Here is my story about my codependent life and how I broke free from the cycle.
I have been codependent my entire life. It’s hard to admit and even harder to realize when you’re in it. But I always was. So much that I completely lost who I was. I didn’t know what I liked, what I didn’t like, what I wanted or didn’t want, let alone have any kind of boundaries.
I grew up in a household where I wasn’t allowed to really have an identity. And this transformed into me in a person who continually attracted unhealthy, unbalanced relationships, and even friendships. I also, unfortunately, attracted quite a few narcissists in the process. And I don’t mean narcissists in the modern term of someone who is just selfish. I mean those with a mental illness who belong to the family of psychopaths and sociopaths. I went from one abusive and traumatizing dynamic to another, molding myself to the other person’s desires, needs, and unspoken wants. I became an expert at knowing exactly what the other person was thinking, their next move, and what they wanted, without them even expressing it. It was quite impressive. Unfortunately, it almost destroyed me.
Everything that I ever did was for the other person or about the other person. The smallest things like, what I wanted to eat or what I wanted to wear turned into the other person’s desires. I had them in mind with every purchase, every decision, every action that I took.
When I finally separated from my last codependent dynamic, it shook me. It took me a while to feel functional again. I thought I lost all direction in my life. That I wasn’t safe without this other person. That I couldn’t do anything without them. That I wasn’t capable of living, basically.
But day by day, hour by hour, I started learning about myself. Everything was confusing at first. I couldn’t tell the difference between my own thoughts and somebody else’s. I never let myself or gave myself room to think for myself. I never allowed myself to think about what I was feeling, or what I wanted. That was out of the question. So to go from that place to learning how to work with my body, with my head, and with my soul, took an immense amount of work, patience, and love. It’s not easy. But no growth ever is.
People think self-love is taking a bath or buying something for yourself. It could be. But learning to truly love yourself, and especially if you come from a codependent relationship, takes much more than that. At least it did for me.
I dismantled belief after belief that I took on from other people. I needed to understand that no one, and nothing, should ever go above my own mental, physical and emotional health.
If you’ve ever been in a codependent relationship, you’ll know that this isn’t something we naturally do. We prioritize the other person in every way. We lose our sense of self. And it just gets worse and worse the deeper and deeper you go into this dynamic.
The problem for me was that I always heard that I should take care of myself, love myself…etc, all the cliché sayings. But deep down I didn’t understand the point. I didn’t understand that I deserved this, that I deserved to feel good in my body just for me. And that I was reason enough. Not for someone else, but for me. So I could take as many self-care days as I wanted, but nothing changed because ultimately I was still doing it for someone else.
When I started doing things just for me and discovered things about myself that I never knew, I started cultivating so much love for myself. Loving who I am, what I went through, and the present moment. That’s when I could start focusing on myself for real and live my life for myself.
The way I realized if I was doing something for myself, or if I was doing it for someone else, was by listening to my body. If I was doing it for someone else, it felt very familiar, comfortable but also empty. It felt like I had a void inside of me, I felt desperate and I felt unsafe and therefore needed to abide by someone else’s wants and needs.
If I was doing it for myself, I felt uncomfortable, it felt very different but also extremely nurturing. It felt good even if it was weird and uncomfortable at first. Other times, it would spark my heart with joy and excitement. It felt peaceful. The second I would do it, I would know that it was for me. That’s who I was and I was aligned with my truth.
For the longest time, I thought my purpose was to please other people. I believed I was responsible for other people’s feelings, happiness, or sadness. I was always looking for someone else to fill with my love. What I didn’t realize was that I wasn’t really giving love. I was completely empty. I was just becoming what the other person wanted me to be. But that’s not love. I was doing that because I thought I wasn’t safe by myself. I needed to attach myself to someone else in order to have a purpose.
I could never give myself what I was giving other people. But once I stayed by myself for a while, my energy started to focus inwards. Slowly, I started filling myself up. It was scary not having someone else to depend on? But that’s how I learned to be with myself and learn about myself.
What began to help me was seeing where this stemmed from. Where did this dynamic start in my life? For me, it started the day I was born in my family, and it continued on my entire life.
Discovering the story I told myself was also important. Once I heard the story I was operating from, I could look at it, and start to create a different story for myself. My story was that I wasn’t worth living for myself. Once I saw it, I could change it and decide that I DID want to live for myself. I started finding things that were only meant for me, like my passions, my purpose and what brings me insane amounts of joy. I was rebuilding my identity, or in better words, uncovering who I was under everyone else’s stuff that I was carrying.
Little by little, I gained momentum with the little things I was finding that I loved, and started seeing who I was. At the same time, I was continuing to work on changing my beliefs, and understanding why I did the things I used to do.
I also began to do inner child healing. Speaking to my inner child was extremely therapeutic. I would break down crying every time I did this. Seeing how scared, alone, and abandoned I felt as a child and healing that in the present moment changed my life.
We all still operate from our inner child. We are adults and we have a more developed brain than children, but science has discovered that we are ultimately our inner child, just in an adult body. Healing that part of us will allow us to move forward with joy and peace, regulate our reactions and emotions, and help us develop healthy relationships with ourselves and with others.
Loving yourself is the best thing that you can do for yourself, and for others. I learned what my love language is, how I can love myself, and how others can love me as well. I learned what I need from a relationship. I learned what my boundaries are, and what is unacceptable for me. I began laying the foundation of my worth. I am excited every day now to live, to do things for myself, and to explore life. I am attracting more loving, healthy, and respectful relationships.
It really does pay off. And I continue every day to work with myself, to try and have patience and compassion for myself. I feel like an entirely different person than I did months ago, let alone years ago.
I hope this helps you come back to yourself and find your inner worth. It’s always been there.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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