Codependency is a new term for me. It was the title of the latest chapter in my Harboring Hope course. When I read the title I wondered what the hell it had to do with our recovery. I assumed it was something that related to alcoholics and drug addicts and such. I soon discovered that I was wrong, very wrong and that the term described me to a T.
For those that don’t know, codependency is when you put others first. Even to the detriment of yourself. Now a lot of people will say that its the christian thing to put others first and to be there for others etc. This is what I thought at first. But then I got it all cleared up. The Bible says ‘love your neighbour AS you love yourself’. NOT more than yourself or over yourself. We are being told we have to love ourselves too. But in codependency, you are not loving yourself because you are giving up things for yourself for the constant benefit of others.
I am a people pleaser by nature. I have a hard time saying no and feel desperately guilty when I do. Especially when it comes to my husband. This is what codependency is all about. It envelopes fear. I am afraid that my husband will leave if I don’t give in to what he wants. If I say no to him. So instead of loving myself, I deny myself. Now just to be clear my husband has not actually asked me to do anything inappropriate or that challenges my morals. Its more like he wants to buy something but I’d rather save the money but I end up letting him buy what he wants. Or he wants to go out and I don’t – we end up going out. My giving in to him isn’t always centred around fear either. He acts like a child when he doesn’t get his own way and its so unpleasant to deal with that I give in just so I can avoid the temper tantrum.
I shouldn’t have to give in though. He should be adult enough to compromise and not always expect things to be his way. He needs to learn to stop being selfish and have a little patience for things. He needs to learn that sometimes I need things too.
Codependency also relates to wanting to be in control. To control your husbands behaviour, his recovery, or whatever else. The truth of the matter is, that you just can’t control these things. You have to let go and let God. This is hard for me. I feel like if I know everything – where is he, what he’s doing, who he’s talking to – that I can prevent something bad happening again in the future. But that’s ridiculous because I can’t. Its not about me trusting him again. Its about trusting God with my husband. This hard for me and I’m still struggling with this one. The course leader gave us some good advice with regards to this. She said whenever we start sentences with ‘If I could just….’ or ‘if he would just…’ then we aren’t trusting God. When we hear ourselves saying these things we need to change our attitude and go back to Him.
I can’t let fear rule my life anymore. I have to trust God and know that He has a plan for me. ‘If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it.’