Updated: Apr 14
“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I” – Psalms 61:2
Over the years, I have learned about codependency and have watched that issue hurt friends and loved ones. One definition of codependency is:
An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment. An extreme need for approval and recognition. A sense of guilt when asserting themselves. A compelling need to control others.
Parts of that definition describe me. I am a “people person,” and I want everyone to be happy, so I go the extra mile to ensure everyone is content. Often that is to my detriment. I feel guilty when I cannot meet a person’s perceived need. Also, I often say that I don’t need approval and recognition, but I am learning that I like it. I do not feel abandoned and will discuss the control issues later in this blog.
I grew up in a home where my mom was the poster child for codependency. She almost always put others’ needs before herself. She cared for her family, which is something that moms do. She was the primary caretaker for my dad when he was dying of cancer. She helped care for my grandpa (on my dad’s side) when he was sick, and she cared for her mom for years as her mom struggled with Alzheimer’s. She also regularly went to Sacramento to visit my other grandma in a memory care home. When my brother and I were younger, she was a room mother, helped where she was needed in the school, and ensured that Dan and I met all our needs and most of our wants.
The problem was that she did not take care of herself. When I cared for her as she was dying of cancer, she often said that cleaning was the only thing she was suitable for in life. But she was worth so much more than that. Even though mom and I butted heads often, I recognize what an amazing woman she was.
Overall, I love my life and the things I am involved in. I belong to several organizations in the community that bring me much joy, I have a group of WONDERFUL friends, and most importantly, I am involved in a church that preaches the word of God.
I have been told to slow down for my sanity, but I don’t know what I would give up! (Would giving up housework count?)
I am in the process of learning to take better care of myself. I had let go of some problematic relationships because I did not like the person I became when I was around them. It was VERY hard to do, and at times, I let guilt creep in and questioned if I had made the right decision. Even though it was painful, I am a much healthier person.
I said we would return to the control issues, and now we will address that! I never thought I was a controlling person, and when I worked with my counselor on my eating issues, she explained that a lot of my eating issues have to do with my need to control. At first, I scoffed at her, but the more I dug into that possibility, I found that I am a control freak. So, I am working on this issue with my counselor. I am slowly learning to let go, and that life is more manageable when I am not in charge. Honestly, it is scary for me not to know how things will work out or how the goal will be accomplished, but I am getting there.
Why am I writing a blog on this subject? For many reasons, I am overwhelmed. I am learning to make priorities and say no. I have not gotten past wanting to make others happy and helping them when it is not necessary. I want others dealing with issues to find a way to move forward to a healthier way of life.
I have shed some unhealthy relationships, set some priorities, and am moving forward.
Some healthy steps to healing your relationship from codependency include:
1. First, start being honest with yourself and the people you are dealing with. (That could be family, friends, or a boss, to name a few.)
2. Stop negative thinking.
3. Don't take things personally. (Easier to say than do!)
4. Consider counseling.
5. Rely on peer support. (Don’t be afraid to ask for help,)
6. Establish boundaries.
Those of you that know me might be thinking – She has issues with this. I AM WORKING ON THIS AREA OF MY LIFE! The most important way I address this issue is by looking to God. As the verse above states, “. . . lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” I am praying over decisions and asking God to help me make healthy decisions about how I should help.
I encourage you to do something nice for yourself!!