As far as I can tell, I have been Codependent since I was three. I learned to care about other’s feelings and actions more than myself. It was how I survived in an abusive household. I learned to read people and their feelings and actions as a way to grow up as healthy as I could. By becoming codependent, I was able to avoid blowouts and a lot of recklessness. I was able to know what to say, when to say it, to make the situation better (for them) and to not alienate myself even more from the family. I learned to keep my mouth shut. I learned to back off when my own boundaries were tested. I learned to ignore my own needs for others, and I succeeded.
If I have never really been good at anything else, I am terrific at being codependent. I can tell you what someone else is feeling, even when they are not sure. I can scan a room and know who needs what. The problem with that is I could never tell anyone what I needed, mostly because I had no idea. After the psycho stalker boy wrecked me, I finally learned what codependency was and threw myself into getting well and recovering from it. I have been in recovery from codependency now for almost two years (Two years come this Jan. 14 to be exact). I read, and re-read (monthly) Melody Beattie’s books and learned what boundaries are, what caretaking is, and who I am without other people’s emotions influencing me. I went to counseling, I did homework, I learned how to make boundaries and enforce them, and finally learned what I liked, what I wanted, and what I needed.
I learned that codependency is a real addiction, and I was in deep, and desperately. In my two years of recovery, I have learned that I do not have to be involved in drama, of any kind, if I do not want to be. I learned that I could be a true friend without losing myself. I learned, finally, that this is MY life and I can choose to live it how I want… and really, that has made all of the difference. I have learned that the choices I make, all though possibly have an effect on others, are mine alone to make.
Because of my recovery, I am happier than I have ever been. That is not to say that my life is perfect, but I value it so much more than I ever did when I was codependent. I have learned to ask what people need instead of assuming. I have learned to step back from difficult situations and take an inventory of my own feelings so that I can act in the best manner possible. I have learned that I do not have to try and control or manipulate others to win their love, or affection. And most importantly I have learned, or rather am learning, daily how to love myself.
When I read that recovery from codependency was “fun” and would feel good, I threw the book across the room and bawled. I did not know how to feel good, and I sure as hell did not know if I was capable of having fun… but after being in recovery for almost two years I can say, that yes, once the shock of loving yourself sweeps over you, it does feel good. And is so damn worth it.