A Story Of Co-Dependency
Looking back at my younger self I was a scared child. My parents split up when I was 5 and I think that is when my fear of abandonment came into my life. I was still so new to the world and trying to form some sense of what everything was and all of a sudden everything changed.
I grew up moving back and forth between my parents’ homes. I am grateful that I got to spend time with both of my parents throughout my upbringing but sometimes I was left feeling uncertain, alone, and seeking stability.
I built surface-level friendships growing up. I didn’t really let anyone in. I was basically a sounding board for them. I would co-sign their bullshit, always let them vent, get wrapped up in their issues and take it upon myself to help them. Even when they didn’t ask for it.
Fast forward to me as an adult in my early 20’s. I was still uncertain and seeking stability. I met a guy and we started dating. We moved really fast saying “I love you” 3 dates in. I started staying with him 2 months after we started dating.
About 6 months into the relationship we realize we really don’t have anything in common. I was still very fearful of being left so I did what many scared 20-year-old co-dependents would do. I sacrificed my identity and my happiness for that of my partner.
I started to become interested in things like batman, comic books, and video games. I quit singing and listening to the music I loved. I instead started listening to talk radio. I gave up my interests to “fix” our relationship.
When I turned 21 I started drinking and going out to clubs with my friend. I was numbing my pain with alcohol. My partner didn’t really know how to handle it so he would sit at home, drink beer, and play video games.
Neither one of us was happy yet we stayed together. We also developed a dependency on alcohol so that we could “be happy with one another.” I was totally lying to myself thinking it would all work out and it did work for about 4 years.
Then he broke up with me and even though I knew I didn’t really love him I was still heartbroken. I was still lying to myself and saying that I did. I was so attached to my victim story and my need to be the one who bent over backward for someone to make them love me.
After he left I was trying to take it day by day. I was still going out and drinking. I was lost and unsure of what to do with myself because I didn’t know who I was outside of being in a relationship. I met a new guy. There were so many red flags. For instance, when I went to his house for the first time his room was full of trash. Did I leave? No of course not. I cleaned it up.
I thought he was sweet and cute just a little rough around the edges. A fixer-upper which was nothing new for me. That was my type. He told me he had a job. Come to find out he was unemployed. I still stayed around.
Then I found out he had a DUI and he could possibly go to jail because he wasn’t attending the classes he needed to. So I helped him get to some of the classes and made sure he had money to ride the bus there. Later to find out he used the money for beer. Yet I still stayed. Why? Deep co-dependence.
I thought I needed to help him. I thought he didn’t have anyone else and he needed me to try to get his life right. I thought I had it in me to motivate him to want more for himself and that was my purpose in the relationship.
So we were dating for about 6 months. I was trying to help keep him from drinking. We were fighting every day, he was stealing from me, he was drinking, and becoming emotionally abusive. It was a toxic mess. Then he went to jail. I even rode the bus with him to the jailhouse.
After this whole disaster, who did I call? My ex. I was seeking comfort plus he and I were still in contact. I told him what had happened and how I was “just so lost without him.” He agreed to meet up for lunch. Then we got back together. We tried to make it work for about a year more before we called it quits.
After all of this, I was so torn apart inside. I obviously needed to be single and figure out who I was. I knew I was in highly dysfunctional relationships where I was not happy and I did not want to continue repeating that. So I took some time for myself. I dated people way more casually to focus on myself and figured out what I wanted from a partner.
I got back into my own interests and started doing more things I enjoyed. I started singing again and writing. I was becoming more myself again and finding what made me happy as an adult in this world. I thought I was ready to date again.
Then I met another guy. We have a lot in common. We laugh together and have fun. We enjoy each other’s company. When we first started dating it went better than my first relationships. We took it slow. We said “I love you” 2 months in. Things were going well until I started getting insecure and he started to become overwhelmed with my neediness.
Then I lost myself again and started doing whatever he wanted. I got wrapped up in his issues. He was having some instability mentally and my own stability started to rapidly decline. I decided I needed to leave and we both needed space to regroup within ourselves.
I could see how we were bouncing off of each other and co-signing one another’s’ bullsh*t. We quit focusing on the love between us and we started focusing on our fears and insecurities. So I left for about a year.
We kept in contact. I learned more about myself and about what co-dependency is. I focused on my growth and how I could be better to myself. I figured out what I needed to fill my own cup so that I can be well enough for me. I learned how to set boundaries and empower my partner to do the same things for themselves.
We have been together for 10 years now. We still have co-dependent moments because we love each other and there is nothing wrong with wanting to help the ones you love but we do it within reason. We make sure we meet our own needs first. We appreciate one another so much more and we voice that daily. We understand we are flawed but we accept each other without the need to fix one another. We are our own separate people creating a life together. We honor our differences and celebrate our strengths. We say I love you every day and we mean it.
Co-Dependence comes in many forms. This is just my personal struggle with it. This is also only a small piece of my story. It is not always a bad thing but it can be absolutely devastating to yourself and others. It can cause you to manipulate people, lose yourself, become a doormat, give up on your wants, become emotionally unstable, and so many more things we all want to avoid.
The main thing is being willing, to be honest with yourself and the people in your life. To be able to recognize when it is becoming an issue and when boundaries have been crossed. Be mindful of your emotional wake within yourself and with others. Be aware when you are taking on others’ problems as your own and when you are trying to fix everyone in your life rather than focusing on yourself.
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