My husband of nine years is the latest in a string of passive aggressive, bullying, depressed narcissists. I’ve been able to dump boyfriends, but getting a divorce is much less easy. So I ran away from my marriage to live happily ever after alone. Recently, a friend said: “Maybe you don’t think you deserve to be happy.” I was stunned! I had a good childhood, never suffered major trauma, have close friends and a good profession. How could I harbor such a belief? More importantly, how could I figure out where it comes from and work on it? Therapy is not an option, financially. Can you help me dig into my issue?
Absolutely! Your reaction to your friend’s question is fascinating. If you didn’t think you deserved to be happy, you would not have married—or left your marriage. But you heard her question and froze in fear. That might be a habit that makes you a target for criticism—your own and a partner’s. Here’s another approach: Notice and celebrate everything you do that aligns with your values. Accept that your emotions provide information, but not necessarily answers. Don’t base decisions only on how you feel. Consciousness matters, too. We grow in consciousness as we process our drama rather than projecting it on others.
To seek happiness is to nurture compulsive pleasure seeking. That’s a pattern of regulating your internal world according to whatever is happening outside of you. Some people anxiously assess relationships to determine where to secure the next hit of the attention they think they need to feel happy. That’s drama. So avoid blaming “bad” feelings on others, and don’t shame or attempt to control them. Create a life of contentment, instead. To be content is to know joy—the bliss of having passed through suffering with grace, gratitude, forgiveness, wisdom and a sense of completion. Contentment means we know how to appreciate every person and experience as a spiritual lesson. It’s part of the path to authenticity: we process our emotions and experiences as information and take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions. Blaming, shaming or trying to control someone are signs of your separation from your true self, and theirs.
It doesn’t matter whether your husband or ex-boyfriends are all passive-aggressive, bullying, depressed narcissists. They might be. Or you might be unconsciously recreating a childhood script of unhealthy behavior and acting it out with men. If you truly desire change, disrupt your pattern. To stop a bully, stop behaving like a victim. Can’t think of ways you wear victimhood? You might be blocking your ability to own your drama. Try this: Notice places in your life where you buy into feeling small, or situations where you want your feelings validated, or where you avoid speaking up (without drama) in support of yourself. Or when you talk about the same problem over and over again (My husband is always staring at other women!). If you detach from a victim mindset, it’s harder for a bully to attach to you. It’s also easier than to admit that sometimes you have bullied yourself into being a depressed, passive-aggressive victim. Whoa! That’s deep, isn’t it?