ARE WE CO-DEPENDENT? HOW TO STOP BEING CO-DEPENDENT AND ESCAPE CO-DEPENDENCY IN RELATIONSHIPS & LIFE


A Couple Draped In Tiny Fairy Lights, One Person In A White Hat With A Beautiful Tribal Hatband, Hold Each Other And Kiss Lovingly In A Bokeh'd Blurred Wood Background

Co-dependency is another one of those things we hear about all the time, but is hard to nail down. I’ve heard definitions include neediness, sacrificing your needs for someone else’s, and not knowing what you would do without the other person. The problem is, we will ALL be needy at points, ALL relationships involve sacrificing your wants and needs for the other person sometimes, and as for not knowing what you would do without the other person...whoever came up with that definition has never loved anything I guess--when something or someone becomes a large part of your life, of course the loss would affect (and probably devastate) you.


It’s okay to have relationships that play a huge supporting role in your life. In fact, oftentimes it’s completely necessary. I remember watching a documentary on the Holocaust, and one survivor interviewed said that the people who had someone else there to live for were the people who made it out. That’s profound.


Even under the best circumstances, the world is often a big and hard place. If we were meant to come to this world and be miserable and suffer, stress (including loneliness, feeling unwanted, rejected, abandoned) wouldn’t cause literal bodily damage.


So don’t mistake “co-dependecy bad” as a sick mandate to stop enjoying the kind of companionship that makes life into LIVING and somehow wrong, “weak”, unhealthy, or a defect, and feel obligated to run off to be a bubble-dwelling hermit.


WHAT IS CO-DEPENDENCY?


  • Co-dependency is a kind of self-imposed slavery to beliefs so deeply ingrained, we don’t realize they are ideas we can question and discard if we choose. They are all we know, so we know they are “right”.


  • It’s slavery to feeling broken, defective, wrong, and immensely guilty (for being a “bad” person all the time)...


  • It’s slavery to being a constant martyr, giver-to-a-fault-er, doormat, 24-hour room service / on-call therapist / 8th Wonder Of The World Pedestal-Builder / emergency hotline / A.T.M. (financial, emotional, physical) / ego-stroker, on one side...and a black hole of neediness, user-ness, selfishness, drama-starting, insecure-no-self-esteem validation-huffing, always-has-to-win-and-be-right Know-It-All, on the other side, in ever-shifting relational dynamics so unstable it makes nitroglycerin look inert as glass.


  • It’s slavery to being Captain Fix-It’s 24-Hour mobile repair service for any and all issues (not to mention, proactively searching for problems to fix all the time)...


  • It’s being a slave to repetitive, frequent, explosive arguments that happen in the blink of an eye (and you can’t even remember how they started or what they were really about by the end). Often these arguments are over the pettiest nonsense imaginable because molehills become mountains and the completely inconsequential is grounds for life-shattering upheaval like divorce in the topsy-turvy, tornados-of-emotions nightmare-land of co-dependency...


  • It’s slavery to always feeling like you know better than everyone else, AND simultaneously (contradictorily) feeling like they know better than you...and feeling sh*tty that nothing ever makes sense or works out. There is always a push-pull to get them ”under control” and feeling wrong somehow for not letting them dictate to you… There is a weird and unnecessary sense of resentment and need to fight the power (even when there isn’t any “power”) anytime there is anything you aren’t on the same page about. Even if you don’t make a big fuss, it’s internal…


  • It’s slavery to letting one comment, one flash of approval / disapproval, one agreement / disagreement, one compromise you really like or really don’t like make or ruin your relationship, your peace, your joy, your value, and your life...


  • It’s slavery to riding the in-one-second-out-the-next, everything-is-good-everything-is-bad instability roller coaster. Everything happens too fast, too intensely, too absolutely. You are God’s gift to those around you and then *snap* you’re a burden and a trial that ruins everything... Or the other person is....


  • It’s slavery to have extremely damaging self-soothing techniques, from overeating, to imagining horrible punishments for yourself or final relief (death) from your perceived worthlessness....


  • It’s slavery to suppression because it’s all too much (suppression creates explosions)...


  • It’s slavery to always needing to be in control because you’ve always been out of control…


  • It’s slavery to believing abandonment is an inevitable guarantee, trying to ensure being needed (instead of wanted), self-sabotaging (subconsciously finding ways to confirm the abandonment bias), and being abandoned yet again…


In short, co-dependency is perpetually standing on the self-sabotaging, emotionally-annihilating ledge, and hoping that the embodiment of your 24/7 emotional/esteem/spiritual/verbal/physical suicide hotline your friend, lover, parent can say and do all the right things (reading your mind if necessary) to talk you off the ledge and into being okay.


That’s alot to ask.


How do I know? I've had the majority of a lifetime dedicated to living just this way.


HOW CAN YOU MITIGATE AND GET RID OF CO-DEPENDENT TENDENCIES?


***Accept that you DO have value, that everything *always* IS working out for you, that everything WILL be okay, and that (to quote Esther Hicks) “you can never get it wrong because it’s never finished”.


You are never alone and you are never abandoned. You are an Expression of, and therefore inseparable from, the Creator of the Universe. You were, and you are, and you will be, and nothing is going to change that. You are made of the stars and the sea and the Source of all that is.


I know how hard this is to accept in the moment, being utterly and totally convinced that everything is lost and it would be best to not be anymore. There are times of such emptiness and numbness and convinced-ness that it’s almost impossible to even dare to dare to ask for something, or to even know what to ask for, or to even want anything anymore.


"Do not dare to not dare." --Clive Staples Lewis, The Horse And His Boy


There were so many times I couldn’t even bring myself to pray. It’s a special sort of rock bottom where you just be because you can’t not be (even though you want to not be). Has that ever happened to you, where you were reduced to not even making a cry for help, but being a cry for help? A silent one, a vibrational one, that could only be received by the cosmos?


I don’t have any insulting encouragement for something so beyond the pale as that kind of “rock bottom” where you already feel gone. All I can say is that sometimes the only thought I could choke out was an implied “[please make it] Better” that I had nothing but anger and hurt and disbelief behind. Sometimes I just accepted the void, because it was all I could do.


And yet, every time I’ve gotten a miracle.


This is the only thing that helped me many a time. I hope that if you needed to read it, it helps you too:


This rampage by Esther Hicks helped me through one of the lowest, most uncertain, disgraceful, lonely times when I was completely dependent. I typed it into my phone and I would read / pray it over and over as I would walk:


“Creator, I acknowledge that I am the object of your positive attention and I’m appreciating your continual gaze on behalf of my well-being and today, no matter where I am, no matter where I am going, no matter what I’m doing and no matter who I am doing it with, I will be in conscious awareness that you too are there with me,

Appreciating me,

Supporting me,

Assisting me,

Acknowledging me,

Inspiring me,

Guiding me,

Having fun with me,

Acknowledging me,

Supporting me,

Assisting me,

Inspiring me,

Helping me,

Guiding me,

Aware of me,

Loving me,

Showing me,

Making miracles for me,

Inspiring me,

Guiding me,

Protecting me,

Prospering me,

Helping me,

Uplifting me,

Showing me…”


“If there is something that you want that you are not seeing, then start noticing the things that you want that you are seeing and more and more of the things that you want that you aren’t seeing will start showing up.”


—Esther Hicks


***Learn to Self-Soothe: Self-soothing can take on infinite forms, and in the beginning, it can be pitifully easy to forget ALL of them in the moment. Like habitualizing anything, the easiest, most natural, and painless way is repetition and hands-on practice.


What’s more delightful than practicing feeling good?


Go for that walk or swim, go out and look at that sunrise, drive under the stars listening to those songs, fill your place with your favorite smells, eat that nourishing food, take that bubble bath with the nice soap and nice shampoo, stop talking to that person who drains you, look towards upgrading your job, keep that promise to yourself, take up that hobby, laugh, read that book, draw that cartoon, write down your ideas and inspiration, do some E.F.T. tapping or N.L.P. spinning, contact someone you miss or admire, pet that animal, nurture that plant, watch that video, look through that magazine, give that donation, do something easy and pleasant that confirms your capability and propensity for success, recycle that bottle, ask yoursel