Growing up, I was rejected by my dad and enmeshed with my mom. What that meant for me was that I was left with no sense of self. I had to do exactly what my dad said or I would be shamed or punished, and I had to do exactly what my mom said because if I didn’t, she would abandon me, I would be left with no one.
Until joining CoDA, I continued to look for what I should think, feel, and do in others. I learned at an early age how to be an emotional, mental, and verbal chameleon, because if I didn’t feel and think how others wanted me to, I would be abused, abandoned, or rejected. This manifested through people pleasing and mirroring by ignoring any feelings or thoughts that put me at odds with others.
Self-doubt became my reliable imaginary friend — a long as I kept disavowing my experiences, I could be aligned with my caregivers, and therefore feel safe. As a consequence of this, I entered adulthood totally out of touch with how I really felt or thought; I developed eating disorders and addictions, and found myself in abusive relationships.
Thankfully, all of this began to change once I met my husband and life partner. I was shocked that someone could just love me unconditionally for who I am, and be so okay with me not thinking or feeling the same way as he did. He helped me realize that it was safe to be me now — that I could think and feel whatever without explaining myself, and that it was okay to be imperfect in what I do or say.
Through this relationship — my first healthy relationship, I began to realize that I actually had an intuition and sense of self, and how these deep-rooted feelings inside of myself had been pushed down for so many decades. Around this time, I began meeting with a wonderful therapist who has helped me process my traumas and current struggles, while further affirming that I could now be me, feel me, and think me without any dangerous or severe consequence.
So, here I am, approaching my five-month mark in CoDA. Part of my healing from codependency is not just continuing to say how I feel when something doesn’t feel right, but also continuing to make personal choices without help or influence from others. Doing that allows me to practice trusting in myself, my intuition, and my ability to think and feel on my own. Even if my decisions lead to mistakes and failures, which are bound to happen, self-trust is a crucial part of both my recovery from codependency and my development of a stable sense of self. While at times, my fear and anxiety still run rampant, joining CoDA has helped me realize that I’m not alone in my pain. CoDA has given me a space and structure for healing, and that I am forever grateful for.
Jules V. – Jan 13th, 2021