It would be easy to state that codependancy is people pleasing and the desire to make others happy, but that view would be a naive statement.
When I am in the company of others I don’t want to make decisions for myself because I am afraid that I will cause offence. My preference, at least outwardly, is to agree with suggestions from the other person, because I want to make them happy. It’s easy to go along with this way of thinking and acting, but to do so is to believe the lie.
When I’m reflecting upon this kind of behaviour with an open mind I can see the truth of the matter. That truth is disturbing. People pleasing is dishonest and self centred. My codependancy is born from a fear of rejection, of not being good enough, a belief that if I state my needs in any given situation then you will not like me and will abandon me. My self esteem is low.
I know this internal belief comes from the horrors of my childhood. My upbringing has left me full of shame about who I am. I feel like I am a useless, worthless and bad person. These emotions become heightened when I interact with others, and to be seen as a good person I must make you happy. If I disagree with you then I am bad and you won’t like me. I’ll then feel the shame of my very existence, exposed, naked and raw. It’s self centred and puts me at the centre of the universe. It’s a statement that I have the power to make you feel good or bad, that I’m that special and unique.
It also means that you cannot have a relationship with me. If I’m not being true to myself in my dealings with you, then you’re not in a relationship with me. You are in a relationship with who I think you want me to be. It’s a selfish way to live.
In romantic relationships I am at my worst. The emotional entanglement overwhelms me. If you point out a fault, or disagree with something which I say or do, then you must be right. I find it easy to see things from your point of view, and in doing so I lose myself completely. I slowly stop having opinions or ideas and I end up a confused mess in near constant pain. I stop being me.
The above is a scary picture, and painful to see in black and white, but this was my experience for most of my life.
Living on my own for several years has given me a break from the mess, and it’s also given me the opportunity to begin to address my codependancy and heal. I practice self care in many ways, and doing so improves the value which I place in myself. My friends can now ask for an opinion and I’m able to respond truthfully. I can be with others and say what I would or wouldn’t like, at least some of the time. I’m a work in progress, and I have to put a lot of effort into being honest with others. I still have a strong fear of rejection and abandonment, but I am improving slowly. A romantic relationship is definitely off of the cards, but I’m finding I’m more able to be honest with friends and family to a degree.
I’m finding out who I am, and beggining to let go of who I think you want me to be. I’m not perfect, I can still avoid sharing my truth some of the time. But I’m certainly moving forwards one step at a time.