Last week, I spoke about codependency. Please click this link to catch up https://harotianessentials.org/2020/04/28/codependency-you-say/.
I’m learning during this season of life the many ways that one could become codependent on our spouses, friends, family members, etc. Being codependent on anything other than God can cause a lot of heartache because people will always disappointment us. Not because we intentionally try to, but because we live in a broken world and no one is perfect. I have disappointed plenty of people and I pray that they all forgive me one day for it. I’ve allowed my own hurt and pain that I’ve experienced in my life to lead me to do things that I have since regretted.
One doesnt wake up codependent. There are traumas in our lives that trick us into believing that we have to depend on others, even unhealthy relationships, to help us get through this life.
One way that we find ourselves becoming codependent is when we aren’t able to heal from our childhood traumas. Hmmm, traumas?! Such as small word with ugly actions behind it. When I think of that word, I think of extreme situations that only “count” as trauma, such as, beatings, rape, molestation, mental, physical, and spiritual abuse. Yet, I have learned there are subtle “traumas” that would cause us to retreat into a codependent lifestyle because we feel we aren’t good enough for the world.
So what do unhealed childhood trauma’s look like:
- Are you fearful of rejection and abandonment?
- Have you experienced loss of a parent or caregiver?
- Do you find yourself over-sharing, over-giving, and/or over-explaining?
- Do you consider yourself a people pleaser?
- Do you find yourself needing excessive validation?
- Do you lack healthy boundaries?
- Do you find yourself in and out of toxic relationships?
If you answered yes to some of these questions, like me, then you probably have unresolved childhood traumas. So, our next question is what kind of trauma’s could have occurred in our lives that lead to codependency and tolerance of toxic relationships? This list doesn’t always lead to codependency, but it will give us a good idea on how to acknowledge and begin our healing.
- Did you grow up with an emotionally absent, or physically and/or emotionally abusive parents?
- Were you bullied or isolated by your peers or family members?
- Did you grow up with emotionally and physically abusive peers and/or family members?
- Were you often ignored by your parents, family members, or care givers?
- Were you often peer pressured into doing inappropriate things?
- Were you left alone for long periods of time as a child?
- Was there inconsistency in love, care, and affection by your parent or caregiver?
- Were you shamed about eating habits? Too much? Too little?
- Was there inappropriate sharing of personal details by your parents? (emotional incest)
- Did you experience “helicopter parenting” where the child isn’t allowed to differentiate from caregivers/parents?
Now, you may be like me and say “Oh, crap! This is me!” I have not only experienced some of these things in my own childhood, but I have done some of things to my own children. When I came to this realization, it prompted even more forgiveness for my own mother and how I was raised. I believe that although my mother made many mistakes, they weren’t intentional. She did the best that she could with the training that she had, or lack there of. Also, realizing that we could do things to our own children without being consciously aware of them. As parents, we can just try to do better and be better.
The only way we are able to do that, is to heal from what was done to us. This means forgiving those who have hurt us, including ourselves. I remember crying for days when I realized the ways I have hurt my children. Anyone who knows me will tell you I will go to war for my children, no matter who they are. So to realize I was one of those people, I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Either way, this reflection is to understand why we are doing the things we are doing so we can repair our hearts and heal from them, not to shame us. I have to admit, because I deal with a lot of shame (that’s the enemies go to when he wants to make me feel really low), it is very easy for me to look at this list and have little to no hope for the future. But then I have to remember the promises of God when it comes to shame and codependency.
God says that when our troubles are too heavy to bear….
You (God) keep track of all my sorrows. You (God) have collected all my tears in your (God) bottle. You (God) have recorded each one in your books.Psalm 56:8, parenthesis added
How awesome is it to know that not only are we forgiven for our wrong doings, but we are also loved so much that God tends to our wounds and despair? Yes we mess up, but it doesn’t matter to God because He has seen us at our very worse; past, present, and future. Jesus died so that we have a life filled with joy even when things seem lost and overwhelming. Having joy doesn’t mean leading a perfect, stress free life. It simply means that we recognize that we aren’t perfect, but it’s because of our imperfections we are loved and adored by our Lord Jesus Christ, which in turn gives us His perfect peace.
After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you!1 Thessalonians 2:19 NLT
Codependency is not our final story, nor are the trauma’s that happened in our childhood. Once I was told, “pain is weakness leaving the body”. When our eyes are opened to the mistakes that we have made, the pain that we have experienced, and the character defects that need to be fixed, this is our chance to allow God to come in with His mighty power and do His mightiest work within us. He wants nothing but good things for us (Psalm 57:2). So let’s allow Him, shall we?
Thank you all for reading my thoughts. A lot of the information I received, was from this awesome psychologist that I follow on social media. You can find Ginger Dean, who specializes in recovery after toxic/abusive relationships, on Facebook and Instagram @lovingmeafterwe. She has helped me tremendously set healthy boundaries with the people in my life that I have had toxic relationships with. Although I am a continued work in progress, it is helpful to be surrounded by a community of people that know exactly what we are going through and specialists that can help us along the way. Please love yourselves and remember to pray for one another.