I Know I’m Codependent. Now What?
There’s a lot of information about codependency out there. You could read two articles and determined that yes, you’re certainly struggling with codependent characteristics. In fact, you could read book after book and article after article affirming that you picked up some unhealthy coping skills are characteristics through the years.
And chances are, they’re making your life pretty challenging.
So, now that you know that you’re struggling with codependent characteristics, what do you do about it? What does codependency recovery look like? Is there hope for you?
Maybe you’ve tried various paths to overcoming these codependency characteristics and have made little progress.
I remember my early codependent recovery days being an emotional basket case, not having a clue how to navigate what I was feeling. I was also not able to handle any relationship contrast in a mature way. I’d learned that I was co-dependent, but I had no idea how to battle this seemingly huge issue in my life.
And then I started a journey. Oh, how I wish there was a quick fix to my emotional issues, but there wasn’t. “Let go and Let God” is a wonderful slogan, but how many of us have tried to simply let go and let God, yet still struggled?
I sure do believe that letting go and giving thanks to God is important, but this also involves committing to a codependency recovery path that involves learning a great deal about codependency, healing, emotional freedom, and more.
So now what? What do you do now that you know you’re struggling?
- Maybe you’re in a relationship with an addict or alcoholic, and you’re sick and tired of the lies and deception, and a miserable relationship.
- Maybe you’re with a narcissist who takes you on a roller coaster ride, one day making you feel like you’re freaking amazing, and the next day emotionally abusing you and stomping all over you like a doormat.
- Or maybe you continue to choose people who are unavailable emotionally, or who cheat on you, or who just don’t know how to have a healthy relationship.
What do you do?
Well, the reality is that the answer is:
It’s going to depend on various factors, and this path to codependency recovery or healing will look different for each person. I wish I could give you the formula a + b equals c, but that’s really not how it works when it comes to healing. There are certain principles and techniques, yes. But what works for one person may not work for another, and your first step toward healing and recovery is to accept the fact that you are the one to take the reins and commit to a journey inside toward self-discovery, toward healing, toward understanding, and toward a reconnection with whatever you call your higher power.
Let me share with you what I did when I discovered what codependency was, and that I was certainly struggling with it.
12 Step Meetings: Nar-Anon, Al-Anon, Codependents Anonymous
I first went to Nar-anon meetings and got myself a sponsor. I was with a recovering addict at the time who went to 12 step meetings. We had a toxic relationship, as both of us were not emotionally mature because we’d never really done the work in order to heal some old wounds that stemmed all the way back to childhood. I went into that relationship unaware that my partner was my drug of choice to help ease my emotional pain. I was addicted and I spent a whole lot of energy wrapping my world around my partner, which caused a lot of problems.
Doing the 12 Steps was really the first time in my life that I started to peel back the layers to try to see who I really was outside of everyone else. Outside of being a mother and outside of being a wife or a partner. Outside of being a servant of God even. I remember working the first few steps, and not even being able to identify what emotions I was feeling. I was so used to stuffing my feelings and pretending that everything was alright that I couldn’t even identify or answer some of the questions in the 12-step workbook. Thank God for my sponsor, who helped me tremendously in my early codependency recovery.
I then began reading about codependency and watching a lot of YouTube videos on the topic. I believe education is important, and if you will take time consistently to read what others are writing about codependency recovery, you will empower yourself and you will begin to grow in various ways.
I also started going to Codependents Anonymous meetings. I met other men and women who were struggling with the same types of issues. Insecurity, fear of abandonment, the inability to set and keep boundaries, escaping reality, people-pleasing, caretaking, and so on. I didn’t feel so alone, which I’m guessing you may feel too. Alone. Disconnected from yourself and others.
The first promise of co-dependents anonymous I wrote down and taped it to my bathroom mirror. It said:
“I know a new sense of belonging. The feeling of emptiness and loneliness will disappear.”
That gave me such hope! I wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere and that this feeling of emptiness and loneliness would be gone. I wanted to feel happy for no reason at all. To wake up happy and feeling fulfilled.
I imagine this is what you long for as well.
Get some counseling
In my early codependency recovery days, I had financial difficulties, which is not uncommon for those struggling with codependency characteristics. We tend to rely on other people to provide our financial needs. I’m not saying that doesn’t work in some cases, especially for the stay-at-home mothers and so on. But I was not prepared financially, mainly for the reason that I was irresponsible in that way.
I knew that I needed a counselor, but I didn’t have the money to pay for one or health insurance. Looking back, I would have done things differently and got my butt to a good counselor right away. Just starting to work through the emotional issues in early recovery with a professional would have helped me heal a whole lot faster. It would have helped me get out of a toxic relationship sooner.
I did finally get to a counselor, but it was a few years after I began going to those 12-step meetings and educating myself in the meantime. Counseling helped me a lot. I did some inner child healing work, which was very valuable. That’s one thing I really encourage you to do; look into inner child healing and particularly look up John Bradshaw. He’s got some books and YouTube videos that I think you’ll find quite valuable in your codependency recovery.
What do you enjoy?
I also did plenty of other things, like make a list of things that I thought I would enjoy. I had no idea what I enjoyed doing outside of taking care of other people. The only thing that I knew that I liked doing was going for walks in nature. So, I started taking two walks a day in nature, which proved quite valuable.
I also tried other things, like abstract painting and playing the guitar. I went to some workshops, got out in the city and experienced new adventures. I made new friends and actually engaged with them. I started to discover who I was in my mid-30s, based on myself and my own thoughts and feelings, rather than others. And sometimes it was scary, but it was good.
So what about you, dear one?
You know that you’re struggling with codependency characteristics. So now what?
As I said before, your journey is going to be individually yours. You can certainly try some of the things I’ve done, but don’t limit yourself to these. I want you to make a list at least two things that you’re going to do to journey toward codependency recovery.
I highly recommend that if you can get to a counselor, make that one of them. I also am a firm advocate for 12-step support groups, such as Al-Anon, Nar-anon, or codependents anonymous. There are meetings in many cities across the United States and across the world, so go to the websites and find out if there’s one near you. Even going to one a week can be helpful.
Take up meditation and prayer
This might sound cliché. Just pray. Just meditate and you’ll be great. I hear you. It does sound too good to be true, but I promise you these can be valuable on your codependency recovery journey.
See, your battle isn’t with your partner or the people out there. Your battle is an inner battle that’s associated with your thoughts, beliefs, and programming that you picked up probably in childhood. I’m a firm advocate that cultivating a spiritual life will prove valuable to you. Things like prayer and meditation can bring healing and peace.
Now most people won’t take this serious. They might wing up a prayer here and there, but they won’t make a commitment to spend even just a small amount of time daily in prayer and meditation. Or they may figure that because they attend church once a week that they’re good to go.
This isn’t about church, or religion.
This is about you taking time regularly to get in touch with what’s underneath your flesh. That part of you that is beyond “human”. Your spirit, and the Creator of that spirit.
It takes effort, and it takes a commitment to doing it whether you feel like it or not. Meditation helped me learn how to quiet my mind. I was so sick and tired of my mind racing with anxious thoughts. I was tired of my emotional body feeling a wreck. So I did cultivate the practice of meditation in my life, especially in early recovery. I shut myself up in a small apartment for 6 months meditating and praying to get a grip on reality.
It’s not hard, but it takes effort. To meditate is simply to sit quietly and focus on your breath. It’s not a religion. In fact, Buddhism is not a religion. It’s a practice or a way of life, and, dear one, it’s valuable.
I held off on praying for a while. I was active in ministry for a while back when I was raising my children, but once I went through my divorce, I lost sight of God and prayer. Thankfully, however, I have reconnected with God and Spirit, and prayer is a way of life now.
Call it prayer or intent or laser-focused aim, but either way it’s powerful and it can help you in your recovery. Sometimes we need help, and I have found them when I humble myself and ask God for help from a pure heart, God does come. Sometimes it’s a quiet whisper. Sometimes it’s just me NOT going mentally cray-cray. Sometimes it’s just that absolutely joyous feeling for no reason. And sometimes it’s in the form of a person taking the time to talk to me. Or just sit with me when I’m having a bad day.
Alternative healing methods
There are some, including myself, they have benefited from trying alternative healing methods, such as acupuncture, visiting the shamanic healer, visiting an energy practitioner, Ayurveda medicine, homeopathy, Reiki, and so on. I believe Energy Medicine is powerful, and may become the future of our medical landscape. It’s something you may want to check into.
Have you got it down a couple things that you’re going to try? What about a counselor? How about a 12-step group? How about a great codependency recovery book or Ecourse?
If you need some assistance, please reach out. I’m here to help and give you guidance and direction as I feel led. (For a super affordable price. I even accept bartering!)
I want you to know that you’re not alone, and that you can grab hold of hope for living the kind of life that you truly desire. A life it is marked with peace, love, joy, healthy relationships, and a great connection with your higher power.