If we can’t imagine who we would be without our relationship, chances are we come from a dysfunctional family of origin and have learned co-dependent behavior patterns. When we lack a sense of our own identity and the boundaries of the self that protect and define us as individuals, we tend to draw our identities, our sense of self-worth from our partner or significant other as we did in the earliest stage of our biological growth in our family of origin, drawing our sense of worth from their perceptions of us. The structure of the relationship in this case is not that of equals in a partnership but that of parent and child. Leading in some cases to that most unequal of relationships, master and slave. It is quite possible that children developing in a family where the important relationship of the parents is an unequal one will be forced to take on roles as either surrogate spouse and/or adopt roles that it is hoped will restore dignity to the family and balance to the system. If we can’t imagine who we would be without our relationship, chances are we come from a dysfunctional family of origin and have learned co-dependent behavior patterns. Unable to find fulfillment within ourselves we look for such fulfillment in others and are willing to do anything it takes to make the relationship work, just as we may have done in our enmeshed family of origin, even if this means giving up our emotional security, friends, integrity, sense of self-respect or worth, independence, or employment. The rational alternative is to find out who we are and what makes us unique, and we will rejoice in the freedom of this discovery. We will come to realize that our value and worth as a person is not necessarily dependent on having a significant other in our life, that we can function well as an independent person in our own right. When we move into accepting ourselves for who we really are warts and all, we will be able to accept others for who they are; our relationships and ourselves will actually have a chance to grow into emotionally mature adults able to give freely out of choice and flourish in our new-found freedom. John Stibbs http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/emotional_boundaries.html
Be who you are
and say what you feel
because those who mind don’t matter
and those who matter don’t mind.
For years of my adult life I was the consummate advice giver, whether requested or not. It went hand in hand with my tendency to boss around the woman in my life at the time. Why I thought I always knew what everyone else should do I will never exactly know, except that it’s a defining of characteristic of a codependent. Outwardly I also exhibited what appeared to be great self-control, but it was to a large degree a bogus projection. Control, control, control is the hallmark of men like me suffering with codependency. The behavior comes from believing controlling everyone will keep me from getting hurt. That’s a house of cards that began to fall down eventually when it began to show that I couldn’t control myself. Over time bad habits and behavior spilled out into the light of day to show me as only having been “in control of being out of control”. Like a car doing a hundred, one can only control it until the road becomes filled with curves. Crash!
You cannot control what happens to you,
but you can control your attitude toward
what happens to you, and in that,
you will be mastering change
rather than allowing it to master you.
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.