Having been in recovery from codependence for over four years, it is easy to notice how much better off I am now. The “constant noise and emotional confusion” inside has dimmed to just a whisper the vast majority of the time. While not true 100%, mostly the “not good enough feelings” are greatly diminished or gone entirely. That is a near miracle!
What is codependence? An answer from: http://www.allaboutcounseling.com/codependency.htm
Codependency is a set of *maladaptive, *compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive in a family which is experiencing *great emotional abuse; pain and stress.
*maladaptive – inability for a person to develop behaviors which get needs met.
*compulsive – psychological state where a person acts against their own will or conscious desires.
*sources of great emotional pain and stress – chemical dependency; chronic mental illness; chronic physical illness; physical abuse; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; divorce; hypercritical or non-loving environment.
As adults, codependent people have a greater tendency to get involved in “toxic relationships”, in other words with people who are perhaps unreliable, emotionally unavailable, or needy. And the codependent person tries to provide and control everything within the relationship without addressing their own needs or desires; setting themselves up for continued un-fulfillment.
Even when a codependent person encounters someone with healthy boundaries, the codependent person still operates in their own system; they’re not likely to get too involved with people who have healthy boundaries. This of course creates problems that continue to recycle; if codependent people can’t get involved with people who have healthy behaviors and coping skills, then the problems continue into each new relationship.
I borrowed the definition of codependency, to set up the following story from the book “Tuesdays With Morrie” by Mitch Albom.
On this day, Morrie says that he has an exercise for us to try. We are to stand, facing away from our classmates, and fall backward, relying on another student to catch us. Most of us are uncomfortable with this, and we cannot let go for more than a few inches before stopping ourselves. We laugh in embarrassment.
Finally, one student, a thin, quiet, dark-haired girl whom I notice almost always wears bulky, white fisherman sweaters, crosses her arms over her chest, closes her eyes, leans back, and does not flinch, like one of those Lipton tea commercials where the model splashes into the pool.
For a moment, I am sure she is going to thump on the floor. At the last instant, her assigned partner grabs her head and shoulders and yanks her up harshly.
“Whoa!” several students yell. Some clap. Morrie finally smiles. “You see”, he says to the girl, “you closed your eyes. That was the difference. Sometimes you cannot believe what you see; you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them too – even when you’re in the dark, even when you’re falling”.
As I have been able to let go of being what I thought people wanted me to be and instead keep healthy boundaries and be true to myself, life has greatly improved. However, there are still times when I get bewildered. Coming to “believe what I feel” is a challenge then when I am emotionally like a seven year-old boy trying to sort it out. When one has “put on” feelings and ways of being for as long as I have, it can hard here and there to know what is pretend and fake from what is real and true. But every day this gets a little easier.
I am very grateful for what I have learned and put into practice through my involvement with Codependents Anonymous. Application of such things is responsible for a great improvement in the quality of my life. I am glad to say I am happy most of time. When I ask myself “what do I feel?” An answer does not always come, but usually one does. I am very thankful to be the most emotionally healthy today I have ever been.
The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy. Jim Rohn
Find out more about codependence here:
http://www.addictionz.com/20_questions_for_codependents.htm (20 question quiz to find out if you might suffer with codependence