My Crash Course in Codependency
Therapy is a fascinating thing. Each week the psychologist plants these brain bombs that go off long after the session ends; 90% of therapy is done outside of the session. It’s the work you do on yourself in between sessions where the unraveling and discoveries happen. I always knew I was codependent but I never did anything about it. I heard the word come up several times and I’d feel a physical nudge inside. The Universe sets it up where Law of Attraction gives us exactly what we need to grow. When you don’t pay attention the lessons come harder until it’s impossible to ignore. Almost 3 months ago I started to research codependency and what I was reading resonated but this time there was no escaping. I have to commit 100% to fully to healing myself and that means entering my crash course on codependency.
Break ups happen and it seems that there are people out there who can easily allow the 30-90 days to process a break up, handle any post break up aftermath with their ex and reach a place of peace and move on. With codependents it’s far more difficult. From what I read and internalized, codependent people can be beautiful, confident, charming, quick witted and appear to be all pulled together on the outside. However, on the inside there’s a whole different struggle going on it stems from not getting needs met, feeling neglected, unheard, and even unloved as a kid. A codependent person struggles with self love because they are looking for love outside themselves. No wonder “letting go” is so difficult for me.
I’m a smart woman and as you’ll see in my most recent blogs before this one, I have made sense about what happened in my relationships with my ex husband and recent ex boyfriend. I take responsibility. I was there. The divine Source in me says I’m no victim. However, the codependent side to me beats myself up. I need to get to the middle ground. Therapy will help me do this.
I have to be able to understand what happened in the relationship from start to finish while simultaneously being loving and kind to myself. Instead, my self talk has been terrible. “Was I that broken over my divorce that I not only threw myself at someone who was also in a dark place and started a relationship from a place of sadness, but I HURT MYSELF BY STAYING IN IT and ignored all the RED FLAGS!! How can I be so smart and so reckless with my heart? Then I shift to blame, “HOW CAN HE LOOK ME IN MY FACE LIKE THAT OVER AND OVER AND SAY THE THINGS HE SAID!! Then I shift to self blame, “HOW CAN I stay in it believing it all. I committed emotional suicide AGAIN and I have no one to blame but myself.” This is awful, unloving self talk. I MUST master the self talk and be loving and kind to myself. It hurts too much. This is what I’m now working on. I have to be kind and compassionate to me.
Truth is that now that I’m in therapy and nearing 90 days post break up, I see how for me codependency started as a little snowball at the top of my emotional mountain. Over my life this little snowball started rolling downhill, turning into a full on avalanche that now has me buried and digging my way out. This time though I have to dig myself out with the help of loved ones and therapy NOT a romantic relationship. I am going against my comfort zone BIG TIME and I have to get strong. If I want to help people I have to first help myself. I’m doing it. I’m going through my journey. I’m at week 6 of therapy and now it’s time to get to the root issue so I can do the work necessary to build myself up again. It’s rough!!
My codependency or struggle to love myself by taking loving actions that serve myself first and foremost, was always a thing with me. I always would line up a new relationship before ending a prior one. Why? Because codependent people don’t like being alone. I’d threaten, strong arm, use ultimatums, and try to control others. When alone and not connected to any form of relationship codependents feel out of sorts.
Ideally people are supposed to build a great, full, robust, self reliant and emotionally stable life independently. Then if and when they choose to be in a relationship they seek to create an interdependent relationship with another person, meaning a true partnership comprised of two individuals nurturing one another without compromising themselves. They’re able to leave the relationship if it is unhealthy and take action when there are red flags.
Codependent people look to the relationship as the thing that defines a great, full, life. It’s the relationship that fills them up. When the relationship ends they are LOST. They then waste their time on HOPE. They hope that the relationship could get back on track or that they will find another one to replace that one. This is why I stayed separated from my husband as long as I did knowing full well it was bad for both of us. The HOPE kept me stuck.
The loving action for my separation would have been to establish boundaries and put a one-year timeline with clear actions necessary for reconciliation to happen. If at the end of a year if we were still in limbo, we file for divorce. Limbo is not healthy. It’s not kind nor loving to self or the other person. I made limbo my new normal because codependents cling to HOPE. My ex husband loved me and in my codependent mind a little bit of love is better than nothing. This is destructive thinking. I know this now. The progress I have made through my process so far in my crash course in codependency is understanding that hope is the denial of reality.
When I look at my most recent relationship I can understand why even though it was only 5 months long, the intensity of it, the hope it instilled in me rattled me to my core and put me into therapy. I’m in the thick of the process now and I’m hurting. I have strong days and days that are rough.
Therapy forces you to look at your entire life!! I see how I shackled myself to hope in every relationship I ever had in my life. It led me to loving the potential of a person, hoping to fix or influence them (a form of control). Don’t get me wrong I loved the great qualities of every man I ever had a relationship with. However, I was looking for them to become something that I needed as opposed to being what I needed to myself. Happiness is truly an inside job. I know this I just need the tools, my crash course in codependency is helping me handle this. It’s incredibly hard.
No more line ups and limbo! Looking back at the 4 and a half years separated from my now ex husband, I literally was looking for a man to “line up” to love me and then that would lead me to file for divorce. When that didn’t happen and I realized I was going through my divorce totally alone, I turned a friendship in to a romantic relationship seeking solace in a man who was just a hurt and broken as I was. I went into full on caretaker mode with my ex boyfriend. The emotional recklessness in this most recent relationship was the C4 level explosion necessary to dig deep, and start walking through the hell of facing my codependent nature head on. Sure there was tons of good in the relationship. However as days pass, the truth of what our relationship was becomes clearer and clearer. Truth helps with the healing.
From what I’ve read, “healing” from codependency is incredibly difficult, not impossible but it requires major rewrites of mental scripts and false beliefs that are rooted in childhood. It’s the roughest thing I ever had to face in my entire life. I know with every ounce of my being that my codependency affected all aspects of my life, my relationships, my career and my health. I have no choice but to handle this.
It’s time for some Inner Bonding. I have NO choice but to walk through this HELL, face truths and do the work. I’m doing it every day. I reconnected with another former boyfriend (way way less intense relationship) and he led me to the book, Inner Bonding by Margaret Paul. Which calls for you behaving as a loving protective adult to your inner child (or children). The book combined with my therapy led me to take loving actions to help me find peace and move forward. I now tapped into the yearnings of my younger selves at 3, 9 and 16. They each have needs and hurts and to heal it is up to me to listen to them, validate them and then take action.
I must listen and take loving action to protect and serve myself! It’s now December 23rd and from Dec 9th-15th I was home in New York visiting my parents and family. They’re worried about me. I’m in Miami they’re in New York and it seems to them that my life in Miami has been nothing but a mess. I’ve lost weight. I’m just not right in my mind. I’m sorting through it all. I’m overwhelmed but here’s the thing… I’m growing! I know this.
I returned to Miami and my 28 year old cousin stayed with me through December 21st. My month was filled with love from family and distraction from tormenting thoughts. When I drove my cousin to the airport I has to pass the exit to my ex boyfriends home and office. I’ve driven past his exit other times since we’ve broken up with no problems but this time it was a massive trigger.
I started crying so I immediately pulled my car over and checked in with my inner children. The 3 year old me was shaking and crying. I tried to settle her down. “Lisa sweetie, what hurts, tell me. I’m here. It’s ok.” All my 3 year self could muster up in her little voice was, “he said he loved me and the he stopped talking to me. Does that mean I’m bad?”
The 9 year old me was also crying but had anger in her. “We should take a bat to his car. How can he go silent on me that way. Who the hell does he think he is? I just want to break something.”
The 16 year old me was hurting too. Crying with her hands at her head she said, “I can’t focus. I have important things to do and all I think about is why he would lie. He said he cared, he said he loved me and would always love me and that he wanted to take care of me. I gave him my body and soul and I feel so disrespected and used.”
At this point I am taking deep breaths, eyes closed tears falling. I said, “ok girls, it sounds like we need closure. We need to feel heard. I didn’t feel heard when I was 3, 9 and 16 from my parents so seeing the exit on the highway was the trigger that led to my inner children to come out in full force.
I decided I would go to find my ex boyfriend. I immediately felt empowered. I was taking loving action and giving my inner children (and ultimately my adult self) what was needed to heal. I went past his apartment and didn’t feel his energy the way I used to. At that moment I just knew he wasn’t living there anymore.
The 9 year old me says, “go to his office.” During our relationship I only went to his office once for lunch about a month and a half into the relationship. I knew that showing up there would be a bold move. I had to do it.
My health and healing is top priority here. It’s time for me to be selfish and self preserve. I’m looking out for me and my inner children. No one is going to mess with us ever again. It’s kicking my ass but I AM LEARNING in my crash course in codependency.
I arrived. I was clearly upset but I managed to pull myself together. I saw his motorcycle out front so I knew he was there. Turned out he was with a client. I was asked if I had anything to give him or tell him. I felt defeated. I just quietly said, “I’ll just go. Just tell him Lisa Concepcion came by.”
My day was shot. My inner children were sad. I felt like I failed them. I had a meeting and during it the ex boyfriend called me. I tried him back and went right to voicemail so I presumed he sent me back to block land and I wouldn’t hear from him.
Phone rang and it was him. Seeing his name pop up on my phone again after almost 3 months of total silence was yet another trigger. I felt a pang in my gut. I picked up.
We had a well needed conversation. I explained how the whole no contact thing was cruel and deeply hurt me. I got answers to many questions I had and expressed myself. I was heard and I got the apology I needed, the respect I deserved and acknowledgement of my positive influence in his life and confirmation that love was exchanged and felt but that ultimately what we were creating, he wanted with his ex.
I’m happy he’s clear and on his way to having the joyous life and peace he so desperately wanted. I am. I have genuine love in my heart for him and I understand what happened. I got clarity and his perspective which only underscored what I knew the whole time. He always loved his ex girlfriend, vilified her to place blame because he was incapable of receiving love. In my case I shelved the grieving I needed to do over my marriage ending so I’m now dealing with healing from two relationships ending simultaneously.
The codependent side of me had HOPE. I hoped that my ex boyfriend would go into therapy get clear and come be with me. I hoped that when he looked me in my face time and time again told me he loved me, that he wanted to live with me, that he wanted us to have a joyous future together that he meant it. Truth was, our phone conversation revealed that I gave him hope. I pulled him out of a dark place and showed him love. He wanted to love and I wanted to be loved but we started out as two very broken people.
As he went through the relationship with me, he’d be tormented with thoughts of guilt over his ex girlfriend. Instead of me self preserving, I stayed in a relationship that was a rollercoaster and I hurt myself deeply.
My instincts are on point. During our “closure call,” my ex boyfriend told me he moved in with her on December 1st. That was a nugget of truth that helped me. It gave me some fuel. While he’s working to regain trust with his girlfriend with the goal of having the exact life he repeatedly said he wanted with me; I’m an emotional mess ruminating over this relationship, replaying words that were said to me that I so needed to believe despite my deeper self having doubts. I knew as hard as this conversation was to have, it was necessary for my healing. Now I know his side. I know his perspective and interpretation.
I just have to settle the ego on this and my meeting with my Kabbalah mentor helped me. He said, “Lisa, you shared light with someone who was hurting and had lost hope. You told him the light was inside him. It’s inside of you too. You got him to settle his ego and tap into light. You now MUST do this for yourself. Then believe you are entitled to the blessings that will come.” I believe I’m worthy of all the beauty that will come from this chaos.
The day after… I thought I was fine but as my therapist warned me, things will happen to you and it’s all necessary. You’ll feel fine and then it will hit you. Well, it did. The day after was terrible. I was in a major depression. Shaking and crying. I called my mother. First things out of her mouth was, “Ok ok mommy is here but Lisa, you have to stop crying. I can’t understand what you are saying if you’re crying like that. Take a breath. Hang up, get yourself together and call me back.”
My inner 3, 9 and 16 year old said “DO NOT hang up. MAKE HER LISTEN TO US CRYING and SAD!! Make her hear us as we are RIGHT NOW!!”
I listened to my inner children and stood up for them. I cried and talked with my mom for over 2 hours. I was drained. I am drained. I am physically weak.
I have to appreciate the signs from the universe. Walking my dog I saw chalk messages on the sidewalk. “Don’t Look Back. You’re Not Going That Way.”
Once I’m a bit stronger and healed more I am writing a book. I am. I swear. I just have to get myself together so I can focus. I do feel better when I write so writing this blog was therapeutic. If I help just one other person and show them they aren’t alone then all this love, loss and heartbreak won’t be for nothing.
Lisa Concepcion is the founder of LoveQuest Marketing, a personal development firm that applies proven marketing techniques and tactics to teach people how to find, give and keep love starting with love of self. Based in Miami, Florida; Lisa is a self proclaimed “Love Strategist” on her own LoveQuest teaching others valuable lessons she learns on her own journey. She offers group workshops, one-on-one sessions and writes and speaks on the topic of dating, relationships and individual betterment. Connect with Lisa via LoveQuestMarketing.com and via twitter @lisatakesmiami and her YouTube channel.