My brother-in-law thinks he and my sister are trying to have a baby. My sister is secretly using birth control because she wants a baby, but isn’t sure she wants a baby with him. I’m close to both of them and hate feeling like the forecaster of an upcoming sh*tstorm. My brother-in-law and I were in a fraternity in college. He met my sister through me. And my sister, well, she’s family. Is there a way for me to get out of this without losing one of them?
Encourage your sister to come clean with her man. But don’t be her confidant. She needs to mature in her capacity for honesty. Tell her to be still and listen to her inner wisdom. Encourage her to meet with a therapist or to pen a pro/con list—anything that will fire up the courage she needs to become truthful and trustworthy. Moving forward is essential because by not deciding what she really wants, she keeps herself, her relationship and her life off-kilter. When her husband discovers her secret, he’s bound to feel betrayed. Let that drama remain between them by refusing to get involved. Otherwise, when things fall apart, they’re both likely to blame you.
For five years, I was with a man I was afraid of. He was controlling, and mean. Out of the blue he breaks up with me, saying he loves someone else. I should have been happy, but I wasn’t. When things get bad between him and his new girlfriend, he calls and I go back to him. They make up and he dumps me again. What is wrong with me?
There is nothing wrong with you, honey. But your belief system is flawed and must be dismantled. It no longer serves you. Your experiences have taught you to believe that staying with someone who abuses you is better than the pain of being alone, or of trying to leave, getting caught and dealing with the consequences. That might have been true in the past, but you’re free now. Push yourself to choose short-term discomfort for long-term serenity.
Change begins with understanding. Start here: Our brains have evolved to prefer unconscious decisions, especially those that temporarily reduce stress, even if it means giving in to a decision that’s lousy in the long-term. (Yes, like running back to a man you don’t need in your life.) Our brains are also designed to conserve energy. So altering habituated behavior requires conscious decision-making, and that sucks a lot of physical, emotional and mental energy. Be sure to rest, exercise and eat well during your transformation. Self-care is also the fuel you need to replace lies you’ve believed about love and relationships. Take this medicine and repeat it to yourself daily: Love begins in me. I’m attentive, kind, honest, and loving toward myself because that’s what I deserve. I am brave and protect myself—mind, body, heart and soul—from harm.
Gradually, you will see that what you had with this man wasn’t a relationship. It was chaos and will continue to be until you let go. A 12-step group, such as Co-Dependents Anonymous, can help.