Being tied to others is a problem I’ve always had.
It goes way back. Being an only child, I was extremely close to both my parents, especially my mother. I had trouble leaving home as a kid. I hating staying with my extended family overnight during summers in upstate New York. I hated school friend’s sleepovers. I just hated being away from home. Even back then, I knew it wasn’t normal, but, I didn’t know how I could be any different.
Codependency followed me into young adulthood. I didn’t have many close friends, but, the ones I did have became everything. My world revolved around making time to be with them, even if I didn’t really have the time. In school, especially college, when I became close with an old high school friend who also attended my university, I’d pass up on things that I wanted or needed to do, just to make sure I didn’t miss out on anything we might have shared.
Then, there was my long term relationship with my ex. All encompassing. Crazy and sick. I changed my career path, plans, commitments, obligations, everything, to be at his side. And, in the end, I know it was one of the things that drove him away. And, I’ll always have to live with that.
I’m sure this all ties into fear somehow. I’m still working it out. It’s a complicated mess of emotions and old patterns. And, I know that to survive in this world, I have to learn to live in it, alone. It’s like relearning a language. Figuring out who I am, what I’m meant to be doing, what I want. For so long I’ve done everything in my power to make sure that I am inextricably tied to someone else. Letting their wants, needs, and plans decide my fate. And, in many of these situations, it’s not the other person to asks or wants those things of me. I’ve just assigned that dependency myself. It’s a need that I wanted filled.
In sobriety, I know that I have to find my own path. I know that to get through the hard parts, I need to have others with me and available to me, but, I have to be very careful not to get myself into another sticky, codependent situation. And, I have to monitor my existing relationships to make sure that they’re healthy. Sometimes even reform them.
I’ve talked to my parents about my need for independence. How, even though I love and appreciate all they still do for me, I need to be an adult. I’m 28 years old, and I still feel like I could show up for class at my high school and fit right in. I’m tired of that feeling.
In my new “relationship” (still not sure exactly what it is!), I’ve been very careful to make sure that any plans I make, are for me, first and foremost. That, I don’t give up things I have planned to be with this man. And, while there have been times I’ve been tempted to bag a workout at the gym, or an AA meeting, or a night of rest at home, alone, I haven’t yet. It’s so incredibly important to me that I respect my own boundaries this time around. That means I have to spend a lot of time figuring out, exactly, the nature of my boundaries. And, in those moments of temptation, I have to be stern with myself.
So far, so good. But, I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that the little, nagging voice in my gut doesn’t cry out pretty frequently. It builds my confidence to tell it to shut the fuck up. And, I do, tell it to shut the fuck up.
Reforming my codependent self is as easy as remembering. Remembering what is was like to feel paralyzed by the movements and plans of another person. While I managed to make codependency work for me for a long time, I can see things a bit more clearly now. I was not happy then. Certainly not in the way I am now. So, I draw strength from revisiting that old version of myself.
While we have our moments, me, myself, and I, we all have a pretty good time together. So, these days, I’m sticking with that reliable trio.
They’re always there for me. They always are down for what I want to do. And, subsequently, they’re pretty fucking badass company.