The Path To Freedom continues. For those who are unaware of what this might be, it is my transition from codependent thinking to become, finally, my genuine self or as close as I can be. I have so far given two updates. The first where I gave myself 5/10 and an honest update just recently. I also talked about how nature has played a part so far. So I am well on the way, enthusiastic and eager for results. This post really comes from a question my wife asked me recently. “Where is your passion?”. She went on to say that for her it was work and he relationship and I could not deny this.
In relationships, the little things are the big things. The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are.Stephen R. Covey (2016).
There, in a way lies the problem. My codependent thinking will concentrate on trying to control the change process my wife is also going through rather than looking at me.. It will naturally lean towards adapting mine to hers and trying to interfere in what is a personal journey. We are both doing our individual work with a view that it will have an effect on our relationship. It is not for me to say what my wife needs to work on but she appears to be doing a great job which inspires me. We have had a couple of flashpoints that were handled really well so I see progress on both sides. The idea is that you have to accept that conflict will be there, it’s just how you handle it. I always worry about couples where no conflict is present. It could mean they have nothing to fight about! The old saying that conflict can be healthy is very true is dealt with properly.
Of course, we are not talking here about the much talked about dance between codependents and narcissists, a view that often clouds the quite normal issues that two people have trying to build a life together. While there are certainly some manipulative people out there who tend to get together with people who enable them for their own purposes, not everyone (or couple), can be put in that category. It is too easy to label people. We are just two people trying to be the best people we can be and enjoy our relationship.
So, in terms of my process, I am looking to meet my own needs as much as I can, to eke out some quality “me” time to go alongside quality “us” time. This is the challenging part and it prompted the question “where is my passion?”. Ask the average codependent what their passion is and you will likely get a cliched answer. What you won’t hear is that their passion is to keep everyone happy (partner, work, family) in order to feel secure. This takes effort and constant control which can leave them exhausted.
To become an individual that is not enmeshed in someone or something, action needs to happen. Awareness followed by action. Here is what I am aiming at:
Each morning, before I begin my daily routine, I will take a few moments to express thankfulness for being able to be in this moment and to express gratitude for who I am and what I have accomplished. I shall express gratitude to those who have decided to be a part of my life. This becomes a habit and breeds positivity.
Own What Is Mine.
Blaming my wife, life in general, or my past is pointless and will get me nowhere. Instead of pointing fingers and making excuses for why I am unhappy or dissatisfied, I will accept responsibility for my situation and learn from it. I will accept responsibility generally if I do this. My life will change when I accept responsibility for my mistakes and shortcomings. Mentally, I will grow happier and healthier, and my connection with myself, and thus with my wife, will improve. I am not someone who criticises or blames but I hold onto things and it all comes out in one go.
Cultivate Quality Time
Codependents give up their needs to become the main focus in someone’s life. This quality alone time is just as important as quality relationship time. Cultivating healthy interests and pursuits on an individual basis is essential. I intend to do this for the first time in my life with the hope that the quality relationship time is even better. In answer to the question, “what’s my passion?”, I can answer this with what I have been denying myself or have stopped doing over the years.
Be Emotionally Honest
Most of us feel that others will not tolerate emotional honesty. We would rather defend our dishonesty on the grounds that it might hurt others; and having rationalised our phoniness into nobility, we settle for superficial relationships. Emotional honesty is the glue that holds the four pillars of trust, honesty, respect and mutual benefit together. It allows us to be intimate, vulnerable and connect deeply with another person.
Before we can be emotionally honest with others, it is important that we are emotionally honest with ourselves. This is where it starts and where it will flourish with others. We don’t do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, we fear judgement and criticism from others and it is easier to avoid that. Secondly, we have become adept at manipulating our feelings, subduing them and hiding them in order to control the response from others. In the case of codependency, this is very much the case. The price we pay for this is that we become involved in flat, superficial relationships. Being emotionally honest with ourselves means actually to reveal ourselves. It means taking the risk that your true feelings will be open to judgment. However, if we are in a relationship with someone who handles this well, then in time, it will become easier. If not or if that person is encouraging emotional dishonesty, then you have to reassess the relationship.
However, we mostly avoid it at all costs and I have frequently done this. I have said that everything is fine when it isn’t, I have failed to express myself or set boundaries when needed. I “suck it up” until I don’t and then it all comes out at once. My wife is good with emotional honesty and so she deals with things quicker and this is my aim too.
Daily Practice and Work
To be an individual and enjoy a relationship, it takes daily work and practice to form new habits. I have committed myself to meditation, journalling and staying in the moment so I can make the right choices for me and not to allow defensiveness to take over. That way, I can listen effectively and be part of a solution focussed framework.