hope for healthy relationships

Once upon a time, I became obsessed with a narcissist. All I wanted was for him to commit to me and me alone.  We had so much in common.  I loved him and he loved him.  This was my unconscious pattern.  I’d done it before in my past relationships.

I tried everything I could think of to control and manipulate the situation.  I tried different ways of saying things.  I tried different ways of acting around him.  I tried making him jealous.  I threatened to end the relationship if he didn’t give me what I wanted.  I tried to convince him he was better off without me in the hope that reverse psychology was still a thing.  It wasn’t. 

The truth is I was feeding his ego and like a vampire draining the life out of their hapless victim, he was sucking the life out of me. Still, I couldn’t seem to break free.   My mind knew the relationship was unhealthy and that I was torturing myself.  Every time I tried breaking up, I’d feel this awful emptiness and within a few weeks, we’d be back together. 

Little did I realize; I was teaching him how to treat me.  I was teaching him not to respect my boundaries.  I was teaching him that I didn’t follow through.  I was teaching him that I had no deal breakers, therefore he didn’t have to stop his selfish, hurtful behaviors to keep me in his life. 

I struggled over the fact that I kept staying in this harmful situation and could not seem to let go.  It was in the program of Co-dependents Anonymous that I found the answers I needed.  I learned about how the pain of my past relationships, childhood hurts, family dysfunction, and old beliefs created in me this fertile soil to grow the seeds of codependency.  I found the ironic truth that the pain of abandonment flared up even when it was me trying to end a relationship.  I couldn’t stand the discomfort of being alone.  Fear of never finding “love” again kept me hanging on to whatever I could get even if it was abuse or emotional unavailability. 

The support in the program helped me start my journey of learning to love the self.  I began dating myself and re-parenting my child within.  Gaining new tools and practicing with safe people in CoDA, helped me find a new way of living and freedom from the bonds of codependency.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still codependent.  I always will be.  But I have a new awareness in my life now and I am developing healthy boundaries with myself and others.  As I focus on myself, I’m attracting healthier people into my life.

Codependents often remain in harmful situations too long.  That was my pattern for most of my life.  Toxic love relationships, friendships, jobs. In recovery, I am committed to my safety and leave situations that feel unsafe or are inconsistent with my goals.  I am learning about detaching with love and letting others own the consequences of their own choices.  Best of all, I believe that I am safe and secure, worthy of love and respect, and can handle whatever comes next.  There is hope in the program of Co-dependents Anonymous!

In recovery,
I am committed to my
safety and leave situations that feel
unsafe or are inconsistent with my goals.

the power of connection

Excerpt from an article by Sarah Kaplan, Reporter for Speaking of Science
see full article with links to the research here.

Six feet has never felt farther away.

Psychologists are worried about the long-term effects of our new, socially distant reality. Decades of research have shown that loneliness and isolation are associated with high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, weakened immune systems and a host of other health issues.

But there is also hope in the data. Studies have revealed that human connection — something as simple as getting an offer of help from a stranger or looking at a picture of someone you love — can ease pain and reduce physical symptoms of stress. People who feel supported by their social networks are more likely to live longer. One experiment even found that people with many social ties are less susceptible to the common cold.

A supportive phone call, an empathetic ear, an expression of love — these things can bolster the immune system on a molecular level.

But when we are on our own, or even when we just feel friendless, our bodies gear up for danger. Our nervous systems produce norepinephrine, a hormone associated with the “fight or flight” response. Inflammation — the way the immune system heals wounds and fights off bacterial infections — goes into overdrive. (Ironically, our anti-viral response is suppressed when we’re lonely.) Many of the hormones involved in stress, like cortisol, hinder immune cells’ ability to function.

One of the most important things kindness can do is ease our reaction to stress.

“There are powerful protective effects that we shouldn’t ignore,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University. “And the extent to which we cannot only be open to receiving support from others … but be a source of support to them, can potentially help us all get through this.”

We shouldn’t even think of what we’re doing as social distancing, Holt-Lunstad said. She prefers the term “physical distancing.” It’s a reminder that the virus may have forced us apart, she said, but it doesn’t have to make us alone.