The road to healing from Codependency is filled with a lot of twists and turns and sometimes deep, deep pot holes.
Back in the early 2000’s I met a man, who would spark the most pivotal time in my life, my long-term Narcissist. We were really young and as many girls dream of, I wanted to start planning for our own home and a family. I had the guy, though he was never quite what I wanted or needed him to be.
I just had to ‘fix’ him and mold him into what I wanted him to be, I thought. You see, while he was very intelligent, he was lazy. He had no real work ethic, no direction and expected to have things handed to him.
He had no education, worked menial jobs, mostly retail and didn’t really strive for much. I had a University degree and I had a really good job in the tax department of the federal government and hoped to enrolled in further studies to get my CPA.
I wanted him to do better and I put all of my energy into his improvement. I needed him to get an education, so I signed him up for a class that would get him into University, as a mature student. I did the first assignment for him and by the time the second one came around, I found out too late, he hadn’t read the book or done the work and he dropped out.
I eventually wrote out his resume and got him an interview in my department. I spoke to the recruiters on his behalf. I helped him with the interview questions, bought him a suit and he got the job.
If I could have given him my degrees to help him, I would have and he would have accepted them gladly without hesitation because that’s what Narcissists do best – they take.
Had I known then, what I know now, I would have accepted him for who he was and put my time and energy into my own improvement. I would have eventually realized that he was not, nor would ever be, the man I needed him to be and I would have ended it.
But I was young and I had no idea what Codependency was. I didn’t know I was a fixer/rescuer. I didn’t know I was other-person focused. My mother was very critical and emotionally unavailable. She grew up in the era that believed that children should be seen and not heard and she eroded what little self-esteem I had into dust.
I grew up with this deep seeded belief and inner voice that said, “You can’t. You’re not good enough. You’re not special. Other people are special. “Look at you – you’re so flawed,” I’d say to myself. “Everything is wrong with you.” And that voice was set up on a never-ending feed-back loop. That voice was so much louder and stronger than the whispers of the Universe that keep trying to tell me, “All things are possible.”
On top of that I had been programmed by my mother to put the needs of other’s before mine. With her constant criticism she taught me that just by myself, I wasn’t deserving of love and respect, so I had to do more, be more and give more just to be on a level playing field with everyone else.
After my Narcissist ran off with an older, wealthier department head, in another branch of the government, I was left to do some serious soul searching. I’m always one to search for meaning and the lessons in all things. I don’t regret what happened, in fact I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wish perhaps that I had been quicker to figure it out, but I needed the lesson to be hard. I think back to that time and wonder what my life would have been like if I had used those years to focus on me and becoming my best self. What if I wasn’t other-person focused? If I had utilized my energy for my own career, goals and aspirations, where would I be now?
Once you’ve been discarded by a narcissist, the first stage you’ll find yourself in is survival mode. Where you’re just trying to make it through the day. Once the shock wears off, you are then forced into that uncomfortable place of having to focus on yourself and your life. Breaking out of Codependency is painful and you’ll find yourself put into positions you never thought you’d be in – out of necessity. Codependents are uncomfortable in the spotlight. They’re like a vampire exposed to sunlight. They recoil and they’ll do everything they can to avoid it – like jump back into another relationship, so they don’t have to experience the pain that growth brings.
Simple things like accepting a compliment, or celebrating my achievements, were hard for me. In my head I would think, “It’s just me, don’t make a big deal out of it.” I had lost a lot of weight and worked really hard to be in the best shape of my life, but in my head, I was still that chubby girl, that didn’t deserve happiness and joy.
Until you figure out the mental aspects of it, you’ll still be stuck in the same place. You have to be able to develop insight into your own behavior. You have to recognize when you’re in people pleasing mode and when you’re putting the needs of others ahead of your own. Stop trying to fix and take control of everything and turn your focus back to you and allow others to make their own mistakes and find their own way. That doesn’t mean that you don’t offer advice, when it’s asked, but you just sit back and allow them the option of taking it or not. You don’t allow yourself to get so fully invested and you use your energy to better your own life.
Tips to Focusing on You
You celebrate your own milestones and achievements – plan a big party for yourself for your 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th or let someone throw you a bash. Invite the people that love you over to celebrate your promotion, new house and anything that’s important to you. Let yourself be the star of your own party.
Learn how to take a compliment. Instead of putting yourself down, when someone gives you praise, just smile and say thank you and know that you deserve it.
Make a concerted effort to plan for your future. Get out the old paper and pen and write the ending you want for your story. Break it down into little steps and move towards your goals every day.
Focus on your career. Learn what’s necessary to get ahead and do that. If you need to get a degree, take a course, get certification – do that and put all your focus and energy into it. There is very little difference in being good at something and being great at something, but only those that are great get all the accolades. So be great.
Learn how to invest your money. Buy stocks that pay out monthly dividends and then reinvest those dividends back into that stock and add $50-100 per month. Hopefully by the time you’re ready to retire your dividend could be paying out $1000’s per month. Boy if I knew that when I was 20.
Learn how to budget your finances and stick to it. It takes discipline and can be extremely hard for those coming out of a double income family and into a single income family. Trust that money in the bank is going to feel a lot better than a new pair of shoes.
Build meaningful relationships. If the people you spend the most time with don’t support the positive changes you’re making in your life, then branch out, meet new people, find a mentor and or spend extra time learning from the executives within your company. Strive to spend your time with people who lift you up.
Stop dating for a while and spend time learning how to be alone and heal the parts of you that need healing.
When you do start to date again, learn how to date from a position of power. Always make decisions based on what’s best for you. Choose those who can add to your life, not people you will have to carry. Always remember you’re in charge of you. Don’t ever settle for less than you deserve.
Learn how to harness your energy. You control your thoughts and feelings. You decide how you feel about something or how it affects you. Practice meditation. Be still. Follow your intuition.
Get out of your comfort zone. It’s never too late to try something you’ve always wanted to do. If you want to learn a new language buy Rosetta Stone and listen to it on your way to work. Take a class in a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Learn to play the guitar. Kickstart that side gig you’ve always been talking about. Do it. The world is your oyster.
Travel. See the world (when Covid-19 is over). Learn new cultures, meet new people. A friend of mine has a travel group of people from all different parts of the world. They choose a location and they meet up a couple times of year in different cities around the globe.
Make inner peace your top priority. Remember the feeling of being involved with an emotional manipulator and promise yourself that you will never allow yourself to get sucked into their game. When something starts to feel off, trust that feeling and get out of it. Strive for balance and inner harmony and reject anything that threatens your peace.
Make happiness your goal. Look for joy in all things and do things that bring out those feelings in you.
Work a healthy diet and fitness into your everyday life.
When you spend your time focusing on yourself, making you a priority, what you’re saying to yourself, others and the universe is, “I matter. I’m important. I’m a person of value.” You set the tone and others will follow your lead.
When you repeatedly engage in a behavior it becomes habitual and one day it just clicks and you realize that you are not the same person you used to be. You’ll realize that you are the star of your own life, that you’re in control and you’ll be glad that you did.
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Image courtesy of tiverylucky at freedigitalphotos.net.
Brilliant article. Thank you!
that’s just about the same story I have experienced in my life. I just came to read your excellent article when I was searching the internet what to do why I am always dating broken man. Thank you so much, helped me to quit the guy even with a cold turkey;-)
Thank you, especially for the “Focusing on You” tips!
This really resonated with me in many ways! Very well written and done-so in a relatable way. Thank you!
This article is brilliant, I can relate to a lot of it
Excellent article!Thank you!