Codependency Recovery Is Important

Codependency Recovery Is Important

 Codependency Recovery is Important

 

I commend you on your patience and persistence to continue to explore your issues and get familiar with the main triggers of your codependent tendencies. And, progressing in your codependency recovery, begin to implement a set of healthy boundaries to protect your mental and emotional integrity 

You’re doing great, but you may not out of the woods yet.codependency recovery

Now that you’ve regaining some control over your life, (regardless of what others are or aren’t doing) and you’re feeling better emotionally, how can you maintain this sense of well-being in codependency recovery?

As you probably know from your own experience, codependency characteristics don’t just magically disappear and are gone forever.

How I wish!

It’s more like a roller coaster ride. Up one week and down the next. You may think you’re trigger free, but I encourage you to be on the lookout regularly for any sign that indicates the presence of codependency infiltrating your relationships.

In other words, become consciously aware of what’s going on in your relationships.

Otherwise, you risk falling back into some old, dysfunctional habits.    

Codependency Recovery Is Necessary

 

The topic of codependency recovery is huge.  Google it and there are MANY tips and tricks to eliminating codependency. 

I have mixed reviews about whether or not “curing” codependency is possible. Yes, I do believe anything is possible when you mix the right ingredients. However, from working with people and from my own experience, I see codependency recovery in terms of progress, rather than seeking a “cure” or perfection.

There’s one thing I know for sure: I fully believe that we can learn how to have better and more fulfilling relationships all around – with ourselves, with others, and with God.

Now, your recovery from codependency will depend on various factors and quite honestly, your effort.

Generally speaking, if you decide to take a stand against your codependent tendencies, you have several options. You can:

1. If you’re in a relationship, team up with your partner, and through collective effort, you work toward healing yourselves emotionally and therefore, reshaping the entire relationship. You work toward transforming it into a healthy and functional one.

Now, when I say “work”, I’m hoping that you in your codependency recovery, you are working on emotional healing recovery on various levels. One being working with a good therapist over a period of time. And, outside of therapy, building a strong support network via friends, support group, etc. and a deeper spiritual connection with God.

I can speak for my partner and I that working with a counselor individually and as a couple has helped us a lot. We still have triggers or old wounds that are in need of a deeper healing, and we’re not afraid or ashamed to reach out for help from an expert in the field when we need.

2. If you’re single, you’ll do the same thing as far as “doing the inner healing work”, but you won’t have a partner to “practice” with. But you can surely practice with family and friends. You work on you. You take the time single to discover who you are without a partner. Become more confident. Look to yourself and God for your worth and level of happiness.

This way, you’ll be better prepared emotionally when you do meet that special someone.

At the same time, if you choose to remain single, you’ll still be able to practice with friends, family members, and so on. Codependency marks all kinds of relationships – not just intimate ones.

3. If you’re in a relationship with someone who could care less about “doing the healing work”, then you can still embark on your own codependency recovery journey. Your partner may come on board at some point and work with you. Or, your partner may not have a host of emotional issues to work on. Either way, you focus on you and let your partner deal with their side of the street. Down the road, as you progress in your recovery and healing, you’ll be able to better determine how to address the relationship and/or your partner.

The reality is that plenty of relationships don’t work out because one or both partners aren’t willing to “do the work”. I see this with those who are in a relationship with someone struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction. They want to begin working through their dependency issues, but the partner wants no part of it, making it quite challenging to experience relational transformation.

That can lead them to a place where they choose to deal with codependency all by themselves.

Of course, you can always give your relationship a second chance, but if things don’t improve over a certain amount of time, you may be better off making the break and focusing on bettering your life solo in for a while.

When in doubt, consider discussing how your codependency recovery might look with a trained therapist.

The Stages of Codependency Recovery

I tend to break codependency recovery into four stages.  Here is a general overview:

  1. ACCEPT AND BE WILLING – Stage 1 involves honestly looking at your life and accepting the reality that you’re in need of some emotional healing. You honestly look at your relationships. Your lack of self-worth. Your separation or disconnect from yourself and/or God. In this stage, you’re making an intent to begin a new journey in your life, willing to look at your past, and do the inner healing work to create a better future marked with better, more fulfilling relationships with you, others, and God.

     

  2. CREATE A BLUEPRINT FOR HEALING – Stage 2 involves a lot of learning. You begin to learn about codependency characteristics, identify yours, and begin to lay a blueprint for growth and healing. Just as the contractor will draw up a blueprint as to what kind of home they want to create, you’re drawing up a blueprint as to what kind of life you want, including what kinds of relationships you truly want.

    This stage is full of education, so you’ve got to put some time into learning about things like attachment trauma, God’s plan for relationships, how you’ve become dis-connected with yourself and God, the human condition, toxic shame, inner child healing, and more. 

    3. BUILD A STRONG FOUNDATION. Stage 3 is when you really start digging so you can build a strong foundation for healing, preferably under the guidance of a therapist. You’re learning quite a bit about codependency recovery and here’s where you get to start putting what you’re learning into practice. You’re learning a lot about self-care here, including setting boundaries, identifying wants and needs, and cutting ties with those toxic people. As you learn to really tap into what you want and need, you get to begin practicing your boundaries here, refusing to enable or people please any longer. You’re becoming stronger.

    4. BUILD BETTER RELATIONSHIPS. Stage 4 involves you building new, healthy relationships.  It’s time to venture out and seek out those who have a healthy relationship with themselves (over those who are selfish, emotionally unavailable, narcissists, or in active addiction).

Those that will treat you as if you are worthy…. (BECAUSE YOU ARE) You may find new friendships in plenty of places. Join a gym, take a class, go to a support group, etc. If you feel overwhelmed, just focus on one new friendship or strengthen a current healthy relationship.

Now, it takes effort to strengthen a relationship. Invest in those people who can and will reciprocate time and energy. Those that value you and love you unconditionally. Those that essentially have a healthy relationship with themselves.

These four steps are a road map where you can learn about codependency and work toward codependency recovery or emotional healing. It will take time and effort to really do the work, so make that commitment and just keep moving forward. If you need help, please reach out. You don’t have to go at this alone!

 

Learn To Set & Keep Boundaries: Part 2

What You Want and Need Matters, So Set Those Boundaries!

 

The reason why some people end up struggling with relating in a codependent way is that they don’t understand the importance or don’t know how to set and keep boundaries. Sadly, they usually come to realize this when codependency has already infiltrated in their relationship.

But you know what? All’s not lost because, even though it may be a bit harder to achieve, the habit of setting and keeping boundaries can be implemented even after you’ve already spent a significant amount of time with someone setting poor boundary examples.

But why are boundaries so effective? Why is it so important for us to set clear rules and limits in our social interactions? What are the benefits that result?

Just like a country needs borders to protect itself from possible invaders, your personal self – and by this I mean the REAL YOU – needs to have a clear set of limits that will prevent any disturbing influences (uh hum…people) that may come from the outside. Living with the assumption that people are inherently good and know well enough to stay on their side of the street might be a bit naive.

Look, we’re not living in utopia. Sure, you might find people who provide you with unconditional love and support; those that respect you for who you are.

Or, you might encounter all kinds of individuals who want to take advantage of your good nature and spend time with you only to satisfy their selfish needs and desires. (Narcissists are abundant, I must say.)

But, not just narcissists. But how about those that are just plain selfish? Emotionally unavailable? The person struggling with alcoholism or addiction? Those that are swimming in emotionally pain and won’t let anyone get too close, yet they do want plenty of their desires met. (Sex, cooking, cleaning, at their beck and call, etc.)

Those that just don’t want to emotionally connect because they have no idea how?

Of course, I’m not saying we should act all ‘paranoid’ and build a huge fence between us and the outside world. All we need are a few limits here and there, so we can protect ourselves from allowing those in that can’t or won’t respect our boundaries.  

Boundaries Put You In Your Power

Setting and keeping boundaries helps you gain control over your life. When you no longer allow others to do what they want with you; when you no longer put yourself second; when you finally manage to implement a strategy that helps you avoid unpleasant situations, you’ll gain a wonderful sense of peace and fulfillment.

A person who’s in tune and in control will not feel the need to engage in codependent relationships. When you’re in sync with your wants and needs, and God’s perspective of you, you’ll throw people-pleasing characteristics out the door.

Having control and being IN YOUR POWER means you can invest in a relationship because you want to, not because you need attention or affection to feel good about yourself. Remember, we feel good about our “selves” because we’ve been created in God’s image. We are God’s beloved.

We gain our self-worth based on our relationship with God; not others.

As mentioned before, personal boundaries serve as an effective strategy in separating your own identity from that of others. By doing this, you’ll be able to maintain your authenticity and originality. You’ll be more apt to “be real”, rather than living in the shadow of others.

Your boundaries will grant you access to your inner ‘reservoir’ of creativity and originality. As for relationships, you will be able to forge a strong connection with someone special, without feeling the need to make that person the center of your universe.

(A good way to know if you’re making someone else the center of your universe is if you find yourself saying, “But I did everything for you! I was always there for you! I gave you everything!”)

Well, what you might have done was make that person your god.

But let’s not get off track.

Now, your clearly-defined limits give you the possibility to grow individually and as a couple or friendship at the same time. You’re growing. They’re growing. Individually and together, and that can be beautiful.

“I’m Not Depending On You For My Level Of Happiness”

Lastly, a set of personal boundaries is a great way of expressing your self-respect and self-confidence. By establishing clear limits in your social interactions, you let others know that you’re the kind of person who cherishes and respects yourself enough not to depend on their approval and validation.

It’s like a ‘declaration of independence’ through which you announce to the whole world that you can make it on your own. That you’re taking full responsibility for your level of happiness and fulfillment in life.

And, if they can’t honor that, and get in step with your boundaries, then you’re alright to cut ties or keep time with them at a bare minimum, as in the case of say, family members.

As you can see, boundaries give you the opportunity to bypass codependent relationships where you would be little more than an ‘extension’ of your that other person’s life.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why a set of clear boundaries is worth all the time and effort in this world. Next, we’re going to focus on building your assertive attitude, which will aid you in implementing your personal boundaries.

Now, stick with me. This post is long, but necessary.

Before moving on, take a moment to think about your relationships.

  • How are you doing when it comes to boundaries?
  • Are you letting people walk over you?
  • Are you lying a lot so you don’t have to deal with conflict that might come up if you were to speak your truth?
  • Are you staying in a toxic relationship, putting up with some crumbs because you’re afraid to set boundaries?

Let’s move on and look at how assertiveness is a key ingredient in learning how to set firm boundaries.

Assertiveness – The Key to Setting Boundaries

If the process of setting appropriate boundaries is your journey, assertiveness is the ship that takes you safely to your desired destination. It is one secret behind healthy human interactions and the kind of tool that everyone can benefit from.

Assertiveness is an attitude or behavior that allows you to express your needs, desires, opinions, beliefs, etc. in a transparent manner. By transparent, I mean real, truthful.

Many experts consider assertive communication to be the most efficient and non-threatening communication style.

As we all know, good communication is one of the cornerstones of solid relationships. Without consistent communication, our partner will be ‘forced’ to guess, and that can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings and ‘cracks’ that has the potential to bring down the entire structure of the relationship.

In the absence of assertive communication, codependency can easily corrupt your relationship, because wants and needs will go unsaid. This can lead to anxiety, depression, abuse, and so on.

If you don’t speak up and speak your truth, you may continue to feel abandoned, be enmeshed, or deplete yourself fixing and care-taking the other.

So how do we learn to communicate in an assertive manner? Well, assertiveness often comes down to two basic rules.

  1. Begin your sentence with “In my opinion…” or “Personally…”

Let your partner know that what you’re about to say is merely a subjective opinion, not a universal truth. This way, he or she won’t feel threatened or offended by your different views. Let them know that while you know that it’s alright for you to have your own set of beliefs.

  1. Use kind words to express your opinion or needs.

    Regardless of how different or shocking your views, ideas, or needs might be, you can always make it easier for the other person to understand and accept them by using kind and non-offensive words. Avoid words like: “stupid”, “useless”, “dumb”, Also, use a kind and calm tone, paying attention to your non-verbal language too.

But assertiveness is not a bulletproof strategy. Sometimes, no matter how much we try to act nice and ‘diplomatic’, our partner will simply not accept our views or may balk at our needs. We may try to be assertive and set our boundaries, stating our wants and needs, and our partner may throw a fit or simply refuse to pay attention to it. Some even laugh at the thought of their partner standing up for themselves!

They may even try to choke our freedom by using manipulation and emotional blackmail. That’s the moment when you may need to make some important decisions regarding your future.  You may even have to cut ties.

Now Set Those Boundaries!

Since the process of setting and maintaining boundaries can sometimes be a challenging one, I’ve come up with a step-by-step approach that will allow you to implement this habit gradually in your daily life.

1 Know your values

First and foremost, you need to know your personal values. Depending on these values, you can then decide what is and isn’t acceptable for you. It might be helpful to pick up a pen and paper and write down your values and/or belief system.

  • What is important to you?
  • What do you believe is good and right?
  • What do you want and need?

Typically, your personal boundaries should naturally result from your values. You can call this an awareness exercise because it helps you become conscious of your identity and what you want and need. (and deserve)

2 Prioritize your needs and desires

Before you start setting your personal boundaries, make sure that your needs come first. Remember, the most important person in your life is YOU. This means that your needs and desires should be a priority. Your needs matter!

If you don’t find the courage to put yourself first, and you settle for second best, you’ll be the perfect candidate for codependent relationships. You’ll be lacking in self-love, and not living authentically. You’ll be wearing that mask that you think you like, but you really don’t.

I’ll say it again: What you want and need matters, so put yourself first.

Follow the same instructions they teach you when flying on an airplane: “Put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others.”

3 Express your needs and desires

Now that you’re becoming more aware of your values, needs, and desires, it’s time to share this newly gained insight with your partner. This is a perfect opportunity to practice assertive communication. If they don’t know, they can’t make any changes.

Using your words, you basically convert your thoughts into something real, something for which you are responsible.

For me, I had to get very honest with myself. What was important to me? What do I want and need in a partner? In a relationship? In life in general?  I made a list of things I wanted and needed for me. I made a list of things I wanted and needed in a partner. 

It wasn’t always easy to discuss my wants, needs, and boundaries. In fact, when I first started, I would be a wreck with anxiety. But I was determined to learn how to communicate my needs and boundaries in a healthy manner, so I practiced over and over.

These things matter, dear one, and my hope is that you’ll do the same, and then share openly and honestly with those in your life that need to hear your heart.

Persevere, dear one

Setting and keeping solid boundaries involves perseverance. You might not make it today, you might not make it tomorrow, but someday, you’ll finally have a reliable set of personal boundaries that will keep you safer from relating in a codependent way. Be patient with yourself as you progress in your codependency recovery journey. 

If you’re struggling with setting and keeping boundaries, and you’ve tried everything you know to do, you may need some professional help.  Spending time in therapy with the intent of learning how to set boundaries can prove quite valuable. I always encourage people to find a great therapist and have handy for the times in life where you want or need some support.

It’s worth the investment!

Attending a support group can help too. Consider Codependents Anonymous, or if you’re on the opposite end of someone struggling with alcoholism or addiction, consider Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

You are worthy. You are valuable. You deserve respect.  As you grow, you will better be able to draw those lines in the sand and not allow others to try to take those truths away from you.

Remember, this inner healing work that you’re doing is important. To you, and to God, because God wants us emotionally whole so we can add more authentic value to humanity. Life is sacred. Relationships are sacred. Keep doing the work, dear on.

See it all as an opportunity to grow closer to God, to yourself, and Divine Love.

“Creating personal boundaries may cause some relationships to crumble….Think through the scenarios that may unfold, and prepare to meet them. Once you decide to create personal boundaries and become separate, it’s difficult to turn back. You’ll also need the support of other trusted friends who recognize your need for boundaries and who will support you when conflict arise.”  Barry K Weinhold

Prayer:

“God, thank you for giving me the courage to stand up and speak my truth.”

 

Setting And Keeping Boundaries: Part 1

Setting And Keeping Boundaries: Part 1

Setting and Keeping Boundaries

 

“My husband has been using pills for almost a decade. We have two kids together and I’m tired of being the one in charge of everything.  I’d been putting up with it alright until last month when I got a call from the cops in the middle of the night. Apparently, my husband got pulled over high as a kite with our son in the car with him. Then, last weekend I found him passed out in his own vomit. I lost it.  Sent him packing to his mom’s house and thought I feel bad, I don’t care. With him not here, I can breathe a little bit. If I’m gonna feel single, I may as well BE single. This morning I started getting text trying to make me feel guilty. He’s telling me if he goes off the deep end it’s my fault. It’s always my fault somehow and I know it’s not true, but part of me just worries. Should I have kicked him out? Have I abandoned him? How should I proceed?” – Anonymous

Up until now, we’ve explored the nature of codependent tendencies, its origins, and ways to spot the telltale signs of codependency. This critical part of the codependency recovery process allowed us to get a better understanding of the issues we’re working with. Now, based on what we’ve discovered about ourselves, we can now focus on dealing with codependency-related problems.

Whether your codependent characteristics tend to manifest in the context of friendships or romantic relationships, there’s one technique you can learn to really nip this in the bud. To be more specific, you can reduce codependency characteristics by learning how to set and keep clear boundaries and limits, regardless of how close you are to a person.

Boundaries, boundaries, and more boundaries. You want to cultivate healthier relationships? Become bada$$ at setting and keeping boundaries.

Let’s explore what it means to set clear boundaries and how this strategy can lead to healthier and more stable relationships.

What are personal boundaries?

Personal boundaries are guidelines or rules that you identify based on your wants and needs, that are reasonable ways others are to behave toward you. 

Right from the start, we notice that this definition revolves around one person – YOU.

It is YOU who must set guidelines or rules, and it’s YOU who must decide an appropriate response when other people cross the line.

This is you, dear one, being in charge and taking full responsibility for your life.

Ever hear the saying, “People treat you how you let them treat you.”

Well, that’s very true.

To set personal boundaries means to separate our personality from that of other people with whom we interact on a regular basis. It means to recognize, accept and express our own uniqueness, while allowing others to do the same.

In the absence of a set of personal boundaries that we communicate in a sincere, kind and healthy manner, our day-to-day interactions would be characterized by conflicts, frustration, and misunderstandings.

I know I’ve experienced that and it’s no fun.

You can tell a lot about someone based on the boundaries they’ve set or not set.  Boundaries reflect one’s self-worth.  If you have adequate boundaries, it means that you value and respect yourself.  If you don’t have boundaries set or let others cross the ones you do have, you devalue yourself and it can leave you feeling pretty crummy.

When a boundary has been crossed, don’t you feel uncomfortable? Angry? Sad? For example, let’s say your partner has just gone through your phone reading all of your texts and starts harping on you about this and that.  You automatically feel like your space has been violated- and it has– and at that point you’re faced with making a decision.

Do you just start defending yourself like you’re on some sort of trial? Do you get angry and yell obscenities? Do you run and grab your partner’s phone and throw it out the window?  (Oh, that would be tempting.)

Your partner has crossed a boundary. Your phone is none of their business.

“But they’re my partner!”  So? That doesn’t give them the right to invade your privacy.

You must set that boundary and stick to it. Let your partner know that you’re serious and crossing boundaries can be a deal breaker. 

Remember, what you want and need matters. And, having some privacy matters.

Communication is key when it comes to setting and keeping boundaries.

Another example is how someone speaks to you.  Constructive criticism is not a bad thing, but if the tone is nasty or rude, it is not alright. If you deal with this, you can say something like:

  • “I understand what you are saying, but I would appreciate it if you would speak in a respectful tone toward me.”
  • “I am not quite sure why you are speaking to me in that tone. I don’t appreciate it and I’ll not allow it.”

I know a woman who was married, and her husband had a son from a previous marriage.  One day they were all going somewhere, and the boy jumped into the front seat of the car, expecting my friend to sit in the back.  Her husband supported his son sitting up front and had no problem letting her squish into the back seat.

My friend was not kosher with this. She wanted to say, “This is not alright with me. I am sitting up front”, but she didn’t. She told me that when she got into the back seat, her blood was boiling. She felt very devalued.

On multiple occasions, she told her husband that she was not comfortable sitting in the back seat, but he simply told her she was being unreasonable and overreacting.  He said calling “shot gun” was fun for him growing up with his siblings.  She bluntly told him, “I am not your son’s sibling! I am your wife and an adult!”

It didn’t help. She tried to stand up for herself and tried to set a boundary to no avail.  I was very angry inside when I heard this. I wanted to go and give her husband a piece of my mind.  He would never have his mother or aunt sit in the back seat, so why his wife? He valued his son’s desires over his wife’s desires and in doing so, disrespected her.  She eventually stopped bringing it up because she didn’t want to deal with the argument that would come as a result. She just slipped into that back seat, growing quite resentful.

I told her she had every right to sit down with those boys and set a firm boundary with her husband and the son. Spell it out clearly.  His son needed to learn that women ought to be respected, and ladies sit in the front seat- not kids. Unless, of course, the woman is alright with this arrangement, but I dare say most women wouldn’t like it.

That marriage did not work out. Eventually, she grew tired of setting boundaries that were ignored, and left. It took her a while to gain enough courage to leave, but she did. She took a stand for herself, realizing that her wants and needs really do matter.

Listen, you have a right to stand up for yourself and express what makes you feel devalued.   You have a right to say when something is not acceptable to you. You have the right to say no and draw a line in the sand. And, you have the right to leave if you are not heard or valued.

Boundaries begin in childhood

Typically, people start setting boundaries during their first childhood years. By interacting with our peers, we quickly learn that some people are more permissive and welcoming, while others are more strict and rigid. We weigh the pros and cons of each alternative and decide our boundaries based on our own needs and other people’s responses.

Also, our parents, teachers and caregivers often intervene in this process (or so they should), helping us find healthy ways to satisfy our needs and desires without violating other people’s freedom.

During adulthood

As adults, there are no more teachers to mediate the relationship between our peers and us, and no more parents to run to when people cross our limits. In this context, we can either drift towards a codependent relationship where our partner becomes a ‘savior’ who protects us from outside threats, or we can set our own boundaries and be our own ‘saviors’. Be our own hero!

Choosing the second path means you’ll have to embark on a challenging, but extraordinary journey. YOU get to learn how to set boundaries on your own. Others can’t do it for you.

The process of setting and keeping boundaries will be your personal journey, your responsibility, and your achievement.

The biggest myth about boundaries

Before we dive deeper into the topic, let’s debunk one of the most popular myths about personal boundaries. There’s a significant number of people who believe that having a set of solid personal boundaries is equal to being rigid, inflexible, intolerant and/or adamant.

It’s true that some people might label us as ‘rigid’ simply because we don’t want to endorse or follow their selfish desires, beliefs, and attitudes, but we must consider the reason why we choose to adopt this behavior. We don’t do it because we enjoy being inflexible. We do it because we want to protect ourselves from something that may damage our physical or mental integrity.

Also, having a set of clear personal boundaries has very little to do with selfishness or rigidity. It’s more of a balance between taking care of ourselves (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) and respecting other people’s right to express their originality and freedom.

In the end, it’s not our boundaries that create tension, but how others choose to interpret them.

People who say that setting and keeping boundaries is a sign of selfishness and inflexibility usually struggle with their own codependency or narcissistic issues. Maybe they don’t like the idea of you not being available for them 24/7, or maybe they’re afraid that you’re contemplating the idea of leaving them.

In the end, never forget that the most important person in your life is YOU. This means that, regardless of what others might think, your personal boundaries should be your number one priority.

Now, we’ll learn more about setting and keeping  healthy boundaries in the next lesson.

Prayer:

“God, please teach me how to set healthy boundaries, and actually keep them. Help me identify my wants and needs, and express them in healthy ways.”

 

 

Self-Care: Ask For What You Need

Self-Care: Ask For What You Need

 

Life can get incredibly busy with work, kids, errands, chores, appointments, etc.  Time is a precious commodity. Surely, you enjoy spending time with your loved ones, but sometimes the hustle and bustle of life makes it difficult to really sit down and delight in each other. 

Back in the days when codependency marked my relationship, my partner at that time did not require as much quality time together as I did.  It’s just the way they were wired. At the same time, I was operating from a place of insecurity and dependency, so I gravitated toward needing more time with them.

This did not always suit us well. In fact, it was the reason for many arguments and drama days.  I would get tired of “waiting” until we could spend some quality time together, the anger and frustration would build, and then I would take my anger out on her in some way.  I might bring up the topic: “We never get to spend any time together” or I would put a wall up, become distant, and start using a tone.

For someone swinging on the more codependent side of the continuum, how much time is enough to satiate the need? 

Now, in a healthy relationship, two independent people may simply go to each other stating that they’d like to spend some quality time together. This is the mature, healthy way. No games.  No drama. No resentment.

If you need some quality time, you simply go to your partner in a loving way and ask for it.

It’s alright to have wants and needs. Partners should want to spend quality time together. As long as you’re coming from a healthy place, ask for what you want and need.

Learn to say, “Hey, I’m missing you. Can I see you tonight?”  or “Baby, I need a hug.” It’s alright to have and speak these desires. This has helped me tremendously.

And, let’s not forget that if you’re struggling with codependency characteristics, your partner may struggle with being emotionally available. So, as you speak what you want and need, this gives your partner an opportunity to step it up and BE THERE emotionally. Be present (because they may have the tendency to be in their own world or very independent).

Asking for what you need is necessary in a relationship. If it’s a healthy one, needs within reason ought to be able to be met by each partner. There ought to be a willingness for both parties to speak and perform each other’s preferred love language.  If there isn’t, the relationship will likely suffer.

  • What are your needs?
  • Are you able to tell your partner what your needs are?
  • Are your needs within reason?
  • Is your partner willing to listen to you and at least try to act according to your love language?

(Feel free to read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. EXCELLENT BOOK!)

Think about what it is you need in your relationship. Maybe it’s as simple as a hug once a day or a passionate kiss once in a while. Perhaps it’s help with the children and housework or quality time away from the kids once every couple of weeks.  Maybe you need a silent retreat once a month or a weekend get-away together.

Maybe you just need to feel seen and heard by your partner.

Whatever it is, speak it. Here’s your permission to ask for what you want and need in a sweet and genuine way.

Please Don’t Leave Me! The Fear Of Abandonment

The Fear of Abandonment

 

“Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” Isaiah 41:10

The.Fear.Of.Abandonment.

It’s certainly real, ya’ll.

Maybe you’ve knowingly experienced this or maybe it’s haunted you under the surface for a long time.

Chances are someone has abandoned you along the way. You parent. Ex. Friend. Sibling.

  • Maybe you’ve been abandoned recently and you’re freaking out.
  • Maybe your partner has detached emotionally, checked out, and you’re over it.
  • Maybe you’re miserable in your relationship, but you are petrified to leave.

I’d heard about abandonment issues in my college psych courses, but I never really understood it at a deep level until came upon me like a tsunami in my mid-thirties.

One of the reasons I never really experienced this fear intensely is because shortly after high school I secured myself in a relationship. I got married, had three children and for the most part, I felt safe and secure. I did not feel the fear of abandonment – at least consciously.

Fast forward 15 years when I decided that I wanted a divorce and jump into a different relationship. A relationship that wasn’t so safe. I’d also been chipping away at my soul for years, losing parts of “me” all along the way. Leaked my power out all over the place. Yes, I had quite a bit of emotionally baggage I’d never dealt with.

It was in that relationship that the fear of abandonment and I became well acquainted.

See, codependency and the fear of abandonment go hand in hand. While not everyone struggling with codependency has a fear of abandonment, it is likely that those who have a fear of abandonment are hand in hand with codependency on some level.

If you fear being abandoned, you are probably doing a more than wonderful job caretaking and people-pleasing those around you in an attempt to keep them happy – so they won’t leave you.

It’s a paradox.  You get a good feeling from having others depend on you, but really it is you depending on them for security, because you are so afraid that they will abandon you. You need to be needed, and this can lead to all sorts of negative emotions and situations.

Psychological concerns

If you struggle with abandonment issues, chances are that you’ll have some psychological challenges that pop up throughout your life – oftentimes recurring.

For example, if a child was emotionally neglected by a parent, his life may be marked with anger or mood swings throughout his life. He may suffer from low self-esteem and not be able to engage in healthy relationships with others. Or he may be distrusting of others and not let himself be vulnerable in a relationship.

Such abandonment issues can cause one to feel unworthy, which can cause other things to arise like depression, anxiety, codependency, and more.

For example, when I was in that toxic relationship, I spent a lot of time helping and people pleasing (or partner pleasing). Sometimes my “help” would not go as planned and I would freak out inside. I distinctly remember one time I offered to get an extra key made for my partner’s house and the new key wouldn’t work.  She was locked out and called me, quite upset. I instantly went into “freak out” mode, feeling inadequate, thinking it was my fault the key didn’t work.  I went and got a second key made and that one didn’t work either, so we had some tension there.

I wanted to “perform the task” so badly out of fear of being inadequate (which would lead to her being mad, which would lead to her wanting to be with someone else, which means she would ultimately abandon me).

See, it was that thought process (inadequacy, anxiety, fear, ultimately abandoned) that kept repeating itself in that relationship and it was this instance that I really got it.

I really saw the toxic pattern. It was my “aha” moment, so-to-speak, where I clearly saw my unhealthy thought patterns, which caused me so much anxiety and fear. 

Finally, after I realized this, I told her to take care of the key situation herself. I took a tiny leap toward self-care, setting a boundary, and standing up for myself. I started becoming better at recognizing this fear when it would pop up, and rather than letting it trigger me, I would be more apt to stay present. Tap into reality. And, think and act less cray-cray.

Start digging

If you fear being abandoned, it will likely show up in your relationship at some point. But once you begin to recognize this, you can start digging down to get to the root of the issue. Keep in mind that you may need some professional help in order to really get down and dirty with the raw truth and begin the healing process. 

I learned that I had some deep-rooted issues from childhood that needed to be worked through. I was petrified of being abandoned. This fear got its root all the way back in childhood where I was abandoned on all sorts of levels.

When my ex and I would break up for one or two days, I was terrified inside. One night, I remember curling up in my bathtub full of hot water in the fetal position agonizing in pain. I was physically going through withdrawal and fear consumed my being.

It wasn’t even rational. I mean, what was I so terrified of?

That was years ago and since then, I have done some inner healing work surrounding the fear of abandonment. I have faced it head on and it was a process to work through it – and still can be at times.

I had to revisit my childhood to contend with some of my fears. I did some inner child healing work. I read up on the topic. I journaled and meditated regularly. I did holotropic breathwork and attending counseling. I was very interested in the healing process and was willing to do whatever it took to get free. 

Many adults discover that those negative feelings they did not process way back in childhood come back for attention years later.

The inner child who didn’t know how to process wounds (aka trauma of some sort) will tend to drive your emotional car until you do some inner child healing.

This is why most people revert back to immature coping methods when they encounter stress or conflict.

I was told on numerous occasions that I acted like an immature child when I encountered relationship conflict.  I was letting my inner child control my life and she did so until I went through a healing process regarding childhood wounds.  I had to take charge as an adult and let my inner child simply relax.  I learned to parent my inner child and take responsibility for my emotions – uh hum, grow up emotionally.

It was a process and I’m still learning and growing in this area even today, because that little girl can still pop up when conflict arises in my relationship. She wants to detach and run away as fast as she can. A big difference today is that when she pops up, I am more aware of what’s going on and I don’t let her act for me.

At least most of the time. I’m still a work in progress.

Doing the work in a relationship or single?

I found that for me, I needed to take a season alone to contend with many negative emotions and old wounds. I could not heal and grow in a toxic relationship.  I had never taken a season single to heal and grow since I was a teen, so it was necessary!  It was challenging at times, but it was exactly what I needed to face my fears and old wounds without having to worry about anyone else in the picture. 

You may be able to do the work in a relationship, and if so, wonderful!

Several resources have helped me contend with my fear of abandonment and other negative emotions.  Reading books on codependency, inner child healing, and spirituality helped me immensely.  I also found a great therapist and began daily meditation and prayer. 

Granted, disciplining myself to meditate and connect with  God in silence regularly is not easy, but it is worth it, as meditation gives us a chance to gain some control over our thought life, connect deeper with God, and allow emotional healing to occur.

I found several books to help me tremendously with inner child healing.

  • Presence Process by Michael Brown: Helped me to commit to daily meditation and come to understand the necessity of integrating old childhood wounds into my body for optimal emotional health.
  • Healing the Child Within by Charles Whitfield
  • Homecoming by John Bradshaw

Journaling as I journeyed through my past proved helpful too.  It wasn’t easy to revisit my past, but it was necessary and helpful, so consider taking a season to do this yourself. 

How are you doing when it comes to the fear of abandonment? 

  • Do you freak out when your partner threatens to leave you or do you feel like they will leave you for another person? 
  • When they pull away some, do you feel fear rise within you?
  • Do you want to leave your toxic relationship, but you’re terrified? Afraid you won’t make it on your own?

If so, it’s a great idea to seek professional help on the matter and begin reading about inner child healing or shadow work. 

Psychotherapists are trained to help you revisit your childhood and work through fears that you now experience due to trauma or abuse from way back then.  I encourage you to take a season and attend counseling. I wish, wish, wish, I would have camped out in a counselor’s office when I first began dealing with the pain that was triggered when I got divorced.  It would have helped me understand what was going on with my crazy emotions and probably saved me a few years’ worth of intense pain! 

Along with professional help, continue reading about codependency and if you have a codependency support group nearby, feel free to attend. You can also pull up videos on this topic via YouTube and receive a great deal of helpful information there.

A wonderful book on the topic is:

  • Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment & Building Lasting, Loving Relationships, by Michelle Skeen, PsyD.

APPLICABLE STEPS:

  • Watch some YouTube videos by John Bradshaw on this topic. Here is the first session of John on the Oprah show. Watch the series for a good overview of the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYYqghixwng

  • Write a journal entry concerning the topic of the fear of abandonment.

-Do you fear being alone? Being left by your partner? 

-Did you experience a great loss as a child? 

-Write about something traumatic you experienced as a child or a great loss.

-Do you think you can pinpoint where your fear of abandonment came from?

Prayer:

“God, some days I feel so alone it’s absolutely horrible.  I feel like I’m in the desert with no food, water, shelter, people, etc. Nothing.  Where are you?  Why can’t I feel you?  God, please help me trust that You’re always with me, even when I’m struggling to feel you.  Help me see and feel with my spiritual senses, rather than trust my natural senses. Help my unbelief!”