Facing Reality for the First Time

A struggle all of us faced at one time or another

For years, I stagnated, slipping into basic survival mode and leaving everything unessential behind. That happened to me between 13 and 23.

It was a really difficult time in the progression of my Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative disease of muscles rendering them weak or altogether ineffective. Breathing issues start around the time people like me spend most of their days in a chair, which happened at 12 for me.

After 15, I ran into the trouble of slowly losing weight by eating insufficient calories for my activity level. Then I began my years long struggle with breathing enough air. I could’ve have gotten help if I had more foresight and perspective than I did.

I withdrew from the outside world and imagined up a richer inner one. There were times I felt alone, times I didn’t know the use of anything beyond learning, and times I just went through the motions. That sounds a lot like depression from the sounds of that, but that wasn’t something I was willing to admit for years after.

Then I had mediation. It was something I’d been kicking around in my head, a leftover from the country of my birth and a melting pot for religious/spiritual development, by which I mean India in way too many words.

Then when I got out of school it was nothing more than watching TV and living in my parents house (where I still live btw), mediation became my refuge and escape. My life wasn’t great and depression still ruled over me.

My life turned around with a tube in my throat and a machine to breath for me. Those first two years were harrowing to say the least. Every other month, I was in the hospital with scary complications.

I faced the image of my own mortality a few times and got sick of simply surviving from one day to the next, marking time. I picked up writing and escaped my doldrums for purpose and meaning at 23.

At a certain point in my mediation journey, I hit a roadblock. It’d been ten years of mediation at that point. There wasn’t enough head space to throw into mediation to get me further than I’d already gone. It was time to clear some room. I turned my focus inward to what I could do without.

Fear of failure turned out to be the one thing motivating me for the majority of my life. I was running from failure any way I could.

  1. Doing well in school and trying to purify the tainted soul I believed myself to have (the reason I’d picked up mediation).
  2. The reason I never let anybody in to see the real me behind my defenses. I was always hiding.
  3. The reason I hated writing, which I now love. There was no correct answer, so I could stuck deciding what I should do.
  4. The reason I was usually the adult even in the first grade. A kid so well behaved that you wondered how their parents did it. That was me.
  5. The reason I couldn’t possibly be depressed. That would mean I’d failed psychologically.
  6. And the thing that gave my life meaning. Not failing was the only thing that mattered, the reason I did basically everything.

Clearing that away left a massive hole in my psyche that was scary for months after until it was filed back in. Without mediation, I never would’ve gotten into that mess or passed through without a major calamity. Wouldn’t recommend this to even my worst enemy. But in that brief emptiness, I wrote something beyond my current ability as a writer.

Then there was codependence. I had this belief that I’d be abandoned if I didn’t prove my worth on a constant basis by remembering more, being clever, or proving my intelligence. Figuring that out nearly broke me. I fought back my rejection averse thought process in a kind, watchful way that mediation allowed me.

Codependence is a messy, confusing topic, but I realized something that makes it a whole lot easier. Codependence is an attempt to control the world around us out of fear — fear of rejection, fear of inadequate self-worth, and fear of being unlovable.

  1. Blaming exigent circumstances without considering your contribution when something goes awry.
  2. Being laid back and counting that as points to be paid back down the line. Keeping score.
  3. Taking responsibility where someone else is already responsible, like apologizing on someone’s behalf.
  4. Demand love or get jealous of the affection other people get, especially when I’m feeling low.
  5. Show hollow displays of affection for an audience, and showing my true colors in private.

Letting go of codependence put me on the course for a clash with reality.

Cdependence is really a fear driven need to control the world around us, especially the people in it. Letting go of control requires accepting the world as it is.

The clash between how we believe the world to be and reality is where I’m at.

Reconciling those two requires constantly updating the model in my head with evidence from the outside world.

Sometimes people will let me down and dealing with that anger or sadness is on me.

That’s a quintessential stage of growing up that I’ve never let go enough to experience.

Knowing that everybody isn’t always truthful doesn’t make it any easier when it happiness to you. That feeling would make a great YA novel right?



Seeing Eight Grade helped me realize what I’m going through now, finding the person I have always been and being that person. It’s about an eight grade girl facing the reality that she isn’t fixed as she is now. Things change for the better and sometimes worse. Change is what life is.

GK

Defeating Codependence and Finding Lost Truth in the Process

Strategies for success.

A couple of months ago now, I published a post about realizing I’m codependent and starting to turn that thought process around. For those intervening months, I’ve analyzed the way I think, feel, and act through the lens of codependence. And identified those parts associated with codependency. Then turned my mind to change.

This ought to take years of therapy, but meditation ought to do the same job¹.

Meditation is the development of concentration and un-attatchment. I’m a novice having mediated with systems I’ve developed taking into account the information I had at the time. Keeping that up for years helped me.

Un-attatchment is based on the philosophy that attachment to an idea of self is the cause of all suffering².

Concentration allows the ability to cut deep into the mind³ to identify the causes behind cruelty and in a deeper sense why we think, act, and feel the way we do. Making sense of it all requires an understanding of how people operate, or how you personally operate. Medium is a great resource for that.

That was a long tangent. These are my lessons learned in fighting codependence.

Manipulation is bad.

I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. Manipulation isn’t easy to see. What constitutes manipulation? I have a video for you I watched on Youtube.


Manipulation is acting in such a way to get a particular response. The goal must always be control over other people.

Some examples would be nice⁴.

Being friendly in order to make friends. Being friendly should just feel nice.

Offering to do something like paying for dinner and keeping score if the gesture is ever returned. You shouldn’t pay in hopes they’ll do in kind. Paying should just feel nice.

Some of you are reading that wondering why people do things expecting something in return.

Don’t please anybody unless you’re happy doing so.

Most people with codependency were denied the things they needed as children⁵, including my need for validation. I wrongly believe how people responded to me was my responsibility.

That person was nice, because I gave them something expensive.

He was horrible, because I didn’t share my food with him.

The possibility that how someone acts is beyond my control was terrifying. It brought back my fears of abandonment and rejection.

Remember that I’m not responsible for how other people think, act, or feel. How I act shouldn’t harm anyone else or make me feel like I’m owed something. Otherwise, it’s not my mistake.

When you feel bad, check your boundaries.

People feel bad when their needs aren’t met⁶. People are wired for fairness⁷.

If I’m not assertive of my own needs to get someone to like me, I get mad when it feels like they don’t treat me with the same deference. Don’t get into situations like that.

What are acceptable boundaries⁸?

Setting boundaries has always been difficult for me. It’s terrifying. That’s all.

What if is set unrealistic boundaries and nobody can met them? That’s a lie I’ve told myself for years.

I was afraid of rejection.

No one has agency over how you handle your stuff. They can make suggestions, and you should consider them. If a decision means they reject you, you don’t need someone like that in your life.

No one can tell you how to be. That’s your responsibility. If that causes someone to reject you, so be it. Any time you put on a mask, it’s a struggle to keep it intact. Sooner or later, the mask will slip, showing your true colors.

Get your needs met.

Boundaries are different for different people, but there are some universal things.

Don’t do something that makes you uncomfortable.

Don’t do something that jeopardizes your well being — physical, mental, and otherwise.

Don’t take blame for how other people feel.

Set boundaries.

Make I statements⁹. Doing such and such makes me uncomfortable. I can’t be here. It’s triggering for me.

Exculpate other people. It’s nothing you’ve done. (This helps most at the beginning.)

Be honest.

Don’t coerce, trust⁷.

Be nice because it feels good. Expect others are nice for the same reason.

Resources:

  1. Britton, Willoughby.”Meditation and Depression.” Abstract. University Libraries, University of Arizona, hdl.handle.net/10150/195235. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018
  2. “Four Noble Truths.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 9 Aug 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Noble_Truths#Dukkha_and_its_ending. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018
  3. “What Does It Mean To Be Enlightened?” Bodhi Monastery. 2008, bodhimonastery.org/what-does-it-mean-to-be-enlightened.htm. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  4. Gage, Kris. “Dating a good guy after a toxic relationship.” Medium. Medium Corp,20 Jan 2017, medium.com/@krisgage/dating-a-good-guy-after-a-toxic-relationship-3ce67ac9b9de. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  5. Seltzer, Leon F., Ph.D. “From Parent-Pleasing to People-Pleasing (Part 1 of 3).” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 22 Jul 2008, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/200807/parent-pleasing-people-pleasing-part-1-3. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  6. Gage, Kris. “How To Know What You Want.” Medium. Medium Corp,13 Jul 2018, medium.com/@krisgage/how-to-know-what-you-want-656b3a660e04. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  7. Wright, Robert. “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? The Uncertain Biological Basis of Morality.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group, Nov 2013 Issue, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/why-we-fightand-can-we-stop/309525. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018
  8. Gage, Kris. “How Much To Give And Take In Relationships.” Medium. Medium Corp,16 Jul 2018, medium.com/@krisgage/how-much-to-give-and-take-in-relationships-ccbdf31e2f4e. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  9. Wilding, Melody. “ Techniques to Disarm, Cope With and Become More Confident Confronting Passive Aggressive People.” Better Humans. Medium Corp,21 Feb 2018, betterhumans.coach.me/techniques-to-disarm-cope-with-and-become-more-confident-confronting-passive-aggressive-people-9f7bcd5ffcb6. Accessed on 16 Aug 2018.
  10. h

GK