It’s better to give than receive — I used to believe that!
The phrase focus on you was entirely foreign to me. The belief that I needed to take care of other’s feelings and needs first created a lifetime of unhealthy relationships. My codependent tendencies caused chaos in my life. Undoing the unhealthy learned behaviors is taking nearly my entire adult life to overcome.
In fact, just the other day — the weird feeling in my belly was gone. The sickening sense that something bad was going to happen — not present. The panicky waves of electricity running through my body, calm. All because of the gift of a realization. A long-awaited ah ha.
If you want me to be different than I am — YOU don’t love me. If I allow you to change me when it’s not my truth — I don’t love me. Love yourself with this week’s Ageless Movement Focus on YOU Practice.
Loving me means I have the courage to be me, to live my truth, to set boundaries around others, to say “yes” when it feels good and to say “no” when it doesn’t. It takes courage to love me.
Putting me first means that many of the people I have around me are going to get upset. My work is to allow them to be upset — WITHOUT caretaking their upset in any way. In other words, if you get upset with me — that’s your upset — not mine and I’m going to let you have it.
Are you okay?
I’ve struggled with co-dependence for so long. I find it insidious and extremely difficult to overcome. Twenty-three years in Alanon helped me set boundaries and say “no”. But I still want you to be “Okay” and I think I can do something to make that happen. That’s insane.
Only YOU can make you feel okay. Even if I change for you, say the “right” thing all the time you’re still going to get mad because you’re mad. It has nothing to do with me.
Focus on me — what a weird concept
My work is to focus on me. To calm and soothe my own frustrations and anxieties. To stop using you to take me away from myself. I have to feel worthy enough to focus on me and my feelings. When I do that I give you the space to focus on yourself and your feelings. You get to grow as I grow.
I’m so grateful to my daughter in this moment. She has spent twenty-nine years trying to get me to change. Telling me I’m wrong. Attempting to get me to do what she wants me to do — Say what she wants me to say. Until, a couple of days ago …
I’d finally had enough. Here’s what happened.
The phone call
I received a desperate cry for help from my daughter last Monday evening. She said her credit card was being rejected even though she had eleven hundred dollars in her account. She was hungry and had no groceries so would I be willing to Venmo her fifty bucks. I agreed to do it as long as she put the money back into my Venmo the next day when she called the bank to work out the snaffoo.
The money never appeared in my account. We talked several times and nothing was said about paying me back. On Wednesday afternoon I received another desperate phone call from my kid. Again, her credit card was rejected and she needed to catch an Uber home. She wanted me to Venmo her $50 to get back to her apartment.
This didn’t feel right to me. I’m going to back up here a bit and tell you my daughter has been a handful from twelve years old on. She’s recently started to get better but it’s an unpredictable roller coaster. And I want off the ride.
So, back to the story — something didn’t feel right to me and I asked that we have a conversation about what was going on. My kid immediately blew up at me and began to rant and rave. I hung up on her. She switched to texting me, calling me names, threatening me, blaming me, telling me I was forcing her to sleep on the streets. I texted her the name of my friend Bill who would be happy to go pick her up. She said her phone was dying and “NO” she’d never call Bill.
The horrible texts kept coming in so I blocked my daughter from my phone. AND there was silence. It felt so good. I’d tough loved her for so long. I was tired. Tired of all the drama. The blame. The accusations. The threats. The upset. The making progress and falling back into dis-ease. The silence felt so good compared to all that. I finally cared more about me than her.
The silence allowed me to rest. To focus on me and to realize I’m done taking in my daughter’s trauma. Ahhhhhhh!! Well, the next day I received a text from my partner saying he was receiving texts from her. So I unblocked her to say, I’d be willing to talk as long as she apologized to me, respected me and allowed a two-way conversation.
Basically, she said she was livid with me and wasn’t down for it. So, silence — Sweet silence. The lessons are tough but I’m so grateful for them.
How to Tell if You’re Codependent
If you are in a relationship that you think may be codependent, the first step toward independence is to stop looking at the other and take a look at yourself.
If you agree with most of the following statements, you may be codependent if you:
- Tend to love people that you “fix”.
- Feel responsible for the actions of others.
- Do more than your share in the relationship to keep the peace.
- Fear being abandoned or alone
- Feel responsible for your partner’s happiness
- Need approval from others to gain your own self-worth
- Have difficulty adjusting to change
- Have difficulty making decisions and often doubt yourself
- Are reluctant to trust others
- Allow thoughts and feelings of others to control you
So, you have a bit of co-dependence? Bend into yourself
Yes, physically come into a forward bend to bring you into yourself. I’ve been folding into me to help transition from caring more about my daughter and what she needs to really put myself first. Honoring what works for me and sticking with my truth. Setting boundaries even if that means blocking her on my phone.
Child’s pose, in particular, helps because it is so simple and easy to go into that safe place inside me to enjoy the silence. To feel love for me. To get strong enough to set the needed boundaries to keep me from thinking of others first.
Take a child’s pose
Get on your mat or a folded blanket/towel. Come to all fours with your hands under your shoulders, knees under your hips. Slowly, sit your bottom back onto your heels.
If your knees hurt put a rolled towel between your knees and legs. Just sit back as far as you can without your knees talking to you.
Resting your bottom as close to your heels as possible, fold your upper body over your knees, and bring your arms and hands overhead or alongside your body. Hold and breathe. As you settle into this safe space say to yourself, “I love you.” Over and over again.
Realize that you are here to rest into yourself. To focus on you. To move in and out of the world from the place of loving you.
Once you’ve bent into yourself ask for help
Codependence can NOT be overcome alone. It’s time for you to seek outside counsel. I found Alanon so helpful I spent twenty-three-years going to Alanon meetings. The friendships I formed in those meetings are still important to me today.
Psychotherapy also helped me. Seeking guidance and gaining new tools were invaluable to working my way to loving me. I recommend finding a psychotherapist that specializes in co-dependence.
You may even need to go to treatment. Yup, they have treatment centers for those of us who put others first. I went to The Meadows in Wickenburg, AZ after the break up of my marriage. I spent a full week immersed in learning about my codependency and receiving tools to overcome my challenge. It was like putting rocket fuel in my engine — The Meadows skyrocketed my recovery forward.
You are worth it!
You are an amazing being that deserves to feel what it’s like to love yourself so much that you focus on your needs first. I’m fully feeling the benefits of loving me today and I say, run don’t walk toward learning about your codependency, receive the tools to unhook, and take the time to deeply rest into yourself.
I’d sure love to hear about your experience, strength, and hope in the comments below.