We can probably all agree that with life comes changes. They happen. Shit happens. Sometimes those changes are small and other times they are so big not only does it feel like your head is spinning, but that the world is.
When those big changes occur we're often faced with the “Who the hell I am now?” syndrome. We’ve gotten comfy in our familiar roles so when a new role enters or a change occurs, it’s no wonder we question our identity.
Teenager to adult
Single to married
Becoming a parent for the first or even third time
No longer married
In my life nothing has made my head spin more than shifting roles and changing from codependent to recovering codependent. NOTHING.
My role as a codependent, while not healthy, was weirdly comfortable. It’s a role that I’ve known and played well for 40 years. It has defined me. (Truth be told, I let it define me.)
If you’re not familiar with the term “codependent” or what a codependent is, let me explain.
A codependent person is someone who “supports or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.” (Courtesy of Wikipedia. For a more extensive list of the symptoms of codependency, please click here.)
That was me. I was the “clean up crew”, the one that tried to make everything better, the excuse maker, the protector, the people pleaser. I was all of those things and then some. I took on the responsibility of everyone else’s’ well-being with the exception of one person’s. And I bet you can guess who that person was?
Here’s where the head-spinning, changing, and redefining came in. Over the last year to year and a half I’ve been working really hard to drop the codependency role like the bad habit that it is. And while no longer taking responsibility for others’ well-being is freeing, becoming responsible for only my own has been rather foreign.
Like a little child learning to walk for the first time I've had to relearn how to navigate my world being responsible for ONLY ME. I’ve essentially had to change and redefine myself. (Let me tell you, nothing hurts more than staring at the person in the mirror and not knowing who the hell that person is. What does she stand for? Why is she here?)
I can honestly say I’m really proud of the changes! (Not something I could or would have shared out loud in the past.) And I can honestly say that it no longer hurts to look in the mirror because I know the woman staring back at me and I am damned sure of why she is here.
My Change and Redefining Toolbox
Making the decision to become a recovering codependent was the first step in my journey of changing and redefining me, but what really helped was the following:
Cutting myself some slack, while not easy this was and is a saving grace. I regularly reminded myself that I’m human. I’ve made mistakes and I’m going to continue to make them. Beating myself up for them was a waste of energy and detrimental to my well-being.
Talk dammit. Talk. Holding it all in was not helpful in the healing and redefining process. While I still struggle with sharing when someone pisses me off or hurts my feelings I've recognized how crucial it is. People are not mind readers and I’m just de-valuing myself and my feelings when I don’t talk.
Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness. I don’t have to take things on all by myself. I used to believe that I did and I used to believe that I would be criticized for asking for help. (Hello, limiting beliefs!) I’ve not been criticized once and help has always been there when I’ve asked.
Journaling. Similar to talking, just getting my thoughts on paper every day has been a huge help in moving some energy and in creating a more solid connection with me. I’ve learned a lot about myself from just writing. (If you have never read the book The Artist Way, by Julia Cameron I recommend it, particularly her Morning Pages exercise.)
Lastly, regardless of where this journey of life takes us, the roles that it offers us to play, please know something; it’s not life and the roles that truly defines us. It’s us…we define who we are at the heart level.
So, my friends, here’s my question to you, how do define you?
Until next time, I send you much love and light…