea how to parent. The result was that they learnt that they must give and continue to give to gain validation and attention, giving them the idea that their needs are not important. This developmental trauma is at the root of the cause of codependency.
Fast forward to adulthood and the same process and attitude drives them into relationships with similar people as the quest for validation and security goes on. The chase to “fix” someone to find security is a never-ending quest that is aimed at emotionally distant individuals and manipulators and no good can ever come of it. This quest leads many codependents to feel insecure when the chase is finally brought to a halt. This leads them to being vulnerable to contact and the consequences that follow.
Sometimes, even if a good period of recovery has been maintained, one call or text from the abusive ex can send a codependent into a tailspin that would take some time to recover from. This is mainly because this contact mirrors the initial adulation stage that “hooked” the codependent in the first place. Being “supply” after the fact will mean that once the money/sex/boost in self-esteem is over, the manipulator will disappear, leaving chaos behind.
For this reason, it is always strongly advisable to go complete no-contact and block the manipulator everywhere and lock every door that might lead to them getting back in. In the long run, you will be glad you did.
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