I was talking to a very good friend the other night & he was sharing his experiences with the business he is building. A business, I might add, to which he is very well-suited & quite good at doing the tasks involved. He is a very talented teacher, is teaching something he loves, & has trained for many years. He is becoming quite well known in his circle. As he was sharing some of the business-end stuff (he is undercharging for his services), I commented that he needed a manager to help him figure out the finacial stuff, i.e. class charges, expenses, mileage, pre diem, hotel rates, etc. He agreed. He also shared a very nice compliment from his brother "You have become the kind of person you have always admired". Then my friend shared how hard it is to shut off the dialogue from his childhood-he is the child of an alcoholic & has always been co-dependent, an "I'll fix everything for you" kinda person. The dialogue of "You are a disappointment", "You have let us down", "You have failed at everything", etc, etc. This guy is very intellegent, has been through therapy, knows the psyco-babble & yet when he is on the cusp of succeeding the mind talk starts. You know what I mean, that little voice that keeps getting louder while replaying the soundtrack of your childhood. The crappy soundtrack, the one you should not have bought. But the tapes still exist, & you just cannot seem to throw them out with the rest of the trash.
I am a survivor of domestic abuse, as ya'll know. But I can tell you that the tape in my head from childhood has been the hardest to quiet. The bruises healed, I moved on with my life, I broke all ties with my abuser. I don't remember how bad my back hurt when I thought it was broken. What I do remember are the hurtful words my dad spoke to me throughout my childhood & teenage years. I could sit here right now & write every one of them down. That is the deepest hurt, the pain that surfaced over & over through the years. Those wounds take so much longer to heal. So I understand exactly what my friend is saying.
I can thank the most wonderful therapist for helping me quiet the voice, to see my worth, to believe in myself, & to find a new tape to play in my head when I think I can go no further. It takes so much hard, continuing work to get past co-dependency. Quite frankly, as with any addiction, you are never really "healed" you just learn to do better, to be better, to stop the cycle. I do believe co-dependency is a form of addiction. You become addicted to the feeling, to being responsible for everyone's well-being, to smoothing out all the bumps in the road for everyone else, but never for yourself. You get high off their compliments telling you how wonderful, smart, competent you are. When that is withdrawn the lows are intolerable, unmanagable. That is why most co-dependents also self-medicate.
You are told that if you take care of yourself you are selfish. But taking care of yourself is the most selfless act you can perform. You cannot be a healthy, fully functional person if you do not take care of yourself. You must take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. No other person can give this to you for it is a private Journey.
Being in recovery from co-dependency colors my life daily. It is something of which I am acutely aware in all my relationships. One of my AHHH HAAAA moments occured when my Mom started her ususal dialogue to get me to do something she wanted (there is a certain tone she has to her voice when this is about to occur), but that I had no intention of doing. In the past I would have said no, argued, lost my temper, then ultimately done it anyway & hated myself for it. The first time I said no, meant it, & stuck to it was such an epiphany. I was not angry, I did not argue, I did not make excuses. I simply said no. I did this with Sparky once also. There was something he wanted to do one weekend that I did not want to do, an event I did not want to attend. So, I said no. He was shocked. He called another friend, he was busy. Called me back. I still said no. He waited awhile & called me again. Didn't want to go alone, would I go? "No". Then came the kicker, "You aren't going to change your mind are you?" "No, I am not". That was the moment. The moment that I knew that if our friendship hinged on me going, I did not care. He still calls, we still go places. But when I want to do my own thing without him I do so. If I don't want to do what he wants, I don't. I have no fear that he "won't like me". I have no fear that my Mom "won't love me" if I deny a request. If a relationship hinges on me making all the concessions then it is not a real relationship-it is not a true friendship. And, after all these years, I do not feel badly about saying no to requests. I don't have the voice yacking at me telling me what a worthless person I am because I chose to say no.
I still remember the day my therapist told me to find a mantra for my self-worth, & to say it to myself every day looking in the mirror. I was so resistant. It went against all I had ever known to say something good, affirming, or positive about myself. Other people were supposed to give me my self-esteem & self-worth. I wasn't good enough to do that for me. But she insisted. I finally came up with a compliment that a cowboy walked up to the bar where I was working one day & said to me. "You are a handsome woman". I have remembered that for 20+ years. It came at a time in my life where I was so low, & it came out of the blue. It was sincerely said, because he walked away after saying it. So, for a very long time that was my daily mantra "You are a handsome woman". One day I began to believe it, & so much more about myself.
Today, I am whole. Sometimes still a little crazy, but in a way that I think everyone is crazy. I am my own best friend, I live comfortably inside my own skin. I have friends who love me just as I am, friends who see into my heart & Spirit. I have found my authenticity, my Truth, & love for myself. In finding that in me, others have been able to see it & to accept me as I am. In that Circle of Life, I have found true worth, true peace, true harmony. I am co-dependent no more.