Breaking The Spell
The power of those words broke a spell that seemed to have kept me captive for 50 years. I was trying to please others so that I could win approval. To my own detriment I gave to others; beyond my own capacity, I gave to others. I gave and gave and gave, and to me it was still never enough.
And this is the foundation of being a codependent. I must martyr myself in order to win your approval. I desperately need you to need me. I feel that I am nothing without your approval and acceptance.
How A Codependent Is Made
Where did this all start? In childhood if a parent only accepts a child when they are exhibiting “good” behavior, but rejects and turns away from a child who is struggling with “bad” behavior, this teaches a child that they must behave a certain way to gain acceptance. A child learns that their behavior is what wins approval. And so the roots of co-dependence are sown.
As I codependent, I felt that the only value I had was in serving others – especially when I put the needs of others before my own needs. I was continually on the lookout for places and people to serve, becoming a professional “volunteer,” going beyond the call of duty to demonstrate my worth. The greater my martyrdom, the more I felt worthy. I sacrificed myself for others until I greatly harmed myself, but it never seemed to satisfy my need for approval.
Life In Recovery
In recovery, I discovered a whole new way of looking at life. I learned to love and accept myself. I also discovered that there was a Higher Power who already loved and accepted me if only I would believe it and receive it. I was surprised to learn that taking care of myself was not selfish, but in fact necessary in order to be a healthy individual. I learned the importance of setting boundaries in order to protect myself from myself. Boundaries helped me stay healthy. I learned that taking care of everyone else was quite often causing them harm because I was robbing them of their own self-respect, decision-making, and strengthening of their own character. My “helping” was often hurting others. I never saw that before!
In recovery, I have found myself – the person who became lost in all the care-giving I was doing. I discovered that I could Live and Let Live. It was up to me to live my own life, and let others live their lives in whatever way those chose without my interference.
Living my own life has brought me joy and freedom, and most of all – peace. That eternal hole in my heart that was in search of approval has now been filled from within. Joy, peace, and happiness come from an inside job. I am so grateful for my recovery family who has helped me come to this place in my life.
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Amy Turon