Ten Traits

According to Love is a Choice by Dr’s Hemfelt, Minirth, and Meieir, there are 10 distinct characteristics of Codependency:

“1. The individual is driven by one or more compulsions.

2. The codependent is bound and often tormented by the way things were in the dysfunctional family or origin.

3. The codependent’s self-esteem (and, frequently, maturity) is very low.

4. A codependent is certain his or her happiness hinges on others.

5. Conversely, a codependent feels inordinately responsible for others.

6. The codependent’s relationship with a spouse or Significant Other Person (SOP) is marred by a damaging, unstable lack of balance between dependence and independence.

7. The codependent is master of denial and repression

8. The codependent worries about things he or she can’t change and may well try to change them.

9. A codependent’s life is punctuated by extremes

10. A codependent is constantly looking for the something that is missing or lacking in life. “

VennCodependent2

Particularly, numbers 4, 5 and 8 resonate with me strongly. I have a tendency to take responsibility for other people’s feelings, actions, and circumstances even when they have absolutely nothing to do with me. Plus, I have difficulty in drawing boundary lines that keep me from becoming too involved in another person’s life. This then leads me to believe that I have more control than I really do, and my happiness becomes dependent on that idea.

After reading through this list a second time, I discovered there is even more the Codependency that I initially understood. It’s effects range farther and more intricately than I think most people realize. That is why it goes so undetected, and why I believe spreading the word is so crucial.

Do any of these traits seem to describe you? If so, know that you are not alone, and that awareness is the first step to a more peaceful, more joyous life. Keep digging!

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The Silent Epidemic

communitycloud

Yesterday, I had “community” on the brain nonstop – its importance, it’s impact, its integral necessity to life, and I realized that I am desperate for more of it. Then I was presented with the Dragon’s Loyalty Award – an accolade for those of us in the blogging world that are active participants and who contribute on a regular basis. This only further motivated me to dive deeper into my community. I want to be more proactive about generating meaningful conversations and opportunities for inter-web involvement. One of the easiest ways I think to do that is to start an online “book club”. Nothing fancy or rigid, but I will simply be picking a book and encouraging others to read along with me. I will also be posting meaningful excerpts (with the proper citations of course) so that those who do not really have time to commit to a full text can still comment and add feedback. Love is a choice

So, in the spirit of continuing on with intentional recovery, I have chosen the book: Love is a Choice by Drs. Robert Hemfelt, Frank Minirth, and Paul Meier.

This except in particular really blew my mind:

“Statisticians estimate that at least 15 million Americans are alcoholics or drug dependent. We believe each alcoholic severely impacts at least 4 other significant people such as spouses, children, and coworkers. Potentially sixty million codependents suffer from the addiction of those 15 million Americans. In addition, it is estimated that about 28 million Americans are the adult children of alcoholics and still suffer from the codependency they experienced in the childhoods. And that’s just alcohol. These figures do not address codependency generated by addictions and compulsions other than chemical abuse; they are, therefore, extremely conservative. The actual numbers of all codependents are much, much higher.

Epidemic. There’s no other way to describe it. When roughly one hundred million Americans across two concurrent generations suffer problems of codependency, we are embattled by an epidemic of staggering degree. The unhappiness, despair, and wasted life lie beyond comprehension.”

How many of those estimated people actually even know what Codependency is and are living draining, exhausting lives with no hope of anything better? After reading those numbers, I have made it my new mission to get the word out there; I want people to at least be able to understand that there is a reason they feel they way they do, but even more than that, there is a way to help manage dangerous tendencies. There is a way to experience life in a healthier, freer, more holistic manner.

And who wouldn’t want that?

So here’s to a new chapter in this blogging adventure. Whether it be through this virtual book club or through any other kind of participation throughout WordPress, join me in a commitment to community!

Love Always,
-Freedom

P.S. For those of you actually planning to nab a copy of the book, I will be reading all of Part I and II (2 chapters) this weekend to discuss on Sunday evening. Give me a heads up if you are reading along!

Because There Are No Such Things as Fairytales

As I have mentioned before, J is the absolute love of my life. He compliments me (not completes me, as I have learned) in a way that is both healthy and positive. He is an amazing man who I thank the Powers that Be for every single day. There’s only one problem in my almost perfect fairytale – his job.

Every person is entitled to their own wants and standards of expectations in relationships, and each couple is different. Because I grew up with an absent father, I very much value quality time and physical touch, which are my love languages (a blog post on this later). Luckily for me, J’s demonstrations of love match my needs perfectly. So where’s the problem, right?

J works in the entertainment industry. Specifically, he does the sound for movies and television shows. It’s an amazing occupation that allows him to meet all kinds of celebrities and make fairly good money. The nature of the beast is, though, that his jobs are sporadic. Because he is so new to the industry, he often stresses about where his next paycheck will come from. That means he is almost desperate to take whatever gig comes his way, no matter the details. That level of dedicated commitment to your job becomes difficult when you are already committed to a family.

Enter me. I met J way before he started in production, back when he was still planning to make music. Once he graduated from his art school in Hollywood, he was dead set on meeting and signing with major record labels. Unfortunately, with the advances in technology, the need for a music producer is dwindling. Most artists are creating their sound on their own these days. So when a door opened up for him to maybe try out the world of movies and tv, he jumped in without a second thought. And he’s been nonstop ever since!

As his best friend, I am so ecstatic for J. He has had such a difficult past filled with dead-end after dead-end, and now things are really starting to come together. But as his live in, 2 year girlfriend? I am struggling way beyond he even realizes. See, the problem with production is, you have to go wherever the job takes you. Thus, in this past year alone he has been out of state a total of 9 weeks on and off. Now, to me, that is too much time away from home, but to J, because he grew up in a family that was always moving around, this was normal.

I have honestly tried to make it work thus far. I’ve tried to compromise, to just stifle my feelings and my needs (as any deep Codependent subconsciously would do), but every time he was gone on another trip, it always took such a huge tole on me. Since I’ve started my recovery, however, I have been able to at least vocalize my hurt and my discomfort to him, and we are working to find a setting in which we are both happy. We decided on this a few months back: he would only accept travel gigs that were under 3 weeks. That seemed reasonable to me!

Then last night happened:
He told me that a sound supervisor on the set he is working on told him of an opportunity on another show. The problem is, it’s 5 weeks in The South somewhere, 2 weeks home, then another 5 weeks on location. Instantly, my heart sank. If it comes down to it, I will have to stand up for myself and leave the man I planned to spend the rest of my life with. That makes me so angry. Angry at my Higher Power for allowing me to be in such a difficult situation, and angry and J for even considering the part. Now, I do understand that this is his career we are talking about, and as a man, all he wants to do is be able to provide for our future. But He is missing the importance of working on the now aspect of us, and I really don’t want that in a lifetime partner.

So I am in a state of anxiety. He assures me that he is trying to negotiate for 3 weeks, and that he won’t take it if it’s a day more. But the damage is already. The seed of doubting our future has already been planted in my brain, and I am struggling. He and I will talk more about it tonight, but even as I type this, I know that I have to make a conscious decision to remain calm; to not let me emotions get the best of me; and to receive what he has to say with love and an open heart. But more than those things, I have to remember to stand strong for me.

Wish me luck!
-Freedom

Lessons from Kenya #1077

I thought I knew what kindness was, what genuineness was, what joy was before I went to Kenya. But my mind was blown on my trip there, and every definition I had of what it meant to be “a good person” was put to shame.

Growing up, my mother worked really hard to provide me with a lifestyle that was comfortable. We were not the richest family, but we certainly didn’t want for much, and she instilled in me the value of money from a very young age. To top that off, all throughout my formative years, especially growing up in the church, I had heard admonition after admonition telling me to be grateful for what I had because millions of people were in need. And I was…or at least I thought I was.

In Kenya, much like their British ancestors via colonization, the culture in Western Africa is very particular about having tea (“chai”) at every gathering. chaiLessons being paused for chai and mandazis (a pastry similar to beignets) was a common practice on base, but I honestly didn’t expect such luxury anywhere else in the country. Boy, was I blown away. Every house I visited on my outreach, even if the living quarters were clearly run down or even if the family was blatantly in need, they never failed to dole out their finest spread for us. No matter how little material possessions they owned, these families were quick to offer the shirt off their backs to people they had never met before. Even if we protested, they would insist. And I thought I was generous…

And these amazing individuals that so graciously opened their homes and offered us meals and doted over us always, ALWAYS did it with joy and a kindhearted spirit. It would have been one thing if they felt as though we were offering them major things in return or if they were begrudging about it, but that just wasn’t the case. They knew we were only there to share our faith and fellowship with them, yet their open hearts remained constant. Sure, we fixed some houses and played with their children for awhile, but we absolutely got the better end of the bargain. Funny how that worked out – the missionaries were the ones walking away 100% grateful for the encounter.

Those moments redefined my whole mentality in life. Many people say visiting a third world country changes you, and I can tell you now that it really does. Experiencing the love that total strangers can offer even in what I consider “hard times” truly makes me want to be a better person like nothing has before. I know I am quick to whine at the slightest inconvenience, slow to open up and allow others into my home, and ultimately distrusting of people outside my immediate circle. But what kind of life is one lived behind closed doors and behind closed hearts?

To be honest, I know that part of the discrepancy between me and my Kenyan friends has to do with the overall culture we grew up in. Even though my family was born in the Philippines, I am a true Californian, founded on an individualistic mindset. It’s all about the self…how can I get ahead? What can YOU do for me? Kenya, however, is a collectivist community, meaning that they all look out for each other, stranger or family, it doesn’t matter. Now, I’m not saying one lifestyle is necessarily better than the other, but having grown up on one side of the spectrum, I definitely can appreciate the other.

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My lesson learned today is simply to embrace more of the culture that I fell in love with each and every day – one that is centered on giving without needing to receive, loving without needing to fear, and accepting without needing to understand. I am so appreciative of the luxuries that I do have, but they don’t define me. How I choose to give my time, my energy, my love, to others does. I want to be more mindful of that. 

I want to make my Kenyan friends proud.
-Freedom

Day 3 ~ 3 Day Quote Challenge

Freedom

Seeing as it is July 4th here in SoCal, and my blog is all about finding Freedom, I think this quote is a more than appropriate way to end this challenge. Moreover, I feel as though it targets a bigger picture issue. Often, people focus on the need for their rights to be recognized and met by the government, the state, another group, or another individual in their fight for freedom…no matter which voices are suppressed in the process. However, as Mandela said, Freedom goes way beyond oneself. It is crucial to recognize that without harmonious peace, Freedom falls apart into Anarchy. It is a fine line that requires sensitive hands in order to maintain. I not only want to live in a world that is “free” from oppression, hate, and discrimination, but I also want to live in world that celebrates differences instead of ostracizing.

How do we even begin that kind of acceptance movement? Well, I think it starts with you and with me. It starts on the individual level. If we can push for love in the midst of standing for Freedom, and we can encourage others to do the same, then I think we win. Our community wins. Our government wins. Our nation wins. Our world wins.

Yes, I am all about finding and fighting for Freedom. But as I have discovered, Freedom must come with Love or it is not worth the fight.

Happy Independence Day!!!!

P.S. This is sadly, the end of the 3-Day Challenge. A HUGE thank you again to BFarswani!

I Nominate:

1. Inspire the World Today

2. Ms. Ethel Duck

3. Abiegrrl

Here are the rules:

  • Post a quote a day that is meaningful to you for 3 days.
  • At the end of your challenge, nominate 3 other bloggers who you think would impart great wisdom to the blogging community.
  • Don’t forget to thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Have fun!

Day 2 ~ 3 Day Quote Challenge.

Fire

– author unknown

This needs to be tattooed somewhere on my body – a permanent reminder of the importance of setting boundaries and protecting oneself. I am notorious for going beyond my means in order to take care of the ones I love, and I exhaust myself to the point of soul degeneration. It’s so unhealthy. This quote exemplifies the mantra I have been attempting to adopt and embrace wholeheartedly – that my mental and emotional integrity is of value and worth prioritizing.

I will no longer set myself on fire to keep anyone, no matter how much I may love and care for them, warm. My Freedom is important too.

Day 1~ 3-Day Quote Challenge

FiOSI have learned a lot about love throughout my years of dating and relationships, and there are many truths that I am still discovering along the way. This quote by John Green came at one of those moments in my life where a book literally shook up my understanding of the world. Yes, The Fault in Our Stars is a fictional story, but it taught me so much about the beauty and fragility of life and consequently, about love.

Love is about following through, even when we may not understand the circumstances, or the reasons, or the logic behind it…even when you don’t feel the “bubbly” emotions anymore.  It is a blanket of acceptance that you extend to others without an expectation of anything in return. Love is good and Love is kind, yes, but it is also Dependable and Trustworthy.

If you haven’t read any of John Green’s works, I definitely encourage it! But be prepared to have your heart jerked and your soul melt just a little bit.

Love Always,
Freedom

P.S. Thank you again, Bindiya for the tag! Check out her blog here: https://bfarswani.wordpress.com/

The Beauty of the In-Between

My curious coworker and I had another verbal exchange today. I really don’t know if he is purposely trying to push my buttons to see what kind of reaction he can extract or what his intentions are, but he is picking some extremely controversial (often touchy) subjects to discuss. Today, he was all about evolution.

I am a little bit of a conundrum to people when it comes to issues such as these. See, I believe in a Higher Power (specifically God), yet I also believe in The Big Bang Theory, evolution, and other life forms (a.k.a. aliens). To me, these entities don’t necessarily contradict each other. In fact, I believe they go hand in hand. There are many pieces of scientific, factual evidence that support The Big Bang and evolution/natural selection that my analytical brain cannot just ignore in good conscience. However, these theories also have holes and pieces that just don’t add up. Thus, the only thing that can connect those dots, in my opinion, is the presence of an omnipotent Higher Power. But that’s besides the point here.

The topic of the day began with the discussion of the recent “alien footage” that NASA allegedly tried to cover up on their live satellite feed. If you are interested in the video, you can click this link: http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/586976/NASA-International-Space-Station-UFO-Video-Youtube-Shocking-Proof-Alien-Life.

From there, the conversation moved from belief in aliens to belief in dinosaur existence and ultimately to evolution. The whole back and forth discourse  we had would have been fine if my coworker was more open minded. However, he kept stating opinions as fact and asserting that my explanations for my beliefs were somehow inadequate. This was extremely frustrating to me, and I finally ended the conversation by saying, “Well, no one knows for sure, but it is interesting to hear your perspective”.

After reflecting on that exchange, it struck me as interesting how almost desperate he seemed for answers. He was looking for validation that his opinions were in fact true…or perhaps that they most certainly were not true. Either way, he just wanted a definitive declaration that told him what to believe and as a result, he ruffled me to the point of contention. This is human nature exemplified. See, I don’t think we as a society are comfortable with not knowing…with sitting in the “gray area” of life. We want answers, and we want them now. But I think there is beauty in the in-between. There is something really special in the ability to look at someone and honestly say, “I don’t know”. It opens up a door for genuine communication and conversation; it allows us the opportunity to take in the vastly different opinions around us without bunching up and becoming defensive or judgmental because we aren’t standing up for a particular side. Yes, it is nice to prove that we are “right” about something, but there is nothing wrong with discovering that we weren’t. Life shouldn’t be about coming to concrete answers, it should be about learning to appreciate the thoughts, beliefs, and opinions of those who are in the same confused boat as we are.

So from now on, I’m going to try and be slow to say I believe in something with no wiggle room for change. Instead, I will sit back, relax, and try out an, “I’m not too sure… What do YOU think?” and see what wonderful conversations I can uncover.

I’ll let you know how it goes 😉
-Freedom

Inter-Office Debates

LoveWins

History was made; Love wins.

I got into a – to be politically correct – semi-heated discussion with a coworker yesterday regarding the national legalization of gay marriage here in the United States. Though I was raised in an extremely religious household growing up, I have since developed my own ideologies and morals that I stand by with pride. One such principal that I support is the idea that all beings are deserving of love and respect. This, translated to the human rights issue at hand, equates to me being a gigantic banner waver for same-sex marriage.

Well, this guy at work wasn’t quite on the same page. When the discussion arose amongst the people in my area, his response was, “I’m cool with it as long as it doesn’t interfere with me life”. Already, my blood temperature started to rise ever so slightly. I am extremely passionate about the things I believe in, so I knew I was going to have to bite my tongue or find myself elbows deep in muddy waters. He and I were definitely not on the same page, though, because he then directed the conversation directly at me and asked, “Hey Freedom, isn’t your family super Christian? How do you feel about all this stuff?”

This was my response, “i LOVE it.” I was purposefully brief in order to prevent further discussion. But he was relentless and asked, “Is your family supportive? How did you come to an opposite opinion after having been raised with Christian beliefs?”

“Well,” I said, “to be honest, my grandmother is definitely still against homosexuality in general, but my mom is coming around. I think the changing of the times and social culture has a lot to do with differences in levels of acceptance in my family. I grew up in a community (at least outside of my household) that really didn’t demoralize or demean homosexuality, so I never even thought to see gay people as different from myself. So if there was no difference between “them” and me, why shouldn’t they be allowed to get married? It was a logic thing. Plus I have many gay friends who i love and want to see happy.”

He retorts, “See, I have a problem with the whole ‘coming around’ notion. I feel like if I were to suddenly accept gay people and gay rights after being told how morally wrong it is my whole life, then I would be lying to myself”.

I’m pretty sure this was where I started to see little bits of red floating in my vision. But I kept my cool and tried to view this conversation as an opportunity to maybe help motivate a change in thought. I said, “Ok, let’s say we lived during the pre-women’s rights movement. You would have been raised in a society that believed women were property, they had no ideas, thoughts, or beliefs of their own; thus, they shouldn’t have the same rights as men, right? Then new evidence, new movements of revolution began and you were presented with data that told you that actually, women are in fact human, and they have the exact same mental and physical capabilities that their male counterparts do. Do you think you’d still believe women are property because your parents told you so your whole life?”

After a little thought he responded, “I guess not. But women voting isn’t morally wrong, you know? Like, where do you draw the line? What if a man wanted to marry a young boy? They’re human..why isn’t that allowed?”

“Because this isn’t an issue of morality. That’s where I think people make the mistake, myself included sometimes; we confuse human rights issues with religious issues, which need to have a distinct distinction. Regarding the man-boy scenario you mentioned, it is wrong because the boy (who I assume is underage) doesn’t have the mental maturity yet to make that kind of decision. This is why the legal voting age is 18 and the drinking age is 21. Thus, by legally allowing a grown man to enter into a relationship with a minor, you are taking away the latter’s right…the right to physical and emotional safety…no matter that older man’s intentions. Anyway, what I’m trying to assert here is that there MUST be a stress on gay marriage being a simple human rights issue, all religion and morality aside. That’s how I am able to support it even though I was raised by certain set of beliefs”.

Silence. The whole office was silent. Perhaps it was the shock of me being so vocal and articulate, which I’m usually not around them, or perhaps what I said actually made them stop and think. Either way, I was proud of myself for speaking up, I was proud for sticking to what I believe instead of conforming simply to keep the peace or preserve amicability. I didn’t care what the office thought of me for once.

If that’s not freedom, I don’t know what is.

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#lovewins and I couldn’t be more proud