I had a codependency relapse Thursday, July 29, 2021–5 days ago. My next door neighbor who I have been helping some although we are basically strangers came to return something of mine. I invited her in and she broke down about the physical, emotional, and mental strain of caring for her husband who has had 2 strokes. She and I neither have any family.
I immediately without taking a breath jumped into my rescue mode. Caregivers as she is have a hard time dealing with all the problems connected to the loved one being in a wheelchair..
After she left and all evening, I felt overwhelmed by her problems. I am 80, no family, without automobile, and with arthritis/sciatica daily pain. Sometimes I have a hard time walking. Then, I remembered. I had assumed that I knew what is best for her life. My ego is alive and well and wanting to run the world. Thank goodness for recovery. I was able to step back and return to sanity.
So, when I relapse, I go back to basics. I accepted my limitations and decided I had a lot of help for her via email (nursing homes, being more honest with her service provider, social worker, etc). This way I will not spend emotional energy trying to convince her of anything. These are her decisions to be made. But I can be a source of support with my favorite tool–doing research. That decision along with deep breathing, a little mediation and my new yoga work have me back to normal.
I also made a new Pinterest board about dealing with anxiety. For me, depression is unexpressed and buried anger and anxiety is fear trying to take charge.
The Pinterest board I created are self-soothe reminders here. My slogan for this recovery--I can and I will.
Your problems exist because there is some part of you that is being ignored, rejected or denied. What is on the other side of your pain? What is the opposite of your fear? What would be the solution to your suffering? Those answers are what you need to create. They are what you are here to do.
Every time you try to force yourself to perform better, you are deepening an existing internal conflict. Every time you judge someone, you are projecting out from a wound you have. Every time you engage in a self-sabotaging behavior, you are showing yourself that you don’t actually understand what it is you want. Every time you resist any feeling, you intensify it and manifest it, because rather than a messenger, it becomes this haunting unknown that you “can’t figure out.”
Healing is the process of reintegration. It is the process of seeing all the parts of you that you have rejected and demonized and asking them what they need to feel healthy and whole and loved.
Our internal guidance systems whisper until they scream.
The things that are bothering you most right now are not external forces trying to torture you for the sake of it — they are your own mind identifying what in your life can be fixed, changed and transformed. If you continue to not take action, the siren will only get louder, and if you never learn to listen to it, you will probably just disassociate from it, and then be a victim to it.
You already have the answers. You already know what you’re here to do. You are here to create everything that would make you happier than you can imagine. It is only a matter of quieting your mind enough so you can feel all of the unlimited potential that is begging you to be used.
Draw Your Line in the Sand
They will not stop abusing you unless you make them stop. This will mean different things for different people. For some of you, it will mean cutting off contact. End the relationship. Stop interacting with the family member.
For others, it may mean insisting on neutral help. Truly neutral. If you are religious, I suggest not going to a pastor or church member. The only possible exception being if you belong to a very liberal sect. But those are few and far between. On the surface, they may seem less hateful and bigoted than the more conservative branches, but that is often just lipstick on a pig. They gloss over the bad parts of their beliefs to make them an easier sell to the more decent folks.
Go to a professional therapist. Too many religions sanction abuse be it physical or emotional because of their belief in how the hierarchy goes. You are told to respect your parents. They are not told to respect you. If you are female you are second class and expected to obey the male. If he is abusing you, they will tell you it is your fault.
If you decide to try and salvage the relationship, insist on a secular therapist. Preferably one who specializes in abuse. Warn them beforehand that attendance is not enough. They will be required to stop abusing you or you will walk.
I’m sure there are cases of people who cared enough to change, but by and large, I think the choice for most people will be the no contact option. Even if that is only temporary to show them you are serious about them no longer mistreating you.
You have been their punching bag for so long, they will not believe that you are finally standing up for yourself. They will think they can manipulate or bully you into staying. Don’t let them.
Begin to Treat Yourself as Worthy
You need to begin to retrain your mind to see yourself as worthy. Your time being abused has undercut your belief in your own worth. You have been brainwashed into believing there is something wrong with you.
You need to start relearning how to like yourself. Make a list of your good qualities. Buy yourself little treats. Do good things for yourself.
Use the Ben Franklin Effect on yourself. The Ben Franklin effect is when you make someone who dislikes you start to like you by asking them to do a favor for you. When they do the favor (as most people will when directly asked) they start liking you more because they believe they would not do something nice for someone they didn’t like.
Use that to trick your own mind. Buy yourself treats. Behave as if you believe you are worth it. Your mind will start to assume you see yourself as worthy if you treat yourself that way. It would not make sense for you to do these things if you didn’t believe you were worthy. Your mind wants your behavior to be consistent with your beliefs. So it will change your beliefs to match your behavior.
Engage in excellent self-care. Go to the doctor and handle any physical health issues you have. If you need mental health care, take care of that, too. Handle your stress. Pamper yourself in whatever ways make you feel good and valued. Like makeup? Splurge on some of the good stuff. Get a flattering haircut. Get a massage or foot rub. Dress nicely.
Your brain hates cognitive dissonance. If you treat yourself as valuable and worthy, your brain will come to believe that you are valuable and worthy.