Reclaim Yourself–Become Who You Are After Codependency
Reclaim yourself could very well be the motto of every recovering codependent. That is exactly what codependency recovery helps you do. The dynamics of codependency cause us to deny, suppress and repress our thoughts, feelings, opinions, and beliefs. We identify ourselves through other people’s need for us, as well as their affection or approval. And, with just those few dynamics of codependency, the self is submerged relentlessly in order to deal with relationships.
How We Lose Ourselves
The list of how we lose ourselves in codependency is lengthy. The important issue, however, is that we have lost ourselves much to our distress and even, in some cases, a significant decline. We can reclaim ourselves, no matter how long we have been lost and no matter how sick the codependent process has made us. Recovery happens for countless people, and with the right help, you can recover from codependency, too. Here are some of the ways codependents lose themselves in dysfunctional relationships and their related patterns:
- Life’s routines, goals, purpose, and meaning is dictated by a dysfunctional relationship or series of them
- Physical and mental health decline due to chronic exposure to stress
- Communication becomes distorted in service of the dysfunctional relationship so one’s thoughts, feelings, opinions, and beliefs are squelched
- With chronic suppression and repression of one’s own inner life, disconnection from self-occurs, as does confusion
- Depression shuts down vitality, curiosity, creativity, motivation, and a sense of enjoyment, empowerment, and interest
- Isolation from growth and development opportunities is chronic
- Self-exploration shuts down because the inner reality is too painful to attend to
- Preferences, choices, and values are dictated by the relationship rather than naturally arising in the self
- The sense of personal boundaries and self-efficacy is collapsed
- One’s own needs become obscured in the shadow of the relationship
- Self-care becomes a confusing issue since one’s own needs are not easily identifiable anymore.
Reclaiming Self in Codependent Recovery
Codependent recovery helps us reclaim ourselves from the issues and dynamics described above. We learn to recognize what has happened. We identify characteristics of codependency such as:
- Denial of our own realities
- Helping to the point of self-harm
- Having low self-esteem and even self-loathing
- Avoiding conflict and strong feelings; people-pleasing instead
- Complying with the wishes of others despite our own differing needs or wishes
- Beliefs that love, approval, and support are earned through taking care of others
- Beliefs that self is aberrant and unlovable
Also, we have to learn or re-learn, our basic rights as people. Such as those written in the Personal Bill of Rights* which include the right to:
- Ask for what you want.
- Say no to the demands of others.
- Express yourself.
- Change your mind.
- Make mistakes.
- Adhere to your own values.
- Be responsible for yourself and not the behaviors, feelings or problems of others.
- To be angry.
- Make your own decisions.
- Be treated with dignity and respect.
*Adapted from The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne.