My Codependent Crap-Stew
One of my big demons to overcome has been codependency. For a lot of people, this is a bizarre concept. At first glance, the characteristics of the caretaker seem positive. Caretakers are often sensitive, compassionate, deep feelers and problem solvers. The take care of stuff. They feel called to save the world. No problem is beyond them. Part of what makes healing from caretaking patterns so difficult is because on the surface these appear to be positive qualities. Why would a person like this need healing? The answer is that the deeper and often subconscious motivation for these ‘selfless’ behaviors is a rejection of the self.
I was an excellent caretaker. I took care of my little sisters through my parents’ divorce and father’s unpredictable behavior. I took care of my ex-boyfriend for five years through his rollercoaster of addictions, stunts in jail, rehab facilities, and OD’s. Even after we broke up I checked up on his family regularly. I took care of my unstable friends – I got them into counselling and took them to NA meetings. My social life consisted of addicts, victims, and criminals with me trying to “fix” them. I hid needles, bottles, took people to hospitals, answered the late night phone calls, checked in, and was the ever present shoulder to lean on and bank to draw upon. I was in a constant pull of being manipulated, abused, cheated, taken advantage of and lied to. All a part of the territory of loving those that are in the deep pulls of addiction. And yet I was on a mission to heal every addict I could. I needed them to heal. I couldn’t handle them not healing. So I threw myself into their problems.
I gave and gave to people who could not give back because I needed to escape myself. Focusing on other people’s baggage offers a very powerful distraction from our own feelings. In this way I denied myself. The caretaker will, in martyr-like fashion, regularly sacrifice and compromise their own self-care in order to attend to the needs of others. In this way, care taking becomes an addiction. We become very comfortable with the self-image of the noble crusader out to save the world. In reality we are creating a deep rift within as our own feelings are persistently ignored, belittled, and devalued.
Unconsciously, the caretaker sees herself in those that she would like save and attempts to soothe and alleviate her own pain by focusing on theirs. By fixing them I thought I could fix me – not consciously, but the subtle energies were there. It is emotional escapism at its finest. This, of course, doesn’t work and the caretaker is left with the feeling that she loves and cares for everybody and nobody cares for her. Ultimately, this is only a projection of the caretaker’s lack of self-love.
By denying myself and getting lost in other people’s addictions, not only did I waste everyone’s time, but I insulted their ability to take care of themselves. I disempowered them. I treated them as if they were incapable of healing without me. I needed to be needed. I pushed them backwards and enabled them to continue down a tumultuous path. In truth, we only have the power to heal ourselves. When you give a tremendous amount of energy to “help” another person and discover that your efforts result in very little progress, bitterness will ensue. My roommates are still dealing drugs. My dad still struggles with his addictive demons. My ex relapsed anyway.
We must acknowledge, honor and ultimately accept our own feelings if we are to heal. This can be one of the most terrifying concepts to someone who spends most of their time trying to avoid exactly that. To me that was so enticing and yet the thing I feared the most. The Core Emotional Healing process is about allowing ourselves to feel our feelings – whatever they may be.
In this process, for the caretaker, there may be a huge resistance to “going there” and feeling their feelings because “There’s no time for me. What about everyone else? I’m fine.” There is an extreme denial of worthiness. It is like you don’t exist. You don’t get to have feelings and you don’t get to matter. The only way you can matter is if you are in service to someone else. This healing process will dissolve that illusion. Each person’s journey is his or her own. It begins with a deep breath and the permission to feel all the way.
Healing from codependency is the hardest thing I have ever done. The worst part about anything this self-destructive is that it is so intimate. You become so close to your addictions and vices that leaving them behind is like killing the part of yourself that taught you how to survive. It is hard to imagine a world without that aspect. The great part is, with the death of old energy, new pieces of your spirit wake up that you never thought existed – and it is absolutely brilliant. You deserve healthy relationships. You matter. You are here for more than just getting by or getting lost. You deserve to be the best, brilliant, beautiful you that you can be. You deserve to be loved in the healthiest, most honoring way possible. This wild journey into healing from codependency starts from home. It starts with putting yourself first.
The process is not easy. But this is how you get unstuck. Not so you can just walk away from it but so you can save your life. You have to do more than hold on – you have to dive in. You have to pull yourself out of the unspeakable crap-stew you have been simmering in and reach. It takes guts. But I believe you can do it. And I would be absolutely honored to lead you through the process if it calls to you.