We may cling to the irrational belief that things are good enough as they are, we feel a measure of security in the relationship, that change is a difficult and fearful prospect, or that we don’t deserve any better, our life has always been a sacrifice of the self, and that this is as good as it’s likely to get. In the process, however, we give up the chance to be the person we were meant to be and to explore our sense of personal fulfilment in life. We give up not only our own life dreams but our sense of worth in order to maintain the security of a relationship. A healthy relationship is one in which boundaries are not only strong, but flexible enough, to allow us to flourish with our own uniqueness, but are also known to and respected by each other. There is a sense of respect on the part of both partners that allows each to live as full a life as possible and to explore their own personal potential. We don’t have to give up ourselves for a relationship but can become interdependent. Healthy boundaries allow trust and security to develop in a relationship because they offer an honest and reliable framework by which we can know each other. But if we don’t know where our self ends and the other begins it is impossible. John Stibbs http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/emotional_boundaries.html
I imagine one of the reasons
people cling to their hates so stubbornly
is because they sense, once hate is gone,
they will be forced to deal with pain.
From “The Fire Next Time” By James Baldwin
Isn’t it selfish to put so much emphasis on my needs and my personal boundaries? While there is valid concern over becoming overly preoccupied with yourself to the exclusion of others, most codependents are on the other extreme of the continuum where they may feel badly about normal healthy self-concern. For some codependents, it may be necessary to go through a period of focusing on self and learning how to set boundaries before they can arrive at more balanced interdependent relationships where they can, in the words of Melody Beattie, “become free to care and to love in ways that help others and don’t hurt ourselves.” Some people, of course, may use the need to “be in touch with themselves” or “be honest” or “meet their own needs” as an excuse for selfishness or doing whatever they please. That is obviously… unhealthy. The goal in overcoming codependency is not to become selfish and ignore others. It is to become emotionally and spiritually mature by being responsible people who, by our health, encourage others to become responsible adults as well. Only when we stop doing for others what they can do for themselves will they begin to grow. Jason T. Li. Ph.D. http://lifecounsel.org/pub_li_overcomingCodependency.html
Our thoughts create our reality.
Where we put our focus
is the direction we tend to go.
It takes time to overcome lifelong patterns of codependency, and the process often involves “two steps forward, and one step back.” But there are several specific steps you can take to break out of an ingrained codependent style. The first step is to face the problem honestly. Chances are, you have rationalized and justified and even spiritualized your codependent style. Now is the time to face it head-on. For someone who has spent a lifetime using denial to ward off pain, shame, or fear of rejection, this can be a terrifying experience. You will need support from people who can provide safe relationships that allow you to be emotionally honest on your journey. Support groups with other people on a similar road of recovery often provide more support for recovering from codependency than family and friends because members of these groups know what it is like to struggle with these issues. (http://coda.org/) One way to begin breaking through denial is to seriously consider the experiences that have contributed to your codependency. Most often this involves exploring significant aspects of your family history. Because codependents have learned to cope by disconnecting from their inner emotions, this exploration cannot be simply an intellectual exercise. It must involve a process of coming to terms with your actual feelings as a child. It also means being completely honest about your family of origin. Jason T. Li. Ph.D. http://lifecounsel.org/pub_li_overcomingCodependency.html
Stop trying to hold onto your past,
you can’t start the next chapter of your life
if you keep re-reading your last one.
If you are codependent and struggle with your basic sense of self-worth, it can be easy to believe that you are inherently defective. Taking time to look beyond the lie that you are just plain defective to really understand how you personally learned your codependent patterns is a significant step in learning to respect yourself more. Every person has a story that is worth listening to and understanding, including you. As you begin to understand how you have been impacted by your experiences and recognize that your codependent patterns are understandable ways of trying to cope with difficult situations and not signs of inherent defectiveness, you will experience less self-blame and more compassion for yourself. You also will experience restored hope that you really can learn healthier ways of relating to yourself and others. The first step is to face the problem honestly. Chances are, you have rationalized and justified and even spiritualized your codependent style. Now is the time to face it head-on. For someone who has spent a lifetime using denial to ward off pain, shame, or fear of rejection, this can be a terrifying experience. You will need support from people who can provide safe relationships that allow you to be emotionally honest on your journey. These supportive relationships might come from friendships, support groups, or professional counseling. Jason T. Li. Ph.D. http://lifecounsel.org/pub_li_overcomingCodependency.html
The thing you fear most has no power.
Your fear of it is what has the power.
Facing the truth really will set you free.
It’s not a good idea to label yourself codependent, unless you plan to do something constructive about it. Because labels don’t empower you; they reinforce the undesired effect. Codependency is, however, a label of our time. So many facets of society are codependent. It’s usually synonymous with romance, too. Codependency is so ubiquitous that first of all, it’s hard to recognize. Secondly, it’s hard to end it — the healthy way. You need to do three things to determine if a relationship you’re in is codependent: 1. Educate yourself on codependency. Learn about what codependency is, and why it’s so fatal. 2. Be honest about how you relate to others and yourself. Understanding codependency at an intellectual level doesn’t do you much good. You need to recognize your codependent behaviors so that you can choose more functional and healthier ones. 3. Be mindful of how you use the label. The whole point of using the label “codependency” is to quickly identify dysfunctional behaviors and assertively reprogram them. In other words, the whole point is so that you take care of yourself. It’s empowering to refer to the label only when you’re ready to move on from it. By Melissa Karnaze http://mindfulconstruct.com/2010/07/09/end-a-codependent-relationship-the-healthy-way/
The only consistent feature
of all of your dissatisfying relationships
Being codependent is very painful. Perhaps the most painful aspect of codependence is the feeling that there is something very wrong with you, and that no matter what you do, you are never good enough. This is the codependent’s secret shame and most codependents don’t like themselves. Codependents also find it hard to believe that anyone would want them. And they very often feel they don’t belong. I used to believe that people who did not want me must be seeing me clearly, whereas the people who wanted me, well, they had to be seriously flawed like me. Otherwise, how could they possibly want me? So for most of my life I rejected the people wanting me in favor of the people not wanting me, desperately trying to get them to like me and constantly being rejected. This caused me much misery and suffering. Three major character defects are those of minimization, denial and delusion. Minimization is refusing to see how bad a situation really is. Denial is when you can see a problem in some-one else, but are unable to see that you have exactly the same problem. Delusion is when you, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, continue to believe something to be true. Codependence recovery involves seeing the truth. Taken from an article by Gitte Lassen http://www.positivehealth.com/article/psychospiritual/codependence-for-whom-are-you-living-your-life
To be beautiful means to be yourself.
You don’t need to be accepted by others.
You need to accept yourself.
Thich Nhat Hanh
This is just part of a long story I found on-line, but it rings true in many ways about my childhood. This is much longer than what I usually post, but since it is Thanksgiving and a difficult time for many of us codependents I felt it was appropriate. As far as I have come to now have mostly healed wounds, the scars remain. They are my reminders to keep my recovery strong.
In our house meal time was a huge production, even everyday meals. Holiday dinners were especially dramatic. We had purchased everything on the list and didn’t dare sneak any treats for ourselves because once my brother had stolen a candy bar from the drugstore and my mother made him return it and apologize to the druggist. I, too, had taken some colored cotton balls from a friend’s bathroom and was reprimanded severely. Neither one of us wanted to face my mother’s wrath so we made sure we only brought back what she requested. By the time we returned home, the final trip, it was cocktail hour. She and my stepfather “Cee” had just begun to warm up from the bitter cold outside.
John and I unpacked the groceries eye’ing everything that was needed for the Thanksgiving dinner. We were starving. Actually we were hungry most of the time. The reason being; there were NO snacks allowed in our house and by the time we would finally eat dinner each evening it would be around 8:00 – 9:00 pm. As we were putting away all the items in the refrigerator we spotted a box of Mavrakos Chocolate Turtles on the second shelf halfway to the back. It was new, for we hadn’t seen it earlier.
What was distressing for two hungry kids was the sign that read, “PRIVATE PROPERTY, DO NOT TOUCH.” Wow, this fueled our anger and we began plotting how we could get some of those turtles. We knew Cee had planned to offer chocolate to his guests and that it was hands off for us. We were never allowed the same delicacies as he. Cee had a lot more money than we did and he didn’t like to share. My brother and I were called “It” and “Ut” and were in the way of his codependent relationship with our mother. The food for the Thanksgiving meal was a different story. Because it was a holiday and my dear Aunt Letha and Uncle Wally were invited, we knew we would be fed. But that wasn’t until the next day.
The next morning everyone in the household was up early. Cee was already perched on his throne, the heavy metal chair at the end of the kitchen table. There was an empty shot glass next to his coffee cup. These days he spent most of his time grunting and grumbling under his breath about the two “Things,” (my brother and I) he was forced to have in his life. From “Thanksgiving Tradition: Highlights Of An Alcoholic Home” by Kay http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Thanksgiving_Tradition_Highlights_Of_An_Alcoholic_Home.html
A torn jacket is soon mended;
but hard words bruise the heart of a child.
There are fine things which you mean to do some day, under what you think will be more favorable circumstances. But the only time that is surely yours is the present, hence this is the time to speak the word of appreciation and sympathy, to do the generous deed, to forgive the fault of a thoughtless friend, to sacrifice self a little more for others. Today is the day in which to express your noblest qualities of mind and heart, to do at least one worthy thing which you have long postponed, and to use your God-given abilities for the enrichment of someone less fortunate. Today you can make your life – significant and worthwhile. The present is yours to do with as you will. Grenville Kleiser
Incredible change happens in your life
when you decide to take control
of what you do have power over
instead of craving control
over what you don’t.
I went through a painful break up in June, 2007, ending a 10 year relationship. I got into that safe but ultimately suffocating relationship because my abandonment issues were too much for me to take on my own. I finally found the strength to end it last year, and have been staring into the void of all of this psychic pain that I never dealt with – neglectful, abusive parents, crippling loneliness and the lack of a family system, blah blah blah. I threw up walls everywhere, I stopped living for myself, and I gave up on my dreams in order to feel safe and loved. Now that I’m trying to strike out on my own, I feel crazy and dramatic and out of control. I keep telling myself, it’s not too late for me, I can keep my job, I can keep my sense of self, I can do what I want to do, and I can do it on my own — but obviously I’m not doing the best job of it right now. Obviously the drinking has to go. That’s really the first and only step I’ve got on my list right now. posted anonymously on ask.metafilter.com/
First you take a drink,
then the drink takes a drink,
then the drink takes you.
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
Life changes. You get it all lined up just the way you like it and then something beyond your control comes along and bumps you off-center. How nice it would be if you could get everything just the way you want it and say, ‘Okay, now, stay.’ But nothing stays the same. You grow up, make friends, lose friends, go to college, lose track of people, meet new ones, and sometimes you ask yourself why. But all I can tell you is the every single experience you go through like this changed you in some way. Every new person who comes into your life changes you. Every moral dilemma or emotional experience you come up against changes you. It’s your job you decide how. That’s how character is developed. From “Hollie’s Quotes”
Character is, for the most part,
simply habit become fixed.
C. H. Parkhurst