Codependency is a disease of the self. It’s our own misinterpretation of who we really are and of our significance in the world.
It’s a generational disease handed down from one to the next. It’s what happens when caregivers, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, deliver unhealthy messages and beliefs to
I’m always on the lookout for something that inspires me and moves me into deep thought or action. A lot of things caught my attention this week, so forgive me if this post seems to be lacking a single theme or direction.
Growing up I learned to see the world through a very critical lens. I came by it honestly. It was one of the many gifts my mother had given to me. I thought of myself as a happy person, yet I was skeptical and always expecting the worst. That was the universe that I was creating for myself. One where people and things weren’t to be trusted and that nothing good ever happened to me.
When you have one half of a couple, that takes responsibility for nothing and liberally distributes blame to the other and the other half, that feels responsible for everything and willingly accepts blame, you have a match made in dysfunctional paradise.
For a codependent in a relationship, there comes that inevitable moment where you realize that you have done too much, cared too much and sacrificed too much time, energy, money and emotion. All of it, just to be loved and appreciated, but instead what you’re left feeling is disrespected, foolish, taken advantage of and used.
“If I have seen further, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton
A mentor is generally someone who gives advice or demonstrates know-how to a younger or less experienced person. They model behaviors that others would like to learn and develop. Our parents are our first mentors. We learn how to do things through their example, be it good or bad.
For those of you who follow Numerology, 2016 was the last year on the current cycle. It was a 9 year, a year of endings and letting go, while 2017 is a 1 year, the start of a new cycle. It’s a year of change and new beginnings. Whether or not you care about Numerology or just have a passing interest, one thing is for certain – the start of a new year gives everyone 365 blank pages in which to write their story.
Christmas day, in my family, consists of the three siblings (me and two of my brothers), a few family friends and our various partners and offspring. With our parents both deceased, we take turns hosting the big day and everyone contributes something to the meal.
T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a narcissist was stirring, not even a text.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that he’d show up – he said he’d be there.
Abusers don’t like boundaries. They hinder their progress in getting what they want. Consequently, they choose their targets very carefully. Children make excellent targets because they don’t have many options, they’re eager to please and require the love and attention of their caregivers. Children of abusers grow up not understanding their worth, or the concept of boundaries in relationships.
“Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that are important to you.” – Carl Jung
As a species we need to know that we matter. That we are seen, heard and understood. We want people around us that get us, that make us feel like there is a place where we are welcome and where we fit. We need connection. When these things are absent from our lives we tend to feel disconnected, hollow, uncomfortable, sad, insecure – lonely.
Back in the early days of my journey, every day was painful to get through. I was in a constant state of heartache. Depression had become my best friend and I’d never before known fear that could completely cripple you like that which I was experiencing.
It was the wee hours of the night, a lot of laughs and several bottles of Chardonnay later, I found myself at the home of my neighbor, surrounded by the ladies of my street. I like my neighbors, they’re fun and we always have a good time together. Especially these impromptu gatherings that just seem to happen, spur of the moment, where everyone ends up laughing so much that no one wants to leave.
When you’re used to having to work for love you tend to be someone who doesn’t give up too easily. You’ve been trained to believe that just being yourself isn’t good enough, so you get really good at going that extra mile to get people to like you.
Codependency has been described as a dysfunctional relationship with the self. What that means is that the view that we have of ourselves is skewed, both internally and in our interpersonal relationships, because of our early childhood experiences.
“The essence of beauty doesn’t stem from the label on your clothes, the shape of your body, or the color of your skin. It comes from the way you carry yourself and the amount of respect with which you treat yourself. “
I had made of list of all the things I wanted in a man. It was great advice given to me by a close friend. “If you know what you’re looking for, you’re more apt to spot it when you see it,” she told me. I was online dating, a place where people were as interchangeable as clothing, when I met him.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt last week. While I am saddened that six children are in the midst of turmoil, I must admit that a small part of me is perversely pleased by this news.
Losing one’s self in a relationship means willfully shedding your own identity, desires and personal goals and instead becoming consumed with the relationship and the needs and desires of the other person in that relationship. This is a common practice for most Codependents.
“A belief is just a thought we keep thinking.” – Esther Hicks
Have you ever gotten into your car and started driving and you fall into, what seems to be a type of trance, then suddenly you arrive at your destination, but you have very little memory of how you actually got there?
My relationship with my long-term Narcissist was awful. I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, while he was allowed to frolic around, without a care in the world. Our friends used to joke about how selfish he was. It was so obvious to everyone that everything was always all about him and when he acted like a selfish bastard they would literally
Wayne Dyer accurately quipped that, “Some people are always looking for a reason to be offended,” and most of us don’t have to look too far to see evidence of that.
We will all find ourselves, at one time or another, interacting with people whose behavior seems to be way over the top.
Sometimes when I hear someone tell their story I can’t help but cringe and think in my head, “Oh boy, this isn’t going to end well.” It happens a lot when people are looking to get something, from someone who treated them very badly, that something being, an apology, or some acknowledgement of wrong doing.
Why can’t I get over this?
Why do I get sucked in every time?
Why do I feel so powerless?
These are the million dollar questions when we’re dealing with abusive relationships. When well-meaning friends or loved ones ask us, “Why don’t you just leave?” Or, “Why can’t you just move on?” We’re kind of stumped ourselves, because we don’t really have an answer that would sound even remotely plausible. We might even reply, “Because I’m a glutton for punishment.” And you wouldn’t be that far off.
When we’re children our quest begins to look for clues and examples of how we fit into our environment and how we match up against others. Even though our ability to correctly interpret the data coming in is immature, we still make our assessment about ourselves based on what we believe we are perceiving. To very small children their parents can seem infallible and if these higher beings find fault with us – well then there must be something wrong with us.
“My biggest pet peeve?” She was asked. “It’s people who create their own problems and then complain about the outcome, while expecting everyone else to fix it.” – Unknown
When we talk about starving we’re usually referring to food. Imagine if you will, that you are stranded on a deserted island and this island is barren of anything edible. You are ravenous and you start to wonder what sand tastes like. Suddenly, you’re rescued and the only thing on your mind is food. A meal is placed in front of you, do you grab a knife and fork and daintily cut your food into tiny bite size pieces, or do you just start shoveling it in? You probably would want more and more until you’re ready to throw up and you’d probably even lick the plate too.
What would you do if your 11 year old daughter didn’t come home for a couple of weeks? What if she said nothing to you, you had no idea where she was, or if she was ever coming back?
There is conflicting science on whether or not happy memories are easier to recall than sad ones. Ask anyone who’s trying to get over a Narcissist and they’ll tell you they wish they could hang on to the bad, but always seem to recall the good.
A big part of how I help others tackle their codependency is by identifying the behaviors that lead to self-sabotage and the fallacies of our early programming. Most of my clients have heard me use the infamous phrase, “That’s your disease talking.” It usually follows a client’s illustration of behaviors where they weren’t loving and respecting themselves, where they were accepting of poor treatment, where they tried to make everything their fault and when they were full of confusion and doubt.
“Every time I step onto the court there’s a new challenge. Each opponent is different and represents a different challenge. Every surface represents a new challenge. The game within the game is the toughest though. It’s the mental challenge and the physical challenge that’s the real battle. To succeed you have to be ready to deal with anything, because anything is going to happen. It’s just about how well you adapt to it.” – #1 ranked tennis player in the world – Novak Djokovic
Doubt is like the rude uninvited guest that keeps showing up to your party. It’s the rain on your parade. It has the power to completely overhaul your plans, what actions you take and to keep you stuck replaying the same tapes over and over again.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt so emotionally vulnerable that anything that triggered one of your tender spots was going to result in some kind of crazy outburst?
It’s a distinctly different reaction than the common every day passive reaction of most codependents. The inappropriate freak out is a state that I’ve come to think of as somewhere in between a severe codependent reaction
To put yourself first, to actually consider your needs above all else is inconceivable to a lot of people. Take a look at any mom and you’ll see someone who is a martyr, self-sacrificing and the giver of unconditional love.
Watching my friends, who are now mothers, as well as my sister in law, I see very tired women, whose priorities quickly
To have a strategy is to have a plan. A map that clearly indicates how one gets from point A to point B. The majority of people don’t have a strategy for their lives. They go about their business and take each day as it comes.
We know that codependents develop the tendency to put others ahead of themselves. When they are faced with the prospect of having to focus on themselves it becomes a very daunting task, first and foremost because they have little practice doing it. It’s something they avoid and it’s a big part of why they stay in abusive relationships.
For a big part of my life, I hung out on the sidelines, waiting and hoping for that one moment where I would be good enough to actually participate in my own life. I was so full of shame that I couldn’t bear the thought of people looking at me and judging me, even when it came to the most mundane of tasks. It was drummed into me from the moment I could speak that I was imperfect – that there was something wrong with me – that I wasn’t good enough. Other people
It is the nature of the Narcissistic beast to gain at the expense of others. They are generally attracted to partners that have resources or something they admire, be it beauty, wealth, their career, connections, or intelligence. If a Narcissist can’t benefit from you in some way they will not invest any of their time or energy into knowing you and will likely dismiss you and hold you in contempt.
For months I had been trying to get my long-term Narcissist to come back to me. After almost 10 years together I was mystified. Nothing I was doing was working. Nothing moved him. Nothing touched him.
I got home really late on Friday. When I pulled into my driveway, at about 1:00am, I noticed a familiar vehicle in front of my neighbor’s house. It belonged to her ex-Narcissist. The same ex-Narcissist that lied, cheated and used her, the same
“Be impeccable with your word,” it’s one of Miguel Ruiz’s principles to creating a happy and balanced life, which he illustrates in his best-selling book, the Four Agreements. I had a number of incidents happen over the last little while that really got me thinking about the importance of keeping your word and why some people don’t.
We’re all guilty of it, we make plans and bow out last minute, giving the lamest of excuses. We’ve said yes when we really wanted to say no. My worst offence, I remember vividly,
A lot of people want to change. They want their lives to get better. They want to leave their bad situation, but they can’t. They come up with myriad of reasons why and what it is that’s stopping them. These reasons seem inconsequential to others, but for the individual they are there, they are real and they can be debilitating.
I went out to dinner with my neighbor recently and the topic of conversation always seems to gravitate to Narcissism and Codependency. I’ve known her for quite some time, she is a lovely person – thoughtful, cheery, considerate and we have great conversations, which to me, is pure gold. A few months back she asked me my opinion of her relationship. It was a typical Narcissistic/Codependent relationship. This was their 4th trip on the merry-go-round. Each time he would end up leaving her for
I used to hold an image of a woman in my mind. She was me, but not me. She was actually, everything that I was not. She was tall and I am not, she was model thin and I was not, stunningly beautiful and I was not, she was talented and everybody loved her and I was unlovable. She was rich and famous and on top of the world
So there I was sitting in my therapist’s office. It was more than a handful of years ago, therapy was something that I would never have considered on my own, but it was a benefit of my post-accident, car insurance plan.
It seemed like a good idea. You’ve been pining over someone who has, in the blink of an eye, replaced you with someone else. You are heartbroken and you can’t believe that they are so over you, that you could drop dead and they wouldn’t even notice. So you decide, two can play at this game. I’m not going to sit around here mooning anymore. I’m going to go out with someone else too. You pull up your old profile from that dating
When people talk about those that help, or put others needs ahead of their own, they use words like nurturer, kind hearted, altruistic, selfless, or giver. They might say that he or she has the ‘caring gene’ and that giving just comes naturally to some people. While there might be some truth to this, I would argue that the real reason behind why some people over-give isn’t so divine and is in fact, quite disturbing.
One of the greatest fears victims of Narcissistic abuse have is the fear that their Narcissist will trot off into the sunset with someone else and live happily, ever after. It is, by far, the most common theme in my inbox. I’ve written about this subject before, but the anxiety and fear surrounding this topic makes it one that needs to be revisited.
It’s that time of year when I like to look back, on the year that was, and reflect on some of the major lessons we’ve discussed here on this site. So without further ado here are nine major statements we made this year:
So there I was many, many moons ago, out Christmas shopping, for the love in my life. I was in a long distance relationship at the time and I use the term relationship very loosely. It had moments of bliss, followed by moments of absolute agony. He kept coming and going from my life and I kept taking him back.
In the initial stages of a break up, it’s incredibly difficult to focus on anything but the pain. So early on, our defense mechanisms will likely be, finding a way to distract, or numb ourselves, from such intense feelings. But once the shock has subsided somewhat, and we’re seeing things a little more clearly, it’s important to heal ourselves from the grief energy that we’ve been holding onto.
A couple weeks back I had dinner with one of my cousins. She recently became aware of my blog and really wanted to talk about it. She and I have a lot in common, the largest being that we both had one emotionally abusive parent. Her father‘s behavior was so outrageous at times, that even as a little girl, I was able to understand that there
“I never would have left.” That’s what I said to my long-term Narcissist, during one of my futile attempts to get him to stay. “I never would have done this.” The scary part is – that was the truth. It didn’t matter how much pain he caused me. It didn’t matter that nothing was about me, or that I had no idea who I was anymore. None of that mattered.
I went to the grocery store last week and as I was loading my food onto the conveyor belt, at the cashier, I felt a very familiar feeling. I made some pretty good food choices that day. I had lots of fruits and vegetables, some protein and I permitted myself to buy something sweet. Just a small one-time snack that would be done in one sitting.
Inside every codependent is a child, who has been mistreated, ignored, hurt, humiliated, frightened, shamed, or abused by parents, who were themselves mistreated, ignored, shamed and abused by their parents. When we were children we did what we knew how to do, in order to survive and to get our needs met. It is this same child that created how we cope, how we react and how we feel about ourselves. It is this child that has been running our lives as adults.
For much of my life I lived in a state of denial. Much of it was created by the Narcissists in my life, but a lot of it was self-induced.
Sometimes denial is just not knowing any better. It’s the state of having doubt, but not having the tools, or the experience to be more discerning.
There are different types of denial. Narcissist Induced Denial, Self-Induced Denial and a Lack of Experience type of Denial.
We all want to be liked, it’s part of the human condition, but that need can become excessive and unhealthy when it becomes our primary focus. Codependents often have a very strong impulse to please others, especially those that reject them. It’s a unique dynamic where the more someone pulls away from them, the stronger the lure is for the codependent.
The best blogs I have written have been ones where I’ve written straight from the heart. What I mean by that, are articles that have been a true reflection of my experiences and lessons that I have learned. To me, the only way that you can really write about something and have it be truly authentic, is to have lived it.
I get a lot of emails from people, who have been reading about codependency, and they are freaking out, because they see themselves and their behavior in the descriptions. They ask me what do I do? How do I fix this? I have, in bits and snippets, written about battling codependency, but I’ve never compiled a comprehensive list all in one place. Due to it’s length, I was going to do it in two separate blogs, but I thought it important to keep it all together.
What I have compiled below are the steps that I have taken to beat codependency. It’s important to understand that this healing is a journey and a process – with many, many twists and turns along the way. Some parts are difficult, some are easy and some flow right into the other. Without further ado, here are the steps of my journey:
Awareness: The first step is recognizing that you have been the victim of emotional abuse in childhood. Last week I wrote about the effects of emotional child abuse in adults. This isn’t about being beaten, or locked in closets. This is about growing up in an unhealthy, shame based environment, with an emotional manipulator, where there was little c
If you have been involved with a Narcissist, an addict, someone with a compulsive disorder or anyone with emotional or psychological issues, you are about to have an Oprah Winfrey sized Ah-ha moment.
Many of you will see the word Co-Dependent and think, “I’m not an addict, this isn’t about me,” and you’d be wrong. If you are involved with these types of men, by the end of this post you will view things in a whole new light, you may just see yourself and your behavior. In the words that follow you will begin to have an understanding of yourself, your relationship and your life that has alluded you till now.
Breaking up hurts. Rejection on any level sucks, no matter how you slice it.
Most people recognize that relationships end for all sorts of reasons. Some are nasty, some are amicable and some are mutual. But they generally follow the same pattern – relationship ends, one or both parties grieve and then move on.
Getting over a relationship with a Narcissist is a much different kettle of fish. Depending upon the duration, the impact of such a union could have profound emotional, psychological, spiritual, physical and even financial effects on its victims.