“From identifying as ‘codependent tumbleweed’ to the unexpected joy of aligning with unconditional love.“ Today I share Jacquie’s story. See what resonates for you.
Codependency Sounds Big and Scary
When I hear the word codependency, there’s a feeling of fear. It sounds big and scary and like something that happens to ‘broken’ people, that it requires years of therapy and which evokes ideas of gaslighting and being a victim to narcissistic behaviour.
Given this, it looks like something you wouldn’t want to acknowledge is in your experience. But, like all labels, when taken as truths, we limit ourselves from really seeing and understanding.
When we get close in, beneath the label, and understand what’s actually going on, we’re on our way back to the freedom of our essential, fundamentally-well nature. And this opens the door to see that, the instant there’s an idea of being a separate self, codependent patterns will show up for all human beings. Of course to greater and lesser extents — but really, they show up for all human beings.
Today I’m sharing Jacquie Bamber’s words, as this was a topic that had come into awareness for her, and which has been challenging — but also enlightening — to look more closely at. First some context.
What Does Codependency Mean?
Here’s the definition Jacquie found that resonated most for her and which brought the idea of codependency out of the realm of ‘that’s scary and not me’ into the recognition of ‘me too’:
“Codependency is a circular relationship in which one person needs the other person, who in turn, needs to be needed. The codependent person, known as ‘the giver,’ feels worthless unless they are needed by — and making sacrifices for — the enabler, otherwise known as ‘the taker.”
How Do You Spot It?
This article highlights the following ways of spotting if codependency is present for you:
- Find no satisfaction or happiness in life outside of doing things for the other person.
- Stay in the relationship even if they are aware that their partner does hurtful things.
- Do anything to please and satisfy their enabler no matter what the expense to themselves.
- Feel constant anxiety about their relationship due to their desire to always be making the other person happy.
- Use all their time and energy to give their partner everything they ask for.
- Feel guilty about thinking of themselves in the relationship and will not express any personal needs or desires.
- Ignore their own morals or conscience to do what the other person wants.
To me these represent the extreme end of the codependent experience. Perhaps this is the experience which is most commonly associated with the word and which has us turn away from it.
But there is also a very everyday level of codependency where, in the belief that ‘I need you to be a certain way in order for me to be OK’ leads us to alter our behaviour. This is because that statement extends in our control-loving minds to ‘I need to be a certain way, in order for you to be a certain way, for me to be OK’.
For example a client had been feeling vigilant with her partner, trying to avoid being shouted at or being in trouble. In doing this, she’s seen she’s been working hard to say and do the ‘right’ things that will avoid him being upset. And she saw how, in trying to do that, nothing was working…and it’s exhausting…and not true to herself. This is the perfect invitation to see what’s really going on.
The opposite plays out too ‘I need you to be a certain way, in order for me to keep being a certain way, in order for me to be OK’.
For example a client saw this playing out for her with a team member who kept being needy of her time and seeking her counsel. The behaviour pattern allowed her to fulfil the learned idea of needing to be helpful…in order to be seen as good…in the belief that being good has me feel OK (happy, loved, secure).
Lost in that belief, on a subtle level, she was pleased he kept needing her (even though on the surface she would complain and roll her eyes) because then she could keep being ‘good’ by being ‘helpful’. However, through the exploration of who she is and how our psychological system works, she began to wake up to the endless nature of this cyclical pattern, and how they were both suffering in the experience, with no genuine change being made.
And so this is how we find ourselves in a tangled dance of vigilance, trying to second guess what they might do or say and then trying to retro-fit our words and actions to avoid those words or behaviours in them. It’s really exhausting.
Or a tangled dance of maintaining each others behaviour patterns because it’s feeding our mind’s belief that ‘if I just do this enough then I’ll be OK / have made it / be good enough’.
To tell you more about the exploration with these kinds of everyday codependent patterns, I’m delighted to introduce you to Jacquie. She’s walked the full path and so brings much insight into the ever-deepening and ever-enlightening exploration as we return to who we really are. So here’s Jacquie…
Jacquie’s Journey With Codependency
I first heard about codependency many years ago, my initial exploration took me off in many directions. It seemed to overlap other ‘conditions’ that I didn’t really relate to back then, including alcohol and substance dependence, borderline personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder…Phew! That’s a lot of disorders in one sentence! I also observed it’s similarities with ‘Attachment Theory’ and quickly became fascinated and delved deeper, wow!… did it stir the hornet’s nest within. Although I resonated with many of the associated signs and archetypes, it very much felt like a ‘dirty word’ and one to turn my back on.
But it kept hanging around, prodding at me to take a closer look.
Luckily as I began to wake up and smell the coffee, having realised that I had been subconsciously identifying with codependent tendencies for years, I began spending time on an indirect path looking for answers to help fix the broken parts of myself. Full of push-me-pull-you coping strategies to manage and control behaviour.
Then, curiously, I was drawn toward a conversation about thought, reality, and how the human mind really works, and I began to see that trying to fix the dysfunction in my relationships only kept the problem in place. It also became very clear how the ‘trickle effect’ innocently seeps through every generation with my patterns being a replication of patterns for those in my family who’d come before me.
I was further impacted again when I stumbled upon a little life-changing book called ‘Real’ by Clare Dimond and the ‘fixing’ began to take a new direction of ‘un-fixing’. Seeing that the ‘being with’ and ‘understanding of’ — with no need for anything to change — is all that’s needed to unravel the patterns of behaviour.
And now I find myself spending time in this supportive community with a beautiful human being called Helen at the helm! Where the ‘tumbleweed’ is gradually untangling, as I align more and more with the unconditional love of who I am and always have been.
Given the heaviness I’ve felt with this experience over the years, and now the lightness that is increasingly shining through, I wanted to share my journey with others. To share the difference felt when you recognise who you really are and then hang out in spaces that are unconditionally loving of the psychological patterns we’ve collected.
To end I’d I love to share this quote by author, speaker and spritual teacher Wayne Muller-
“When we are merciful, we accept the totality of who we are with unconditional love. We embrace ourselves without judgement, without condition, and with complete forgiveness. We see ourselves and others with soft eyes. Not with eyes that distort or deny, but with eyes that attend more gently to the full spectrum of whatever is true.”
The Full Spectrum
Such a beautiful quote, and “the full spectrum” being absolutely what the freedom that we are looks like.
And available only — as far as I’ve discovered, and as Jacquie’s found too—by attending to both awakening (“recognise who you really are”) and enlightening (“hang out in spaces that are unconditionally loving of the psychological patterns we’ve collected”)
This is the balanced exploration, a whole-istic exploration, the return to the peace, love and freedom of ourself and from which we make loving, balanced and whole-istic choices in relationships — be they codependent or not.
What does all this bring up into awareness for you?
With love, Helen
If you recognise ‘everyday codependency’ in your experience, consider joining this call on 13th May. This is for you if *you recognise the vigilance to please or appease another, the kick in the guts when it looks like you haven’t. If *you see that what you do is dependent on what the other thinks or does. If *you feel unable to say what you think or feel — literally the words won’t come out for fear of getting it wrong. *If you see that despite surface complaints, on some level you delight in them staying the same. If you recognise some or all of these then this call is for you. To be in the space of unconditionally loving awareness with it. Become a member here to be on the call.
Reconnecting you to yourself. I guide and support you in your awakening and enlightenment so that you experience the freedom of who you naturally are, with a quieter mind, more ease and more flow.