I believed I developed codependent behaviors to cope with my fathers drinking, which resulted in constant fighting between my father and mother for twenty years until they divorced. I never felt safe to express my thoughts and feelings so I retreated inward and became invisible, the lost child. I wore a stoic stone face as a mask as if I were okay. My heart also became as numb as a stone.
It has been said a codependent has a compulsive need to control an otherwise out of control life. This may be true as I experienced an out of control family life because of the unpredictability of my father’s drinking and anger outbursts. I took control by withdrawing and numbing all my feelings. I hid my thoughts even from my mother who assumed I was okay because I never expressed anything.
I always felt ashamed of my family and my father’s drinking. I felt so bad I didn’t even want to have the family name. I also identified with two other boys’ at school who also had alcoholic fathers.
As an adult, my relationships involved codependent behaviors, which I remained unaware of until my early 40’s. In these relationships, I avoided expressing any feelings for fear of rejection. The women in my life criticized me for lack of feeling. I felt like something was wrong with me. I questioned if I even had the capacity to love.
In addition, I tended to take care of my partners financial needs even though they were not my responsibility. I had poor boundaries as I had no idea where my personal boundaries ended and other persons began. Finally, I maintained silence when conflict arose for up to a week until one of my partners said, “We need to talk.”
I began my recovery in the late 80’s when my partner mentioned seeing a therapist for healing her inner child. I read John Bradshaw, Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child
and Melody Beattie, Codependent No More.
I recognized my codependency and for the next twenty years became less and less codependent. Like other addictions you may be in recovery for the rest of your life. I, however, am no longer codependent.
I can see codependency as an addiction because I relied on my female partners to feel for me rather than knowing and expressing my own feelings. Codependents crave and expect a temporary boost of their self-esteem when they care take some need for their partner. Like any addiction the outer boost only lasts for a short time and then the codependent looks for another fix.
I now love myself, I accept others as they are, I am in touch with and express my feelings, I validate myself rather than searching out side myself for a relationship to feel okay, and I trust trustworthy people. Most important, I am in a relationship, which allows me to grow into all I am capable of being.
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