Last May, I took a trip to Cancun with a few friends, some old and some new, where every morning I was awakened by my roommate around 7 am, talking loudly on the phone.
Afraid of the confrontation and potential attitude problem that would accompany a dialogue that would be along the lines of, "Girl have you lost your damn mind? It is early in the morning and we are on vacation, could you please take your call outside?" Instead, I would just start my day early and have breakfast without her in a good old passive aggressive fashion. Through all the run-ins I've had with self-absorbed, apathetic, and what many would describe as narcissistic people, this by far was the biggest wakeup call for me (no pun intended).
Looking back on that vacation, sadly, in the moment I wasn't upset about her disregard for my feelings, or even the red flag that I felt uncomfortable standing up for myself in a situation with someone I regarded as my "friend," but the idea that I spent thousands of dollars to be woken up early in the morning. In true victim fashion, after getting home I told the story over and over again, and while friends were furious that I had gone through that, one by one, they asked a question that most sane people would: Why didn't you stand up for yourself?
The truth is, standing up for myself is something that I had struggled with ever since I could remember. I am a person that by default feels guilty for openly expressing negative emotions of any kind, has trouble with asking for what I need, goes out of her way to avoid conflict, and was deathly afraid of being alone. I used to be what is described as a codependent person, and to put it simply, I used to rely on others to give me a sense of self-worth, validation, and purpose, no matter how toxic they were to my existence.
I felt that asking for what I wanted and needed from people around me was burdensome, so instead, I often neglected my own needs and focused on what I could do for others. The word "no" was one I was afraid to use out of fear that the people I care for would perceive me as mean and selfish and that I would be punished with abandonment for doing so.
When it came to any interdependent relationship, as you could imagine, I had no boundaries and believed that if I tried hard enough I could fix broken people, and love someone into loving me. Does this sound like you? If so, here are some steps towards healing your codependency:
Get To The Core Of Why You Fear Not Being Enough
This step to me is continuously the hardest because it involves lifting up layers and layers of yourself. Much like narcissistic people, codependent people often have encountered traumatic events early on their lives that shaped their perception of the world and their function in it. As a codependent person, you learned that operating in such a way was how to receive love.
Perhaps you were either punished for expressing your needs or when you did they were ignored. Believe it or not, no matter how grown you feel, your childhood affects your life relationships, so healing those wounds can improve your life dramatically. Regardless, you need to accept that you are enough, simply because you were created to be whole.
We are only as needy as our unmet needs, however, you will learn how to fulfill your own as an adult.
You can actually heal that broken child inside of you.
Acknowledge The Benefits Of Your Codependent Patterns
Part of transforming from a victim into a survivor is recognizing your own responsibility in your circumstances... Make sure to not mistake responsibility for blame, as the two are not interchangeable. If you recognize your role in your own suffering, you can take that power and make sure that it doesn't continue.
Now is the time to be brutally honest, and the truth may be very startling. Thoughts like "I'm afraid to stop engaging in this behavior because I'd rather be miserable than be alone" or "I accept less than I deserve because I do not think I deserve the best" may surface and that's okay.
The truth will set you free, even if it pisses you off first, and by verbalizing how you benefit from toxic relationships you will start to see why you continuously end up in them.
The unhealthier version of you enables and feeds off of unhealthy circumstances, but this does not have to be a permanent thing. You have the power to change your reality.
Accept That Letting Go Of Your Codependent Ways Will Result In Some Losses, But Do It Anyway
The reality is, there are parts of your life that are built around you not being your authentic self, so it is to be expected that once you do step into your true self you may see shifts in many parts of your life. There are people who benefit from your lack of boundaries, and there are people who are not going to be used to saying no. Proceed without shame because guilt is the codependent's kryptonite.
People who you considered friends in the past may seem less friendly once you stop bending over backward to please them. That job may seem less tolerable once you stop coming in early, skipping lunch, and leaving late to meet their unrealistic deadline. That romantic relationship might fall apart once you stop putting all of your attention on fixing your partner and instead focus on your health and mending the brokenness inside of you. This is all necessary for the well-being of the healthier version of you!
Featured Image by Getty Images.
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