Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Old Patterns


I’ve begun to recognize some old patterns that, even though I feel like I’ve worked through they continue to reappear.  They’re not quite as apparent as they have been in the past.  They’re buried deeper into things, situations, relationships, but they’re there.  Peeking their little heads up with their Dennis the Menace grin again and again. 

Thinking about my burnout with social networking I’ve come to realize exactly what I’ve gotten out of it up until this point.  It has fed my need for co-dependency in my life. 

Someone on my friends list once told me that I’m always right there and quick to post a comment or send a text when someone is having a hard time.  Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all.  What I have realized is that from my perspective I was right there because it gave me a sense of worth to be there for someone in need.  Well, not just a sense of worth but my ONLY sense of worth.  This is where all of the anxiety comes in, as well, because if I’m not checking my news feed constantly how could I be there for someone when they need me if I miss their post? 

Do you see where I’m going here?  If I change my perspective on this and not look at it from this vantage point I can more casually enjoy the social networking sites and use them more as a communication tool, not as my way to feed something that’s not making my life better.  That ‘thing’ being co-dependency.  As a child of an alcoholic and an addict, co-dependency has been a part of my life from day one.  It hasn’t ever served me well because it’s allowed me to ignore myself.  Forty-one years later and I’m still trying to get my self worth from it.  Even with all of the work I’ve done and the therapy I’ve been through.  It’s something I have to constantly work on.  There’s a lot of reprogramming that needs to be done.  But the fact of the matter is, being co-dependent gets in the way of me getting to know who I am and what my wants and needs are.  Finding those things out about myself helps me to love and accept myself and to develop my own sense of self worth. Plus, the more whole I am within myself, the better my relationships are with others.  If I can't take care of myself first, how can I take care of others?

Yes, it’s good to be kind and helpful and there for a friend when they need someone but it’s not good to draw my entire self worth from that one part of who I am.  There’s a difference between compassion and co-dependency. 

The first step in every healing process is recognizing the illness.  Even if I have to recognize it over and over again, I’m still growing and healing.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for this - I haven't dealt with codependency due to a parent with alcohol and drug abuse issues, but instead other issues that have made me the caregiver. Now that I'm learning to care for myself, setting the boundaries required to do that very thing can feel painful. I suppose it's like exercising muscles we've never used before... here's hoping the emotional workout increases our strength...

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  2. Here, here! Yes, exactly, as MakingSpace said, thank you for this. I, too, have developed co-dependent behaviors due to issues outside of alcohol and drug abuse, but, I'm finding, growing up around any sort of mental illness, kinda wonks a person out, ya know?
    I feel you, immensely.
    I briefly attended a Codependents Anonymous group; it wasn't for me, but, if you haven't, you may want to check it out.
    I, too, went through years of therapy, and, actually, as part of reclaiming my life from my mother's (and my own) mental illness, I left therapy in favor of cupcakes and long walks and going to see a movie when it's thundering outside, and writing poems about sex, and...etc. other stuff.
    It's been fun! I may return to therapy one day, but, I have to say, leaving it actually turned out to be pretty liberating.
    Anyway, thank you so much for this honest, tender, lovely post.

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  3. It's exactly like exercising muscles we've never used before. That is what we're doing when we learn to start taking care of ourselves. It's out of our comfort zone and can be difficult to find that fine line between taking care of ourselves and being 'selfish', you know?

    I think that co-dependency is not just associated with drug and alcohol, even though that's the sort of books you find these days. There are a few out there that finally suggest that co-dependency comes from lots of other sources.

    Amber, sometimes leaving therapy is sort of like flying away from the protective nest and finding your own way. When we've gained the tools from therapy there has to be a time when we figure out how to use them on our own. I think that's where I've landed in my dealings with therapy, too.

    Thank you both for reading and for your appreciation of my honesty with the world.

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  4. "Someone on my friends list once told me that I’m always right there and quick to post a comment or send a text when someone is having a hard time. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. What I have realized is that from my perspective I was right there because it gave me a sense of worth to be there for someone in need. Well, not just a sense of worth but my ONLY sense of worth. This is where all of the anxiety comes in, as well, because if I’m not checking my news feed constantly how could I be there for someone when they need me if I miss their post?"

    This. In my last relationship, I had a rule that my phone had to be turned off at 11am so I would go to sleep and stop obsessively watching fb. It feels so good to be needed, but sometimes I feel like I create or project that someone needs ME when they don't really. It's something that I actively work on.

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