Updated: May 7, 2022
I used to be addicted to control; controlling people, conversations, and situations. I tried controlling the arguments my husband and I would frequently create. I tried controlling my children. I tried to control the way people perceived me; and the way people perceived my husband and children as extensions of me. I tried fixing everyone else’s problems instead of putting all that effort into the one thing I actually can change: myself.
All this adds up to this: I am a recovering co-dependent. Many people have never heard this term. And if they have, it’s a term that is applied to “other people”; seriously messed-up people in regular therapy – not functional people whose lives aren’t falling apart.
The first time I came upon the term, my mother-in-law was reading a book about co-dependency and exploring what co-dependent patterns existed in her life. In my mind, I was relieved she was getting help. “She really needed it.” I roll my eyes now at how judgmental I was of her then and pretty much everyone else. The irony about co-dependency is this: if you pity, are impatient with, intolerant of, or generally condemn martyrs, people-pleasers, those who are clingy or try to control others, take care of everyone except themselves, give their personal power to others and then play the victim when their life falls apart...you might be a codependent.
When my relationship (and main source of self-esteem and identity) came crashing down around me I had an important BREAKTHROUGH: the reason the series of events that destroyed the trust and intimacy in my marriage destroyed my sense of self-worth was because I was CO-DEPENDENT. In the midst of crisis, I sought to understand more about exactly what co-dependence is. At 34, after years of placing responsibility for my life in someone else’s hands, it was not easy to admit that I was largely responsible for what I was experiencing. And that the only person that could save me from my misery . . . was me.
The road to recovery has not been easy; and it is far from over. There have been many victories on the road to interdependent relating; graciously accepting my truth and courageously owning it with others, setting boundaries and defending them, becoming practiced at holding space for my own uncomfortable emotions and the emotions of others, facing my ego projections and refusing to own the projections of others. I still fail to manage my energetic boundaries from time to time. I have to remind myself constantly that disharmony can and usually is temporary. I can be patient and hold space while my partner struggles; offer help but not demand that my help is accepted; that I can be okay even if he is not.
I do not walk this journey alone; I walk with my partner, the help of two coaches, informative and paradigm-challenging books, intuitive friends, a lot of prayer and journaling . . . and time. This journey has changed and humbled me in ways I could not have accomplished when I was ‘trying’ to be a better person by attempting to change my behavior. I no longer feel the compulsion to tell everyone what they need to hear or expose their blind spots (that is unless they're paying me to 😜) I have more patience and compassion for myself and others. I have discovered what it means to live in the belief that people really are doing the best they can. I feel the need to criticize and blame way less often and my children have responded in very favorable ways. I spin out in mind drama considerably less. I feel grateful most of the time.
It is possible for you to stop living for validation, needing to fix and take care of everyone, and staying stuck in results you don’t want. If I can do it so can you. It all begins by deciding to believe that it’s possible for you to be free of these destructive patterns.
You can borrow my belief until you live in belief too. Call or schedule me for a free consult and we’ll create a new vision for your life and relationships.