It’s true, I am a flashing whirling glowing beacon of codependency. I have been reading “Codependent no more – Melody Beattie” instead of packing or going to work early. I have read parts of the book before, My mother has read it, and recommended I buy it. I have owned this treasure, it’s been sitting on my book shelf for 5 or 6 years. I am ready for it now. It explains what a codependent is, Someone who is more involved in someone else’s life than their own. Often friends and family of people with substance abuse and addiction issues are effected to some degree. But it’s not so cut and dried. Have a spouse who is an attention seeking narcissist? Addicted to sports? Over or under eating? You may react in a codependent fashion. It may be the modeling you have had, It could be poor self-esteem or a negative self-image. Ever had your trust violated? Been cheated on, lied to, let down? All of this can trigger behaviours. Ultimately every single person on the planet could succumb to this type of coping. Everyone has had a disappointments, hurt, betrayal. Some people are better at cutting ties, commanding respect, making themselves a priority. Unfortunately… I am not one of those people. Already established, I do a poor job of taking care of myself first, and I respect myself, but fall short in demanding that from others.
So there I am sitting on the floor of my apartment reading a book, and laughing, out loud, by myself as I turn the pages. I wrote down the characteristic of a co-dependant that I felt I had, and listed a chilling 80 qualities. Fortunately awareness is the first step to making codependent a choice. There are already things that I have been doing to treat my problem. Waiting until asked for help, establishing my own thoughts and feelings on things instead of worrying about another. Taking care of myself. I do still feel guilty about it here and there, but I am not likely to instantly shut off 30ish years of conditioning. I started this post a couple of weeks ago, and I worked on finishing the book. I made notes as I went through it, and nearly used up an entire notepad. I have more homework… I am going to make a list of things I like about myself, 108 is the task at hand, no easy feat. So far I have written the numbers down on the left side of my notebook, 1-108. Yay me…
Every morning before I reach for my phone, check facebook, or my e-mail, I check in with myself. Every day I think, or ask myself “what do I need today?” One morning I needed to finish my book and blog, I moved a few things, and had a lash fill. This is not a list of should or have-to’s, it’s an exercise to decide what I need. No more shame or unwarranted guilt. They serve no purpose and make everything harder. If I am constantly putting myself into impossible situations (marathon to do lists, unrealistic expectations) I will experience the worthless stinking guilt of not meeting my own expectations, the ultimate self punishment. If I need to take the day off work, or call Cherise, or eat peanut butter ice cream, that is what I will do. I can accept that some days will be harder than others, some weeks even. “Real power comes from feeling our feelings not from ignoring them, real strength comes, not from pretending to be strong all the time but from acknowledging our weaknesses and vulnerabilities when we feel this way.”
I have to acknowledge and accept my feelings. Feelings are energy, and repressed feelings block energy…and they don’t just go away. They leak out, send you into a frenzy of distraction, or they make you sick. Sometimes… all of the above. Unpleasant feelings are like weeds, they grow wild and take over. I sometimes have feelings I don’t think are appropriate, I have a hard time letting myself feel angry. What would happen If I let myself be angry? Feel rage? Let the lid off of that tightly sealed container? The thought is frightening, but It’s also essential for the grieving process, which I’ll get to. Anger that has nowhere to go turns into depression and anxiety, and the self-hatred piles on like a big steamy pile of crap. On top of the repression I will experience guilt about how I feel, but feeling homicidal rage is not committing homicide… and unwarranted guilt and shame serves no purpose. I have been told I have deep repressed grief. I need to heal the grief so that I can move on. Grief is something co-dependents have a hard time dealing thru. Makes sense as it is an introspective process, but if all your energy and effort is pointed towards other people it’s hard to make it thru the steps. I spent two years alone, but I repressed feelings, anger, made myself impossibly busy, hated on my self. I did not move thru the stages of grief. As much as it sucked, Goldy breaking up with me when he did… in retrospect, was exactly what I needed to spurn me into all of this. I am grateful.
The steps of grief:
1) DENIAL-this is where we lie to ourselves, we don’t trust our intuitions, “no, she wasn’t cheating on me, I’m crazy” “this is just a break, we will get back together” This is where our minds are not yet capable of dealing with the truth and hurt, it’s a shock absorber for the soul, we shut down the awareness of things too painful to know.
2) ANGER- I fail at this, but it can be self-directed, I could safely say I was angry with myself, I certainly punished and blamed myself. It can also be directed at someone else, MrNRN perhaps?
3) BARGAINING- strike a deal with life, another person or god, If we get back together things will change, promise… Here you are postponing the inevitable.
4) DEPRESSION-this is the essence of grief, mourning to its fullest. Struggling to find pleasure in anything, the world is covered in fog, sometimes it burns off, sometimes you need a big ass fan, or weather change, like a gail force wind to lift it.
5) ACCEPTANCE-This stage is void of feeling, the pain is gone, the feeling like you are wrapped in cling wrap is gone, the struggle is over. This is FREEDOM.
You don’t always move thru the steps in this exact order, you move up and down, stopping on each one, coming back to others, there is nothing systematic or orderly about the process. You do have to experience each one. Each stage deserves us being gentle, forgiving and loving with ourselves. All things that were seriously lacking in my self-treatment. Forgiveness is the Siamese twin of acceptance in the grief process, that means forgiving ourselves. Nothing easy about that…
Focusing all of my attention to others the last… oh shit… 20 some years I need to make goals. Life goals, small, big, career, that astonishing list of 80 codependent qualities, my goals could include changing some of those. I have been piggybacking on other people’s goals. I don’t have any, I don’t have a “bucket list” or burning desire for anything but some kid time. When I think about it, it makes me sad, I am smart and capable, would like to think myself ambitious, but I have NO goals? I have shut out the outside world, being so involved with others, I haven’t read, or taken any classes, my world has been fairly small. I need to learn how to have fun. Fun doesn’t match up with codependency. They are oil and water. Being codependent, we have repressed emotion, we are saturated with guild and despair, we are concerned with what others think of us, and we hate ourselves. Makes it difficult to have fun. I was fun, I think it should be fairly easy to learn how to be again…Having fun helps us take care of ourselves, celebrates being aide, and dammit… I DESERVE it. Goal #1-learn to have fun- refresher course.
“Everything from our pasts has prepared and propelled us to this moment; today prepares us for tomorrow. And it all works out for the good. NOTHING’S WASTED.”
My dirty laundry list: responsible for others, feel anxiety, pity, guilt for others problems, compelled to solve, anticipate others needs, say yes when they mean no, don’t know wants/needs, tell self they are not important, please others instead of self, feels safest when giving, insecure or guilty when someone gives to them, attracted to needy, abandon routine for someone else, over commitment harried or pressured, low self-worth, blame self, reject praise, perfectionist, not good enough, guilt and shame, believe they don’t deserve good things or happiness, believe others couldn’t possibly love them, settle for being needed, push thoughts and feelings, rigid and controlled, think and talk of others, worry and check up on others, focus all energy on others people and problems, don’t deal or see feelings of loss and control, know “best”, ignore or pretend things aren’t that bad, stay busy and distracted, cling to the better tomorrow idea, confused depressed or sick, workaholic or spend compulsively, believe lies and lie to themselves, feel like they are going crazy, look for happiness outside, “latch on” to who they think can make them happy, don’t love self, seek love from those not capable, feel threatened by loss of those they think can make them happy, seek love and approval,prove they are good enough to be loved, center around others, look to relationships to provide good feelings, stay in relationships that don’t work, wonder if they will find love, don’t say what they mean, don’t take selves seriously/or too seriously, gauge words carefully for desired effect, ask for things indirectly, manipulate, eliminate “no”, say everything is their fault, apologize, let others hurt them, keep letting other hurt them, don’t trust their own, feelings or decisions, lose faith, afraid of anger, repress angry feelings, extremely responsible, cry often or get depressed, shame for feeling angry, difficult to feel close, passive response-cry-hurt-helpless, vacillate in decisions with emotions, stay loyal to people and compulsions even when it hurts, not seek help because a problem isn’t “bad enough”, or they aren’t important enough, depressed-lethargic or hopeless, emotionally, mentally or physically ill, experience over/under eating, paradoxical dependence, look strong but feel helpless.