How To Defeat Codependence From The Inside

My story of self-discovery and figuring out a path to change.

Thought I’d talk about my research into codependence.

Identify the Problem.

I’ve been reading this writer, Kris Gage. Her articles about love are refreshing. They deconstruct love and reassemble it in a new way that actually makes more sense.

Society shows us unhealthy love.

Love as a search for the one, a mystical being that opens you to a whole new world and completes you (personality, intellectual understanding, and physical deficiencies).

“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”
-Plato, The Symposium

That’s an impossible predicament. There’s this one partner that can complete us.

I had a few other theories about love.

Any two people forced together for long enough can fall in love, like a patient falling for her therapist except without the patient/therapist relationship. The way survivors of a tragedy are bonded in a special way.

That view supported the beliefs I had coming in. People have to give up something to be liked and appreciated.

Kris Gage supports an independent kind of love.

Kris Gage’s articles interested me in hopes of learning about blog and fiction writing. I was wondering how Kris Gage had such depth in her articles.

And how she discovered another way to love instead of the scarcity, codependence, and elusivity model that’s at the forefront.

Photo by Gabriella Sudjono on Unsplash

I enjoy reading posts that analyze a topic in-depth.

Like the posts of Emma Lindsey, Zaron Burnett III, or Abby Norman.

Sometimes through meditation I can dissect my own inner mental landscape in the same way these writers analyze their perspective fields.

Getting that in the form of a well thought out or researched article works just as well.

We’re drawn to voices that are familiar to our own.

Kris Gage extensively researches her articles.

Could I replicate that?

Researching that way isn’t something that motivates me.

A recent Kris Gage post refutes the concept of motivation, but I’m not convinced. Motivation can be built by working with motivation or without.

I’ve already chosen a method to live life on my own terms, meditation.

But this article isn’t about writing articles on Medium.

It’s about things I’m trying to change about myself.

Reading one of Gage’s posts got me to this article is Psychology Today about codependence.

I dived into these linked articles from that one.

Identify Associated Thought Patterns

It was revelatory, reading this article.

Photo by Ryan Loughlin on Unsplash

I am codependent.

Codependence starts with looking for approval instead of love that wasn’t easily accessible. That quest for approval starts with being perfect and hoping for approval.

That never came even when I was perfect, the miniature adult I became in place of my true personality. I followed rules like they were my bible. Telling on others became my pass-time. Getting better grades became my obsession and point of jealousy.

We’re all motivated to be loved as children.

Children in that type of situation subjugate their true self and deny preferences long enough that they barely exist at all.

They simply take on the preferences of those closest to them in hopes of acceptance.

For years, when people asked me my favorite color my answer would be “I don’t have one.” Same for if I liked something. I don’t know. No one told me.

The last part was something I figured out how to hide.

I became frustrated that nothing I did was ever good enough.

Then I learned to protect myself other ways.

Manipulation, Passive-Aggressiveness, and Evasion.

I got away from a situation when it started to deteriorate imperceptibly to most people. I became attuned to other people’s unexpressed emotions and found ways to manage those to protect myself.

I revealed secrets to protect myself from criticism. I blamed other people for everything going wrong.

What could’ve been bad enough to teach me those methods for my own protection?

It was criticism and withholding approval.

That seems innocuous in relation to those responses, but it worked that way.

That’s why I’m such a mess in some areas of my life, my social life being the biggest thing.

Those destructive thought patterns innervate my personality, intellectual understanding of the world, and the way I interact with my environment.

Identify the Cost of stagnation.

I crave approval to such a degree and get hurt from criticism too much.

I try to be so smart all the time so people will want me around.

I have trouble trusting people, because at some level I believe I don’t deserve them to help me if I don’t give up something in the process.

I give up stuff in the belief it’ll make people like me. Invariably that doesn’t work, and I get frustrated.

I think too much about what other people want and deny what I want.

I’ve been doing those things for so long, I have trouble knowing who I am.

Identify the Rewards of Growth

Photo by Tobi Oluremi on Unsplash

Those were things that I couldn’t have realized without meditation.

Therapy, religious belief, or other forms of meditation would’ve also gotten me there.

Therapy isn’t easily realized given the fact I can’t speak anymore.

Following a religious document isn’t conducive with my rampant trust issues.

I’m working on detangling those systems I developed for protection to find the person I am under it all. It’s a continuation of the path meditation put me on.

This is part of fixing myself, finding the things off with my mental landscape and rectifying those faults and frailties.

I have a skewed perception of my personality.

Something is wrong with me, and I’ve always been trying to fix it in hopes of being loved.

Changing into a better person would fix everything wrong with my life. That’s why I started.

Being a better person will help, but being loved doesn’t hinge on that. I know that now.

Going through with this is terrifying.

I have no idea what exists beneath this artifice erected over all these years.

I feel a sense of loss and growth that doesn’t fit together.

A nice short poem I wrote about how that feels:


You fell for me, and it was love.
But love wasn’t everything.
It is what was meant to be
It’s even better than ecstasy.
Of all the things I’ll see,
That was what was meant to be.
Things won’t be the same forevermore.
Maybe they never could be.
Of all the things in the world and the sea,
I’ll never know what was lost to me.
A turning point wasn’t a moment.
It came a surprise.
In the end, it doesn’t matter a figment
What they think about you and me.
I had love, and now it’s lost to me.

I explored Myers-Briggs personality typing.

It helped me figure out who I am inside.

And presented the goal I should strive for.

Kris Gage helped with that as well with this personality typing article that I didn’t understand at first.

Research over months got me to a place where I could understand, with the help of this article.

I’m not sure where this goes, but this seems like the right direction.

Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

GK

A Friend in Need of Comfort

This is short about friendship.


 

We were supposed to be friends like before — before she’d gotten serious about dating. It was apparent we wouldn’t be best friends anymore. It was hard being best friends with a girl, especially if you’re a guy. Everyone thought we were together. It didn’t matter that Claire already had a boyfriend —seeing us together was enough. It was annoying.

Claire rang the doorbell. We were going to talk face-to-face after months of texting back and forth. It had to be something big like the bf.

Claire was in a trench and jeans. Pulling her inside, I got us a bottle of wine like she’d wanted. I’d always thought her bf, Adam wasn’t good enough for her.

“Adam is remote. I have no idea what he’s thinking. The sex is great, but that’s not everything. Something is missing.”

That was a touchy spot for Claire, not getting what she wanted — wondering if it meant something.

“I don’t know what it means. He shut me out.” Her eyes were wet.

It made me angry. Why are you hurting Claire like this, Adam?

Claire kneaded her eyes and tried to smile for me. That hurt, like she stabbed me. I didn’t want her acting for me like every other man. I went and sat next to her.

“Claire. You don’t have to bottle everything up to protect me. I’m your friend. Nothing you do could hurt me.”

She looked at me with a sad smile. I put my arm around her. Claire sobbed. I kissed her hair, whispering the words she needed. Her tears quit, and she looked at me. Sadness was there, but the dread was gone. In moments like that, I wanted to kiss Claire like the world depended on it, but I wanted her friendship more than her body.

 

GK

 

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Photo credit: Photo taken by Shanon on Pixabay.

Remembering Things Lost Forever to Fate

This is a short story about an ending.


 

We walked through the garden interspersed with topiaries and dramatic lighting. It was dark. Everything was as it should be — the pyramid of latticed glass and baroque buildings ahead of us.

The grass ended with stone. A scream went through the square. My heart jumped into my throat. We froze, looking to that sound and things happening — masked men around the grounds — far away yet dangerous. I held Jack’s hand tighter. Something sailed into the hands of the masked men. Jack pulled me along. Looking over my shoulder, I saw what was thrown over — guns.

I spun my head and felt a splash of cold on my face. We sprawled on the ground as people streamed by. “Jack honey, we have to move.”

He squeezed my hand a little.

I looked at him on the ground next to me. My face drew tight, and my eyes widened. I felt the wetness splashed across my face and drew my fingers back red. Jack sucked in great breaths of air as blood trickled out from his chest. We were in the open before the pyramid.

Holding Jack head, everything around exploded with gunfire. The glass shattered and stone erupted, evading the rush of bullets. My world was the tiny bubble that contained Jack for the moments his life slipped through my fingers. “Hang on, Jack. A little longer for me? Please, Jack.”

It was too late. His hand went limp in mine, and he was gone. I went through that day again and again, pulling my hair out at what we could’ve changed. Someone grabbed me round the middle, and took me into the pyramid.

 

GK

 

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Photo credit: Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

 

Memories of Love: A Missed Opportunity

This is a short story of lost love.


 

It was a dinner party at Ben’s, a bunch of guys from Amherst together again and our girls. We were all that age — between maturity and adulting. I was the dude without a woman in tow. Everything was good being single. There wasn’t someone giving me judgmental gazes like my mother. There was hooking up and enjoying life. Everything was right with the world being alone most nights. Every so often, I had a hot girl in my bed.

Stagnation wasn’t in my vocabulary. That’s when I looked at Ben’s girl. Sonia looked familiar. Familiar like a girl you’ve been in bed with — dark hair to the middle of her back, green eyes making me wonder, and lips I remember. I could see it. How she darted looks at me and licks of a smile. She was a girl that lay in my bed — no question about it.

She was with Ben now.

I wanted her. Sometimes limits feed your hunger. I wanted a bite if not a kiss. I looked into her eyes and remembered.

It was rainy. Delicious food filled our bellies with warmth. The cab stopped outside my brownstone. The rain pelted us wet by the time we were inside. I didn’t want our usual bottle of wine. I held her wet neck, and we kissed. I carried her up the stairs to my bed with her playful squeals filling my ears. The light rain struck a beat on the windowpane and the gorgeous Sonia smelling of rain. And now we were sitting a table’s width apart, sneaking looks. I wanted her more.

It wasn’t to be. We could never be together with Ben dating her.

 

GK

 

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Photo credit: Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

Betrayal by the Things we Love Most

This is a dreamy short story.


 

The boundless ocean stretches ahead. Its jagged, mirror-like surface reflects back the pale orange sun. The boat moves at speed through gently rolling waves sending up a spray of fine mist. On every conceivable surface the salted droplets land, a coating of flaky, crumbly mineral grows. The salt covers my lips and arms with crystalline layers. My grip on the railing provides purchase against the cool wind and damp. The sun helps too. Water maids accompany me on this journey, swimming in the wake and ahead of the bow in the form of dolphins.

I peer to the upper deck, flying high above, well over the worst of the spray and wind. Perched upon this, my constant companion whom I couldn’t do without. She gazes out past the local scenery with the aid of binoculars, to some far off wonder beyond my grasp. From that outlook, another horizon is visible a bit farther than my own. She takes a more pedestrian view by carrying the eagle-eyed tool off to her side. Her other hand forms a shade visor over gleaming eyes. A shift in the oncoming rays turns Claire’s body into a silhouette of a goddess on the harsh radiating light of our life bringing sun.

She comes down from her heavenly perch, nestled upon the higher deck. The ease and grace with which she moves in nothing short of perfection. Claire is down at the deck to exchange words with me. The sweet sounds of her irresistible intonation wash over me. I hear her words, but that’s not everything. This exchange has the surprising quality to put me at ease.

Claire leads me to the deck cabin by her usual mannerisms — consisting of feather light touches on the inside of my palm and arm — knowing exactly how. The deck cabin bolsters a pendulum sort of door, swinging back and forth with the lightest of breezes. Claire pushes the door aside as I miss her contact for a brief moment, moving through the filter screen of a doorway. The door swings through on its pendulum arc.

In that instant, Claire disappears into the body of the ship. I push through the door expecting the truth of Claire behind, yet she is not to be seen in the darkened chamber. I walk through the room looking for her only to be disappointed. Claire is nowhere below or above decks. A looming dread comes over me. The rhythmic slapping of the door ends with a loud bang. I look back to see nothing — an empty wall in place of the door.

I look for an escape route from the dark, desolate chamber entombed within the ship. The transom windows are inches beyond my outstretched fingers. The blackness is held at bay by late evening light coming in. Chalk markings of an indecipherable and crude tongue graffiti the walls. Paper underfoot crumples and crunches with each step. I sink to the ground in a state befitting my current desolation.

Wetness encroaches my battlements from every front. A deep red sludge, a curse adding to my sad state. With each passing breath and moment, my heart fills with revulsion. The impending creep of the fluid sends me up and away. The red concoction comes higher, soaking into more of the paper under footing, turning it into a blood red mush. I end up tasting the fluid to verify my suspicion that this is blood from some massive creature.

The transoms let in something else, filling my prison just a bit faster. The golden amber liquid comes in by waterfall. The intense smell of liquor wafts up into my nose. The liquid flows in with the goal of drowning me as sewer rat. The onslaught goes on without a sign of relenting, intent on my destruction. There must be a method escaping my thoughts that can rid me of impending doom.

The transom is my salvation. I get myself soaked through and through grasping desperately at the window inches above my attempts. Wandering from light to light, I find a step where there is none to reach my salvation. I pull myself up with as much strength as my frame can manage, up to the deck. Halfway up, a tug on my leg slides me back. The next so forceful, my head reels up into glass transom. This, my end.

 

GK

 

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Photo credit: Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Finding the Things You Want: Middle School

This is a short story about making friends.


 

I was daydreaming, sitting there at my desk, watching the other students, and imagining what their words meant beyond the words themselves. That was my typical day in middle school. I was the odd one out, because I wasn’t the same as everybody else — a social in-adept — a stranger in the ways of my age.

That’s when I saw her. It wasn’t like she was the most beautiful or the most popular. It felt like I knew her from across the room though. We had gone to the same schools for years. There wasn’t any back and forth — we’d never talked.  I wanted to be right there, in the thick of that conversation. It should’ve been easy, but they were talking about baseball.

I was out of place. I never fit in anywhere, because I was scared to be myself. That ruined me from the start. And it would take years of course correcting to change things.

That was the first of many encounters. In hallways, across the cafeteria, at football games, and the one class we had together — memories that haunted me and missed opportunities I’d never have back. If I wasn’t anti-social to the extreme, I had an in. I was smart — not study group smart. I was still a weirdo that couldn’t meet muster. The sidelines was where I would remain years on down the line.

Then things started to change. See, I had a few friends. I joined their study group. The hand of fate smiled on me, and I was in the study group with that girl the week after next.

Leaving things to fate was how I survived being my own man in a sea of conformity.

THE TRUTH:

I hid from the world, never allowing even those I knew best backstage passes.

 

GK

 

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Photo credit: Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Finding Love Again on a Rooftop

This is a short love story.


 

It was a party in the City. Some miracle got me invited. It was one of those rooftop affairs, not that I’d ever been. Strings of mini-lights hung overhead. Music tickled our ears like the cool night. It was me and a few girlfriends in the middle of the roving throng.

That’s when he came over. Tina knew him. He smiled like a dozen stars, and I was seeing spots. Brad. Somehow the minutes ticked by, and we were alone surrounded by strangers.

“You look sexy as hell. Megan was it?”

A splash of heat rose to my face with my laugh and how he made me feel. His words would’ve been awkward, if I didn’t like him already. There I was, alone with the honest, handsome fellow. My yes was meek as a field mouse in the general din.

“Want to dance?”

“Anytime.” We laughed. Everyone was dancing, so why shouldn’t we?

How did I know Tina? What a wonderful party? What a night? It was quite something.

My girlfriends were absent or giggling at our flirtations. But it wasn’t bad in the hands of handsome Brad. It was something great.

We danced and danced, then drinks on the rooftop. It was the perfect night up there, above the bustling street. Our hands met after signaling back and forth. We turned to each other minutes later and tilted our heads. As our lips met, possibilities flashed before my eyes.

 

GK

 

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Photo credit: Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash