I’ve been reading a ridiculous amount of books lately about relationships and happiness, etc. that mainly have brought me to one realization: self-growth. I have a lot of work to do on myself. Are other people in my life also contributing to issues? Yes, of course. But ultimately it is me that I need to work on. I only have control over myself. And I’m not going to be happy through anybody else (or anything else) except myself. Blaming others, punishing others, it won’t help me move forward. It won’t help anything get better. Healing takes time and hard work, and lots and lots of reflection. Sometimes there are bad situations one must remove themself from in order to begin healing. But healing does not just happen on its own. You are the only one who can truly help yourself. Only you can make yourself happy.
My Own Journey
It’s been tough – digging around through my past, through my current situations, through my emotions, trying to decipher my actions and reactions. Why am I doing the things I’m doing? Why am I saying the things I’m saying? Why am I thinking the things I’m thinking? Why am I feeling the ways I feel? No body likes to uncover hurt and pain and misery within themself. But getting down to the root cause of any issue is imperative in your ability to overcome it, to move past it. To understand, accept, and let it go. There may be a million ways out there to deal with your issues, but they all start with acknowledging that you have them. That’s the first step.
As I had been pushing forward in my mission to find inner peace and happiness and truly figure out who I am, I came upon polyamory. I realized that it embodied exactly who I am at my core. Who I wish to be in the future. Who I’ve always been. But it also brought to the surface many facets of myself I wasn’t prepared to deal with. I didn’t come into polyamory with the knowledge that I was signing up for a self-discovery course, that I was agreeing to rip back my exterior layer and dig deep inside myself to uncover all of my faults and all of my failings and every single mistake. I didn’t know that this is what it meant to truly open myself up. Yes, I was prepared to open myself up to new people, new connections, new relationships. I was beyond excited for all of that. What I wasn’t ready for was opening myself up to myself.
Codependency and Polyamory
Now, you might be sitting there thinking – well how does this help me? This isn’t important. Great, good, fantastic for you that you’re figuring your shit out but what does that have to do with me? Well…a lot actually. And I’ll explain. Without fully understanding yourself you’ll never completely be open to other people. Without finding happiness and fulfillment within yourself you’ll never truly be able to be happy or fulfilled in a relationship. Being content within yourself, being aware of yourself, having knowledge of yourself, that’s the very beginning to relationships with other people. That’s where you need to start in order to have successful relationships (romantic or otherwise). It all starts with you.
The latest book I’ve been reading is a book called “Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself” by Melody Beattie. It is both a simple, and yet extremely complex, book about the ways in which we become (and are) codependent on others. It explains our behaviors, our actions, reactions, thoughts, feelings, etc. Until reading this book I had yet to understand how the things I saw as me showing love to others, and caring for others, was actually a way of causing myself harm. As the book says “We frequently react to people who are destroying themselves, we react by learning to destroy ourselves.” Of course none of this is a conscious choice. We aren’t sitting there thinking, today I’m going to destroy myself. But nonetheless it happens. It happens to the point where we don’t know what’s going on. We’re confused about why everything is falling apart. We blame other people, we blame ourselves, we blame the world.
Of course, codependency is different for each individual. Every person will give you a different definition, a different explanation of the ways in which it affects them. But ultimately, like Melody Beattie writes, “A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.” This is a very broad definition, but it captures the overall essence of the problem that is needing to be fixed. Like I said, for each individual codependency can be described any number of ways. To help you further understand what I mean I’ll give you my own personal definition:
To Me Codependency Is
-The need to help others to the point of harming myself.
-Losing myself through clinging onto those who need help.
-Allowing myself to be excessively controlled by the emotions and actions of others.
-Forgetting to love myself and accept myself (only seeing myself through the failures of others).
-Lacking the ability to connect with and enjoy “normal” people.
-Living on a foundation of abusive, unhealthy behaviors that have shaped my daily habits.
-Never feeling like I’m enough.
-Always feeling powerless.
Growth for Everyone
Whether you had an abusive childhood or relationship, are constantly around/with those who have addictions/illnesses/etc., or tend to just be someone who tries to help way too much…you could be codependent. There is not one thing that brings on codependency. It can be learned in childhood, as well as throughout your adult life. There isn’t one cause, there aren’t one set of symptoms, and there isn’t just one fix. But it affects a lot of people (more people than are aware of it). And unfortunately, monogamous culture tends to breed codependent tendencies. We are taught codependency through the way our society portrays relationships. Therefore it is something that is often hard to avoid. In fact, even if you think you aren’t codependent, there’s still a very probable chance that you are.
The book I mentioned above can help you work through these issues. It can greatly help with your own self-growth. Even if you don’t believe you are codependent I still highly recommend checking the book out. The first section of the Self-Care section is about detachment, which is also very important to learn (especially when entering into polyamory). The skills you will discover and strengthen through the reading and activities in this book will help you become a happier, healthier, and more successful person within your own life and within your chosen relationships. It will help you learn to be your own person first, to accept others as they are and recognize the changes you need to make within yourself, as well as learn to set firm boundaries within your relationships. Boundaries is an area where I’ve been doing a lot of work. It’s a particularly hard one for me. I’ve been getting better at setting boundaries, but it’s the keeping those boundaries in place and not giving in that’s the hard part.
I highly recommend checking out “Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself” by Melody Beattie to all people new to polyamory, especially those entering as a couple. However, the lessons in this book are extremely important for everyone to learn – including those who have been in polyamorous relationships for decades. If the information in the book does not completely change the way you are living, it will at the very least help to enhance the good that you’ve already got. A big part for me is beginning to feel like I deserve more, and not just settling for whatever crap end people want to give me. I am worthy.
The book covers several topics within codependency, such as caretaking, low self-worth, repression, obsession, controlling, denial, dependency, poor communication, weak boundaries, lack of trust, anger, sex problems, and more. It also examines the following areas (each of which is a chapter in the section of self-care) where many may need some work: detachment, don’t be blown about by every wind, set yourself free, remove the victim, undependence, live your own life, have a love affair with yourself, learn the art of acceptance, feel your own feelings, anger, yes you can think, set your own goals, communication, work a twelve step program, pieces and bits, and learning to live and love again.
If you’re having trouble in a relationship you should definitely look to this book. If you’re just beginning to open up to polyamory then this book is a great place to start. If you’re a long-standing polyamorous pro then this book can help you examine the smaller areas that may still need improvement. Whatever the case, I highly recommend you checkout this book. If for no other reason than you simply wish to live a happy, healthy, safe, successful and fulfilling life. All my best – I wish you loads and loads of luck!
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.