Why didn’t I notice the warning signs at the start of my long-term relationship? Why didn’t my brother notice the warning signs before he settled down with the wrong person? Why did we both choose manipulative people and why were we both so easily to manipulate!!!?


In the past I only asked these questions of myself. However, since the collapse of my brother’s relationship, I can now see his marriage mirrored mine. Ahhh, the wisdom gained by hindsight and a great therapist!


It all makes sense now.


Of course, we both fell into the same traps – we were raised in the same home with the same loving but emotionally absent mother.


Of course, we both developed strategies to suppress our emotions, which were less than helpful in adulthood.


Of course, we both had low self-esteem, due to trauma in childhood, which meant we were unable to recognise or replicate healthy intimate relationships. We were able to make friends, so our relationships with partners must have been OK, right? NO!


Despite these difficulties, we have been blessed with a mother who has had the courage to ‘go there’ with us – to think, talk about her mistakes, and help us paint a picture of our blurry past. This has helped us to come to understand how our history has shaped the people we became. While we can’t change the past, good therapy coupled with medication has helped us change unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviours.


Getting to this place of understanding and awareness has been hard, painful work – but it’s worth it. We feel liberated. We can now form heathier intimate relationships, that heal rather than harm us. We know ongoing therapeutic support helps us get back on our feet quickly when challenges come our way.


We are truly lucky.



This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.


To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/