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Finding out you’re codependent can be a little shocking. I know it was for me. But once I knew, I could start taking steps to overcome it. Here’s my story of how I healed my codependency.
To start off, I want to share the moment where I realized I wasn’t healthy in my relationships. It was in 2011 when I was studying abroad in China.
Even though I was studying marketing, I had Skyped with my pharmacist father back home to ask him questions about my homework.
When I came back to class the next day, I mentioned to my professor that I had asked my dad about the homework. Her response was, “Is your dad the source for everything in your life?”
I had apparently been talking about him a lot, but I didn’t realize it was enough to have ever given someone this impression. Also, it really was silly to ask him questions on the topic I was studying. He didn’t know anything about marketing!
Honestly, I was so ashamed. I remember going back to my apartment and crying because I was so upset with this realization. At that point, my dad really was the source of everything for me.
The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that I wasn’t very independent from him. In fact, when I researched “how to be independent from your parents,” I discovered codependency.
Well, I found that…
Codependency is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.BDP Family (source)
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do. Since I was still financially dependent on my parents, I thought that this was the way things had to be.
But a switch had been turned on inside of me. So, I decided to start being more independent and rely less on them emotionally.
Here’s what I did to heal my codependency.
One of the problems with codependency is enmeshment. You lose sight of where you begin, and the other person ends.
So, I decided to start journaling to figure out who I was. I used this simple exercise that you can read about here.
As I started writing in my journal, I began to spend more time with who I truly am. Also, I started discovering what I wanted for myself.
And it helped me see myself more as an individual, and less as someone who was merely codependent.
When I was journaling, I realized that I had a lot of repressed emotions toward my dad. And they were very deep and intense.
Actually, painful emotions are one of the symptoms of codependency. And when these emotions become too much, you can feel numb. (Information via).
Yep, I was numb to all my emotions at this point. Honestly, they were pretty overwhelming, and I didn’t have the skills to work through them myself.
So, I decided to get help.
Since I was a student with little income, I couldn’t afford seeing a therapist. So, I started by talking to people I loved and trusted.
I opened up to friends about what I was going through, and they helped support me. And the more I discussed it, the more resources I discovered.
This is when I met an alternative healer named Amy. I started having sessions with her about every two weeks. We would discuss my issues and she would help clear my energy around them using theta healing.
Between getting support from friends and seeing my alternative practitioner, I was able to build a foundation of independence and self-esteem.
As I was growing stronger in my sense of self, I could no longer accept my parent’s unhealthy behavior.
So, I started telling them what was ok for me and what wasn’t.
Here’s an example. Loving and supporting me in the life I chose was ok. Guilt trips and telling me my choices were wrong were not ok.
My boundaries evolved over time because it took time to figure out what worked for me and what didn’t. And as I learned what was ok for me, I started making it my reality in my relationships.
Honestly, this can be VERY uncomfortable as you start setting boundaries. It’s going to feel unnatural, and you might even feel like you don’t have a right to do this with the person you’re codependent with.
But you have every right to set boundaries! So, just know that it’ll be uncomfortable. But the more you do it, the easier it will become over time.
Even though I discovered I was codependent many years ago, it still took me a long time to get to a place where I felt healthier.
Personally, I was raised on extreme codependency. And to get healthier, I had to learn by teaching myself what healthy looked like by practicing new patterns and habits.
Most importantly, I had to become dedicated to improving my own behaviors for the long haul because these behaviors were so ingrained in me.
So, remember to be patient and give yourself time as you overcome codependency. It’s totally possible, but it’ll take time.