Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist

How to get out of the drama

Finding Your Deepest Yearnings

What is it that you want in your deepest heart of hearts?

Do you have any idea what you truly want in your life?

Are you afraid to even look that deep in case what you see there will seem too impossible to achieve?

Virginia Satir, one of the first family therapists, said, “The yearnings to love oneself, to love others, and to be loved by others are universal.”

What yearnings are dwelling deep inside of you? What do you long for in your life? Some of the yearnings Caretaker clients share with me include:

The yearning to be heard and seen as I am---not for what others wants me to be.

The yearning to be accepted completely—including my imperfections.

The yearning to live in a peaceful, loving, relaxing environment.

The yearning to sometimes be weak and be taken care of.

The yearning to not be questioned and judged and blamed.

The yearning to be appreciated and acknowledged.

The yearning to be loved and valued just as I am.

When you are caretaking someone who is self-centered and manipulative, none of these yearnings can be acknowledged or fulfilled. Whether that person is your mother, father, spouse, lover, or friend, when you are focusing your caretaking energy on someone else and forgetting about your own needs and wants, you will have a difficult time fulfilling the yearnings of your soul.

The universal desires to be loved, considered and appreciated can only be accomplished when we are in relationship and community with people who have the capacity to truly love and accept others as imperfect human beings. Too often Caretakers make connection with people who are manipulative, self-centered and incapable of loving others because their entire energy and focus is on getting what they want. The needs, wants, desires, hopes and dreams of others are irrelevant to them.

Caretakers, however, tend to go too far in the other direction—that is, they give up even thinking about their own needs and wants. When I talk with Caretakers about their deepest desires and yearnings, they often express profound pain and anguish over the belief that these can never be met. If you were raised by demanding, hostile or cold parents or have been in an adult relationship for a while with someone who ignores, diminishes, or rejects your needs and wants, then it can be pretty hard to believe that there is any hope of having the kind of life and relationships that would be in harmony with your deepest yearnings. What Caretakers too often do is give up hoping that life could be better, or conversely, they keep holding onto the hope that the selfish, manipulative person in their life will suddenly “see the light” and change their character.

Getting in touch with your deepest yearnings can help you gauge whether the relationships you are in can come anywhere close to meeting your needs. Expecting others to change, especially selfish people, is a fairly hopeless proposition, but you could look elsewhere to get your deepest hopes and wants fulfilled. There ARE happy, generous, loving people in the world, but you have to go out and find them, and it helps to know what you are looking for.

If you don’t know what you are really wanting and needing in your deepest yearnings, you won’t know what to really look for. Spend some time looking into your own feelings, instead of always focusing on what others are thinking and feeling. Sit quietly for 10 or 15 minutes and ask yourself these questions:

What would I like to be feeling?

What am I feeling?

What is missing from my life?

What do I have too much of?

What is there too little of?

Is this the life I imagined years ago?

What am I longing for?

What can I do to change how my life is working?

Move past any fears of hopelessness and despair. The manipulators in your life won’t be there to help you with these yearnings, but there probably are already some people in your life that could help you, if you asked. In addition, there are many, many more people you could meet that are looking for the same things you are, and yearning for someone like you to share their vision. There are people who need and want exactly what you have to offer and who would appreciate and love and validate who you are. But as long as you are only looking for your yearnings to be fulfilled by people who can’t, won’t or don’t want to validate you, you will be stuck.

So embrace your yearnings, seek their fulfillment, take a risk to reach out to the people you see as truly loving, kind and considerate. Your yearnings can lead the way to a better life. 

Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT, is a therapist, author and speaker on the topic of borderlines and narcissists.

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