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: healing from childhood trauma

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trigger warning: this is a true story of childhood sexual trauma. names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

Her face looked disturbing as it loomed over me, peering down, expressionless. I just lay in my crib, limp, and unable to do anything as she touched me for what seemed like eternity. I felt like a science lab rat—voiceless and unworthy of consensus.

I was about 5 when I remember my next experience, this time with my friend Marlena, playing house as husband and wife. We were naked in my bed when my older brother threw the door open. He and my other sibling taunted me about “doing it” and dangled it over my head for years, threatening to tell my parents, calling me a lesbian, and when they were mad; telling me I was going to hell.

Another time I was at my playmate Monica’s house and her mother caught her pulling down her underwear. She ran me out of their home and forbid me from playing with her ever again.

For several years I experimented with my friends; curious, confused and excited—I found myself attracted to the same gender—a direct result I’m sure, of being molested at the age of 2. I enjoyed these friendships and even the thrill of possibly getting caught. I was about 10 when I remember the first time where I found myself angry with my friend Amanda for wanting to tell her father that we kissed. I realized then how scared I was, and how uncomfortable it felt to harbor these emotions of what I didn’t know at the time was a cocktail of shame and guilt. I felt like I was doing something bad, and I was a bad person for doing it.

During this time, I became very scared of men. I had an older cousin who lived with us for some time who tried to flirt with me and be alone with me and touch me. “You know our family is a type of religion where we have to marry someone in our family.” I stood dead in my tracks, a look of being dumbfounded on my face. Another time, I remember him walking into my room and trying to look at and touch the underwear I was wearing as I was tucked in bed, unsafe against his predatory hands and lustful eyes. I was too embarrassed to tell my family, we were quick tempered and hot blooded—I didn’t want to even imagine what the men in my family would do to him. I just wanted it to all stop and go away. I became more and more ashamed of myself and my body, retreating inward where I had no say in anything and no courage to stand up for myself.

My female experimenting ended as I transitioned into middle school. Pushing it to the back of my mind, assuming it would disappear if I ignored it enough. I abandoned this part of me as I went through puberty, as if it were a rite of passage or a coming of age requirement to leave myself behind.

I was a teenager when, ironically, my family had moved to the home of my old friend Amanda. One day, after being gone for years she came back to that home to visit. I sneaked a look at her behind the blinds through the kitchen window as she caught up with my brother on the back steps. I remembered opening the back door, pretending to need to talk to him—the look on her face of disgust when she saw me left a permanent scar. I felt like a monster.

It was in that same house when I tried to come out as bisexual to my mother. I was in my late teens and had been secretly dating females. My mother looked at me like I was a demonic beast. She didn’t understand, she interrogated me with a bunch of questions; “what about your boyfriend? Is he just using you for sex?!” “you don’t know what you are talking about! You are going to hell! You learned this from your friends and the tv!” she continued to berate me through my closed door before finally retreating to her room. About an hour later I heard her voice again; “Mabelyn, let’s just pretend that this never happened. Don’t tell your brothers or anyone about this, ok!” I felt completely rejected and undeserving of her love. Worthless, like a piece of trash discarded out the car window. I couldn’t make sense of it then, but this only added to all the shame and guilt that was bubbling inside—ready to explode like a wild, untamable, violent volcano.

It was the winter of 2016 when I had my first panic attack. I was working at my new job as a preschool teacher. I was in a classroom filled with children the same age that I was when I was first molested. It hit me like a ton of bricks as I fled the room, unable to breathe.

“Have you ever experienced any trauma?” My therapist asked me as I sat in her chair choking and crying at the same time. Before I knew it, the words had already left my mouth; “I was molested by an older female child when I was two, my family doesn’t know about it.” I explained how I felt like a horrible person, I remembered the look of Amanda as I told my therapist between sobs that I ruined all of my friend’s lives. For years I tried to stay away from young children. I had convinced myself that I was infertile and did not want kids of my own. When my siblings became fathers, I avoided their babies like my life depended on it… 5 years that I can never have back. Babies made me uncomfortable, and deep down I truly believed that I was going to grow up to be a pedophile, as if I had contracted some type of disease when I was 2 and it was incurable.

“You’ve been making up stories in your head Mabelyn,” the therapist told me.  “Lot’s of children experiment,” she said, “and you weren’t forcing anyone and pinning them down, your friends were figuring things out too.” I had never looked at these situations that way, I just knew, or thought I knew, that I was sick and a menace to society. Hearing her say these words in a sense gave me the permission that I wasn’t able to give myself to finally begin to heal. Over 20 years of suppression was awakening. I remember seeing my clinical herbalist Allison, as she mentioned the idea of Saturn Returns; and how this is a point in your life between the ages of 27-29 where Saturn digs up all your shit that you have never resolved and throws it in your face,” here you go!”

I knew I was on the right path, and I could finally start to forgive myself, and move through the pain of healing within, this time choosing to relive each trauma again in order to heal and move on, transcending the suffering into lessons of love.

To be continued…

 

Love always,

Mabes