“Don’t give up hope. It took many of us 20 years or more to acquire these protective behaviors we umbrella with the word codependency. It may take as much time to let go of them.” – Melody Beattie, Codependent No More
There’s a good chance that if you’ve walked through an abusive relationship, you need to heal from codependency. If you’ve been in a relationship where addiction was involved, codependency works along side. If you’ve been raised in a fear based culture, there’s a chance you have codependent tendencies. And if you’ve been through trauma, you may have learned to be codependent.
Why do I write this?
Because nobody wants to be labeled as codependent. Because it’s important to talk about hard subjects in life. Because the only way to heal, is to talk about it. Because I believe it’s important for humanity to start discussing the topics that have been taboo for generations. The topics we want to hide from. The subject matters that we don’t fully understand but are willing to learn.
To heal from codependency, we must first realize that we are codependent. We must admit to every attribute that goes along with codependency which means we begin to touch upon traits that protected us in really hard circumstances. The truth is, our protectors helped us survive.
I don’t want to be codependent!
The first time a very close friend suggested to me that I might be codependent, I balked at the idea. However, we have close friends whom we allow to speak into our lives for a reason. Friends who love us and care about us want us to be our best self, living our best life. After speaking with my friend, I began googling “codependency” and realized that it isn’t what I thought it to be. In fact, the more I learned, the more I realized that my codependency was generational. Further, I realized I learned many of the attributes of codependency as if such traits were a normal healthy way of living. I immediately found the book “Codependent No More”, by Melody Beattie. With each page read, I began to see every protector I had ever acquired. It was as if my eyes were being opened for the first time about things deep within myself that I needed to work through. I began to see a mirror reflecting my soul.
After admitting that I am indeed, codependent (it gets easier each time I say it), I had to undo the art of blame. This is the tricky thing about codependency. So much harm was caused at the hands of another, yet, at some point we must begin to take full responsibility for ourselves. Yes, they hurt us. Yes, they left us devastated. Yes, often we left without knowing who we are or who they are. Often we are left in financial ruin. Often we are left without anything to our name. But in order to heal fully we have to step out of the sinking swamp. We can’t swim in the muck any longer. We have to stop pulling others in with us. And, something extremely important: we can’t allow other’s to rescue us.
Now, let me be clear about something. There is a point that we allow people to help us upon leaving abuse. Often asking for help is the most challenging thing we have ever done. After all, many of us have not even discussed the abuse when we finally ask for help. In fact, we are use to living our life caring only for others. But, when we begin to feel like we need to be rescued, it’s time to take a deep breath and critically think about how we can solve our problems. AND WOW is this hard for a codependent to do! Someone else destroyed our life and now, without their help, we must rebuild from nothing.
Letting Go Of Control
Next, we have to stop controlling. Yes, I said it. One of the primary characteristics of codependency is control. In order to protect our hearts, we learn to control our environment. We do what we can to not hurt. Yet, control keeps us from living our authentic self and does not allow others the freedom to do the same. When we control, we do not allow ourselves the opportunity to live freely. And in the midst, we do not allow our hearts the opportunity to give nor receive love.
Are you ready for this next attribute that we must unlearn? In fact, this was the attribute that shook me to the core when I realized the significance in my own life. After all, it was a trait that I had learned as if it was healthy and true. As if it was love.
This trait is, in fact, the need to save another.
Take a big deep breath with me and let it out. I lived 20 years of my life trying to “save” my abusive partner from his addictions, horrific financial decisions, devastating relationship choices and more. However, the need to save, rescue, insert love was something I learned within the culture in which I was raised. I was taught that love means going and saving people who didn’t know they needed to be saved. Thus begins a vicious unhealthy cycle of toxic behavior.
What does savior syndrome look like? You don’t know you need saving. You didn’t ask me to come save you. Yet, I know what’s best for you. I’m going to make decisions for you. I’m going to insert myself into your life in order to love you. Friends, do you see where I am going with this? How toxic and manipulative is this way of living? Did you learn it within your own culture? Perhaps, within your church?
I’ve touched on 3 traits that exist within codependency because it is important that we have hard discussions. In order to get rid of the fear behind hard topics, we have to be willing to do hard things and become uncomfortable. If our first instinct is to be uncomfortable, I suggest that this is good. Uncomfortable is good. Admitting we are scared is good. Having the discussion is good. In fact, this is where scales begin to be lifted from our eyes and we start to realize that we don’t have to live like this. We can heal and live from our core. It is not easy. We have to make a decision to look deep within our heart, soul, mind. We need to admit to things that we may not want to admit to.
The good news is, we aren’t alone in this. We aren’t the only codependent in the world. There’s many of us. We can heal! We can participate in the journey. We can reconnect to our soul. We can sit in our feelings and allow them to teach us what we need to learn. We can begin to take responsibility for our own lives. We can stop blaming and start taking action.
We do not need to be a passive participant in our own life.
I think this is good news! Don’t you?
The truth is, the only way to be free is to let go. The truth is, freedom comes at a cost. Often, the cost is that which we are clinging to and once we let go, we finally get to live!
I’m still on the journey. I’m still healing. I’m still learning, unlearning, growing, looking deep within, surrounding myself with truth speakers and cheerleaders. I don’t ever want to pretend that I’ve completed the process and that the journey isn’t challenging. But, we can do hard things. I can do hard things. You can do hard things. Together. We can begin today. We can continue tomorrow. We keep going, knowing, we are not alone. We are humanity. Community.
We are learning to love. To be love. To walk in love always. After all, this, I believe, is our ultimate goal.
Are you on the journey with me? Let me know in the comments.