I just thought I'd share some of the things I learned about myself during my recovery from CoD gmc94.
When I was exploring the roots of why I was codependent there were a number of things that came up for me, some of which were tied into my (then untreated) mental health issues, namely Borderline Personality Disorder and Complex-PTSD.
Two of the biggest drivers of my codependency were fear of abandonment and a non-existent sense of self-worth, followed very closely by an intense need to have a feeling of control in my life, and for things to be "perfect".
My codependency evolved gradually, so much so that I didn't even see it happening. My relationship with BetterFuture13 started out on equal footing, but little by little it developed into an unhealthy, codependent, parent-child relationship.
In hindsight, I can see that it began with me doing little things to "help" - making sure he didn't sleep past the alarm so he wouldn't be late for work, taking care of all of the bills so I could help him rebuild his credit, setting up doctor's appointments for him and making sure he did his yearly physical - things like that. Small stuff. And good wives do those things for their husbands, right?!
And he thanked me for it - "Thanks for making sure I wasn't late for work", "Thank you for working so hard to build my credit up, we wouldn't have been able to buy this house if it weren't for you doing that", "Thanks for getting me in to see the doc so quickly". I felt appreciated. I felt needed. I felt loved. It gave me a sense of self-worth.
Subconsciously though there was still that intense fear of abandonment lurking, and gradually it evolved into not just wanting to be needed, but wanting to feel indispensable. There was no way he would abandon me if I could make myself indispensable, right?! He would just love me all that much more, right?!
Around this time his drinking had gone from social to alcoholic levels. He began missing work. I offered to be the one to call him in sick. I didn't want them to hear he was hung over, because I feared he might lose his job. He started spending money we needed for bills on his benders. He didn't know what bills we had or how much money we needed or what we had in the bank, thanks to me taking care of it all, so it wasn't a big deal to him. I would get angry, but in the end I just juggled the bills, or arranged payment plans to take care of it. He never had to deal with the fallout of his choices.
I begged him to get sober. To go into treatment. He denied having a problem. Felt since he was the sole breadwinner that he was entitled to drink and spend his money how he saw fit. He resented me for trying to tell him what to do and for acting like I was his parent. I resented him for not caring enough about me to get help, for having to clean up his messes and for him acting like a child. That just fed into the toxic cycle and kept it going. We would have all kinds of arguments that went in circles because neither of us could see what we were doing and our role in it.
When he became visually impaired almost a decade ago the codependency got completely out of control. He completely gave up on life and felt had to depend on me to take care of him. Any sense of self-worth he had was gone. He sunk into such a horrible state of depression. My caretaking amped up to extreme levels. "Here, I'll take care of that for you" was my go-to response to everything. I treated him like he was completely incompetent. The more I took care of things the more he expected them, but at the same time the more useless he felt, the more depressed he got, and the more he resented me. The more I took on, the more like a parent than a partner I felt, the more he expected me to do things, the more I resented him.
After a few years our resentments toward each other had turned to contempt. We no longer viewed each other as partners or equals. I really felt I no longer cared if he were to abandon me, I often felt it would have been a relief (that was until dday proved me wrong, because apparently I did care). Having tied my self-worth into doing for him, and no longer having the things I had done acknowledged or appreciated, I felt useless and unloved. The more I couldn't control what was going on around me, the more out of control I became. I had tried so hard to create this perfect life, this perfect marriage, this perfect family, and I had failed miserably. I felt completely and utterly worthless.
Dday, and the six or so months that followed, were my "crisis point", or, for lack of a better term, my "rock bottom". I just could not keep going on the way I had been.
And so began the journey to healing.
Reading "Women Who Love Too Much" at my IC's suggestion was the first step. It opened my eyes and helped me to see myself clearer. Listening to "Codependent No More" opened my eyes further. I could see a path forward and I finally felt less helpless. I started sitting with my thoughts and reflecting on everything. When I would have an insight about something - like the lack of self-worth, the fear of abandonment, the need for control and perfection, I dug deeper. I read book after book, article after article, watched videos. I took notes. Lots of them. I reflected. I discussed things with BetterFuture13. I shared what it was like from my perspective and he shared what it was like from his. He worked through his own codependency. We both worked through our resentments toward each other and discovered that the anger, resentments and contempt were not really for each other, but actually towards ourselves - for not being authentic and honouring ourselves, for not speaking up when we didn't agree, etc.
I've learned that I have worth just be being. That I am capable and stronger than I thought. That there is no such thing as perfect. That control is an illusion and that trying to get ground under my feet is an exercise in futility. (Check out Pema Chodron's conversations about groundlessness).
I feel lighter now.
BetterFuture13 and I are still together, and healthier than ever. It turns out that he is wiser, more insightful, more capable than I ever thought. We are partners and equals now. There was a chance when I started working on myself that it would not turn out this way - that he would continue on the path of self-destruction and I would have to walk away - but it was worth that risk to get myself into a healthier place. I'm glad he chose a similar path.
There is so much I left out and more I could have expanded on, but I hope that sharing my experience can help in some way.