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Indispensable

Indispensable

My therapist once told me that I try to be everything to my partner–even things that he didn’t know he needs. This was not a conscious strategy. Why in the world would I want to do something so unrealistic?

After I thought about it, I realized that I want to be indispensable so that if the person needs something, I can say, don’t go anywhere! I can fix that! That way he can’t leave me.

This is a pretty common strategy for helpers–professionals and nonprofessionals. Everyone comes to us when they have a problem. We are such good listeners. We give fantastic advice. What would they do without us?

Although being indispensable gives the illusion of safety, in reality, it has not actually prevented people from leaving me. And it has not protected me from heartbreak.

Plus there are other drawbacks. It is impossible to be all things to all people, so I can never succeed. Which increases the likelihood that I will feel like a failure.

And even when someone thinks I am everything he needs, it becomes a burden because then I have to try to convince myself that I love him.

But then when I can’t convince myself, I still can’t leave him, since I tried to be indispensable so he wouldn’t leave me. That would be unfair.

So then I just start another relationship and let the new person’s needs pull me away from my existing relationship. Which is way worse than just breaking up with the person to begin with.

Or if he breaks up with me, I’m all devastated at first, but then I realize I actually didn’t like him all that much. Which makes me feel crazy for having invested so much energy into the relationship.

The biggest problem with trying to be indispensable is that, until recently, I never asked myself what I need in a relationship. This is proving to be a difficult question to answer because, as I indicated in a previous post, I don’t know how to distinguish my wants from my needs.

Usually the guy, my family, and my friends would tell me that I’m being unreasonable. So then I would try to convince myself I don’t really need what I think I need. But that doesn’t seem fair to me.

This is exactly why I am not looking for someone to date. Too many decisions that don’t make any sense.

However, I now realize that I can choose to give myself what I need. I can even choose to give myself what I want.

So now I don’t have to worry about someone else telling me I’m unreasonable. I don’t have to be afraid of being alone. Or force myself to try to love someone. Or try be indispensable so that I won’t be abandoned. In theory, at least.

So for now, that’s what I’m working on. Reminding myself that I am indispensable–to me.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

9 responses »

  1. As a woman, as a “wounded healer,” I know too well what it is to put everyone’s needs ahead of one’s own. Best of luck – for both of us and our kindred spirits – to learn self-care and asserting our own needs.

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  2. I can identify with your post, and I love that you say you only need to be indispensable to yourself. It took me a very long time to be secure enough about myself to the extent that I could stop trying to be ‘all things to all people’ an exhausting challenge.

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  3. My fear of abandonment is overwhelming. I want to make everything perfect.

    Love,
    Janie

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. What a great realization, one that most women should come to at some point in their lives. I am still to meet a woman who doesn’t try to go all out when it comes to relationships, with partners, children or parents. We can be slow learners but many of us are getting there sooner rather than later.

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  5. Pingback: It’s Complicated | Normal in Training

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