My Codependent Valentine

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It is the day before Valentine’s day, and what better way to show my appreciation than with a story time about relationships.

As many of you may know, heard or read, I have struggled for the past two decades with being in severely codependent relationships of all kinds. It has been one of the biggest obstacles I’ve created for myself that kept me away from self-love and from having an unshakable foundation rooted in joy.

Let me begin with my definition of co-dependency. What I find to be true is that it means when a person takes on the responsibility of another person’s life through different means, for example: manipulation, control or blame and shaming and thus completely neglects their own life. What I find is that a codependent person forcefully tries to take the steering wheel of life away from another person. What we don’t realize is that even if we have good intentions to “save” or “help” them, we are communicating that we don’t believe they can take control of their own lives, that they shouldn’t be responsible for themselves and that they are incapable of healing and growing on their own. We are literally taking away the opportunity for this person to be able to reach their own epiphanies and learn the lessons from their specific circumstances that leads to growth and becoming the best version of themselves. We are taking away the shadow work that is so valuable for each person to do.

Codependents often find themselves in a vicious cycle with these relationships. They try to “fix” someone, that person is uninterested in their “help” and rejects them, the codependent person lashes out in anger and the other person rebels against them leaving the codependent feeling “used” and “taken advantage of” once again- not realizing that it was none of their business in the first place.

For as long as I can remember I involved myself emotionally, even physically, in the lives of others- taking it extremely personally when they rejected my advice and ultimatums. The more I pushed and shoved my way in, the more people backed away from me. I was also unable to realize the amount of resentment I built up against the people I loved for not changing into who I believed they should be and when they needed to do it. The feeling was mutual of course, my loved ones bottled up more and more anger towards me until we would both explode, creating long-lasting effects that caused our relationships to crumble.

It wasn’t until I was left on my own by my partner and my friendships fell apart that I realized I was suffering from deeply rooted codependency. Through lots of research, reading and reflection I figured out that the only person I had any control over and should assume responsibility over was myself- and I had not been doing that in any way shape or form. As a codependent I was quick to succumb to feeling like a victim and even paraded my victim mentality around town, playing the sad girl woe-is-me card to anyone who would listen- and even to people who didn’t want to! I thought so poorly of myself that I was using the distraction of other people’s problems as a way to avoid facing my own darkness. I had absolutely no sense of self-love, and had placed all of my self-worth in the hands of other people’s approval. Because I had taken control of other people’s lives (or tried to), I believed that other people were responsible for me and my happiness. I didn’t know how to trust myself and always sought for answers externally. I thought that others had to change in order for me to feel love and joy. Man am I glad that I was wrong!

It took my separation for me to finally have no choice but to look at my life- all of it- and plunge head first into the darkness that we call our shadows. I had to literally use all of my will power to move my focus from my partner and even healing for the benefit of our relationship to just myself. I had to accept that I had inherited and experienced trauma, limiting beliefs and god knows what else that had caused me to become the way that I was. And thus, the shadow work began.

I feel like codependency can be like an addiction, especially if we’ve been that way for the majority of our lives so it makes sense that I have relapses every now and then. I have to remember to have compassion for myself, take a step back and take inventory of how I am feeling, behaving and what my intentions are. I remind myself in these moments that I am here to help, inspire and guide those around me, but that it is their responsibility to do the work. I try to remember to have compassion for them when I get angry or frustrated- because I too was once in their position so who am I to judge? We can only make changes when the necessary clicks in our brains have been made and when we are ready to do so. All I can do is bring the focus back to myself and offer my love and support- holding space for their growth.

 

 

Thank you for reading my post today. I wish you all a very happy Valentine’s Day, please remember to take the necessary steps to love yourself on this day and every day after. For those of you lovelies who attended my Valentine’s Self-Love Goddess Ceremony, don’t forget to give yourself your card and read the beautiful letter to yourself!

 

Love always,

Mabes

shadow work: overcoming our fears

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Fear is not our enemy, but it isn’t our best friend either. Fear is like a needy and insecure younger sibling.

It took me a long time to change my perspective about fear. For the majority of my life I always sat on the sidelines and watched other people take risks and live as if they had not a care in the world. Then I went through my “experimental” phase in which I used substances to numb and cope with my fears to pretend they weren’t there. After coming out of my depression in early 2017, I went back to being scared of everything, only this time I was hyper aware of my fears so it often turned into episodes of anxiety that would last a few days, making me feel emotionally and mentally crippled.

Due to recent events, I’ve had no choice but to make radical changes in many areas of my life, especially in the emotional and mental well-being department.

This is by far not an easy or quick task. It is unquestionably part of the shadow work that many people in this world avoid or sweep under the rug. But I had had enough, and the screaming in my mind was only getting louder with my ill attempts to bury them alive.

One of the exercises that I recommend is to create a table on a Word document and list out your fears. Then add two columns, in which you mark off whether the fear is rational or irrational (seeing the fear typed out allows you to put it in perspective). The final column is called “reality” and here you’ll write out what the fear really means and the truth of it if any. Not only did this help me tremendously in realizing when I was creating stories in my head and running with them, but it also helped me to learn about myself as I figured out where the fears came from, and I was able to sometimes reveal that I was a lot more self-sufficient than I thought. Definitely a humbling boost to my confidence.

A self-care practice that I had been putting off for months was to get back into meditation. In a different post, I wrote about how I always used to pursue answers and validation outside of myself and how it led to me not trusting myself and not being able to tell the difference between my intuition, my fears or the mind games my brain liked to play. About a week ago my fears were coming at me in full force, giving me anxiety, causing me to feel emotionally unstable and on the verge of panic attacks. Beneath it all I could see in bold letters my body and soul shouting out “MEDITATE!!” Finally, I gave in to that demand and started to meditate again. I started with just a few minutes every day after my morning chanting, or in the car before work, or any other time in which I felt overwhelmed, anxious and fearful-as long as I was able to. Luckily, I used to meditate 3-4 times a day in the past, so slowing down and tuning in comes easy to me. Still, I was petrified. Most times that I meditated was because I had a specific question or fear in mind that was taunting me. I would be close to shaking as I quieted my thoughts and asked my inner being about it. I never knew what the answer was going to be, so it could have well been the exact thing I was fearing. Despite that, I knew that the only way out was through, and I needed to know these answers in order to move on and make suitable choices or changes for myself. In some cases, the trust in myself was so depleted, that I would have to meditate several times about the same fear- at last realizing what my intuition and heart’s desires were telling me along with the fear that was clouding it all and how I could overcome it. After just a couple of weeks of incorporating meditation into my day I am noticing my self-confidence, self-trust, faith, courage and inner strength improving. It makes me question why in the heck did I ever stop meditating in the first place?

Turning to your spiritual practice is another great way to help you overcome your fears. It allows you to put them into perspective as you grasp the bigger picture. It reminds us that we are so small in this world, and our “problems” are not always as bad as we imagine them to be. And if the Divine created us as perfect beings, then that means that we already have everything we need inside of us in order to be our best selves and live our best lives- and that includes the tools to persevere past our doubts. I personally made it a priority to chant during these difficult times, and even though I felt so helpless at the time, it definitely reminded me of who I am- a badass mama who is here to show up fully in this world as the greatest version of myself so that I can help others do the same.

The thing that we don’t realize about fear is that it isn’t there to bring us down or turn us into miserable, mopey victims who never go after their dreams. It is here to tell us something. It is a teacher to us, and it’s intended to show us our areas of improvement, a past trauma that we need to heal or if something in our gut doesn’t feel right. It’s important to embrace our fear, dig into it, feel it, accept it and learn to move past it. This is why we should have compassion towards ourselves when we are feeling fearful and make it a mandatory to be gentle and loving to it in order to conquer them.

Let’s make a vow together that no matter what our fears are, we will do the work necessary to master them so that we can continue on our paths to creating a legacy for ourselves.

Thank you so much for reading, please leave any questions or your own personal tips in the comments below.

 

Love always,

Mabes