Forewarning I am in a processing mode. I did not intend to make this so long, but clearly I had a lot to process. I have started my journey of learning about codependency. I have been reading about it off and on for over a year now. However, I have only recently understood the terms, meanings, and behaviors in the last week applying them to my behaviors. As well as others who are in my life. The more I read the more I am not so sure that I fall under the typical codependent behaviors.
When I break down the signs of codependency, they seem different from what is described by others.
Meaning I have not read of others with codependent behaviors who stop the behaviors once they see them. I do not feel that I need a person to make me happy. I feel like I have gotten myself trapped into relationships that I never wanted to be in. It is as if one day I wake up and say, “Where the hell am I?” (Pardon the language.) I am processing though so who knows what I will determine about myself.
Before I go on I found these to be words of wisdom.
“It’s not a good idea to label yourself codependent, unless you plan to do something constructive about it. Because labels don’t empower you; they reinforce the undesired effect. Codependency is, however, a label of our time. So many facets of society are codependent. It’s usually synonymous with romance, too. Codependency is so ubiquitous that first of all, it’s hard to recognize. Secondly, it’s hard to end it — the healthy way.”
In the past when I have felt that I was dependent upon someone, or even something I cut it off.
I would stop just as I did with my personal facebook page. I have done that for the reasons of empowerment and clarity of mind not because I feel that I must out of fear or desperation. That feels good. I am not going through withdrawal. I am not fearful. I am not feeling anxiety about not going on there. I feel much better. That is what has happened in the past when I would stop behaviors or broke off relationships that were not the best for me. (According to the above article I linked to cutting off will continue the pattern though. :-/) Once I felt dependent upon someone or something, I stopped. Such as smoking, drinking, working out obsessively, worship music, starving myself, and using diet pills, etc… I will say that with my eating disorder I still had times when I would starve myself, or go back to those behaviors because I felt in control. I know now that I was not.
I twisted it in my head as me feeling dependent upon food.
My mind would take over and I battled with myself to force food down. I hate being dependent upon anyone or anything. There were times when I felt trapped and too dependent upon my mom. I would run away, when I felt too dependent upon seeking love from my father I cut him off. (There is a lot mixed into all of that and I am not going into it.) I was groomed to be codependent, but my very core rails against it. I have ended up adopting the behaviors because I did not know any better. I mirrored my surroundings, and though I was never “directly” told that I needed to take care of the emotional needs of the adults around me it was clear that I saw that as part of my duty in life. Along with being my only means of survival.
I made a rule in my head that my emotional needs did not matter.
At the beginning of my teenage years, my first “real” boyfriend came into the picture. I did not even like him. That is a pattern of mine as well, ending up with people that I do not have anything in common with or at times even like. He fed off my anxiety issues. I was terrified of starting high school because of how horrible middle school was; he reassured me that he would take care of everything. He did, he drove me to school and back every day. He took me to my classes every period. He knew my locker combination and made sure he knew all of the contents of my notes and even what I was writing about in classes.
He knew where I was at all times.
He had people watching me too to ensure he knew whom I was talking to. Though I knew virtually nothing about his business. I did not know that he was out cheating on me, doing drugs, selling drugs, getting drunk, and doing stupid things… until later. At some point he did not even try to hide things and even called to tell me one morning that he slept with my best friend in his car. (“Best friend” for 2 and half years yes, I forgave them both.)
He manipulated me into being with him.
I did not want to physically or emotionally be with him, but eventually I felt as if I could not cope unless he was there. That feeling is what I associated love to mean. I was there for his needs and to make him happy. This was a familiar feeling. I wanted to desperately get away from him, but I could not. He was psychotic and threatened to kill me or anyone else who even talked to me or looked at me. He did force me to watch him beat up some poor guy one night because he found out that he and I had been talking. We had talked about music and things like that. There was no threat. I still feel tremendous guilt because of that night, but it was my boyfriend and four of his friends.
How could I have stopped it?
There is a lot that happened in those three and half years, but I did get away from him. It took me moving to another state. (There is still more to that story, but I am done.) I adopted in my thinking that I should sacrifice all of me for the sake of others. This is where religion caused me much more trauma and pain. I took “sacrifice self for the sake of others” literally. I made a rule that if I were to please God than that required me to get rid of self and become what I perceived as Christ-like.
In my head I made it black-and-white, Angel = Bad and anything of God = Good.
I do not know if that makes sense. I read Adults with Asperger’s and Building Self-Concept and it helped me see how I have obtained a distorted image of myself in many ways. Here is where it is rather difficult for me to describe. I will try, in simple terms, I have felt guilty and wrong my whole life because I do like to be alone. I do seem to be incredibly different from others and I do not seem to have any sort of home. I have read where others say they feel like aliens, yes, I feel like an alien that does not even fit in with other aliens.
The world can make you feel wrong for wanting to be alone.
It is constantly feeding how if you are alone then, you are depressed, sad, isolated, and you will spiral into a personal hell. Yes, I do agree with that if you have a problem with being alone. There is a difference between being alone and sinking into isolation. I have done both and I know the difference. I can now see my patterns of when I am isolating and when I just want to be alone. I am perfectly fine on my own. I like being on my own at times. I longed to not be lonely and I would seek to find a companion. I cannot have too many friends; I am more of a quality than quantity type of person. It makes it a bit difficult because I have such a hard time with multiple relationships. It makes it much easier to fall into codependent behaviors. It makes me an easy target for people who are codependent. It makes it very easy to isolate me – the more I am isolated the more I am filled with anxiety. You can predict my cycle here.
I do like being with people and being social too.
I want people in my life. I want healthy relationships. I enjoy people, but I do not need them to make me happy. I do feel very alone and isolated at times. My life is very different from others and always has been that makes me feel isolated. I have not found very many people who relate to the way I think and see the world. I understand that is the case for all people, but even with my online community of friends, I do not do what they do. I do not know how they are able to get hundreds of people on their facebook fan page. I do not know how they can spend time tweeting, and communicating online, or going to online chats. I cannot do it. I do not have the mental capacity to do that. It takes so much out of me. I enjoy my interests much more than socializing. I interact when I can and I comment when I can. I read many blogs in this community, but I am unable to keep up with many personal interactions.
The feeling of isolation and being alone intensifies when I feel as if the people around me do not understand me.
As well as when I feel that I am being continually stripped of reassurance. A person pointing out everyone’s negative attributes strips me of confidence because if they are constantly picking others apart, my god! What do they think of me? This has been my world for many years now. I seem to attract people who focus on the negative things about people. In my mind, since I do not know how to see myself properly, I assume that they must think the same things about me.
In my rationale, it seems the logical conclusion.
A person who sees the negative in everyone else is also going to see only the negative in me, no matter how much they say they love me. Any encouraging words are continually wrapped in negative tone. My character is continually picked apart by actions and words. I have looked to these types of people as my social guides. They are the opposite of me. They are judgmental and condemning even when they are always “right” about others. This is where I have become codependent because of my lack of understanding. I do not understand the social world. I can read people with precision, but I do not trust my instincts. This has happened because of codependent behaviors. The relationships in my life have been my guide to the world.
I did not have the tools to learn how to trust myself.
While I do not agree with several statements in this article Asperger Syndrome and Codependency and it feels a little negative toward Aspergers (it could be my own offenses) what is written in here describes many things in my life. I learned to do this for my mom; I have done this with every long-term relationship. This includes my jobs as well. My employment places became my relationship. I would love my work more than anyone else if I enjoyed what I was doing. When I would hit the point of complete burn out that is when I would leave. I would have to start all over and change everything. I am at that point. I am not going to make the same mistakes I made before. I am doing what I need to do to help myself. I am not sure if I am mirroring behaviors, if I am truly codependent, or if it is both. It really does not matter, what does matter is that I am changing things in a positive way.
I do have some other resources to share.
Getting Out Is Just The Beginning! (Unfortunately, this post has a negative tone toward Aspergers. Frankly, I wish she did not say that he was 100% Aspergers. I am an Aspie and I relate to several things she says with multiple relationships throughout my life. Just because a person has “communication problems, social problems, pattern behaviors, and obsessions.” does not mean that they are on the spectrum. Though those are very clear traits – there can be other reasons as well for those behaviors. It just sounded very blaming and attacking. I understand her pain though.)