Understanding Dependent Personality Disorder

My advice

Know that you were born perfect; that is to say, you were born with all the skills and characteristics you need for a happy and fulfilled life. If your life is not how you want it, it is a result of negative childhood messages which have distorted the way you see yourself and others. Once you have swept away those messages, the whole world is within your grasp.

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My story

I was deeply unhappy. As a child, I had learned to do what my mother wanted. To do otherwise was to risk her sneers and being told there was something wrong with me.

I had grown up believing I was inherently bad, with low self-esteem and a fear of being abandoned. I would do anything to avoid being rejected, even putting up with abuse within relationships. I clung to the idea that I needed someone to tell me what to do as I was unable to look after myself. I took jobs that bored me, I was socially awkward, unable to make friends and was afraid of dancing. I believed that I would never amount to anything.

I was never diagnosed with any condition, but my symptoms were those of Dependent Personality Disorder, which include:
• being needy
• fear of abandonment
• profound sensitivity to criticism
• a belief that I could not care for myself
• avoiding conflict for fear of losing approval
• inability to tolerate being alone, placing the needs of others above my own.

I had become two people – the inner me that nobody saw, and the outer me, who did what others wanted, in the hope that they would like me or at least, not punish me. I was an actor, playing a part. But unlike an actor, I could never step off the stage and go back to being myself. It was too dangerous to say what I wanted or do what I wanted.

I could see no solution to this problem. My only hope was that I would one day discover what was wrong with me. In the meantime, I was powerless to bring about any sort of change in my life. I trundled on as best I could, a puppet at the mercy of other people.

One day, I realised that the answer was to cure myself. Finding a therapist to tell me how I could be cured, would simply be continuing with the old pattern of allowing others to dictate what I did.

The two people that I had been all my life, now became The Distortion Layer and the Zeta room. The Distortion Layer was the part of my mind that contained all the negative childhood experiences and which had distorted the way I saw myself and the world. The Zeta Room was where I was ‘me’.

In the knowledge that I was perfect as I was, that so-called ‘bad’ behaviour was simply the unconscious outward expression of my abusive childhood and not my fault, I learned, gradually, to lose the fear that others would find me unacceptable.

Today, I am no longer afraid to be anything other than who I am.