Deep at the core of every human heart is the desire to connect. We are highly animalistic in the physical sense and seek solace and comfort in communion with others, be it in romantic or platonic relationships. There is something about touch that soothes the soul. And given the situation we currently find ourselves in, the lack of this lifeblood connection is felt more than ever. Yet we often get mixed up between our longing for connection and our emotional wounds.
The vast majority of us are the walking wounded, and the search for connection is like trying to put a band aid on a bullet wound. It’s just not going to do the job. The wound is too deep, and no amount of sticking plasters are going to fix the gaping void. What is needed is surgery, to remove the bullet, the cause of the wound, and seal up the skin so it can heal.
Recognising your wounds
However if you don’t know you’re wounded, you’re likely to be spraying blood onto everyone and everything you touch, wondering why you’re in pain and why your relationships look like a crime scene from a murder mystery movie. Other people can see the problem a mile off, but you stay stuck because you’re too numb to your own sh*t to recognise the bigger picture.
We can’t change what we can’t see or feel. Living in our own little bubble we create our own stories and illusions in an attempt to maintain control and gain a sense of comfort. It may work for a while, but life has a way of making growth happen, whether you like it or not.
At some level we’re all in pain, just for the most part we’re completely unaware of it. Pain is something that typically we get told to ‘poke up’ with, get on with it, man up and keep trooping on. Our cultures have taken trauma and edified it, turning it to stone and entombing our very life force in the process. You see, the vast majority of us are codependent. We are dysfunctional in relationships.
We are not sovereign, but woven into enmeshed and contorted emotional and energetic connections that corrupt who we really are. Codependent. Not interdependent. And this is a BIG problem which most people are living through but not aware of. I had no idea what that meant until 8 years ago when someone close to me introduced the concept, and the book Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody. And just like that, a whole new can of worms opened up.
Until that point, as far as I was concerned, I was ‘all right’. I considered myself to have my head screwed on, and that I was fairly adept at navigating the world. I had good relationships, plenty of friends, a fantastic job and my life overall was pretty wholesome. When I read the book it was like reading my biography. People pleasing. Poor boundaries. Emotionally sensitive. Manipulation and control. Fear of abandonment. Intense feelings of shame and guilt. The list when on and on.
God damn, ‘this is me’ I thought. Whilst my stomach sank with the realisation, it was also a breakthrough moment. It finally gave me the strength to see a therapist and begin unravelling my convoluted emotional dealings that had unknowingly permeated my existence.
Codependency is sneaky. It’s like one of those untraceable STI’s you get that flies beneath the radar and you don’t know you got a problem until, well, a few other people do too. It makes you think that everything in your life was and is ‘normal’ until, well, all of a sudden it isn’t. Because essentially codependency describes dysfunction in relationship, and guess what, your life is riddled with relationships. Dysfunctional ones at that.
Uuff I appreciate that may sound like a judgment, but I’m pointing the finger firmly at myself too. Until I knew about the phenomenon of codependency I thought all my relationships were healthy and normal. Well now I know they weren’t. Part of me already knew that, but this new knowledge gave me deeper insights and how I needed to heal and change, to make my life actually work for me.
What I realised during my journey is that my life and energy were being directly impacted by those around me, especially my close family relationships.
Playing the codependency game
Everybody is codependent to a greater or lesser extent. It depends on the luck of the draw of the family you were born into, and the amount of healthy emotional coping mechanisms that were present (or not). Unfortunately the majority of our modern cultures do not support or encourage healthy, free and open expression of our wants, needs and feelings. As a result we learn to manipulate and control our reality in order to get our desires met, without asking directly. We become incredibly sensitised to the needs of others around us so that we can meet them, and in turn get rewarded or recognised, and ultimately receive love.
Codependency is born as a result of conditional love. Love that is only given when certain conditions or circumstances are met. Instead of being something that is freely shared, love becomes a currency that may be withheld or provided, depending on the demands and needs of the giver. When children receive this type of conditional love from adults, they learn to comply with, meet and/or anticipate all of the adults needs. When they are successful, bingo, they receive love, praise and acceptance. If they fail to comply, then guess what? Shaming, ignoring, guilt tripping, criticism, anger, and emotional manipulation.
I think you’ll agree that’s a highly toxic cocktail most of us wouldn’t wish to knowingly drink. Yet most family systems have been brewing this foul tasting concoction for centuries. Conditional love is sadly the norm, and hence why we are all codependent. I have compassion for us all because the way I see it, our situation reflects the direct result of generations of emotional repression and collective trauma. When something becomes so normalised it becomes inherent and woven in to the fabric of society. It also forms part of our DNA, and now the science of epigenetic proves it. Hence the reason I thought I was fine, when in actual fact, I wasn’t. I couldn’t for the life of me see the wood from the trees.
Is it longing or connection?
Codependency is where we confuse the longing to be in connection, with our emotional wounds.
Our wounds are the delicate places that were created because we never got our needs met when we were children. When love was given conditionally and we moulded ourselves to survive. In order to fill the voids that remain deep inside our child self, we seek something out in the world to plug the gap and soothe our pain and sense of lack. In this moment our inner child is crying out for healing.
Rather than searching in the world for something that can’t be provided, as adults we can give ourselves a precious gift instead. This is the gift of unconditional love. It is the surgery for the bullet wound.
Bringing full attention to our child self and nurturing it as we wished we had been loved. Wiping away the tears and allowing emotions to flow, gently holding ourselves and allowing our cuts to slowly heal so that we can come into genuine connection once more. Firstly by connecting with our own innocent selves, and then from a place of genuine longing and expression, sharing our unique essence with the world.
Healing codependency is a journey to claiming your sovereignty and power.
It can feel overwhelming because you’re disrupting an ancestral pattern and drawing a line in the sand for the next generation. I want you to know that this IS a big deal, and one you should celebrate and thank yourself for taking. Whilst we’re replaying the past, we can’t move forward. We all know that a brighter future requires something different. Making the decision to heal your wounds is a great act of courage and the rewards will be unfathomable. Let’s make the next cultural revolution one that’s driven by love.
Ready to enrol? Sign up now by loving yourself unconditionally. It is not for the faint hearted, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Breathe the change you wish to see in the world.