Codependency is an issue that I touched on in my last blog entry. I addressed it because it is something that I have to make a conscious effort not to engage in.
Engaging in codependent relationships has been my modus operandi since childhood. However, as documented by my blog, over the years I have made great strides to step away from that behavior.
However, it is still something that I have to make a conscious effort not to be.
I tend to be drawn to people who simply drain the life out of me.
For some reason I have this notion in my head (which I am working earnestly to let go of) that love equals over-giving.
Logically, I know better. But subconsciously there is just something about a needy person that makes me think that I can save them from themselves and then in doing so I will be loved by them.
It never works out that way.
Instead I over-give, they lose respect for me, they never reciprocate and I come up empty and feeling unloved.
Common sense tells us that’s not how love works.
And until I fully embrace that truth, I will find myself going on a merry-go-round of codependent relationships.
The thought pattern that love involves me neglecting myself has left me feeling betrayed and empty on several occasions
However, each time the truth is that I chose to over give, I chose to make myself small so someone else could become big.
I do not blame the other person for my behavior and decisions.
I take full responsibility for my poor life choices.
I did those things because deep down a part of me felt like I didn’t deserve to do for me, to choose me, or even to be loved by me.
I would turn the blind eye to the red flags that a relationship was unhealthy because those red flags also served as signals that the person I was interacting with was the perfect partner to allow me to act out my childhood hurt.
In order for me to move from finding myself in codependent relationships and into a healthy interdependent relationship I have to find the strength to continue my self-love journey.
What’s interesting is that I still recall the first time I realized I was a codependent. A coworker recommended Melody Beattie’s book Codependent No More to me. I wasn’t exactly sure what a codependent was but after I ordered the book and started reading through the pages I not only knew, I self-identified.
You see, I remember exactly where I was the moment the light bulb went off. I was sitting with my legs crossed like a pretzel at the head of the left side of my mother’s bed with that book in open in my hands.
And although it took me a moment to accept and process my truth, ultimately I knew I was reading about myself.
I have come a long way since the first time I cracked the pages of that book. But after finding myself in yet another codependent relationship I have decided to reopen the book and also other resources to effectively work on those deep childhood wounds.
According to BPD Family “Codependent relationships are where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency the most common is excessive reliance on other people for approval and identity”.
What I find interesting about this definition is that it expands beyond saying that codependent relationships involve a codependent and a narcissist and/or addict.
I think that unfortunately many people overuse the label narcissist as a blanket label for someone that they may simply find dissatisfaction with.
I firmly believe that the overuse of the word narcissism has muddied the waters on what a true narcissist is. For this reason I will not dive into a discussion on a definition of narcissism but if you want more information on the topic you can click here.
However, what I do want to discuss is the role I have played in relationships as the codependent.
Codependents and their partners are like two sides of the same coin. They are a perfect match for one another.
Addicts, narcissist, those with poor mental health are the perfect match for people who yearn to feel needed and loved by others because neither one of them truly love themselves.
Since neither individual has a healthy relationship with themselves they are perfectly capable of having an unhealthy dance with one another that works to continue the pain that they call love.
Anyone who has followed my blog for any length of time will not be surprised to know that I follow the theory that unhealthy relationship stems from unhealed childhood wounds.
Many people try to seek outside of themselves in order to try to meet their self-love deficit but that action will only end to more pain and hurt.
In an attempt to build healthier relationships I have studied codependency and in trying to gain a better understanding of codependency I have found Melody Beattie to be right when she said “there are as many definitions of codependency as there are experiences that represent it”.
However, while I have sifted through quite a variety of definitions one that truly struck a chord with me was that of psychotherapist Ross Rosenberg M.Ed. I believe he hit the nail on the head when he dug deeper and defined codependency as self-love deficit disorder (a problem of the lack of self-love).
Unfortunately, many people such as myself grew up with a false concept of what love is.
I thought love meant over giving and making huge sacrifices to the point of my own suffering.
However, the type of person who would allow me to do that is the same type of person who doesn’t truly love me.
They can’t love me, because they don’t really love themselves.
But I can’t worry about them not loving themselves for that is the very thing that can cause me to stay trapped in that type of unhealthy relationship dynamic.
It is their responsibility to love themselves and my responsibility to love myself.
So I cannot afford to allow myself to be taken for a ride by someone who is trying to drain me emotionally.
My responsibility is to love me.
Being a caregiver is supposed to be a good thing but you need to make sure that you are giving care to you.
No one who loves you should want to see you bending over backwards to make them happy.
They shouldn’t be belittling you or trying to make you feel small, that’s not love.
And so what am I doing?
Well, I am continuing my self love journey.
I am forgiving myself for relapsing.
And I am still working on those childhood issues that attract me to unhealthy relationship partners.
I am proud of myself for finding the strength to walk away from an unhealthy relationship.
And since I know a younger version of myself would have stuck around longer, without a doubt I am aware of my growth
I would like to be at a place where I don’t even entertain the notion of an unhealthy relationship partner once they show their first red flag and it’s my goal to get there.
And so I hope you are finding your way to or currently are enjoying a healthy and happy relationship with yourself as I continue my path to finding one with myself.
© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.