Today I would like to talk about something that I have been dealing with. Something that has recently come to my attention. It all started after my husband and I first separated. I was so confused as to why I was so devastated. Like I said before, I knew that it was coming. I could feel it. He was becoming more distant from our family each day. So when he left, I was genuinely surprised that I had the reaction that I had. It felt like all of the negative feelings that I’ve ever felt in my entire my life came flooding out. I mean, it makes sense. When I would experience trauma in my life, I learned at a early age to ignore it. I would numb them with something or somebody.
For months after our seperation, I felt frustrated because I couldn’t understand why I was so upset. I think it is normal to feel upset when our marriages become rocky and troubled, but there was something very abnormal about my reaction. I’ll talk about what I went through in a seperate post. Now I can say that I am in a healthier place. I find myself toggling between acceptance and depression. I miss my husband very much, but I have come to the realization that I cannot control nor manipulate this situation to fit my own feelings or agenda. How did I come to this conclusion, you ask?
Well, have you ever heard of codependency? Codependency is “a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as ‘relationship addiction’ because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive” according to Mental Health America.
I remember when my husband and I started marriage counseling last year, our Pastor brought up that we both may be struggling with codependency. I immediately dismissed it. It was hard for me to admit that this may be something that I could be struggling with. Quite honestly, I think I ignored it because I felt like I was already dealing with so much, I couldn’t add one more thing to my plate of messed-upness. “I’m not codependent on nobody” I told myself, yet, I sought validation from my husband about how I looked, how my cooked, how talented I was, and how I was as a mother. I felt so low about myself for so long, I wanted, no, I needed my husband to make me feel like I was enough. And when he didn’t, I believed the lies that came from the world that said I had to look, act, and be a certain way to be accepted.
How do we know that we may be struggling with codependency?
Codependency Character Traits
- An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
- A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue
- A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time
- A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
- An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment
- An extreme need for approval and recognition
- A sense of guilt when asserting themselves
- A compelling need to control others
- Lack of trust in self and/or others
- Fear of being abandoned or alone
- Difficulty identifying feelings
- Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change
- Problems with intimacy/boundaries
- Chronic anger
- Poor communications
- Difficulty making decisions
When I first read this list, I couldn’t believe it. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and relieved. I’ve always known that I was different, that my struggle with my emotions was different from those around me. I would always wonder why people handled circumstances and situations in a healthier fashion than I did. If someone hurt me, I would always find some extreme, over the top way to hurt them back instead of crying and overeating ice cream like normal person.
The more research I did on what codependency is and how it can effect our lives, it was undeniable. This is why I felt so devastated. I made my husband my everything, so when he walked out the door, it felt like he literally took a piece of me with him. Being someones everything can be very exhausting. Thinking about it, I feel bad for him. I can see how he felt like he was trapped in a corner, while at the same time expecting things from me, his wife, to give him that I wasn’t able to give. When dealing with codependency, it is a tricky monster that must be stopped, but we must be very careful how we approach it.
God has given me the ability to take responsibility for why my marriage fell apart. I remember saying to him, “why are you doing this to me? what about everything we’ve been through? what about everything I’ve done for you?” God showed me that this was selfish thinking, or as a good friend would call it, “stinking thinking”. When we love someone, there shouldn’t be any expectation from that person. Love comes from God because God is Love. A very wise person told me that the love in our hearts weren’t put there to stay. Jesus said:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.Matthew 22 : 37-39
I tried to hold onto my husband so tightly so he could continue to give me the validation I desperately needed. It’s normal to want to feel validated and wanted, but what isnt normal is looking to people for that validation because Jesus is the only One that can fill it. He is the only One that can make us feel whole.
Unbeknownst to me, I needed my husband to leave in order to draw closer and depend on God more to help find myself again. All I wanted was understanding and now I feel like I have it. It’s like when you have a car and the engine light is on but you don’t know what is wrong. Now I know whats wrong. Now I’m able to concentrate on myself and do what I need to do to get healthy for my kids and I. They need me to be healthy and strong so I can guide them through the rough patches in their lives. The Lord is generously peeling back the onions of my life, while helping me tackle everything that has been keeping me in bondage for decades. Oh, boy, it’s painful, but I am determined to allow God to strengthen me so I can continue to stand firm during the war raging in the spirit realm over my soul.
For the past couple of months, although it has been one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do in my life thus far, I have been able to genuinely love and forgive my husband. At one point, I never though I would be able to do that. I’m able to think of him without feeling a stabbing pain in my chest. I’m able to listen to love songs and not feel bitter and abandoned. I able to talk to him when needed like a civilized person and not feel hate, sadness, or dis-contempt. And it is AWESOME!
When I began this journey of healing, I was afraid. Healing means we have to face what we need healing from. And when we are used to dodging those bullets, it frightening to know that we must face them. Although it is a painful process, it is so worth it. I am able to have a relationship with my husband that’s not filled with dysfunction all while giving him the space he needs to seek God without my interference. Only God can save both him and I. Our identity, love and affirmation must come from Him alone. The only thing that God would like for me to do for my husband is continue to choose to love him everyday and pray for him. And I’m thankful because that is all I have in me to do.
If you find that you struggle with codependency, there are so many resources that can help you. Just like any 12-step program, the first step is to admit that our lives have become unmanageable and that we need a Higher Power or God to help us get back on track. They offer online Zoom support groups if you would like to hear how other people are dealing with it in their lives. Just go to http://www.coda.com. It has helped me tremendously.
Well, that’s all for now. Thank you for reading my thoughts. Remember you are not alone. Please email me if you want to talk or have questions. God bless each and every one of you and please remember to pray for one another.