Recovery from codependence is not for cowards. It requires courage that comes from realizing it hurts more to stay the same, than it hurts to change. Courage is finding the inner strength and bravery required when confronting danger, difficulty, or opposition… it resides deep within each of us, ready to be accessed in those moments when you need to forge ahead or break through seemingly insurmountable barriers. It is the intangible force that propels you forward on your journey… Courage is learned in the moment that you take a leap of faith and take action. Cherie Carter-Scott PH.D. from the book “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules”
There is no need to be ashamed of tears,
for tears bear witness that a man has the greatest of courage,
the courage to suffer.
The fear of becoming old is born of the recognition that one is not living now the life that one wishes. It is equivalent to a sense of abusing the present (Susan Sontag). When I read this quote it stopped me in my tracks with its relevant truth. In a single moment’s clarity came why I was so unhappy with my life in the past: I was not living the life I wanted. While that consternation has not evaporated completely, it has diminished as the life desired has, in recent years, become a closer match to the one I live. There are many simple sign posts about how to find greater contentment with living but most of us miss them most of the time. Where lies the greatest dissatisfaction or strongest fear is frequently where the best opportunity for improving one’s life can be found.
Death is not the greatest loss in life.
The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.
He often comes on strong at the start a of relationship. He wants love, but a part of him that is deathly afraid kicks in. As a child he felt the need to take care of one parent or fill in for another, such as in single parent families. Instead of being a carefree child, he thinks it is his duty to play the part of a little adult. Instead of being nurtured, he becomes the nurturer compelled to fulfill someone else’s needs. Consequently he turns into a commitment phobic who refuses to take a relationship beyond a certain level. He is the philanderer who never stays with just one person for long. “He” is a Love Avoidant and the ‘he’ is me.
To cheat oneself out of love
is the most terrible deception;
it is an eternal loss
for which there is no reparation,
either in time or in eternity.
In the mind of the child within I grew up to believe love and pain were somehow attached together. Especially when there is overt physical, sexual or emotional abuse this happens, but my experience of more covert mistreatment like feelings of abandonment and lack of care brought me to conclude love and pain were but mirror reflections of the same thing. Suffering became a misplaced way to show caring. Such a perspective caused me to enter and stay in a number of relationships that were anything but healthy. The emotional roller coaster led me to falsely believe the intense emotions I was feeling came from true love. One can change this behavior I have come to know. It’s a slow process of learning awareness driven by a consistent desire to grow past old behaviors; difficult, but worth every ounce of effort.
There can be wounds that never show on the body
that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.
Laurell K. Hamilton
There will come a point when you’ll realize you have done far much for someone and the only possible next step is to stop. Leave them alone. Walk away. See that you can’t fix them or the circumstances. It’s not that you’re giving up or shouldn’t try, it’s just that you are drawing a line ‘in the sand’ to separate desperation from determination. What is truly meant to be yours will eventually be yours one way or another. And what is not destined to be yours will never be no matter how hard you try.
Sometimes you end up losing yourself
trying to hold onto someone
who doesn’t care about losing you.
Throughout adulthood there have been consistent problems in my romantic love relationships. While I accepted that a part of the cause could be me, I was convinced the majority of the trouble was caused by the other person. So as a good codependent would, I set about trying to fix that person and show them the error of their ways. Earnestly I thought I knew what would “cure” a lover and thereby make our relationship near perfect. All she had to do was what I said. Today it is clear there actually was a relationship problem, but it was with my self. My avoidance was so strong and my denial so deep, there was no way to see that for many years. Even today trouble identifying what is “normal behavior” can be a challenge, but just knowing my tendencies is a big step forward.
It’s the most unhappy people
who most fear change.
It’s perfectly normal to be self-conscious at times and to a point it’s part of a balanced and healthy view of one’s self. However, for many who bear weak esteem issues, self-consciousness sometimes becomes an almost paralyzing preoccupation. On those occasions an avalanche of thoughts can bury a person: “Am I dressed right? My hair looks bad doesn’t it? Are my clothes OK? Will they be able to tell how uncomfortable I am? I have no idea what to say. What if I made a fool of myself? Maybe I’ll just stay home and not go out.” Casually thinking one or two of those thoughts from time to time is normal. Thinking them all (and more) at the same time is not. A saying that helps me when I get all stirred up with that type of stinkin’ thinkin’ is “what you think of me is none of my business”. It’s not an instant cure but used regularly it can help push away overly self-conscious thoughts.
Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
No doubt crept in,
Forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day,
you shall begin it well and serenely…
Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I was seven years old my Father left my Mother, younger Brother and me for life with another woman who was pregnant with his child. Clear is the memory of sitting on the bed by my Mom who had one arm around me and one around my Brother. Through tears she said our Dad was not coming back. She ended by looking me straight in the eyes saying “You’re the man of the house now. You’re gonna have to take care of your little brother.” I took what she said seriously and from that day forward I did whatever I could to look after of my little brother and beyond what should be expected of a kid. Whether it was giving him the larger piece of a candy bar we were splitting or cooking meals while my mother worked, I did all I could to care for him. Today I know the instruction my Mother gave me began ‘enmeshment’ and caused me to be far more serious about life than a seven-year old boy ever should. There lies the deepest root of my codependency. Whenever children are continually expected to act like adults they are being robbed of their childhood.
The day the child realizes
that all adults are imperfect,
he becomes an adolescent;
the day he forgives them,
he becomes an adult;
the day he forgives himself,
he becomes wise.
Lies may hurt others but always hurt the liar most. Little damage, if any, comes from relatively harmless fibs to a question like “does this dress make my butt look big”. It’s veritable wrong a man does that is then amplified by dishonesty that does damage. For every indiscretion covered up, the person telling the untruth will always know what he did. Lying turns the act into a landmine that could be found out and explode at any time. Little by little each fabrication and the ongoing worry of being discovered weakens the trust a person has in their own self. The quagmire gets deeper and deeper with each new deceit and, though hidden away, self-respect slowly is swallowed by the quicksand of lies. Truth is always the right answer. The damage it might do is almost always less than that done by deceit found out later.
The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies
is that they have a greater capacity
to diminish us than exposed ones.
They erode our strength,
our very foundation.
When someone you love has left you there is a feeling of missing a part of yourself. Like one who has had a limb removed, you constantly reach for a lover that is no longer there. It’s the being alone that is the most maddening. It brings an insatiable hunger to be loved and a monumental fear of being alone. When one who is codependent suffers a breakup every fiber of the loneliness is amplified to where one can barely stand it. Then come the perceived cures that only numb the pain for a short while. Some jump right into another relationship, some drink, others do drugs or become workaholics. The romantic relationship cycle will continue over and over as one tries in vain to fill what feels like a hole in the soul. Read a book. Get counseling. Find a support group. Lean on a close friend. Or do all of it. If you want a different way of being and relationships that are healthy,work on yourself and let the pain pass so love can shine in.
Renoir was painting with only his fingertips
because arthritis twisted and cramped his hands
when asked why he continued to paint answered
“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”