This is the second of a series. Click here to read last weeks blog.

The most frequent questions I am asked by those who struggle with an Impossible Partner (IP) is-

  • Am I asking too much?
  • I see relationships that are worse than mine, maybe I am overreacting?
  • Others see so happy, if they can make it, why can’t I?

Most of this self doubt is actually a result of years of being maligned, criticized, and demeaned by the    Impossible Partner (IP). Having learned to avoid conflict by walking on eggshells, the IP has done a good job in convincing you that everything you feel is baseless. IP’s are experts at minimizing your concerns and feelings.  After what sometimes amounts to years of being denigrated, insulted and laughed at, it is difficult to keep your footing and validate your own experience. The challenge to regain your own voice can feel herculean- after all, you really trusted- this person  is your a parent, a sibling, a spouse or a close friend and you believed they had your best interests at heart.

It is easy for us who stand outside of these relationships to say, “Why would you believe someone else’s negative view of yourself?”  The reasons someone “buys the brainwashing” is layered and complicated. Impossible relationships don’t start off that way; if that were so, no one would ever find themselves with an IP (Exception: when the IP is a parent, sibling or child). Unfortunately, the unhealthy aspects are revealed slowly and incrementally.

Often the awareness that we are engaged in an IR (Impossible Relationship) is a gradual awakening. It may first manifest as physical ailments- stomach woes, back pain, panic attacks or even depression. Sometimes, we have reoccurring nightmares which are hard to figure out. Sometimes, someone outside of the relationship (if they are brave enough) gently points it out.

Learning to listen to our own truth is paramount. Living a life that is congruent with our value system produces an “ease” within our bodies and minds. Living a life filled with strife results in “dis-ease”. It is often a struggle to find one’s truth; years of being maligned and dismissed can corrode our ability to listen closely and objectively to our own feelings.

No one can make the decision for you regarding the relationship with IP; certainly if it is a parent or sibling or someone with whom you share children, total detachment is very, very difficult. However, acknowledgement that this relationship is unhealthy is the most important step in your process as it can take you out of denial. This acknowledgement opens the way for you to experience a deep conviction and connection with yourself. This will allow you to detach, tone down the volume on the verbal attacks and gradually turn up the volume of your own truth. By learning to protect and validate yourself, your choices will become clearer and the road forward will reveal itself.

Having trouble figuring out if you are asking too much? Then try this exercise.

Ask yourself this-if someone you love-perhaps a dear friend- was in a relationship exactly like yours, what would you advise them to do?? Often when we are unsure of how to proceed in our own lives, we need to access our inner wise voice that presents itself so strongly for our loved ones, yet is silenced in our own dilemmas.

Next week: The Impossible Partner: Finding Freedom and Peace


© 2013 Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Farmington, CT since 1986. She is the author of the award winning From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce now available in Kindle format for $9.99 as well as in paperback.

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