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Lonelygirl10 posted 9/16/2013 08:54 AM

I feel like I'm slowly starting to really see myself, and part of what I'm discovering is that I'm codependent. I had never heard that word before coming here. But I have a tendency to put my partner's needs before my own and to accept blame where I shouldn't. I want to work on myself. I want to change.

Does anyone have any recommendations of ways to work on this? Book suggestions? Things to do?

Thanks for your support and help.

tushnurse posted 9/16/2013 09:16 AM

The first step is to admit you have a problem....(insert sarasm smiley here).

Seriously, I was the Queen and ruler of Co-dependcy Land when my H had his A. There is a lot one can do to overcome that, and there are s few really good books out there, one I found helpful was CO-dependent no more.

The most useful thing I did to "cure" my codependent ways was to make sure I was putting myself first in how I lived. It took time, and a lot of error, and trial during that time.

This is about discovering and appreciating your own self worth. Once you get that you are worthy, strong, and capable, then you can see that by putting yourself first, actually will make you a better person, spouse, friend, and mother.
The quickest way to realize you may have a codependency issue is when you fly they say if the oxygen mask is deployed, apply yours first then assist your child or others around you.....A codependent person would say I have to do my kids first, I have to know they are ok.

NOPE - You have to take care of you before you can care for your kids properly. If you put the kids on, and your brain is starved for oxygen, then you may not get it on right, and not realize that, or that you fail to make good choices.

Same in many other aspects of life. If I put my H's wants, and needs before mine in everything, and count on his approval, and compliments, then I loose the ability to do this on my own. I was horribly unhappy, and had been convinced I was a bad wife, bad mom, crappy housekeeper, horrible driver, poor petkeeper, and the list could go on and on and on. I was doing everything to make him happy, and in turn nothing for myself. He was displacing his own self hatred for being in the A to me, and blaming me for everything that ever was going wrong in life.

After Dday, (and not right away) I realized it didn't matter if I kept my house perfect, or always had a well balanced meal on the table, or parented with an iron fist. What I realized that if I wasted all my energy on him then I was lost. There was no me anymore. So I focused on me.

I started getting my hair cut and colored professionally, I started getting manicures, and pedicures. I took time away from the family to exercise, and get stronger. I quit putting everyones laundry away. If I wanted to stay up and read I did. I started to find me again. I got very interested in a new hobby, which has become a family hobby, and now a thriving small business.

My H knows I don't put him first, and any of my attentions I give him are intentional, and are of my WANT to make him happy, not my need to seek his approval.

I think some of this comes naturally as you heal from an A, some of it comes from maturing. I was in my 30's when Dday happened and was still caught up in what the rest of the world thought of me. Now I'm in my 40's, and can honestly say I don't give a crap what the world thinks. Old enough to be happy being me. Being smart enough to realize I don't care what anyone else thinks, because I know I am pretty neat. I am happy with myself, and validation comes from within.

It takes time, but you can get there.

lordhasaplan? posted 9/16/2013 09:52 AM

"Codependency no more" Beattie, is a great book and place to start. recognition of the patterns really helps. I would start by reading that.

Nature_Girl posted 9/16/2013 10:10 AM

Codependent No More and The New Codependent - both by Melody Beattie

Boundaries in Marriage - by Cloud & Townsend

I struggled my whole life with the idea of doing anything for myself before doing it for other people or thinking positive thoughts about myself. My whole childhood and most of my adulthood I had it drilled into me that I must "die to self", "he who would be first must be last", "I must decrease so he may increase", "pride goeth before a fall", "let no man tear asunder what God has joined together", "the unbelieving man will be saved by his believing wife", and on and on and on and on... I was absolutely certain that if I loved my husband "enough" or in the right way or used the right combination of words he would one day see the light and realize what a treasure he had right here at home, he would love me and value me and treat me (and the kids) like gold.

When I started counseling after DDay I was utterly unable to say things like this:

I deserve happiness
I do not deserve to be treated this way

It was not possible for me to say "I deserve" or "I do not deserve" in reference to myself. It was a tremendous struggle to be able to bring myself to a point of even getting those words out during practice sessions at IC. Now, 2.5 years later, I can say those words.

So much of what I was taught, so much of what I incorporated into my self-concept, was simply wrong. It's taken a lot of FOO work in IC (The Inner Child) to raise my awareness and get me to abandon the false teachings of my past and embrace unconditional love in my present & future.

Getting over codependency is like struggling with alcoholism. The temptation is always there to do too much, to put myself last, to help. Always to help. Codependents always have the noblest of intentions. I'm really proud of myself that this weekend I was asked to fill in as a worship leader at church, but I said no. I'd promised my kids that this Sunday we would all get to sleep a little later & attend the later church service together. Saying no to an offer like that goes against my still codep nature, but I did say no. And you know what? No one got mad at me, no one likes me any less, I'm still a good person. I simply recognized that I needed to put myself and my promises to my kids first. That is HUGE for a codep. Huge.

Lonelygirl10 posted 9/16/2013 10:23 AM

When I started counseling after DDay I was utterly unable to say things like this:

I deserve happiness
I do not deserve to be treated this way

This is the hard part for me, and why I have struggled with admitting that I'm codependent. I do not have any problems saying those words. I fully believe that I deserve to be treated well, and I fully believe that I deserve to be happy.

The thing is though, looking at my past and current relationships, I always put the guy's needs before my own. I always compromise my beliefs in order to make the relationship work. Some examples... I strongly believe that strip clubs are wrong and they make me sick to my stomach. In a prior relationship, I agreed to my partner going as long as he didn't get a lap dance. I lived in fear that he would go every time I wasn't with him, but I made that compromise in order to keep the relationship. Another example is my current relationship where my WS had sex with two other women and lied for months, and I feel like I put his emotions before my own. Or at least, everyone on SI and my IC tells me that I put his emotions and needs before my own.

So it's complicated. I believe that I deserve to be treated well, but then I tend to not stand up for myself out of fear of losing the relationship. I'm not sure how to fix this. Sometimes I get courage and stand up for myself, and then feel paralyzed by fear and I apologize for whatever I did.

TheRealDeal posted 9/16/2013 10:37 AM

I agree with the information provided by all the others.

I, too, had never heard of codependency. My IC suggested it to me. I resisted for about 1 week before checking out his suggested site for Co-dependent Anonymous. I didn't realize it can be 'caused' by issues other than alcoholism/drug addiction; in my case emotional unavailability FOO issues.

I also attend weekly CoDA meetings in my area. They are very helpful - a safe haven where others "get it". Note: if the info for local meetings in your area show on CoDA site is outdated, jot down the meeting location and then look up the individual websites. in my case the CoDA site was last updated in 2008 but I found the meetings still take place

I'm learning and accepting myself. For the first time ever I am priority #1. Do I feel guilty? No. I've learned the difference between self-care and selfish.

Along with IC, CoDA and the books the others mentioned, a book I carry with me is The Language of Letting Go Melody Beattie.

Another book for dealing with FOO issues is Changing Course; Healing from Loss, Abandonment and Fear by Claudia Black, PhD.

It's a journey well worth taking and I'm happy you are starting. Wishing you peace.

our posts got crossed, but you mention this:"I believe that I deserve to be treated well, but then I tend to not stand up for myself out of fear of losing the relationship. I'm not sure how to fix this. Sometimes I get courage and stand up for myself, and then feel paralyzed by fear and I apologize for whatever I did."

I absolutely understand that statement. I started in the same place as you and have begun what I call my journey to self-awareness. It is essential to determine "why" you have this fear and address that root-cause. It is not easy. It is not fun. But once it's identified, only then can you begin to work to improve yourself. Not because you need to change for your WBF, but so you can change to find yourself, to love yourself, to put yourself first. You might be surprised to find from where it begins. FOO is usually involved, even if you believe otherwise. If you are in IC that will help.

[This message edited by TheRealDeal at 10:46 AM, September 16th (Monday)]

Nature_Girl posted 9/16/2013 10:57 AM

So it's complicated. I believe that I deserve to be treated well, but then I tend to not stand up for myself out of fear of losing the relationship. I'm not sure how to fix this. Sometimes I get courage and stand up for myself, and then feel paralyzed by fear and I apologize for whatever I did.

I did the same thing. I actually did stand up for myself for the first couple years of my marriage. He always won, though. I tried to establish healthy boundaries (no porn, no interactive sex sites, treat me equally in bed, don't yell at me, don't curse at me), but he always pushed them down & overrode whatever I tried to do. So I fell back on my FOO coping strategy, which was to withdraw my spirit back into myself and be present only physically.

I sometimes wonder if I would have stayed with him forever, living as a ghost, if I hadn't of had children and realized (far too late) that he was a danger to the children. When my children were much younger I reached out to my folks, asking for advice. My mother told me that I'd never be able to make it on my own as a single mom with three children. I stupidly believed her. She now deeply regrets that advice, BTW. But at the time I wanted to be a dutiful wife & daughter. Even though my mother's advice went against my "gut", I wanted to obey and rely on the wisdom of those older than me. GAH! My FOO issues made me perfect fodder for being controlled & abused as an adult.

As I've come out of that bondage I am learning to trust myself. That is a huge deal for me. I trust that no matter what happens, I can handle it. Maybe things will be a disaster, but I can handle it. I have a sign posted on my bathroom wall by the mirror over the sink. It's a cute little saying about how a bird sitting on a branch isn't afraid of the branch breaking, not because the bird trusts the branch, but because the bird trusts her own wings. I'm that bird. I'm learning to trust my own wings. It's a very big deal.

Lonelygirl10 posted 9/17/2013 06:18 AM

Thanks for the advice everyone. I bought some of the books yesterday, and I'm meeting with my IC today.

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