I learned this lesson the hard way by being a bit of a rescuer, especially with my romantic partners, until I finally dropped the supergirl act, and began the job of rescuing myself.
My rescuer tendencies reared their head in my mid-twenties. Subconsciously, I took on responsibility for my partner at the time, as he felt wounded and bruised from a former relationship. I went from helping him in terms of his emotions to feeling completely responsible for his happiness, including taking on the tasks of his daily life.
This was an ingrained unconscious belief that suddenly reared its head and created havoc in the relationship. Yes, he was lazy — but no one forced me to act as his rescuer.
Eventually, I felt exhausted and very resentful. Even a little angry. Deep down inside, I wanted him to give me what I had given him. I sucked up his emotional poison by choice and then felt angry when he didn’t do the same for me.
The relationship ended just before I entered my thirties. Over the next couple of years, every man that crossed my path was wounded and still grieving a past emotional experience. I had a couple of relationships where I emotionally patched them back up, yet I was plagued with the same feelings of resentment and baffled by my ability to attract the same issue in different men.
Moving forward to 2012, I dated a man who was one of the most wounded individuals that I’ve ever met. Emotional toxicity oozed out of his every pore, in his every action and word. The phrase “emotional manipulator” was made for him. I felt his pain and had an immense amount of empathy for him, but he emotionally floored me within the first four weeks of dating and, after he dropped into conversation that I was making him feel suicidal, we came to an end. I needed to protect myself.
In the weeks that followed, I felt stunned and shaken but a slow truth emerged. I had my light bulb moment and absolutely saw the light.
I was the problem by setting myself up to be the “rescuer” in every situation.
What I was doing for others, I needed to do for myself.
I was emotionally wounded from my childhood and I needed to rescue me.
I needed to stop trying to have relationships with emotionally broken men and start having a decent relationship with myself.
Looking back, I’ve come to realise that I was attracting men who were emotionally wounded from past experiences and I took on their emotions as my own. My partner benefitted from an increase in emotional confidence while I would suffer from burnout.
By taking on responsibility for my partner, I was enabling their inability to deal with their emotions and life.
By fulfilling their needs, I stopped their development in learning how to deal with life and its many problems.
With hindsight, I could’ve been there for my partner without taking on their problems as my own.
If I wanted to go on to have a successful and balanced relationship, I had to deal with my emotional wounds and develop healthy boundaries.
And the most important lesson? I needed myself. I needed my love, my attention, my kindness, and my compassion for me, until I healed the wounds of the past.
So, I ditched the saviour complex, once and for all. I needed a hero and that’s what I became. All the effort I put into rescuing other people, I finally gave to myself.
There is only one person you can save, my friends, and that is you.
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(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.