Are you rattled by anyone that does not behave or react in the way you feel they should? Are you always throwing on your superman/woman cape to rescue individuals? Are you constantly rearranging your life and feelings to make others feel comfortable?
If you responded, “Yes” to any of these questions, you might be slightly or majorly co-dependent.
I recently saw a therapist that informed me within 20 minutes of my hour session that I was co-dependent. At first, I was like, “she doesn’t know me.” But after her explanation, it was as if she’d known me my entire life; and no matter how much I wanted to disagree with her, I knew she was right.
Damn, I hate when that happens.
Since I am the type of person that likes to pinpoint the origin of my unhealthy behavior, I drifted back to childhood. It was not too difficult to reflect on some disappointments that derived my need to always be in control of the narrative. My need for control only helped construct this giant, stubborn, people-pleasing wall I leaned and depended on for years. I always felt when people hurt me; it had to be something wrong with me.
On the flip side, those that treated me fairly often paid the price for those that did not.
When I was fixated on joining a particular crowd or for someone to like me, I would do all I could to fit in even if my self-respect was at stake. I hate to admit this behavior carried on to my 20s and in my 30s. I endured two decades of latching on to toxic people and situations while ignoring my safe havens. I was witnessing my destructive behaviors feeling powerless to change them. I felt as if I deserved this punishment and my life wasn’t destined to be a happy one.
Why would Anyone want to Punish Themselves?
For starters, believing someone’s opinions over your own can cause a person to take a long ride down that road of codependency. When you are looking for someone to define you or dictate your every move, you are robotically moving through life. You think numbing yourself will shield you from reality; it just causes you to perform the behaviors you swore you wouldn’t. If you are not putting forth effort and measures to stop a bad behavior it is inevitable you will fall down that rabbit hole of “What the hell am I doing?” and “How did I get here?”
So, How to find Happiness and Stop the Co-Dependency?
Happiness should never be predicated on circumstances because lets be honest, life sometimes stinks. Happiness derives from our attitude and perspective and a made-up mind that nothing or no one will take our peace. If that means you have to cut out certain people in your circle or a surrounding, nothing is worth forfeiting your peace.
However, before you reach that point, you have to realize you deserve peace. You have to know that you deserve happiness. This is the time when I tell you that after my therapy session, I saw sunshine and cupcakes, but that would be a lie. What happened next was I sat in the chair and felt all of the emotions I’ve been holding inside.
Instead of getting pissed off at my therapist telling me the truth, I cried. The next morning the hurt was still there; I cried some more. I stopped preventing myself to feel and I just let myself endure all of it. I cried about let-down expectations, not taking control over my life, allowing people to use me for the sake of a faux friendship, etc. The next couple of days, my tear ducts were dried out and I stopped wallowing in self-pity and started forgiving myself.
As the days progressed, I learned that I was the only one that I could control.
What a load of pressure off my shoulder. Are you meaning to tell me that I am solely responsible for my actions and reactions? Although I can lend a helping hand I was not put on this earth to rescue people that did not want to be rescued. Could it be I could keep my good energy even when I am surrounded by bad energy? Did I have the choice to ration my thoughts and feelings out as much or little as I wanted to? Wow! How freeing!
If I am disappointed, I could feel that for a few minutes but still enjoy my day? If someone does not respond the way I hoped they would, that is nothing to be mad about. If someone makes a bad decision even after I helped them, the responsibility is not on me it’s on them. If a person is a jerk, that is not a reflection of me (well unless I was a jerk first) that is on them.
I hope by sharing this, I am helping someone free themselves of a life they don’t deserve. I hope you know how wonderful you are and how you deserve happiness. It is a day by day journey to overcome this habit. But you know what, you’re worth it.