My Personal Journey with Codependency and What I’ve Learned —
Being 51 years old and coming to terms with being codependent was not an easy task, but my journey has truly enlightened me. I still remember years ago, a relative telling me I made terrible choices in men and I was constantly getting into other people’s business. Looking back on it, she was correct. I was constantly stressed out, anxious and thinking about how to help and fix everyone except ME! There are many symptoms and don’t feel bad if you find yourself saying “Yes, that’s ME!” I will only include the symptoms that I have personally experienced.
7 Symptoms of Codependency:
Low Self-Esteem –
Feeling as if you are not good enough or comparing yourself to others. Guilt and being a perfectionist also go along with low self-esteem. After all, if everything is perfect around you, you won’t feel as bad about yourself. Always second guessing yourself and your actions will create a downward spiral for your self-esteem and self-worth.
People Pleasing/Seeking Approval –
Just saying the word “No” causes anxiety. Codependents go out of their way and sacrifice their own needs just to accommodate others. Needing approval from others, even strangers becomes highly important to us. If someone doesn’t like us, we panic because that must mean we are unlikable and thus a bad person.
Poor Boundaries –
Allowing others to treat us a certain way when we know we don’t like it, yet we allow it to continue. This can include the way people speak to us, ask us to do things for them, even allowing guilt to play into our actions. Setting up healthy boundaries with your friends and loved ones is very important and if done properly can even help improve self-esteem.
Addicted to Drama –
Oddly enough, problems can become addicting over time. If we live with enough misery, crisis, and turmoil, over a period of time, the fear and stimulation caused by the problems can actually become a “comfortable” emotional experience. After all, that is what we are used to having in our lives!
This can be with other people and their issues which we obsess over, focusing all our thoughts on the other person and how to fix them.
Codependent people have usually lived through events and dealt with people that were out of control, thus causing the codependent to feel sorrow and disappointment. The need to control everything and everyone comes from fear of their loss of control. This can be done through guilt, coercion, even threats.
When something occurs, whether it is an action or something said to us, our reaction can be considered “over the top” and even “crazy” to some people.
Coping with Codependency:
Recovery Lies within Ourselves –
Realizing how other people’s behavior affects us and how we in turn react, thus affecting them is the first step. We are only in control of ourselves and how we choose to live. When we let go of trying to control others, it helps us re-focus on the one who needs us the most, ourselves! But, do we really “recover” from this? Some people say it is a disease, and others disagree, but I believe it to be a daily opportunity! An opportunity to challenge myself and learn. I also am able to laugh at myself now when I see my codependent ways.
Read Self Help Books –
I use a highlighter when I read parts that I relate to and often times I will go back and read them again at a later time. As you gain more control over your life, you find yourself changing inside and allowing peace to occur. When you go back and read a section you highlighted, you might find yourself gaining a new perspective on it. This will happen because you are approaching it with a NEW set of eyes!
Find a Support Group –
There are many CA (Codependents Anonymous) along with Ala-non (mostly for those dealing with alcoholics in their life) groups which you can find online. Sharing your thoughts with others has truly helped me grow and learn.
I deal with my codependency on a daily basis, but through meetings, books, and a great sponsor, I have now taken the steps for my own recovery. Making time for myself through meditation and inner reflection, I am getting better each and every day. My choices in how I handle situations have improved but I still make mistakes, which I am proud to say I have learned from.
I now look at the things that happen as opportunities to use what I have learned and grow within instead of looking at them in a negative way. I also have applied an “Attitude of Gratitude” by giving thanks for all that I am grateful for.