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Below is a list of behaviors of Codependency as relayed by Mental Health America.  I added some personal notes to this list and is no way exhaustive.

• An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others.

• A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue.

• A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time.

• A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts.

• An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship to avoid the feeling of abandonment.

• An extreme need for approval and recognition.

• A sense of guilt when asserting themselves. A feeling that your needs and feelings don’t matter or are less significant.

• A compelling need to control others-as a way to avoid abandonment.

• Lack of trust in self and/or others.

• Fear of being abandoned or alone.

• Difficulty identifying feelings.

• Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change.

• Problems with intimacy/boundaries.

• Chronic anger.

• Lying/dishonesty.

• Poor communication.

• Difficulty making decisions.

I am a Codependent in recovery.  I have engaged in all of the above behaviors, and some not listed. I have been in recovery for a little over a year, and continuously see areas of growth for myself. However, I have achieved a level of confidence and self esteem that has escaped me much of my life. I hope to help anyone struggling with these issues and encourage others to seek the help they need.

Below is my personal struggle with Codependency and how I got to where I am today.  It wasn’t easy and still requires a desire to learn, learn more, honesty, self awareness, and continually practice compassion with self-compassion. Daily, I am presented with choices- a choice reflective of my growth or reflective of what is no longer serving me.

Before I Discovered I was Codependent

Until the end of 2017, I struggled with finding peace and contentment in my life.  I kept searching for the next relationship, friendship, project, habit, job, life path or belief system to give me what seemed to continuously allude me-self love. On the outset, I really did not know that self love was what I was searching for or missing. Yet in the process realized self love and self acceptance was really the solution to my struggles and deep healing.

Like many Codependents, I was raised in an environment lacking the nurturing and love that I needed.  I was the product of many generations of emotional, sexual, and psychological abuse. It is easy to make my parents the villains, but they did the best they could with the skill sets they have. However, I am not saying understanding this, excuses abuse and mistreatment, but understanding that it was mostly unintentional, helped me have compassion and therefore self compassion. It helped me embrace the yin/yang or light/darkness that makes us all. Part of my healing was forgiving my parents and mourning the childhood I deserved and was deprived of.

Self Loathing

From a young age, either directly or indirectly, the message communicated to me was that my needs, feelings, and wants were insignificant. In order to survive, I had to shrink down and put everyone else ahead of me. I did not have the freedom to be a care free child. If I loved myself, than I mattered-so I never learned how to love myself.

Along with an inner belief that what I need, want, and feel is not important, as a coping mechanism to deal with trauma, I learned at a young age to disassociate and ignore myself. I have an ability to “check out” and detach from chaos ensuing around me. I have an ability to push through it and hold it together even if inside I am falling apart.

I am the person who functions best under pressure and can still function when many crumble in the face of a crisis.

I often find myself very detached from my feelings due to these skill sets.  Situations arise and I will feel strong emotion that I cannot quite label. I may have conflict, an uncomfortable situation that really hurts me, yet, I am not be able to identify what really hurt me or even recognize that I am feeling emotion about it at all. I’ll even blame something totally unrelated for my feelings.

This lack of self-awareness or ignoring self, as I call it,  created major problems for me.  Ignoring self did not mean my needs, wants and feelings just went away.  I acted in ways to assert myself in often very manipulative and passive aggressive ways-mostly in a very unconscious unaware way I was doing this.

Some examples:

  • I would start an argument over something petty or not really an issue to be able to have a fight to resolve my feelings and emotions inside a relationship/friendship about something else.
  • I would manipulate a situation to create a fight or push the person to do what I wanted/needed without having to assert myself.
  • I would lie about how I really felt,  what I wanted, and needed.
  • I felt guilty for having wants, needs and feelings, so rarely asserted myself or make excuses as to why I couldn’t assert myself.
  • I would lash out in anger out of resentment for feeling unheard or acknowledged.

I also held an inner belief that I was not lovable and not worthy of love. At the core I hated myself. Unconsciously, I felt I had to prove my value and worthiness of love -since I didn’t see my own value. I would morph myself into or do what other people seemed to want or seemed to approve of or accept. I lived and died by others’ opinion or approval of me.

Some examples:

  • I would lie about liking a band, movie, book, TV show, having an experience or some other thing to create a false sense of connection with others to gain acceptance and love. **This was one of the most uncomfortable things to admit and acknowledge but huge for my growth.
  • I would over-give and over extend myself. I had to prove my usefulness to others for them to love me. Being me wasn’t enough. **I still struggle with this and have to check in with myself a lot to not slip into this.
  • I had poor boundaries and did not respect other people’s boundaries. If someone said no, I’d keep asking or push them to give into what I wanted. I had a really hard time saying no or explaining my reasoning for saying no as well or that I didn’t have to explain myself at all.
  • I could not just listen to friends vent or allow them to speak about their troubles. I had to give the best advice and “fix” their problem. I often would get very invested and attached to solving other people’s problems. I would even get upset if they did not take my advice or let me fix the problem for them.
  • I would resist making decisions or taking control of my life out of fear of being rejected or not accepted by others for my choices.
  • I apologized constantly-almost for my very existence.  I put myself down and dismissed myself a lot. Self-effacing humor was my go to in cultivating friendships.
  • I engaged in things in an addictive way- whether it be substances, working out, shopping, actual work, new habits, relationships, and lifestyles to detach from my feelings of being unlovable and/or prove how lovable I was. Nobody could possibly want to be around sober me or find me “enough.”

I held a very deep fear of abandonment and constantly sought out love in literally everything, but within myself. I would do anything to prevent abandonment-even self sabotaging good relationships/friendships.

Some examples:

  • I tolerated poor treatment and being taken advantage of. I stayed in relationships and friendships that were abusive and depleting. I was a total doormat.
  • I pushed people away and sabotaged positive change.
  • I would be passive aggressive instead of saying “no,” or hint at things I wanted or needing-expecting people to read between the lines.
  • I didn’t trust people and always suspected a false or ulterior motive.
  • I would choose relationships and friendships that were “projects,” where I was going to fix this person and make them “better.” If I was in some way superior, they would never abandon me.
  • Any change would set off my fear of abandonment and I would try to control others/situations to not allow the change or convince someone change was not needed even if it was.

Rock Bottom

At the end of 2017, I hit my rock bottom. I was severely depressed and suicidal. I was divorced and had one failed relationship after the other. I depended on alcohol or other substances to socialize or relax. I could barely function or care for my child. My work was slipping.  I was teetering on financial ruin. My anxiety was so bad I could not eat. I could not sleep.  I threw up almost every day. I was loosing weight rapidly. I did not know where I ended and other people began.

I remember one instance where I made a mistake at my job. I worked myself into a panic attack one night over the possibility of getting fired (not even a real chance of that happening) and it took me days to stop shaking and calm down.  Overall, my world seemed to be crumbling around me.  I knew something had to change.

The First Step Forward

I started therapy. This was not my first trip to see a therapist.  As a young adult I sought therapy for anxiety/depression multiple times.  I usually would go long enough to start to see positive change in my life and then would stop treatment.

At first I was going to therapy every week and was referred to a psychiatrist that I was seeing once a month.  I was able to get medication that helped ease my symptoms and my doctor exposed me to holistic methods that helped me as well.  Eventually, in addition to this, my therapist referred me to a therapy group for children of narcissistic families I attended for a year.

The therapy group was a huge part of my growth. I saw a mirror image of myself reflected back at me every week.  I heard the same narrative I knew so well repeated back to me over and over again. The self doubt. The self limiting beliefs. The self hatred. The fear of abandonment. The role I played in the whole dynamic.  I understood on a very deep level what I was missing in my life. The actions that were needed seemed so clear viewing “myself” outside of “myself” in that way. I needed to learn to love and embrace myself-all and all.

“All You Need Is Love”

At the beginning of 2018, I read Codependent No More. How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself by Melody Beattie.  It brought about earth shattering realization, major change and shifts in my life. Finishing the book was my ultimate “Ah-ha” moment.  It was a pivotal point in my awakening.  I realized what was “wrong” and why things had gone the way they have in my life. I realized I had the power to make change.

I began devouring other self help books. I remember reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and A New Earth and feeling that I had unlocked a significant clue to my anxiety/depression issues. I constantly lived in my head. The idea of not thinking, being mindful, and being in the present was a totally foreign concept for me. I remember often in social situations, I couldn’t make eye contact or even speak, paralyzed by the idea I would say something “wrong.”

I cared way too much about everything, everyone,  and what others thought of me.  The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck  by Mark Manson helped me see that the less I cared-the happier and less burdened I felt. Constantly comparing myself to others was leading to my own dissatisfaction. Also when you truly love yourself and have confidence the level of fucks you give dwindles significantly.

I also started listening to Alan Watts lectures. I read his books along with Deepak Chopra. Rick Hanson’s The Enlightened Brain-The Neuroscience of Awakening was an extremely helpful audiobook filled with guided meditations on healing past trauma.

I went through a period of isolation and only spent time around people I could be totally vulnerable with. I had a lot of friends I partied with then, but few genuine close friendships. I took a break from substances that could alter my state of being, which included alcohol and even caffeine- my friendships shifted significantly. I went through a period of loneliness as I shifted and made new connections. I would be lying if I said it was easy. Idle time was always torture for me.

I spent a lot of time sitting in uncomfortable emotions instead of trying to escape them. At first it was really hard, but I had to learn to sit in my emotions and acknowledge them. I had never done this before. I had always reached for something or someone to take the pain away. It was a lot easier to distract myself than sitting in discomfort.

I started to meditate every day and also started going to a group meditation once a week. I worked out more and started taking better care of myself. I was more mindful of what I put into my body-whether that be food or surroundings.

I stopped saying “yes” when I meant “no.” I quit taking on too much work. I started to realize I had no control over anyone but myself. If I felt mistreated or felt victimized, I started to realize the power I had in the situation. I was choosing to be a victim. The idea I was powerless was a lie. I had no obligation to engage with someone or something that was hurtful- including toxic family.

Over time, my perspective shifted. I learned to appreciate myself. I learned to love myself. I learned to pay attention to what I wanted and needed regardless of anyone else. I realized it was okay if people did not accept me or love me. I cut off toxic relationships and toxic people in my life. I set boundaries. The love I had for myself was the only love that really mattered and when you truly love yourself-people love and respect you too.

Instead of looking at myself with harsh judgment and criticism- I learned my story gave me a sense of compassion and understanding of others. To accept what is and not clinging to how I want things to be-acknowledging my feelings around it and how expectation and failure to accept what is created disappointment. Learning the power of non-attachment. Learning that every moment I have another opportunity to do better.

Conclusion

I am far from perfect. I catch myself slipping on my self care and engaging in some of the example behaviors typical of Codependency. Dating is a tricky balance of respecting my needs/wants and someone else’s. Finding the courage to say no sometimes is a littler harder than I want to admit. Being brutally honest and self aware is where I find the power to keep improving and letting go of what isn’t good for me. Healing is not linear. Also, not judging myself too harshly when I don’t make a choice towards my growth and what that has taught me in the process.

I am no mental health professional, just someone who has done a lot of healing and growth. What has helped me, may not be helpful for others. What resonates for me, may not hold any merit for someone else. Self improvement is not a one size fits all process. Just a continuous commitment to betterment.

 

 

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On June 17, 2019 in the early morning we will enter a full moon phase in the zodiac sign of Sagittarius. This moon was called the “Thunder Moon” by some native Americans. Like any full moon, the moon will be at its brightest point in its transit.  It is a symbol of harvest and culmination of our efforts. With the sun in the late part of its time in Gemini, Jupiter retrograding squaring Neptune in Pisces, and Mars in Cancer opposing Saturn, this will be a moon of big plans, focus on self, expansion, vulnerability, heavy pondering, and conversation.

Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign ruled by Jupiter that is about adventure and looking past what is just beyond into the unknown. The archetype of this sign is the archer.  He can change course to follow his prey, but has the dedication to track it for execution. He can be blunt and direct.    Sagittarius can see the bigger picture, but can also have many highs and many lows.  He can be quick tempered, yet methodical and wise. He can be spontaneous, but reliable.

Mutable signs are changeable and adaptable. Fire signs are passionate and head full force towards what thrills them in the moment. Jupiter is the planet of luck, growth, and expansion. He brings a deeper understanding to help ground the fiery limitless thrill seeker of Sagittarius. With Jupiter retrograding, there will be a full circle energy surrounding certain areas of life. There be a feeling of needed change and how to make that possible. Change may come without our doing, but it brings a sense of coming full circle.

Neptune will be in its home sign of Pisces during this moon squaring Jupiter retrograding  in Sagittarius. Pisces is a very dreamy sign and can be prone to illusion and as a water sign, has deep emotions. Neptune symbolizes dreams, illusion, and spiritual enlightenment.  However, Neptune can represent deceit, trickery, and naivety, which are also characteristics of un-evolved Pisces.  This square can make us dream big and shoot for what seems impossible. This square can also make us unrealistic and prone to fantasy. You may feel more drawn to spiritual practice around this time. This energy also can act as a removal energy. Something needs to go to actually attain these dreams.

Mars will be in Cancer opposing Saturn during this full moon. Mars is a planet about action and aggression. It adds restlessness. Mars wants to drive forward. Cancer is a water sign that is highly sensitive, highly connected to family and very loyal.  Mars in Cancer likely can create disruption in the family dynamic or leaving us feeling extremely vulnerable and sensitive in connection to familial relationships. Saturn represents the father in astrology. Saturn also represents boundaries and established order. Saturn gives us structure. This opposition and these aspects, there may be a dispute arising out of day to day life or even among governing bodies. There may be a challenge of accepted authority.  There may be a major shift in a relationship with a family member or where you lack boundaries and need more order.  It may be time to quick a habit that is impacting important parts of your life. There may be an area you need more discipline.

Between the moon’s time in Sagittarius and it’s transit into Capricorn, it will be considered “Void of Course.” Being void of course there will be a big shift between seeing this big picture and dreaming big and pushing you into acting on those realizations. There will be a momentum building during this moon.

This Thunder moon is  the precipice of  major change. It is the rumble before the lightning strike. Something likely come full circle and a deeper realization may be obtained when it comes to self and family relationships. Some new individual truths will be realized.

The sun is in the later part of Gemini, but is mostly not attached to any one sign this moon. It is going to be Peregrine, put simply, it is not heavily aspected.  The sun represents self, so a self centered focus may be prevalent around this moon. This can bring a heavy sense of independence and feeling ungrounded. You may feel more focused on self improvement or what needs changing in your day to day habits. How do you fit into the grander scheme of things? You may be just a little selfish too and hungry for the spotlight.

The affect of Gemini will still play heavy with this moon. Gemini is ruled by mercury which is the planet of communication. You may feel “stuck in your head,” this moon having a back and forth conversation with yourself with the un-hinged sun. People may speak bigger and loftier than they really mean with the affect of Neptune. Words and thoughts can be a major trigger for change during this moon. There may be a lot of harsh and emotional communication. This is a good time to read between the lines of what others are communicating. Words are hard to take back once spoken.

There is a vision and idea we want to see realized by year’s end. This moon will give us the ideas to reach that goal, what needs to change, but it may seem difficult to be patient and put in the work until the moon moves into Capricorn. Write down your ideas. Focus on which goals are easily in your reach and go from there. Be realistic with yourself and others. This is also a time of finding out how we really feel and coming to terms with those emotions.

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On May 18, 2019 we will enter a Full Moon phase in the zodiac sign of Scorpio.  This moon is also known as the Buddha Moon and was called the Flower Moon by Native Americans. This moon will also be considered a “blue moon,” although only in name. The popular concept of a Blue Moon is when there are two full moons in one month.  The traditional Blue Moon is the third of four moons in one season, which is occurring  this month.

Scorpio is ruled by Pluto and is a sign about death and birth- the phoenix rising from the ashes. Scorpio is a water sign that feels deeply and can be quiet intense.  Scorpio is also a fixed sign meaning they can be very stuck in their ways. Scorpio’s emotions fester and that water element has a tendency to come to a boil-needing to let out steam.  A moon in this sign is usually about bringing what is hidden to the surface and highly emotional. What is at the point of boiling over? What latent emotion needs to come to the surface? What are you keeping inside that needs to be expressed?Full moons are about endings and culminations of our labor.  This moon will be no different.

The namesake of the Buddha Moon is a nod to the death/rebirth of the Buddha when he gained enlightenment- leaving his role as a prince to seek something more.  An old self dying and re-birthing the man we know as the Buddha. The Flower Moon is representative of Flowers blooming around this time.  Flowers boom in place of what has passed on.

The sun will be conjunct Mercury  and oppose the moon in Scorpio during this phase. Mercury rules communication and thought. This aspect will create a need to communicate and express ourselves.  It will create a conversation between logic and emotion bubbling up.  Combined with the heavy emotional energy of Scorpio, there may be an urge to communicate in an impulsive emotional way.  However,  the sun is still in Taurus, who is not a sign known for being impulsive (even though she can be a bit harsh in her delivery of truth).  The aspect to Taurus will provide a softening energy to the Mercury aspect, bringing in a sense of observation and needing to gain perspective before speaking/acting. It will help ground and create stability with the emotion that may come up.

Coinciding this moon we currently have three planets in retrograde.   Pluto and Saturn are currently retrograding in Capricorn and Jupiter is retrograde in Sagittarius. These energies have already caused a lot of shakeup in the astrology world, but will also affect the energy of this moon phase.

Pluto rules Scorpio and is a planet about the unseen, shadow, and subconscious. Pluto is about bringing the truth to the light- she is a keen investigator.  She has been retrograde since April 24th.  You may have already experienced an unearthing of what was buried-even what you didn’t even know was buried. With this retrograde in Capricorn, an earthy, practical, and hardworking sign, Pluto might expose the areas where you need more joy. What latent desires are not being fulfilled. Maybe you are focusing too much on work and being practical and not enough on play.

Saturn is also retrograding in Capricorn, which is her ruling sign.  Saturn is the planet of karma.  Saturn is also about the day to day obligations and responsibilities of life. When she is in retrograde, what you may have been neglecting in your life will come to forefront.  The obligations you have been avoiding will start to nudge you to address them. You may experience an upheaval in your day-to-day routine and work-life.  If you haven’t been treating others well and being dishonest, that energy will likely come to roost during a Saturn retrograde. Saturn will also highlight areas we are being oppressed or being oppressive. It can also expose problems in family dynamics and structure.

Jupiter is retrograding in his home sign-Sagittarius. Jupiter is the planet of luck, success, and wisdom.  When she is retrograde there may be an urge to travel, learn something new, or seek new experiences.  Sagittarius is all about fresh, new, and adventure.  There may be an urge to make sudden changes due to a desire for something bigger and better.  It may be best to take a step back and evaluate before making any new big moves.  Once Jupiter goes direct you may not be so happy with any major life altering changes you made during the season.

Probably the biggest energy influence on this moon of the planets in retrograde will be Pluto in Retrograde, since Pluto rules Scorpio.  Pluto is only one degree from Mercur. This energy will push us to go deeper on what needs to be seen and communicated. Hard conversations may come about around this moon.

There are a lot of intense energies around this moon.  Trust that what may not be staying in your life, was not meant to be there.  Be open to having the hard conversations-some long needed heart to hearts may be ignited. Be mindful of your emotional state and how that needs to be expressed and what needs to be addressed.