Codependence versus Independence and Finding Real Freedom!
This might be the perfect time to write about independence or freedom and how codependency can effect the way we love ourselves and others simply because the 4th has just passed or simply because I’m in the mood. I feel like finding our way in relationships can be confusing especially when it concerns finding our own freedom within the confines of a partnership. This is hard enough when both people are relatively healthy minded. When you add in restrictive childhoods or abuse in childhood it can take years before you find your way into healthy, lasting love.
Below are common definitions of codependency:
MHA Definition of codependence
codependency 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.”
Robert Subby defines codependency as “An emotional, psychological, and behavioral condition that develops as a result of an individual’s prolonged exposure to, and practice of, a set of oppressive rules.”
The term comes out of treating alcoholics and their loved ones, who developed codependent patterns to cope with the alcoholic’s behavior. Codependency is a pattern of response. It’s a habitual way of reacting that is learned as a coping mechanism to an unhealthy situation.
Researchers found that the codependency habits become so ingrained in people that they persist beyond the interaction with the addict. That is, these patterns can exist and be passed down in families over time, even when the addiction is no longer present.
My personal experience has been one of losing myself in any long-term romantic relationship I’m involved in. Losing yourself for the benefit of a relationship is a life sucking experience. But what is more important is that when you are losing yourself in someone else it’s really just a distraction that keeps you from recognizing your own desires, hopes, goals, feelings and needs. Why this happens most certainly takes root in childhood and creates a pattern of self-deprecating behaviors that seem so normal it’s impossible to actually notice what you are doing, much less change it. That is until your life becomes un-liveable. It didn’t say unmanageable, because I could manage anything, I could fix anything and I could make anything work as long as it kept me in the relationship. It wasn’t until I noticed I could not live like that anymore that I realized there was something about me that wasn’t right. I noticed that other people didn’t have the same problems with intimacy and that other people also had boundaries that I lacked. Other people could say no. I could not and if I wanted to say no, rather than say it I would lie or make an excuse so that I would not have to show up. Now I just don’t lie anymore. I tell the truth and I’ll be damned it works. People respect the truth. You can’t argue with the truth. The truth is the truth. And that’s all I have to say about that!
Being in a co-dependent relationship is the polar opposite of the definition of freedom:
I procured this definition of freedom at Dictionary.com whose ease of availability keeps most of my posts free of spelling errors:
- Exemption from external control, interference, regulation
- Personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery
- Exemption from the presence of anything specified (usually fol. by from): freedom from fear.
- The absence of or release from ties, obligations, etc.
- Frankness of manner or speech.
- The power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without; autonomy; self-determination.
Co-dependency, while being self-imposed is unconscious and while we feel we are making free choices we definitely are not. It takes a lot of heartache to disembowel your primary thought process and actually realize that it is not the end all, be all of existence. I felt that every decision I made was controlled or interfered with by the presence of my partner simply because I had to consider his needs before I considered mine. I was in fear, not because of any actual danger, but because if I said what I thought or did what I wanted to do he would leave me. This prevented me from exercising personal liberty. I was bound by marriage or verbal commitment and held that obligation with fear of being alone or with guilt that I had not tried hard enough. I lost my personal autonomy altogether because I wanted to be loved, and in all of this I felt I had no choice. And all of these feeling, I believed very deeply were love, I trademarked marked them love as if love were something that must be earned instead of given, as if love could not be granted me unless I acted, thought, or did certain things and it was unbearable. My last relationship unhinged me to the point of self destruction, but if it were not for pain I would not be able to write these words now, because I would still be back there living a delusion, so I am more than grateful for the experience.
I always hope that others do not have to experience what I did in order to find independence, but I have noticed that sometimes we have to lose ourselves in order to find ourselves again and if that’s the price that leads to freedom of illusion then so be it!