A story of redemption
I asked a friend of mine to share her story of healing. In particular, this person struggled with codependency as one of her significant struggles. Here is her story.
Honestly, before I started my journey of healing, I had no idea what codependency was. This is a term that is often thrown around, though I would venture to say most people don't understand what it truly means, either. The online Oxford dictionary definition of codependency is, "excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of illness or addiction."
Recognizing codependency in yourself can be somewhat tricky, especially if it is something you have grown up with. I would like to start by saying being codependent is unhealthy, yes, mainly because it drains and restricts you from being your most authentic self. Yet, it’s never something that should cause shame. Codependency develops as a coping mechanism for some type of wound, be is severe or rather mild.
One of the first signs I recognized in myself that pointed to my codependency was my lack of boundaries with significant people in my life. I felt incredibly empty unless I was surrounded by friends and often looked to them to define who I was more than I listened to myself.
One way this codependent behavior played out in my romantic relationship I was previously in was how I showed a genuine lack of respect for anyone but him. I would cancel plans made long ago with friends on a whim if he told me to, and he never once heard the word "no" uttered from my lips. His wish was my command.
I struggled to say no for fear; it would cause him not to love me as much as if I were totally obedient. The obedience is not the critical issue here, but the fact I was willing to sacrifice so much of who I was and what I wanted for someone else who didn't care.
Codependency doesn't always play out in such drastic ways. Other times it is a couple or several friends that are inseparable and can't ever be apart.
It's not that they are just super close friends, but they almost have lost the knowledge of how to act apart from one another. Instead of friends, they become more akin to human security blankets.
Once I recognized that I was codependent, I began the process of healing and learning to live life with an identity I formed, on my own. I won't sugar coat this, it's scary. There is a reason we develop our identity outside and aside from ourselves, often because we feel if we are alone with ourselves we won't like what we see. At least that's how I felt.
The process began by accepting the fact I didn't really know who I was. Am I introverted or extroverted? I had always been told that I was an extrovert, but was that really the case? Once I accepted that I didn't know who I was, I could begin the incredible process of discovering the real me.
I began analyzing the characteristics and situations that made me happy. I often made people laugh, I enjoyed this. "Funny" could stay on the list. When I realized how much my heart broke for the broken things of this world, I realized "not sensitive" had to go. My list slowly but surely began coming together forming a picture I learned to love more and more.
After learning to be confident in who I am, then began the process of surrounding myself with people who felt the same. I was done being surrounded by people who continuously forced their idea of me, onto me.
Sadly for me, learning to love who I genuinely am was probably the hardest part. I had been told by so many people I was somehow too much and not enough all at the same time. I used to feel like the only way I could be accepted was to try and fit the mold others wanted me to be. Although challenging, the process of finding my true self has given me peace and freedom in ways I never knew before!
I promise you are worth loving. No one else can do the things you were created to do as well as you. By living out of your false self, you’re robbing the world of the unique and incredible gift of you and your presence.