The foundation of this relationship was guilt, blame and avoiding taking person responsibility, and I looked to therapy to find a “fix”.
Now, for an outsider looking in, the obvious course of action would have been just to walk away from the relationship. But this simply isn’t an answer in any emotionally co-dependent situation.
One characteristic of my co-dependence was placating the anger of others in an attempt to avoid upsetting the status quo. And one way I would do this was by apologizing despite not being sorry. After a conflict, no matter how I was spoken to or whatever unreasonable expectations were placed on me, I was the one who made the peace and said sorry….and this deeply impacted by self-esteem.
Saying sorry almost became an impulsive reaction in conflict in all area’s of my life and I knew I had to stop compromising my boundaries and beliefs out of fear of a negative reaction.
Re-building my self-worth away from the toxic relationship involved realigning my words and attitude with my true personality. So whenever a disagreement occurred or a moment of guilt was triggered, I would catch myself and ask “Am I actually sorry?”.
In many (not all) cases, I wasn’t sorry and chose to not apologize. Some people respected this, others were threatened by it.
At other times, I reflected on my own involvement in the conflict and felt saying sorry was the right thing to do. Again, some people respected this, others didn’t.
Overtime how they reacted mattered less and less. What did matter was that I was actively reclaiming my self-esteem by not apologizing when I didn’t want to. Each day I was becoming a little more true to myself, something not permitted in the toxic relationship…and each day, I was becoming just a little more independent and less emotionally dependent on others.
So do you find yourself apologizing when you don’t want to? And more importantly, is saying sorry worth the sacrifice to your self-worth?
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