Hello everyone! I have to say, this writing has been a long time coming – mostly because I have been in denial for a good part of my life about co-dependency's role in my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Therapy is good for helping you make long overdue choices – and facing this obstacle to wholeness in my life was long overdue indeed. That said, I wasted no time looking this personal monster in the eyes. When we face our co-dependency, we can see the fear, control, expectation, and people-pleasing mindsets that steal our joy, our purpose, and honestly our time – and you can be free of them! These last two weeks, I think I have truly relaxed for the first time in my life and can see clearly the true purpose set before me. If that sound crazy to you, I dare you to keep reading.
How did I get to co-dependency in the first place you ask? Co-dependency is both a learned behavior and a coping mechanism – usually in the presence of abuse. It is usually learned by watching others who are co-dependent and are unaware. I had a parent who for all practical purposes was co-dependent and unaware. I don't blame my parent – they were doing what they knew and what they learned. I don't even blame myself. I was trying to survive an abusive marriage and making my late husband happy helped me get through the day to day in ways most people will never understand.
Before I go any further, let me point you back to the second half of the title of this blog: it is no longer my job to make you happy. The “you” can be anyone – friend, family member, co-worker, pastor, friend group, association, church, spouse, etc. Fear led to the control, control led to people-pleasing. I don't need nor want these things anymore. I am walking in my God-given purpose and pursuing the me He created me to be. I don't need permission nor approval. I don't carry anymore guilt for not conforming to the images of this age – including the images the Church has created. I don't need everyone to like me. Besides, if everyone liked me, they'd all want my attention and frankly, I don't have the energy for everyone. I'm not God but I have tried to make myself a little god in order to be liked, loved, in control, and safe. I am done – I'm content to let God be God. I don't have the capacity to be God. And to be honest, neither do you. I'm already loved and liked by several people and definitely by God. Control is an illusion. Safety is highly overrated
My therapist asked me the other day; “what do you see as your purpose in life?” For the first time as an adult, I could answer that question without pause and very clearly. For the first time, I was more relaxed in a counseling appointment than I have ever been in my life. For the first time in a long time, my nervous system is regulated and no one and nothing is going to dysregulate me or they and it will be invited out of my life. I don't say any of this to say I won't ever love anyone again, or I won't be close to a select number of people, or that I want to be a recluse. I don't mean any of those things. I say all of this to say – I'm not afraid anymore of anyone, their opinion, or anything. I won't be liked by everyone and that is fine. I won't click with everyone and I can't be everyone's friend and that is okay. I can't give everyone my energy anyway nor will I try to do so. I will give energy to my God-given purpose and my God-given connections and that is all. For the record and for the sake of clarity for this reading audience, I will share what I know to be my life purpose. My purpose in this life is to write, speak, and tell my story so that others don't have to suffer from the abuse that I did in my marriage. My purpose is to see people whole and healed – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Nothing and no one will deter me from this purpose.
As I have been thinking about how to put this new reality into words over the last few weeks, I wrote down 8 ways I will no longer be responsible for people, bend over backwards to make them happy, or enable their hurtful behavior. I wanted to share this with my readers in the hope that someone who also needs to take the same steps will see they are not alone:
1) I am not responsible for your anyone's happiness. They have to do the work to figure out who they are, want they want, and where they want their life to go. I can't fix people and I will no longer try to do so. I do want to see people happy and whole and I can support them on their journey to get there, but I am not responsible for doing their life work.
2) I am not responsible for anyone's emotions. They have to be self-aware and work on their own emotional health including their triggers. This does not give me permission to be hateful to people or unkind, but it does give me permission to not engage with any kind of emotional manipulation.
3) I am not responsible for anyone else's thoughts or their actions. They are a human beings with the ability to make their own decisions and act accordingly. They are responsible for the the outcomes in their lives (barring what is outside of their control). They are responsible for learning their own self-control.
4) I am not responsible for the trouble people bring on themselves. They have their own minds and can make good and bad decisions for themselves. It is up to them to face the consequences of their thoughts that become actions. This does not mean I can't have empathy and compassion and I will have empathy and compassion for them as a person - it simply means it's not my problem to fix.
5) I am not available to any one person all the time, I don't have the energy or the time in hours. I need rest, resetting, and time not only to myself but time with all the people God has placed in my life.
6) I am not responsible for whether people like me or not. I have no control over anyone's perceptions of me or their feelings. I'm not going to continue to try and control things I could never control anyway. Again, control is an illusion. Other people are not writing by self-worth check. This does not give me permission to be careless with people's feelings or be unkind. I simply can't do anything about whether someone likes my personality or not. I will not change who I am to fit into someone's box.
7) I am not responsible for anyone financially unless they are under 18 and I give birth to them or they are a stepchild. This statement is self-explanatory.
8) It is not my job to please anyone at the expense of my mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. I have given up people-pleasing so please take note. This includes parents, other family members, pastors, friends, spouses, the church, etc. God did not call me to people please, he called me to speak life to people so they can choose to be free.
Co-dependency is dead in my life. It has taken it many years to die. It was a stubborn, unneeded companion. It's tombstone reads: “Here lies Co-Dependency. The chain that held all the other chains together. The cleverest lie every told.”
What's keeping you from killing Co-Dependency in your life? What are you getting from the all of the perceived control and fear you keep around? What are you getting from that person you keep around at the cost of yourself and your purpose? I will say it again, control is an illusion, and fear has driven everything bad that ever happened on this planet. What soul work (trauma work) do you need to do? The soul work (trauma work) I have done over the last several years has been the best thing I've ever done for myself! Getting out of my abusive marriage (and understanding what put me there) was life-saving for me! Coming to terms with the lies and the pain of my past has been life changing! Understanding the how and why I got there has given me much freedom. What are you waiting for? There is no better time to heal than the present time! There is no better time to be free than the here and now! Don't spend another year in your self-made prison. Choose freedom! When we choose freedom, we choose life. When we choose life, everything changes!
Isaiah 61:1 NIV; The Spirit of the Sovereign on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news.... He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.....
Go my friends, and be free this day!