“Why, oh why, do I do that?”  

03 Apr 2018

Most weeks, I receive a few  emails from emotionally abused women that pose the “Why do I…?” question.  That is a perfectly normal question for any hurt and suffering woman to ask.  It’s one that I have asked, myself.  More than once

The “Why do …?” question is a normal enough question – in the context of abnormal relationships.  But it is only useful if it leads to a more helpful answer.

Permutations of the “Why do I…?” question

Now, before we look at the answer, we need to look first at the various permutations of the “Why do I…?” question. These include,

  • “Why do I still love him?”
  • “Why do I want him back?”
  • Why do I keep having him back?”
  • “Why do I keep being attracted to the same type?”
  • “Why do I keep reliving the relationship instead of moving on?”
  • “Why do I blame myself for everything?”
  • “Why do I keep telling myself that the relationship could still work?”
  • “Why do I let people behave so badly towards me?”

If I have not included the specific question that you keep asking yourself, no matter.   You see, the whole point about the question is the spirit in which you ask it.  And, as someone who has asked it over and over again, and listened to hundreds of other women do the same, I am here to tell you, that spirit is not kind.

The underlying question

Women ask the “Why do I…?” question from a place of shame and self-blame.  It implies the underlying “What is wrong with me?” question.

So, here’s the deal – as I see it.  Those questions came about in the first place because,

1) You stayed in a toxic relationship for far longer than was ideal.
2) You were treated horribly bad by someone you tried to love into being a loving human being.
3) You ended up losing the massive investment – of your human value – that you poured into the relationship.
4) You ended up feeling T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E.

Does that mean that there is anything wrong with you?

NO!  Absolutely not in my book.

What the “Why do I…?” question really says about you

Here’s what all those “Why do I…?” questions really say about you.

#1 You are a very wounded person.  You were first wounded by either a situation or person(s) that  played a crucial part in your life before you ever met your abusive partner.

#2  Being with your abusive partner was meant to heal your wounds.

#3  You still believe that your abusive partner is your best hope of ever feeling happy and whole. You don’t believe that you have the wherewithal to heal your wounds and arrive at happiness and fulfilment for yourself – and by yourself.

Answers that I just DON’T buy

Now, we both know that you have already told yourself a ton of answers to the “Why do I…?” question like,

  • I’m too weak/broken/pathetic to do life successfully for myself.
  • I’m too mentally impaired/crazy to do life successfully for myself.
  • I’m too old/stupid/inadequate to do life successfully for myself.
  • I’m too different to other people to be able to do life successfully for myself.
  • I’m too “addicted” to this person/relationship to be able to do life successfully for myself.

None of these answers are true – however true they may feel to you.

You are wounded, certainly.  Badly wounded.  However, you are not broken or any of the other offensive claims the malevolent lunatic you were with levelled at you.

I say he was a lunatic not because he was certifiably mad – chances are, he was NOT.  But he was a lunatic not to value you.  (Sure, you could argue with my statement.  However, you would be doing yourself much more of a favour if you just bit the bullet and tried believing in yourself, instead.)

Is it possible to be a decent, worthwhile human being and love a malevolent lunatic – who has brainwashed you into seeing him as a pinnacle of humanity?  Absolutely.  Because here is the second piece of the puzzle.

Your rational mind is NOT as smart as you think it is.

A key part of the subtext of the whole “Why do I…?” question goes something like this, “Part of me knows that I am not entirely stupid.  So, if someone could just explain to me why I do X, surely I will have the proverbial light-bulb moment and then just get on with my life like a normal person.”

Unfortunately, having the scales fall from your eyes doesn’t work quite like that.

First off, this “normal person” myth is misleading.  Even the most normal people entertain some decidedly odd  fears and beliefs within the hothouse of their own minds. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  The human mind is a hothouse in which the oddest beliefs – and most self-harmful – beliefs grow like weeds.

We all have communication breakdowns

Second, communication breakdowns can occur inside your self as well as outside it.  Your rational mind and your wounds don’t communicate very effectively.  While your wounds can scream your rational mind into submission, it does not work the other way.  Your rational mind can try to talk (or bore) your wounds into submission to little or no avail.

The bottom line is this, you have to heal your wounds.  Not ignore them.  Not blame yourself for having them.  Not sidestep them. You need to look at them and heal them.  That is what they are making such a noise for.  They cannot do that for themselves. They need you to notice and heal them.

You can be healed

You need to understand that there is nothing wrong with you that cannot be healed.  But time alone won’t do it. Nor will a partner.  Your wounds need you to treat them seriously, and compassionately.   You can’t just keep pushing them to the back of the line.  If you struggle to do that healing work on your own, then get the expert help and support that you need.  You’re worth it. Plus, it means that you will get your life on track much, much sooner than you otherwise would.

You really don’t have to give yourself a hard time ever again.  You have already suffered enough for one lifetime.  The time has come to move on.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

Leave a comment

The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse.  Starting with the basics.

Connect with me on Instagram

Want daily reassurance and inspiration? Sign up to my Instagram account. @dr_anniephd