Working through codependency

A few days ago I summarized the circumstantial changes that took place between September 18th and October 27th in this post. While all those changes were important to note, the biggest changes that took place were the intangible changes inside of me and in my relationship with Jerry. Mostly the changes are realizations about underlying thoughts, motivations, and emotions that have driven the codependency in my relationship with Jerry and everyone else I’ve ever known.

One of the biggest catalysts for this change has been in dealing with my emotions, responses, and relationship with my friend who is planning on adopting my oldest daughter in a manner similar to the adoption of my adult son by the family that informally fostered him during his last two years of high school. I’m afraid that as I’ve been working through some of my underlying emotional issues and uncovering layers of unresolved and buried issues from my past, I’ve damaged my relationship with this friend and wounded her in unintentional ways. At the same time, I’ve done my best to avoid “going off” on her with my initial emotional reactions to it all and only wrote about it on here, a couple of times. She’s in another state and going through some tough things herself, and these are not things to try to discuss in detail via phone, text, or private message.

I fully believe that she has only ever had everyone’s best interests at heart and that she genuinely loves my daughter and myself, as well as my other children. I also know that she believes that what she shares in terms of her wisdom, experience, and insight is being offered to me as a source of support and encouragement. However true both of those statements are, it doesn’t alter the reality that I haven’t been able to receive what she’s giving. Mentally and emotionally I haven’t been open and receptive, because I have had things I needed to work through. I still do, in fact. I haven’t completely worked through my emotions enough to be clear about what is about this situation v.s. what is about past issues from other events in my life, I’m not really ready to get into a discussion about it.

In working through some of these things, I have realized how co-dependent I have been in ALL of my relationships since adolescence, not just the romantic ones, but my relationships with friends, family members, and strangers on the street even. It’s pervasive and insidious and I’m coming to believe it’s an almost inherent, underlying, and undermining ACCEPTED but unacceptable facet of life in modern society, at least in the U.S.A. With our obsession for reality shows and contests where viewers get to judge, vote, tweet, and participate in gossip about neo-celebrities, politicians, and people in all areas connected to the sports and entertainment industries, we the people, have mistakenly and harmfully abused our right to free speech in expressing our opinions against the right of individuals to live their lives according to the liberty of their free-will in their pursuit of happiness.

I’m as guilty as anyone else. I found myself dissing on one of the actresses courageous enough to strut her stuff a second time on Dancing with the Stars. After I made my catty and oh so witty comment that she was a broken Barbie doll, I realized how much ick I’m still carrying around in my head. But I digress.

The point is, I do love and care about my friend, my children, Jerry, and all the members of my extended family and set of friends, both past and present. I have always cared more about all of these people more than my self, even though from their perspective it may not have looked that way. I have lived my life pinballing from trying to please all of these people and to live up to their expectations and judgements, perceived or real, and I’ve failed them. Most of all I’ve failed myself. It reached a point where I have basically shut-down mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. In trying to live a life that “pleases” everyone, I’ve pleased no one, least of all myself. The only one who could possibly be pleased, up until recently, would be the devil himself.

And so, with these realizations of my lack of self-identity buried under layers of codependent neediness and futility, came the determination to move beyond it. I started putting up walls and calling them boundaries.

I’m afraid that these walls and the boundaries they represent may have made my friend feel rejected. I’m sorry for that. I don’t want her to feel rejected, hurt, or abandoned by me in our friendship. However, for right now, while I am in the process of figuring out who I am, outside of and beyond the codependency, I need the walls because the boundaries are brand new and no one in my life is used to me having them or me respecting the boundaries others put in place.

Learning to respect the wall strong boundaries my son put up with me and giving him the space he needs has taught me that even after being raised in a chaotic, dysfunctional, codependent mess of a family like ours, it’s possible to learn how to be healthy. Since I have even more intense codependent issues with Jerry that I’m actively working through while I am also working through my personal mental and emotional health issues, and working with multiple agencies to support Luna’s growth and development through this critical period in her life so that she can come through it, more intact and healthier than any of the rest of us, I’m afraid I only have so much emotional and mental energy available to work through relationship issues with other people.

It isn’t that I don’t care and don’t want to invest the time or effort to nurture, cultivate, and do the maintenance work to repair and restore where wounds and brokenness have occurred. I just only can do what I can do.

I’ve always felt guilty and less than for that. I’ve always felt I was obligated to answer the questions, and the implied judgments behind them, people ask of me, especially people I know who care about me. As though I owe them an explanation and am accountable to them for the choices and wreckage of my life because they made the choice to care about me.

In learning the lessons my adult children are teaching me about boundaries, I have also learned loving and caring for people does not obligate them to answer to me. Conversely, this means I am not obligated and answerable to the needs and expectations of others, just because they care about me.

Figuring out healthy ways to apply this knowledge and affirm my realizations while trying to be gentle with myself and others is just beginning and it’s definitely challenging. I’m afraid we’re all in for a bit of a bumpy ride that may include some bruising of hearts, egos, and minds. Hopefully, it will all be worth it in the end and we’ll all be better and stronger for it. I believe I already am and know I have a long ways to go.


One comment

  1. You know, I’ve never heard anything here but your love for the people in your life. So I hope you know that even though some might misunderstand you occasionally, that love always shines through.

    It’s so hard when you’re working through difficult emotions about yourself and others in a really public forum. I’ve always kind of resisted that, partly because I’m really private and partly because I want to avoid any drama. I don’t express my feelings really well, which might be why I use music so much to help me. And it’s natural for stuff to get lost in translation. I’m glad you’ve kept the lines of communication open with your friend. It might seem hopelessly muddled right now, Kina, but I know as long as everyone keeps talking, it will work out.


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