In my journey of codependency, I found myself repeating a pattern of partnering up with three different alcohol abusers over the course of sixteen years. In hindsight, I realize I stayed in those relationships too long. I generally don’t cast judgement, but I can see the damage it caused me … to believe false promises.
I made many mistakes which have become great lessons for me:
1. To put myself in safe places with safe people. People who follow through with what they say (promise) earn our trust. When a person tells you one thing and does another, they are not being responsible, accountable, or honest (with themselves or you). Being led into disappointment with this kind of behavior can be grueling.
When I didn’t know better, I tolerated this behavior because I believed the promises made pertaining to needs and wants … yet, when the behavior only changed for a week or two, I would get upset, hurt, and feel unloved. This cycle eventually caused me to feel unworthy of love and broke down my self-esteem.
I tell you this story not because I want to share with the world how embarrassed I am to have allowed myself to feel so low, I am sharing for all you who see the pattern so you too can get help, support and educate yourself. Go to CODA meetings, go to al-anon, take care of yourself and read Safe People.
I spent over a year seeing a counselor to learn how not to be codependent. As she heard my story, she would call me out on what I was doing to contribute to the problem (aka enabling). Sound scary? Well, here’s the deal. If you want to get well, you must be willing to look at yourself, your thoughts, your words and your behaviors.
Realizing I am the common denominator of my problems, this self-evaluation was the beginning of my journey to mental, emotional and relationship wellness. Years ago, I was introduced to a quote by Mahatma Ghandi:
This rings through my head every time I get disappointed by someone telling me one thing, but doing the opposite.
After spending an enormous amount of energy being angry at my ex-fiancé for all the lies he told me, I had an epiphany that he didn’t do it to me (victim perspective), that he was doing it to himself. Of course, that didn’t make it right, but it did help me feel like it wasn’t deliberate to hurt me, thus enabling me to forgive.
Yes, I may have stayed too long … my goal at the time was to understand the lesson so I wouldn’t repeat it with another partner. This would have been fine had I kept my self-preservation and esteem in tact. Sadly, it took me years to recover. The worst parts were how much my health and my friendships suffered through the process.
If I could share any insight with those facing the pain of living with an addict, or any person that that doesn’t follow through with their promises, that is to take action on behalf of your wellness: take care of yourself—you are worth it and worthy of much love. Find support, joy, laugh, exercise, do things that make you feel good, i.e. massage, yoga, meditate. Spend time with people that lift your spirits and make you feel good about yourself.
In my career of being a wellness guide, I found that no matter which arena you are focused on: relationships, career, communication, fitness, health—mental, emotional, spiritual or physical—results are manifested only by taking action, including the act of thinking positive. Your actions create results and momentum that is powered only by your actions.