Magical Thinking

Now that I’m back in the “program”, or at least the self-made version of it that I can handle right now, I’ve decided to continue reading Love is a Choice by Drs. Robert Hemfelt, Frank Minirth, and Paul Meier. I’ve reread Chapters 1-4 and will pick up my analysis with Chapter 5, which begins to examine the childhood mind of a codependent, rewinding the clock to see just where the twisting of our thoughts originated –

Magic words are not the sole property of fairy godmothers. The child thinks: If I do such-and-so, this-and-that will happen. If I am perfect, Mommy will love me. If I do everything exactly right, Daddy will notice me…

In the child’s eyes anything Mommy and Daddy feel is necessarily generated by the child. “If Mommy is unhappy it must be because of me.” “If I weren’t a pain in the neck, Daddy wouldn’t drink so much.”

“If I do X then Y will happen” Magical thinking. Codependent thinking…

That feeling of responsibility for what happens has a very ugly flip side: “If it doesn’t turn out all right, it’s my fault for not trying harder.”

Cue the floodgates that are my tear ducts now. This is me. If I really choose to introspectively dissect my childhood emotions, I know that I  have always striven to be the “golden child” angel– to never be a problem for my mother so that she wouldn’t leave me like my father did. Because that has to be why he abandoned me, right? I wasn’t good enough to keep his love. So I poured myself into getting the straight A’s, mentally destroying my psyche whenever I achieved anything below a 100%. I never smoked, snuck out, did drugs; I went to church every Wednesday and Sunday, volunteered, and won awards just about each month for both academic and moral character. I secretly promised my mother that I would never, EVER give her cause to leave me. Though not once did she ask for any of these things (verbally or nonverbally), it became my own personal mantra, which has now morphed from the conscious repetitions of a child for the case of remembering to the constant, reiterative of a deeply codependent mind that cannot be turned off.

Fast forward about 20 something years and here I stand now. A few days ago, I went to visit J in the detox facility and as part of his recovery, he opened up to me about just how bad his substance addiction had become. It turns out he wasn’t taking the Sangel-06ubutex as prescribed but was instead abusing it in the worst manner, right under my nose, for more than a year. Hearing this news and subsequent details literally broke me.  How could this happen? I had been careful. had known him, loved him, adored him. I had made sure to be the perfect girlfriend – supported his career even when it meant months apart, put my own needs on pause because “there will be time for that later”, and constantly tried to keep his interest by suggesting activities that catered to his likes . What could I have possibly done wrong? How could he do this to me?

See what I did there? I turned a “J” situation into an “I” situation. It was my initial instinct. The first thing I did when I left the detox was to call his parents and apologize for not catching the warning signs sooner, for being completely unknowledgeable in this area, and for letting this happen to their son. Unfortunately (or fortunately for me), they have been here with J multiple times before, so they were quick to reassure me that I played no part in pushing him to where he is. It was completely his own selfish choice, driven by the disease that is addiction. I heard everything they said but it passed through me like an ineffective breeze. It was only after reading Chapter 5 that my self-flagellation began to ease. Even if I was a “better” girlfriend, maybe J would still be checked into a detox, trying to heal. Maybe…just maybe…this really isn’t my fault. Even as I type that, I feel a little piece of weight and responsibility fall of my shoulders, and for an instant it is euphoric. Then rushing forward came the guilt, and it replaced the burden that had just slipped free.

That is what I am wrestling with. I am trying to take the magical thinking of my childhood, which has been tattooed onto the very essence of my being, and morph it using logic, reasoning, and knowledge to fight back against my codependent brain.

tattoo

I am in the midst of war between my head and my heart, my past and my present, and we have yet to see who will win in the end. It is my goal to one day have those competing influences align, but I’m so screwed up that they must stand on opposite sides of the ring for now. So I sit in the struggle, choosing at least to make an effort to dissect, examine, and learn, and that will just have to do.

Baby steps.

Relapse

drowning

Is it possible to have a codependency relapse? I believe so. And I believe I’m in the dark, convoluted, serpentine midst of it all.

Tomorrow, I will accompany my mother to an appointment that may very well reveal that her cancer is back. I will have to sit and sift through the medical jargon that became a part of my every day life almost exactly 4 years ago, taking in all of the information that slides over her as she retreats quietly into her protective shell. I cannot blame her for shrinking away from the data. Data makes it everything real, and that’s the last thing she wants. Hell, it’s the last thing I want, but I don’t have the privilege of handing over the reigns to anyone else. There is no one else. There is only me, and I must once again rip off my civilian clothing to dawn the suit of “Mother” and protect her.

From there, I will drive directly to visit J in a medical detox facility. God, I don’t even know where to start to begin unpacking that statement. To summarize, he decided to finally get off of Subutex, a transitory prescription drug used to help heroin addicts get sober. He was only supposed to be on it for 2 weeks but instead, wound up in the center of a more socially acceptable dependency that has lasted 3 years. A week ago, he decided enough was enough and took active steps towards becoming completely substance independent. I am so extremely proud of his bravery and support his recovery 100%. I know that this is the best thing for him; however, I cannot deny that  it comes at a really difficult time in my life. But it’s not about me, right? (When is it ever about me?) Thus, I pull on the mask of strength, collectiveness, impermeability, and secure it steadfastly to cover my anxiety, exhaustion, and weakness.

I love these two people with all of my heart, and I would sacrifice every last piece of me to ensure their wellbeing, their happiness, their success…I do. And I do it all with a smile on my face and a comforting word on my tongue. But can I be honest? I’m drowning. Cancer, detox, school, work…my list of responsibilities to fulfill the expectations of the spheres around me is starting to close in, and I can feel my grip on my own sanity slipping. I need to go back to therapy, to group, to yoga and church and meditation…but I don’t have the time (or really the energy). What I can do – and what I’ve decided to do – is start writing again…to take advantage of this little space on the internet that is solely mine, where I can lay down the armor I adorn and just breathe. I know I need to get healthy, to make a change for myself, and be intentional about my own recovery, but now is not that hour. For now, this is enough. This is my first step…the next 12 will come with time.

Fighting the Darkness

My heart is so heavy, and my stomach is sick with disgust. Today, yet another mass shooting occurred, this time right in my backyard. 3 suspects entered a regional center for children and adults with special needs and opened fire, fatally wounding 14 people. Having begun my journey working with young children with special needs, this especially torments me. I can only imagine the experience through the eyes of individuals who already struggle with over-stimulation, are easily startled/triggered, and who wrestle with emotional regulation as they were thrust in the middle of one of the scariest situations any person could endure. I send my deepest condolences to all of the families who were affected by today’s heinous crime.

I only have one question..why? What motive could anyone have to rain havoc and destruction on any group of people, let alone those that struggle with disabilities?  What has our world come to? This is a thought that I know is on most everyone’s mind, and I can’t even fathom where to begin to address it. Maybe there is no straight answer except that there is unexplainable evil in the world with which each person battles internally, some of us winning and some of us losing. But that doesn’t satisfy, does it?

Today, I sat with my little client, Jack, as his mother watched the aftermath of the shooting play out on her television set. Everything in me ached. All I wanted to do was hold Jack close and protect him from all of the evil out there in the world – to lock him up where he will be safe, but doing that is an injustice in of itself. It would deprive Jack of all the good I know is still out there too.

So I now have made it my mission to give Jack as many tools as possible to help him with his difficult areas and prepare him for his journey ahead. I guess that’s really all we can do. We cannot change the heart of every person, predict and modify everyone’s thoughts and behaviors, or prevent all the bad things in life from happening. Instead, we can inform the ones we love of the unpredictability of human nature and equip them with the necessary tools to handle any situation as early as possible. We cannot control every variable, but we can manipulate our given pieces to allow ourselves – and the ones we love – the best advantage point to tackle whatever life can throw. Whether it’s by teaching our little ones self defense, awareness, calming techniques, or tolerance for stimulation, we have tools at our disposal. Though it may not feel like it in distressing times like these, we are not powerless.

Let me say that again -WE. ARE. NOT. POWERLESS.

Yes, right now it may seem as though the enemy – the overwhelming evil of the world – has won. But it only wins when we stop fighting. So today, though my heart is indeed so heavy, I pledge to never stop. I will continue to educate my loved ones about the bad AND the good, teach them all I can, and then let them add the light of their life to the world. If we keep this up, and our little ones pass on the same lessons to their families down the road, and so on and so forth, eventually the light will outweigh the dark.

We just have to keep trying.

My Cloud 9

sunrise

You know those moments when you just need life to cut you a break, and then suddenly, something, Someone makes it all go your way? Well, that just happened to me. Now, I’m not religious, but I do believe in a Higher Power that is bigger than what I ever could conceptualize, and I have feeling He/She had something to do with all this. But that’s besides the point.

See, yesterday, my little client Lily (whose name has been changed for confidentiality purposes) returned to school from Thanksgiving break, which meant it was time for me to go back to work too.

A little backstory is needed here – Lily, unlike most of my clients, is not on the Autism Spectrum, but instead has tested as exceptionally gifted. She does, however, have a few behavioral issues that have gotten out of hand – such as screaming, biting, kicking, and escaping the classroom – whenever she is triggered by a particular event. Being new to behavior therapy and taking on this case, I knew that I would have an extremely steep learning curve to catch up on asap. Thus, it was a total game of trial and error with her my first week. Of course I’m being guided by a BCBA (board certified behavior analyst) who I report to for feedback, but out on the field during the day, I am completely on my own. After my first week with Lily, I felt completely at a loss, stressed and overwhelmed. Particularly on the last day before the break, Lily had a gigantic 10/10 meltdown that left me totally disheartened. While all Lily’s school teachers constantly affirm my work and thank me for my presence, commenting on the improvement Lily has shown since my arrival, I still cannot help but feel inadequate.

work

With all of that being said, I was so thankful for Thanksgiving break. It allowed me the chance to regroup and recenter myself. However, on Sunday night, the familiar knot of anxiety crept back into my life. I was dreading work the next day, especially since I had received an email from Lily’s parents just warning me that they expect a rough transition for their little girl the next day.

dragging

So I came to work 100% prepared for the worst – armed with my best known reinforcers – and I walked into the school with a heavy heart. However, as soon as I stepped out onto the play yard, I saw a tiny little figure dressed in purple dashing towards me, and the next thing I knew, I had a little girl wrapped around my legs. I looked down and was so happy to see Lily! We quickly entered into a vibrant discussion about her vacation, and from that moment on, I knew it was going to be a good day. Whether we were able to accomplish specific behavioral goals or not, I knew that a rapport between us had been built base don her excitement to see me, and that alone was a win in my book. But Lily was amazing the whole day! Plus, I discovered a potential reinforcer that kept her engaged whenever she started to spin out of control, helping her refocus on each activity. She even accomplished the projects assigned to her (which has been rare lately), and I could not have been more pleased. Lily’s teacher approached me at the end of the day and said she had never seen this much focus from Lily before and was excited about what the future held. She shook my hand and thanked me over and over, and my heart was ablaze with pride.

It really was as if my Higher Power knew I needed the encouragement and somehow gave my little Lily a sense of peace and calm to help ME transition. Even if it’s just coincidence, or karma, or whatever else, I am still so incredibly thankful. I know I have much to learn about being a Behaviorist, but as of now, I really do believe this is where I belong. I was reminded of my love for working with kiddos and the importance of falling back to that passion whenever I feel discouraged. And that – that feeling of being right where I am supposed to be- above all things is the best opponent for inadequacy that I could ever ask for.

So right now, I’m walking on a cloud! A beautiful, behavioral analyst cloud and I’m going to ride it for as long and as far as I can. Look out behavioral world…here I come!

Cloud Computing

 

Dear Depression

This time of year is weird for me…most of my major break-ups or “almost” break-up have happened around this season, and they have left deep imprints in my subconscious. Guess summer lovin’ is really a thing. reaperEven so, those periods were really dark and disheartening times filled with inconsolable crying, loss of appetite, and an insatiable love for sleep. Now, even though every thing is right in the world, I cannot help but feel incomprehensibly sad, almost as if Depression was an old friend that has returned to Her winter home in my heart.

Is emotional PTSD a thing? I don’t mean to diminish the mental illness that many suffer through without relief, but that’s honestly how I feel. The same, familiar permeating sadness has settled in around me once again, confining and claustrophobic. I cannot stand it, but I also cannot shake it.

I need to do something. I don’t have time to be in a funk. Wait, let me try that again: Ain’t nobody got time fo dis s***! So I definitely need to do some analyzing because it’s been proven to help before –

Well here goes. Let’s start with WHY – why am I feeling like I have been dragged into a dark tunnel that has been sealed off on both ends yet again?

I think at the crux of it all, I’m scared. Everything feels just like it did when my world was crumbling – the temperature of the air is colder, sunny but with a nip (ironically, my favorite weather); the days are shorter; and my schedule is erratic due to the back to back holidays. So if all of these parameters are the same, why shouldn’t the outcome be just as similar? At least that’s what my brain is telling me. So really, while everything is honkey dory right now, I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But let’s go ahead and assume that happens…hypothetically, let’s just imagine J suddenly decides to end our almost 3 year relationship out of the blue, and I’m forced to pack up all of my things, take my dog and run with my tail between my legs. Yes, it would be so extrecryingmely painful to let yet another dream slip through my fingers, and I would probably do all of those same things like a rerun of an old romantic comedy – cry, eat ice cream, scream, sleep, and cry some more.But then what? The world doesn’t actually crumble into tiny, irreplaceable pieces. If anything, with each passing day, I grew just a little bit stronger in the Dark Days. Looking back on those times, they were actually so important and really healing periods that forced me to learn so much about life and about love and about myself.

Looking at it that way, what in the world do I have to be afraid of? Pain? Psh! That’s temporary. If anything, I now have the benefit of having “been there and done that”, so I’ll be even more than just okay. I know there’s another side; the road doesn’t just drop off into nowhere. In fact, it often dumps me right where I needed to be all along.

Well will you look at that! You thought you had me beat there, my dear Depression, but think again. I’m not the same, scared little girl who doesn’t know her own strength. I’m here to fight, and if I do go down, I’m taking you down with me.

pink-boxing-gloves

Guess I just needed to “talk it out” with my WordPress family. I know that I’ll probably have to remind myself about this process and revelation tomorrow when all I want to do is snuggle under the warm blanket and let the day pass me by, but it’s a start. And that’s really all I need.

 

 

 

Unraveling (The GOOD Way)

Back when I was in one-on-one therapy, I was given extremely useful insight that has stuck with me to this day…

I had entered my session feeling overly anxious for unknown reasons,scribblehead and I iterated this to my therapist. She said, “Freedom, anxiety in of itself is not a single emotion. It is a mixture and jumble of other emotions that are snowballing into this pit in your stomach.” From there we began to unravel the convoluted hairball that was consuming both my mental and physical wellbeing. Turns out I was worried about my mother’s health, overwhelmed with my caseload at school, and angry at my boyfriend for something or rather. Being able to label exactly why I was feeling the way I was feeling was an emotional breakthrough for me already. Plus, it gave my therapist a starting point for our session that day.

Today,  I am no longer attending therapy (though  I tell myself everyday that I need to go back), but I still use that technique of “peeling the anxiety onion” whenever I feel turned upside down with worry.

What brought this up? Well, I woke today up with an all too familiar feeling in my tummy – churning, gurgling, nausea- and I employed my unraveling tool.

Here is today’s list of anxiety provokers:

  1. Again, I am worried about my mother’s health. She has had 4 episodes in the past few weeks in which she experienced extreme disorientation – forgetting where she was, why she was there, and who the people around her were. Hearing this, my warning bellswarningsign went off, and I immediately encouraged her to make an appointment with her doctor. However, my sweet but sometimes stubborn mother has given me the excuse that she is waiting for insurance yaddah yaddah to come into effect. I am struggling with my Codependency in regards to this…guess its ugly head is just inescapable in my life. I’m not sure if I am supposed to just go on and make the appointment for her like everything in me is screaming to do, or if I simply need to let her go through the process on her own. I go back on forth on this every hour minute second.
  2. As I mentioned yesterday, I have this new job that has an extremely steep learning curve, and I am feeling discouraged after my first week. Though my supervisors and the schIcantool staff I work with have all expressed their deep gratitude for my work, I cannot help but feel that I am in over my head. Trust me, I know that these thoughts are typical for someone starting out in an entirely new field, but the fact is, I still have ’em, and they are NOT nice. I have my first solo session tomorrow with sweet Jack (name has been changed for confidentiality purposes), and I could not be more nervous. Add that the the core of my anxiety mush.
  3. I have to register for school on Monday the 30th, and the main class that I need has only 6 spots left. DARN ALL YOU PEOPLE WHO HAVE JUMPED ONTO THE SPEECH PATHOLOGY TRAIN. PLEASE SWITCH YOUR MAJORS NOW BECAUSE THERE IS NO MORE ROOM FOR YOU AT CSUN. PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
    Golemn
  4. Finally, it is the week of Thanksgiving, and I will be thrown into the mix of potentially socially challenging situations. I have discovered lately that I have some form of social anxiety (yes, yes, I know I need to go back to therapy…), and it has caused me some pain in particular settings.While I absolutely ADORE J’s immediate family and feel very comfortable in their presence, I will be meeting an entirely new set of faces that will be in town for the holidays. Pl
    ease be still, my dying heart. I know I’ll get through it, I just pray they like me. Oh, hello again, Codependency…

As you can see, I have quite a bit on my plate, but let me tell you, even just writing it all out has made me feel slightly better. Thank you WordPress for being the silent ear that I need.

What are your anxiety makers today? Go ahead, give the unraveling a shot! Just be warned, once you start pulling, it’s hard to stop. But that’s what blogging is for. So let it go, see what happens. Oh, and if you feel up for it, share your results; it’s freeing! I would know 🙂

unraveling.jpg

 

 

Freedom 2.0

Sigh…

Looking for inspiration

I have sat here with the cursor blinking on a blank WordPress page for about 10 minutes now, just thinking of how to begin this post. Over and over I would type a few words, laugh at my lack of creativity, erase everything and delve in complete mental silence all over again. It is the most frustrating feeling to have all of these thoughts pinging around in your head and to have no inspiring opening lines.

So I guess, I’ll just begin.

I quit my job! Ha, I think I should have just started with that news. I’m not quite sure if I mentioned what exactly I did, but it no longer matters. Just know that it was extremely boring, mindless work that was unchallenging in every way. Now, I have found myself in the midst of the opposite field, one that has a steep learning curve but a dynamic and rewarding payoff. Friends, I am now a Registered (almost) Behavior Technician (a.k.a Behaviorist), specifically working with children with special needs. In the span of 2 days, I went from imputing data into a computer to implementing behavior modification techniques both in home and in school environments to the most amazing kiddos. It is such a promising opportunity that has put me on the ground floor of my future career aspirations as a Speech Pathologist.

Blocks

To be honest, it is this job that has motivated me to pick up blogging once again. Confession time: I am a notorious, serial project-abandoner. Ask any one of my family members or close friends…I sincerely struggle with maintaining and/or finishing the random, creative outlets I take on. I have half-knit blankets, partially written songs, and squeaky clean exercise gear lying around the house. Thus, it is unsurprising to me that I have drifted off of the face of the WordPress planet over the past few months. Please understand that I am not justifying my behavior as a positive attribute, but it is simply a part of me that still needs some serious work.

Anyhoo… after my first week at the new job, I honestly felt so emotionally drained. I had a difficult time adjusting and felt both overwhelmed and disheartened all at once. Overall, I knew I needed an outlet for the pent-up emotions that were brewing (and I’m sure will continue to brew). So here I am. I need to write to keep my sanity. I am working with extremely emotional little people, and being extremely emotional myself, I will need a safe space where I can vent and cry and grow and reflect and learn all at once. From my past experience, blogging is just the perfect medium.

Overwhelmed

For those who have been on this journey with me from the beginning, things are going to look a little different around here. I definitely need to get back to Codependency introspection, but for now, that will be interspersed between my everyday vent fest. I am going to focus on growth and learning in general, and should Codependency topics rear their heads in the midst of that, so be it. Altogether, though, I just want to focus on the new path that I am on (mainly because I am so excited about it), and not be too harsh on myself in the realm of change. Instead of forcing it, I’m just going to let it be and love myself through the new process.

So for now…Freedom has a new face!
Love it or Leave it.

 

 

 

Realignment

HOME

Hello again, my dear WordPress community. It has been quite awhile since I have broken bread with you all in fellowship, but I really needed the space to reevaluate my recovery. While blogging had proven itself to be an amazing outlet for me to discuss both my victories and my failures, it also slowly began to transform itself into a dangerous situation. You see, I began to get sidetracked by this notion that my stories were sparking change in other people. While that, in of itself, is a positive repercussion of this whole experience, it was always supposed to remain just that – a cherry on top of this amazing journey towards a better, more peaceful me. That wasn’t the case, however. This idea of “writing to fix people” started to consume my sense of purpose, and my own ppuzzlerogress was no longer my main priority. So it was time for a break. I simply wanted to recenter myself and redirect this blog towards a more introspective dialogue.

Now, that isn’t to say that I don’t want to continue to encourage sharing and    community…quite the opposite! Those spheres have been nothing but positive influences for me, and I intend to foster the relationships I have built through this medium. I just want to refocus on falling in love with me because let’s be honest, that alone if a full time job. Please continue to comment and interject your thoughts and opinions; they will always, ALWAYS be welcomed and appreciated here.

Here is a quick update on my life as it stands now:

J is off on another adventure. This trip is the longest one yet – 6 weeks in Savannah, GA working for another reality TV show. Let me just tell you that it has been quite the struggle and strain on our relationship, but we are working through it. I am working through it. If you have read any of my past posts regarding this matter, you and I both know that the distance is really difficult for me largely due to Codependency. But it is also growing me. I am learning so much of what it means to be comfortable in “aloneness” and how to cope with all of the doubts and insecurities that plague my mind like an unwanted tape recorder stuck on repeat. Everyday is a new opportunity for me to explore another step of recovery. Some days I win, and some days (most days) I lose, but I am discovering that it isn’t about the end goal right now; it is about the process.crossroads

My family is about to go through a rough time. I can’t delve into too much detail because ofthe sensitivity and confidentiality of the matter, but a storm is coming. I am deeply saddened. My heart weeps at its core for a particular woman in my life who means the world to me. She is faced with the most difficult of situations that is forcing her to choose between her own happiness and the happiness of others. Neither path is an easy one, but I love her enough to support whatever she decides. If anyone understands the importance and responsibility of taking care of oneself, it should be me. But still my heart weeps.

Part of my re-dedication and commitment to myself has involved getting healthy and getting active once again. I have gone back to bikram yoga (hot yoga), and it has really boosted me both physically and emotionally. Not only that, but I am simply trying to get outdoors more. I have been hiking semi-consistently, but really just allowing myself to find harmony with Mother Nature. That, too, has done wonders for my spirit.

Next week, I will be traveling to North Carolina for my best friend’s wedding. I will also be driving down to spend a few days and nights with J as Georgia is only 4 hours away. So I have much to look forward to!

Writing is truly one the best outlets for me to express my thoughts and to reflect upon my life journey. I am so happy to be back and to be at peace with this blogging experience once again.

Thank you for your patience and for continuing to be open ears and open hearts that have helped propel me towards a better place. I hope you all are well!

Namaste,
Freedom

[Reality vs. Codependency] An Intro

With the necessary precursor discussion of Love Languages out of the way (you’ll understand why it’s important in just a minute), I can move on to the next mini-series I have had planned for awhile now. On this recovery adventure that I have been on for the past 2 years, I have discovered something fundamental to my understanding of how I see the world: I have a “Codependency Filter”! It is this distorting mechanism through which I process and analyze situations, and it skews my reality into an irrational, convoluted, and emotional mess.

glasses

So I wanted to start a little sequence of posts that discuss just what this looks like, not only for the purpose of sharing, but also to stimulate deeper conversations and illicit meaningful advice.

The topic up for contemplation today is “the need for Quality Time and Physical Touch”. Ah, here is where my previous post plays in.

Now, this is what reality tells me about my current Love Language situation is like: “J absolutely cares for you. He shows it whenever he buys dinner, cleans up after the dog, checks the liquid levels in the car, opens your door…the list goes on! Surely, you can be more lenient and understanding when it comes to not receiving the exact displays of devotion you were expecting, right? It doesn’t mean he isn’t thoughtful. He just expresses it differently than you are used to. Different doesn’t mean absent. So when he has takes a travel job he cannot refuse, trust that he loves you deeply, and he isn’t doing it to deliberately hurt you. It’s just part of the gig.”

My Codependency Filter takes the information and boop bop beep bop…this is what I hear: “J definitely loves you. You can’t deny that. He just doesn’t care enough about your emotions and feelings to make an effort towards meeting your needs. That’s why it’s so easy for him to take jobs that just whisk him away to the other side of the country for months on end; it isn’t that important to him. YOU aren’t that important to him. Even though he knows that by leaving he is forsaking your needs for Quality Time and Physical Touch completely; he just doesn’t care.”

For a long time, I was oblivious to the fact that I had these distorting blinders on that funneled my vision and focused it onto details that just weren’t true, and I lived a very miserable life. My self-esteem and self-worth were at rock bottom. To this day, I have yet to find a way to get that darn filter off for good (I’m not even sure you really can), but I am now at least able to recognize its effects. Whenever I feel as though my Codependency Filter may be firing, I take a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, or whatever time frame I need to stop and process what is really going on. I try my best to separate myself from the situation at hand and see the bigger picture for what it really is, not just what I may be perceiving it to be. It has made a difference thus far and has allowed me to better handle my Codependent thoughts.

I am definitely a work i progress, but you gotta start somewhere right?

This was just an introductory look into this series. Stay tuned for more in-depth “decostructive” examinations! I hope you are as excited for this ride as I am.

Princes and Pythons

prince

Growing up in the Disney generation, I had fallen head over heels with the idea of Love. The notion that a handsome, brave Prince would one day sweep me off my feet with singing and dancing became my ideology of what a relationship should look like. Thus, when I entered into a partnership in the real world, I expected the same type of over the top declarations of romance and devotion. Honestly, the “puppy love” phenomenon I experienced in my early adolescence very much fit that mold; it was filled with hand written letters, home made gifts, poems, and the like, which only reinforced my belief that life was just one big fairytale.

As I grew up, matured, and began dating in my later years, I slowly realized that the “puppy love” phase is just that…a phase. Reality set in like a wet blanket, dampening my hopes of days filled with frolicking in the meadows with the man of my dreams, surrounded by rainbows and four leaf clovers. Instead, I was left with this confusing mess of unmet expectations and disappointments thinking that each boyfriend in my life simply didn’t care at all about me.  At the end of each relationship, I was convinced that I was nothing but a completely unlovable lost cause.

It wasn’t until I listened to talk on Love Languages while in Kenya that I realized I wasn’t at all unlovable! I was simply unaware of the different ways in which people express how much they care. As a result, I was unable to recognize the gestures of love that were indeed present and flourishing in my relationships, and I mistook it as absence.

The 5 Love Language:

  1. Words of Affirmation – “I love you”, “You’re wonderful”, “I am thankful for you”
  2. Gift Giving – material presents
  3. Quality Time – intentional moments with your significant other
  4. Acts of Service – fixing the car, doing the dishes, cooking, etc.
  5. Physical Touch – holding hands, cuddling, kisses, etc.

Love

This whole concept changed my life, both in my relationship with J but also in my closest friendships. I have discovered that there are so many more facets to Love than I originally pegged it for, and understanding this was the key to unlocking a harmonious interdependence. For instance, I have figured out that J is very much an Act of Service giver. Whenever time and schedule permits, he has dinner on the table for me, the dishes washed, and the dog walked and fed by the time I get home. Because I am a Quality Time and Physical Touch receiver, I could have absolutely missed his declarations of love and labeled him as an unthoughtful and uncaring man when in reality, he is the exact opposite.

This idea can also be flipped on its head. I am a Words of Affirmation woman all the way. I love showering the people in my life with verbal praises and encouragements. But like me, J is and Quality Time and Physical Touch receiver. If I wasn’t aware of that fact at all, I could completely miss the mark whenever I am trying to show him just how much he means to me. He would then be left unhappy and resentful.

Thus, Love is a balance. It is a delicate dance between your emotional needs and capacities and those of your partner. It is a fine line between knowing one another’s giving and receiving Languages and adjusting to create a harmonious flow of acceptance. Understanding and applying this newfound knowledge was the difference for me between a healthy, stable relationship and one filled with lies that flogged my self esteem on the daily.

Do you know what your love language is? If not, I encourage you to take some time for reflection and introspection. Otherwise, it may just pass you by. Take it from me, before I knew anything about any of this, if Love were a poisonous viper, it would have bit me right between the eyes.

Lucky for me, I learned the tricks of the trade. Just call me the snake charmer 😉

snake charmer