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Here is What You Need to Know to Heal

I have good news and bad news for you today about codependency: The good news is that most people have heard of codependency, so it’s not completely foreign to most. The bad news is that few people actually understand what it is and how it affects our lives.

I have spent years finding out what it is firsthand, and it has revolutionized my life. Twenty-one years ago, I found myself in a very dark place. My fiancé and boyfriend of seven years decided to leave me for someone else four days before our wedding. As one would guess, this was a horrible thing to experience, but it was not exactly a surprise. In fact, it was a very toxic and unstable relationship, and there had been signs since day one that he was not the person for me.

Truth is, I had so many issues at the time, which meant that he was not the only toxic person in the relationship. I was suffering from multiple addictions, self-hate, depression, and codependency. (Not that I knew any of that at the time.) I had experienced many painful rejections in my life, especially from the opposite sex. Thus, I was suffering from what I call, The Cinderella Complex – I was always looking to a man to save me from my pain and codependency. Men were a security blanket for me. And my seven-year boyfriend, despite his MANY shortcomings, was no exception.

That’s why I could never find the strength to leave him. I truly believed no one else would love me and that being alone was a fate worse than death. But when that relationship imploded in the embarrassing and horrible way that it did, I was finally able to obtain some clarity. When the dust had settled, I found myself relieved that we didn’t get married. That brief sense of relief only provided a momentary respite from my pain, however, because on its coattails came something that quite literally brought me to my knees, crippling shame — the shame of putting up with so much crap for such a long time, the shame of not having found the power to end it before he did, the shame of having to cancel a wedding on such short notice.

Finally, at the age of twenty-six, due to the broken engagement, I finally allowed myself to ask the question: Why did I put up with such unhappiness for so long? And what I learned, at least initially, was that my self-esteem was really, really, bad. I was suddenly struck with the reality that I had hung onto that relationship like if it was a life preserver and I was wading in the middle of a turbulent sea. I realized at that point that it wasn’t about him at all. It was about me. And that’s when I decided I needed to get help.

I started therapy at that point, and shortly thereafter I started getting treatment for my addictive issues as well. And for some reason, all the roads for my healing led down the path of codependency. I started learning about codependency through Twelve-Step meetings. But I could have never known at the beginning how profound my codependency problem actually was, and how deep within myself its healing would take me. Nor did I realize how many people I would be able to help with my knowledge of codependency down the line. Those were beautiful realities that were revealed to me through the passage of time, and through a very long and arduous process.

For this reason, I have called these articles, The Codependency Expert Speaks. My expertise on the subject has been tried and true. First, I have learned it through my own blood, sweat and tears. Second, I have learned it through my work as a psychotherapist for the last seventeen years.

Viewing my issues through the lens of codependency has allowed me to understand the core, root issues in my life, to view my life’s problems from a more holistic perspective and to heal at a very profound level. What’s more is that I have witnessed this same phenomenon take place in the lives of my clients. Self-hate, codependency, addiction, and depression are now things of the past for me. But the most powerful outcome of my codependency healing has been that I have awakened to a deep and abiding love and knowledge of my true self. Don’t get me wrong, it has not been an easy or fast journey, but it has been well worth it.

It is common for people on a healing or personal growth journey to have multiple experiences of being blocked or stuck. Understanding codependency issues in a deep way also helps us move through those blocks more effectively, as viewing our issues from the lens of codependency allows for multiple layers of pain, trauma and woundedness to be revealed.

In fact, understanding codependency helps us to better understand how we got stuck in some of our destructive patterns to begin with. As you begin and progress through your codependency journey, you will find the same thing happening to you. This journey will help you understand yourself better, how you got messed up to begin with and how to heal, all from awakening to your massive codependency issues. Talk about a silver lining!

Indeed, most of us have codependency issues. That’s why I titled this article, If You are Human, Then You are Codependent. It’s also why I have written a book on understanding and healing codependency, which is now in the editing phase. I want to get this message out there because I know it has the potential to change lives, and even the world, drastically. I also wanted to get my theory of codependency out there because it is somewhat different and deeper than what is offered by the prevailing school of thought on the subject.

I want to state that I do not disagree with the literature that is currently available. I am thankful for it because it has been integral in my life and healing journey. As I have gained revelation and understanding of its innerworkings, though, I have unconsciously expanded my own theories around codependency and codependency healing. Hence my urgency to share what I have learned with the world.

Codependency Healing: A Spiritual Journey to our Higher, Spirit Self

In my view, codependency issues go to the heart of our relationship with ourselves and our self-identity. In addition, I believe that codependency healing is a spiritual journey leading to our higher, spirit self. This is something I will explain in depth in this article, so stick with me.

What I do wholeheartedly disagree with is the notion that codependency is somehow more prevalent in addicts and family members of addicts. Fortunately, this view has been changing for some time now. But it is worthy of iterating explicitly here, because a lot of people today are unaware of codependency in their own lives because they believe they must be suffering from addictions in some way to qualify. Thus, it has hindered the codependency movement to over-emphasize the correlation between codependency and addiction, though it certainly does exist. Codependency affects the whole of the human race, and its effects are devasting for all of us.

I’d like to now provide you with a brief explanation of my theory so you can understand where I am coming from.

When I first began writing my book, I realized the fundamental importance of formulating a working definition of codependency. So here it is:

Codependency Defined

Codependency is a pattern of maladaptive and dysfunctional behaviors that affects human beings across every level of their lives. It affects them at the level of their relationship with self, which affects their self-esteem and self-identity. It affects them at the level of their relationships with others, which affects their ability to have healthy and satisfying relationships. And it affects their ability to self-actualize, which is to reach their potential in life, achieve their goals and realize their dreams.

Here are some of the signs and symptoms of codependency, which I have broken down into the different aspects of human life, as delineated in the above definition.

Sign and Symptoms of Codependency

How does Codependency Affect our Relationship with Ourselves?

  • Low self-esteem
  • Low self-confidence
  • Lack of self-identity / unstable sense of self
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Feeling lost in life or purposeless
  • Feeling powerless
  • Feelings of inferiority
  • Feelings of shame
  • Poor self-care, guilt around self-care

How does Codependency Affect our Relationships with Others?

  • Inability to set boundaries or limits in relationships
  • Inability to say no
  • People-pleasing behaviors
  • Frequent irrational guilt
  • Lack of assertiveness
  • Unequal relationships in which you often feel you have the short end of the stick
  • Anger issues
  • You have a lot of resentment toward people
  • You are easily manipulated by others
  • You are afraid to rock the boat, so you don’t bring up conflict
  • You often feel like a doormat
  • You use control or manipulation in relationships to get your way

How does Codependency Affect our Ability to Self-Actualize?

  • Low ambition and drive
  • Lack of vision or direction
  • Self-sabotage of goals
  • Poor motivation
  • Poor follow through
  • Fear of failure
  • Feelings of inadequacy

I have provided both my working definition of codependency, as well as its signs and symptoms. However, none of these describes or explains why we became codependent in the first place.

Human beings are made up of three God-given parts and an ego. (The ego will not be discussed in this article, as it is beyond the scope.) See the diagram below:

As depicted above, the outer blue level pertains to our physical body. The green central level pertains to our psyche and personality. And the innermost level in yellow pertains to that of our soul, spirit or higher self (these terms can be used interchangeably).

The Body

The body is an amazing computer and machine. It consists of all the functions and processes necessary for human survival – from the beating of our hearts and circulation of blood and oxygen, to our endocrine system, to our muscular-skeletal system, to our motor functions, to our digestive functions, to our reproductive system, etc.

Included in the systems of the body is the central computer, which is our brain. All our neurological and chemical functions are also run and operated by the body. Most of these functions are autonomic and do not require conscious thought by the individual to run them.

While the body is certainly amazing, believe it or not, it is the least evolved, and most superficial, part of our beings. And that is not to say that the body is not highly evolved and intricate. That just goes to show how much more powerful we are, as humans, than we can even imagine.

The Psyche and Personality

The central layer, consisting of our psyche and personality, forms our current sense of self. All our emotional problems and struggles with mental illness occur at this central level.

Our personality includes our individual characteristics and quirks, our temperament, our gifts and talents, our preferences, our gender and sexual definitions, our cultural norms and mores, our philosophical or spiritual ideologies, and everything else that makes us uniquely us.

This area is also the domain of the mind, as opposed to the brain, which, as previously discussed, pertains to the outer level of the body. The mind is the part of us that perceives and interprets reality – the being behind the machine, if you will. The running dialogue in your head about the events of your life is being generated by your mind.

Our psyche is involved with the subconscious processing of material. Our subconscious mind is the storehouse of all our memories, paradigms, and belief systems. Our psychological and emotional traumas and wounds are also formed and stored at this level.

Furthermore, consciousness, which is the fullness of, and the channeling of our attention at any given moment, is also a function of the mind.

The Soul

Understanding the nature and purpose of our soul is not only the key to healing codependency, but it is also its aim. The soul is the eternal, energetic and spiritual part of our being. The soul is also our higher self. It is the deeper us that we are here to know. And the disconnect between our human self (the psyche and personality) and our soul is, from my viewpoint, the problem causing our codependency issues.

Remember that I stated that we are made up of three God-given parts and then an ego. The body is the vessel that houses our whole being. And our psyches and personalities are the human parts of us, given to us so that our soul has someone to live through in this life. The soul is the realest and purest aspect of our being. It is the part of us that will live forever as energy and light.

We will shed our human body one day, as well as our gender and personality distinctions, but we will never be separated from our spirit self, because that is the real and eternal us. Again, it is the us that we are here to know, as it holds all truth regarding our purpose, our destiny, and the path of life we are here to take.

Living from the Outside-In

Unfortunately, our world does not do a very good job of teaching us how to connect in the right way to our soul. In fact, it teaches us the opposite. It teaches us to look outside ourselves constantly to find identity, esteem, worth, validation and approval. This is what I call living from the outside-in, and is a central issue in codependency.

In this way, we have become dependent on the world around us to tell us who we are and what our worth is, mainly through our relationships, physical attributes, and achievements. This is a rat race, and it will never work out for us, since it is impossible to get a true sense of self-identity, self-worth, or self-approval from anyone but self.

When we live from the outside-in, we have most of our energy directed outward, away from ourselves to others and the world around us. Most people describe the feeling of having a void within them, a sense of emptiness and sadness coming from within their being. Worst of all, they spend most of their time chasing external things they hope will fill this void. This is precisely what I mean by outside-in living. As one could surmise, there are various major problems with this scenario. Be of good cheer though dear sojourner, there is a solution.

Living From the Inside-Out:
The Inner Journey of the Self

The first thing you need to know is that there is no actual void. What we perceive as a void is really a disconnect from our innermost spirit self. The second thing you need to know is that the sense of being fragmented, broken or damaged is also a false perception that could not be further from the truth. In fact, within our being, our energetic self, our soul, we are, and have always been, whole and complete. As previously mentioned, all emotional wounding and trauma happen at the level of our psyche and mind.

This disconnect, which most perceive as a void, is what I call the chasm of self. A chasm is a gap that needs to be bridged. The chasm of self is thus a disconnect between our human self and our soul, our central and innermost levels of consciousness, resulting from living from the outside-in, directing all our energy outward toward others and the world. The good news is that all chasms can be bridged, and the bridging of this disconnect is what begins to restore the connection with our soul, bringing with it healing and alignment. The restoration of this connection allows us to begin to live from the inside-out, which is the way we were meant to live to begin with.

The Inner Journey of the Self

Living from the inside-out pertains to the individual who has begun what I call the inner journey of the self – a turning inward to find true self-identity, self-love, relationship with self, self-worth, and self-approval. When we live from the inside-out, our energy is no longer primarily focused outward toward others and the world; it is now directed inward toward the inner self, the soul. We can still connect very deeply and intimately with others, and can have enriching relationships, but the difference is that those relationships are no longer responsible for defining us or maintaining our sense of self and worth. As a matter of fact, removing this unrealistic pressure from our relationships will allow us to have healthier, more satisfying, and more authentic connections with others.

Alignment: Plugging in the Refrigerator

This reconnection through turning inward toward our inner selves is what I call plugging in the refrigerator. Just like the contents of a refrigerator rot when left unplugged, so too do we malfunction when we live disconnected from our true inner self. This is evidenced by dis-ease – the wide array of emotional, psychological and mental problems that afflict humans at the central level. And disease, when our bodies also begin to show signs of the disconnect as evidenced by sickness and malfunction at the cellular level.

By restoring this connection, we can access the lifeforce (our chi) and healing power resident in our soul, and everything in us gradually begins to heal. As this lifeforce radiates out from our soul into the central and outer levels of our being, all the dis-ease and disease begin to heal as well.

Additionally, as we start to connect with our soul, we begin to let go of egoic false identities, insecurities, and fears. We begin to require less and less external praise and validation, as we begin to feel a profound inner and innate sense of worth and approval. This is the process of alignment.

 

Our lack of true self-identity, self-worth and self-approval is the crux of codependency. It has made us dependent and addicted to outside validation. And it puts great strain on our relationships, as there is no person on the planet who can either heal our emotional wounds or provide us with a true sense of self. In short, no one completes us, because we are already fully complete. But we can only come to know our completeness through the inner journey of the self.

For this, we must embark on the spiritual inner journey. I say spiritual because it is energetic and internal, not because it is religious in any way. It is between you and you, and you and God, who incidentally is also found within your innermost self. For me, learning to live a quieter inner life has led me to the pinnacles of spiritual awakening and self-love. The practices of medication, yoga, breathe work and inwardly directed prayer have allowed me to connect deeply within myself; to plug in my refrigerator; and to heal my codependency, and thus my entire life.

Some of you may be resonating with the signs and symptoms of codependency, but you may feel that the inner journey is not for you. I get that, but I will say this: I do not believe we will ever find true happiness, peace, or satisfaction in life without it. And I don’t believe we can find our true purpose or life’s path without it either.

Don’t get me wrong, the external world of relationships, ambitions, possessions, and adventures is an amazing and beautiful part of life. It’s just not the primary part of life. The inner journey is the primary journey. And when we connect with the inner journey, the outer journey aligns and takes on a richer and deeper meaning. You will end up enjoying life so much more by connecting with the you that you are here to know.

So that is codependency in a nutshell from my perspective. We all have it to some degree because we all have a soul, a psyche, a personality, a mind, and a body. We are all here to know ourselves from the inside-out. And we all suffer in many ways, and across all aspects of our lives, when we do not learn to connect internally.

If you are reading this, take it as an invitation from spirit and your higher self to begin to know yourself like never before. Don’t let anything hold you back. I promise you that whatever hardship you go through to heal and restore this inner connection will be well worth it. It will be the journey of your lifetime! I guarantee it.

You are a treasure that gets to be discovered by you. It is waiting to be discovered within you. So, get digging my dears. Chop chop.

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