“How I became Codependent.”
Growing up as a child who was abandoned by my mother when I was five and living with an alcoholic father, I quickly encompassed the characteristics of a codependent.
At an early age, I sought out people—anyone—who would listen to me or want to be my friend.
As the aqua book Co-dependents Anonymous reads on the welcome page, “We attempted to use others—our mates, our friends, and even our children, as our sole source of identity, value, and well-being, and as a way of trying to restore within us the emotional losses…”
My life was spent looking to sick people to help me while not knowing or understanding that these people didn’t have the knowledge or resources to help me.
Once as a teenager, about 16 years-old, my older sister had a party at our house. As the party died down, a man was left sitting in my living room. I didn’t know who he was or where he came from, but for some reason, I revealed to him something deeply personal. I don’t recall what it was that I told him, but I do remember that when I was done speaking, I said to him, “I never told anyone that before.”
The man looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and sarcastically said, “So?”
It was obvious by his facial expression and tone that he was annoyed and disturbed by my disclosure.
I remember thinking in that moment that clearly there was something wrong with this guy. Who could be that uncaring and insensitive? I was left feeling disturbed by his behavior. But, through the years something changed as I’ve thought of that moment. In refection, I no longer feel sorrow or have hurt feelings because of that man’s lack of empathy, but rather, I feel sorry for that teenage girl—the girl who learned to keep her thoughts and feelings bottled inside and didn’t know who to trust. I think how sad it was that she had absolutely no one to confide in and sought the ear of a total stranger—a man sitting in her living room after a party, no doubt intoxicated by more than one substance—as she looked for someone, anyone to care.
Not understanding that I had abandonment in my life, as I grew older, I continued trying to find solace in those who couldn’t comfort me. I was dependent on a system that couldn’t support me.
It wasn’t until the beginning of recovery, at the time I discovered 12-step work that coincidentally my pastor at church had said to look to God first not to people.
Other people can’t make me whole. I had to learn that lesson over and over again, as friends, so called friends, dropped in and out of my life. It has been a hard lesson to learn, especially since I’ve been codependent since about the age of five when my mother left.
In the past, when people had left my life, I was always sad and heartbroken at the ending of the relationship whether that relationship was healthy or not. Now, I can honestly say, in retrospect, that it was always for the best. God had my back, and people came in and out of my life for a reason.
What I’ve learned is to let go and let God.
Resa G –