Stepping Out of Codependency

The room was dark, and my head spinning as I listened to the clock silently tick its way toward dawn. Why did I feel the way I did? I was confused all the time. A constant struggle to attain ‘rightness’ with the people and the world around me, a fight that was pointless, and failing with each attempt. It was keeping me up at night and it was slowly killing me.

Dysfunction, addiction, and codependent relationships are all a part of my story – they are a part of many of our stories.  

I’ve started answering questions on Quora –

Lately, people want to know, what’s it like coming out of codependency? How do you even begin?

The answer is twofold – for there are the physical, logistical steps you can take to help keep codependent tendencies at bay. I’ve listed those. Join a group, get support, read some books, practice good self-care. Like anything, you can make a list of ‘how to’ and miss the parts that matter. Miss the parts that will trip you up.

As your friend, I will tell you, coming out of this whirlwind is tough – and it’s not for the faint of heart. I have done it – I am somewhat on the other side. I am better, healthier today than I was yesterday, that is my only goal.

Better today than yesterday. Am I stronger in love, more vulnerable with my heart? Am I giving myself enough grace to let the flow of God run through me?

Sometimes I attain it.

Let’s take a look.

When you begin, it will look like focusing on you – like every bit of focus on you. If you have young children who need your care, you care for them – but otherwise, the focus is on you.

The addicts, the narcissists, those in your life that have required much more from you than any human should – those who depend on your willingness to bend and break to remain comfortable in their own state of being. Those people won’t like this very much. Their reactions might be strong. It will be hard to withstand their forces – it might seem like to most unnatural thing on the world.

And, that’s ok. You are learning to stand.

Remember, the stronger their reaction to your new behavior, the stronger their need for you to be a certain way to assure their comfort.

You will begin to discover what you want and what you don’t want out of life. To attain this, you will have to set boundaries. You will learn to state your needs clearly and effectively. Addicts, narcissist, and those who require more from you than humanly possible will find this absurd. They will criticize you – they might blame you for their pain. They won’t understand.

And, that’s ok. Because you are learning to stand.

Then, you will grow enough to begin to state your needs clearly and effectively –without grander, without yelling,  without criticism. Then you will stand back and quietly wait. You will see what your loved ones do. Some will come toward you – reviewing your newness. They will want relationship with you and will honor your boundaries and make changes necessary to foster healthy relationship as best they can. These are the people you love and the people you keep close.

Others will not have the ability (yet) to see beyond themselves. They will repeat their same behaviors and be confused when things between you seem strained. These are the people you love and the people you hold at a distance.  

And that’s ok – because you are standing.

As each day turns, you will grow and you will learn. And you will do the best you can with what you know and what you have - and so will the people you love, for this is all any of us can ever do. Stepping out of codependency is a hard, but a worthy journey.

Here’s to making it great.