Tag Archives: codependent

Codependent Behavior or Simply Trusting My Gut?

16 Oct

To start with, I really appreciate the insight that several people gave me about what I thought was codependent/ co-addict behavior.  There is a fine line between that and trusting myself.  I believe in this case I was following my gut.  I think calling it a “knowing” is very fitting.  That’s what it feels like when I get that kind of intuitive premonition that something is off.

I really haven’t been checking on him otherwise – I swear I can’t even remember the last time I checked that computer history.  There have been plenty of times he has been out of the house or even in it when I’ve had the chance – we agreed to full transparency with electronic devices, after all.  He always gets home before me.  He almost exclusively uses that desktop computer now that I have a work laptop and tablet.  He is in there all the time when I get home from work.  Still, I haven’t felt the need to look.  Until that day.

It sounds weird, I’m sure.  I don’t think I’m psychic or anything.  I just know that we all pick up things that we don’t consciously process.  Little perceptions, changes in speech or behavior or even the air in our environments.  I can’t explain it, but sometimes I do just have a strong feelings that something isn’t right.  I have come to rely on those “knowings” (I really like that term).  I don’t really have to go looking for things, my instinct will tell me when something is wrong.

Similarly, I usually know when I’m feeling a need to control or an urge to “check up” on him in an unhealthy way.  It is then that I can remind myself to focus on the things that I can change – that which is in my control.  I think I have to do more to fine-tune my self-perception on this issue.  I need to find a way to ask myself is this codependent behavior or simply listening to my gut?

So, on to the challenging questions in my next post…

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Being Independent

28 Jun

This topic is something that I just haven’t been able to find the right words for.  I am independent, and I pride myself on that.  So how, at the same time, can I also be codependent?  It’s something that I struggle with because the codependent side of me is not welcome.  It’s not who I want to be.

I don’t want to control other people.  Even though I am independent, and can do it all by myself, I also don’t want to feel like I have to.  Far from it!  I want someone to tell me that they will take care of things, that they will do what needs to be done, that I don’t have to do it all.  I want that person to be my husband.  At the same time I’m afraid to let go before I see that he has the wheel.  What if we crash?  He hasn’t exactly proven to be the safest driver.

History has taught me that when you rely on someone else it doesn’t work out.  I have been hurt, let down, betrayed.  Not just by my husband, either…  The only person I have been able to fully count on is myself.  My family is wonderful, don’t get me wrong.  If I was ever in a position where I needed help and support, they would be there, without a doubt.  I have worked hard for everything in my life, though, and had to prove myself to lots of people.

I was the oldest and felt like I had to take care of myself and be independent so my parents could focus on my brother and sister.  My Dad worked, and my Mom stayed home with us, and I knew how hard that must have been.  I was also smart, so I was expected to achieve great grades.  I let my Mom focus on helping my sister through school, since that wasn’t her forte.  If I got all A’s then that took the pressure off them to worry about me.  I was talented, so I was expected to perform and be spectacular.  My Dad loved sports, so I put everything into playing softball and making the all-stars team every year.  The list goes on and all.

I was also home-schooled until 6th grade, which I have talked about (See Pink), and was the odd-man-out once I got into private and then public school.  I am an introvert (See Being Complete Opposites), so I’ve never been one to have an entire gaggle of friends hovering around me at all times.  That sounds exhausting to me.  I have always marched to the beat of my own drummer, zagged when others zigged, and done things my own way.  I left home to live on my own the day I turned 18 – no free-loading for this girl!  Instead of going straight to college after high school I took off across Europe with money I had saved while working as a file clerk at a local company after school.  I still think that is one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I bought my house at 19, and established myself in a career early on.  When I did go to college 4 years after high school I still got a full scholarship because my prior academics were very strong and my essay about my world experience and desire not to just follow the pack must have impressed them.

When I met my husband I was living very well on my own, thank you very much.  I was several years into home ownership, I almost had my car paid off, and I was in a very good job.  I was nearly done with my degree, which I finished in 3 1/2 years while working full-time.  I had a 4.0 GPA, which I kept all the way through graduation.  I was comfortable.  My credit cards had very low balances or were almost paid off.  My credit score was through the roof.  I didn’t need anyone.

I think that is part of why this relationship seemed to start off on a good foot.  I’m not needy, for the most part (although who doesn’t love to feel loved?).  I was doing my own thing.  I think that was very attractive.  He wasn’t doing so well on the financial front and was just starting a new job, but I could understand that.  He was about a year out from a very bad breakup.  I was coming off a 7 year relationship.  I could definitely relate to how difficult it can be starting your life over.  Even though he wasn’t in as good of a place as me, he also didn’t seem like the clingy type.  He was sweet, but was more than comfortable taking things slow and giving me my own space.  That was what I wanted at that point, so the emotional distance was something I readily accepted.

When I look at where we are now and everything that we have come through I sometimes wonder where that independent woman went.  What happened to her?  I am still a homeowner, I still have amazing credit, and I could definitely still handle all of my responsibilities and bills by myself.  So why am I worried about rescuing him?  Why did I cling when there was barely anything in it for me?  Why did I sell myself short for those first few years when I knew something was off and didn’t demand that he get therapy?  Part of me thinks it’s because I thought we had something great and maybe we can have it again.  He does  have strengths where I am weak and vice versa.  That seems like a pretty thin excuse, though.

Another part of me wonders if my independence is just a shell, another coat of protection to shield me from being hurt.  It is easier to do it all than to open myself up to being disappointed or wounded.  It is easier to be strong than vulnerable.  It is easier to take charge than put things in another person’s hands.  It is easier to focus on someone else’s problems than my own.  I think that is really the heart of the issue.  Maybe it’s also why I love turtles so much.  Once someone has gotten through that shell to the heart of me, it is very hard for me to push them away.  It is easier to “help” than watch someone fail and reap the consequences.  I want the people I love to have the best life possible, even to the point of taking on their pain as my own and taking away from my happiness.

So here I am, a strong, independent woman who is also attached to a lying husband who has cheated on me multiple times.  I’m in a codependent relationship.  What an oxymoron!  I am starting to become more and more self-aware at the same time that he is beginning to take responsibility.  I want to continue down this path more so I can fully realize the joys of being cared for and nurtured as much as I do for others.  Letting go of that control and peeking out of my shell is a requirement that I continue to work on.  I think I’m getting better at it every day.  I look forward to truly being the independent yet vulnerable woman that I know I can be.

Choosing to Reconcile

19 Jun

I have been so caught up in the codependent characteristics list the last few days that everything else has been pushed to the side.  Today I read some questions posed by Samantha Baker of Repairing Shattered Pieces on the forum After the Betrayal that got me thinking in a different direction, though.  Here is what she asked:

What made you choose to reconcile with your spouse?
Are you glad?
Are you fearful of another affair in the future?
Do you think that choosing to reconcile was the right decision?
Do you wish you had done anything different?
Do you ever think your spouse got an “easy out”?
Do you ever wonder if you appeared “weak” by choosing reconciliation in your spouses eyes?

So, that is a lot to try to answer, but I decided to take a shot at it.  Rather than use a question/ answer format I’m just going to write down some of my thoughts on the topic and do my best to hit on each of these questions.

Why I chose to reconcile is a complicated thing.  At the beginning of this I would have told you I stayed because I really love him.  He has a kind heart, a positive attitude, and a lot of energy.  We are total opposites in many way, which means that he added things to my life.  He taught me the joys of being spontaneous, introduced me to new foods, and made me cut loose and not take myself so seriously.  I got to know him, as you should with your spouse.  I knew he had faults, and I loved him despite those.  I was able to see past what he did to all of those other things that I didn’t want to cut out of my life.

We were also recently married (the last discovery was only 6 months after our wedding), and I believe in following through with commitments.  I didn’t want to just throw him away, and our marriage along with him, without knowing that I had done everything I could.  I made a promise in front of my entire family, his family, our friends, and everyone who is important to me.  I made that promise to him, but I also made it to myself.  I promised that I would love through thick and thin, better and worse, richer and poorer, and all of that other stuff.  He had betrayed me, but did that mean I should betray him, that promise, and myself in return?  I wasn’t there.

All of those things are still true, but now I have some additional insights.  I’m not a quitter, I hate admitting defeat, and I didn’t want to be a failure.  I didn’t want to be divorced at 26.  I didn’t know what I would do without him, I couldn’t let go of the “ideal marriage” in my head yet, and I couldn’t picture life without him in it.   I was in so much pain, but I felt like making myself the main priority was selfish.  How could I just walk away from everything I had put into this relationship?  From him?  What would he do?  Plus, I told myself that I had done things wrong the last few times I found out about his infidelity and lying.  I should have set firmer guidelines, I should have checked up on him more… I should have, should have, should have.  I felt like this problem was my fault.  I couldn’t walk away and leave him with nothing.  When I saw him so broken and defeated I wanted to help him.  I wanted to fix him.  I wanted to fix us.  In short, I am codependent.

This journey that we are on has taught me that.  It has also taught me more about myself and my husband than I knew at the beginning of the process.  Am I glad I stayed with this instead of walking away?  I feel like a stronger person.  I don’t feel “weak” at all.  This is a much harder road by far than leaving it all behind.   If I kicked him out immediately, there would still be unanswered questions.  There would still be hurt.  His actions probably would have pushed me farther away from my own issues because I would have been able to lump them all together and put them in the back of some dusty closet that I never opened again.  My next relationship most likely would have been impacted, and it would always be there making me feel uncertain, self-conscious, leery, and closed off.   I wouldn’t have worked on myself nearly as much.  In that way, I am benefiting personally from taking a hard look at the ways I contributed.

As for whether he got off “easy” or not, I don’t think so.  If he wants to keep this marriage, he will need to overcome his bad habits, some of which are decades in the making.  He is learning new tools to communicate.  He is figuring out how to deal with tough emotions.  He is working a program.  He is dealing with family of origin issues, boundaries, triggers, and more.  He will have to be vulnerable.  He will have to be honest – not only with me, but with himself – maybe for the first time.

I still have fear, but I am leaving it farther and farther behind everyday.  As I heal myself, I find those paranoid thoughts are fading.  I don’t think about what happened nearly as much as I think about where I’m headed now.  I am realizing what things I can control and what I can’t.  Even if he does have another affair, worrying about it now won’t change that.  It won’t do me any good.  It won’t make him decide not to stray.   All I can do is focus on myself, set boundaries about what I will accept, and be prepared to move on if he doesn’t hold up his end of things.

I do wish sometimes that we had found our current MC earlier.  I wish I had picked up Codependent No More way sooner than 2 weeks ago.  But I’m also letting go of my wish list and “should have” or “what if” thoughts.  I am dealing with each thing that comes up as it comes up.  I am trying not to regret the past because it has brought us here.  That last one is a tough one.  I’m taking it all day by day, though.

Letting Go… Easier Said Than Done

23 Apr

One thing I have been struggling with lately is letting go and detaching from the decisions my husband makes and the responsibilities that are his alone.  The issue of co-dependancy has been on my mind a lot.  I was reading a blog post, Third Person Perspective, from another woman who is going through a similar situation.  She wasn’t really talking about co-dependency.  Her post was about how her triggers are still gut-wrenching and how her husband’s upcoming business trip is causing anxiety.  Some of the comments talked about what her husband could do to help alleviate those fears since she wasn’t able to take off work and go along.  She also delved into some of her own insecurities surrounding his behavior and her worry that he might not be able to “stick to his ideals.”

I have some of the same worries.  Even when I think my husband has no intention of doing wrong, I get nervous and anxious in situations that seem similar to what we went through.  I know that is partly due to “triggers.”  For those not familiar, a trigger is an event or situation that is similar to something you have experienced before that immediately brings back the same emotions from the past.  I have talked to my husband about the different things that trigger me – like seeing that his phone ringer is completely off or catching him in a lie, no matter how “small.”

But I also realized today that a lot of my anxiety is about the fear that I can’t control how things turn out for us.  A lot of this is really on him.  And that scares the shit out of me.  He is the only one who can stop himself from lying, cheating, destructive behavior, and his negative patterns.  Sure, being there for him and supporting him is something that I can do.  But I can’t be there all the time.  He is on his own the majority of every day when he’s at school or work.  A lot of his past behavior was at work, but if I dwell on that fact it would drive me crazy.  So I’m working on finding a way to let go of the things that I have no control over.

It’s really not easy.  Because if he can’t control himself (like he couldn’t in the past), I know now what that will do to me.  And I know I can’t handle it.  It’s hard to hand your future sanity over to someone who has hurt you so deeply, even if you are rebuilding the trust.  But somehow I have to do it because there is no way to control his every action.  I have also come to realize that I don’t want that responsibility.  Maybe that means I’ve made progress. Who knows…

What I do know is that he has to make the right choices whether I’m in the picture or not.  I can’t be his conscience or therapist.  He needs to develop his own boundaries, figure out his own way of staying right, and go back to his individual counselor who has a plan and can teach him the correct tools for healing.  I’m not going to be his guide through this anymore – he needs to take some action on his own.

So, back to the whole idea of co-dependency.  What is it really?  At what point does it become unhealthy?  Are there different “rules” if you have been cheated on?  Is it something I should be concerned about at this point?  What can I do about it?  Depending on who you ask it is either a terrible thing or a necessity for a marriage (to a certain degree).  Every article I read also seems to have a different definition of what codependency is.  Under some definitions our relationship could be characterized that way, but under others we don’t fit the bill.  Some things I read sound like I could be an “enabler,” but other things are so far off base that I would be termed something more like a “disabler.”  It can get quite confusing.

For now I have reached the conclusion that the important thing is finding a healthy balance of personal independence and dependence on your spouse.  After all, if I wanted to be completely unconnected and independent of another human being why would I be married?  In his book Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship, M. Gary Neuman encourages couples to establish a “healthy co-dependence” in their marriage.  I haven’t read the book, but I think I will have to order it because I want to know how to do that.  I certainly don’t want to feel chained like the picture below, but I also don’t want a relationship where we merely co-exist in our separate lives without worrying about the other person’s needs, feelings or desires.

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